What Does It Mean to be Pro-Life?

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19b-20

I don’t know about you but I will be glad when the election is over later this week.  Over the past several months I have grown both tired and discouraged by all the name calling and meaningless rhetoric.  It hurts me to see the country I love so polarized.  As both a Christian minister and someone who believes strongly in environmental stewardship it also bothers me a lot the way certain issues have been framed in the recent political debate.  The “pro-life” issue is one example.

In recent days I’ve been reading a book co-authored by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne called Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?  I have admired the writings and teaching of Tony Campolo for many years.  I have only recently been introduced to the ministry and writings of Shane Claiborne.  In a chapter called “Dialogue on Being Pro-Life” Claiborne makes this interesting statement: “As Red Letter Christians, we need to be pro-life from the womb to the tomb.  Abortion and euthanasia, the death penalty and war, poverty and health care—all of these are issues of life and death.  And they are issues Jesus cares about because they affect real people.”  In a way I rarely hear voiced in the public debate both Claiborne and Campolo argue that being pro-life involves far more than just being against abortion.  They indicate that many people appear to be only “pro-birth” and are not really pro-life.  I think they have a point.

In the following chapter, “Dialogue on Environmentalism,” Campolo says “Not much is being said about environmentalism being a pro-life issue, but the two are related.”   This is something that I have believed for a long time.  Our attitude about caring for this planet we call home will reveal just how “pro-life” we really are.  You cannot tell me that it’s o.k. to pour toxins into our rivers, streams and lakes, to fill the air with pollutants, to use pesticides irresponsibly, or to carelessly destroy our forests, mountains and wetlands and still be “pro-life.”  The authors are right; environmentalism and being pro-life are related.  I just wish more people understood this.

I hope that this is something people will think about when they go to the polls on Tuesday.  I can assure you that I will.  I can also assure you that after Tuesday, whatever the outcome, it will remain a big concern of mine.  I trust it will for you as well.


(I took the top image in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the middle image at Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia, and the bottom image in Montana.)