Troubling Views from a Christian on Abortion
Last weekend, I wrote an article about the fetid fruits of feminism, chief of which is the legalized slaughter of preborn babies. A Mr. Z. from St. Louis wrote to me in response, listing several points about abortion that he felt I missed. Below are his claims—claims which I hope all Christians find troubling—and my responses:
Mr. Z.: “Mere physical life is not the ultimate Christian value—see Luke 17:2. Jesus came to give people a more abundant life (John 10:10b), not to force them to be born into a life of misery.
L. H.: I agree that mere physical life is not the sole or ultimate Christian value, but each new human life is a sacred gift from God upon which is written the Imago Dei. Humans do not have the right to kill other less developed humans because they predict that these babies are destined to a wholly miserable life. Many people who have lived lives shaped by what others view as incomprehensible suffering have also experienced joy and contributed immeasurably to the flourishing of others.
What fallen humans view as an abundant life is very different from what Christ views as an abundant life. It strikes me that you have not merely cherry-picked a verse to serve your support for abortion but that you have very poorly exegeted that verse.
Further, you have ignored a whole host of verses that tell us that our days will be filled with toil, grief, and pain; that we should rejoice in suffering; that in the world, we will experience tribulation; that we will be afflicted in every way; that we should consider it joy to encounter trials for Christ; that the world will hate us because it first hated Christ; and that the poor will always be among us (poor whom we should love not kill).
Mr. Z.: “Every child deserves to be raised by a father and mother who provide a role model of a loving relationship. Many of the ‘fetid fruits of feminism’ can be traced directly to the fact that far too many children are the products of broken families or of single parentage, and therefore grew up without such role models. The situation in America today would be vastly worse if 50 million more unwanted children had been born and raised in environments of hatred of their very existence. Organized religion’s failure to cope with the consequences for the children who were born into these situations does not suggest that it would have done any better in coping with the far larger numbers that could have been born into even worse situations.
L.H.: Again, I agree with you that every child deserves to be raised by a father and mother. I also agree that fallen humans have done grave disservice and grievous injury to children through divorce, adultery, fornication, sexual perversion, neglect, abandonment, and abuse. But none of those serious failings justifies the willful killing of incipient human life. We are not God. We cannot possibly know which of those 55 million children were doomed to a life of utter and absolute misery.
Second, we cannot know which of the 55 million exterminated children may have been adopted, deeply loved, and contributed great things to his or her world.
Third, temporal suffering and spiritual abundance are not mutually exclusive.
Fourth, God does not grant humans permission to exterminate his creation based on our very limited prognostications. God has always known the suffering that will befall humans, including the youngest, and yet he commanded us not to kill. Knowing that suffering is the plight of humanity, God commanded us not to kill. He also knew that the church, composed of fallen humans, would never perfectly fulfill its mission to serve the poor and suffering. Our failure does not justify murder. God could have made provision in his word for the deliberate killing of those whose lives we view as unworthy of being lived, but he did not.
Mr. Z.: Believing that a Christian society ought to force every potential child to be born exhibits a profound distrust of God, akin to the primitive belief that a child who died unbaptized would not go to Heaven. It also exhibits the profound arrogance of implicitly asserting that society’s rules ought always to override the individual conscience. Taken to its logical conclusion, this position prohibits the use of all contraceptives, and requires that every woman produce as many children as she possibly can. That is not the kind of abundant life that Jesus intended, I am sure.
L.H.: I would humbly submit that it is you who exhibit a profound distrust in God by presuming that humans can predict the future of other humans and literally destroy lives based on those presumptions. You don’t trust God’s sovereignty over his creation, and you don’t trust that God works all things together for good for those who trust in him. You trust more in the limited vision of fallen humans than the omniscience and sovereignty of God.
The product of conception between two humans is a human—not a potential human. At no point in its gestational journey is a human anything other than a human. The lack of full developmental maturity does not make a preborn baby a non-human or a potential human. Babies at 7 months of gestation are not fully developed physically, and yet they are fully human. Newborns are not fully developed physically, and yet they are fully human. Elderly people who suffer from amputated limbs and dementia lack basic cognitive and physical abilities essential to independent living, and yet civilized people do not argue that their dependency status renders them merely potential humans or justifies their involuntary killing.
Your strange phrase regarding “forcing every potential child to be born” suggests that preborn babies are forced to be a part of something they oppose. If that’s the case, every full-term pregnancy constitutes the forcing of a preborn baby to be born, which is peculiar way to think about procreation.
I would argue that abortion constitutes forcing a preborn baby to die based on the astonishingly limited and wholly fallacious assumptions of others regarding his or her future, abundant life, suffering, and God’s sovereignty.
I certainly would never argue that “society’s rules ought to always override the individual conscience.” In the case of abortion, there are two lives involved. If the right of a woman to control her reproduction comes into direct conflict with another person’s right merely to exist, the right to existence is a right of a higher moral order. Society has an obligation to protect the lives of helpless preborn babies.
All of society’s “rules”—also known as laws—override the individual consciences of those who seek to break them. For example, any civilized society must have laws that protect individuals from the murderous actions of those whose “consciences” dictate that they have a right to kill others. Fully cognizant, self-aware humans have the freedom (though not moral right) to end their own lives if they deem them wholly miserable and devoid of value. Preborn babies, newborns, toddlers, children, and even teens do not yet have the maturity, cognitive abilities, and agency to make that choice, so you think others have the right to do it for them. While you seem to deeply value the individual consciences of pregnant mothers, you seem to hold little respect for the rights of those who are for a short time dependent on their mother for sustenance. No, conscience is not yet developed in a preborn baby just three months post-conception, but neither is it present in an 8 1/2 months post-conception baby or a newborn, and yet you are likely unwilling to allow others to force them to die.
The debate over contraception is fascinating and complex but too long to get into here. Suffice it to say that nothing I have argued about the rights of new human beings each of which possesses unique genetic coding requires a position either way on contraception.
Mr. Z.: Valuing the potential life of a fertilized egg over the actual lives of the people who make up the family into which it might eventually be born (assuming no miscarriage, whether caused by God or not) constitutes a profound form of hypocrisy. It goes right along with the hypocritical attitude that a few hundred deaths of mothers at the hands of back-alley butchers is a small price to pay to get the “benefit” of forcing many thousands of unwanted children to be born.
L.H.: No mother must raise a child whom she despises or for whom she feels incapable of caring. Virtually every pro-life pregnancy center not only cares for the mother during pregnancy but after delivery as well. These agencies provide for the physical needs of new mothers who lack resources and provide free parenting classes. If mothers don’t feel able or willing to raise their babies, crisis pregnancy centers find adoptive families. How do those actions constitute hypocrisy?
Mr. Z.: “All things considered, a medically supervised first-trimester abortion carries significantly less risk of harm to a woman than a full term pregnancy does.”
L.H.: 1. Not all abortions are first-trimester abortions. 2. The health risks of carrying a baby to term in the United States are low. 3. Most abortions do not result from rape, so most abortions result from voluntary sexual relations. Voluntarily engaging in sex when one believes that pregnancy is too dangerous is unconscionably irresponsible. For a woman to voluntarily engage in sex, knowing that if a baby results, she is going to kill it, is barbaric. 4. The potential risk of harm posed by a pregnancy does not justify murder.
Mr. Z.: “As much as I dislike Hillary Clinton, I totally agree with her assertion that abortion ought to be legal, safe and rare. I find that assertion to be completely in harmony with my understanding of how the Triune God expects His people to be stewards of His creation.”
L.H.: If incipient human life is so devoid of personhood as to be held undeserving of even minimal constitutional protections, why should it be rare?
Your vision of stewardship seems grossly perverse and presumptuous. Being a good steward of God’s human creation (i.e., babies) does not include voluntarily destroying them based on the limited, occluded, distorted, and/or selfish vision others have of their future.
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