By Dave Andrusko
This editorial appeared in the Christmas 1981 edition of National Right to Life News
As I was putting this Christmas issue together, the thought struck me that as a group pro-lifers waste an enormous amount of energy trying to dispel the stereotype/slur that we are the social action arm of this or that religious group. We spend these endless hours trying to demonstrate we are not “religiously motivated,” however, for two very different reasons.
On the one hand, everyone understands there are many among our ranks who come to their pro-life convictions based on purely secular criteria. For example, to any mind not frozen in place, the biological evidence for the unborn’s humanity is indisputable. Others, perhaps more historically conscious, champion the unborn because they understand that in a real sense, we hang together or we hang separately. Either all life is inviolable, or, ultimately, none is. In either case, it is flat out wrong to attribute religious motivation to those who are pro-life for purely secular reasons.
But it need hardly be said that the fact that our Movement contains both believers and nonbelievers is not the only reason we so vigorously deny even the tint of religious coloration. For we are quite aware that in today’s atmosphere, to admit to being “religious” (“Are you or have you ever been fundamentally religious?”) is to invite a hailstorm of criticism, particularly if one’s religious convictions extend beyond making an offering at the 10:00 morning service. The “wall” between church and state, so profoundly misunderstood (and so recently constructed), is now used to fence us in; there is now, unfortunately, a whole new connotation to the phrase ”religious ghetto.”
To be sure, there is never any shortage of cracks in this wall of separation should a given religious group’s aims be indistinguishable from those of the mainstream secular agenda. Witness our friends from [what was then called] the Religious Coalition for Abortion rights. Nobody seems to be worried about RCAR’s undue political influence that may result from their tens of thousands of dollars worth of New York Times ads. No, the harsh criticism and the frenzied rhetoric is saved for the religious traditionalists, whose values more often than not center around the family.
They are doubly damned, particularly in the popular press, for two contradictory reasons. First, for “intruding” into the world of politics and governance; and second, for not intruding with the same agenda as, say the RCAR. In a nutshell, you can’t join unless you come in our side.
But the issue is deeper than the relentless use of double standards, or the irrefutable medical evidence that the unborn is one of us, deserving of protection. Clearly, the case for the unborn can stand independently of any religious doctrine. As the science of fetology matures, its findings do not say one thing to believers, another to nonbelievers. Our concern here is, rather, the soul-wrenching horror that abortion represents to those who come to their pro-life position for BOTH sets of reasons, secular and religious.
For as Pastor Clifford Bajema has observed, abortion is a direct negation of two vital strands of traditional Judeo-Christian thought: that, because there is a God, there are such things as universal, unchanging moral principles; and second, because God has called man into a direct spiritual relationship with him, we can, however imperfectly, reflect his character, which is love. In its most perfect form this love is unconditional.
Bajema eloquently illuminates the nature of freely-given, selfless love. Unconditional love (agape) does not discriminate, even as God does not discriminate in his love between beggars and kings. In Bajema’s words, “Agape says: ‘Show me a person (male or female, black or white, rich or poor, genius or mongoloid, infant or adult, born or unborn, wanted or unwanted) and, quite regardless of his value, beauty, desirability, or usefulness, I will with God’s help love him and esteem him as myself, as a person of highest value and beauty, uniquely precious and inviolable because he is there.’”
Abortion makes a mockery of both of these precious traditions. From an absolute principle that no innocent life can ever be taken, except in those very rare cases where another’s life is directly at stake, we slaughter the innocents with the same casual indifference we would squash an ant. From an unconditional love for all of God’s creatures, we would deny life for no more reason than that the child happens to be a girl rather than a boy.
Hopefully, it need not be added that this in no way implies that the only legitimate religious ethic is the Judeo-Christian ethic, nor does it suggest that pro-lifers who have a personal relationship with their Creator are somehow “better.” That would demonstrate the kind of intolerance our opponents have patented. Instead I reflect on the personal repugnance of abortion to most believers in the Judeo-Christian ethic probably because Christmas is approaching, to the Christian half of that ethic, the birthday of the infant Messiah.
Christians above all should find an ethic based on conditional love abhorrent. For the Messiah came not to save the perfect–there were none–but the imperfect. And let these few comments also be seen as an open invitation to all those who have not yet committed themselves to the Right to Life Movement to join us, most especially to those who profess their faith in the One who came to save us all.