John Pavlovitz earns a living as a “fully affirming” pastor. That means he actually makes money by visiting churches and teaching pastors how to lead their congregations astray by rejecting Biblical teaching and encouraging sexual sins. These sins include, but are not limited to, homosexual sodomy. Personally, I find that aspect of his teaching boring and unworthy of extended commentary. He’s no longer following Jesus. He’s following Rob Bell and he is leading people straight to hell (no rhyme intended). There’s nothing new to see here so let’s move on to more important issues.
In stark contrast with the exceedingly boring and overplayed rationalizations for his professional gay affirmation, Pavlovitz’ views on abortion and pro-lifers are somewhat interesting. By “interesting” I mean that they are so twisted as to be entertaining at times. Some of them are actually somewhat original. In this day of cut-and-paste and talking point blog post progressivism that’s really saying something. I find the originality refreshing. As a pro-life speaker I am always looking for new and innovative approaches from people on the other side of the issue.
By way of confession, I had never heard of John Pavlovitz until my friend Scott Klusendorf posted on social media his short rebuttal to a Pavlovitz piece called “White Conservative Christian Friend: I Wish You Really Were Pro Life.” I then decided to read the original article in its entirety. It was even more of a vicious attack on pro-lifers than I had expected. So I decided to write an extended column-style rebuttal. You are reading that column now.
You will find Pavlovitz’ remarks indented and italicized below. Between each paragraph are my non-indented, non-italicized responses. I hope you find them useful the next time your well-reasoned pro-life views come under a vicious assault from a pro-abortion-choice advocate posing as a legitimate spokesman for God:
You tell me that you’re voting for Donald Trump for one reason: because you’re pro-life. Despite everything you’ve seen and know about this man (much of which you openly lament), you say that you just can’t support someone who doesn’t share your burden, and that you’re voting solely this issue.
As a preliminary matter, please note that I am writing this rebuttal prior to the November presidential election, although this piece will not be published until after the election is over. I am not voting for Donald Trump, as are the people to whom Pavlovitz is writing. Nor am I voting for Clinton. Unlike Pavlovitz, I do not have a dog in the hunt this time around.
Life, you say is the ultimate deal breaker for you. I wish that were true.
This short two-sentence paragraph reveals the main thesis of Pavlovitz’ piece, which can be summarized roughly as follows: Conservative Christians are claiming to support Trump reluctantly because of their love for the unborn while, in reality, masking more sinister motives.
This is merely the beginning of the contradictions in his piece. Pavlovitz’ will imply that single-issue voting is wrong. But he will also assert that Trump supporters are not really doing it. Pavlovitz explains why he thinks the targets of his column are lying:
I actually don’t believe you’re pro-life, I believe you’re anti-abortion, which is a far more selective and convenient defense of Humanity. From where I’m standing it seems as though “Life” for you, comprises a very narrow demographic—one that bears a striking resemblance to you. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable to you, something benign and comfortable, something in your own image.
This paragraph is problematic for two reasons. First, it raises the false dichotomy between being pro-life and anti-abortion. Imagine an abolitionist living in Mississippi in the 1850s being attacked by one of his opponents with the accusation that he is merely anti-slavery but not actually pro freedom. Why would someone make such an attack? Think about that as you continue to read. The answer will become obvious before long. Hint: It’s politically motivated.
The second problem presented in this paragraph is a little more perplexing. Pavlovitz seems to be asserting that it is easy to be anti-abortion (as opposed to truly pro-life) because the unborn “bears a striking resemblance” to the pro-lifer. It would be more accurate to say that the pro-life position recognizes that there are differences between the born and unborn but that those differences do not justify killing the unborn. In contrast, the pro-abortion-choice advocate uses differences in appearance such as size and level of development in order to justify killing the unborn.
In other words, it would be more accurate to say that pro-lifers defend the unborn despite the fact that they don’t resemble them whereas pro-choicers advocate against the unborn in part because of arbitrary differences in physical appearance.
Finally, as a point of clarification, the pro-life position is not that the unborn are valuable because they reflect our image. It is our position that they are valuable because they bear the image of God. Pavlovitz remarks are already confused but soon devolve into complete incoherence:
You see, it’s not that you’re really pro-life, you’re pro-straight, white, Christian fetuses. I can tell by how often your heavy burden for the sanctity of life evaporates upon delivery. In so many cases this compassion really has a nine-month expiration date, as if life begins at conception but ends upon leaving the birth canal. The completion of that third trimester is actually the shelf life of your passionate regard for much of the living.
It is difficult to know where to begin addressing such emotionally laden incoherence. However, some initial questions pop into my mind immediately. For example, is Pavlovitz suggesting that there is a way to identify gay fetuses so we can make an abortion exception for them? Similarly, is there really such a thing as a Christian fetus? Perhaps it is best to cast those initial questions aside and select two of the more identifiable slanders against the pro-life movement, which emerge in the above paragraph.
First, we must deal with the race card. The accusation that pro-lifers are racist is difficult to fathom. Blacks make up only one-eighth of the population but are the victims of one-third of all abortions. Planned Parenthood’s founders were clearly racist – even before the organization began focusing on abortion. Today, the organization’s current practices clearly eliminate blacks in the womb at disproportionate rates. They have offices set up in every poor black neighborhood in America. In other words, the racial slander against pro-lifers simply does not comport with history or with current practice.
Second, we must deal with the accusation that pro-lifers abandon babies as soon as they are born. That careless slander is easily demonstrated to be false. In point of fact, there are now approximately three crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) for every abortion clinic in America. These CPCs help pregnant women with medical expenses and other expenses both before and after birth.
There is also a philosophical problem with Pavlovitz’ ad hominem accusation of “inconsistency.” Even if pro-lifers were inconsistent our alleged inconsistencies would not negate the humanity of the unborn and therefore justify their dismemberment. But the point is mute. We are not inconsistent as a movement. We are caring, generous, and proactive even in the face of slanderous attacks by “fully affirming” pastors.
Because if that life you say you so treasure, one day converts to Islam, you label it dangerous, you see it as a threat, you applaud suggestions of its expulsion, you deny it open worship.
This paragraph is clearly a statement against Trump’s anti-Muslim sentiments. I agree with Pavlovitz’ sentiment, here. In fact, that is one reason I refused to support Trump or even to meet with him when I was invited to Trump Towers in the later stages of the campaign. But the accusation that Muslims would be denied open worship is unfounded. Trump’s policies on Muslim immigration are problematic. But he doesn’t oppose freedom of worship for anyone. Nor do his pro-life supporters. Pavlovitz’ squanders an opportunity here and devolves into more careless slander. It gets worse:
If that life eventually comes out as LGBTQ, you condemn its soul, harass it in your workplace and church, try to prevent its marriage, tell it where and when it can use a public bathroom. You bully it and drive it to suicide.
This is not mere rhetoric. This is a sign of psychosis. It is difficult to read such a paragraph and conclude that John Pavlovitz has the requisite mental stability to deliver the word of God. It becomes evident that this blog post was not written to a narrow group of people – white, conservative Christians who are voting for Trump. It is a screed against all conservative Christians – people against whom Pavlovitz bears a deeply pathological grudge. Nonetheless, a new sub-thesis has emerged from Pavlovitz’ writing: In order to be pro-life you have to by pro-gay marriage and in favor of transgendered bathrooms. To do otherwise would be bullying, which would lead to suicide thus negating your claims to be truly pro-life.
The “fully affirming” pastor is now on a roll. So let’s keep going:
If that life has brown skin and wears baggy pants and gets gunned down during a traffic stop, you not only have little grief over its loss, but readily blame it for its own execution.
Translation: In order to be truly pro-life you have to support Black Lives Matter.
If that life is strapped to a prison gurney and pumped full of drugs that will cease its lungs from expanding while its terrified mind comprehends it all, you celebrate the occasion as justice being served—after a last meal you resent having to pay for.
Translation: In order to be truly pro-life you have to be anti-death penalty – because there really is no difference between an unborn child and a convicted murderer.
If that life has to endure its formative years in overcrowded, grossly underfunded public schools, you tell it to “pull itself up by its own bootstraps”, while nestled in the cloistered, privileged gated community of a Suburbia where bootstraps come with a birth certificate.
Translation: In order to be truly pro life you have to be a socialist who supports income and wealth redistribution.
If that life has working parents who can’t make a living wage, you label it a lazy, unproductive drain on society always looking for handouts and trying to work the system to its advantage.
Translation: Pro lifers are heartless mean-spirited bastards.
If that life needs healthcare because its undeveloped heart can barely beat on its own, you’re suddenly empty of empathy and low on generosity—unless it can pull its own weight and pay the premiums.
Translation: In order to be truly pro-life you have to support socialized medicine.
If that life doesn’t eat enough fruits and vegetables because it lives in urban areas where such things are scarce and financially prohibitive, you ridicule its obesity and sickness as signs of cultural overindulgence and gluttony.
Translation: Pro-lifers are heartless mean-spirited skinny bastards who hate fat people.
If that life is sexually assaulted you want to blame it for its promiscuity and immodesty, and wonder why it didn’t just keep its legs closed and why it can’t just move on and why it is so easily offended by “locker room banter.”
Translation: Pro-lifers are also pro-rape.
If that life is one day sent overseas to defend liberties here; separated from spouses, children, and parents and placed directly in harm’s way, you’re far more cavalier exposing its vulnerability and far less concerned about whether or not it is sacred.
Translation: Here is where Pavlovitz and I have some commonality. Neither one of us has any idea of what Pavlovitz just said!
If that life doesn’t reside in the continental US or speak English and comes here fleeing oppression, poverty, and war you’ll never understand, you ask it to go back and “go through the proper channels”, instead of the barely sea-worthy makeshift raft or the stinking, stifling storage container it nearly died in trying to get here.
Pavlovitz is entirely correct here. People do paddle their way to America in leaky boats. They usually do so in order to escape communist countries (e.g., Cuba, Vietnam). And that’s a good reason why we should fight his efforts to turn America into a communist nation.
I wish you were pro-life, my friend—I really do.
I can’t believe he’s still claiming we are his friends. With friends as full of it as Pavlovitz, who needs enemas?
I wish all human beings mattered as much to you as caucasian embryos do. I wish that once these diverse babies are thrust out into a violent, difficult, painful world; many enduring disadvantages, obstacles, and trials you will likely never experience—that you actually gave more of a damn about them.
In other words, pro-lifers are just going to be mean to these little black babies when they are born. So the solution is simple for Pavlovitz: Vote for the candidate who will keep it legal to kill them in the womb, who will defend abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and who will put a pro-abortion organization founded by racists in every single black neighborhood in America.
Now that’s a loving and fully affirming pastor!
Because if you did, Life would be far bigger to you.
Actually, Pastor Pavlovitz, life would be bigger if we had not executed 56 million of our own citizens. But that’s no tragedy for the utopian. It’s only a statistic.
You would want to do more than prevent abortions.
As vigorously, passionately, and loudly…
You’d want to prevent hunger and poverty.
You’d want to prevent illiteracy and child mortality and forced prostitution.
You’d want to prevent racism and bigotry and homophobia. You’d want kids in the “bad neighborhood” to have great schools and teachers just like your kids have there in the “good neighborhood.”
You’d want to support single parents and the terminally ill and the mentally ill by helping them carry their oversized burden.
You’d want religious freedom even for people who aren’t Christian.
You’d want LGBTQ people to live and work and worship and love as they desire.
You’d want people of color not to have to fear law enforcement and not to be disproportionately incarcerated.
You’d want fewer guns in the hands of kids and criminals and those with mental illness.
You’d want to prevent violence and workplace termination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
You’d want a living wage for all people who work hard, and healthcare for their children that won’t have to replace their daily meals.
These might also be deal breakers for you.
In other words, Pavlovitz will claim he is pro-life while supporting the legality of murdering innocent children in the womb. And he will call your pro-life, too – just as soon as you support every single plank of the so-called progressive platform.
Pavlovitz’ entire essay is pathologically self-centered. Understandably, he must do something about the cognitive dissonance that flows from calling oneself pro-life while supporting the Planned Parenthood killing machine. His solution is to point to others as if to say, “I might be inconsistent … but they are more consistent than I am.”
Pavlovitz’ smug moral superiority comes from a recognition that his defense of presidential candidates who endorse systematic child murder cannot be squared with Christianity. That is why the closing lines of his column could just as well have been written by Stuart Smalley staring into a mirror and endlessly repeating, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me!”
I am a person of Life. That is what my faith calls me to be.
I don’t celebrate when a woman terminates a pregnancy (I honestly don’t know anyone who does), but my advocacy for life also goes well beyond the womb, and includes a far more diverse swath of Humanity than only those who look, speak, or worship the way I do. It includes immigrants and Muslims and Atheists and my enemies.
I wish we were partners in that wider affirmation of the living, because that would be cause of celebration and reason for hope and a visible sign of America’s greatness.
I am pro-all life because it is all sacred; not only when its heart begins beating, but as it beats and when it struggles to beat and up until it ceases to beat.
I defend all life equally. I celebrate it all fully. I protect it all passionately.
I really wish you did too.
No, you’re not a person of life, John Pavlovitz. You’re a sanctimonious hypocrite who endorses candidates fighting for the unrestricted slaughter of innocent children trapped inside their mother’s womb.
And you really wish we did too.