Mike Pence, Image from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49609_Page2.html
Last Friday, the House passed Rep. Mike Pence’s (R-IN) amendment to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. Pence has had a well-documented vendetta against this family planning and reproductive health organization — which provides services to low-income people who may otherwise not have access to health care, including cancer and STD screenings — because Planned Parenthood, in a small percentage of its overall services, legally performs abortions (WITHOUT federal funding, by the way). As his motive, Pence cites his desire to be “a persistent, respectful voice for the sanctity of life.”
Mike Pence is a self-professed Christian. In an interview with Christian Broadcast Network, Pence said, “I never lose sight of what the Lord has called me to do in my life.” But Pence has a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be Christian, and what the nature and character of God is, if being anti-Planned Parenthood and an anti-abortion activist are his top priorities in Congress.
To be clear, as a Christian, I understand that every life has a purpose. I believe what God says in Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” which suggests that every life God forms, He has a plan for, before it even has a heartbeat. I do not take abortion lightly, and have no intention of validating anyone’s belief that abortion is somehow “O.K.,” — but I also do not believe any one has the right to tell a woman to carry to term a fetus created as a result of rape or incest, or in cases where the life of the mother is in danger.
What Pence and the pro-life movement have absolutely wrong is the notion that outlawing the symptoms of sin will end the sin. Banning abortion will not stop men from raping women or uncles from molesting their young nieces. It will not stop the very SMALL percentage of women who indifferently engage in risky sexual behavior with abortion as a back-up. And it certainly won’t stop fathers from abandoning their children or women from lacking the necessary financial and emotional support that it takes to raise healthy children. If Pence and Pro-lifers want to end abortion, the answer is not in defunding organizations that provide vital health services to the under-privileged. As Christians, they should know that the solution to these problems is leading the lost and lonely to Christ and allowing Him to create in them a clean heart that desires to do the will of God, one that desires to overcome the sickness within them that leads to rape and molestation and the evil that leads to abandonment and promiscuity.
As David says in Psalm 40:8 “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” That means as Christians we are supposed to obey God because doing so makes Him happy, and subsequently, makes US happy, too. We aren’t supposed to just obey God because it is the law, because it is our duty. Yet, this is exactly what Pence and Pro-Lifers in their short-sightedness seek to do — make it a duty to obey God without the requisite heart transplant that must take place. They may reduce the number of abortions, but what quality of life are they leaving to the babies who are subsequently born? A life with dismal financial and emotional support from both parents and society as a whole. And what kind of life are they leaving the parents of those babies to? A life with no solution to heal what is broken in them that created the need for abortion in the first place. If Pence and Pro-Lifers respond that these tough answers are “not their problem,” then the lie that their Christian faith drives them will be completely exposed.
When we are confused about what to do in areas of life that have not specifically been laid out in the Bible, there is a very simply solution: look to the nature and character of God and emulate it. One Bible passage that clearly lays out who God is and what He deems important is found in Matthew 25:41-45, where He explains what will happen on Judgment Day:
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Nowhere in this passage does it suggest that God will damn people because they didn’t stand on a corner all day with pictures of dead babies, or blow up abortion clinics, or murder doctors who provide abortions! He says He will cast away those who do not take care of people — all people! — because that’s what someone with the heart of Christ — and for Christ — would do. When you focus on meeting the needs of people, you make people curious as to what it is about you and who you know that has led you to act the way you’re acting and do what you’re doing. Your actions are your avenue to introduce people to Christ so that their lives and hearts can be fundamentally transformed. The proof of this is found in Acts 2:44-45:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.[emphasis added]
Holy SociNaziFascism, Tea Party! But there is the road map in black and white. You want lives to change, you want hearts to change, you want people to choose not to sin, and to instead choose Christ’s way? Meet their needs. Show them that they are not alone, that they have help. Do it with kindness and love, not laws.
As Christians, our lives ought to have greater purpose than winning elections, firing up a base, or gaining notoriety and prestige. People’s souls are at stake. Christ came and died so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. That’s what pro-life ought to mean to a Christian. If that’s not what it means to Pence and other Pro-Lifers, they ought to stop shoveling dirt on the name of Christ by deceptively cloaking their self-led ambitions in Him.
Until then, we can only pray that Pence and the Pro-Life Movement have a “Come to Jesus” moment, soon.