I am a Biblicist Christian, a conservative, nearly a libertarian, and a peacemaker, but I probably need to explain. Being a Christian means I try to trust and follow Jesus Christ, guided first by the teachings of the Bible, which I consider to be true and reliable. As a result, my beliefs and ethical values come from the Bible, too; I use the word “Biblicist” to indicate I use the Bible rather than merely claim its authority. As a conservative, I prefer to see the United States with a minimum of necessary government and law based on a literal interpretation of the constitution and the Bill of Rights. To me, a libertarian view seems to represent this position even better than a conservative one. Likewise, because I try to live by the teachings of the Bible, I am compelled to “seek peace and pursue it,” not only in the spiritual realm but in this world. Forgiveness, reconciliation, and unity are concepts vital to Biblical Christian living and to a Christian’s influence in this world. Strife, division, animosity, alienation, and hatred are destructive to life in a home, a community, a church, a nation, and the world. However, when I refer to peacemaking, I do not mean unilateral disarmament or pacifism; rather I refer to a process of resolving disputes and reconciling relationships, whether of individuals or of whole communities of people.
These values collide in many issues, but abortion is the focus for this discussion. As a Christian, I oppose abortion because I believe life is a gift from God, not to be ended by mere human whim. I am convinced life begins at conception, on both scientific and Biblical grounds. Abortion, then, is the ending of the only truly innocent life, not counting original sin, a life that has not and cannot make a choice. I also oppose assisted or any other kinds of suicide, euthanasia, and infant killing, but I favor capital punishment, justifiable self-defense, and war, though not without a few reservations. Execution of murderers is just and prevents the same person from killing again, but I believe “beyond a reasonable doubt” must be the standard. This is Biblically within the responsibility of human government, whose power ultimately comes from God, as is the power to wage war; both are “police powers” granted to protect a nation’s people.
As an almost libertarian, I also strongly favor individual freedom. Individual freedom must be limited in order to protect the life and liberty of other individuals, so some criminal and civil laws are necessary. The United States has far too many such laws; the most controversial are the drug, abortion and perhaps suicide laws and gun control laws. American history shows a progression from state to federal law to impose the will of some over the rest. This is a slippery slope. Crusaders are never satisfied to have only their community or state deal with a matter; they always move on to the national level. If they lose locally, then a federal law is the answer. If they can’t get laws passed or the constitution amended, then they’ll use the courts. Both civil suits with huge monetary settlements and Supreme Court decisions have enormously limited individual freedom, in addition to legislation and out-of-control regulations from the executive branch. (Personally, I would favor a “Year of Jubilees,” every 49 or 50 years, where everything is canceled, and we start over again with just the U. S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and a similar reduction in each state).
I prefer choice but I believe the important choices precede the circumstances that later lead to abortion choices. Most so-called pro-choice advocates are dishonest; their rhetoric and their actions demonstrate a preference for ending the lives of the unborn. They scorn informed consent despite an excess of such laws for every other medical procedure, and they malign adoption as somehow more cruel than killing a baby. I believe a woman has the right to control her own body, but she yields a measure of that control through marriage and by having sex, both choices she makes that may lead to conception. Therefore, in marriage, a husband shares the responsibility for the life he has helped to conceive, and he deserves a role in decisions concerning his child. A decision to have sex gives similar rights to any father. Of course, pro-choice advocates are typically ardent feminists who demean men as a matter of course.
Unfortunately, the present moral climate does not support this sort of liberty. The combination of selfishness, hedonistic lifestyles, and pro-abortion rhetoric make abortion a last chance kind of birth control that leads to millions of pre-born deaths. This flagrant and public disregard for life, especially the life of children, creates a climate in which life is cheap. Infanticide, whether through the medical establishment or through child-killing, is increasing. The price of individual liberty, in this case, is too high, and I must favor laws to prevent abortions. Ultimately, abortion is murder, but I would probably favor pro-life laws anyway. I find it ironic that crusaders who demand protections for the smallest of wildlife are so callous about human life.
As a peacemaker, however, I recognize several realities. First, the abortion debate has become highly polarized, leaving virtually no middle ground for meaningful debate or collaboration. As with many such issues, both sides are deeply emotional and frequently attack their adversaries in the strongest terms. Even though both sides express a desire to reduce the numbers of abortions, they do not and, perhaps, cannot work together to achieve that end. Furthermore, although typically the liberal side also tends to be opposed to big business, and the conservative side tends to oppose the abortion business in particular, the two sides never collaborate to place reasonable limits on those who make lots of money killing babies, making it one of the few unregulated businesses in America.
Like many other disputes, the abortion controversy has become a war. Both sides seek only to win, often in any way they can. The result can only be something that a near libertarian, like myself, would find oppressive and undesirable. I believe that we need to win hearts, not a war. I believe we need to find a peaceable way to resolve this issues, once and for all. Doing this assures that, once truly settled, the issue will not easily resurface in the future.
In this, all my seemingly disparate views come together. Christians, historically, have always preferred personal persuasion and individual mentoring (discipleship). Conservatives, to win votes, have to convince people that their ideas are the best. Libertarians, preferring individual freedom, can be happy with seeking to convince people individually. Given the huge numbers of abortions, I must support reasonable efforts to stop the killing, but I believe that negotiation, mediation, collaboration, and personal persuasion, the tools of effective peacemaking are the only way finally to end this horrible practice and its impact on American life and civilization. Like many other controversial, polarized, and highly emotional issues, abortion demonstrates the need for a better way to create answers. Politics, talk shows, and street attitudes have become too angry and hostile. Wars, even when won, often fail to end the conflict because they ignore the underlying problems. People, forced against their will to accept anything imposed upon them, will eventually, if not immediately, fight. Resolving issues and interests and winning over individuals can and will solve such problems permanently. The process may not be easy or quick, but the results are worth the time and effort.
On another occasion, I wrote about what I’m not and why not. If you’re interested, you can find it here.
(Slightly revised, 02/17/08-JRW)