Does God exist? If we reason that God exits, then how do this God and I relate to each other if at all? That question is more important than any other that we can possibly consider. It goes to the very root of, “What is this life I find myself in and why am I here?” If there is a creative force that sustains or at the very least can destroy at will all of the universe, then it might behoove me to consider how active this being is in my daily life. These questions are quite simply more vital to address than any other in importance. But the irony is, they are at the same time of less immediate importance to most people that I talk to. Most of the men that I ask spend more time concerned with the details of their workweek than any other matter. Their job presents immediate challenges and so the questions and problems of the moment that are subordinate in overall importance to the questions of God dominate their thought life. The most vital and transcendent questions are left either rarely considered or altogether ignored. One man told me point blank, “I just don’t have time to care about those big questions during the work week.”
I think honest reflection leads me to conclude that the sanctity of life issue suffers in much the same way. People will concede that the unborn are living human beings and that abortion is morally wrong, but they are too busy to stop addressing immediately pressing personal issues to reflect on the issue much beyond that concession. Passionately pro-life people have work, PTA fundraisers, children’s events, or whatever. Now, throw in a healthy fear of Islamic terrorists and the overwhelming belief among conservatives that the war in Iraq trumps all other political issues and you have the environment that we now find ourselves in. Pro-life is important, just like so many other things are important. But other things are taking our immediate attention right now. Even when the majority of people look upon abortion as a negative, they fail to see what that negative has to do with what concerns them most right here right now.
A good example of this was seen at the Stand to Reason blog back in October. Brett linked to a Brian McLaren promo for his new book Everything Must Change. In the promo piece McLaren waxes rhapsodically about the dissatisfaction of many people with what he characterizes as status quo Christianity. He then drops the bomb that more and more Catholics are tired of seeing their rich tradition and heritage hijacked by a single issue voting block, something McLaren later describes as shallow. Frank Beckwith caught this and responded with the following:
"I sat through the video with my mouth hanging open in utter amazement that this pastor presented the profundity of the sanctity of life by disguising it (calling it a"single issue") and then dismissing it by characterizing those who hold this view in an uncharitable way.
The view that human beings are made in the image of God and ought to be protected by our laws and the wider community is not a "single issue." It is the principle that is the point of justice itself: to love our neighbors as ourselves; to exercise charity; to help the vulnerable and the weak."
The importance of the sanctity of life as an issue confronting our culture today can not be overstated. We are at a point in time where we must ask ourselves what kind of people we wish to be. We are empowered with awesome destructive capabilities and armed with a long list of rationales as to why our use of this destructive power is better for ourselves, the sick, the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, and the unborn human lives we so cavalierly dispose of every day. We can accept the idea that a little destruction of life results in a great deal of good for everyone around us, or we can decide that whatever challenges we face we desire to be a moral people that would not kill innocent others incapable of defending themselves no matter how great the benefit of doing so. Are we relativists and consequentialists, or do we regard what we are doing as important as the results that we derive from our actions? The answer to that question sets the table for how mankind will deal with our ever increasing scientific ability to alter the very structure of humanity on a physical and genetic level.
But the average person does not appear to feel like this is that important. The average person that I talk to identifies with McLaren. Evidence you ask? Pro-lifers can claim to be as responsible for reelecting Bush as much or more than any other voting block. Without us, Bush is watching President Kerry ramp up his reelection bid. The current leading candidate for the Republican party is openly pro-choice. He is however strong on the war in Iraq, dealing with Iran and Muslim terrorists, and conservative fiscal policy. We are in a recession and afraid of terrorism. The felt needs are surpassing the foundational issues as we speak.
How then do we help people to see that this is “That Important?” How do we take the pro-life message beyond voting cycles and into the daily life of America? How do we convince the man who has a meeting with his boss in an hour, the mother that is trying to work and raise two kids, and the company president that is worried about covering payrolls that in the midst of all of this responsibility they must engage the sanctity of life question as a matter of foundational importance? If people are too busy to consider God, what is left for pro-life?
I heard a sports radio talk show host recently say that we, meaning Americans, solve problems that are important to us. If we have not solved it, he reasons, we just don’t really care all that much. As arguable as the point is, there is a grain of disturbing truth in that observation. It is like the Sex and the City observation, “He is just not all that into you.” The information is upsetting and liberating all at the same time. When we start to honestly admit that the American people are just not engaged on this issue right now, we then have to start to ask why and how do we change that. If life is of inherent value as a result of what we are and our relationship to our creator, then doing nothing is NEVER an option.