This past week featured two annual remembrances in much of the evangelical world: “Sanctity of Life Sunday” and the Martin Luther King, Jr. public holiday. Some churches, like Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, have long made the two days a period of intense focus on the protection of life and racial reconciliation.
It’s an important juxtaposition orchestrated by divine providence. If Dr. King were known for anything it would be the protection of human life and dignity. We think of him as the great Civil Rights captain marching his troops to justice. But in every step of his march was the firm conviction that all men are made in the image of God and created equal. Had he not held that more foundational belief, along with a deeply biblical conception of love, it would be difficult to imagine so sturdy a fight for equality and inclusion. Those twin commitments have rightly made him an American hero, an icon representing the best of American ideals.
So, it’s worth asking: What would Martin Luther King, Jr. think about abortion?
There are many who will no doubt pronounce with unwavering certainty that, “Dr. King would have….” Some will say so with all the moral authority that comes from having “knew Dr. King” or “marched with Martin.”
To be clear, abortion came later, a few years after Dr. King’s murder. So, Dr. King himself never spoke publicly to the issue. Any “definite” pronouncements are most assuredly speculations and extrapolations.
But if he were consistent with his principles of love and justice it’s inconceivable that he would have favored the practice of killing unborn children in the womb. If he were consistent as a husband and father, who enjoyed the blessing of several children himself, it’s inconceivable that he would support the choice to end life before it entered the light of day. If he held as deeply to the Christian belief that all people are created in God’s image as he appeared to, then it would be inconceivable that he would support the legalization of the murder of millions of children each year.
Perhaps the best way to conceive of his position would be in a picture, worth about a thousand words, or about 50 million unborn babies: