A Christian Professor Claims That Jesus Would Support Abortion
It’s bad enough when a secular educator claims that Jesus would support certain abortions, as in the case of rape or incest. It’s another thing entirely when this educator is a professing Christian who claims that to be pro-life “flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching that he came to bring abundant life.” Really? Standing for the life of the unborn in all cases means standing against abundant life?
An Argument for PRIM abortions
According to Rebecca Todd Peters, Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University, despite the “dominant belief that Christianity and Christians are against abortion … many Christian communities recognize several circumstances in which abortion is accepted. The fact that abortion is acceptable in some cases means that the real social question is not whether women can have abortions, but which women and for what reasons?”
Prof. Peters points to the cases of “Prenatal health, Rape, Incest, and health of the Mother — PRIM.” And she argues, “Evidence indicates widespread consensus and acceptance among many Christian denominations that abortion for PRIM reasons is justifiable.”
Yes, “Of the 11 Christian statements included in a 2013 Pew Research Center study, only Roman Catholics state that they oppose abortion in all circumstances. All the other denominations, even the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), and the Missouri Synod Lutherans concede that abortion is justifiable when a woman’s life is in danger. The LDS, the NAE, and the Episcopalians also specifically mention that rape and incest are considered justifiable reasons to terminate a pregnancy.”
What is Ethical or Right?
This, of course, proves nothing in terms of what is ethical or right, as if majority opinion at a given time determined morality. History has taught us the terrible danger of classifying certain people-groups as sub-human. Who cares if the majority thought this was right? Was American slavery ever Christian or moral or ethical or justifiable because the majority of Southern Christians accepted it?
Peters also correctly notes that abortions in the cases of rape and incest make up barely 1.5 percent of all abortions (if that). And it’s significant that some of the groups cited (such as the SBC) only allow for the possibility of abortion when the mother’s life is in danger, a virtually non-existent category in our current medical world. But even in this case, the emphasis is on saving life.
The Dominant Public Discourse About Abortion
Prof. Peters, however, claims, “By focusing on the acceptability of PRIM abortions, Christians have shaped the dominant public discourse about abortion into a debate about justification. By requiring women to justify their reasons for ending a pregnancy, this framework divides women who have abortions into two categories — the tragic and the damned.
“Women who have PRIM abortions are portrayed as tragic, not only deserving of access to abortion services but also equally deserving of public sympathy. Women who have abortions for other reasons are stigmatized as morally unfit and labeled as selfish, cruel, and irresponsible. In short, they are the damned.”
A Feminist First
For Peters, who repeatedly uses words like “spiritual” and “Christian” and “moral,” there’s one issue and one issue only: The woman gets to decide what to do with her pregnancy. In other words, despite all the “Christian” lingo, Prof. Peters is a feminist first and a Christian second (if at all; God is the judge).
She writes, “It is time for Christians to challenge the inadequacy, intolerance and misogyny of this paradigm of abortion. As my deeply Christian mother taught me, ‘You shouldn’t have a baby because you are pregnant. You should have a baby because you want to be a mother, because you want to have a family.’”
In sum, “There is nothing Christian about requiring women to ‘justify’ their reasons for abortion. And there is certainly nothing Christian about forcing women to continue pregnancies against their will.”
Peters says that “If we truly value women and healthy families, we must accept that ‘I do not want to have a baby’ is an imminently [sic.] appropriate reason to end a pregnancy. And we must trust that pregnant women are the only ones who are capable of making these decisions.”
Yes, just like trusting plantation owners to decide, “I do not want to have a slave.” Of course! Again, this is what happens when the baby in the womb becomes less human than the mother carrying it. The only issue is the choice of the person in power.
Prof. Peters also fails to distinguish the moral difference between a 12-year-old girl, raped and impregnated by her step-father, who had no choice in the matter, and a 30-year-old single woman who forgoes birth control on her one-night stands, only to find herself with an unwanted pregnancy. Although consistent pro-lifers oppose abortion in both cases, of course there is a massive difference in our attitude to the two mothers.
The Life of the Baby
But to say this is to miss the larger issue, since what is especially remarkable in Prof. Peters’ essay is that she does not utter a single word about the life of the baby. Not one. Not even a hint of a sentiment about the well-being of the child in that mother’s womb.
How, then, can she dare cite the words of Jesus, who spoke with tremendous passion about hurting innocent little ones? (See Matthew 18:1-6.) How can she refer to His teaching that He came to bring abundant life (John 10:10) while ignoring the life of the unborn?
She writes, “Creating healthy families requires more than ensuring that babies are born. It recognizes that creating healthy families and raising children is a deeply spiritual and moral task requiring commitment, desire, and love on the part of the parent(s).”
Yes, this is true. But to be Christian, to be “deeply spiritual and moral,” requires that we not slaughter babies in the womb, regardless of who makes the decision to do so.
Whose Abundant Life?
Prof. Peters states that, “A Christian vision of abundant life requires that we recognize and support the development of healthy and robust families. It requires that we respect women and the moral decisions that they make about their families.”
But a vision cannot be Christian unless it esteems the life of “the least of these.” And the only moral decision a Christian can make when it comes to innocent, helpless life is to do our utmost to protect it and preserve it.
And that, of course, is the fundamental reason we oppose abortion: It is because we are pro-life. In stunning, unchristian fashion, Prof. Peters missed this entirely. And it is this that “flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching that he came to bring abundant life.”