Here’s a picture that appeared in the Kansas City Star:
This is another example of a proof-texted verse that whose use is refuted by that larger context. Here’s Galatians 6.7:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
The folks at Spirit One Christian Center, who make their pro-life politics a centerpiece of their identity, seem to think that this verse means that God was ultimately responsible for George Tiller’s murder. He sowed murder and therefore reaped it. Of course, you get a different sense when you read a bit more:
1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load.
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
So, I should restore sinners gently, bear other’s burdens, not compare myself to anyone, do good to everyone (especially, but not exclusively Christians) and gun down doctors who perform abortions. Or, at least, applaud those who do as God’s servants. Something about that just doesn’t hang together for me.
I am theologically pro-life across the board, meaning that I can’t reconcile war, euthanasia, or abortion with the eschatological vision of Christ. Self-sacrifice is the only meritorious form of death in the kingdom of God. But (as you know already if you’ve been following this blog), and am also opposed to Christians using political power to force their agenda on others. As Jesus said:
25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20)
It just doesn’t do to amass political power in the name of Jesus. That’s inherently self-contradictory. I’m very concerned that Christians have spent enormous energy on trying to curtail abortion through political actions–a misguided approach that has garnered no results except to hurt our credibility and make a lot of enemies unnecessarily. What would it look like to approach the abortion question while shunning power and claiming humble self-sacrifice as our highest value? I think it would mean widespread adopting underprivileged children, housing young mothers-to-be, and making sure that pre-natal care is available to everyone. How would it change the conversation in America if evangelicals were widely known as the folks who put their money where their mouth is on this topic, making sure that there is not a single abortion that is deemed necessary due to economic hardship or lack of emotional support? Isn’t something like that what it must mean to be fathers (and mothers) to the fatherless in this age?
Yeah, I know–a fair number of Christians are doing just that. But not with nearly the visibility or numbers as the believers who are tackling this one almost exclusively in terms of political power.