There seems to be agreement that the issue is more complex than a simple choice between pro-choice and pro-life. The pro-choice vs pro-life debate tends to obscure the real issue which i.m.o. is responsibility. We should all take responsibility for our actions and for our communities.
The traditional pro-life argument seems to focus almost exclusively on the responsibility that mothers should take for their sexual behaviour. Case closed. Some remember to also hold the fathers responsible!
I dream with Cobus of a church “that can create an environment where it is possible for anyone and everyone to make the choice for life!” But I think that dream will not materialise until we as Christian communities regard it as our responsibility to do that. Part of that responsibility is also to help mothers and fathers who have aborted their foetuses deal with the emotional and other issues related to abortion. The more we take up our responsibility to care, the more we enable vulnerable parents to take up their responsibilities.
The same principle applies to a range of other issues, many of which are incidentally related to sex. Take prostitution as an example. Why is the debate so often about whether to legalise prostitution or not? Shouldn’t we rather pour our energy into helping women caught up in prostitution to acquire other skills so they can find alternative employment? People who actually do that are in a far better position to have an informed opinion on the legalisation issue.
We often focus on the wrong issues because fundamentally we think legalistically in terms of right and wrong, instead of holistically in terms of the realisation of God’s kingdom. Kingdom implies an environment where justice is done, where there is enough food, shelter and other resources to sustain life, a place of healing and safety, a space where creativity can flourish and so the list grows…
Our approach to ethical questions exposes our picture of God more than we often realise. Is He a judge or a healer? Or both? Or much more? Of course He is infinitely more than we could imagine. But so often we think of God simply as a judge. And then we talk about Jesus being the one who gave His life to save us from God’s judgement. That usually leads us to say something like “Abortion is murder. If we allow it, God’s judgement will come over our country. By the grace of God I have been saved from His judgement because I believe in Jesus.” That sounds frighteningly similar to the prayer of the Pharisee who thanked God for not being like this tax collector. Janet makes a convincing case for abortion not always being murder, depending on the context.
David Bosch often used the term creative tension. There seems to be a profound creative tension between God’s righteousness and His grace. I don’t think God ever wants abortions to happen. I believe that abortion is against His will. He demands that justice be done to foetuses. But His justice is not limited to the life of the unborn. It is also unjust to allow babies to be born, simply to let them starve to death. So whether abortion is legalised or not, someone needs to take responsibility. If the parents don’t do it the church must step in. That’s how grace keeps justice in creative tension. And that grace also applies to the parents who aborted.
Now for the uncomfortable part, the question of what I am doing to help prevent and heal the wounds of abortion and prostitution and HIV etc? Personally I cannot think of much. If we call ourselves followers of Christ we know that grace doesn’t come cheap although it is free. It calls for sacrifice, suffering, pain and even death…
…and that leads me to the next question, the question of how to simplify my life and change my priorities so I can contribute more to changing lives and changing society. But that is a question for another post.