Monday, October 06, 2008

The root of abortion

Several years ago I attended the graduation of my son David from High School, and found myself appalled at what I heard as a commencement speech from a county politician. For, the whole message was simply that each student owed it to himself-or to herself- to make it to the very top of a chosen career. Absent was any idea of serving a community, or of doing good for others. Absent was any idea of ethics, any appeal to honesty, or any exhortation to let moral judgment and conscience provide restraints or challenges.

“If you are going to be a lawyer plan not to be anything less than a Justice on the Supreme Court,” and so went the speech after this pattern about other possible careers. The speaker held up models of “success.” One of them was Thurgood Marshall, the first black Justice on the Supreme Court. In the eyes of the world, and of the speaker, he was a success and example to follow. But, he was a moral failure, a bad example that I would teach my children not to follow. For Justice Marshall used his high office to further abortion, voting yes in the Roe vs. Wade decision, and voting several times thereafter to defend it in all of its most horrifying emanations.

Perhaps the Christian lawyer would not climb to power or even riches, that is if his vocation is to serve the poor who also need a voice. But, doing good is its own success, and has the approval of God.

Most of us were taught as children to condemn the notion that might makes right. And yet, this is the creed of modern society (or post modern, if you prefer). Become powerful and assert your will, get ahead by any means necessary. And, it is this idea that causes individuals to consider their own problems more important than the problems of others, or their own plans, ambitions or desires to be more important than the life of a child in the womb. No matter how disadvantaged a girl in trouble may be, she is the party who has power, and the child has no might and no voice. So, the mother of an unborn child is told by society, even by the Supreme Court, that her might, that is by comparison to the helpless child, makes right.

We can and should offer practical help in any way we can. We can and should be available to those who feel overwhelmed and think they have no option. We must show the compassion of Christ to those in trouble and in need. The only pastoral recourse, if compassion is not enough to persuade the woman or girl, or her parents, or the useless selfish stud (who took an opportunity to donate his sperm the fun way), is straight talk. “Your life is not more important than the life of the child. You do not have any greater right to your life than that child has. You are not more important than that child in the womb.” Does this sound shocking? It ought not to, for it is the obvious truth of the matter.

“She has her whole life ahead of her,” but so does the child in her womb. Her inconvenience of little more than nine months does not compare well to the whole life of that child. “She should not have to pay for a mistake,” or “For someone’s violation of her.” But, the child should not pay with the sentence of death. That is simple injustice. “She has legal rights.” But the child’s rights are dictated by morality.

The root of abortion is embracing the idea that might makes right, and that people who have the advantage owe nothing to a weaker party. So it is that the children are not given protection and love, no, not even the right to live. This is pure evil, and the root of complete selfishness runs as deep as sin.


poetreader said...

Fine statement. Thank you.

It is this selfishness, this self-centeredness that is, in my estimation, at the root of every sin. It's a variety of pride, the real root of all the deadly sins, and is at the very core of contemporary American "ethics".

We talk a great deal about "rights", but almost invariably without a nod to the truth that no right can be asserted without limiting someone else's right. Do I indeed have any rights at all in God's sight that entitle me to do injury to another? Can a Christian rightly accept the benefits of prefering himself over another? I don't for a moment accept that there is an occasion in which that could be true.


Anonymous said...

The Palin candidacy has exposed the fact that so many people assume that Downs-syndome children "must" be aborted, like removing tonsils or pulling wisdom teeth. When will the same multitude agree that autistic children must be put down like sick dogs?

My wife as a nurse practitioner sees numerous women who submitted to the abortionists 20 year ago or longer. There is ample evidence that the aborted child is only the first victim, the mother being the second, the father and other family members very likely being the third or fourth. It is an evil practice and we can make no peace with it. This is the only reason I am bothering to vote for the RINO John McCain--the desperate hope that he will somehow make a couple of good judicial appoitments. It's a long shot, but the issue is just that important.

Yesterday forced a hard choice on me: to participate in the local Lifechain or to bless the dogs and cats of the parish in honor of St Francis. I chose the latter, but am not sure I did right.

Canon Tallis said...

But abortion is not the only issue in our society albeit one of the greater. But most of the rest of them also depend upon violations of the last six commandments in one way or another. Abortion is a violation of "Do no murder," but it generally is the result of violating the commandments against adultery and fornication. When the government steals from us at the commandment of one group voters or another or the whole party that believes it has a right, a "right" mind you, to the wealth of others.

Are not we as Christians required to live up to the commandments in our public as well as our private life. Are we intended to bless those who fornicate, commit adultery, steal, lie and murder the innocent and, indeed, surrender ourselves to be murdered by forbidding us the right to defend ourselves and others from those who would do us violence?

Thank you, Father Hart, for reminding us of the standards of the gospel which we should expect of others as well as ourselves.

Fr. Michael + said...

These are my personal thoughts as a Christian, not a campaign or rally as rector of a particular parish or as a priest in a particular jurisdiction.

My thoughts…

For many reasons I really do believe that this presidential election is perhaps one of the most important elections in our nations history. We may not completely like any of the candidates, but we all still have an obligation to vote for the candidate that most closely reflects our own principals and values as Americans and as Christians.

There are many important issues to consider when making the choice of who to vote for. The economy, Social Security, Health Care, the Wars, National Security, Immigration, Crime, Energy, Education, the Sanctity of Marriage, Abortion, and many others.

With more than one baby killed by abortion every 30 seconds in this country, I can hardly think of ANY issue that is more important! More babies are killed by abortion in the US each and every day, than the total number of Americans killed in the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. More babies are killed by abortion in the US each and every year, than the TOTAL number of American service men and women killed over the past 232 years in ALL WARS COMBINED, from the American Revolution to the current war in Iraq. While there are many important issues, for anyone who professes to be a Christian I believe that this issue trumps all other issues. A baby is not a wart that one can choose to have removed or not. Life begins at the moment of conception, and every life is sacred. Unless one presumes to elevate oneself to equality with God, no person on this planet has the right to make abortion a “woman’s personal choice”. God alone is the author of life.

I believe that every Christian has an obligation to help put a stop to this terrible holocaust! Poverty in America, the poor state of our education system, the war in Iraq, and the mess our medical system is in, et al. are extremely important issues, but we can’t even get to them until we get past the abortion issue. I am not willing to continue sacrificing the lives of millions and millions of babies so that I can have better and cheaper medical insurance.

When I was a Police Officer in S. Florida I was a huge supporter of Capital Punishment (FL has Capital Statutes). However my position changed about 10 years ago. I am a huge supporter of ending Capital Punishment because I don’t believe that any person or group has the right to take the life of another. Do I wish that the Republican Party would adopt an anti Capital Punishment Platform? Absolutely! But when you have to make a choice between the Republican Party (Anti Abortion but Pro Capital Punishment) and the Democrat Party (Anti Capitol Punishment but Pro Abortion) and then compare the fact that less than 100 men are killed each year on death row but more than 1.3 MILLION babies are killed each and every year by abortion, the choice seems abundantly clear. That doesn’t make the souls of those killed on death row any less valuable, and I pray that Capital Punishment will also be abolished, but for me the choice is clear.


Sanctity of Human Life - Every human being, from the time of his conception, is a creature and child of God, made in His image and likeness, an infinitely precious soul; and that the unjustifiable or inexcusable taking of life is always sinful. -The Affirmation of St. Louis PRINCIPLES OF MORALITY

Anonymous said...

Lots of things have contributed to this, not the least of which is careerism in women which results in the "they've got their whole lives ahead of them" mentality. Mrs. Todd Palin will only help to reinforce this despite the fact she didn't choose to murder Trig.

poetreader said...

Thanks, Bruce.

I've spoken of my intent somewhere, and won't do so again. This isn't a political forum and Christians have to do their very best out of an informed conscience to weigh all the various issues and decide what is most in accord with God's will as they are able to perceive it.

You do illustrate that it is not simply a one-issue, yes-no, situation, but a decision affecting every level of societal living. It's not simple to decide on the best (or perhaps the least bad) choice for an office, especially in messed-up times like these. Christians of identical convictions will evaluate priorities a little differently and come up with different conclusions as to how to vote. Ultimately God will direct the outcome, and the result may look really bad to some of us. Emotions run high

But, if the result has to please me and my perception of what should be, isn't that another example of self-centeredness? The proper prayer in times like this is, "Thy will be done - even if I don't understand it as thy will."

Let's do our best, trusting God, and vote as our Christian consciences lead us.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

The political forces can deal with the legal side of this issue; and that matters beyond its own realm, since people have the unfortunate tendency to equate morality with legality, and to grow up thinking their legal rights are absolute rights. This feeds the problem that I have written about; but, it is a pastoral problem that won't simply vanish if Roe vs. Wade is overturned.

Canon Tallis said...

Bruce and Ed,

Please read the last chapter of Proverbs. Women have always had to work to do their share in providing for their families. So it is not an issue of careerism for women. Remember also those dealers in luxery goods, i.e., imperial purple that were mother and grandmother to Timothy. The issue is the murder of babies, born and unborn and which side of the political spectrum actually believes that it wouldn't trust a woman who hadn't done it.

There are a great other political issues that are clearly defined by whether one is obedient to Christian morality as defined first by the Ten Commandments and then our Lord's teaching in the Gospels. The very hard dividing line is whether you are only a social Christian or a true disiple, but each and every one of us must make a decision informed by the gospel and by their conscience.

poetreader said...

I am not commenting on Mrs. Palin or any other candidate. This is not a political blog and altogether the wrong place to be discussing candidates.

My comment is that there are many mnore issues than one and many more questions to be asked. Bruce raised the question whether the placing of career seemingly in a higher priority than family is proper. It's a good question.

Yes, Father, I've read Proverbs 31 and long ago lost track of how many times I preached from it in my 25 years of Pentecostal ministry. One of the most notable things about that woman is how all her laboring and all her earning revolved around her family, and that she did all that in order that her husband could sit with the elders and deliberate. That picture has little or no resemblance to Mrs. Palin. Her choices may be proper, but they are NOT the choices of the Proverbs 31 woman. The pattern found in Scripture (whether it is applicable today or not), and the pattern that until very recently was dominant in Pentecostal and Evangelical teaching, was for the husband's concern to be very much with the larger picture outside the doors of the home, for him to make a living there, and to band with other men to make the decisions of society. The wife and mother was expected to be the dominant person in managing the household. Yes, she often would need to work so as to get income for the family, but would do so primarily from her vase at home. That chapter in no way questions that pattern. There is much to be said on both sides on the issue of women in outside careers, but there are serious questions to be raised.

The issue of women and careerism is much different from the issue of women working to support a family. The Proverbs 31 woman would have understood that. Her focus was on her family. The feminist ideal is that women's focus should be upon their career. Could that not be a root cause (a part of the self-centeredness of which Fr. Hart speaks) of the desire to abort? Could that not also be a root cause of the desire for women to be ordained? It is very possible to be firmly committed to a principle and yet to so live that its opposite seems supported. I'm not going to speak to whether any of this is relevant, but I am convinced that, if the hard question is not seriously asked and deeply considered, the message has a danger of becoming extremely unclear.

To be firmly and fiercely pro-life and anti-abortion simply doesn't mean that one has to accept
all the actions and positions of those who proclaim such a message, nor does it necessarily guarantee that such proclaimers are actually likely to make a difference in that issue. It's not a simple and black and white as it's made out to be.