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Colorado Springs Continues To Recover After ShootingPro-life voices across the country are singing in unison as they condemn the actions of a man who opened fire at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last week. The only and best description of such violence perpetrated against helpless bystanders and a noble police officer is evil. As the result of this atrocity, three families are entering this holiday season with unspeakable sadness.

In recent months, we have witnessed a number of shootings across the country, and perhaps because of the politicized air we breathe, people from different political camps have been outrunning each other to turn each tragedy into a weapon to advance their own causes. The shooting at Planned Parenthood is even more explosive – igniting the tinder of our country’s ongoing abortion debates.

What does this do for “the cause?”

That is a question that presents itself to both pro-life and pro-choice people following last Friday’s rampage. Pro-choice people will be tempted to seize the opportunity to strike a blow for a woman’s “reproductive health” and use the shooting as a way of painting all abortion opponents as violent religious extremists. Pro-life people will feel the weight of that question from the other side, wondering how this might serve as a setback in advocating justice for the unborn and the protection of human life at all stages.

I believe the question about how these events impact “the cause” only adds to the weight of the tragedy. Our concern is not for a cause but for the people that cause represents. If, when we see the violence of last week’s attack, we first wonder about its impact on the broader pro-life movement, we resemble our pro-choice opponents who, when confronted with grisly videos of underground trafficking in fetal remains, fall back on the righteousness of their “cause” and suppress any doubts that something unethical may be taking place. No, our concern cannot be first about the impact on a cause, but the impact on the families of the victims.

Over the weekend, a pro-choice friend of mine commented on how pro-life people should be even more upset about the attack, considering one of the victims was an evangelical police officer who was also a pro-life pastor. In other words, One of the victims believed like you. As if political and religious agreement would make the death of that victim more tragic.

This logic makes sense from a pro-choice perspective, but not to a consistently pro-life person. Had the police officer had been an activist for abortion rights, we would still mourn his death because we deplore any and all violence against others. All three deaths are tragic because all three people bore the image of God. Their lives were sacred. One’s political persuasion, opinion, background, ethnicity, or disability does not change the intrinsic value of every human life. In fact, the very idea that one’s life is more valuable than another’s is what we so forcefully oppose when we stand up for the rights of the unborn.

We should not be surprised to see pro-choice cheerleaders among the mainstream media and Planned Parenthood’s well-endowed politicians exploiting this tragedy, weaponizing the tragedy against the wider pro-life movement and painting all pro-life people as wild and zealous fanatics.

But our response should be different. We should grieve with those who grieve, mourn the loss of innocent life and consider the victims – the families who will pass through the weeks, months, and years ahead with a sense of loss and longing that will far surpass the volcano of words in our 24-hour news cycle.

My pro-choice friends pin the blame of last week’s attack on the renewed wave of activism in light of the recent Planned Parenthood videos. That is a simplistic and unprovable assumption, one that is directly countered by the example of selfless officer who, while deploring the abortion industry, raced inside to rescue its employees.

It also fails to reckon with an uncomfortable and grisly truth: in the aftermath of every abortion, there is a dead human body. Indeed, the question of what to do with the corpses of the unborn has led to our most recent debates – whether the outcry in Great Britain over aborted fetuses being used to aid in the heating of buildings, or the American outcry over dissecting and selling fetal remains.

What do we do with the bodies?

That may be a controversial question, but only because it goes to the heart of the American conflict over the morality and legality of the abortion procedure. Is this a question of women’s rights or human rights? Are all human beings persons? What is the unborn? What do we do with the unborn after we have stopped their beating hearts?

These questions will not go away in the aftermath of the Colorado Springs shooting. As long as there are people who believe in human rights for all, the pro-life movement will insist on asking such questions. Because all human life is sacred, we oppose the violent outburst against Planned Parenthood last Friday, as well as the violence that goes on against helpless victims every day their doors are open.


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14 thoughts on “Advocating for Life, After Colorado Springs”

  1. Curt Day says:

    The problems that come from the abortion issue are complex. How do we bring the abortion issue to the forefront without encouraging terrorist actions like the shooting that just occurred in Colorado Springs? We should remember that the shooter complained about body parts, which was one of the focuses of the planned parenthood videos that were previously released.

    We should note the temptation to minimize the humanity of the unborn child is born out of a conflict of interests. That the birth of a child can be perceived to be anywhere from being an unwanted inconvenience to a threat to personal autonomy to a threat to health and life. Thus, any pro-life opposition to abortion must be nuanced and be basesd on a case by case situation. At the same time, any devaluation of the human life of another carries a certain continuity whether the life being devalued is an unborn child, a child who has been born, or an adult. And that devaluation occurs in both violent and nonviolent ways. Both with the abortion issue and all other issues, we must learn that we cannot afford to devalue the humanity of our opponents. For if we devalue the humanity of our opponents because we see them doing that to others, we have made teachers out of our opponents.

  2. KC says:

    What if Christians–all of us, not just a few marginal Anabaptist weirdos–were known throughout the world as a people of peace who NEVER participate in violence, because we know we are called to follow the Crucified Lamb? What then?
    I’ll tell you: This article would be unnecessary. The world would know that attacks like this could not be at all associated with Christ or Christians. No explanation needed.
    Huh! What a crazy thought!

  3. KC says:

    Quick clarification: By “attacks like this,” I meant the one in Colorado Springs, not Wax’s article. Sorry for the unclear wording in my original comment.

  4. Philmonomer says:

    (I’m resubmitting my comment without the links to articles about who the other victims were, as sometimes links can be problematic.)

    One of the victims believed like you. As if political and religious agreement would make the death of that victim more tragic.

    This logic makes sense from a pro-choice perspective, but not to a consistently pro-life person. Had the police officer had been an activist for abortion rights, we would still mourn his death because we deplore any and all violence against others. All three deaths are tragic because all three people bore the image of God. Their lives were sacred. One’s political persuasion, opinion, background, ethnicity, or disability does not change the intrinsic value of every human life. In fact, the very idea that one’s life is more valuable than another’s is what we so forcefully oppose when we stand up for the rights of the unborn.

    This sounds good in theory. It isn’t (IMHO) related to reality.

    I follow conservative Christian websites and twitter feeds. I’ve seen information about the killed police officer pop up probably dozens of times. There has been nothing about the other people killed. Literally. Nothing.

    (Now I actually think this is a normal human reaction, and I don’t particularly blame anyone for it, but to assert that all lives are equally “valuable” sounds good in theory, but, again, simply isn’t reflected in reality.)

    Take this article itself. What does it tell us about the people killed? (I realize telling us about the people killed is NOT the author’s point, but it is what the reader learns.) We learn that there were 3 deaths. We learn that they are all are “equally valuable.” We learn that some were “helpless bystanders.” But we only learn anything specific at all about the police officer. Specifically, we learn he was “noble.” We learn that he was “selfless,” as he “even while deploring the abortion industry, raced inside.” Do we learn about the actions of the others? No.

    Again, I don’t think this is conscious. I think it’s unconscious (and a universal human response). But it is only lip-service when you say “everyone is equal,” and then only talk about/discuss/notice certain people.

    (Again, I’m not particularly faulting the author of this piece. I think everyone does it–including me. We identify with “our group,” and not the “other.” We notice some people. Not others. We, in fact, find some people more valuable than others. Not with our words, but with our actions.)

    1. Neil Pratt says:

      This is not the only issue where the self-descriptions of conservative Christians don’t line up with reality. We need to make sure we confess the reality of our sins while upholding the ideal we are striving towards but failing. Only then can we point to Jesus. Self-promotion by describing ourselves as compassionate towards all people will only harm the Gospel message when we inevitably fail without Christ.

  5. Hugh McCann says:

    “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

    “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    ~ Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

  6. Neil Pratt says:

    “Pro-life voices across the country are singing in unison as they condemn the actions of a man who opened fire at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last week. The only and best description of such violence perpetrated against helpless bystanders and a noble police officer is evil.”

    Considering Joe Carter just wrote an article on this same website justifying the actions of the shooter, I’d say that pro-life voices are hardly unified in condemning this attack as “evil”. You can’t excuse with one hand and denounce with the other. If TGC is truly pro-life, it will unequivocally shut down any attempts to justify murder on this website.

    1. Trevin Wax says:

      Joe Carter did nothing of the sort.

      1. Andrew Bywaters says:

        Carter did write something – there was a link to a “five facts about the Colorado Springs massacre” (or something like that) in the #right now section of the TGC website that sent me to a dead link at the Acton Blog. Whatever he wrote has now disappeared. While I cannot for the life of me imagine Carter would ever “justify the actions of the shooter”, it does seem that he may have written something that he and/or TGC quickly realized may not be helpful under current circumstances.

        1. Trevin Wax says:

          The post in question examines vigilante justice from the perspective of “Just War” theory, and it concludes with one of the primary lines of reasoning and rationale for why pro-life Christians reject violence against abortion providers: “By examining the issue through the framework of just war theory we find that even if we begin with the assumption that it may sometimes be morally licit to use violence to stop those who kill unborn children, the conclusion most pro-life Christians would draw is that it would be immoral to kill abortionists to prevent them from engaging in the murder of the unborn. There is therefore no inconsistency in Christians believing both that abortion is murder and that murdering the abortionist is not a proper pro-life response.”

          1. Andrew Bywaters says:

            Thanks – that’s the kind of reasoning I would expect and embrace from him, and the exact opposite of what Carter was accused of writing. Is that post still up somewhere?

          2. Philmonomer says:

            By examining the issue through the framework of just war theory we find that even if we begin with the assumption that it may sometimes be morally licit to use violence to stop those who kill unborn children, the conclusion most pro-life Christians would draw is that it would be immoral to kill abortionists to prevent them from engaging in the murder of the unborn. There is therefore no inconsistency in Christians believing both that abortion is murder and that murdering the abortionist is not a proper pro-life response.

            (I just left a comment over there.) But the logic of Joe Carter’s piece would not let German Christians use violence to work against the Nazis. (For example, by blowing up railroad tracks.)

            Indeed, Bonhoeffer was wrong to participate in the plot to kill Hitler.

            1. Philmonomer says:

              The point of my comment was that I think the vast, vast majority of American Christians would disagree with this conclusion (that it would have been wrong for German Christians to use “violence” (like blow up the railroads) to work against the Nazis.)

              Indeed, I have trouble believing Joe Carter himself believes it (although, obviously, I cannot know his mind).

              Rather, his post seems like an intellectual justification/rationalization that, ultimately, doesn’t work (as, again, the logic of his post would not allow German Christians to use violence against the Nazis–something I think everyone, including Joe Carter, would agree would have been an acceptable thing to do.)

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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