Today a friend shared this video on Facebook, in which a reporter from ReasonTV, a libertarian video channel, interviews delegates at the Democratic National Convention to find out just how pro-choice they really are.
For many, the video highlights a glaring inconsistency in the Democratic platform. Apparently, “it’s my body, my choice” applies when you’re terminating a pregnancy, but not when it comes to drinking excessive quantities of soda.
My guess is the libertarian producers of this video were more concerned with the regulation of sugary drinks and light bulbs than abortion. Though in fairness, many libertarians are pro-life, because in their view, one individual’s liberty ends where someone else’s personhood begins. Either way, the inconsistency highlighted by this video is real. And troubling.
But imagine if someone had turned the cameras on the other party during their convention and asked, “Just how pro-life are Republicans?” On the one hand, the Republican platform calls for a constitutional amendment to protect unborn children.
But how pro-life is it to oppose the EPA’s efforts to limit mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants — a rule designed to protect children born and unborn from the well-documented health effects of such pollutants?
How pro-life is it to lead the country into not one but two wars of questionable necessity (assuming you believe there’s ever such a thing as “justifiable necessity” when it comes to war)?
How pro-life is it to play politics with climate change when the risks of inaction far outweigh the risks of overreaction in the unlikely event the scientists are wrong? Many experts in the humanitarian sector (in which I used to work) will tell you that climate change is the single greatest threat to all the progress that’s been made combating poverty, hunger, and disease over the last few decades.
Now it’s not as if one party is more virtuous than the other. The truth is, hypocrisy runs deep on both sides of the political divide. Those of us who are Christians would do well to remember this as we engage in (or disengage from) the political process this year.
Politics is not just the art of governing; it’s also the pursuit of power. And in our increasingly polarized society, it seems to be more about the latter than the former. Hence our never-ending election cycle.
That’s why Christians should be wary of getting too cozy with either party. Because we are called to serve, not to become someone else’s pawn in their accumulation of power. We are called to speak truth to power but never to seek it for ourselves. Ever notice how the Old Testament prophets routinely confronted the kings of Israel without seeking their favor or patronage?
It’s not that there’s no place for Christian political engagement. I believe there is. But I also believe our role is to be a prophetic voice, and you can’t do that when you’re a mouthpiece for one party or the other.
So when Democrats talk about protecting the vulnerable in our midst, we can applaud while also pointing out the blind spot in their thinking when it comes to abortion. And when Republicans talk about the sanctity of life, we can say amen while also reminding them that life is just as sacred outside the womb as in it.
This may not be a strategy for electoral success, but as Christians, aren’t we called to believe in something bigger?