As with any election year, the topic of abortion has been a key issue for religious voters. And for many, it still remains the single most important one.
Last presidential election, Gallup found that 21 percent of voters who consider themselves pro-life would choose the candidate who agrees with them on that single issue. That’s a massive number—possibly one large enough to decide elections.
There are some voters who don’t see the election as a contest between two candidates who have differing opinions on nuanced, complicated economic, diplomatic and social issues, but as one between a candidate who is against abortion, and one who supports a woman’s right to have one.
For individuals who believe that life begins at conception and must be protected—as many Christians do—concerns about abortion are valid. And at the heart of opposition to abortion is a “pro-life” value. For many Christians, it’s the belief that all people are created in the image of God. That life is precious. That we are all the children of God. That each person is so valuable to God that He allowed His son to be sacrificed so that we could be saved.
Bible verses that command followers of Christ to serve and care for “the least of these” among us extends to protecting lives that can not protect themselves.
These ideas are why so many Christians don’t support abortion.
But it’s also important to remember being pro-life is more than just being against abortion.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 3 million children died last year “due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions.”
Out of all child deaths globally, 45 percent stem from not having enough food to eat. About 2.7 million newborns die every year, many because their mothers didn’t have access to significant medical care.
This year so far, nearly 3,700 migrants attempting to flee violence and poverty in the Middle East in North Africa have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, attempting to reach Europe. Many were children.
On average last year, 36 Americans were killed by guns—every single day. And that doesn’t include suicides. In the last decade, more than 301,000 people in the U.S. were killed by guns. Of those deaths, African-American men were disproportionally affected by the violence.
In the U.S., capital punishment still remains legal, even though it has consistently been found to be applied unfairly and to be an ineffective deterrent against crime. These are concerning facts, especially because exonerations remain at an all-time high.
Every 13 minutes, someone in America commits suicide.
Last year, more people in America died of drug overdoses than any time in history. The majority of those were from opioids, a fact many say is a result of the overabundance of legal prescription drugs. You are now more likely to die from a drug overdose in America than from a car accident. More than 500,000 people have overdosed on opioids since 2000.
And these issues—each with their own unique social and political implications—are just a few of the issues involving actual life and death consequences.
Life More Abundantly
Throughout the gospel, Jesus frequently talks about caring for those who are in need of help: the inmate, the migrant, the orphan, the widow, the sick, those in poverty. The young, single parent. The persecuted. The marginalized.
The implication is profound: We aren’t just called to help those facing life or death situations (though, that is imperative); we are called to serve others, to alleviate suffering and restore justice. This is an expression of God’s love for us. In John 10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Life is precious to God. This is more than preventing death.
This is why being “pro-life” is about more than a single issue—it represents a holistic approach to following some of Jesus’ most important commands.
On November 8, each Christian who decides to cast a ballot will have an individual choice to make. For some, it will be about a single ballot issue. For others, a variety of them.
But when doing so, prayerfully remember that life is precious to God, and pray that he helps us all continue to understand what that fully means.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.