I originally posted this article 1 1/2 years ago at Christian Post.
You might be asking this question if you listened to many evangelicals who still seem to trundle out these two issues as the single matters of ethical concern. Of course, on a good day some will venture out a bit further and expand the moral sphere to include other matters of sexual ethics. But even so, great swathes of the moral life (e.g. climate change, war, corporatocracy, AIDS et cetera) remain in the dark.
I was confronted with an instance of this tunnel vision the other day when I was listening to a podcast by William Lane Craig, a brilliant fellow with two PhDs, about thirty books, and the unofficial title of being the world’s leading Christian apologist. The context was Craig’s “Reasonable Faith” podcast when his sidekick “Kevin” asked him about which ethical issues he will discuss in his adult Sunday school class:
Kevin: “Bill, do you try to keep up with politics? I mean, uh, if somebody in your class asks you to comment on healthcare, the state of healthcare and what we ought to do, do you keep up with things like that so that you can comment on it in class?”
Bill: “No, not for that reason. I do try to keep up on them simply because I’m interested vitally in these issues and I want to be a good citizen. But I try to stay away from politics in what I comment on Kevin because as a Christian spokesperson I don’t want to make Christianity associated with any particular segment of the political spectrum. What I will comment on would be issues that have a definite ethical or religious dimension to them.
“For example, would the current health care proposals going through congress legalize federal funding for abortion? You know there was an amendment that was proposed by nineteen democratic congressmen that would explicitly forbid any of these funds to be used for abortion purposes and that was defeated by other committee members. Well that’s very disturbing I think for the Christian who doesn’t want to see his tax money utilized to fund abortions. So that’s an issue I think of legitimate comment that is neither right nor left but is an ethical concern that we all ought to have.
“Or similarly the American Psychological Association issued a couple of months back a statement concerning the prospects for success of counselling homosexual persons who want to change their orientation. And again that had very interesting ethical and religious implications that we as Christians need to address. I try not to be political but I do try to address these issues when they have religious or ethical implications.”
I was more than a bit dismayed by these comments. Craig only seems interested in the ethical dimensions of healthcare when the issue touches on the life of a fetus. But what about healthcare itself? Isn’t that a moral issue? What about a baby born addicted to crack? Or a single mom who cannot afford health insurance? Or a family who just had Cigna deny their request for their child’s organ transplant? What about the very idea of a system of healthcare that is driven not be care of the patient but delivering profits to shareholders? What about the soaring profits of corporations like Wellpoint even as they raise premiums on people already living at the margins? On what planet aren’t these moral issues?
Yes, fetuses are important. But last I checked, when Jesus described his faithful sheep as those who fed the poor, gave drink to the thirsty, housed the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner, and cared for the sick, he wasn’t only thinking about fetuses.