This week Alabama enacted a law against all abortions. Other state legislatures have enacted strict restrictions with the goal of criminalizing all abortions. My home state of Tennessee is among them.
Thursday evening Alabama and Tennessee intentionally, with premeditation, strapped two men to a gurney, injected poison into their restrained bodies and watched them die.
Michael Samra’s last words were a prayer to Jesus and Don Johnson sang a hymn as he drew his final breath.
Both men had been convicted of murder. They had cruelly taken the lives of others and inflected terrible grief on their loved ones.
Advocates for the criminalization of abortions defend “the sacredness of the unborn” and the “sanctity of life.”
State-sanctioned killings (‘capital punishment’ is a convenient euphemism) are done in the name of “justice” and compassion for victims.
Protecting and affirming the sacredness and sanctity of life and practicing justice and compassion are core values in civil society and the Christian faith.
But much of the rhetoric and action around abortion and the death penalty exposes a deep, deadly hypocrisy and inconsistency.
Some argue that anti-abortion is protecting “innocent lives” while state executions is justice delivered to the guilty and that comparing the two is a false equivalency.
But are only unborn lives “sacred”? Does birth end human sacredness? Does guilt, even of murder, nullify the sanctity of human life!
According to my understanding of God as creator, redeemer, and sustainer and the universality of God’s prevenient grace, ALL life is sacred!
Although the image of God is distorted in ALL of us, God continues to claim us as beloved sons and daughters, with inherent worth and dignity, unborn and born!
Furthermore, justice from a biblical perspective is assuring that ALL have access to God’s abundance and to the resources necessary to flourish as God’s beloved children.
Therefore, I hope the state and national political leaders will be diligent in assuring that those who have been born will have access to medical care, adequate housing, quality education, and loving community.
And, I pray that we will not create more victims of violence by killing those who have killed and calling it “justice” and “compassion.”
Having been present with families of sons who were executed by the state, I know that grief is only compounded and injustice multiplied.
Let’s cease the hypocrisy by practicing justice and compassion for ALL, the unborn and already born!
And let us demand that our politicians stop reducing “sanctity of life” and “justice for victims” to campaign slogans while enacting policies that wound and kill the most vulnerable among us — those the Scriptures call “the orphans, widows, and strangers (immigrants)” and “the least of these”!