First, let’s look at some Bible verses that pro-lifers would point out as justification for their stance and see how those verses are not limited only to the topic of abortion. First is Exodus 10:13 “Thou shall not kill.” Generally we think of this as the commandment not to murder someone, but it is applied also to unborn children by Christians. However, fewer people stop to think that this can be further applied to the death penalty and to war. (Before some wise guy tries to defend the death penalty by pointing to Old Testament laws, if you’re truly advocating following OT law, you better prepared to follow all of it, including the year of Jubilee which looks a lot like the redistribution of wealth that so many Republicans cringe at.)
More than individual Old Testament passages which were given for a specific people at a specific time, Christians should be guided by Christ’s admonition to “turn the other cheek” and that anyone who thinks about harming another has already committed murder in his heart. We should also be guided by the Bible’s many, many passages about justice. Justice is a topic that covers the death penalty in our country when we consider the very real role racism plays in the sentencing process. With multiple cases of DNA evidence overturning the wrongful conviction of men and women who were sentenced to death row, we ought to be very leery of this form of punishment. That doesn’t even take into account the practical consideration that the death penalty costs us more tax dollars than a life sentence does. For more information about the 138 men and women who have been wrongfully sentenced to death in the U.S. only to be exonerated check out www.witnesstoinnocence.org. Furthermore, God admonishes that vengeance is His, not ours. Capital punishment is usually really vengeance in disguise and it cuts short an individual’s opportunity for redemption.
Justice also shouldn’t be ignored when we talk about war. Where is the justice in killing thousands of civilian Afghanis and Iraqis? When did Christians in this country start falling for the nationalistic propaganda of the Republican Party and forget that God doesn’t favor anyone, including nations? (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11) Even though there are warriors in the Bible and wars God sanctions in the Old Testament, it behooves us to remember three things. One, war that God sanctioned were led by God, not by politicians in Washington, D.C. who have ulterior motives. Two, even David, a man after God’s own heart was deemed unworthy of building God’s temple because of the blood on his hands. Three, Christ is the Prince of Peace, not the God of War, and ultimately God wants his people to beat their swords into ploughshares.
Besides issues of literal life and death, though, being pro-life should also entail wishing the best life possible for all of God’s creation. Some people might point to passages like Jeremiah 1:4-5 and Psalm 139:13 to defend their pro-life stance. If God knew each one of us before we were even born, why are we only concerned about people in utero? Doesn’t it also make sense that every living human being’s life is sacred? If I am made in the image of God, why is it okay to let me starve or go without health care? Why are Christians outraged by abortion but not outraged by politicians who suggest cutting welfare programs when the Bible says “'If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.” (Lev. 25:35) and Proverbs tells us to defend the rights of the poor? Why would they oppose any amnesty to illegal immigrants when there are several passages commanding that the foreigner be treated the same way as natives, and Jesus himself describes the righteous by saying “I was a stranger and you invited me in?”
It ought to anger us that there are people in the world who don’t have access to affordable healthcare, to nutritious food, to safe drinking water. In many ways we do recognize and try to address the issue of poverty in other countries. We send our monthly contribution to organizations like World Vision and Christian Children’s Fund. But then we forget about all the people here in the States whose lives we essentially throw away by supporting politicians who favor the wealthy, politicians who in order to woo the Christian vote play lip-service to “pro-lifers.” But if they were really pro-life, the way God is pro-life, if they viewed people the way God sees the lives of each individual he knit together in their mothers’ wombs, they would work toward peace, not continue to amass the world’s largest military. They would ban the death penalty. They would advocate for the poor and disabled, not cut funding that helps them. They would support environmentally friendly programs to ensure that future generations can also have the abundant life God wants for us.
So when someone says they are pro-life, make sure you know if they mean all life, or just the ones that fit their political agenda.