“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.”
Yes, I am a pro-lifer. I adamantly defend the life of the unborn (the born as well) and I will not cast a vote for a pro-choice candidate, but that doesn't make me a single issue voter. The reality is, there might be some circumstance in which the previous statement would not be true, but it is hard to believe those circumstances would come to fruition in the current political climate. I suppose the next question is this, if I will not cast a vote for a pro-choice candidate, how am I not a single issue voter? Let me explain.
It is true that life is the most foundational right that a person has and that without life, no other right really matters. Our founding fathers recognized this and that is why the right to life is the first right mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. It is difficult to over state the importance of the previous statement. Without life, your health care doesn't matter, your freedom doesn't matter, your happiness doesn't matter, your religion doesn't matter. But, the life issue isn't a single issue, it is a signpost that declares a person's general understanding of the world. That is to say that you can generally infer several other things about a person based on their view on the life issue.
What about other human rights or social justice issues like health care, immigration, racism, LGBTQ+, and so forth? Everyone of those issues is important! Of the pro-life people I know, none of them would say these other issues are not important or that they are setting aside these issues for the sake of the life issue. Instead, they would tell you, as I am, that the political candidates who are pro-life are generally in agreement on these other issues. That doesn't mean they are in lock step, it is also true that there is less unity on how to approach these other issues than there is on the life issue, but there is still more agreement than disagreement.
Let's take the immigration issue as an example. Children are regularly separated from their parents at the border and pictures of this are thrown in the face of pro-lifers as if to say that pro-lifers are inconsistent and support the breaking up of families as some sort of sport. Nothing could be further from the truth. I should however point out that no one is suggesting that we kill those people (abortion actually kills a human being). The separation of children from their parents is sometimes tragic and sometimes necessary. Taking a child away from abusive parents is a good that must be done; it seems to me that we can all agree with that statement. Is that what is happening at the border? At least some of the time it is. There may be other circumstances as well and some of them may not be justified to be sure. Is there injustice in our immigration policy? I would say that there is injustice in almost every policy. The practices of our government regarding immigration can and should be evaluated and made as just as possible. The answer isn't open borders and there are many changes pro-lifers can get behind. Pro-lifers vary on their approach to this issue, but in general they take a more conservative approach. This isn't an inconsistency, it is a recognition that there are other circumstances to consider and the solution is less clear. My goal here isn't to defend the current policies at the border, but simply to say (whether you agree or not) that pro-lifers think about immigration issues and care deeply about the people at the border. Here is one example of how one pro-lifer thinks about these issues.
Whether it is racism, poverty, healthcare, LGBTQ+, or other issues, there is a general consistency to how these issues should be approached if a person is pro-life. Pro-lifers care about all of these issues and in general take them into consideration in the voting booth. They are not simplistic, single issue voters, that has been made up so pro-choicers can claim hypocrisy. Now, I know some people will even say, "yes, I am a single issue voter, I vote pro-life." But even those people, if you were to ask, would likely agree with pro-life political candidates on a variety of issues. Having a hierarchy of issues doesn't make a person a single issue voter. I think it would be safe to say that there is virtually no one who doesn't have some kind of hierarchy when it comes to the issues they consider in the voting booth, whether they are liberal, conservative, democratic, or republican. The single issue accusation simply has no real foundation in reality.
Yes, I turned it off and I was embarrassed that I didn't do so sooner. Almost as soon as the half-time show started during the Super bowl yesterday, the conversation turned from football to the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" from the half time show by Janet Jackson many years ago; the jokes began to fly about wardrobe inspectors and so on. Soon the jokes stopped and the room grew silent as the half time show by Shakira and J Lo became more and more provocative, sensual, and overtly sexual. It was when my wife began to ask for the channel to be changed that I responded and did indeed turn the channel. I kept wanting to think it couldn't get any worse, but it did until I could no long wait.
Since then I have been involved in some conversation online about the half time show. Many claim it was cultural and that being a white cisgender male limits my understanding. Perhaps so, but it doesn't mean I don't understand anything or that I have no valid take on what I saw and what my wife asked me to turn off. Even many Christians with whom I interacted defended the indefensible half-time show. Those conversations and comments require a more thoughtful response which I will offer here.
First, the fact that something is cultural does not mean it cannot be critiqued. Let's just say for a moment that every aspect of the half-time show that I thought was inappropriate had its roots in Latino culture. That doesn't mean that aspect of that culture is good and positive simply because it is "cultural." For instance, have you ever heard the term "rape culture?" If you haven't, you haven't been paying attention. The term suggests that there is an aspect to our culture where rape seems to be acceptable, but the term is never used in an endearing manner or to defend rape, it is used to condemn a culture that seems to accept rape as something that on some level is acceptable. We can and should condemn some aspects of every culture. "It's cultural" is not a defense, at best it is an excuse!
Second, just because you have it doesn't mean you should flaunt it. You've hear the phrase, no doubt, "if you have it flaunt it." This is not a good and positive statement. Flaunting it is, by definition, asking for people to notice. When women "flaunt it" they are inviting sexual thought and intentionally seeking that kind of attention. No, that doesn't excuse assault or excuse men who might have inappropriate thoughts. BUT, that is not an argument (at least not a good one) for intentionally dressing in a way that intentionally provokes such thought and is by its very nature the intentional manipulation of natural desires. Men are responsible for controlling those natural desires, but women are responsible to not provoke and manipulate those desires as well. We are all responsible for uplifting one another and encouraging one another towards human flourishing. That is not what happened at half-time yesterday.
Third, we should behave in a way that values women, not in a way that objectifies them. Women rightly complain when they are objectified and yet, in the broader culture many of those same women insist on behaving in a way that encourages that very objectification. It isn't only up to men to stop objectifying women, it is also up to women to stop behaving in a way that encourages that objectification. Of course many will find this offensive, by I frankly don't care. My mom taught me that if I wanted to be respected I needed to behave respectably. If women behave in a way that does not encourage men to objectify them and men do it anyway, then the man is 100% responsible. If the woman encourages objectification, then she no longer has the right to complain about it. Much more could be said, here (and probably should be said); this is a culture wide epidemic.
The half-time show objectified women and stirred the desires of men and I suppose some women in inappropriate ways. Not only was I offended, but my wife was offended and so were many people who were at my house watching the game. The argument that "it was cultural" isn't the same as saying "it was virtuous." Those are very different things.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.