October 1, 2015

Stop Moving the {pro-life} Goalposts

Do you know what “slacktivism” is? If you read blog posts, you probably do, but just in case: slacktivism is a social-media phenomenon where people prove how #caring they are by participating in a social media activity centered around a certain topic. Probably the best example of a slacktivist movement was the “Post the color of the bra you’re wearing to support breast cancer” facebook status thing. You got an inbox message that said to post a status with ONLY your bra color, and then when people commented “?” you were supposed to tell them that it was about your bra. I mean, breast cancer. Something like that.

Slacktivism is annoying. I think that’s a pretty universal sentiment. Especially in our obsession (idolation?) of “authenticity,” most adults don’t have time for slacktivist stuff. The kind of activities that share no new ideas or information, don’t have any measureable effect on others, or are designed to bring more attention to the activist than the cause. No one likes a slacktivist except a slacktivist.

But then in response, the pendulum swings to the other extreme. We don’t want slacktivism, we want results! We don’t just want #caring, we want action! We want change, or else we wouldn’t care in the first place.

Fine. Good. Exactly. Until….

Whenever there’s a hot topic, there’s going to be a few viral blog posts about said topic. Usually thought-provoking, often appealing to the emotions, almost always with a challenge to “step it up” somehow. And as people share and write and build on each other, it can sometimes spiral into “never enough syndrome.”

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to shade your avatar blue, you need to contact your representatives…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to contact your representatives, you need to tell your friends they need to also, publicly if possible.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to talk to your like-minded friends, you need to actively, frequently seek out and engage those who disagree with you.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to try and change people’s minds about abortion and federal support for abortion, you need to donate to pro-life groups and causes.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to donate money, you need to donate your time and volunteer.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to volunteer, you need to take a pregnant teenager to live in your home.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to take a pregnant teenager into your home, you need to agree to raise her child for her.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to raise her child, you need to also open your home to foster care.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to be a foster family, you need to actually adopt a child. …or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to adopt, it needs to be a domestic adoption because that’s where our need is.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to adopt domestically, it needs to be a special needs adoption of a sibling group or teenager or any other group less sought out than cute, cuddly babies.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to take in other people’s children, you have to have an Open Wallet Policy to anyone who walks up and asks you for money to feed their children, regardless of your own financial circumstances…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Are you really pro-life? It’s not enough to provide for other people’s children, you have to stop using birth control and have as many of your own as you biologically consent to.…or you aren’t really pro-life.

Answering any of these charges with, “Well, I’m doing X or Y, but Z hasn’t been placed on my heart as a burden specifically for our family right now,” is met with, “Oh, well then, I guess you aren’t really pro-life.”

Without regard to the fact that many people already do all those things, without consideration that some are called to plant, some are called to water, and others are called to reap the harvest, without remembering that the body needs an eye, a hand, an ear, to fill different roles (How many different ways can I say this?) the blog posts go viral and the conversation drives on until on the smallest margin of people qualify as “authentic.”

It’s like saying you don’t really believe in the Great Commission if you only
pray for missionaries
donate extra to the Lottie Moon offering
financially support missionaries independently
engage in local mission activities
go on short-term foreign mission trips
live as a Journeyman missionary for two years in a foreign country

The only thing that really proves how much you care about missions is to literally sell all your belongings, uproot your family, and move to a completely foreign culture, for the rest of your natural life. Just acting as far as the dictates of your own conscience means you aren’t “authentic.”

It doesn’t make sense, does it?

All those things are good things. And all those activities absolutely should be talked about and encouraged and celebrated. But trying to force people into choices, major choices, by trying to guilt them into proving their “authenticity” (I really need to do a blog post about my difficulty with that word) isn’t only unfair, it isn’t our place.

Can we challenge our consciences to growing and stretching in faith by stepping out of our comfort zones and taking steps we hadn’t thought of before? Of course. And we should be examining ourselves that we aren’t intentionally ignoring a need actually laid on our conscience because we value our comfort more than anything.

Let’s be careful not to circle the firing squad and remember that even when an army is fighting the same enemy, every battalion’s and company’s and platoon’s and squadron’s missions are unique to their skills and purpose. Remember when different was okay?

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