Sunday, July 14, 2013

Servitude and Abortion: Why Christians Cannot be Pro-Choice

My guess is that any reader of this blog has their mind pretty well made up about abortion. You either argue from the point-of-view of the baby, whose life you believe began at conception and who deserves life like everyone else. Or you argue it from the point-of-view of the girl/woman, who has the right to do as she likes with her body in the name of "reproductive health". The baby in the first instance is something to be protected, and in the second, I suppose is something like collateral damage. (That is, if you call it a baby.)

Oh, sure it's more complicated than that, but those tend to be the dividing lines. What I find increasingly impossible to comprehend - granted, I may just be dumber than most people - is how Christians feel entitled to argue along the line of the latter, that women indeed do have the choice to abort a child. And because I'm Lutheran and I tend to see what Lutheran pastors post on Facebook, I'm especially dumbfounded how Lutherans argue the pro-choice side.

Here's why: Christians (especially Lutherans who should have all read Luther's Bondage of the Will ) see themselves as servants to their neighbor and as receivers of gifts, not as masters of their universe. Luther pretty famously said that the Christian is perfectly free, subject to no one and that the Christian was simultaneously a slave, subject to all. In other words the Christian is free from sin and death on the merits of Jesus. BUT he lives his entire life in service to his neighbor. One of those little paradoxes that Luther loved to highlight. 

So to my Christian/Lutheran friends, in case you didn't already know, you are a master of no one, of no thing, including your own body. You are a servant to God and to your neighbor. And if you are a pastor, you get a double helping of both. Yes, I know it is painful when we seek to be masters of our bodies, careers, schedules and relationships. It hurts to think that you might be your neighbor's servant doesn't it? You probably don't even like your neighbor! And yet, that's what we are. 

Now, regarding the issue at hand, who is our neighbor? (I'm sure the text for many of you this week was the Good Samaritan so hopefully this question has been rolling around in your head.) Well, certainly Jesus expands the scope of his hearers. And how any Christian would not include unborn babies in that list is puzzling, to put it nicely. How can any Christian with a straight face listen to the story of the Good Samaritan and then condone abortion? It seems pretty obvious to me that a lacerated baby would fit the description of the kind of neighbor towards whom we are called to show mercy. 

Does this justify any kind of control that a man might exert over a woman? Does this mean a woman somehow becomes the slave of a man? Does this mean that we can't defend ourselves or that we should allow ourselves to be abused? Of course not. No one who is pro-life and at all compassionate (admittedly, not all are) has anything but love and concern for the woman who is soon to be abortive or who is already post-abortive. The kind of care and concern that many Crisis Pregnancy Centers show pregnant women speaks to the fact that pro-lifers see the neighbor who needs care in both the woman and her unborn baby. 

The real issue is to what degree you are willing to serve your neighbor. We all would prefer to be masters of our universes, lording over our spouses, friends and yes, children. And maybe other faiths or world views allow that kind of domination. But not Christianity. Christians are servants to their neighbors. Including their neighbors who are not yet born. And that means we don't have as many choices as we think. 


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