hypocrisy – noun | hi-ˈpä-krə-sē
1. The claim or pretense of having beliefs, standards, qualities, behaviours, virtues, motivations, etc. which one does not actually have.
2. Behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.
We will all have our hypocrisy revealed at one point or another in our lives. I would venture to say it is basically impossible to live a life in which what we claim to believe will not be contradicted by what our actions show we believe to be true.
Take a very simple example to start; a central belief all christians will claim to believe is that our trust is in the Lord alone. We may say that we trust God completely and that he will care for us, but will continue to (some might say ‘wisely’) invest in our future by saving money, obtaining further education, and seeking employment that will provide for all our needs.
We claim sole trust in God to provide, but our action show that we are hedging our bets at least somewhat since we need to provide for ourselves and our families … claim ≠ action.
Now that might appear as a very glib example – and it is – but I simply wanted to start by showcasing that we are all hypocrites to one degree or another. We often claim to believe what we think we should believe; not what we actually believe.
I believe this, in and of itself, is not a horrible sin. I would argue it is better to know what you should believe than to not know it at all, but ultimately it is also part of our journey to Christlikeness to recognize that while “I do believe …” we still need to pray that second part of the prayer in Mark 9:24, “… help my unbelief”.
It is good to be reminded that until our beliefs truly alter our actions we still have unbelief that we need God’s help to better imitate his way of doing things. I would hope that as we discover actions that do not line up with a stated claim, we would look for ways to repent – change our direction – and bring our actions more in line with our claims.
And that brings me to the “christian” hot-potato, political issue of abortion …
As christians, most of us would soundly and firmly state that we are “pro-life” in the holistic sense of the word. God is the giver of life and he created our lives in his image. That means we need to see each and every living thing as God’s creation, which we are to steward and protect.
Now, being “pro-life” in the political arena has taken on a more narrow sense. In my own life I have had to confront the fact that while being pro-life certainly extends to life inside the womb, being pro-life does not end with birth, but that is a conversation for another time (think war, death penalty, military retaliations, etc …).
What I want to hopefully illuminate in this post is that while “pro-life” christian voters have focused their energies on changing and challenging the laws of the land, our focus has often been in the wrong place. In other words, our actions often have the effect of creating the very conditions that lead to a rise in abortion rates rather than declines … the exact opposite of what we claim to want.
So … as a starting point that everyone should be able to agree with; as a person who is pro-life, our goal should be to see abortion rates decline. We would like to see fewer pregnancies terminated by induced abortions … correct?
How this usually works its way out at the ballot box is that christians will vote for a candidate they feel is most likely to enact stricter abortion laws, or may even abolish them altogether.
Even if you believe these laws still may someday change, actual data has shown that stricter abortion laws do not result in lower abortion rates. In fact, the places in the world where abortion remains illegal most often have significantly higher rates of abortion than in places like Canada where it is fully accessible.
Just this past week, it was announced in the US that the abortion rate dropped to a rate lower than when it was made legal in 1973. In Canada, we have seen a similar downward trend over the past 20 years:
So, what has been demonstrably shown to decrease abortion rates? While there are obviously many factors, these are the ones that stand out according to studies whenever they are completed:
- Access to health care and contraceptives – this may sound obvious, but as women have access to and education of how to utilize methods of contraception, abortion rates drop significantly. One of the best ways to act in a way that is “pro-life” is to campaign for and support increased access to quality health care and contraception.
- Economic stability – one of the leading reasons given for terminating a pregnancy is the fact people do not feel they are in a place to be able to support children financially (either for a first child or additional children). Studies have shown that when regions and communities are provided adequate jobs and financial security, abortion rates decline. True “pro-life” action that will see abortion rates decline means advocating for improved social security networks such as welfare, increased minimum wages, child credits, and more. Abortion declines as people do not have to worry about being unable to provide for their children.
So, using the US as an example, while most “pro-life” voters usually support the Republican party, data shows that the most precipitous declines in abortion rates have come while the Democrats have been in charge.
Actions speak louder than words and being pro-life for me means supporting things that actually lead to change. In this case, I am supportive of policies and actions that can be shown to reduce abortions. I want my actions to line up with the things I claim with my words.