Christianity and Life

In this episode of Christian Mythbusters, Father Jared debunks the myths of what Christians believe about life… or at least, what often seems to be a myth given the perennial hypocrisy of the church on these questions. You can hear Christian Mythbusters in the Grand Haven area on 92.1 WGHN, on Wednesdays at 10:30am and Sundays at 8:50am. You can also subscribe to the podcast on Apple here.

The transcript of the episode is below, or you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.

This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith. 

One of the number one reasons people give for not being a part of the church, is that it feels like the church is a hypocritical organization. One response to that is to take the approach of legendary Christian singer-songwriter Rich Mullins, who used to say the church isn’t full of hypocrites, we’ve always got room for a few more. What Rich was playfully pointing out was that everyone that is in church is hopefully trying to grow and that means at times they will be inconsistent in their actions and beliefs. Christians are not those who are perfect, they are those who fall down and then get back up through the grace and love of God. 

But another response to the perspective that the church seems to be a hypocritical organization is repentance and contrition for the times that charge is true. And I think one of the largest issues facing our world, one in which the church has often taken a conflicting and sometimes hypocritical stance, is the question of life. So today I like to try to break the myth about what Christianity believes about the value we place on life.

Most of the time a conversation with Christians arounds the value of life centers around the legality of abortion.  Being a priest in a church that affirms the tragic dimensions of abortion while also believing that legislative solutions don’t actually deal appropriately with what is involved… it means I often find myself on the other side of my siblings in Christ on this question. 

Roman Catholic nun, Sr. Joan Chittester, said it best, “I do not believe that just because you are opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, a child educated, a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.” Years later, when the Trump administration was putting children in cages at the border, she stood by the statement, saying, “You have babies and pregnant mothers on the border. They’re innocent and defenseless, but those babies are being separated and segregated.”

Part of the problem is that many Christians base their opinions on questions related to life on the political views of the party with which they,  instead of basing their views on Scripture and a consistent ethic of life. That’s why you have people who are very strong believers and outlawing abortion but who also support capital punishment, war, and immigration policies that absolutely cause the death of those fleeing violence and poverty. 

But I want to be super clear here that I’m not only criticizing the right. Because the Democratic Party also fails significantly on this question. I know, some of you might think I spend most of my time disagreeing with the policies of our former president, but when President Obama was in office, I found plenty of time to disagree with him as well. Most significantly, I found his use of drones to kill people outside of the judicial process to be deeply disturbing.

And now, under the leadership of President Biden, I continue to be concerned. Reports are very clear that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Solomon approved the 2018 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamaal Khashoggi. Who knows why, perhaps due to some international relationships, President Biden has refused to hold the crown prince responsible for this murder. And the outrage is significant.

Don’t get me wrong, President Trump refused even to release this report when it was created. But now that the facts are known, for President Biden not to deal strongly with Saudi Arabia with regard to this murder is a tremendous dereliction of duty. I hope that the outrage over this decision pushes the administration to act differently, to demonstrate that the lives of all people do matter, including the life of Jamaal Khashoggi. 

I don’t know what the next four years of the Biden administration will look like, but I do know that I hope that the church stands up on the side of life. And I think that means we need to stand up on the side of social policies that will protect the most vulnerable, that means we must insist on an end to the cruel practice of capital punishment, that means we must resist constant militarization and war. That also means the church must come clean with its complicity in systems of homophobia and white supremacy that have resulted in the deaths of countless gay, lesbian, transgender people who had occupied some of our pews… systems that have resulted in the deaths of countless people of color, while so many Christians stood by, doing nothing. 

Either we really do care about life or we don’t. And an unbelieving world is watching to find out. 

Thanks for being with me. To find out more about my parish, you can go to sjegh.com. Until next time, remember, protest like Jesus, love recklessly, and live your faith out in a community that accepts you but also challenges you to be better tomorrow than you are today. 

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