By David Jones
I was moved to write this companion piece to a recent TTB article about Buddhist views on abortion.
Abortion is one of several taboo subjects these days being dragged, kicking and screaming, into public discourse. It makes folks uneasy, just like all the hard conversations we’ve managed to avoid having in America but desperately need to have.
With all the shouting by fundamentalist and heavily-conservative voices in the media, I wanted to make something clear: their voices aren’t the only ones for Christians, and they sure don’t speak for me. My goal here is overcoming the misconception that THE Christian view of this issue is the one that gets the most air time. Not all Christians view the matter the same way, nor do they all reach the same expected conclusion.
Now about that: a Pew Research Poll in 2014 proved that Christians—just like members of most religious and non-religious groups polled—have different official and unofficial views concerning abortion and the analysis was updated in this 2016 explanation.
In 2018 there was another review of the 2014 material, centered more around Christian-centric responses, ad then by mid-2018 there was another published fact sheet that highlighted updated data and aspects of the arguments.
Here’s the thing: there’s no such thing as THE Christian view on the issue.
Various churches disagree, and even if a church has an official position, members of that church sometimes disagree. Arguing based on the Bible is pointless. You’ll be able to find verses which support your position, and others will find verses which counter them, and everyone will just say the other side is misusing the scriptures.
Besides, the argument today isn’t whether abortion is good or bad, but whether or not it should be legal (which directly affects whether it will be available and allowable under medically-responsible conditions), and under what circumstances? That’s really how those Pew polls were framed.
So where do I fall amid the noise and madness?
I think of life as a holy thing. I don’t think it should ever be ended frivolously, selfishly or maliciously. I also think no one should make the choice to have an abortion or not, except the woman facing the decision, as long as she’s capable of deciding. It is not the government’s place or anyone else’s.
Should I be allowed to make such decisions for others? For you? Should I have the right to decide who you can marry, who you can have sex with, how you worship, if you can have guns, what days you can’t work, what kind of language you can use, what you can eat, or whether you can get divorced from a violent spouse? No, I shouldn’t.
Some feel the issue is polar and is an all-or-nothing proposition. But just because you say that’s true, just because you desperately want or need that to be true, it just isn’t.
I believe that most women who get abortions don’t frivolously choose to have one. I believe they also treasure life and hate murder; to claim otherwise is disingenuous, spiteful and manipulative. To deny them safe, medically-responsible facilities for procedures in an effort to prevent those procedures is delusional and mean.
So let me finish with this moment from the life of Jesus to drive home how I see this issue:
Jesus was teaching one day when a bunch of religious leaders showed up dragging a woman with them. She was caught committing adultery. The Law prescribed stoning. What did he prescribe?
Jesus refused to engage them in their trap, and only when they wouldn’t drop it did he finally say that they could stone her… starting with the one of them who was without sin.
Gradually they left until only the woman stood before the greatest teacher. He asked her if anyone remained to accuse her. She said no. He said he wasn’t going to accuse her either; she should stop with the adultery and go on with her life.
What? Was Jesus a Liberal? Did he suddenly become all pro-adultery? Not at all. He simply understood that judging people for actions he didn’t approve of wasn’t appropriate. Instead he taught fidelity with compassion, didn’t move to punish her, and let her have the dignity to move on. (John 8:2-11)
If only more Christians could be like Jesus.
Editor: Dana Gornall