In a recent editorial for Christianity Today, Wheaton College professor Ed Stetzer took Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton‘s running mate, to task for using the Bible to appeal to Christian compassion.
According to Stetzer, one can’t properly care for “the least of these” — the poor, the hungry, the sick, the downtrodden — while also holding a pro-choice stance on abortion.
Kaine, who identifies as Catholic, wrote a piece for CT comparing the Body of Christ that Paul references in the Bible with the diversity of the American people. Just as Paul believed that everyone in the Body ought to care about and help each other — no man is an island, so to speak — so, too, should Americans embrace diversity of thought in the on-going debate over healthcare. That means having bipartisan discussions on the future of health care, Kaine says, not, as we’re seeing right now, a Republican Party that wants no input from elected Democrats as they work to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
For all the problematic content in CT, a publication that says committed gay and lesbian couples are “destructive to society,” calls for unity are usually hard to pick apart.
Unless you’re Ed Stetzer, of course. Then you can dismiss every other good thing Kaine had to say because of his disagreement on one issue.
I was a lot like Stetzer back in college — long before I started taking birth control myself, for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. As an older, more introspective adult, I forced myself to do the uncomfortable work of trying to understand where the pro-choice side was coming from — something Stetzer seems unable or else unwilling to do:
While serving on the ticket of a party that wants no restrictions on abortion, Kaine has famously obfuscated around the issue of abortion, claiming that his Catholic faith informs his personal opposition to abortion while advocating for legal protections for abortion (up to the moment of birth) along the Democratic party line…
How is it that Kaine can make an argument that faith must inform our policy choices (particularly as they relate to the “least of these”) yet completely refuse to follow the same imperative on the basis of the rock-solid position of his own church on the sanctity of life? That’s what makes this entire article so bizarre. He basically says we should listen to the teachings of our faith on healthcare, yet he is a Catholic who just ran on a ticket that couldn’t even oppose partial birth abortion.
Stetzer loses me with his inability to see the connection between abortion and poverty. Kaine rightly emphasized caring for the poor in his editorial, but I wish he had gone a little further and mentioned how families that are properly fed, educated, and able to afford quality healthcare are far less likely to abort their pregnancies than families that are not. Jesus never talked about abortion once, but in requiring his followers to care for the poor, one could argue he was setting the best possible pro-life example possible. These dots are not that difficult to connect.
There’s nothing Christ-like about elevating fetuses over already-born children who are denied treatment for cancer because their parents can’t afford it.
Kaine needs to decide (as we all do), if we really care for all the least of these or only a cross-section. Justice that is not always striving for consistency and universality in its application is not justice at all. Thus, we need to care about the unborn, the poor, the sick, and all those created in the image of God.
He should really take his own advice.
This piece originally appeared on Friendly Atheist.