Defending Life Issues In Our Culture

Dec 7th, 2019 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

A pro-life position involves consistency and an adherence to the value of human life at any stage in its development.  Humans are valuable because they bear God’s image, which means both a fetus or a 90-year old are of infinite worth and value to God—and therefore to us.  Fighting for pro-life consistency means fighting for children who need love and care, whether in the womb or as an infant.  For that reason many evangelical Christians devote their lives to foster care, adoption and “similar services to vulnerable children.  As born-again Christians, we have been adopted by Christ and have a special obligation to those who need a father and mother.”  In this Perspective, I give focus to advocating and defending a pro-life positon.

  • First, many evangelical and Roman Catholic Christians find it difficult to live out their convictions when it comes to aiding vulnerable children. They find themselves stopped by the government.  Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, invites us to consider these examples:  In the closing days of the Obama administration, the federal government handed down a regulation that effectively barred from federal child-welfare programs organizations that believe marriage is between a man and a woman.  This affected many Roman Catholic and evangelical Protestant organizations.  2.  In March 2018, Philadelphia declared an urgent need for hundreds of new foster families.  But the city government barred Catholic Social Services from placing children in homes because of the Catholic Church’s teaching about marriage.  “City Hall’s use of children as leverage to force a religious institution to change its beliefs is appalling.”  3.  Michigan’s Attorney General Dana Nessel cited the Obama-era rule when attempting to cancel a state-approved foster-care and adoption-services contract with St. Vincent Catholic Charities.  4.  In 2011 Illinois passed a law discontinuing its partnerships with faith-based agencies—then lost more than 1,500 foster homes between 2012 and 2017.  “All this when the world desperately needs more providers.”  Thankfully, the Trump administration announced a new rule in early November that will help faith-based organizations remain a vital part of the child-welfare system.  The new rule brings regulations at the Department of Health and Human Services back in line with all other federal nondiscrimination law and Supreme Court precedent.  This rule does not prohibit gay people from serving children but it does end discrimination against those with religious convictions about marriage.  This is an important ruling because Barna research shows that “practicing Christians may be more than twice as likely to adopt when compared with the general population—with Catholics three times as likely and evangelicals five times as likely.”
  • Second, third-trimester abortions continue to occur in America. It is an abhorrent practice that demonstrates the flawed legal/ethical foundation of the 1973 Roe v. Wade  Had the United States dealt with abortion procedures through Congress, there would no doubt have been restrictions and clear guidelines.  But the US has one of the most liberal set of abortion laws in the world.  Of 59 nations that permit abortion on demand, America is one of only seven that allow it after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  Supreme Court rulings allow it until the baby is viable, around 24 weeks.  Thereafter, according to another ruling handed down on the same day as Roe, abortions are allowed if the baby has an anomaly or the mother’s life or health is at risk.  Doe v. Bolton defines health “in capacious terms, from the economic to the familial.  There are only three clinics in America that provide third-semester abortions.  The procedures in these clinics are abhorrent: The doctor injects potassium chloride or digoxin into the baby’s heart killing it within minutes.  If the doctor cannot reach the heart, he pumps the drug into the amniotic sac; death can take up to 24 hours.  Other clinics perform such late-term abortions by inserting small sticks into the woman’s cervix to stretch it open.  Then the woman is induced and the baby delivered.  It is difficult to ethically defend either one of these procedures.  They are abhorrent and violate any standard that stipulates the value of human life.

It is imperative, therefore, that Christians express their pro-life convictions in a consistent, confident and intelligent fashion.  To do so, one must zero in on the central question:  “What does a pregnant woman have inside her womb?  What exactly are we talking about when we refer to the ‘embryo” or the ‘fetus’?”  The only reasonable answer, from the perspective of science or the Bible, is a human being.  James N. Anderson, professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC, adds, “we’re talking about a new member of the human race, a full-fledged member of the human community, with all the rights possessed by any other member of the human race.   Anderson provides clear, succinct answers to the objections to the pro-life position presented by the pro-abortion lobby:

  1. Pro-life is an anti-science position. “The scientific literature is unanimous in affirming that human life begins at the point of conception, when male and females gametes combine to form a new organism with its own set of chromosomes.  The embryo is alive, human, and genetically distinct from his or her parents: it is a new human individual, male or female, at the earliest stages of life.”
  2. A fetus is not a person until it develops a brain and becomes conscious. “Consciousness is not necessary for personhood; for example, a comatose patient is still a person with full human rights.”
  3. The state should not legislate morality. “All legislation is motivated and justified on the basis of moral principles.  Doesn’t the state legislate against murder, sexual assault, theft and libel?  Not every immoral action should be illegal.  But shouldn’t any intentional killing of an innocent human being be prohibited by law?”
  4. An abortion right is a gender-equality issue. “Men can walk away from a pregnancy; women can’t.  Therefore, to level the field, women should be free to end their pregnancies at any time .  .  . This argument completely ignores the moral rights of a third party in the situation—the child in the mother’s womb—and it could easily be extended to justify infanticide.”
  5. Women have absolute rights over their bodies. “. . . th[is] false assumption is that a baby is merely a body part of its mother, like one of her limbs or organs.  That’s biologically confused.  The baby is an individual human with a genetic identity distinct from his or her mother and all her body parts.  The unborn child is attached to the mother and dependent on her for life, but the fetus isn’t a part of his or her mother.”

Christians need to keep the focus of this debate on the central question posed at the beginning of this section:  What is in the mother’s womb?  Can we assign moral, ethical and legal value to that life?  As we defend the pro-life position with vigor and conviction, we need also to pray that God will open the minds and hearts of those who defend the pro-abortion position.  It is indefensible.  With humility and deep conviction, we defend the life of the baby—even the one in the womb of the mother.

See Russell Moore in the Wall Street Journal (4 November 2019); The Economist (24 August 2019), pp. 20-21; and James N. Anderson in Tabeltalk (August 2019), pp. 72-75.

Comments Closed

One Comment to “Defending Life Issues In Our Culture”

  1. Arlie Rauch says:

    Excellent article!