I am Pro Life
I am Pro Life.
I am. But I don’t mean that in the way you likely read it. And yes that makes my title a bit of a click-bait title but I chose it because its deeply true in a way far beyond what we have allowed “pro-life” to mean in our public discourse. You likely read it as me being opposed to abortion. In our national debates and political ideology that is what it has come to mean. I am not that kind of “Pro-Life.”
I am, however, in favor of life.
This doesn’t mean I’m in favor of it when it’s convenient and easy for me. This doesn’t mean that I’m in favor of it only when it means messing with other people’s lives and decisions and freedoms. This doesn’t mean I’m only in favor of it when it doesn’t cost me anything.
I’m in favor of life. Period. No conditions. No ifs, ands, or buts… I’m PRO life. I’m in favor of nurture and fostering life in its many splendid ways and means… and I’m interested in promoting life in places where it hasn’t felt splendid and seems to have no ways or means to go forward and upward.
Three years ago my ministry took an interesting turn. I was called to a new pastorate in Boise, Idaho. I’d never been there… didn’t know anyone there… didn’t really know where there was… but now here I am. However with that call I also became called out of the suburbs into an urban church. Maybe it’s not the biggest urban center… but it’s the biggest one around. (Our competition is mostly tumble weed.) Now I pastor a church that is one block from the capital building. Our life – 3 months of the year – is dominated by the legislative schedule and the conversations happening in the Idaho Senate and House.
And that has been a learning and growing experience. What it has taught me is how to be really and truly pro life. It has challenged me to put myself “out there” and advocate for the social issues where I see life being held back rather than promoted and built up. It has challenged me to leave my comfort and be willing to be offensive now and then (though that is almost always also affirming to someone else) in the promotion of life. It also reminds me that I’m finite. While I wish to be at the state house advocating and adding my voice to the various issues of life I also still need to write sermons, cast vision, visit hospital rooms, study scripture, pray…. Oh yes, and be a loving spouse, partner in parenting, and loving (and boundary setting) parent.
I can’t do it all. None of us can – and some handle that juggling better than me – and in there we all also need to rest… because rest promotes life. But I also make sure that I don’t use that finite-ness as an excuse not to be actively and tangibly and incarnationally pro life.
So I have found myself at the state house more and more – and I finding myself wishing to be there even more than that. My twitter feed now focuses on advocacy issues, and my FB friend base grows by those who share those passions for the promotion of life.
So a little more of how it feels to me to be pro life.
I am in favor of a women’s right to her own health care. And I’m in favor of walking alongside her and listening to her and supporting her before I decide what is and isn’t true for her… if I ever presume to be able to decide such a thing (hint: I don’t). I’m pro life. Not my life lived through others – I’m pro- life in its many and splendid forms and while I wish that meant never having death, difficulty, disease, and hard hard choices between lives… that isn’t the world I live in. So in the meantime I wish to promote the lives of the people who have to live those stories. I’m pro-people… and that is always messy.
I’m in favor of protecting people from discrimination. I’m in favor of protecting the legal standing of my neighbors. If they are gay, straight, transgender, religious, atheist, Asian, African, Jew, Arab… be they of whatever creed, race, sexual orientation, gender identity or lack thereof. I’m in favor of their life. I may not understand it. But again – I’m not in favor of them living MY LIFE. I’m not in favor of what i understand or what I don’t fear. I’m not in favor of deciding what their life should be or how they are “doing it wrong.” I’m in favor of them living their life. I’m in favor of them not being held back by my fears and norms and worldview. I’m in favor of them having the same opportunities and chances to flourish that I have. And I’m in favor of ensuring other people can’t deny them life and the right to flourish in the living of it.
I’m pro life. So I’m pro increasing the minimum wage. I sat with a very able bodied 26 year old white male a few weeks ago. He’s straight and he’s trying to get his life straight. He should have it made, but like many of us – he made some bad choices. His bad choices had more consequences than mine. Mostly out of luck on my part. He’s working a minimum wage job for as many hours as he can get… and living in a homeless shelter unable to get enough money to get back into his own housing. I’m pro life for him. I don’t want him in that shelter. I wish he could make a living wage. I wish there was affordable housing. I wish… I wish to promote life. So I’m pro life and that means I’m pro living wage and I’m pro seeking ways for business and citizens and governments to create housing solutions for life even at our cost.
And you heard so much more in there… I’m pro medical care for the homeless, and I’m pro treating mental illness and I’m pro treating addiction as a health problem. I’m pro health care and I’m pro giving up my privilege and excess and comfort to spread it around a little… and yes I’m pro taxes because as much as the government may mismanage them we will never be able to adequately promote life without a well-funded social and government structure. And I participate in government so that it will promote, protect, and advance the cause of life – in all its shapes and sizes.
I’m pro life and that means I’m in favor of your life whatever country you were born in and I’m in favor of you seeking life in whatever country you may go to… you ought to have the same right to seek out life that do and I shouldn’t try to make that so dang blasted hard to figure out that you give up before it becomes real. And I’m pro food stamps and food pantries and welfare. Does it get abused? Absolutely. But I’m pro life and that means I’m indiscriminate with my love and care. I’m not in favor of the life of smart people or wise people or perfect people. I’m as pro life in the unwise, broken, poor, uneducated, and sometimes just plain obtuse… as frustrating as that can be, as I am for you and me. I’m willing to be taken advantage of in the promotion of life because that is how life works – wherever there is life there are parasites and I won’t kill the former to prevent the latter. If 9 people have to take advantage of me in order for me to promote one life that will be truly more abundant by my openness… than that one is worth the other 9… in fact, 99.
You know why?
Because… you guessed it. I’m pro life.
I’m pro your life even if you don’t like the way I’m pro other’s lives. I will endeavor to have regard for you even as you dismiss me… at least I’ll try. Because I’m not perfect as being pro life any more than anyone else. But I will try… so I’m pro you – because I’m pro life. So let’s sit down, somewhere between legislative conversations and getting the kids to bed… and talk life together. Promote life together. Live life: together!