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Unread 03-02-2016, 11:40 AM   #1
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Abortion, the Gospel, and a Cross-shaped worldview

I've been chewing on a thought for awhile now, and the other thread I started ('Christianity and the Political Right') brought this question to the forefront of my mind. Let me see if I can articulate myself properly here.

It seems to me, as someone who has been at one time a pro-choice, feminist atheist secularist (I'm still one of those things, btw ), that from the worldview where human life is not sacred and where there is no duty on the part of the strong to sacrifice for the weak and helpless (I happen to think this element is crucial, so I'm italicizing it), abortion makes perfect sense and is no more morally problematic than eliminating a growth that one does not want in their body.

Conversely, as Christians, we insist on the goodness of God and the goodness of human life created in His image. We stress that the weakest and most overlooked things are really the things most deserving of protection (and the things that show us Christ most clearly). We insist that a life lived in the Gospel must be a life of sacrifice - and here, I think, this is key: having a child, even if a pregnant woman gives it up for adoption, is a sacrifice. It's painful. It messes with her body's mechanics for nine months, it can and often does put her life in danger, and it interferes with much of her life in the meantime.

I'd argue that the only worldview in which such a sacrifice can be justified or argued for or made sense of in any shape or form is within the Gospel, where Christ tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. St. John Chrysostom put it succinctly: "If thou lovest thy Master, die His death." (Homily 13 on Phillipians 3:18-21). Apart from the love that the Gospel inspires, such a sacrifice is completely nonsensical. The Christian faith (or at least, the Orthodox tradition I find myself in) honours motherhood as participation in the creative work of God, and the labour a woman undertakes to participate in that work is highly honored and honorable. But apart from that understanding? Frankly, it's crazy, and I totally understand why pro-choice, atheist/secular feminists think the way they do.

This is why I'm patient with my friends who are pro-choice feminists. They're doing the best they can with the worldview tools they have. They're not bad, evil people for being pro-choice - it's simply that they have not yet received Illumination.

I pray that it may be so, but I dare not berate anyone over it.

Thoughts?

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Unread 03-02-2016, 12:21 PM   #2
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As one and a half of the labels you mentioned (my position in the pro-life/pro-choice debate is fraught and rather unsettled at the moment, but I won't deny my feminism), I think you've nailed a key point of the debate here. Asking a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is asking her to engage in a tremendous sacrifice. Without the Chrisian worldview guiding people to give of themselves (sometimes quite literally) in furtherance of God's plan and in recognition that human life is sacred and created in His image, that's a huge ask.

It's why I have difficulty with legislation and other political efforts to further restrict abortion. It smacks of pushing Christian values through governmental channels when I cannot expect my unbelieving fellow citizens to align themselves with Christian conduct.
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Unread 03-02-2016, 12:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ICXC_NIKA View Post
I've been chewing on a thought for awhile now, and the other thread I started ('Christianity and the Political Right') brought this question to the forefront of my mind. Let me see if I can articulate myself properly here.

It seems to me, as someone who has been at one time a pro-choice, feminist atheist secularist (I'm still one of those things, btw ), that from the worldview where human life is not sacred and where there is no duty on the part of the strong to sacrifice for the weak and helpless (I happen to think this element is crucial, so I'm italicizing it), abortion makes perfect sense and is no more morally problematic than eliminating a growth that one does not want in their body.

Conversely, as Christians, we insist on the goodness of God and the goodness of human life created in His image. We stress that the weakest and most overlooked things are really the things most deserving of protection (and the things that show us Christ most clearly). We insist that a life lived in the Gospel must be a life of sacrifice - and here, I think, this is key: having a child, even if a pregnant woman gives it up for adoption, is a sacrifice. It's painful. It messes with her body's mechanics for nine months, it can and often does put her life in danger, and it interferes with much of her life in the meantime.

I'd argue that the only worldview in which such a sacrifice can be justified or argued for or made sense of in any shape or form is within the Gospel, where Christ tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. St. John Chrysostom put it succinctly: "If thou lovest thy Master, die His death." (Homily 13 on Phillipians 3:18-21). Apart from the love that the Gospel inspires, such a sacrifice is completely nonsensical. The Christian faith (or at least, the Orthodox tradition I find myself in) honours motherhood as participation in the creative work of God, and the labour a woman undertakes to participate in that work is highly honored and honorable. But apart from that understanding? Frankly, it's crazy, and I totally understand why pro-choice, atheist/secular feminists think the way they do.

This is why I'm patient with my friends who are pro-choice feminists. They're doing the best they can with the worldview tools they have. They're not bad, evil people for being pro-choice - it's simply that they have not yet received Illumination.

I pray that it may be so, but I dare not berate anyone over it.

Thoughts?
I think you could say this with any worldview.

White supremacism is probably the absolute vilest system I am somewhat familiar with. The problem is, I could apply the same logic of not opposing it because it does have a worldview in which it makes sense. (A twisted, vile worldview that denies the imageo dei in people because of their heritage)
If for example under that system if I viewed those of different heritages as subhuman, one could argue race war was logical and not wrong under their system.

The problem as I see it is these things are vile and they both destroy life which matters to God and destroys his image in people, both in those whom they destroy, and in themselves.

Proverbs 24:
If you falter in a time of trouble,
how small is your strength!
11
Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
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Unread 03-02-2016, 05:12 PM   #4
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I pray for those who are misguided. Even as I pray for guidance. The devil is a master of deception. We are most dangerous when we rely on our own wisdom. Everyday I become more thankful for the Word, and the Holy Spirit.
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Unread 03-02-2016, 07:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ICXC_NIKA View Post
I've been chewing on a thought for awhile now, and the other thread I started ('Christianity and the Political Right') brought this question to the forefront of my mind. Let me see if I can articulate myself properly here.

It seems to me, as someone who has been at one time a pro-choice, feminist atheist secularist (I'm still one of those things, btw ), that from the worldview where human life is not sacred and where there is no duty on the part of the strong to sacrifice for the weak and helpless (I happen to think this element is crucial, so I'm italicizing it), abortion makes perfect sense and is no more morally problematic than eliminating a growth that one does not want in their body.

Conversely, as Christians, we insist on the goodness of God and the goodness of human life created in His image. We stress that the weakest and most overlooked things are really the things most deserving of protection (and the things that show us Christ most clearly). We insist that a life lived in the Gospel must be a life of sacrifice - and here, I think, this is key: having a child, even if a pregnant woman gives it up for adoption, is a sacrifice. It's painful. It messes with her body's mechanics for nine months, it can and often does put her life in danger, and it interferes with much of her life in the meantime.

I'd argue that the only worldview in which such a sacrifice can be justified or argued for or made sense of in any shape or form is within the Gospel, where Christ tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. St. John Chrysostom put it succinctly: "If thou lovest thy Master, die His death." (Homily 13 on Phillipians 3:18-21). Apart from the love that the Gospel inspires, such a sacrifice is completely nonsensical. The Christian faith (or at least, the Orthodox tradition I find myself in) honours motherhood as participation in the creative work of God, and the labour a woman undertakes to participate in that work is highly honored and honorable. But apart from that understanding? Frankly, it's crazy, and I totally understand why pro-choice, atheist/secular feminists think the way they do.

This is why I'm patient with my friends who are pro-choice feminists. They're doing the best they can with the worldview tools they have. They're not bad, evil people for being pro-choice - it's simply that they have not yet received Illumination.

I pray that it may be so, but I dare not berate anyone over it.

Thoughts?
This is strong.

I also agree with Yoder: "People who bear crosses are going with the grain of the universe." In sacrifice -- whether our own or others' that we experience -- we may find the true nature of life. How will Christians sacrifice on behalf of the frightened mothers-to-be and the dear souls they bear?

The Christian response must first be to serve.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 02:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSPrestonEsq View Post
I think you could say this with any worldview.

White supremacism is probably the absolute vilest system I am somewhat familiar with. The problem is, I could apply the same logic of not opposing it because it does have a worldview in which it makes sense. (A twisted, vile worldview that denies the imageo dei in people because of their heritage)
If for example under that system if I viewed those of different heritages as subhuman, one could argue race war was logical and not wrong under their system.

The problem as I see it is these things are vile and they both destroy life which matters to God and destroys his image in people, both in those whom they destroy, and in themselves.

Proverbs 24:
If you falter in a time of trouble,
how small is your strength!
11
Rescue those being led away to death;
hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?
Except that eschewing white supremacism (also, I might quibble on what constitutes white supremacism - I suspect my definition may be a lot broader than yours) doesn't (ipso facto) involve a fundamentally kenotic (cf. Phillipians 2:7) act that might put the person's life in danger and at the very least requires them to share their very body with a presence they may not actually want to share it with, culminating in an incredibly painful (and, again, I need to underscore: possibly life-threatening!) birthing process.

Carrying a pregnancy to term involves all of these things. Not to mention, if there's illness or disability involved for the baby (and this hits a little close to home for me, given that I have Spina Bifida, as many of you know), the mother has to wrestle with ideas she might have about 'quality of life' for the baby. And again, the idea that human life has inherent dignity regardless of disability is a fundamentally Christian one that can only be realized in the Gospel.

This is why I argue that, in a special way, for a person who is not prepared and, strictly speaking, willing, to carry a pregnancy to term to nevertheless do so, requires a heart that is warmed and emboldened by the Gospel and awakened to the hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, or else, one that is surrounded by people who have that hope and who are willing to stand with that woman every step of the way, as John (Chrysostom) says.

Because, frankly, putting your life on the line like that for, at best, something that has no inherent claim to the use of your body (cf. Judith Jarvis Thompson's famous 'violinist argument') when you don't want to, is manifestly silly from any other perspective.

I also agree with Leighanna regarding the legality issue. I suppose that makes me (very) hesitantly pro-choice. :/ It's not a position I particularly like, but it's the only one I find defensible given the above.

Here I stand. God help me.
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Last edited by IsaactheSyrian; 03-03-2016 at 09:49 AM.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 09:09 AM   #7
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Ryan. You've spoke of defending the powerless. You champion the cause of refugees and those thought of as less than, but who is more powerless than the unborn? Perhaps I'm reading your post wrong? What about late term? Are you still provide choice then? I understand many Christians choose the process choice label. I don't see how it can interact with our confessed belief.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 09:43 AM   #8
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Please carefully re-read everything I have said.

Briefly, though:

I believe what I do because Judith Jarvis Thompson's violinist argument is basically unassailable unless your moral system lauds personal sacrifice at tremendous cost (because an unwanted pregnancy involves this). The only moral system that does this as a matter of course is Christianity.

The person who has little room for nuance will likely find what I've said difficult to swallow. Let him who has ears to hear...
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Last edited by IsaactheSyrian; 03-03-2016 at 10:03 AM.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 10:41 AM   #9
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I would say why are men responsible for child support then? If it is a woman's body. She should be alone accountable. This is where the secular argument bothers me. Why should she not be responsible beforehand? There are forms of birth control which are highly effective. If a woman makes the choice to engage in sexual activity, all the while knowing the proposed consequences, why can't she not be held accountable when it results in the consequences. You took the chance, the cost is you must bear a child. Then you can abandon it to the state if you want, but it has the right to life. I will read the quoteday argument, and apologize if I'm misunderstanding your position.
To simplify my statements. Why a free pass on this choice? But males are not offered the same? Equal rights should be extended.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 10:49 AM   #10
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I would say why are men responsible for child support then? If it is a woman's body. She should be alone accountable. This is where the secular argument bothers me. Why should she not be responsible beforehand? There are forms of birth control which are highly effective. If a woman makes the choice to engage in sexual activity, all the while knowing the proposed consequences, why can't she not be held accountable when it results in the consequences. You took the chance, the cost is you must bear a child. Then you can abandon it to the state if you want, but it has the right to life. I will read the quoteday argument, and apologize if I'm misunderstanding your position.
To simplify my statements. Why a free pass on this choice? But males are not offered the same? Equal rights should be extended.
I trust that you're aware that responsible birth control methods can fail, and that women who are not sexually active (and thus not ordinarily needing to be on additional birth control) can become pregnant due to sexual assault. Those instances do not necessarily make up a large portion of unwanted pregnancies leading to abortion, but clearly even perfect responsibility in sexual activity is not a guaranteed solution. And it's not really an answer to the question presented here of what to do in an instance where, for whatever reason, the unwanted pregnancy has occurred.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 10:52 AM   #11
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I read it. Research has shown very few abortions are for rape, or health conditions. Most are for relationship problems, accidental pregnancy, financial reasons, etc. The violinist argument does not hold up. If the person had hooked themselves up to the violinist knowing full well that there was a possibility they might be attached for 9 months then it would be applicable.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 10:57 AM   #12
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Every pro choice points to sexual assault. This is not an easy answer. However, as Christians, we must point to the value of all life. Look at the beauty which can arise from the tragedy.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 10:58 AM   #13
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I read it. Research has shown very few abortions are for rape, or health conditions. Most are for relationship problems, accidental pregnancy, financial reasons, etc. The violinist argument does not hold up. If the person had hooked themselves up to the violinist knowing full well that there was a possibility they might be attached for 9 months then it would be applicable.
This does read less as a defense of "human life is sacred and deserving of protection, even/especially in its earliest stages" and more of an argument that "the risk of unwanted pregnancy and its side effects is a suitable punishment for women engaging in risky sexual behavior".
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Unread 03-03-2016, 11:02 AM   #14
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It breaks down the argument for having just cause to terminate the pregnancy. I'm "pro choice " make the choice before it results in infringing on another's right to life.
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Unread 03-03-2016, 12:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ICXC_NIKA View Post
Please carefully re-read everything I have said.

Briefly, though:

I believe what I do because Judith Jarvis Thompson's violinist argument is basically unassailable unless your moral system lauds personal sacrifice at tremendous cost (because an unwanted pregnancy involves this). The only moral system that does this as a matter of course is Christianity.

The person who has little room for nuance will likely find what I've said difficult to swallow. Let him who has ears to hear...
I don't think the violinist argument is valid ever, except in cases of rape. It is very assailable when personal choice resulted in the pregnancy. When your choice creates the very situation it changes the matter to a false analogy more akin to a hit and run accident. There are actually multiple moral systems I could name which value intense personal sacrifice. (Judaism, Buddhism, and numerous other world religions.)

If you look at the big picture, abortion is simply infanticide. No more, no less. It is every bit as vile and as fundamentally as flawed, as Nazism. The very fact that pagans recognized this in the Hippocratic oath should point to a fact that the modern arguments for it are veneers on what is one of the oldest human taboos, justifying murder of the innocent. It is clearly on the same level as genocide. If it seems justifiable as a worldview, it is only because the weak, the powerless are viewed as worthless, just like genocide.

------------------------------------

Also, I very rarely have spoken of my run ins with neo nazis, so I doubt you really have any idea of my views on the subject. The incidents tend towards things which make others uncomfortable, so I rarely talk about it. Also, I tend to get very angry when I even think about the situations I found myself in. Let's say they are a group whom I find it particularly difficult to love my enemies.

Also if you over-broaden the category, it is meaningless. However, I have had run ins with them and have a very low tolerance for it. I have seen them attempt horrific things and had to choose what I would do. I feel very comfortable before my maker with my choices there.
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