The last few weeks, I’ve been talking about Christians speaking to politics from outside the system. The idea is that we need to approach social issues in a holistic fashion, speaking to broad issues rather than political talking points.
There’s much more. A while back, I did a series of posts on James Davison Hunter’s excellent book To Change The World. If you missed it, you can start with this post and read as much as you’d like in the series. Hunter points out that one failing of the modern church is how we’ve come to see the political system as the only vehicle by which we can change society. The reality of the situation is, that system is ill suited to bring about the kind of change we’d like to see.
Take the issue of abortion, for example. For many Christians, this topic is all about getting the courts and legislatures of this country to declare abortion illegal. That will stop the killing of babies, many assume. Funny thing is, the facts say that this just isn’t true.
Do you know what areas of the world have the highest abortion rates? Africa and Latin America, where abortion is illegal in many areas. Do you know what nation has the fewest abortions per pregnancy? The Netherlands, where abortion is legal and easily available. [It’s admittedly hard to cite studies on this, because most are published by groups on one side or the other of the abortion debate. Can I cite the World Health Organization? Here’s a link: Facts on induced abortion worldwide]
Am I supporting the legalization of abortion? By no means. I’m saying that the church has been distracted from the real battleground, which isn’t the electoral college nor the Supreme Court. If we really want to do something about abortion, we’ll stop wasting time, money and effort on politics and spend it dealing with the problem itself.
Why don’t we? Because it’s much cleaner and simpler to put all of our moral eggs into the political basket. We get to feel self-righteous and superior to others, even when some of those people are spending their time ministering to pregnant women while we’re off at political fundraisers.
There’s a raging debate about the statement: “You can’t legislate morality.” I’d say that it’s obvious that you can; look at the Islamic states around the world. But I’d fix the statement by saying: “Legislating morality is ineffective in changing behavior.”
I’ve got some ideas on dealing with abortion, which I’ll share tomorrow. I’d like to hear yours, as well as your thoughts as to political efforts to curb abortion.