Why is there a debate on abortion? Have you ever sat back and really chewed on the reasons behind the debate? I was born in the late 70’s, and so as long as I can remember (at least when I started to care about such things) the debate on this issue has been the norm.
Some will say that the issue is about “women’s rights,” or “reproductive rights.” Some will claim that it is a scientific question of when life begins. Others will attempt to identify the debate on philosophical grounds, specifically in terms of person-hood. But do any of those really get to the heart of the matter? Is there a heart in the matter?
What I find at the same time amusing and disturbing is the reluctance for a great number of people on either side of the debate (Pro-choice; Pro-life) to see it as a religious issue. The general attitude seems to be “that must be avoided at all costs!” There will be those of the unbelieving sect that will sneer at the very audacity of daring to bring religion into the debate. Similarly, those of the believing sect will either tsk, tsk, tsk at the notion, or they will cower in fear of appearing too confrontational to others.
A couple of things might be said to both sides on this particular point…
First, a debate by definition is an argument of opposing sides. The argument is by its nature confrontational. To debate the position of another is to attack that position you are arguing against. In the same breath, you are also defending the position that you hold in a debate against the one who is attacking your position by arguing against it. DEBATES are CONFRONTATIONAL. And so, I wonder what is the root cause of the professed believers in shying away from dealing with the religious nature of the debate?
Secondly, religion by definition is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” Therefore, there is no question that the debate over abortion is religious in nature. All people are religious, although they may differ in the object of their faith-commitment. If you happen to be one that prefers to leave religion out of the discussion, you may not like to hear that, but truth that is psychologically disturbing to the recipient is nonetheless truth.
Why the Debate?
Back to the original question I proposed at the beginning of this post: Why is there a debate on abortion? What is at stake? What is the heart of the issue? The answer is PRIDE.
Prides says, “To everybody else go and die, I am going to do it my way!” Pride is by nature autonomous. Pride recognizes no other authority but self. Pride is the blessed root of selfishness. Pride cares little for the affairs of others, but only that which is precious to itself.
Again, I find it amusing and disturbing that pride is the reason not only for abortion, but the reluctance to see the debate as religiously oriented. Pride is also the reason why so many go to such great lengths at avoiding the debate. As if a strong confrontation of ideas is wrong?
I should add at this point that the Christian is commanded by Christ to be Christlike. Which means “gentle as doves and wise as serpents.” Which looks like speaking the truth in love, but with love of God as the ultimate commitment that cannot be subverted in the slightest. Which means being gentle and firm at the same time; patient and insistent; kind but unabashedly bold for the truth.
The Underlying Issue…
Now I will grant that the reason the one side (Pro-choice) wants it to remain outside the purview of a confrontation is because they do not want to hear opposition. They don’t want to be told they are wrong. They don’t want to be told that there are consequences for choosing to “off” their offspring. They don’t want it to be an issue of right or wrong, because “choice” sounds so much more intelligent and sophisticated. Most of all they don’t want to be told that what they are really doing is sinning. Sinning against the child in the womb, against the father who is also responsible for the child, against the society that feels the effects of their “choice,” but most of all they don’t want to be told they are sinning against a Holy God in heaven that will hold them accountable for their “choice.”
At root, pride is found nestled, deeply embedded in the hearts/minds of those on that side of the fence. Sadly, they are not the only ones. For in an effort to “keep-face” with the world; To not come off as a bigot before the multitudes; To not be hated by those who they may encounter on a daily basis, or break bread with during those special times of the year, Pro-lifer’s will avoid bringing religion—specifically, the Christian faith—into the discussion.
Speaking specifically to those who bear the cross of Christ
For the Christian to effectively address the issue of abortion they must understand that it is a gospel issue. How so?
First and foremost, in recognizing that abortion is not about “women’s rights,” or “reproductive rights,” or about “scientific evidences,” or “philosophical meanderings.” Abortion is about fallen human beings that in an effort to preserve their way of life and guard the convictions of their own hearts, sacrifice their children on the altar of convenience. One glaring example of this that comes to mind is that of actress Michelle Williams who thanked her ability to kill a child to promote her career. (Read Here).
Secondly, by defining abortion for what it truly is…MURDER! When we properly define it for what it is, then we are able to rightly identify the class it fits within…SIN! Again, I am often amazed at the way people refuse to define terms. Abortion is the murder of an unborn, but living, child. To call it a fetus does not change this fact, for from the Latin fetus means young one, babe or offspring.
Third and finally, admitting that there is only one solution to sin—the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person who takes the life of their own offspring is in bondage to sin. Who can set them free from that sin? Who can lift them from the muck and mire, pulling out their prideful roots that have embedded their hearts/minds, if not Christ? There is no one else. Christ alone atones for sin. Christ alone gives victory over sin. The work of Christ alone breaks up hardened hearts, giving them a heart of flesh.
Brief Worldview Analysis…
The fact is, if you are trying to change a person’s position which would need to go against their base convictions of reality, you cannot do it. Facts and evidences will not change a person’s heart. That person will stick to their guns. They will hold tight to their presupposition, for to give up that one many others would have to follow.
Which is why you will hear various “buts” to escape the obvious, logical conclusion that the thing growing inside of a woman during her pregnancy is not a thing at all. It is a human being, a person, a little babe that is young and small, but growing onward toward maturity. The issue scientifically is not that its just a lump of cells, a mutation, an alien, or an intruder, but the offspring of a union between a man and a woman.
The issue is not intellectual, scientific, or philosophical but the condition of the human heart. Of course, all of those things have a bearing in the discussion, but a person’s intellect, interpretation of scientific facts, and the philosophical conclusions they draw are driven by the object that holds their faith (i.e., faith-commitment).
A couple possible objections…
“Yes, but if I’m offensive to the person(s) I am speaking to they will shut their ears. They will refuse to listen, and I will lose my opportunity to present the gospel.”
- If you know anything about the Lord Jesus, you will see that he never subverted from the truth in order to be inoffensive. In fact, a consistent reading of the gospels will show that Jesus was at times very offensive, and He never apologized for it. Better to smack the person that needs smacked in order to wake them up, then to butter them with kisses and let them die. He told the truth graciously, which meant the things I said above, and when people left Him because they were offended, He let them. And, when they got angry at his message, he told them that they would die in their sins (verbally shaking the dust off his sandals, if you get the reference).
“Yes, but the Christian should be more about saving lost souls and preaching the gospel, not getting into debates over cultural mores and/or societal and political habits.”
- The Great Commission (see Matt 28.18-20) says two things that every Christian should know. First, that we are to preach the gospel of God, who is defined by the Lord as (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), baptizing all people in His Name. Second, that we are to teach all nations (i.e., all peoples) “to obey all that He has commanded.” What do you suppose were the commandments to which He was referring?
- If you think that New Testament Christian’s Scripture was the New Testament, then you are grossly mistaken. Their Scripture was what we call the Old Testament (Tanakh and/or Torah). The commandments to which Christ referred were His holy law that He gave to Moses long ago. The gospel is about saving people from their sin, but sin is that which we think, speak and do. Therefore, saving people from sin also speaks of justice and righteousness and holiness. Which are the means by which we are instructed to love God and love our neighbor.
- Thus, the Christian is called to address the societal/political habits of the people by calling them what they are when they stray from God’s holy instruction (sinful behaviors); thereby, pointing them to repentance and a change of heart regarding them. Which in turn does what? Changes the society/political habits of the people because the surrounding culture (i.e., cultus) has had a change of heart.
For those unfamiliar with the historic anti-abortion movement, next week I will give you (the reader) some background information and a book recommendation that I believe you will find helpful. If you’d like to hook up with an excellent Christian ministry that is on the front lines of this fight for the lives of unborn babies, then I graciously turn you to End Abortion Now’s website
Have a blessed weekend.
 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster), 1052, “religion,” s.v., def. 4.