mē genoito

May it never be! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” (Ro 3:4)

Doctrinal View on Abortion

For Christians the issue of abortion is a passionate one. Abortion along with homosexuality is one of the first sins that Christians often trot out as examples of our deteriorating moral culture. Of more concern to me is the recent sentiment of Christians to make these issues more relevant in politics. I am not totally adverse to this effort but I don’t know if we are putting too much emphasis in the political process. I believe it was the Scottish writer, Andrew Fletcher, who said “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” Christians seems to not understand this proverb when we try to force issues like abortion down the throat of the country. I might also write a post at a later time on the inconsistencies of what Christians choose or not choose to engage in politics and culture. For now I want to stay focus on the political implication of abortion and more importantly, its theological implication.

Recently we have two instances of the abortion debate that jumped out in the political discourse. The first one involves Todd Akin and his weird idea that a woman’s body can prevent the pregnancy if it is a legitimate rape. The second one involves Richard Mourdock and his erroneous theology that a woman’s pregnancy as a result of rape is intended by God. Mourdock digs himself into a deeper theological hole with this clarification.

“I made a comment that I made quite honestly from the deepest roots and the greatest base of my faith which is to say that I believe life is precious. I believe that to the marrow of my bones. I believe that life itself is the greatest gift that God can give us,” he said, adding: “I absolutely abhor violence. I abhor any kind of sexual violence. I abhor rape.”

Although I am interested in the political consequences of these statements, frankly I am far far more concern about the theological implication and how Christian theology is presented or misrepresented to an unbelieving world. As a Christian and a Calvinist, I am unabashedly pro-life. I am assuming that we all understand the significance and the essentials of this debate, so let me cut right to the chase. There are really three thorny issues in the anti-abortion position. Al Mohler pointed this out in his blog post and he makes no exception under any circumstances should abortion be allowed.

The three exceptions most often proposed call for abortion to be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

Mohler gives no grounds even when the life of the mother is involved.

First, when speaking of saving the life of the mother, we should be clear that the abortion of her unborn child cannot be the intentional result. There can be no active intention to kill the baby. This does not mean that a mother might, in very rare and always tragic circumstances, require a medical procedure or treatment to save her life that would, as a secondary effect, terminate the life of her unborn child. This is clearly established in moral theory, and we must be thankful that such cases are very rare.

Mohler contradicts himself and dodges the actual dilemma. He says “there can be no active intention to kill the baby”, this is a distinction without a difference. The fact to the matter is that if you make an active choice with the dichotomous result of life for one will necessitate the death of another, this is abortion. This use of linguistic dodge ball is just hypocrisy. Second, and I agree with him under Biblical context there are circumstances when it is permissible to kill and in this case for the preservation of one’s own life. So euphemism aside in the case of the life of the mother, abortion is permissible even if Mohler doesn’t want to call it abortion. The only way for Mohler to be consistent with his euphemism “active intention” is for the mother to not make any choice that would threaten the life of the unborn. If the mother dies as a result of her pregnancy then she dies. If the baby dies in the process then the baby dies. In other words, the mother cannot take any steps to protect or preserve her own life even if the pregnancy kills her.

What about in cases of incest and rape? For the purpose of this article I will treat these two as synonymous since they are both force violence upon an unwilling innocent victim. What is Mohler’s view on this. (By the way this should not be taken as a personal challenge to Dr. Mohler’s position. I am merely using his expressed views which I believe represents most conservative Christians on this subject.)

We must then make the argument that the unborn child that has resulted from such a heinous act should not be added to the list of victims. That child possesses no less dignity than a child conceived in any other context.

As a Christian I would agree that the unborn definitely has dignity. But so does the baby in the previous example where the life of the mother was threatened. So the question here is not whether the baby conceived in rape has dignity but rather are there extenuating conditions that would justify an abortion?

Before I continue let me address the assertion that Richard Mourdock made that the pregnancy as a result of that rape was “God intended”.

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.” emphasis added

This is an egregious evil to attribute to God. I thought as Christians we believe that children are blessings given to a man and a women in the context of marriage. I find no justification that a child is a blessing as a result of sin whether it be outside the bounds of marriage or as the result of worship to false Gods like Baal or Ashtoreth. The Bible is not short of examples with the killing of women, children and infant idol worshippers. Let me be crystal clear, I am not saying these people do not have dignity. Every human being has God given dignity be they Christians or be they in rebellion against God. The question is does this mean every pregnancy is “God intended”? Was Hitler God intended? Was Stalin, and Joseph Smith God intended? Or ask it another way, was every earthquake, tornado or hurricane God intended?

Let me take a guess at why people like Mourdock (political pressure aside) would say something like this. If Mourdock is right and the conception of that baby is “God intended” then we must not abort that baby because it is the will of God, claiming divine authority when it doesn’t exist. This type of thinking is wrong. It also may be the result of Christian bravado to see who is holier, analogous to “I will see your anti-abortion and raise you a God intended.” The danger here is that there seems to be a feeling that if I am more anti-abortion than you therefore I am holier than you. This is just bad theology and Pharisaical righteousness to go beyond what is Written.

So does this mean that abortion is permissible if it is not God intended? mē genoito. All I am saying is that I am not willing to draw a hard doctrinal line in this situation. I am not willing to say that it is never permissible without any exception to have an abortion in cases of rape and incest. Here is the reason why.

We know that sexual immorality are unlike any other sin as the Apostle Paul tells us. Sexual violation often if not always leaves a lasting scar on the victim’s psyche. There are cultures where rape victims are so traumatized they would commit suicide because of their shame even when they know it is not their fault. We should not presume to know how much pain and damage has been inflicted on a particular victim. There will be those who say, “yes, but God can heal all wounds.” True but as Christians we also know that is not necessarily always the case. For whatever sovereign reason sometimes people are just not healed. And certainly we can’t claim that for the unrepentant.

Let me try to push this point a bit further by using an example other than abortion. I think it would be safe to say that most conservative American Christians are pro military. We have a lot of respect to our veterans. There is a phenomenon associated with war veterans called Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a disorder that soldiers experience due to the stress and trauma of war. PTSD has been associate in some suicides with war veterans. If we believe that PTSD is real for veterans, why wouldn’t we believe rape victims can experience similar PTSD. When a rape victim is experiencing the agony of PTSD as a result of the rape it is already difficult enough, but now we are insisting that they must bear the extra burden of the one thing that would cause them to relive that event over and over again, 24/7. I don’t know if I can justify that.

I have not forgotten about the unborn child in the womb, who is also innocent through this whole ordeal. But the dilemma I have is again like the case when the life of the mother is being threatened. Whom do I choose? For me I don’t think the answer is a hard doctrinal absolute, without exception no abortion.

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