Francis Beckwith was asked a question concerning the emerging church and abortion. It occurred here at about 73 minutes into the broadcast (listen to it). Essentially the question surrounded the emerging church’s concern for social issues such as women’s rights, poverty, aids victims, and environmental concerns as compared to their perceived concern for the issue of abortion. Beckwith expressed concern about what he believes to be the emerging/Emergent church’s “downplaying” or minimizing of the issue of abortion.
I found this question important and one that need some conversation. While I been involved with all things emerging for some time, I have found this lack of engagement disturbing and inconsistent, to say the least. I could be wrong and this is why I encourage emergers to speak to this issue here or in their own blogs helping others see where they stand and why.
One person told me that the Religious Right has not been able to make much of dent in the abortion issue over the last thirty years. She saw it this way:
Now, if there’s a way I see abortion ending it’s through:
1. The decline of hopelessness and poverty and
2. The increase in respect for adoption and
3. An increase in respect for motherhood as a valid choice.
Personally, I am not sure if the abortion issue is as simple as saying Republicans or the religious right have not been able to do anything about it. It is primarily a social issue and a moral one that necessarily presents itself before the legal system.
Let me ask a few question here:
If we have a respect for intrinsic human dignity—the imago dei in all people—which motivates us to provide a voice for the poor, for those discriminated against, and for Aids victims, how much more do we have the obligation toÂ speak for the unborn? There are over three thousand children who are aborted each day in the United States alone (over 40 million worldwide). That is more than who died in the world trade center bombing.
Isn’t it hypocritical and imbalanced for us to speak with 10 decimals about the environment, the poor, and aids victims, and speak with only a hesitant whisper, if at all, toward the dying unborn who are being scraped from their mother’s womb?
Are you so disenchanted with a Republican agenda that you neglect these little ones for fear of being identified with the religious right?
If so, wouldn’t this neglect through disenchantment evidence an irresponsible and, indeed, sinful reaction that is totally inconsistent with the missio dei?
Even if we have, as of yet, not been able to do anything about abortion (which I do not concede—read Beckwith’s book), does this mean that we silence our passions and lay down our political arms in a democratic society where the people are the government?
HereÂ are some more difficult questions:
Do you think slavery should have been abolished (or could have been) through a gentleÂ appeal to the mass public to do what is right at the same time as keeping it legal?
Should America have given up onÂ the abolition of slavery because for hundreds of years political activists were not able to do anything about it?
Do you think that it was right, in hindsight to have gone to war over the issue of slavery?
If so, would you support such a war ”a civil war” over abortion. If not, why not? What is the difference?
Do you, as an emerger, believe that life begins at conception? Or are some emergers—social emergers—uncertain about when life begins? Is this why you don’t speak about it?
If you don’t speak to this issue, do you really expect people to listen to you about others? Why? Sometimes silence can speak louder than words. In other words, there is a message in silence.
Please understand that these are just questions. They are directed primarily to those who are “emerging socially” and speaking loudly about social issues. I know that they make a lot of assumptions and I am ready to be corrected. My primary assumption is that while many emergers speak loudly about social issues, they don’t speak loudly about abortion. Connected to this is the assumption that abortion is equal to or greater than the other social issues that are fueled by a principled assumption of human dignity.
Whether you are an emerger, Emergent, or one who sympathizes with the concerns (like me), please join this conversation.