We ask – usually in challenging tones – Are you pro-choice or pro-life? It sounds like a straightforward either-or question, but it’s not. Take me, for example. I’m pro-both.
A lot of questions, like this one, look simple on the surface but rest on unspoken assumptions. You can’t answer the classic loaded question “Are you still beating your wife?” with a simple “yes” or “no” without getting into trouble. “Are you pro-choice or pro-life?” holds similar hazards. The questioner’s assumptions need to be identified lest your answer back you into a corner and make you say something you don’t mean.
The Pro-Choice Stance
If I say I’m pro-choice people assume I believe that I have the right to choose what I do with what my uterus contains as well as the right to decide when what’s in my uterus becomes a person. I don’t believe I have the right – or the wisdom – to make such decisions. Rights belong not to us but to God. Yet, while God does not give us rights, He does give us freedom to form opinions (and take actions) that differ from His heart.
Pro-choice people emphasize our freedom to choose. I agree. Not because I unequivocally support abortion (I don’t) but because I respect God’s decision to give us the freedom to choose to resist Him. He lets us make choices that cause Him to weep. God is clearly against many of our choices (He knows they’ll hurt us). But just as clearly He is for our freedom to make those choices. He is pro freedom of choice. In that sense, God is pro-choice, So am I.
The Pro-Life Stance
If I say I’m pro-life people assume I believe that human life begins at conception. I do. Psalm 139 convinces me that we are living persons while we’re being formed in our mother’s womb.
Psalms 139:13-15 13 For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Look at the personal pronouns: my, me, I. Look at when this personal use started: in my mother’s womb.
The New Testament also makes clear the personhood of the unborn. Elizabeth (six months pregnant) felt her unborn baby (already named John) leap for joy when Mary (pregnant with the newly-conceived Jesus) walked into the room (Luke 1:35-44). These unborn children have personalities. They have names. They are, at different stages of pregnancy, recognized as living people.
If I say I’m pro-life, people often make another assumption: they assume (correctly) that I believe that the decision to end a pregnancy belongs to God, not to people. I agree. The number of days in every life is planned by God before the child is born. Look at Psalm 139 again:
Psalm 139:16 Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
God has ordained the length of our life. We have no right to alter His plans. The right to begin, continue, and terminate life belongs to God. Could ending a pregnancy to save the mother’s life be in accordance with God’s pro-life stance? I, with sorrow, believe so. But outside of that agonizing circumstance, I hesitate. Life belongs to God, not to us. He has ordained our days, all of them.
God’s commitment to life pervades the bible He starts humanity by making Adam a living being (Genesis 2:7) and making Eden flourish with life. Jesus tells us that He came so we “might have life and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Eternity begins with believers having the right to the tree of life (Revelation 22:14). God is clearly pro-life. So am I.
What Each Side Leaves Out
Pro-lifers, in their commitment to life, leave out God’s commitment to choice. Pro-choicers, in their commitment to choice leave out God’s commitment to life (and omit and His description of when person-hood begins). Each camp involves itself in egregious error.
While God longs for us to choose life, He doesn’t force us to choose life. Instead, He gives us the freedom to choose life … or to choose death.
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live. (ESV)
I believe God is pro-life and pro-choice. I’m convinced He’s pro-both. And so am I. I’m pro-both too.
A Prayer for Wisdom
We shouldn’t feel forced to take sides here. Each view has something to offer. Would that we all could be both discerning and kind each time this subject enters a conversation. May we have ears to listen to each other. May we respect the life and the freedom to choose present in each of us.
Are You Pro-Choice or Pro-Life? (I’m Pro-Both)
© Lynne Fox, 2017