Do believers want babies just to be born — or to live after birth? The evidence for after birth support is very poor.
Having heard several people firmly tell me that they are “pro-life,” I’ve usually first asked them then if they are against capital punishment— having myself served as chaplain in a state prison system, and having known of the inequities of the death penalty in our country, both in regard to innocent people being killed and the disproportionate number of minorities being sentenced to death.
But today I need to identify a challenge in regard to folks who claim to be “pro-life,” but are really only supportive of “pro-birth” causes vocally and financially. Several of my friends who want to make sure that every pregnancy results in a birth don’t seem concerned with the six times as many babies who die from hunger every minute in our world. Are we mainly making sure they are born, and then merely wishing them well?
Please don’t label me immediately. I believe in births, and I believe in God’s will for life. But I want to make sure we listen carefully to the theological assumptions we make about births and babies — for the sake of so many of God’s children who die every day in our world — because of choices we keep making not to support life after birth.
My beliefs and affirmations are as follows, for we may make different assumptions: (1) God gave us the capacity and the privilege of participating in creating life by providing us the tools for procreation (sperm and ovum); (2) God also provided us with responsibility, wisdom and choice to become sexually intimate; (3) God has given us freedom to exercise our own actions, but not all sexual encounters were intended by God (Just because a sperm enters an ovum doesn’t mean that God willed such, or “life”); (4) In God’s infinite wisdom, we have been given a space of time before life “begins” (life does not “begin” when a sperm invades an egg, but several weeks later when we can confirm signs of “viability”); (5) God does will for babies who are born to live.
So, are we as believers pro-life or pro-birth? Do we want them just to be born or to thrive and live on? Is our support for innocent little ones limited to their arrival — or beyond?
I’m challenged to be very careful when I use the term “pro-life,” and I’m committed to using more of the resources God has provided to contribute my part to reversing hunger and death in God’s good earth — beginning with children.
Here are a “biblical 12” organizations I trust and support regularly. Please find yours. Bread For the World, CARE, Feed the Hungry, Food & Water, International Rescue Committee, OxFam, Partners in Health, Rise Against Hunger, Seeds, UNHCR, UNICEF, and your local food bank.
Daniel G. Bagby retired from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond as the Ted Adams Professor of Pastoral Care. He previously served 28 years as a pastor and six years as a chaplain in prison systems.
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