Our eyes are open PDF Print E-mail
Written by P.J. Southam   

Which of these are life issues?

End of life care, assisted suicide, euthanasia
Hunger, and access to food, access to clean water
Stewardship of the environment
Health care, preventative medicine, access to childhood vaccines
Violence, abuse, murder
Crime, punishment, capital punishment
War, terrorism
Human trafficking, slavery, exploitation

All of these are life issues. All of them are important to the well-being of humans. As a Presbyterian Christian I agree that one of the purposes of Christ's Church is to be an instrument of transformation in the world. We are to attempt to influence our communities to become just, humane, and merciful, as revealed to us by God's Holy Word. Our term for this is that two of the Great Ends of the Church are the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.

That's a big job! But, as the saying goes, we have a big God. And, thankfully we are part of a big Kingdom. Around the world there are approximately one billion followers of Jesus Christ. That is a big family of brothers and sisters! There is something for everyone to do in the Kingdom of God.

One of the criticisms we in pro-life movement sometimes hear is that we care about the pre-born, but don't care about children after they are born, or their mothers, or the issues that affect human beings once we are out of the womb and into this bigger, wider world. We are sometimes asked "Why don't you advocate or work for ________ (access to food and clean water, health care, an end to ... see the list above)? By the tone of voice of some of our critics what is unsaid is "You don't seem to care."

Actually we do care. Many of us in the pro-life movement do care about the things on this list. I would be glad to have a conversation with you about my views on these things. Can we agree to keep the conversation civil?

Here is why I believe that the pro-life movement concentrates its attention on the protection of the preborn, and caring for the vulnerable at the end of life. There are two parts to this. First, the right to life is the most fundamental human right. If a person does not have life, they won't have any of the other human rights. That is simple and basic. Second, we have a focus, but that does not mean that we wear blinders.

Let me repeat that. We have a focus, but we do not wear blinders. We are aware of these other issues. These are all important issues that impact human life. God has placed in our hearts the issues of protection of the preborn and those at end of life. God has called us to work in those particular areas. God has also placed these other issues in the hearts of other of his people, and called them to work on behalf of those things. I am grateful to my brothers and sisters who work to end hunger, to provide clean water, to stop human trafficking, to get medical care and childhood vaccines to those who have difficulty accessing them, to work for peace, and all of those other things that would diminish human life and flourishing. All of those are big, big issues that will require many people to work on a solution. No one person can solve them all, and none of us can do anything without the Holy Spirit. Other people are called to those other issues. Are they doing it all? No, but they are doing what they can. They are doing what God has called them to do. They also have a focus, but do not wear blinders.

In the Christian community we will have differences and disagreements. That is nothing new, just look at the group of the first twelve disciples. My hope is that despite our disagreements that we can lay aside the accusation of "you don't care."

The Rev P.J. Southam is pastor of Big Creek Presbyterian Church, Hannibal Missouri. He serves on the Board of Directors of Presbyterians Pro-Life and is the author of The Presbyterian Heritage Daily Devotional published in 2006 by Booksurge Publishing, as well as numerous articles and essays written for PPL and others.




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