Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Abolitionist
Why abolition is replacing the pro-life movement as the Christian response to abortion.
When someone asks me if I’m pro-life, I always have to ask what he or she means by that. If I answer “no,” then the asker will typically assume that I am pro-choice, in favor of granting parents the freedom to murder their children. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I of course oppose child sacrifice; however that does not mean that I am pro-life.
If the question is asking, “Are you in favor of life,” then the answer of course is “yes,” because I serve the true and the living God, who identifies Himself with the living (Mrk 12:26-27).
If the question is asking, “Do you believe that all human beings have an inalienable right to life,” then the answer is “technically no,” because I believe in capital punishment. Justice for someone who murders a human being is to be killed himself (Gen 9:6). Human beings do not actually have a right to life; rather our protection comes from the fact that we are commanded not to kill other innocent humans, because they are created in the image of God.
If on the other hand the question is asking, “Do you approve of the pro-life movement and strategy,” then my answer is a loud and unashamed “NO.” The movement that goes by the label “pro-life” is foundationally compromised in its ideology and proposed solution to abortion.
Two Different Foundations
The basic disagreement between abolitionist and pro-life thinking comes in the foundations of our understand and approach to abortion. Pro-lifers will say things like the following:
“The reason I believe this is not because of my Christianity; science supports what I’m saying.”
“I can produce good legislation that protects children without appealing to Christianity or God’s higher law.”
The particular issue may vary, but in its foundation, pro-life rhetoric and strategy will leave the word of God out of the discussion, trying to meet secularists on some form of “common ground.”
The trouble is, for a biblical thinker, when you leave Christianity out of the argument, you’re leaving out the very foundation of rational thought. Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word who spoke the universe (and therefore scientific processes etc.) into existence, said the following about Himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jhn 14:6) His words are emphatic; all truth (and life) ultimately flows out of Jesus, so you cannot arrive at a rational understanding of anything if your knowledge is generated in a way that departs from the foundation of truth Himself.
Answers in Genesis does a lot of good work in this regard; Ken Ham and friends will talk about the fact that darwinists can believe in many true things, but when you trace back their reason for believing these ideas, it’s because they are inconsistently drawing from the Christian worldview. Conversely, many Christians will try to argue with Darwinists by ”meeting in the middle” — stepping out of the Christian worldview to debate through “reason built on common ground.” These Christians do not realize that the alleged common ground is a man or creation-centered philosophy (e.g. materialism) which tries to derive truth by presupposing that the foundation of truth (God) is either unnecessary in epistemology (knowledge building), or a flat-out lie.
So in the origins debate, there are three schools of thought — the secularists (darwinists), the syncretists (intelligent design, old earth creationism etc.), and the biblicists (creationists). The syncretists can present a tempting offer to Christians, because they can appear to produce rational arguments by meeting the secularists on common ground; however in doing so they abandon the foundation of scripture and biblical thinking. It is ultimately the biblicists who hold a consistently logical, rational worldview by openly and unashamedly building everything on the foundation of truth, Jesus Christ.
In the same way, during the abolition of slavery, there were three schools of thought in terms of how to address that issue — the secularists / compromised Christians (pro-slavery), the syncretists (colonizationists), and the biblicists (the abolitionists). The abolitionists were “radicals” who were constantly being criticized by the colonizationists for their unwillingness to leave the gospel and the word of God out of the discussion. Yet they refused to be ashamed of their biblical foundation, and it was ultimately the biblicists who got the job done — because slavery is a sin issue, Jesus Christ actually is Truth, and the gospel actually is the only remedy to sin.
In the same way, during the abolition of abortion, there are now three schools of thought — the secularists (pro-choicers), the syncretists (pro-lifers), and the biblicists (abolitionists). Like the abolitionists who fought the colonizationist movement, we abolitionists believe that the single greatest thing that is keeping abortion legal is not the pro-choice movement, but rather the pro-life movement. It’s the same strategy that Satan has used for ages; by presenting a syncretistic answer to abortion, well-meaning Christians will leave the word of God out of the discussion, effectively leaving out the cure.
The five tenets of abolitionism outlined above develop five areas where the pro-life movement abandons the biblical worldview. To provide just one brief example however, many pro-lifers assume the premise that all innocent human beings have the right to life; not everyone agrees with that. Consistent darwinists for example don’t view a categorical difference between humans and animals; the foundational premise of their moral code is the idea that might makes right — survival of the fittest. If a society of human animals finds survival value in working together, then a code of acceptable behavior that protects life may be present; however there is nothing inherent to the nature of humanity which says that their atoms and cells must not be changed in their arrangement by a knife or blunt object etc.; death is amoral, a simple fact of the material state of the universe.
Christianity alone is able to produce human worth, because Christianity alone is actually true. Other religions try, but the reasons for believing in them are simply illogical, arbitrary, and often self-contradictory; and ultimately they all devolve into humanism. Biblical Christianity on the other hand presents a robust worldview that explains the whole order of creation that we see around us, past, present and future. As mentioned above, human beings have rights because we are created in the image of God, so to attack a human, you are attacking God, and by extension all of creation under His and man’s authority (Gen 9:6).
When the pro-life movement leaves the biblical worldview and tries to argue from a place of common ground, they are leaving the foundation of truth, and their arguments become just as arbitrary and illogical as those of the pro-choice movement. As a result, pro-life legislation is foundationally pro-choice, regulating the conditions under which parents may choose to murder their children.
Moral Opinion vs Moral Action
Aside from worldview differences, another key distinction between the labels “pro-life” and “abolitionist” involve the duties they lay upon us. The term “pro-life” expresses a moral opinion, whereas the term “abolitionist” expresses a moral action.
There is a divide in our culture, between those people who simply hold a moral opinion, and those who take action in response to their beliefs. The term “pro-choice” is largely adopted by people who believe that women have a right to abortion, but who don’t take substantive action in response to that belief. The term “pro-life” is largely adopted by people who believe that abortion is morally wrong, but who don’t take substantive action in response to that belief.
The term “abolitionist” on the other hand leaves no room for moral opinion without moral action, when living in a culture that practices evil. This is because abolitionist beliefs necessarily lead into action, just as God’s word taking root in a human heart necessarily leads to good fruit (Mat 13:1-23).
Pro-life ideology views action on behalf of the oppressed as an optional, special calling that some Christians (and secularists) may choose to help out with. Abolitionist ideology on the other hand views action on behalf of the oppressed (and even specifically on behalf of children being sacrificed) as an integral duty laid upon the shoulders of every Christian. There are many Bible passages that substantiate this claim, but the classic example from Christ is the parable of the good Samaritan.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put [Jesus] to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
“Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”
And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luk 10:25-37)
Christians are not given the option of ignoring the plight of the needy and the oppressed. In a culture that primarily destroys the image of God in preborn children, this requires Christians to focus primarily on protecting those being murdered in the womb.
Pure and undefiled Christianity does not allow disciples of Christ to walk by the needy in their distress (Jas 1:27). Therefore abolitionism, defined simply as the Christian response to evil in the world, does not allow abolitionists to hold a moral opinion, without taking moral action.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (Jas 2:14-17)
Abolition: A Christian’s Duty
Many Christians instinctively recognize that they have a God-given duty to help the needy and the oppressed. In Pennsylvania, where the neediest people are the 30,000+ people being murdered by abortion every year, they understand that Jesus does not give us the option to walk by these children on the other side of the road as they bleed into the ground (Luk 10:25-37).
Many Christians know that they should do something, but they don’t know where to begin. The Activate series is designed to give you a simple, free way to educate yourself about the abolition of abortion, and to make an impact on the people in your social network.
Five minutes out of your day can save the child of someone you know. Join the movement that is shifting the culture’s perspective on abortion toward repentance and trust in Jesus Christ.