If you mention any social issue needing attention, that does not involve abortion agitation, some people come back with – “Well, there are more abortions than there are victims of that issue.”
Sadly, in actual practice, by this “but abortion!” standard, I literally can ignore my neighbor whom, as it says in 1 John, I “CAN see” – because some people somewhere offend against unborn children.
Maybe you didn’t realize that anyone sinning anywhere – if it’s a sin you particularly hate – is license for YOU to refuse to love your actual present suffering neighbors. These are neighbors God loves, for whom Christ died, and whom Christ commands us to love and care for.
I didn’t realize that. In fact, I don’t think it’s true. But it’s true that many think – or at least operate – this way.
I’m not making this up. I watch them and listen to them. They in practice turn off virtually all practical concern for our Christian duty to love the neighbor “you can see”, and they do it just by mentioning one issue!
Now, I am not pro-abortion.
I may disagree with the “Christian right’s” narrow politicized solution to the issue, but that’s because I believe there are MUCH better ways to go about it.
And I will counsel against abortion and try to find resources to that end.
But I don’t use it as a cop-out,
to avoid the much more frequent, non-abortion-related, obvious and equally destructive forces operating against a whole lot of my neighbors.
It makes me sad to call it a “cop-out”, but that is how it in fact works. They don’t just neglect other weighty matters that are right now damaging their own neighbors; often they even RESIST expressing any concern or taking any action, political or otherwise, on behalf of those neighbors. The “I vote pro-life” approach obviously makes some folks believe they do not have to make moral judgments about ANYthing else!, or moral commitments to ANYone else!
They just say “But what about abortion?”, then “vote pro-life”, and they can deflect public concern from what’s happening in plain sight here and now,
- to the white neighbors down the street who are trying to survive on a low-wage job, and/or after the loss of health insurance,
- and the darker-skinned neighbors, usually in another part of town, who are facing much more direct violent threats to their bodies, to their families, to their finances, and to their freedom,
- and all other neighbors, within US borders or beyond them,
- all those, that is, whom we are commanded to love as we love ourselves, to treat as we would wish to be treated.
That is actually how this strategy works for them. Relief from confusion! Freedom from (many kinds of) worry! And self-assumed righteousness and superiority all in one fell swoop.
Of course abortion is a huge social disaster area.
Of course it’s very disturbing –
- for those who want it to cease,
- for those who feel they have to or had to choose it for one reason or another, whether or not they now agree with that past decision,
- for those who wrestle with public policy questions about it,
- and for those who have to deal with all the pastoral implications of the whole thing.
But that’s no excuse to despise these many other kinds of suffering of our own neighbors in our own towns.
I read a news story somewhere today quoting a woman angry that she had voted for Trump, saying something like “I realized I care as much about a child on the border of Texas as I do about one still in its mother’s womb.” Yes.
We act like we don’t have to even THINK about those other people – our neighbors – because some OTHER people practice or promote abortion – or some other behavior we do not approve of. Even if they don’t promote abortion, they get slandered – falsely accused – and Presto! we are absolved of all social responsibility, to them or anyone else. See? It really IS a cop-out.
What a handy way to ignore the clear teachings of Jesus and much of the rest of the Bible.We don't even THINK about our neighbors. After all, some OTHER people promote abortion. If they don't promote abortion, we say that they do - and Presto! we are absolved of all social responsibility.Click To Tweet
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