Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
May the meditations of my heart
and the words of my mouth
be pleasing in Your sight,
oh Lord, my God and my Redeemer.
I was all set to write a post that would get right down to the nitty and the gritty of hardball, pro-life politics. I’m still going to do that. But not today.
I try to pray the prayer above, which is an old, old prayer from the Psalms, before every speech I make, and before I put my fingers on the keyboard to begin writing. Sometimes, I get caught up in the moment and just start writing without praying. Those are the times when I have to go back and say, I’m sorry, I was wrong, I apologize.
Because, you see, without God putting a brake on my inner jerk, I give vent to that inner jerk. Me without the Holy Spirit, is a real mess.
Which leads me to today’s post. I prayed before I sat down to write this, and when I prayed, I was reminded that the real nitty and gritty of pro-life politics begins before the tactics and the ways to fight the fight in a technical sense.
Pro-life politics is eternity work. As such, it is also a battle with powers and principalities. If we try to go into it without first letting the Holy Spirit fit us for the battle, the devil will take us down, convert us — even without our knowing it — and use us for his own purposes.
Politics is a mean world in which people flatter you and tell you things so that you’ll believe them and let them use you for their purposes. Politics is a world of power. It is about getting power and keeping power. It is a world in which, if you are successful in your pro-life advocacy, someone is going to come alongside you and offer to “help” you by funding your ministry or giving you a cushy job or otherwise buying you and your influence on the cheap so they can use it in their own quest for power.
If you fall for this, you will be told. You will no longer be following Christ, you will be following and controlled by the doh-reh-mi that bought you. You will be salt that has lost its savor, and the Holy Spirit will spit you out, even as you appear to the world outside to be a great pro-life warrior and Christian.
Instead of doing good, you will end up doing well.
And the babies will continue to die.
The real nitty and the true gritty of grown-up pro-life politics is that you are dealing with the devil, and he, as he usually does, walks in on two feet. Not that the devil can’t and won’t come at you in spiritual form. I’ve had that happen to me while I was working to pass pro-life legislation. It’s happened a number of times.
But that only happens after you have rebuffed his human servants, with their fake friendships, reasonings, angry bullying, rageful cursing, threats and overt attempts to harm you. If you stay true long enough to get past all that, then the devil, or his minions, will start to come at you directly.
Pro-life work is eternity work. It is Godly work. And it can only be done by following Christ and Him alone. You cannot follow a political party or a friendship or, God help you, your own self-interest, and follow Christ. You must follow Him, and Him alone.
How does one do that? There are two important considerations. First, just as alcoholics should stay out of saloons, certain types of people should stay away from the political arena.
If you crave money, admire those who have it, and look at the things it will buy with lust in your heart, you are one step away from losing your soul the minute you enter the political door. If you enjoy having power over other people and find that being the boss of them gives you pleasure, you are too easily corrupted by the vanities of politics. If you are desperate and craving on any level, pass politics by. If you have trouble saying no to sex when someone throws it at you, the devil already has your number and will knock you down like a bowling ball, hitting a row of pins.
I’ll talk about all those things in more depth in future posts. But for now, it’s enough to put the questions before you. Take the test honestly. Can you withstand these things? You would be surprised by how few can.
The second important consideration is your own maturity in Christ. The devil is a master obfuscator who mixes lies with truth to convince you of soul-destroying untruths that you believe because you want to.
God told the Woman that if she ate of the apple, she would surely die. The devil told her, no, you will not die. He left out one word: Today. You will not die… today. It was a lie, wrapped in a truth that she wanted to hear.
The devil was the first politician.
Before you enter politics, you need to get yourself all prayed up and you need to stay all prayed up. You need to put yourself through a spiritual boot camp.
The first step in spiritual boot camp is to look at your own sins. Pray and ask God to show you your sins. Pray this every day. Then, as He exposes your seamy side to you, let yourself face the harms you have done, the people you have hurt, the evil that is you. Suffer the grief, remorse and shame that is part of knowing who you are before the cross.
Meditate on the cross, on Calvary, on your part in driving the nails, wielding the lash. Give up every last vestige of your self-lies about your own holiness.
Let God wash you clean of your own pretenses about yourself. Place yourself utterly and completely in His loving and redemptive hands. Give yourself to His mercy and realize without equivocation that His mercy is the only hope you have.
Once you have done this, and only after you have done it, you will be emptied of your own self enough to be truly useful to God in the pro-life fight. The beginning of indifference to the wiles of greed, power, sex, flattery, lies and manipulation that you will find in the political arena is humility, and the beginning of true humility is understanding that you are saved by grace and that is none of yourself. It is all from Him.
If you are an instrument — if you are His instrument — He will use you to save lives. You will do good. But if you cling to your own understanding and try to serve the dual masters of your own desires and His will, you will do well, and that only for yourself.
Once you have let God put you through the spiritual boot camp of facing your sins, you will be ready for maintenance. My own recipe when I was in office was to pray the Rosary every day, go to Mass as often as I could, go to confession every week — although this can be problematic with some priests, so you may have to go monthly if your pastor gets upset by weekly confessions — and read the Bible every day. I usually read the Bible through in a year and a half.
There are other ways to keep yourself in spiritual shape. I have since found that just sitting with Jesus in the Eucharist is a wonderfully healing experience.
The essential component is prayer and lots of it. Do not set foot in the political arena without deep, honest prayer on a daily basis. I do not mean, now-I-lay-me, Lord-won’t-you-give-me prayer. I mean prayer that enters into the heart of God, that lays you bare before Him in absolute trust.
Ask the Holy Spirit to put your through spiritual boot camp, to fit you for the battle. Spend months praying and repenting. Give your soul a deep cleaning.
Then get prayed up and stay prayed up and go out there and fight the pro-life fight as hard as you can.
In the next post, I’m going to start telling you how to fight that fight. But for now my best political advice is to begin the fight in the Christian way, by getting on your knees.