By Chris Arce
What does it mean to be “pro-life”? Does being “pro-life” only require opposing abortion? If we define “pro-life” exclusively by declared opposition to abortion, then yes, Donald Trump is the “pro-life” candidate, and Secretary Clinton is not.
Indeed, Christ compels us to be concerned for the unborn: Psalm 139:13 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb,” (NASB). God created each of us with a purpose for his glory, and to neglect the life of the unborn goes in direct opposition to the importance that Jesus has placed on the unborn.
Christ did not stop affirming the dignity of life once it existed beyond the womb–which is what such a narrow definition of “pro-life” presupposes. Unwillingness to ensure that the baby enjoys all that it needs upon birth, and to neglect the life of the baby once it is born, too, is heinous and not “pro-life” but rather “pro-birth”. Biblically, this definition fails to encapsulate the magnitude of the importance of life that Christ commanded. Genesis 1:27 tells us that “God created mankind in His own image,” (NIV). For God to create us in his own image is an act of bestowing dignity and importance on all lives. If God created all of Creation with inherent value, then “pro-life” cannot be defined by opposition to abortion alone but must affirm the dignity inherent in all lives and all of Creation.
Being pro-life means that we must actively oppose racism, which strips individuals of their God-given dignity. Colossians 3:11 speaks of “a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (NIV). All people have worth–God makes clear that our physical attributes do not define our worth. To be pro-life means that we must challenge man-made distinctions that are used to subjugate some and privilege others. This does not mean we deny their existence. We do not say “I don’t see color.” Jesus does transcend color, meaning our salvation is not determined by race, but that does not mean that Jesus wants us to ignore the different experiences people of color are subjected to in this world. If the Church is to affirm the dignity of people of color, the Church must, from a place of humility, listen to people of color. Instead of telling us how we are to feel or how much priority we should give racism, ask, how can we help? How can we serve you? A simple how are you doing is incredible. To be “pro-life”, the Church must be a partners in overcoming racism, empowering those of us affected by racism, not silencing but amplifying voices while as many people fill Church seats with their anguish, anger, and sadness casted aside.
Being pro-life means opposing sexism and misogyny. Women are revered in the Bible. The respect that Jesus gave to women was wholly anomalous to the omnipresent misogynistic notions that plagued the society in which he existed. In John 2:4, he addresses his mother “my dear woman” showing her respect (NIV). Paul demanded that “Husband, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church, and give himself up for her” (NIV). Women are children of God deserving of respect–we must affirm their dignity. Sexism does the opposite. The Church must recognize and not be silent towards the pain of women who are survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and support them.
Being “pro-life” means affirming the dignity of the differently abled without patronizing them. We must oppose discrimination against their different abilities. Mocking different abilities and ignoring the discrimination that many people of different abilities face is rejecting the dignity of all life. Luke 14:13 says, “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” (ESV).
Being pro-life means that we must stand up for the needy and the poor, and affirm their dignity, viewing them as people in need of and deserving of help and respect. We must be empathetic and not judge the poor and the needy. We must look to understand them, not attack them with preconceived notions of how they ended up in the situations in which they find themselves. We must look to understand the roots of poverty from a place of love, and not a place of contempt or arrogance. We must actively challenge stereotypes of poor people. Proverbs 14:31 says, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (NIV).
Being pro-life means that we must care for the refugees: when Job was discussing his dedication to God’s calling he said, “No stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler,” (NIV). Job served God by showing hospitality to those who needed it, welcoming those who did not have a home, and sheltering those who did not have a place to find security and safety in. We are supposed to respect foreigners: Exodus 23:9 says, “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt” (NIV). Moreover, in Ezekiel 16:49 God makes clear the fault of Sodom–they refused to help those in need: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and the needy” (NIV).
The first definition of “pro-life” has allowed much of the Church to crown Donald Trump as the “pro-life” candidate despite his racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Consequently, the former is a problematic definition that we should unequivocally reject, lest we see our ability to be a witness to those around us diminish as much of the Church coalesces around a man, crowning him as “pro-life” despite his abhorrent treatment of women, the differently abled, people of color, refugees, immigrants, and more. I have yet to see Christians argue that Secretary Clinton is “pro-life”, but I will now clarify: neither Donald Trump nor Secretary Clinton is “pro-life” in the sense that they do not uphold the sanctity of life in all that they do. Donald Trump, with his racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Secretary Clinton and her idea that the unborn are not entitled to any rights, both reject the sanctity of life. In rushing to find a “pro-life” candidate, it appears that we have lowered our standards of what “pro-life” means. The Church, in humility, needs to have a discussion on how to affirm the dignity of life, both inside and outside of the womb, without branding anyone as less of a Christian for differing views and priorities.
Want to know more about Chris? Read his bio here.