Sarah Pulliam Bailey recently wrote that the organizers of March for Life, which historically has been a more Catholic organization, hired Bethany Goodman to reach out and attract Evangelicals to the annual rally in Washington. It makes sense that in a time of increasing hostility to members of the Christian faith that we should begin to see more signs of Christian unity. What seemed impossible a little over a half-century ago is now becoming common in the Christian world. During the election of 1960, the Catholicism of John F. Kennedy was a major source of concern among Protestant voters. In 2013, the Southern Baptist Convention awarded its prestigious Leland award to Princeton Professor Robert George, who happens to be a Roman Catholic.
The March for Life, to be held on Wednesday, January 22, is possibly the most pivotal front in the culture wars. It is in all likelihood the one issue that most Christians can agree on both in doctrine and in politics, and it is also the most likely to be carried on by the next generation of Christians. The political and cultural pressures on such issues can seem unbearable. But beneath the so-called weight of history, Christians come together in bonds of love and faith that would otherwise be impossible. Not only do such events bring together Evangelicals and Catholics, but as Christopher Palko observed about last year’s similar March for Marriage.
“It was a majority-minority group. The March for Marriage had without a doubt the most racially diverse crowd that I had ever seen associated with a right-of-center political cause. On the Mall, you would hear Spanish being spoken behind you, an African-American gospel group singing in front of you, and members of an Asian-American church standing beside you.”
It is rather fitting that this year’s March for Life, an event that attracts Christians of all race, denomination, and socio-economic backgrounds, falls during the historic Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The World Council of Churches, an organization that is not now what it once was, first organized the Week of Prayer in 1908. C.S. Lewis once wrote in a letter to a Catholic friend that he considered the Week of Prayer to be one when “all who profess themselves Christians are bound to offer prayers for the reunion of the Church.” Don’t think Lewis didn’t choose his words intentionally. He meant it when he wrote that Christians “are bound” to pray for unity. It may offend our notions of equality and our idolatry of “personal taste,” but to be a Christian is to desire and work for the unity of the Church. This is non-negotiable.
In another letter Lewis observed, “Those who suffer the same things from the same people for the same Person can scarcely not love each other.” Those who truly bear the common perils and common burdens of the Christian life will form a bond of love. Not that our mutual participation in defense of life and culture will erase all differences, but what a better way to begin the healing than by coming to the defense of life itself, that precious gift we are all bound to protect. At the end of the day we will all still be Baptists and Catholics, Reformed and Wesleyan, High Church and Low, but on January 15th, whether you are in Washington or at home, before we begin our day let us all take one moment to give thanks for the unity of the Church thus far, and to pray as Christ prayed, “that we all may be one.”