A Footnote on Abortion
We have written in previous issues at some length on the abortion question, and have discussed particularly the whole abortion question from the viewpoint of the sin of murder involved. This is not, of course, the whole question. There are other important mattersrelated to this question. One of them is the question of motive. From a spiritual and ethical point of view, what is the motive behind the clamor for legalizing abortion? This is an important question; so important, in fact, that the heading of this article may be an understatement: a footnote it is not.
We are aware of the fact that in turning to this question of motive (with which we intend to close this discussion for the time being) we are dealing with matters of the heart. Those who advocate the legalization of abortion have all sorts of reasons for doing this, by which they attempt to give their efforts the appearance of a holy crusade. They claim that abortion is necessary to solve the problem of overpopulation in the earth—a problem so serious, in their eyes, that, if it is not solved, the planet on which we live will presently be unable to provide sufficient food for the world’s teeming billions, and mass starvation will result. This has never been proved; in fact, in India where the problem is most acute, new strains of rice, e.g., have been developed which has all but solved the food problem in that “overpopulated” country and has brought India to the point where it could conceivably become a rice-exporting nation. Others claim that the reason for advocating abortion on demand is because the pollution of the environment has reached such proportions that we are but a small step from making this planet a massive dump with no clean air to breathe and no clean water to drink and no plant life to sustain man. Environmental pollution is caused by overpopulation, it is said. This too has never been proved; and, as a matter of fact, it fails to take into account that the root of pollution lies in sin and human selfishness. Others plead for a liberalization of abortion laws out of “sympathy” for pregnant mothers. They point out that some babies are simply unwanted. This is sometimes because pregnancy is the result of rape or incest—a specious argument, at best, since this is true in less than 1% of these cases. This is sometimes true because a mother believes herself to be neither mentally, physically nor financially able to go through a nine-month pregnancy and to endure the difficult task of bringing up another child in the home. The results of pregnancy and birth are so fraught with physical and psychological dangers for the mother that abortion is the only way of saving the mother; or at least, of enabling her to cope with the problems she already faces. Still others point to the fact that abortion on demand is a desirable thing because so many babies are born in the ghettos where family life has broken down. The result is the birth of many children of broken and fatherless homes, illegitimate children, children born in poverty and doomed to a life of misery and crimes on the streets of our large cities. It is a social problem; and abortion is one way of solving it.
We concur that the basic motive for abortion is that babies are not wanted. Perhaps they are not wanted by mothers who unexpectedly find themselves pregnant. Perhaps they are not wanted by society which sees untold social problems arising from the birth of children who are brought up without care.
But the question is: why are they not wanted? And the answer to this question is a spiritual and ethical answer.
That adultery and fornication flourishes in the ghettos goes without saying. The trouble is that it flourishes also in the higher echelons of society. Only in these levels of society people have the means and wherewithal to prevent many unwanted pregnancies through various birth control devices. But the problem of adultery and fornication is a spiritual one. And it is a sad day for this country when the country becomes more concerned about the consequences of sin than about the sin itself. Eradicating the consequences by abortion not only does not solve the problem, but makes it worse. God is not mocked. What a man sows, that shall he also reap.
The arguments raised in favor of abortion on demand are specious. They smell like subtleties of human invention which are used to justify the consciences of men in the face of monstrous crimes. They reek of sanctimonious hypocrisy which attempts to explain away unbelievably horrible sins.
Why are not these babies, so terribly murdered, wanted? The answer is, in one word, selfishness. Where pregnancies result from fornication, the desire is to indulge in the lusts of the flesh and commit untold abomination without suffering the consequences for sin. Abortion is the easy way out. Where, within the bonds of marriage, pregnancies come unplanned, and are unwanted, selfishness still lies at the root. Women do not want the “misery” of nine months with child. And, after the child is born, they shudder at the thought of having another baby around the house. But the problem is that they are required to forego their own pleasures because of the demands of children. They cannot do the things they enjoy doing. They cannot enjoy the pleasures of life. They cannot leave the home when they please. They cannot work to bring home an extra paycheck. They cannot buy the things they have set their hearts on. They cannot tolerate the constant and incessant demands which a baby and child place upon them. Their own pleasures are curtailed and their own anxious pursuit of enjoying life is halted. Children are not wanted simply because then parents can no longer do the things they want to do.
If any one has ever thought that selfishness is not a monstrous sin, then let him ponder this. A person will commit murder out of selfishness—the murder of an unborn child, the murder of a child carried within one’s own body. Selfishness is a monster.
And all this is because of the fact that the viewpoint of Scripture is lost. Scripture never speaks of children being a bother and a nuisance. Scripture never even hints that children are “in the way,” robbing us of time for ourselves. Scripture speaks quite different language. “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.” Psalm 128:3. “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” Ps. 144:12. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5.
This is the viewpoint of Scripture. But where, in all the debate, do you hear anything of this today? That is the wretched part of it. No doubt, the world is incapable of understanding these things. But let the child of God hear these words nonetheless. The child of God understands that he (or she) is not in the world for himself and that marriage is not a convenient alliance to conform with society’s norms while indulging in the lusts of the flesh. Nor is the time of marriage the time to engage in pleasure seeking, getting the most out of life, drinking the cup of pleasure to the brim. Marriage is an institution of God in which husband lives for wife and wife for husband, and both for children,—and all for God. Parents who have heard with quivering hearts the solemn words of God in this respect, receive children as very wonderful and precious gifts of God; and yet gifts which never really belong to them. They are God’s children always; no parent may lay sovereign claim to them. And they must be nurtured in the fear of the Lord and in awe that God has given such gifts.
It may be objected that the passages quoted above are taken from the Old Testament, and that it was characteristic of the mothers in Israel to desire children because they earnestly longed to have a part in bringing forth the Messiah. And this is true. The lives of Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Hannah, Manoah’s wife and many others are eloquent testimony of this. But this is not an objection. For while indeed the Messiah has been born and the promised Seed of the woman has come, that seed spoken of by God to Adam and Eve, while centrally Christ, is the full number of the elect of all ages. For those who are of faith are the children of Abraham. And still today godly mothers are given the unspeakably rich privilege of bringing forth the seed of the covenant, the Church of Christ, those for whom our Lord shed his blood. And only when that full number of the elect is born will the Lord Jesus return to take His whole Church with Him to glory. What an exalted role the Lord, in grace, has given his people to perform in the work of the ages.
If the viewpoint of the Holy Scriptures is our viewpoint, then the whole question of abortion is dot a problem but a monstrous crime. Truly a crime to make the soul of the godly and pious shudder with horror. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord.
THE RES AND SCRIPTURE
In the August 24 issue of the R.E.S. News Exchange an interesting article appeared concerning the meeting of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod in Australia in 1972. We quote the article in full both because of our interest in the R.E.S. and because of the interest of the topic.
Responding to the request of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod Amsterdam 1968, the RES Interim Committee has made arrangements that a full day will be spent at Sydney, Australia, in August 1972 to consider the nature and extent of the authority of Scripture.
To introduce central aspects of the topic, three speakers have been chosen, one from the Netherlands, one from South Africa and one from North America. From among the delegates to the 1972 Synod, respondents to the three speakers will be chosen to give representation to the Presbyterian traditions and to allow voices from younger churches to be heard. After each lecture there will be ample time for discussion. The conference has been scheduled for the first week of meetings so that the findings of the conference may function as input to the deliberations of the Synod on the days following. A description of the Conference on Scripture follows.
THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE. 1. SCRIPTURE, CREATION, AND HISTORY, by Prof. Dr. J. L. Koole (Netherlands). This opening lecture; given by an Old Testament scholar, will consider the relation of Holy Scripture to our view of creation and history. It will touch on such topics as the origin of the Bible, namely, whether it is the product of the ‘religious consciousness of the early church’ (Gemeindeteologie) or whether it is a Word of God that became a chief constituent component in the formation of the people of God. It will also take into its purview the relation of kerygma and salvation events and deal specifically with the question of the historicity of certain parts of the Bible currently in discussion, such as
The address will in addition consider the relation of the ‘human and divine factors’ in the formation of the Scriptures.
2. SCRIPTURE, FAITH, AND SCIENCE, by Prof. Dr. Gordon Spykman (USA).
This second lecture will consider the relation of Holy Scripture to the faith of the people of God and the human enterprise called modern science, especially as these relate directly to the authority of Scripture. It will consider whether science can or may be ‘objective’ and whether, and how science must be scripturally directed. Attention should be given to the hermeneutical problem, especially as this relates to the time-relatedness of Scripture and the time-transcending nature of the Biblical revelation. Dealing with Scripture and science, it will relate the Bible as the revelation that testifies to Jesus Christ with the revelation given in the creation, of which science gives a theoretical account. Dealing with faith, it should consider this function of man whereby he directs his life to God in relation to his work in the world especially as this is affected by science. It will consider, i.a., whether the scientist, qua scientist, may withhold judgment concerning the eventness of the central redemptive events, e.g., the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
3. SCRIPTURE, CHURCH, AND PROCLAMATION, by Prof. Dr. J. A. Heyns-(South Africa).
This address will relate the full Gospel (Scripture’s message in its totality) to the life of the congregation today. It will consider how we can and should proclaim the Word’ of God in our present secularized world. Dealing with the church, it will consider how this institution, the chief exponent of the Word God; should address modern man with the word of authority. It will seek answers to the question how the proclamation can bridge the gap between the age of writing and the time of speaking and hearing. This address will take into its purview the writings of the most prominent and popular exponents of a secular meaning of the Gospel, and against their views state what the churches of Christ, on all continents should proclaim today.
We will be very much interested in reading the speeches as they are made and the “responsives.” We have one fear: the formulations of the problems, as they appear above, seem to us to suggest that in the formulations themselves important concessions have been made to those who deny the absolute authority of the Scriptures. And if concessions have already been made in the formulations of the problems, what will happen to the formulations of the answers?