Pro-life Reflections this January 22

We will remember today, January 22. How we giggled with our 5 year old grandson who wanted to paint his 73 year old “Papa” with orange tiger spots. And today, we miss our 7 year old grandson and anticipate our granddaughter’s 10th (!) birthday.

Today, my wife had another “safe distance” pandemic visit with her 96 year old mother in a church subsidized extended care facility. Today, Atlanta lost “Hammerin” Hank Aaron, at age 86.

And today, we remember the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. These juxtapositions warrant a new post from a Follower, Father, Papa, and a Pastor who is “womb-to-tomb” pro-life.

Governments, laws, and policies change. Moral law does not.

On the last Day, many will ask Jesus, “When did we see you?” So it is good when we, and our governments, do not overlook the poor, the foreigner, the immigrant, the homeless, the refugees, the corona-sick, or the incarcerated. But to be biblically “pro-life,” we must “see the unseen.” And 60+ million “unseen” precious unborn lives have been lost.

Abortion disproportionately takes children from parents-of-color. Henry Aaron was one of seven siblings, born in Alabama to parents who couldn’t afford baseball equipment. He practiced by hitting bottle caps with sticks. What if we had never known a Hank Aaron? It is easier (especially for a White Christian like me) to advocate for “unseen, unborn” babies than to pursue economic opportunities or to provide health care for “the seen, the born.”

Legislative or judicial actions seek to restrain legal abortion. But they mostly have not for the past 50 years. And China is a case study in failed government policies to regulate reproductive freedoms. A Chinese scholar once introduced me to his “secret son.” Abortion disproportionately takes away the lives of females, which has resulted in a demographic family crisis in the PRC.

Cultures once shamed, then transformed, into pro-life values by the cruciform lives of Christians are not likely to stop devaluing human life by constantinian legal protections. Today’s hostels, hospitals, and hospice care for the elderly are all grace-legacies of the hospitality of early Jesus followers.

In Hebrew, “to redeem” involves “kinship” and a “cost” (personal relationship plus real sacrifice). The early church “redeemed” Rome’s discarded, exposed, unwanted babies — by rescuing and adopting them into Christian families.

The Letter to Diognetus (late 1st / early 2nd century) attests: “They beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed.”

I pray our new national government will return to pro-life policies — for the unborn, for corona victims, for disabled, for immigrants.

Today, January 22, 2021, I delight in my grandchildren. I grieve lost lives. We care for our elderly through church-sponsored extended care. I especially honor Christian friends who have adopted poor, preemie, or disabled children — to give little ones “a hope and a future.”

A Tearful Reply to Mr. Franklin Graham

I was heartbroken to read your social media post, in which you describe 10 GOP Members of Congress as “betrayers” of Mr. Trump. You wondered what “30 pieces of silver” the U.S. House Speaker may have offered them, a clear comparison with Jesus' betrayer, Judas Iscariot. I was compelled to reply to your tweet directly:

“Mr. Graham, 10 GOP Congressional leaders are not Judas-like betrayers, unless DJT is a substitute savior. Religious Nationalism is idolatry. For the next 4 yrs, pursue your worldwide mercy & relief ministry. Try to follow your father’s example as a Gospel voice to ALL politicians.”

Why am I (evangelical Christian, principled conservative, registered independent voter) heartbroken? On a personal level, you did not follow the example of your father, evangelist Billy Graham, who matured past his early entanglements with the political right.

In a Feb. 1, 1981 Parade cover story, your father spoke of his conversations with Jerry Falwell Sr., founder of The Moral Majority. “I told him to preach the Gospel. That’s our calling.”

Your father told Parade: “It would be unfortunate if people got the impression all evangelists belong to that group. The majority do not. I don’t wish to be identified with them. I’m for morality. But morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice … Evangelists can’t be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle to preach to all people, right and left. I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future.”

I am sad you've not been as discerning as your father, recognizing our vulnerability as Christians to political manipulation, especially if we are “dealing” with transactional politicians like Mr. Trump.

I recall, pre-Watergate, how Christian cultural critic Os Guinness lamented that Christian leaders let President Nixon summon them to the White House to ask, “What do evangelical Christians want?” Instead, Guinness said, Christians should (prophetically) speak God’s truth to political power: “Mr. President, this is the kind of government and ethical leadership we Christians expect.”

Your father said in Parade: “It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”

I'm even more troubled by the dangers of Religious Nationalism, whether from the political Right or the progressive Left; whether the Religious Nationalism is Christian (a theocratic vision of America and its history) or Muslim (imposing sharia law on citizens).

Jesus taught dual citizenship: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21). American Christians enjoy freedoms (e.g., the right to vote) and responsibilities (pay taxes). But our ultimate citizenship is with Christ in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

Religious Nationalism in any form is idolatry. Even if motivated by good moral intentions, Religious Nationalism can lead to bigotry, intolerance, discrimination, or worse: divisive or violent extremism in our democratic Republic. As your father Billy Graham said, “I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form.”

Our need in this hour: for Jesus’ followers in all nations to live as God’s foreigners and exiles, and to bless the lands of our sojourn. Like the Jews in Babylon, as exiles from Zion (Jeremiah 29:4-7). Or disenfranchised, politically powerless, persecuted early Christians who could not impose God’s moral law on their society. But they turned the Roman world upside down (the West eventually adopted many pro-life values). They exercised weapons of the Spirit: proclaiming the Gospel, showing sacrificial love, offering prayers, hospitality, and humble service with Christ-reflecting lives.

Mr. Graham, when you entangle yourself with expressions of Religious Nationalism, you diminish the perceived and real value of your important worldwide relief and Mercy Ministry that fleshes out and embodies your father’s Gospel Ministry.

St. John concluded his first Epistle: “We are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life … be on guard against all clever facsimiles” (the Message).

Mr. Graham, for the next four years, you may feel like a political exile. But even if we Bible-believing followers of Jesus become a minority in an increasingly secular American society, we must — above all other loyalties — remain faithful to Jesus our True Savior, and stay Real to our world.

Respectfully, Balaam's Ass, a.k.a. Al LaCour