Skip to comments.Lacking basis, Christians fight abortion
Posted on 03/20/2006 2:23:32 PM PST by madprof98
Those who seek to outlaw abortion often use the rhetoric of "protecting the most vulnerable and helpless" in our communities. Many of them are Christians who see their opposition to abortion rights as inextricably linked with their faith and their understanding of Christian ethics. After all, wouldn't a God of love and life want us to protect life wherever we found it?
If only it were that simple.
In practice, there are other questions we must ask. Does a God of love and life ever support war? Does such a God understand that some innocent civilians will die when we fight to protect our freedoms? In other words, does God approve when we make the decision to kill other people to protect our quality of life? What about when we kill to prevent genocide? Does God have a holy balancing scale that weighs intangibles like "intent" and "the greater good" or one that compares the number of innocent lives lost against the number of innocent lives saved?
We do not know. For every Christian with a "God Bless Our Troops" sticker on their bumper there is another with "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" on their rear windshield.
If my experience as a pastor is any indication, it is unlikely that the driver of either car would be making their point from the kind of complex theological arguments I learned in seminary. In practice, our upbringings, our biases and our circumstances have much more to do with what we believe God thinks; and we are often inconsistent.
How else could we spend millions of dollars to oppose abortion --- despite no clear biblical argument for or against it --- and ignore the overwhelming number of biblical texts that explicitly command us to care for the poor?
For the vast majority of Christians, it is not about consistency --- it is about convenience. Even those of us who speak passionately about protecting the weak often forget that our willingness to purchase cheap goods produced by exploited workers sentences children to poverty, disease, violence and death. The cars that we drive, the food that we allow to be marketed to children, the tax breaks we support or oppose, they all have a life-or-death impact on the most vulnerable among us. It is not only in war that we make decisions to value one life over another. Consciously or not, we do it every time we go to the supermarket.
The issue of abortion is not about whether life starts at conception. There are convincing arguments either way. The issue is which carries more weight: the life that may be in the embryo, or the life and needs of the woman in whose body that embryo was conceived?
After spending time in women's health clinics, I have come to realize that the "most vulnerable and helpless" who need our active protection are the women and couples who are faced with the agonizingly difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy. As a Christian pastor, I strongly support protecting the right of women to make this decision. Other Christian pastors have chosen otherwise, and our division on this issue is proof that there is no Christian consensus here.
The far right, however, has been able to set the issue of abortion apart from all of the other controversial, life-or-death decisions we make every day. Abortion is not a special case; and I pray that the guardians of our Constitution will continue to protect our freedom to choose our own priorities in all of these weighty matters.
The beliefs or prejudices of some, regardless of who has a majority, should not be used to take the choice out of the hands of the woman who will be the main bearer, perhaps the only bearer, of the consequences of her decision.
The Rev. C. Joshua Villines of Decatur is a regional spokesman for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. An ordained United Church of Christ pastor, he is completing a doctorate degree at Vanderbilt University.
I'm saying he's wrong to ignore the evils of abortion just because he (correctly) thinks too many Chistians ignore too many other issues.
A verse in Exodus clearly refers to a child in a womb as "Yelodehah" which translates to "her child", not "her potential child."
I think your criticism is misplaced. It would take up too much of this thread to post a list of all the Christian Charities that are out there feeding the poor and ministering to their needs. The author is a complete idiot. He is not half right. He is totally wrong. And you are totally wrong for saying he is half right.
The fact is that if there is any criticism to lay at the feet of the Christian Church it is that they don't do enough to stop abortions. I would venture to guess that not even .01% of Christians have ever picketed an abortion clinic or gone to a pro-life rally.
No, that's why most women get abortions. Convenience.
You are absolutely right: religious people do serve the poor. The pro-life movement cares about children before and after birth. To say otherwise is to repeat the old slander of the pro-abortion people, who will say and do anything to keep their bloody business going.
On one point I disagree with you, however. I do not believe the author to be an idiot at all. It is worse than that: he has chosen to defend the indefensible in the name of God.
After reading several of his homilies and writings, I came to the conclusion that this family-oriented young man was a seeker who had been, at some point, waylaid by the radical propaganda of his schooling.
Your response to my post indicates a similar mindset to my own, except that even the "brother" part I must leave to a Divine determination. Happily, that decision is not mine to make.
However, neither am I able to make such harsh judgments as those posted by some here, whose judgmental tones turn many away and may seem by some to be as inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus as are Villines' expressed political opinions on abortion, war, and other "hot" topics.
At any rate, his conclusions are seriously flawed, and my prayers are with him and any "flock" of followers whom he leads.
In practice, there are other questions we must ask. Does a God of love and life ever support war?
First, this question is not at all relevant to the issue of whether a small child should have his or her limbs ripped off. Second, the idea of any supposed pacifist wanting to save the lives of soldiers but take the lives of babies ventures beyond the realm of hypocrisy into the realm of insanity.
He has to know this is a lie.
Now I understand the same as our United Reformed ultra liberal.
Some of the more liberal methodist churches have joined with them as well.
My point was, we need to treat the unborn as real human beings in every respect - and the society at large, even with abortion aside, doesn't. Polio or hard measles or scarlett fever were not intentional murder either, but we worked hard to eradicate them. One could have argued that one in five, six, ten whatever children dying before the age of five was "the natural order of things"; however a technologically advanced culture doesn't accept that fate.
People make the bogus argument, with absolutely no data, that spontaneous abortion happens only with deformed pre-borns, or "mistakes". First of all, this is just speculation, second of all, why is the life of a deformed preborn worth less than a "perfect" preborn?
Start pointing out the unquestioned assumptions in this debate, and we might be able to shift the country's attitudes.
I'm sure that is universal. And women apologize for it! I had a friend who grieved after what she thought was a pregnancy turned out to be false - she really felt a loss (and who knows? maybe a soul was really trying to enter the world - I don't dismiss intuition).
The solace was/is that virtually every early pregnancy loss is due to genetic deformities rightly called "incompatible with life."
Of course - the death of a "real child" is a gut-wrenching thing to go through.
Which is worlds away from intentionally ending a life before birth because of money or relationship problems. And one reason - beides some pretty impressive poor-ness in my own history - that I fight abortion and try to make a difference with tangible help, crochet for the crisis pregnancy center, teaching abstinence in the schools, etc.
God bless you!
Thanks for the ping!
Every child is a "real child." But, as one of my instructors who is a Christian ethicist puts it, the burden (pain and suffering) can be so great that there is no way to bear it. How do you relieve suffering if there is and never will be an ability to understand it? Or even when the cortical "wiring" is not there to mediate and mask it, as in a more mature child?
In these cases, non-intervention is the best "action."
However (and again and again), intentional elective abortion is the intervention to *cause* death, without medical necessity.
An amazing amount is known now about preborn development. Before the advent of "wonder drugs" it was just accepted that some fraction of children died before age 5 of diptheria, scarlett fever or what have you. Everything seems impossible before some clever doctor or scientist figures it out.
My reasoning is that accepting things like miscarriage sends a subtle message that the preborns are not quite on the level as the "postborns". I've heard women justify abortion by claiming things like a woman is 20X more likely to die in childbirth than with a legal 1st tri abortion, she is 100X more likely to have serious negative effects on her health, etc. etc. All those arguments gain more traction if the welfare of preborns is not given the same amount of urgency as that of postborns...
The welfare of each child is urgent. There's no doubt about that.
With current techniques and medicine, intervening in cases of severe chromosomal defects is more akin to keeping someone on ventilator and pacemaker after total brain death. The person has ceased to function as an organism. Resuscitation is needed or the care is futile.
I believe that someone has pointed out to you that we routinely treat women who tend to have repeat miscarriages with progesterone. There are techniques for cervical "stitches" to prevent women with weak or irritable openings to their wombs. Serial ultrasound is used to track and verify early pregnancy vs. "blighted ovum" and tubal pregnancy. Each of these are equivalent to vaccines and antibiotics that you mention for formerly devastating childhood diseases.
Researchers are working on an "artificial womb." More than likely, others are working on ways to correct trisomy, fragile X, and all of the other chromosomal defects. Unfortunately, the notion that children aren't children until we feel (see my reply to just this sort of logic at http://www.lifeethics.org/www.lifeethics.org/2006/03/feel-like-human.html )that they are "persons" permeates science training and research.
There is a discussion about the subject of abortion vs. treating as a result of prenatal testing at The Center for Bioethics and Culture, http://www.thecbc.org/ See "Common Ground" on that page.
All of those statistics for injury due to abortion are questionable.
Even the CDC is aware that approximately 12% of abortions are never reported
Studies such as Fergusson's out of New Zealand and recent news out of Finland
http://www.lifeethics.org/www.lifeethics.org/2005/12/after-abortion-250-increased-risk-of.html showing harm from and after abortion are met with disbelief, silence and are difficult to publish in the first place.
Found the Free Republic articles on the Fergusson, New Zealand report on mental illness after abortion:
It's very difficult to find news reports on this peer-reviewed study where information was collected over 25 years and *then* analyzed.
This sounds like a page from Karol Wojtyla's book. The late Pope had many fine qualities, but a respect for the Divinely-ordained nature of Property Rights was not necessarily among them.
Personally, I think that the most "socially-conscious" attitude that the State can take towards Economics is respect for Biblical Law, which prohibits Theft and Trespass (trespass being permissible only to prevent aggression occurring upon Private Property).
If the Magistrate does not set an example of respecting the Eighth and Tenth Commandments in regard to private property, even though he should claim his violations are committed out of concern for "the poor", it undermines the Presbyter's preaching of the entire Decalogue (especially given that the Magistrate is the primary officer of the Second Table of the Law).
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