Should Sanctity of Life Be a Presidential Campaign Issue?

Pro-life and pro-choice terms generally are confined to the national conversation regarding abortion. But should the discourse be expanded to include all of life?

Isn't it interesting to note that many who self-identify as pro-choice regarding abortion, i.e. permitting the choice to terminate the life of the unborn, stand strongly against capital punishment and often war, as well?

On the other hand, is it not equally noteworthy that many who profess to be pro-life, when advocating on behalf of the unborn, often support war and capital punishment, and neglect the welfare of the needy?

To put the matter differently, the political party which cares passionately about the lives of the unborn, lacks the same interest and energy in advocating and legislating on behalf of America's disadvantaged population. On the other hand, the political party which demand's abortion rights, works tirelessly on behalf of the vulnerable in society. "Therefore," one citizen explained, "I am a conscientious objector to both parties!"

Should pro-life convictions be confined to life in the womb? Or should concern for life extend from womb to tomb?

Should advocacy include hunger, hungry children, poverty, homelessness, gun laws, capital punishment, euthanasia, war, mental illness, domestic abuse, torture, human trafficking, gay rights, human rights, Black lives, clean water rights, treatment of the aged and disabled, health care, and more, including bioethical issues, such as cloning and genetic engineering?

Abortion remains a dominant political issue. Since 1973 (when the U. S. Supreme Court legalized abortions) 57,762,169 abortions have been reported. (The actual number may be higher.) Annually, more than 1,000,000 abortions are performed in the United States (the high was 1.6 million in 1990). The pro-life v. pro-choice debate remains white-hot.

By comparison, since 1968, more American citizens have died by gunfire in America than in all of our nation's wars combined (The numbers are 1,384,171 to 1,171,177, as of 2013). How might pro-life and pro-choice categories apply, if at all?

Should sanctity of life be a presidential campaign issue?

What does "sanctity of life" mean? The word, sanctity, derives from the Latin, "sanctus," meaning, "sacred, or holy." Sanctity of life, according to the church, speaks to the holiness of all human life, since humans are created in the image of God. Therefore, all human life is sacred and worthy of dignity, respect, and life.

Belief in sanctity of life, for Christians, begins with belief in God, who alone gives and takes life. Reverence for God leads to reverence for His creation, humankind being creation's crown. Some argue that human life is inviolable, that is, it may not be taken for any reason by another human. Others insist that anyone who wishes to take the life of another person---or ignore the welfare of another human being---bears the burden of proof that such action, or inaction, is, in fact, moral.

So what is sanctity of life? Sanctity of Life is the moral conviction that every human life, born and unborn, is holy because every life is created in the image of a holy God. (In the case of abortion, the debate yet rages over the point at which life begins.)

The late ethicist, Lewis Smedes, wrote that love and justice are our two moral absolutes. "All morality turns on love," he noted. Love helps others; justice is being fair. Morality is essentially simply treating persons fairly and lovingly, he claimed. If so, then shouldn't our national conversation span all of life? Should we not treat all persons, both born and unborn, fairly and lovingly?

Yes, I am painfully aware of the complexity of the ethical issues of our time. No, I do not believe our societal problems are easily solvable. But that's okay. Maybe as we struggle our problems will solve us.

So for starters, I wonder how Christians might adopt a sanctity of life mindset and lifestyle and become difference-makers in our nation? Admittedly, I'm not sure, but perhaps like this:

• Seems to me we Christians would be well-served by embracing a theology of humility. We may not be right. We should hear well, and respect, the views of others.

• We should think, read, listen, and learn.

• Christians should pray for "Jesus eyes," "Jesus hearts," and "Jesus ways."

• Christians should write elected government officials to express heartfelt, studied views.

• Christians should vote. Bills are written and laws are passed by elected representatives.

• Christians should get involved in programs to help serve persons in need of voice and care.

• Christians should pray.

Should sanctity of life be a presidential campaign issue? Only if it matters to us.