Abortion: Smoke and Mirrors

The past few weeks, I have taken a couple of President Obama's statements regarding of his faith and posted them on facebook.  Taken at face value, it is clear that the President expresses an evangelical Christian faith.  However, there is a large segment of evangelical Christians who reject his confession and many, like Evangelical Christian leader, Franklin Graham (son of Evangelist Billy Graham) even question his identity as a Christian person.

The reason is due to the President's stance on a single issue that has become the standard for understanding faith.

The President was asked a question in 2010 about how he could say he is a Christian and support the legal right for abortion.  He responded by saying that Abortion should be:

"safe, legal and rare, allowing families -- not the government -- should be the ones making the decision"

He then went on to say that although his faith is Christian, he leads a nation that is not.

Regardless of whether you support the President's policies or not, what is most interesting is that Abortion has been defined as the issue that many evangelical Christians identify with their faith.  It is that single issue that drives and determines the legitimacy of their faith in the eyes of many.

I believe that we have been hoodwinked, bamboozled, deceived, and duped into somehow believing that the issue of Abortion is the plumbline or standard for the Christian Faith.  I believe that although abortion is a significant moral issue, is not the only moral issue.  I believe it is used politically to manipulate Christians into adopting a cultural vision of Christianity instead of the Biblical view.

Please consider the following thoughts:

1. There is disagreement, even among Christians regarding when life begins.  Some believe at conception, some at implantation, some at viability (usually around 24 weeks) and some at birth.  There is no consensus or formal definition of life adopted by all churches regarding this issue.

2. If life begins at conception, then a number of practices such as removing implanted embryos to increase viability of other implanted embryos during fertility treatments must also be condemned and understood as moral failure.  Other examples would be in vitro fertilized eggs that are not implanted for whatever reason.  Are those moral failures as well?

3. The Bible has no specific text that prohibits abortion.  In the most closely related text, if men are fighting and accidentally kill a women or her unborn infant, the men are to have their lives taken (Exodus 21:22).  The more difficult thing to understand was the Hebrew concept of life.  For instance, extrabiblical sources such a Philo suggests that unformed fetal products were not considered to be life.

4. Early first century documents such as the Didache seem to speak out against abortion and it was considered a community standard to speak out against it.

5. Although elective abortions were done during Jesus' day, He is silent on teh topic.  He may have just assumed that cultural stance of the day, but the point is that among issues that he could have discussed, abortion was not seen as the most important aspects of his ministry.

6. The nation was founded upon a separation of church and state.  The state is decidedly secular and its laws have a moral basis on humanism than a theocentric faith.  Legal does not equal moral which does not equal Biblical.

7. Biblical Christian faith is defined by our trust in Jesus as the son of God, manifesting in our loving God and others with everything that we have.  Within that, there is a great deal of subjectivity.

8.  It is ethically and Biblically inconsistent to forbid abortions for any reason, but support state performed executions.  Many will say that fetuses are innocent while criminal are not.  However, the psalmist in Psalm 51 describes himself at sinful at conception (Psalm 51:5).  So from a theological point of view, both are considered condemned forms of life.

As the Bible says, let us reason together.  Abortion is an important issue, but its not the most important issues.  Christians who sincerely love God and one another, can differ in their understanding of where life begins.  While the idea of abortion is appalling, it is not anymore appalling than the destruction of innocent lives in war for instance.

I plead with you as a person of faith, to consider the whole counsel of God prior to forming a stance.  While I think Abortion is important to prevent and speak out against, it is not the single issue inwhich I judge another or have an estimation of their character.

God bless you today,

Pastor M Traylor