Why do Christians hate abortion but love the death penalty?
Welcome to my new series “Why do Christians…”! I think I’m really going to enjoy this series primarily because this is a topic that has always interested me. One of my personal favorite questions is “Why do Christians love The Chronicles of Narnia but hate Harry Potter?”
In this series, I’ll tackle seemingly contradictory points of view held by most conservative Christians. Be forewarned that they don’t represent the entire Christian faith, but do represent the most mainstream viewpoints and counter-viewpoints.
So, let’s get started with a whopper: abortion and the death penalty.
Throughout the human experience, justice is probably the most simplest to understand but perhaps one the most complex to administer. Echoing in almost every playground, every schoolyard, are children calling out, “That’s not fair!” or “Why can he do that and I can’t?” And just as telling, drivers getting pulled over ask the officer, “How come you’re ticketing me and not catching the murders that run the streets?” or “Why didn’t you pull over the other guy?”
What’s curious about every one of these statements is that the person saying them, whether they are a child or an adult, is saying the exact same thing: Why are you punishing me?
How many children can you think of would be willing to take the punishment for someone else’s actions? How many drivers do you know would pull-up behind the police officer and tell him to give you the ticket instead of the driver he pulled over? My guess is that is it would be very few, if any.
These “sins” — breaking the rules — have consequences. Christians believe, by a matter of faith, that Jesus Christ died for all of it. Past, present, and future…insignificant to the unimaginable. Every sin a man commits has been forgiven by the blood of Christ. This is written throughout the Bible so numerous that it’s not even worth listing. But what is NOT written is that this forgiveness comes with an absolution of any consequences.
While I may be forgiven for the minor sin of speeding, it does not mean that Jesus will pay for my speeding ticket.
So what does God say about the death penalty?
Outside of the Old Testament, very little.
The message of “an eye for an eye” was invalidated by the Cross. Jesus became the sacrifice to all. He calls Christians to “love our enemies.” If our enemies includes those who harm us, how, then can Christians call for their death?
This is, I believe, the question that every Christian must wrestle with. I have yet to meet a Christian who “loves” the death penalty. In fact, most Christians I talk to aren’t sure about it. However, these Christians realize something: the death penalty is sometime necessary — and even demanded — for the most heinous of crimes.
Most people would agree that a person like Timothy McVeigh deserved to die for his crimes. But what about the others? So many convictions have now been overturned. Shouldn’t the death penalty be at least stopped until we’ve made absolutely sure?
I’m not writing this to argue for or against the death penalty. Every Christian must weigh their personal beliefs with the teachings of Christ. Unfortunately, most Christians can only go to the verses that speak to crime and justice for help. And even then, they aren’t much use. Simply put, Christians believe that no man, no matter his faith, can escape earthly consequences. And some crimes are worthy of the death penalty.
But what about abortion? What’s interesting about abortion is that there is no explicit verse that outlaws abortion. It’s true. If you ask a Christian to show you exactly where in the Bible abortion is listed as a sin, they won’t be able to.
So you may be asking, “Where does it come from?”
I know…confusing, right? Like many political ideologies, the Bible is often silent on specific issues. Ask Christians where Jesus approved of guns, they won’t be able to. But, they can show you places where Jesus even tells his disciples to arm themselves literally and prepare to defend themselves.
Abortion is in the same light. While there are no specific scripture verses that say abortion is a sin, they do talk about the treatment of others, especially those who do not have the ability to defend themselves. There are verses in the Bible that say that man was created in the image of God. That we are fearfully and wonderfully made. That we were imagined and knit together in our mothers’ wombs. It is these verses that Christians see that life is created at conception.
Science has failed to see this. This wouldn’t be the first time that science has fallen behind faith. But this conversation is for a later time.
Regardless of what you believe, dear reader, in order to understand the Christian “hatred” for abortion, you must understand this concept that all life is precious. And that no person should be able to kill that life without just cause. Had the life committed a crime worthy of death, then abortion would be acceptable. But this is utter foolishness since the life had yet to do anything other than grow.
As difficult as it might sound, the death penalty and abortion often go together. One cannot destroy a life for simply being and then protect a life that is worth ending.
Now I realize that not everyone believes that life begins at conception. But my question to those of you that don’t is when does life, then, begin? It’s easy to say at birth but can you say what that child is doing is living? It still relies on her mother for sustenance and protection, no different when she was in the womb. Is it fair that a child can be murdered after she was delivered prematurely but can be aborted in the ninth month of gestation?
These are not simple questions to answer for Christians and non-Christians alike. But what gives Christians hope is that no matter what happens, Jesus understands it all. From the unfairness of allowing Tim to bring toys to school and the unjustness of a college kid being able to do 90 MPH in your neighborhood without being caught, God allows it all. And perhaps, within that truth, is the ultimate question.
Why does God allow it?
That, my friends, is a question, for another time.