Monday, September 28, 2015

Should Christians be “Polarizing”?

A friend who attended a protest against Planned Parenthood recently sent me this objection he had received from a Christian family member:
The effects of events like this are more polarizing and produce enmity between the opposing sides in ways that could be easily avoided. 
My friend asked for my thoughts on the matter. This was the gist of my response:
The problem with your family member’s view is that, even though he probably acknowledges abortion is wrong, he doesn't think it's that wrong. In other words, he doesn't really think abortion is on the same level as slavery, segregation, or the evils of national socialism. He would never criticize William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr., or Dietrich Bonhoeffer for being too "polarizing." This is because he recognizes that those men were fighting great evils that should polarize society. In other words, he recognizes that those men were fighting great evils that people should sharply and dogmatically oppose.
Every year in America, over 12,000 babies are literally ripped into pieces – often while they are still alive – in the sixth month of pregnancy or later. How could any Christian not consider this among the greatest human rights abuses of all time?
Part of the problem might be a subtle ethnic or chronological bias. We like to think that Americans are 'the good guys,' and modern people are humane and enlightened. It is therefore easier for us to acknowledge human rights abuses on another continent or in another century than for us to admit that an institution at the heart of our own culture is pure barbarism. 
However, I think there may be an even deeper problem. Christians need to question how much of their purported humanitarianism is motivated by self-image. On most issues, speaking out for social justice also means receiving applause as a progressive. Not so for abortion. The issue of abortion, therefore, forces us to decide whether we are really fighting for justice or simply looking for applause.

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