If the Scriptures forbid killing, if numerous early Christian writers forbade abortion, if the 1930 Anglican Lambeth conference called abortion “abhorrent,” if the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes called abortion an “unspeakable crime,” then by what tortured logic do some both claim to be Christian and also claim to be pro-choice on abortion?
Perhaps one of the finest studies on the subject of early Christians and abortion was by Michael J. Gorman, whose Abortion & the Early Church: Christian, Jewish & Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World remains an essential resource. After thorough consideration of the texts, Gorman concluded:
Early Christian opposition to abortion, then, did not arise because abortion was seen as a means of interrupting the natural course of sexual relations but because it was viewed as murder. Denunciation of abortion developed prior to and independently of opposition to contraception. Opposition to contraception was not derived from antiabortionism, which reacted to a common practice in the surrounding culture, but arose rather in response to problems in the Christian community. One reason early Christians reacted strongly to the abuse of contraception and sex was the high value they placed on marriage, sex, conception, and birth, which they respected as sacred aspects of life.
Michael J. Gorman, Abortion & the Early Church: Christian, Jewish & Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World, Paulist, 1982, p. 81.
What, therefore, is Christian about supporting the choice for abortion?
Some who claim to be Christian can bring forth no substantial reason, no Scriptural mandate, no Christian practice or tradition to justify abortion, but nevertheless defend the right to abortion with all the timorous and wavering resolve of one with an angry spouse standing directly behind, but still within earshot.
The precursor of the progressive pro-choice Christian thus might be the aged Solomon, who worshiped the gods and goddesses of his many pagan consorts and concubines (1 Kings 11). An untold number of unlikely pro-choice “Christians” may have similarly chosen to follow the ancient adage, “I’d rather be happy than be right.” The Lord’s truth is sometimes thus displaced by domestic tranquility.
The passing of the pro-choice “Christian” from the scene thus depends on the conversion of both spouses to embrace the Lord who came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
For this conversion to begin, one or both spouses must have the courage and faith to turn to another and say, “I cannot and will no longer condone the killing of the innocent.”
“Here I stand” indeed!
© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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