What does a pro-life pastor looks like? The question is significant, because I question if we have many 'pro-life' churches--at least in the way I define them.
Our Problem--Human Nature is up for Grabs.
The Biblical view of human dignity is under assault in ways barely imagined a decade ago. Some examples:
A. Human/animal hybrids
Research labs are moving forward on the creation of embryos that will be part human and part animal. Three groups eagerly await the arrival of these hybrid embryos:
B. Scathing attacks on human dignity, once restricted largely to academia, are now featured prominently in popular media.
Peter Singer, who thinks killing disabled newborns is only wrong if it adversely impacts other interested parties, writes in The Dallas Morning News: "During the next 35 years, the traditional view of the sanctity of human life will collapse under pressure from scientific, technological and demographic developments. By 2040, it may be that only a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct."
Meanwhile, Wesley J. Smith cites a New York Times editorial writer as saying, "We are all of us, dogs and barnacles, pigeons and crabgrass, the same in the eyes of nature, equally remarkable and equally dispensable." There you have it: Darwinism proves humans are no more and no less valuable than barnacles.
And who can forget PETA's Ingrid Newkirk saying that a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy is a roach? I guess eating a man is no different than eating a steak.
C. Scientism is trumping morality in debates over cloning and embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR).
Make no mistake: The public supports ESCR. The idea is that if we can do it, we should do it. Even some so-called 'pro-life' politicians are falling for this dangerous idea. For example, Senator Orrin Hatch, defending ESCR, writes, "It would be terrible to say because of an ethical concept that we can't do anything for you." Does Senator Hatch realize what he just said? If science trumps morality, how is he going to condemn the Tuskegee Experiments where black men, suffering from Syphilis, were promised a cure only to have it secretly withheld so scientists could study how the disease kills people? How will he decry the medical holocaust of Jews in Nazi Germany?
D. The 'new atheism' treats all religious truth claims as harmful and intolerable.
Its atheism with attitude and its principal goal is to drive metaphysics--including belief in human exceptionalism--from the public square. While the arguments presented by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens (to name a few) are shallow and bombastic, the field of bioethics is not immune from the influences of this new atheistic attitude. The case against ESCR, we are told, is nothing more than an attempt to force irrational and intolerant religious absolutism on an unsuspecting public. Thus, it must be squashed.
E. Radical environmentalists view humanity as a curse on the planet.
"This myth [of human exceptionalism] is at the root of our environmental destruction--and our possible self-destruction," writes University of Washington psychology professor David P. Barash. If that weren't bad enough, TIME quotes abortionist and anthropologist Warren Hern of the University of Colorado calling our species an "ecotumor" or "planetary malignancy" that is recklessly devouring its host, the poor Earth.
F. Personhood rights are replacing human rights.
As Smith points out, most bioethicists do not believe that membership in the human species gives any of us value. Rather, what matters is whether any organism--animal or human--is a 'person,' a status achieved by having sufficient cognitive abilities. Thus, a self-aware puppy has more value than a day-old infant. Peter Singer writes, "The fact that a being is human does not mean we should give the interests of that being preference over the similar interests of other beings. That would be speciesism, and wrong for the same reasons that racism and sexism are wrong. Pain is equally bad, if it is felt by a human or a mouse."
G. The acceptance of personhood theory meant a majority of Americans strongly favored the direct killing of Terri Schiavo simply because her cognitive abilities were less than our own.
The whole ordeal put in place a premise that it's okay to kill people who don't improve. Truth is, Terri had no duty to get better. Pro-lifers failed to make that case and we're still paying for it. Politically, anyone who thinks pro-life lawmakers weren't punished in 2006 for intervening on her behalf is living in a dream world. Further punishment likely awaits them in 2008.
H. For many Americans, clear thinking on abortion is eclipsed by personal experience.
Over 80 million of them have participated in an abortion-related decision (if you include boyfriends, husbands, parents, etc.), and many of those same people are in our pews. The numbers are most likely increasing: The Guttmacher Institute reports that 18% of all abortion patients identify themselves as "evangelical" or "born-again" Christians--up from 16% in 1987. (That's nearly 1 out of every 5 women who abort.)
Scott Klusendorf is the President of Life Training Institute and he persuasively defends pro-life views in the public arena, equipping pro-life students and adults to make their case persuasively in the marketplace of ideas. Want more information about communicating the Sanctity of Human Life persuasively, passionately and practically? Need some sample speaking outlines or 5-Minute Pro-Life talking points? Go to: www.prolifetraining.com or www.caseforlife.com.
Next in the series . . . "Essential Tasks of a Pro-Life Pastor in the 21st Century"