So much in our days has become tragically predictable and yet, we still find ourselves with brows furrowed in disbelief when we recognize that things are not as they should be.
We use the word “unbelievable” so often that it may seem a wimpy describer for some things that we have come to expect.
“Yankees win in the World Series.”
Unbelievable? Not hardly.
“Cubs win the World Series.”
Unbelievable? Well, that scenario holds up better. But still … not exactly beyond belief.
How about this one …
“A group of Christians met together recently in order pay special honor to Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards.”
Unbelievable? That depends upon your worldview and your denominational affiliation. For mainline Christians, including Presbyterians in the Presbyterian Church (USA) this statement is in keeping with the social witness policy of the pro-choice denomination. So, the “unbelievable” only fits if you have a commitment to life no matter the cost.
Don’t believe it even happened? Find it unbelievable? Read for yourself – (see news here).
What are we talking about?
Planned Parenthood. The largest single provider for abortions in the United States. Earning hundreds of millions of dollars per year by performing nearly 1 out of 4 abortions — all the while being subsidized in their operations through U.S. tax dollars. See PP’s own reported data here (PDF).
Sometimes when I’m talking to friends who have never had any connection to mainline Christian denominations in the United States, we’ll discuss ethical issues. They’ll tell me of folks at their church who don’t give much thought or discernment to such issues. These issues bother them to even think about — so they don’t. My friends have a justified sense of sorrow over this “ignorant-by-conviction” approach.
I ask my friends, however, if they think their acquaintances are actually pro-life at heart. “Oh sure, there’s no doubt about that.”
“Do you think they’d give financial support to, say, Planned Parenthood?” I ask.
“Oh heavens, no! That is ridiculous to even suggest. That would be … unbelievable to consider!”
Exactly. And it is unbelievable — unless you’ve been working in a mainline context for so long that the absurd position becomes normalized.
Members of mainline churches, including the PCUSA, have been conditioned to embrace the unbelievable. They imagine that the boundaries of biblical Christianity are wide enough to allow for the possibility of genuine Christ-followers inhabiting two very divergent camps. On one hand, you have Christians who staff and fund Crisis Pregnancy Centers, giving pregnant women love and grace and tangible physical help to carry a pregnancy to birth.
On the other hand, you have Auburn Seminary, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, holding a breakfast to honor Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards as a hero and someone worthy of emulation.
You may not know that along with other mainline denominations the PCUSA participates in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice — a group which supports Planned Parenthood financially (2010, the latest year for financial annual reports, is here).
There are many within the PCUSA who hold the pro-life position which finds grounding in the authority of the Bible. Presbyterians Pro-Life (www.ppl.org) work tirelessly as a voice for the unborn and as a ministry seeking to equip congregations for genuine ministry surrounding life issues.
Our dialogue on these subjects must be full of grace and truth. But, it is imperative that we never give in to the idea — the unbelievable idea — that followers of Jesus Christ can give applause to organizations which exist for the political and cultural support of abortion.
Don’t miss Joe Carter’s recent, “9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood.“