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On both sides of the issue
pastor corner

Pastor Devin Strong

Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church

Lutherans are Pro-Life; Lutherans are Pro-Choice. Lutherans protest in front of abortion clinics; Lutherans march in Pro-Choice rallies. Lutherans have had abortions.

Like all people of good will, Lutherans want there to be fewer abortions in this country, and we are deeply concerned about the lives and well-being of the most vulnerable among us. Like all people of good will, Lutherans want everyone to be able to earn a living wage, have affordable housing and health care. We want all pregnant women to have access to affordable day care as well as plenty of emotional and financial support.

This is why it so surprised me to hear and see so much anti-Christian backlash after the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, allowing the states to decide when or if a woman can have an abortion. So many are so angry with Christians, whom they perceive as driving this dramatic change in the law. As with many political matters, Lutherans are on both sides of this issue.

As a person of deep faith, I believe that individual people of faith can and should exercise their beliefs in the public square. Christians have no more right, and no less right, than anybody else to have their opinions and ideas influence the laws and public policy in this country. Jesus calls us to take our faith into the world.

But Jesus eschewed political power. In fact, the Lord’s refusal to fight for political power is why the religious people turned on him. The Jews of his day desperately wanted Jesus to fight back against the state, to make their country safe for religious people again, and to solidify enough power so that no one could ever harm a believer again. Jesus wouldn’t do it. Being the leader of a political movement was much too small for him, so the religious people, with help from the politicians, strung him up.

Christianity works best as a countercultural insurgency movement. In China, in the former Soviet Union, in the former East Germany when Christianity has been underground, persecuted, and shut out of the halls of power, it has thrived. Faith has given people resilience and hope in hard times. The church on the edges has organized feeding programs and hospitals for hurting people. It has cared for the dying, and it has been anything but quiescent. A small but faithful part of the church spoke out against the Nazis in Germany. People of faith helped turn the tide against apartheid in South Africa, and the Black Church, in particular, was a force in the Civil Rights Movement in this country.

When the church has worldly power, we are in danger of forgetting about Jesus and his ways. From the crusades to the Middle Ages, when Christians were in the halls of power, we often mistook what we wanted for what God wanted. We let our human sinfulness creep into our decisions, we took advantage of those less powerful. Historically speaking, we also became lazy. With all the freedom in the world to go to church, we go to church less and less. Do Christians have too much influence on the political process? You decide. All I know is that Jesus refused to be the Holy Roman Emperor, to the dismay of his followers. Christianity works best as an insurgency movement. We are called to surprise people with grace, unexpected healing, and undeserved forgiveness.

God Loves You, and So Do I!

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