Whole-Life Pro-Life

Herbie Newell is a graduate of Samford University and has served for eleven years as the Director of Lifeline Children’s Services, which is a global and domestic adoption agency.  In January of 2020, he released Image Bearers: Shifting from Pro-Birth to Pro-Life, which presents a challenge to the Church and a call-to-care for people of all ages, races, and circumstances.  

Most of the time we hear the terms pro-life and pro-choice associated with political candidates and parties.  It is something that determines how a lot of evangelicals vote, but this is a much more vast and deep and urgent issue than I personally, and we as a culture treat it. As a Christian, I believe life begins in the womb and is indescribably valuable. When I hear many pro-choice speakers arguing that because of the broken adoption and foster care centers, disaster would strike if abortion was outlawed, I can’t help but see where the church has failed. These are valid thoughts, and I can see where the Church has been very outspoken about being pro-birth but has failed to care for the parents in these very difficult situations.

To prove the babies for whom we are fighting will be loved if the mom chooses life, we need to care for orphans well, care for people with special needs, and care for foster children and families. This is where Lifeline steps in. Lifeline sets an example of holistic support for life through shepherding families through adoption, while also providing resources for those in the foster care system and support for parents who would like to regain custody of their children.  

James 1:27 says, 

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

As Christians, we have a clear responsibility to care for those in distress, and in this episode, we walk through what whole-life advocacy looks like for the Church as well as how to get involved as college students.  In Image Bearers, Herbie leaves us with several questions, “Am I willing to be inconvenienced in order to defend life?” and, “Is my apathy towards the voiceless contributing to injustice?”  These are challenging questions, but wrestling with them will lead to finding out how we may use our prayers, unique positions, and gifts to fight for the voiceless and care holistically for distressed families.

Biblical Justice

After diving into Scripture and seeking out God’s instruction for life to the fullest on this earth, we should be naturally driven to engage in the world around us while we wait for Jesus’s second coming.  In his book Generous Justice, Tim Keller writes, “A true experience of the grace of Jesus Christ inevitably motivates a man or woman to seek justice in the world.”  

Our salvation motivates us to bring others into the family of God, just as we were once aliens. I believe learning and listening lead to a new understanding of how to love our neighbors well.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
-Ephesians 2:19-22

Dr. Brent Strawn is an author of scholastic works such as The Old Testament: A Concise Introduction and The Old Testament Is Dying (Theological Explorations for the Church Catholic): A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment.  He is currently a professor at Duke’s Divinity School and Law School.

In this episode, Dr. Strawn tackles questions such as, “Does God care about justice?” and explains some parts of the Mosaic law which reflect God’s care for the vulnerable.  When God was king of Israel, the nation operated as a theocracy, and today we still have a responsibility as the Church to act as citizens of heaven. When Jesus enters history, he perfectly displays a life of loyalty to God while living under the earthly government, the Roman empire.  He respects authorities while living totally different than the surrounding culture. He seeks justice for the lowest in society out of a humble overflow of internal righteousness, and we can seek to follow this example.

Modern-day “social justice” seems to be a movement separate from the Church.  What should our involvement look like? Are Christianity and justice separable?  Find out more in Episode 2 of The Dual Citizen Podcast.

Christians are Dual Citizens

Religion and spirituality intersecting with politics? Does that sound like a nightmare to you? You are not alone. If you turn on the news, it won’t take long to feel defeated by lies, darkness, and strife. As students leave their homes and their universities they will have civic responsibilities to fulfill as adult citizens. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe that my faith affects every other sphere of life. I can personally say from experience that a relationship with the King of Kings cannot be confined to a box! The question now is how.  

From what I have observed, it is easy to fall into one of three extremes: First, there are those who believe Jesus is the true King who will return soon, so things are only going to get worse around here and we shouldn’t bother trying to fix it. Second, there are those that have faith and politics in separate boxes that do not interact. Finally, those who place their religious views on politics so much that the two become inseparable and politics becomes the basis of religion.

We must find some kind of balance, but like many other parts of the true Christian faith, finding a balance between the earthly and eternal depends more on one’s heart than his or her actions or voting patterns. Therefore, finding answers to these questions of faith and politics begins with God himself. Only through understanding his character will we be able to represent him in every area of life on earth. 

In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter writes to the Church,

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This verse of scripture has inspired the idea of The Dual Citizen. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are part of a different brand of people, a different brand of Americans, because we have been called out of the darkness and adopted into the family and kingdom of God. Set featured image

The world around us is hurting and stuck in the darkness that is the result of our sin condition.  The political world is complicated and scary– how are we supposed to know who to believe, how to vote, what to read, where to begin? The Dual Citizen podcast exists to give small, practical steps to becoming a young adult who can confidently sustain an educated conversation about something controversial or something that is happening in Washington. 

Follow along, and we’ll have some helpful conversations that can empower you to be an American citizen who can actually fulfill your adult responsibilities of knowing what’s going on in the world. In the coming months, we will hear from incredible people who live inspiring lives of community-changing conversation and action. 

What Makes an Opinion?

What makes an opinion?  The mission of the Dual Citizen is to equip young American Christians to engage in community-changing conversation and action.  A Christian worldview often leads to questions and opposition, and in order to have these conversations, we must be prepared.  This episode was crafted to encourage listeners to do research for themselves and figure out what they believe beyond the surface, theologically and politically.  I interviewed a panel of three students, Cole Shiflet, Trina Leary, and Haley Plemons, all of whom have set examples in strong faith, bold convictions, and thorough research.  

In this conversation, we reflect on the message of Image Bearers by Herbie Newell, which conveys a “whole-life pro-life” ethic, meaning the issue of abortion is not a political line item, but a posture towards all people as bearers of God’s own image, made in his likeness (Genesis 1:26).  These students offer perspectives from three different areas of study: Social Work, Pre-Ministry, and Neuroscience/Pre-Med, which allows us to examine various pro-choice arguments, discuss how to have a conversation with a person of a different faith or none, and share ways to build one’s own foundation on the issue of abortion or any topic.  When we as believers explore all sides of an issue, wrestle with hard questions, and consider how to share our views with love and empathy, we are equipped to confidently engage in a conversation that could lead to sharing the Gospel.  

Tune in to Episode 4 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts to hear the whole conversation.