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I think what I really want to call this article is something like “A Call to Compassion.”  But first off, let me tell you my position on it, so there’s no confusion:  I am pro-life, and believe that in far too many cases, abortions are chosen when there may have been a better way and provided life for a child who was certainly wanted by somebody.

There.  The next thing I want to make clear is for whom I’m calling this compassion.  I think many on the pro-life side have been rightly calling for compassion for the pre-born.  I agree.  But what I want to do here is call for compassion for the opposing political/social side, no matter which side you find yourself on.

And I think I’m mainly going to have to address my side.  First of all, to say that I’m pro-life implies that the other side is not.  That is not true.  I use that term because it seems to be the title that has stuck.  I know that the pro-choice-ers are also pro-life.  They believe that abortions are necessary at times to maintain quality of life for the mother, or that by allowing the birth, the baby is at risk of a poor quality of life.  Neither would I call them pro-aborts.  It’s the pregnancy that is unwanted, not the abortion that is wanted.  They just see no other viable alternative.

Is there anything I should say to the pro-choice side?  Not much.  I’m not here to try to persuade you otherwise.  There are plenty of resources for that.  I think the difference between us is that we value the choice of the child, understanding that no child ever asked to be born, but also knowing that no child would ever choose otherwise.  Your position values the choice of the mother and her right to determine what is best.

So the way I see it, we’re all pro-life, and we’re all pro-choice.  I hope that we can have a little more understanding and respect for one another.

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I just watched a movie called Bobby about the assassination of Robert Kennedy.  I was in eighth grade when this tragedy occurred.  I remember that awful era in our nation’s history – the Viet Nam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of drug use, campus unrest, the Cold War.  Hatred was being flung in all directions while free love was the mantra of flower children and hippies.  Authority was questioned.  Materialism was rejected.  Altered reality was embraced.

I especially remember the racial bigotry.  I lived in an all-white neighborhood.  It was in the County of Los Angeles, but our little burg was sheltered from those “others.”  I didn’t see a lot of the hatred in my town because there was really no one to hate.  We were all the same.  You gotta love that.  But we could see the Watts Riots on our local TV stations, and we knew they were just a few miles away.  Fear set in.  They were close.  Too close.

I take comfort in knowing that our nation has come a long way in our racial sophistication.  We embrace multi-culturalism, and if we don’t, we know enough to act the part.  At least in polite company.  Am I right?  We are not driven by that fear anymore, no sir-ee.  We know better.  We are an evolved society.  Bravo!

That was 40 years ago.  But I wonder:  what will characterize our present age?  40 years from now, how will folks remember us?  Are we tolerant and peaceful?  Do we love our neighbor?  Here’s what I think, and I’d welcome your thoughts:  We’re still a nation motivated by fear and disgust, only now we play in the arena of ideals.  We don’t hate because of race but because of creed, be it political, religious, or moral.  At best, we are suspicious of other religions (or no religion) , intolerant of Democrats (and Republicans), and are well-equipped for name-calling when it comes to social issues like abortion, homosexuality, or welfare recipients.

I’m not advocating that we set aside our beliefs and settle for an anything-goes society.  I hope that we can be passionate in our convictions and express them freely.  What I’m calling for is respect.  I want to listen and be listened to.  I don’t want to hear haughtiness or ridicule.  We’re better than that.  We who lived through the 60’s never thought it would get any better, and it did.  But we’re not done.  There’s still work to do.

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Let me say from the outset that I am not in favor of abortion.  I think they are most often performed as a matter of convenience, whether to make one’s life easier, or to preserve one’s reputation.  But I also know it is a very complicated issue.  There are many times when mothers or couples agonize over the decision and feel they truly have no way out.  My heart goes out to them as they do what they feel they must do.

But in being in the “pro-life” camp, I am also persuaded that this reaches far beyond the issue of abortion.  Many other social issues are raised which need to be viewed through this lens.  I was first introduced to this idea when confronted by a woman with whom I worked.  She could not understand how someone could be pro-life and pro-capital punishment at the same time.  She argued that they both are killing by one definition or another, and the stance was incomprehensible to her.  (It’s interesting to note that she herself was pro-abortion and anti-capital punishment.)

This was several years ago, but the idea has remained with me.  If I am to call myself pro-life, does this not extend to areas of compassion toward the adult members of society as well?  Is medical care not a vital part of life?  Is not the environment?  Is not justice?

As Christians we have the responsibility to represent our Lord in all areas of life.  Our knowledge of Him should inform our every decision and belief.  A few years back I was mentoring a new believer, a mature woman who found the Lord after the age most folks do.  She came to one of our weekly get-togethers very troubled.  She had been attending Bible studies, trying to learn as much as she could about her new-found faith.  She listened attentively to what was being taught, and picked up on the casual conversations before and after the meetings.  He question to me was this:  “Do I have to become a Republican now?”  Politics was a big topic of conversation among her new friends, and they believed everything they studied pointed to a conservative way of government, or so it seemed to my friend.

My answer to her was pointed.  I said, “The most important thing for you to do is to learn God’s word, in order to get to know Him better.  Learn to listen and to follow.  And let your understanding of Him inform everything else.  Don’t worry about what it’s called.”

Then I showed her an example of how two Christians can come to different viewpoints on the same topic, each basing their position on their understanding of God’s word.  Let’s examine capital punishment.  One says, “It’s all over the Old Testament.  It’s just.  It is not undeserved.  It is not murder and is not immoral.”  Another says, “I see from the Bible that man is fallible and does not always judge rightly, either because of misinformation or out of corruption.”  They are both right.  But we can’t have it both ways.

My friend was relieved.  She felt free.  She did not need to try to conform to any other standard than what she saw in Jesus.  It’s simple:  read the Bible, understand what it’s saying, know God better as a result, and follow Him.

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