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Pro-Life and Pro-War? September 21, 2008

Posted by joshuachayne in Culture, politics, Uncategorized.
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I am often dewildered at how some groups and individuals can be so fervently pro-life on abortion but are also militantly pro-war and pro-death penalty.  I am perpelexed at how evangelicals, in particular, can be pro-life on abortion but not pro-life on war or capital punishment. If all life is precious then how can one rationalize contradictory viewpoints on these issues that relate to life and death?

Abortion can be a complex and emotional issue.  I sympathize with pro-lifers although I believe that women need the right to choose.  Pregnancies, of course, affect the woman’s body as she carries the fetus while it develops. Also men are responsible for all pregnancies.  A woman cannot become pregnant without a man’s sperm of course.  Therefore, if more men were responsible there would be far less unnwanted pregnancies.  Sadly, too many men refuse to wear condoms because sex doesn’t feel as good with one on.  I can also see the point that while the fetus develops and is born from the woman’s body (and changes her body and sometimes health and is mostly her responsibility while pregnant) the unborn child is not entirely hers or made from her.  The man also created this child and contributed half of the child’s dna.  Once the fetus is born and becomes a legally recognized baby the father also has a legal claim to the child.

The fetus is also technically biologically alive even though it is not recognized as being legally alive until it is born.  The term fetus also seems so technical and dehumanizing.  A pregnant woman carries a human fetus and during an abortion a human fetus is killed (terminated is the detached term that is usually used).

However, woman are more likely to be abused by males.  Woman can become pregnant through rape and/or incest.  In such a case should a woman have to endure a pregnancy and raise a baby that was the product of a violent assault? There are also medical situations where the life of the mother is threatened by her pregnancy.  What if the unborn child has been determined to have a serious physical deformity?  Could the abortion be viewed as a mercy killing/euthanasia.   We mercy kill beloved pets all the time.  Of course some would object to equating a human fetus with an animal.  Also what if the pregnant mother is mentally ill or handicapped and cannot care for the child.  The mother and father may not be able to care for the child due to economic reasons.  Is it better for an unborn child to be aborted rather than be neglected or abused after it is born?  Some children are born to horrible parents who commit heinous abuses against them.

There are complex ethical questions concerning abortion.  Genetic testing may advance to the point that parents can determine much about their child before it is born.  What if parents want to abort their children because they don’t like what their dna will determine their hair or eye color to be?  What if genetics and prenatal hormones can predict if an individual will be homosexual or not?  Would we have many parents that would abort potentially gay children? What if parents aborted their unborn children based on potential diseases or mental illnesses they may one day develop.  Could abortion be used for eugenics or even ethnic cleansing?  Perhaps these concerns are alarmist and such extremes will not come to pass.

Some abortion procedures such as dialtion and extraction seem monstrous.  Pictures of aborted fetus’ are shocking and very disturbing.

Most women probably do not make the choice to have an abortion lightly.  The right to have an abortion is considered a reproductive right that women have.  Outlawing abortion wouldn’t stop abortions either.  Therefore, abortions might as well be conducted in a safe medical environment.  Abortions can also be lessoned through education and lifting more women out of poverty.

Many conservatives and evangelicals justify being pro-war by distinguising between killing and murder. God has commanded thou “shalt not murder” not killing, they insist.  Killing during war and through the death penalty is not murder because it is sanctioned by the government and the state.  However, why doesn’t this rationale include abortion since it is also legalized by the government?  I assume this is because the unborn are considered innocent and the people killed during war and capital punishment are considered sinners. 

Capital punishment is justified by such biblical quotes as “an eye for an eye”.  War is justified because Moses led miltary battles that supposedly included killing entire tribes.  But, didn’t Jesus say to love your neighbor as yourself and to also love, bless, and pray for your enemies?  Did Jesus not also teach pacifism–turn the other cheek?  Shouldn’t Christians interpret the Old Testament through the prism of Jesus’ teachings and the New Testament?  Would the God that Jesus called Father advocate the genocide of other ethnic or cultural groups.  I say certainly not!  Unfortunately, many evangelicals say that Jesus’ teachings apply to individuals and not to the state (unless it involves persecuting gays!).

As the saying goes, war is Hell.  We send our soldiers to kill and be killed.  Our soldiers die for our freedom and sometimes for the freedom of other nations.  These brave and young men and women face unimaginable violence and must cope with witnessing acts of bravery and acts of terror that most of us could not comprehend.  During wars innocent civilans (men, women, and children) are always killed. How can the deaths of innocents be justified even if it is by accident?  What about rogue situations were innocents are purposely killed by both sides of the warring parties? Horrible atrocities occur in wars–killing, maiming, toture, rape, and pillaging.  How can Christians be pro-war when it is so violent? Pictures of war are also monstrous and deeply disturbing.

I understand the rationale that some wars may be just, such as using miltary might to stop acts of genocide or in defense of an invasion.  But I refuse to view God or Jesus as being pro-war.  We should strive for peace. Violence is too primitive and destructive and tends to beget more violence or at least intense cultural resentment that may lead to negative consequnces. I refuse to believe that killing civilans is ever justified.  Pre-emptive war on a soverign nation that has not attacked us is also going too far.

 In full disclosure, I struggle with the death penalty as well.  When someone has committed a heinous act of violence against another person such as killing, brutal rape, or maiming I think they are deserving of death.  However, sometimes innocent men and women are convicted and sentenced to death. What if the state kills an innocent person? Should we also stoop to the level of killers by killing them?  Some say that certain socio-pathic individuals do not belong in society or in life and we are better off by culling them from the flock.

In the end issues relating to life and death and war and peace are profoundly complex.  These issues stir our emotions and spark endless philosophical debates.  It is unrealistic to expect such polarized views as most people being consistently pro-life or pro-death on all the issues.  However, I maintain that we should do the best we can to raise the quality of life of the living and to give as much respect and dignity that we can to the living as well as the dead.

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Comments»

1. Melody - September 22, 2008

I would like to say that I am pro-life all the way. I know that there are certain circumstances that seem to justify the killing of a baby…not a fetus, science proves this; However pro-lifers beliefs, mine included, come from faith that each life is precious in the eyes of our Lord who created them and us. Each life has a purpose, even if it is through a rape or what have you. The Lord wants all life to have a chance so that they may come to him and know him intimately. We humans, for the most part, do not understand God and his ways and therefore we justify our actions for what I consider to be selfish reasons, such as concentrating on a career because children are expensive, etc.(which by the way is more likely to be a reason of abortion then rape and incest).
I would also like to note that I do not believe in capital punishment because I believe God should have the final say or judgment and not man. You never know if that person who is on death row could change and be an inspiration to others. War is another issue, although I do not like nor agree with it, the Bible does predict it, but if it were up to me we would never go to war and settle things peacefully, but as long as there is a devil there will be war. So we must pray that we as Christians can bring Jesus to more people because he is the only way that there will be peace. It starts within each of us then we spread it to others. God Bless.

2. joshuachayne - September 24, 2008

Hey Melody,

Thanks for the comment! Feel free to post anytime even if you completely disagree with some of my opinions.

I definitely don’t agree with late term abortions and am glad that they banned partial birth abortions.

You are probably right that many abortions are performed for lifestyle convenience instead of health or rape.

3. caveman - November 13, 2008

There is certainly always been (with notable exceptions) hypocrisy on the right. They are the first to call for people (especially those who don’t look like them) to blow them up, pogram them, you name it, at the slightest pretense. They are pro-life, yet many lift not a finger when it comes to providing for child care and health for poor families. They call for Viagra in their health care yet whine about protecting pharmacists rights in refusing to provide any contraception for women.

Great blog, Josh


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