Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Morality of Abortion in the Case of Rape

Last week a friend of mine forwarded me an article by conservative columnist Mike Adams entitled "Problems, Solutions, and Tradeoffs II." You can access the original article here, just scroll down the page and you'll see this title. It was written in answer to the many responses he received to an earlier article entitled "Romney and the Rapist."

My friend asked me to weigh in on the article which I eventually did. I’ve copied my thoughts below and invite your feedback, but first let me say this: I know nothing about Mike Adams and therefore cannot endorse his articles, books, or other publications. I am simply offering my response to one article. In the coming days, I will write about my own experience with abortion, the compassion I feel for those who have participated in an abortion, and the hope that is there for all who will call upon the name of the Lord Jesus no matter what they’ve done. But for now, here is my response to Mike Adam's article and my friend's inquiry.

Hi [Friend],

Sorry that it's taken me so long to respond to this, but I have just now found the time to read Adams' article. In brief, let me say that I agree with his general argument, though I may have stated certain things differently if I were in his position. Let me explain my point of view in a little more detail.

(1) I agree with you that we're all born into sin, and that we choose to sin as soon as we're able. In this way, every human being stands guilty before God by birth and by choice (see, for example, Ephesians 2:1-3). This is the historic, biblical doctrine of original sin, one which we must always keep in mind when discussing moral issues, especially those concerning life and death.

(2) However, the terms "innocent" and "guilty" still have valid meaning in a fallen world. I don't have the time to look up and quote various texts of Scripture, but it wouldn't be difficult to demonstrate that the Lord distinguishes between those innocent of crimes and those guilty of crimes, and that the Lord prescribes different treatment for the innocent and the guilty. For example, the death penalty is never required of one who has not sinned in some specific way that calls for that particular punishment, except in the sense that every human being will in fact die because of sin.

(3) I agree with Adams that the crucial starting place for this conversation is the biblical assumption that a child in utero is a human being: fashioned by God in the womb, made in the image of God, and therefore sacred. Granted, he or she is dependent upon the mother for his or her life, but his or her DNA, blood-type, finger prints, internal organs, external appendages, etc are unique and distinguishable from the mother. The two are not one.

(4) On the basis of this fact, to perform an abortion is to end the life of a human being. This is not always murder, because sometimes the procedure is administered under emergency circumstances where there was either no choice, or where the decision to abort seemed the lesser of two or several evils. For example, if the mother was in a terrible car accident and the child was severely or mortally wounded, aborting the child would not be murder but a necessary, and heartbreaking, procedure. Even if a case could be made that the child should not be aborted in this situation, one would have to concede the moral ambiguity and distinguish it from other situations wherein abortion is clearly murder, that is, the unnecessary and unjust taking of a human life.

(5) Since a child in utero cannot commit a specific, volitional crime, he or she is by definition innocent and not deserving of punishment. Therefore, as horrible as rape is, and as difficult as it is to carry a child to term who is the product of rape, murder is not a legitimate response to rape.

Years ago I mentored a new believer named [Bob--not his real name]. He became a very close friend of mine, and remains so to this day. [Bob's] mother was raped and she became pregnant with him. For whatever reason--I can't remember--she made the choice to carry the child to term, and in this way [Bob] was born. She and her husband then raised him, he later came to Christ and follows Christ to this day follows. [Bob] is a precious human being, an evangelist, a husband, a father, a son of God in Christ. The rape of his mother was horrible, and I palpably feel the pain even as I write these words. I do not make light of rape, but I cannot escape the conclusion that taking [Bob's] life would have compounded the tragedy and the pain. He did not deserve to die for the sins of another.

(6) I further agree with Adams that the consent of the mother is not a legitimate criterion to consider when weighing the morality of abortion. If we allow this criterion to enter into or control the debate, how then should we define consent? When does the mother have to affirm or deny her consent? Can the mother ever change her mind? What if she consents at first but then experiences problems in her marriage or relationship, and then declares that she did not consent? What if she removes her consent after the child has been born, and why is this morally different from removing her consent before the child is born? What if, as Adams queried, the mother consents to sex but not pregnancy? 

If we base abortive decisions on the criterion of consent, we find ourselves in a morass of ambiguities that only serve to confuse the essential issue: a child in utero is a human being and to abort the child is to bring a human life to end.

(7) Although the issues involved in this particular scenario are painful and difficult and tragic, I cannot escape the conclusion that murder is not an appropriate response to rape. If even the guilty rapist is spared the death penalty, how can we justify the killing of an innocent child who is being fashioned by God and made in the image of God? I cannot.

[Personal, closing comments deleted.] May the Lord grant us wisdom and insight as we seek to stand for life in our generation!

With hope and joy in Christ,
Pastor Charlie 

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