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Defining Creation: How saving the planet is a pro-life issue

To the Evangelical community, I want to talk to you about Life. No, not the word you’ve weaponized as ammunition in your incessant, hollow holy culture war; the one you use to justify your political alignment with an amoral monster; not the word you wield like a legislative hammer against women’s autonomy over their own bodies.

I’m talking about Life, in its most expansive, most elemental definition. Life, as describing the glorious entirety of all creation. Life, as the interdependent community of every being, every creature, every atom, every bit of matter. I’m talking about Life as the interconnected existence of all that you claim God has purposefully made. You are neglecting Life.

  • Life, is the climate that is changing rapidly and perhaps irrevocably.
  • Life, is the regular and accelerating extinction of disparate wildlife.
  • Life, is the growing toxicity of our air and water and atmosphere.
  • Life, is the furious deforestation of the planet.
  • Life, is the vanishing polar icecaps and the rising oceans and the eroding coastlines.
  • Life, is the dying of honeybees and butterflies and sea turtles and Amur leopards.
  • Life, is the irresponsible depletion of our natural resources and the infrastructure paving over habitats.

I wonder why all that Life seems of little consequence to you, given your pro-life professions; the label you so easily affix to yourself in marches and on t-shirts and in bumper stickers; in the voting booth and in the pulpit and on social media diatribes.

I’m curious as to why those sustained acts of aggression against Life don’t keep you up at night or bring you to tears and render you bold or drive you to confront strangers in parking lots.

And please don’t tell me it’s God.

I know you rely on a self-centered theology of privilege that wants to imagine that human beings are somehow elevated above, separated from, and independent of the rest of this world—but we are not. That is a convenient heresy. The truth is, we are not near nature or interacting with nature, we are nature: part of it, affected by it, participating in it.

We are inextricably tethered to the oceans sustaining us and the air surrounding us and the atmosphere above us; to the degrading soil and the vanishing diversity and the multiplying carcinogens.

There is catastrophic dying happening in your midst and on your watch and by your very hands—and for some reason, none of us this imperiled life seems to merit your urgency or incite your passion or earn your advocacy. Maybe because then you’d have to change how you live, to face your culpability, to admit your violence against what God has made and charged you with stewarding.

Then maybe you’d have to admit you’re not really all that pro-life after all.

If you can limit “Life,” to the contents of another woman’s uterus, then you don’t have to deal with the mirror. Then you can stay upon your moral high horse castigating the bleeding hearts and the tree huggers while you can over indulge and waste and upsize; you can buy and spend and use, and commit a thousand daily assaults against the planet and still imagine you’re defending the living.

You can continue to sin unabated and still feel righteous.

If the God you claim to believe in exists, I wonder how you’ll explain letting thousands of species disappear, coral reefs die, wildfires rage, and the very earth to warm without lifting a finger.

I wonder how your claims of being pro-life will play to One who will have logged every turn of your head, every lazy shortcut, every bit of willful ignorance, every hypocritical sermon.

I can imagine the way you’ll justify to that God, for crusading to force children to be born into a world that is literally burning while you pour propellant.

If the atmosphere and the rivers and the insects and the stripping of the soil doesn’t matter to you, you’re not pro-life—you’re a highly selective saint claiming to honor the sanctity in the world when it serves you, and ignore it if it interferes with your spending habits or car choices or vacation home plans.

You can’t be both predatory and pro-life. Your selfish, arrogant consumption of creation and your reckless disregard of all you’ve been entrusted with, is as sinful as any act you imagine yourself opposing.

You are fundamentally failing to defend Life right now. Worse than that, you are violently assaulting it. I hope you’re prepared to meet your Maker after all you done to destroy what has been made.

John Pavlovitz

The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.

About The Author

John Pavlovitz

John Pavlovitz is a 20-year ministry veteran trying to figure out how to love people well and to live-out the red letters of Jesus, both online in this global community.