If we are ever to develop a Christian worldview we need to avoid obsessively championing single issues writes John Smith.

John Smith
John Smith

It is a mistake to sharpen our minds by narrowing them. Always beware of single-issue ideologies. The genuine pro-life reaction to a column I wrote recently only reinforced the accuracy of my statement that so often broader issues are lost to those who are fixated by the weaknesses and failures of political and civic leaders. Irrespective of one's views of pro-choice or pro-life, the fact remains that the wider loss of a sense of meaning is the underlying disaster of Western culture.

It is possible to be anti-abortion on conservative grounds yet simultaneously vigorously pro-armaments. It is possible to be passionately pacifist and revolted by the carnage of women and children in wars in Bosnia and Chechnya, yet have little sense of the wonder of conception and development of the child in the womb - perceiving the potential unborn babe as mere biological tissue. Very few activists on either side extend their logic across the breadth of issues.

Michael J Gorman writes: "The earliest Christian ethic, from Jesus to Constantine, can be described as a consistent pro-life ethic - it pleaded for the poor, the weak, women, children and the unborn. This pro-life ethic discarded hate in favor of love." (It is notable that in the US a significant minority of pro-lifers have been at best self-defensive, rather than unequivocally outraged by the vicious hatred, violence and murder perpetrated by some ardent anti-abortionists.) The early church ethic, notes Gorman, "discarded war in favor of peace, oppression in favor of justice, bloodshed in favor of life."

The American President does appear to be muddled and at times inconsistent and I for one decry his early decisions regarding human foetal tissue experimentation. But I applaud his public dismay at the level of use of abortion as a contraceptive by young people. I long for a social arrangement, which elevates responsible, loving sex above mere self-interest safe sex.

But the Clintons are right about one thing - lose the meaning of life itself and the debates about sex and family become ideological wars in which the powerless are ignored in the interest of mere political power elites. It is notable and tragic that many of those who claim to be most pro-life are the very ones in recent US congressional elections who sought to bury serious health reform and strip desperately poor Mexican children (of illegal immigrants) of health care and education.

If there is no Divine purpose, no ultimate hope, no meaning to existence beyond our individual isolated egos - all other discussions are meaningless. I did not "whitewash" the Clintons. But my critic did whitewash the ultimate issues. When John Wesley wrote his savage diatribe, Thoughts On Slavery, he did so on the basis of a grand and wider understanding of the Christian philosophy of human dignity, Divine love and moral responsibility. Without that base, African slaves would never have been liberated.

As Kolokowski wrote of the grave peril that humanity risks when it abandons the sacred: "Culture, when it loses its sacred sense, loses all sense." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.