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Let's Consider Abortion

by Tim Isbell, September 30, 2016
#abortion, also available by typing bit.ly/considerabortion into any browser.

This post is for the many conservative Christians who vote primarily, or wholly, on the issue of abortion. I am a retired, ordained pastor in a Christian tradition slightly right of the political center. Earlier, I posted three articles on the upcoming election and thought these were enough. But I feel prompted to post one more.

I don’t like the process of abortion. Abortion in our family would break my heart, but it would not impact my love for the family member who chose it. If I were a doctor, I would target other areas of medicine, just like, when I was an engineer I was strategic about the electronics I designed.

I’m quite aware that many of our country’s laws and much of its thinking are “informed” by Christian faith, and that most of our early immigrants came from culturally Christian countries. But I’ve never thought of the United States as a “Christian nation.” In my personal Christian faith, and in my public preaching and teaching, I follow a deep tradition where followers of the Lord Jesus live according to the principles of the Alternate Kingdom while living as responsibly as possible at postal addresses in this world. An Old Testament example is Daniel, who lived as a resident alien in Babylon for most of his life - through three brutal regimes!

As a Christian living in the United States, I certainly do not want the government to create laws that require abortion. Fortunately, that’s not a concern - our current laws only allow for abortion, and there’s no threat beyond that. It is modestly troubling that taxpayer money pays for some abortions. Still, I can live with all this because I accept that we live in a pluralistic country where it is inappropriate to impose the laws of one religion on the entire population. I think that this is a good thing, not a compromise. It’s good because it provides a healthy mix of people to whom we Christians can offer the grace of Christian faith, in a context untarnished by religious law. This side of heaven, such an opportunity to spread the Good News is exactly where I think God wants us to live.

Several other principles run just as deep as abortion. One is welcoming and embracing refugees, immigrants, and strangers. This teaching threads through the Old and New Testaments. Indeed, due to the threat of persecution, Jesus’ family was a refugee family in Egypt. We may fear or mistrust refugees and immigrants, but Jesus calls us to “be not afraid.” We are to live with courage and faith as we embrace all kinds of people as one with us. There is a vast difference in the positions of the two candidates. One advocates continuing our country’s long history of providing a home for refugees and immigrants, and the other advocates building walls, physical and legal, to keep them out.

Another issue running just as deep in Christian faith is a concern for, and even preferential treatment of, the poor and needy. Our economy created massive wealth in the past couple of decades, but almost all of it went to the already very wealthy. Even the middle class was left behind. The enormous imbalance of wealth between the very rich and the rest of Americans underscores the seriousness of this problem in our country. One candidate advocates taxing the ultra-wealthy and using the money to catalyze job creation for the rest of us. The other candidate supports lowering the taxes on the wealthy as a way to create employment for the rest of us.

There are other issues, of course. But these are enough to make my the point: Neither party represents pure Christian faith, and neither party should. What we Christians need is a country where we are free to live as citizens of the Alternate Kingdom, alongside as big a slice of the world as possible. God wants this for us so that we can do precisely what 1 Peter 3.15 teaches: “Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks for the reason for the hope they see in us.”

So, here’s my summary:

  • Regarding abortion: We do not yet live in heaven. The current American laws on abortion are more conducive to Christians sharing the Good News than if the law enforced an anti-abortion position. Indeed, the often ugly opposition of religious people to abortion is an impediment to the gospel.
  • Regarding refugees and immigrants: I see Hillary Clinton’s position as far more Christian than the opposing candidate.
  • Regarding the under-resourced: I see Hillary Clinton’s position on this as far more Christian than the opposing candidate.
For what it’s worth, I’ve registered as “no party” for the past several years and voted for presidential candidates from both major parties. In this election, I think Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for the country and the most compatible for those of us who choose to live in God’s Alternate Kingdom in this world. She didn’t come up with her positions on the above three issues in the last few months, or even years. They define her entire life. So, this year, I’m for Hillary.

Blessings,
Tim

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