And this was a big one for me: Why is it that when it comes to this topic, it’s almost always white, straight, Christian men who are the loudest?
[Read: Rachel Held Evans, hero to Christian misfits]
Green: How would you describe your views on abortion today?
Kast: When I was serving on the Upper West Side, my church and different synagogues in the area got together for the One Voice to Save Choice event.
I remember approaching my board, saying, “Is this who we are? Can I go, as a pastor?”
And it was unequivocal: Yes.
Cecile Richards, the previous president of Planned Parenthood, was there. It was a formative moment for me. Here we are, different faithful people of different creeds coming together to say bodily autonomy and reproductive rights are justice issues. That was a tipping point for me.
I believe reproductive rights and bodily autonomy are deeply important. I believe that is faithfulness to Christianity. I believe in access to safe and legal abortions. I believe that the person who can best make these decisions is the person who’s considering these decisions.
I meet one-on-one with people in my congregation. Although I am ordained, and I carry a certain authority with me, my job is to walk with people through those decisions. I have known people who have accessed abortion and reproductive care. Some haven’t had any emotional turmoil over it; it has been more like celebration for them. And I know people who saw it as a hard decision.
I believe every person I encounter, including myself, has the right to their body. When that bodily autonomy is taken away, to me, that is against Christian scripture, and is against the Gospel I believe in.
Green: So, just to be clear, what do you think is the Christian theological argument for abortion?
Kast: When people talk about “Our body is a temple of God, and holy,” I see that as I have the right to choices over my body, and the freedom to make the decisions that are right for me.
In Genesis, it says that God breathed God’s spirit into our lives—Christians would say “the Holy Spirit.” Because of that, we’re not puppets controlled by God. Because of the image of God in us, we have freedom. That’s what’s really clear to me, is freedom.
There’s this little passage in the Gospel of John that continues to stay with me. Jesus says, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly.” The Greek word that’s used there for “life abundance” is this word zoe, which means not just that you’re living and breathing, but that God’s plan for our lives is to actually have a meaningful life with loving contentment and satisfaction.
Because of that—because I value life, and I believe Jesus values life—I value the choices that give us the type of life that we need.
Green: I often speak to people in what you might call a gray space on abortion. They might say something like “I believe in a legal right to a safe and accessible abortion. But on a personal, one-on-one level, I believe in encouraging people to choose to carry pregnancies to term.”