Being A Pro-Life Christian

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday, thousands marched in Washington in favor of making abortion illegal in America. It was inspired by the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs Wade. On his new Twitter account, Pope Benedict XVI supported the march with the following tweet: “I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.” It was only the fourth time in history the Pope had ever sent out a message via Twitter.

On Sunday, thousands marched in Washington in favor of gun control in America. It was inspired by the tragedy in Newtown, CT. On his Twitter account, Pope Benedict XVI was silent. The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi released a statement in favor of gun control in the aftermath of Newtown, but the Pope himself has made no such pronouncements. The Pope is signalling to the world that, in his view, outlawing abortion protects life in a more important way than controlling the proliferation of firearms in society.

I do not believe that government should impose on society its opinion about the question of when human life begins. The morality of abortion hinges on this question. It is both a question of science and of faith. Neither science nor faith give a clear answer. That is why I believe it should be left up to the individual to decide.

For me, it is not simply a question of biology, because that is not what distinguishes humanity from other life on earth. If we make no such distinction between living organism, then we must decry something as common as killing bacteria. The important distinction between human and other life is not biological, it is in the human spirit and soul.

Christians disagree, but I believe the Bible is pretty clear about when the human spirit is implanted in the human body. In the creation story, the human spirit is breathed into Adam after he is fully formed. In the dry bones dream in Ezekiel, God says, “I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.” I interpret these and other passages from Scripture to suggest that we become fully human only at birth when we take our first breath of life.

The Catholic Church has for several centuries taught that human life begins at conception. The evangelical Protestants used to disagree, but ever since Jerry Falwell, they have embraced this notion. I believe elevating the status of fetuses is motivated more by a concern over dwindling numbers of members than by Biblical teachings.

I fear that these Christian leaders who decry a woman’s right to choose are primarily concerned about maintaining their power in society through the numbers of their adherents. Teaching their members that abortion (and any form of birth control) is wrong, increases the birthrate among their members, and this in turn helps to ensure that their “kind” maintain or grow it’s percentage within a society.

Jesus said go and make disciples, but I don’t think he meant by forcing women to have babies against their will. I believe being a pro-life Christian means valuing human life, and I believe this mission is undermined by equating a human fetus to a human child.

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Comments

  • Jim Wheeler  On January 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I’m surprised at your stance on this, JW, but I am not surprised that you base your opinion on your personal interpretation of the Bible. But, the Old Testament? Really?

    In recent months I found reason to reference that hoary tome and found extensive material completely shocking and contrary to common sense. Leviticus is almost all that way and Judges 29-40 contains a wild tale about a fellow named Jephthah that I hadn’t been aware of before. Try that one out, if you aren’t already aware of it, and then please let me know if you still consider the OT a good guide to modern living.

    For what it’s worth, my own opinion on when human life begins is that the question is an improper one because although lawyers and priests feel compelled to ask and answer it, it is unanswerable in the form asked. By science at least. A person begins as a blastula and develops from there in a genetically-programmed process that is a continuum.

    It is known from testing that people retain no specific memories prior the the age of 3 or 4, so I submit that we are indeed people by that stage. Also, my feeling is that abortion should be considered immoral if done after the first trimester of gestation because by then the baby has distinct human form and organ functionality, but I would make exceptions for rape, unrepairable genetic defect or significant threat to the life of the mother. Just seems like common sense to me, but I think Jephthah would agree with you on the subject. C’mon, JW, shouldn’t you rethink this?

  • jwhester  On January 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I wonder Jim, what lesson you take from the story of Jephthah. According to Hosea 6:6, God desires mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. When I read the story of Jephthah, it hear a story of the tragic consequences of a foolish man’s oath to God. No where in any of it, do I see anything that relates to abortion at all.

    I am not surprised that you rely on science for your ethic regarding abortion, and so you tend to focus on biological/physical evidence of life. I find that approach unsatisfactory because it fails to distinguish between human and other life. One is either forced to assume–without basis–that human form is worthy of more protection than other animal forms, or one is forced to find equivalence between killing a rodent–or any other animal–and killing a human.

    I disagree that it is common sense that a fetus which has “distinct human form” and functioning organs takes on moral value while a fetus which hasn’t quite reached that state does not. If such were common sense, then the question of when life begins would be easy. I think it is a hard question, and that is why I believe pregnant women should not be told by the government or the church what they must decide about their own pregnancy.

    • Jim Wheeler  On January 27, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Judges 29 starts with, “Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah, and he passed . . . ” The passage seems clear, old Jephthah was abiding by what he understood was God’s will. If the Bible is the holy word of God and if this passage was meant to be other than directing people to abide by God’s will, then why doesn’t this passage condemn Jephthah’s error? Nope, there is only one interpretation possible – the passage was included in the Bible (presumably) to show that allegiance to God and compliance with his will supersedes everything else.

      There is a good basis for assuming “. . . that human form is worthy of more protection than other animal forms . . . “, and it is that we humans are unique among all animals in having both intelligent self-awareness and abstract language. That, I submit, enables humane thinking and empathy, the true basis of which is our mutual and collective reliance on one another. That’s how we evolved, in tribes, by relying on one another, and that is what eventually happens to everyone, even the rich and powerful. In the end we are all at the mercy of our fellow humans and the social structure of our societies.

      BTW, I agree about women deciding matters of their own (natal) health, but within sensible bounds I mentioned above.

      • jwhester  On January 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm

        I don’t tend to find it productive to discuss Biblical interpretation with people who claim that there is only one interpretation possible, so I’m gonna stop.

        How do you know that other animals are not self-aware? How do you know that other animals do not have abstract language? How could we ever know for sure those two things? How would a scientific experiment be designed to prove either things?

    • Jim Wheeler  On January 28, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Sorry if this frustrates you, John, but my beliefs on this subject are founded on real, testable data. Please consider the Wikipedia page at the link below, and particularly the section entitled “In Animals” relative to dolphins, apes and elephants which has other important links. Scientific American, a respected journal, has also published similar studies.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-awareness

      • jwhester  On January 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm

        I was frustrated by the direction of our conversation with respect to the Bible passage, but I relish the discussion about science.

        With respect to that, the article you pointed me to indicates that “current studies suggest that there is evidence that bottlenose dolphins, some apes, and elephants may have the capacity to be self-aware.” It goes on to include magpies in that group. I agree that science might be able to demonstrate “self-awareness” in other animals, and I agree that science might be able to demonstrate abstract language in other animals (which you would know better than I whether such has been yet demonstrated).

        I do not believe that science could ever prove that “humans are unique among all animals in having both intelligent self-awareness and abstract language.” I would be interested to know whether you disagree, and if so, help me understand how such a thing could be proven.

        My doubts go far enough to say that I’m not sure humans can possibly know for sure that any particular animal might lack both even though we may not be able to perceive them with our current knowledge and technology.

      • Jim Wheeler  On January 28, 2013 at 9:27 pm

        I’m glad to hear that you are receptive of science. If you will note the Wiki article and its links I believe you will see that there is only controversial evidence of abstract thinking or language in any animal other than homo sapiens, hence my assertion. How could one prove it if it were suspected? I know of one and I provide the link below. You will see that even though some researchers think there is some capacity in a few animals, it is clearly far, far less than in our species.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_ape_language

  • mrs. neutron's garage  On February 10, 2013 at 12:21 am

    …”Teaching their members that abortion (and any form of birth control) is wrong, increases the birthrate among their members, and this in turn helps to ensure that their “kind” maintain or grow it’s percentage within a society.”…

    It also increases the labor pool, decreases the cost of labor and increases the likelihood that more people will live in poverty. All that aside, I would be interested in knowing when enough is enough. One human starves to death on planet earth about every 15 seconds. So, at what point to these characters who think abortion and birth control should be eliminated draw the line… 8 billion, 9…10…11? Or, do we just breed like yeast in a vat until we all drown in our own waste?

    Or, do we go on breeding until magic from the sky fixes everything?

    Or, is everybody too busy scapegoating gay people to give this any real thought?

    Respectfully yours
    Mrs. N.

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