NRL News

A “Christian case” for abortion? Sorry, Rev. Warnock, there is none

by | Dec 18, 2020

By Dave Andrusko

The Rev. Raphael Warnock is running against pro-life incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of the two Georgia run-off races which will decide whether the Senate remains under the steady leadership of pro-life Sen. Mitch McConnell. 

Rev. Warnock proudly wears the badge of defender of “reproductive justice.”

But as a letter from more than 25 Black pastors proclaimed, “Abortion is fundamentally in conflict with the plain reading of the Bible.”

You have gone on the record saying that you are a “pro-choice pastor ”who will “always fight for reproductive justice.” You have  publicly expressed your views that abortion is an exercise of “human agency and freedom” that is fully consistent with your role as a shepherd of God’s people. We believe these statements represent grave errors of judgment and a lapse in pastoral responsibility, and we entreat you to reconsider them. As a Christian pastor and as a Black leader, you have a duty to denounce the evil of abortion, which kills a disproportionate number of Black children. Your open advocacy of abortion is a scandal to the faith and to the Black community.

Over the years we’ve addressed the Bible and abortion many, many times in NRL News and NRL News Today, including by reposting the work of women and men far more biblically literate than I am. But here’s some of my reflections on a piece that once ran in the Daily Beast written by Keli Goff  under the headline “A Christian Case for Abortion Rights?” that I believe may be helpful.

Does that title not sound like the vegan’s case for meat or the religious atheist—contrary at its core?

This oldie but badie argument merits a rebuttal, not because it is so original but because even though it is like the 700th iteration of a Xerox, it keeps cropping up—see the Rev. Warnock.

So what is the Christian case for abortion rights, you ask? It’s really more like how Goff has concluded that a pro-life position (for Christians, at least) is problematic because of “four primary complications.” These “complications” (objections) are so old, you have to wipe the cobwebs off of them.

First, Goff tells us, “the unresolved debate within Christianity regarding the extent to which our modern-day actions should be governed by Old Testament law.” So, by Goff’s logic, if the Old Testament talks “about sacrificing bulls and turtledoves,” which “are no longer held to ironclad interpretation and practice by 21st-century Christians and clergy,” therefore the application of Old Testament scripture such as Exodus 21:22 to abortion is no longer “ironclad” either.

I assume we are supposed to take this seriously. I won’t and I assume no one else who can count to 66 will either.

We’ll not talk about the many, many passages which emphasize how God is in communion with us before we are born and the continuity between life before and after birth, or otherwise this story would be twice along.

But to take just one example, in the Psalms. As Peter Saunders has observed, “The baby in the womb is the Psalmist, the same person, not a different person and not a non-person.”

What else? Goff tells us, “The next complication is the lack of scientific and religious clarity over how to define when life begins.” But there is no lack of scientific clarity over when life begins. Life begins at conception. Period. Whether you protect that life—whether that life has “meaning” or “significance”—is a separate question.

“Religious clarity”? How about “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place…your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

This is hugely important. The Bible is crystal clear that there are no separate categories of human beings. We are all—each one of us—unique and of infinite value because we are each of us made in God’s image.

“The third issue for debate among devout Christians regarding abortion rights, and one of the most important,” Goff writes, “is determining whether something that one may believe morally to be wrong or even a sin should be legislated.”

What is that supposed to mean? I say it is “morally” wrong to knock your fiancé out cold, you says it’s a “private matter.” That’s the end of the discussion?

Of course not. The law is intended to protect the weak from the strong, to say some behavior is out of bounds and will be punished, and that you and I can’t get away with something by pretending someone—aka the law–is “foisting their morality” on us.

Goff’s concluding point—reduced to its essence—is that even if someone (presumably a Christian) concludes that something (in this case having an abortion) is a sin, who gets to decide whether having an abortion is the more “humane” choice?

As we have discussed countless times, there are difficult cases. No pro-lifer denies that. How would or could we when so many of us have experienced the hardest of the hard cases in our own lives?

But if we’ve learned nothing else, we’ve learned this. If you go all the way back to the abortion “reform” movement of the 1960s, a narrow band of proposed “exceptions” had, by 1973, swallowed the rule. Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton essentially gave us abortion on demand throughout pregnancy.

And as night follows day, these decisions’ legal progeny is softness on infanticide and assisted suicide. 

Moreover, with the rarest of situations—ectopic pregnancies and a threat to the life of the mother—the hard cases are manageable cases where the choice can and should be for life.

Does that require courage and resolution and character? Absolutely. 

But is not the life of a wholly dependent, helpless baby worth that?

If you are Goff and talking about Christianity and abortion with references to the Bible, the answer is that that baby is most assuredly worth that to the Author of Life, as He has made clear in His word, the Bible.

Categories: Politics