john f. is a lawyer with an interest in literature, foreign languages, history, theory, and comparative religion. He has been blogging with his brother Jordan F. at a bird’s eye view since July of 2004 and has been commenting at By Common Consent for even longer. In ancient Bloggernacle history they were once described as “the most dangerous minds on the net” although they never quite figured out what this meant except they are pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.
The anniversary of Roe v. Wade today falls within an election season that could conceivably threaten a fissure in the coalition that the Church seems to have formed in recent decades with Evangelical Christians on certain social issues, including abortion. Specifically, the vocal opposition of many Evangelical Christians to Mormonism and the faith of its adherents has found new outlets in the mainstream media because their view of Mormonism and its adherents now has some relevance on the national political stage as a result of Mitt Romney’s candidacy for the presidency. The increased intensity of Evangelical denunciations of Mormons has also given opportunity to reflect on the political positions of Evangelical Christians (and other creedal Christians) and, more specifically, why they take those positions.
Many or perhaps even most Mormons are pro-life in the sense that they are repulsed by the idea of terminating a pregnancy (which, of course, people who are pro-life describe as killing a baby). Many or most Evangelical Christians are also unqualifiedly pro-life. But are the reasons that Evangelical Christians are pro-life actually acceptable to Latter-day Saints? In a discussion such as this, there is always the risk of mischaracterizing the others’ views and that is not intended here, so corrections are welcome and invited, but it is worth thinking about at a time when a substantial percentage of Evangelical Christians reject a Mormon candidate because of his religion.
Is it accurate to conclude that, at its most basic level, Evangelical Christian political support for the pro-life position stems from a theology that includes the doctrine of election to salvation? Under this doctrine — made famous by Calvin — God, who is of course sovereign over all flesh, elects those who will receive mercy and be saved before they are even born; the billions who are not chosen in this manner to be Evangelical Christians receive justice and are damned. Despite this doctrine of election to salvation (i.e. “unconditional election”), the condition of accepting the Trinitarian Jesus in one’s heart is still viewed as absolute to be able to receive or benefit from the grace of Jesus Christ which alone saves. Thus, even those who are “saved” because they accept the Trinitarian Jesus in their hearts have only done so because God chose them to confess the Trinitarian Jesus in their hearts, implying by necessity that God chose the billions of others who have not confessed the Trinitarian Jesus in the hearts not to do so, including estimated billions who lived out lives of misery and died before anyone even knew about Jesus Christ.
Would this doctrine not demand a pro-life position if it converged with a belief that life begins upon conception? Abortion at any stage of a pregnancy, under this doctrine, means sending another soul straight to the eternal torture by fire and brimstone of God’s damnation in Hell. This is because, if life begins at conception, and if a person must accept Jesus Christ in his or her heart to be saved (both of which Evangelical Christians believe), then terminating a pregnancy means killing a person before he or she has a chance to accept Jesus Christ in his or her heart. The result is that the aborted fetus is one of the “reprobates” who were not elected to be saved but rather receive justice and are damned for eternity. No human, no matter how faithful, wants to be the instrument in the hands of God in damning innocent babies (in this case fetuses) to eternal hell; therefore, a prohibition on all abortion becomes politically imperative.
Is this an acceptable reason for Latter-day Saints to be pro-life? It seems that most Mormons who are pro-life take this position from an accountability standpoint relating to the misuse of divinely appointed powers of procreation informed by an awareness of the pre-existence of the soul and the greater purpose of the Plan of Salvation. It should be noted that the official position of the Church on abortion allowing the procedure in certain circumstances could already make Mormons “pro-choice” to some degree in the eyes of staunch pro-life Evangelical Christians. If this is indeed the case then their toleration of Mormons in their coalition on this cause at all is a manifestation of how they are spitefully using Mormons for their money and grassroots support on this issue, particularly if they really are rejecting Mitt Romney because he is Mormon.
If this brief argument about the reasons for the Evangelical Christian pro-life stance is sound and valid, then is LDS participation with Evangelical Christians in a coalition about this political issue desirable?