|March 26, 2016|
While the status of abortion has been accepted by some liberal Christian denominations, many Evangelicalism|Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christianity|Fundamentalist Christians have actively opposed both the legal right of a woman to undergo an abortion and its practice within the wider community.
This stance is at odds with many people who support the right of abortion. Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians have opposed abortion mainly because of their belief in the Bible as the unchanging and inspired Word of God, as well as the interpretive framework that is used to understand and apply it. Through this belief and process of interpretation, Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians have come to the conclusion that abortion is morally wrong. Moreover, many of them see the termination of a human embryo in pregnancy or in a test tube as murder.
Evangelicals generally believe in both the divine inspiration of the Bible (the idea that in the Bible, the Christian God clearly speaks) and the fact that it was written by people who were writing in a specific way. The Bible is therefore both a divine and a human document, with God (as the Holy Spirit) supervising his direct work through the people who wrote it. It is because of this divine supervision that any errors in fact or thinking are not present in the Biblical text. Both Evangelicals and Fundamentalists hold to the belief that the Bible is the perfect, "Spirit-breathed", words of God to all who read it.
Classic evangelical Biblical interpretation (Christian Hermeneutics) holds also to the idea that the Biblical text should be interpreted via the Historical-Grammatical method of interpretation. Put simply, this method of interpretation seeks to understand the human genre of the text and place it in its historical context. "Reading it the way the author intended it to be read" is one way of explaining this.
The result of this dual interpretive structure - that the author of the Bible is ultimately God / The Bible should be read like any other text - is that certain passages, when understood in this light, result in a belief and attitude that abortion is morally wrong.
Thus any attempt by non-Evangelicals to argue that "the Bible is no longer relevant", or that "the Bible doesn't have to be interpreted that way" runs into problems at a very basic level. Modern philosophical bases for textual criticism, including Deconstruction|Deconstructionism and Postmodernism, are generally not held by these Christians.
The practice of abortion is not mentioned explicitly in either the Old Testament or the New Testament. For the evangelical, however, enough Biblical material exists to believe strongly that abortion could be classified as murder.
http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=Psalm%20139;&version=47; <small>Click here to read Psalm 139</small><br>
These four verses are perhaps the most quoted part of the Bible when dealing with Abortion. In these verses, the Psalmist speaks of God creating the Psalmist's fetus in the womb of his mother. The language the Psalmist uses indicates clearly that an unborn fetus is considered to be a human being.
Evangelicals would argue strongly that if God sees an unborn fetus as a human being, then any termination would result in the death of a human being. Because this death was deliberate and indiscriminate, the argument would then focus upon Abortion as a form of murder.
It could be pointed out that God only recognised the Psalmist as a human being while he was still a fetus, and that making the correlation that God therefore sees all fetuses as human as being a logical fallacy. This can be countered by the argument that such a belief is not present anywhere else in scripture, and that other verses support the original assertion.
http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=Jeremiah%201;&version=47; <small>Click here to read Jeremiah 1</small><br>
God speaks to Jeremiah and says that he "knew" Jeremiah not only before he was born, but before he was even conceived. This verse, although specific to Jeremiah, indicates that God recognised Jeremiah as human before birth. This verse supports the argument outlined in Psalm 139:13-16 above.
Luke 1:41 and 2:12
http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=Luke%201:39-45;&version=47; <small>Click here to read Luke 1:39-45</small> http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=Luke%202:8-21;&version=47; <small>Luke 2:8-21</small><br>
The Greek word for baby, brephos (βρεφος), is used interchangeably for both the unborn fetus and a newborn baby in these two verses. In 1:41 it is used to describe the unborn fetus, while in 2:12 it is used to describe a newborn.
The evangelical argument against abortion is strongly supported by the two different uses of brephos. It indicates that the unborn fetus is synonymous with a newborn - not in development, but in terms of its value.
http://bible.gospelcom.net/passage/?search=Psalm%20137;&version=47; <small>Click here to read Psalm 137</small> <br>
The Evangelical position on the following situations is founded on their assertion that human life is created at the time of conception. It follows, therefore, that they view abortions at any stage of pregnancy to be an act of the taking of a human life.
It should be noted that Evangelical Christians are not the only religious group to hold this view, and agreement among Evangelicals on this viewpoint does not necessarily constitute an agreement among them on the proper position to take on these specific situations.
The inability of the mother to care for the child
Due to physical or psychological state, or simply due to socioeconomic background, some pregnant women are unable to care for their child once it is born. Some would counsel these women to have an abortion.
Evangelicals would argue that the life of the baby should not be ended simply because the woman cannot look after it. Their argument would be that the woman in question be cared for during pregnancy, and that she be supported in every way to ensure that she is able to care for the child in her own way. Alternatively, they would not be against giving the baby up for adoption.
As a means of providing practical help to encourage women to not abort, Evangelicals have established crisis pregnancy centers to provide free pregnancy tests, information on abortion, referrals to social service agencies, and baby-related items such as furniture, baby and maternity clothing, and supplies such as food and diapers.
Pregnancy as a result of rape
This issue is much more difficult for Evangelicals to agree on because the woman is a victim. The argument given by the Pro-choice movement is that the mother should be able to choose whether or not to abort the fetus because she did not choose to engage in sexual activity
The evangelical argument is that the mother's lack of consent to the pregnancy and the fetus's (assumed) lack of consent to its own termination are not morally equivalent. The fetus must be shown preference, since the existence of one life overrides the violated consent of another.
It is commonly speculated that many self-identified Evangelicals would support restricting abortions with exceptions allowed for rape, incest and maternal mortal endangerment. The purpose would be to prohibit abortion as a method of birth control, which is sometimes pejoratively refered to as a "convenience abortion."
Pregnancy as a result of incest
Similar to rape (above), this situation is problematic because of the genetic problems that are caused by incestual pregnancy. Yet Evangelicals would still argue that the pregnancy be brought to full term because it is, in their opinion, a human being. But as with pregnancy as a result of rape, not all Evangelicals hold to this view, and would allow this as an exception in any legislation that would outlaw abortion in all other situations.
Severe physical and/or intellectual disability
Foetal abnormalities can often be picked up early in a pregnancy, and severe physical and/or intellectual disabilites may result if it is brought to full term. The option many women have is to abort the fetus early to prevent the child from suffering.
The logic of this action is similar to Euthanasia in that it seeks to prevent potential future suffering. Evangelicals reject this notion, and would argue that mercy killings are nowhere sanctioned in the Bible. In this case abortion is rejected and support is prescribed for the parents as they bring up a child in difficult circumstances.
In many cultures pregnancy outside of marriage is a social stigma that can sometimes bring great shame and embarrassment upon the woman.
Evangelicals argue that the preservation of human life is of greater importance than the avoidance of culturally informed shame and embarrassment and that the woman must therefore continue her pregnancy despite the stigma that she feels.
This is one area where the vast majority of evangelicals would agree that termination is the only option. An Ectopic pregnancy will inevitably result in the death of the mother unless the fetus is terminated and removed.
Other pregnancies in which the mother will clearly die unless the fetus is terminated fits into this category.
In vitro fertilisation
Evangelicals are not fully opposed to In vitro fertilisation|IVF but many are suspicious of problems that may result from it - namely the potential death of many embryos, or the death of the mother before the embryos are implanted.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research
This is a new science and a majority Evangelical position on it has yet to crystalize. In general, the fundamental assumption of the aliveness of the embryo informs the stances that Evangelicals take regarding old and new developments in this field.
Evangelicals are generally opposed to human cloning because it may result in the manipulation and subsequent death of an embryo. If cloning does not result in the death of any human embryos, Evangelicals may support it.
Theraputic Cloning or Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer is the creation of multiple copies of a single molecule, cell, or virus. Evangelicals are not opposed to this.
Reformed churches have historically taught that the "moral law", which is binding on all people by their creator, was republished on Mount Sinai as the Ten Commandments. Other laws were given to the Jews, which set them apart from other people, some of which also elucidate the principles of the moral law but are not obligatory for other nations in their given form. Westminster Confession of Faith, 19:5, for example, reads <blockquote> The moral law doth forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it ... </blockquote>
Beginning in the mid-1960s, led by Rousas John Rushdoony, a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (who later left that denomination), a small movement of Reformed scholars began to exercise influence within conservative Reformed denominations, and in the wider circle of the evangelical movement. Rushdoony's movement, called Christian Reconstructionism, built on the traditional Calvinist view of the general applicability of the moral law. The Reconstructionists expanded upon the "general equity" of the statutes and sanctions of the Mosaic system of case law in rather unprecedented detail, suggesting specific applications of the Biblical law to modern practice of law and offering a pointed critique of modern culture, society, and statecraft.
After World War II until Roe v Wade, evangelicalism was largely apolitical. The landmark Supreme Court decision was an important factor, however, in awakening evangelical conscience; coinciding with the maturation of the Reconstructionist thesis, among other Evangelical responses to the religious and social developments of the 1960s youth culture, feminism and the sexual revolution. By no means alone, Reconstructionism is one influence that added to the formation of a new political activism, which first began to be noticed in the "Born-again" Presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, and then in the formation of the Christian Right with the founding Christian Voice in 1977 Moral Majority in 1981, and the Christian Coalition in 1989.
Because of its radical nature, Reconstructionism (dubbed Dominion theology by critics) has been of particular interest to sociologists. Its influence has been traced as a formative influence of the Religious Right, to Evangelical leaders such as James Dobson. Dobson himself is a member of the Church of the Nazarene, drawing from the rich social activism of the Wesleyan heritage and the Holiness movement. However, writers have found connections also from the Reconstructionists, or other Reformed writers and activists, such as Francis Schaeffer, not only to Dobson but also to other leaders of the Religious Right. The aim of these writers is to explain, by evidence of connection to Reconstructionism, how the Christian Right developed its moral objectives, which it in turn is trying to impose upon the rest of society. Abortion is, naturally, one of those issues. In the view of some critics, the influence of Reconstructionism is very wide indeed.
On the basis of principles drawn from Biblical law, and the belief that it is an abiding moral standard for all people, many evangelicals not only believe that abortion is wrong, but actively work to remove any law that allows it. Abortion therefore stands as a rallying point for many evangelicals, as well as a standard by which to judge politicians and political parties.
Christian Reconstructionism is rejected by practically all evangelicals, and by far the majority know nothing about it. As noted, this movement did not originate the idea that the moral law found in the Bible (the Ten Commandments) is in some way an obligation for all people, or that the issue of abortion is implicated in this belief. Roman Catholicism also holds this view, and the Catholic argument of the popes, especially John Paul II, are much better known than that of Reconstructionism. Nevertheless, the connections to some important leaders of the Evangelical political movement are documented.
The evangelical movement continues to be averse to tying political action to the mission of the churches. However, in the case of abortion and euthanasia, a strong argument has been found for the necessity of unified action, which has been instrumental in forging alliances that would have been unlikely in earlier generations, such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
An earlier evangelical and fundamentalist disinterest in politics is eroding, in large measure in response to the social acceptance of abortion and euthanasia. However, many evangelicals still argue that, while all sin is wrong, the church is only responsible for its own people. When it comes to abortion, these separationists naturally expect their members to follow their religious teachings, but those outside the church and in general society - "unbelievers" - cannot have God's laws imposed upon them by political means, including prohibiting abortion. Separation of church and state, interpreted as avoidance of politics, is still held by many, such as the Mennonites, Seventh-day Adventists and many Baptists and others, to be a crucial and traditional religious principle, leading some to withdraw also from voting on the issue, in addition to disapproving of political activism centered on abortion. Their answer to abortion is not to impose God's laws on unbelievers, but preach the Gospel to them in the belief that God will use the message to bring them to a change of heart and into the church. Once they have become "believers", then they become subject to God's laws. Of course, the same principle applies for a political separatist, in issues such as adultery, murder, battery and theft.
This idea is backed up by 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, where Paul excoriates the Corinthian church for allowing sexual adultery to go unhindered in their midst. He commands them to expel the offending church member and to have nothing to do with sexually immoral people. But Paul then goes on to point out that such a command only applies to sexually immoral people within the church, not in society generally. In verse 12-13, Paul concludes by pointing out that God judges those outside the church, while (the church) should judge those inside. Reconstructionists themselves also, while believing that the state ought to implement biblical law, warns that politics is not a primary instrument of social reform. Instead, they emphasize reform of the Christian family, as the basic building block of human society.
The link between conservative Christian faith and market economics has been around at least since the Cold War, when the dialectical materialism|atheistic communists openly attacked the influence of religion on public life, actively restricting freedom of religious expression across Russia, China and Eastern Europe. It is due to this link that Evangelicals have often embraced neoliberalism|Neoliberal economic thinking, which sees smaller government as more desirable.
Support of small government by evangelicals in the pro-life movement strikes critics as contradictory, on the assumption that larger government could alleviate some pressures toward abortion, and could improve the lives of unplanned children.
GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Abortion and Evangelical Christians".
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