Considering my enjoyment of controversial ideas and a desire to reflect on all things assumed, it struck me as odd when I realized I’ve never written on abortion.
Just seems like it should have come up.
It comes up in my Facebook and Twitter feed all the time.
A disclaimer of sorts to start. I refuse to talk about this on the fringes. By that I mean I will not define each side at their worst. It’s not fair and the fact that many of us chose to discuss important topics in that way is a major reason there is such disunity. Few feel it’s fair to be branded the same Christians as members of West Burrow Baptist. In the same way many Muslims would say that seeing them and ISIS as the same is wildly unfair.
So I will not fall into dehumanizing rhetoric. No expecting and then choosing to see the worst in the other side. I will not see myself as noble and the other as monstrous. It’s never the easy and rarely that clear.
I think, as Christians, we’d be far better positioned in our communities to share Jesus love and grace if we would treat people as people and not pawns in our arguments. If we saw other Christians as valuable and worthy of our time, our grace, and used language that denotes a care for others that currently we are sorely lacking. In almost all cases they aren’t heretics or evil, they just see something different. Refusing to see Christ in them at the start is how so much of this devolves into hate, anger and ultimately a consistently un-Christ like discussion.
When we get down to it, I don’t think there is really all that much difference from one side to the next to be honest. I think that in general this, like so many other discussions, is a topic used to cover the real discussion. When we talk about abortion and more specifically when we talk about the other side in a discussion about abortion, we aren’t really talking about abortion.
I think we are arguing about power. And what’s worse is we are putting desperate people and their unborn children in the middle.
Despite all the reading I’ve done and all the arguments I’ve heard one thing has become clear to me. Neither side really wants abortions. Neither side is hoping for more abortions but rather would love to see a world where they weren’t necessary or an option depending on your view.
And with that reality, the fact that we can’t find common ground is ludicrous. Both sides feel they have the market cornered on loving life and yet neither side can see it in the other.
We make the “other” a monster.
The debate is almost never about common ground, moving towards better situations for all involved. It’s a constant battle to win the argument, rather than create a space and system that is better for all involved than it was yesterday. It not enough for progress we need to crush the other. They need to lose all power and control. They need to relinquish their power and control to the noble us. Abortion is just one of the many arenas we choose to try and flex our power.
Because if the goal is really to find common ground and new solutions to old problems rather than just fighting like children, we probably would spend so much time fighting like children. We wouldn’t back into our corners and spew horrible things about the other. We could discuss this with nuance and grace and a desire for a better future, not just the future we want. The one with us in control.
When we choose to see the other as a monster we miss the obvious reality. We are a monster.
It’s the belief that we hold an objective truth and they don’t. The problem is that they feel exactly the same way and have all of the same backings we do. They have scripture, science, emotional impact stories, etc.
So we just dig in more. Knowing how right we are and how wrong they are. Seeing more and more them, and this is important, and their idea as a monster to be conquered. And how do we conquer the idea?
Through conquering them.
By winning the battle for power, ripping it from them in any way possible.
By dehumanizing them.
By seeing them as less.
By assuming the worst.
By rejecting the image of God in them.
The reality we all purposefully choose to ignore is that the vast majority on both sides don’t want abortions. It’s not that pro-choice people want lots of abortions. They aren’t excited that they exist and trying to kill as many fetuses as possible.
It’s presented like that, but that’s crazy and wildly untrue.
It’s as untrue as the belief that pro-life people care only for unborn child and could not care less about them once they are born.
Because for most, that is also crazy.
But the continued regression into the view of the other as a monster makes thinking those things about them easier. The belief we are the sole holder of truth makes that easier. The way we view them at their worst and us at our best makes that easier.
When all is said and done far too much of this is approach not values. It’s not that both sides don’t want to support those who are marginalized, it’s just how they think is best to do it is up for debate. It’s not that both sides don’t deeply value life, it’s their approach to supporting life that differs. It’s not that both sides don’t want to see a reduction in abortions, it’s their approach to how we make that happen.
And I think this is where Jesus steps in.
When we can see the plank in our own eye. When we can chose to love our enemy. To choose relate to them as valuable. When we see the image of God not only in an unborn child but the scared mother and the medical practitioner trying to love her.
No murders and baby killers. No oppressors looking to control women.
Just people trying to work through the mess of living out love.
Is Jesus pro-life or pro-choice?
He’s pro-love, and it’s up to us to find ways to love. Love those we disagree with, those we hate, those monsters on the other side.
Because when I dehumanize, derogate, and attack there is only one monster in that moment and it’s not them.
If we fought less to increase pro-choice or pro-life agendas, but rather tried to find comprehensive and meaningful ways to reduce the number of abortions, both sides can win. Both sides can work together. Both sides can love their communities, neighbours and families.
If we could all agree to love people more than we love our ideas and agendas, this wouldn’t be nearly as hard.
But it just isn’t about love is it? It’s about being right. It’s about power. It’s about standing for truth, whatever that means. And that truth extends past, beyond and often directly through actual people. The truth matters more than all the people we marginalized, demonize and actively choose to hate as we fight for truth.
Just like Jesus did…………..
Until I’m willing to go to appointments, sit in the room at birth, and support this new family with child care and finances for the rest of their life I struggle to say a mother to be can’t have choice. To know and see daily the life of so many who live in poverty, it’s hard for me to stand in judgment. It’s hard for me to speak into situations and experience I’ve never had, but as a listen it’s far less clear than I want it to be.
But in the same way, that fetus is a person to me. They are made and crafted in the image of God and need to be protected as much as any other marginalized community does. They need me to speak for them.
So where do I stand on abortion, pro-choice or pro-life?
To me, the question is ultimately rigged. It forces us to miss the point entirely. Is it about abortions or is it about loving people, all people. Not one more than another. Not picking and choosing who we want to love but finding a way to love everyone involved in the complexity of real life, not the abstract of some idea or case study formed to push an agenda.
At this point I refuse to be pro-life or pro-choice. I want to see no abortions. I want a world free from abortions but choosing pro-life or pro-choice makes that world less and less likely to me. Retreating to our corner and creating monsters out of the other assures we can’t reach the world I think both sides honestly want.
I choose the grey, messy middle ground of pro-love. Trying to wrestle out how to love everyone involved more than my ideas, my own feelings and my preconceived notions of what I can and should impose on others.
Love is greater than pro-choice and pro-life.
Love will allow us a third way that respects the nuance and trauma of all involved.