As Jesus followers, we follow the one who can lead us to eternal life and life abundant, and therefore should hold a worldview that is intensely in favor of life. Great. I’m all on board.
This is becoming difficult because of the dishonesty of the term; a term which should indicate we are always in favor of life, has become a term to indicate being against abortion.When someone says “pro-life” our thoughts immediately go to the abortion debate when instead it should cause us to think of an larger value system which shows value and dignity of life in all respects.
Instead of the polarization this term brings, I would love to see a new understanding of the term.
I have decided to begin using the term in a bigger way- a way that represents a total value, not just for the unborn, but for the post-born as well.
I’m going show what the term “pro-life” should be. So, if you’ve always considered yourself pro-life, allow me to show you the 10 things you can’t do while professing to be on the side of life.
10. You cannot support unrestricted abortions, after the age of viability.
While I don’t want this to be a post about abortion, I would fail in my argument that ‘pro-life’ needs be holistic and represent all life, if I didn’t list abortion. While I don’t favor the complete abolition of abortion in all circumstances, I think it’s an easy call to oppose elective abortions which occur after the age of viability.
9. You cannot oppose a livable, minimum wage.
After adjustments for inflation, the minimum wage today is $2 less an hour than it was in 1968. There are millions of people stuck in an inescapable life of poverty- not because of laziness, but because their hard work at lagging minimum wages are insufficient for basic needs, such as housing.
Here, in Canada, the best-case scenario for minimum wage workers is that one would only need to work 63 hours a week at minimum wage to rent a two-bedroom apartment at fair market value. Live in New York? You’re looking at working 136 hours to pay just for housing.
It’s impossible to say that we are legitimately in favor of “life” when millions among us are unable to afford basic housing regardless of how hard they work.
8. You cannot support economic policies which oppress the poor or any other marginalized group.
We cannot claim to be in favor of life while oppressing the poor. All throughout scripture, we are warned about this and in fact God makes it quite clear that our religious activity is offensive to him if we are failing to defend the poor and needy. Jesus warned that the judgement of the nations would be a judgement based upon how they treated the poor and vulnerable.
Being in favor of life, must mean being in favor of the poor and oppressed.
7. You cannot oppose gender equality.
Being in favor of life, means we equally value the life of both genders. In 2018, we should be ashamed that women still earn less than men earn for the same work. We need to demand an end to gender based discrimination in our churches as well.
If we really value life, we need to actively oppose gender-based discrimination everywhere we find it, even if that’s a little too close to home for our comfort.
6. You cannot support oppressive immigration policies.
As followers of Jesus, remember that the immigrant population is one that is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible. We are told to be hospitable, generous, and to treat them no differently than those who are native born.
To live in one of the richest countries in the world, it doesn’t show a value for life when we want to continue consuming but build fences to keep our poor neighbors out. The worldview of “this is mine, you can’t have it” is incompatible with a pro-life stance.
5. You cannot oppose healthcare and clean drinking water for all.
One cannot say they are legitimately pro-life while opposing equal access to healthcare for the poor. To say “you are required to carry your baby to term” in one breath and then say “but want vaccines so that your baby doesn’t get sick and die? Sorry, you’re out of luck” is the opposite of being pro-life.
One of my greatest embarrassments as a Canadian is that, given the wealth of this nation, that many who live in the north of Canada do not have access to clean drinking water nor healthy food at an affordable price.
Ensuring people have the medical care and clean water they need to live, is part of being in favor of life.
4. You cannot use dehumanizing language.
Once we begin referring to others with language that devalues their humanity, the unthinkable becomes possible. If we use dehumanizing language for long enough, we’ll start seeing those individuals as less than human - which make it much easier to begin oppressing them, even in subtle ways.
Doubt it? Think residential schools, institutions for the handicapped, and no clean drinking water for fellow Canadians.
This is inconsistent with a pro-life worldview, and inconsistent with what Jesus modeled for us.
3. You cannot support unrestricted gun rights.
This one should be the most obvious. It’s an hypocritical to call oneself pro-life, but also argue that any citizen must have access to assault weapons, which are designed to take life away. There is no other purpose for guns, beyond killing.
2. You cannot support the death penalty.
Being pro-life, means that we are in favor of all life. That includes those who are on death row. If we are Jesus centered we see that Jesus himself in John chapter 8, stood in the way of an imminent execution. And, while perhaps the law had the right to demand death, as far as Jesus was concerned there isn’t anyone alive who is worthy of acting as the hangman.
We know that capital punishment is inconsistently practiced across racial lines– which alone make it an unjust practice even without solid theological reasons for opposing it.
If we value life, we must strive to see lives restored instead of lives destroyed.
1. You cannot support, advocate for, or participate in war.
As a Jesus follower, I now realize how inconsistent advocating, supporting, or participating in war is for someone claiming to have a pro-life worldview.
War is incompatible with a way of life that radically sides with life and stands in the way of death. Those of us who truly wish to live out a pro-life ethic, must pound our swords into plowshares.
If you see yourself as pro-life, great. However, if you’ve worn that label simply because you want to abolish abortion- please, let me challenge you to expand what it means to truly be pro-life, instead of simply being pro-birth.