I heard about The Manhattan Declaration through Twitter and FB and then on Christianity Today, so I read it to see what was being said and I read through the list of those who were invited to sign it to see who was officially on board.
Here’s the opening set of claims:
A CALL OF CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.
We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Here are my first thoughts:
First, I agree with the moral stands: I’m against abortion, I’m for marriage between a man and a woman and I do not support same-sex marriages, and I’m surely also for civil and religious liberties. I’m also for agitating for what one believes is right, and I’m also for tolerance for the views of others, even if those views become laws and even if I disagree deeply.
Second, not only do I agree with these basics, but I really do like their opening descriptions of the Christian conscience (on the full statement linked above) and how Christians have addressed key issues in the history of Western civilization. I like that they link the poor to the unborn; that is an important moral argument — the Eikonic status of the unborn. I like that they fight for the sanctity of marriage.
Third, I also agree that society’s numbers show that more are against abortion than for and that we, as believers in representation and the voice of the public, need to let the people speak. Furthermore, I support the belief that while Obama says he is opposed to abortion at the personal level but finds it defensible under current laws (Roe v. Wade) his policies have only increased the chances of abortion and not decreased them.
Fourth, I am concerned about a culture of death — about both stem-cell research and where it “might” lead (I think we need to avoid a slippery slope necessity here) and the issues surrounding euthanasia have within the possibility of mandating the necessity of hospitals to conform and they are too often framed in ways that do not support the culture of life. I want us to have laws that respect the sanctity of life.
Fifth, I totally agree on the rock-bottom sanctity and cultural significance of marriage and family. I appreciate their willingness to admit and confess complicity in a culture that has degraded marriage and family. I would love to hear from The Manhattan Declaration inner circle how they intend to give legs to their commitments to spreading the influence of sound marriages and healthy families. Their commitment to refrain from disdainful condemnation of those who participate in sexual sins is a notable statement. I like that they connect marriage to the procreative element — a historic position of the Church — and not just to the romantic element. This commitment to procreation and the care for the procreated is inherent to marriage.
Sixth, and I agree that movements now in culture and in legal circles should not lead to demanding and mandating that hospitals and doctors and churches and parachurch organizations conform against religious conscience.
Finally, because of the above points and because this is from a widespread group of Christian leaders, because I respect those who have signed it and those who drafted it, because it is ecumenical both on the basis of the great tradition and on the basis of shared moral values, because they have overtly claimed this is not just a partisan statement — and there are folks from both sides of the political spectrum on their list — and because they are not claiming these moral statements about abortion and marriage are the only central moral issues of our day, I hereby publicly endorse The Manhattan Declaration.
I hope you will join me or at least join us in a conversation.