The Gereformeerde Kerken in the Netherlands have now also faced the question of. abortion. Apparently the Synod has spoken, and the decision which was taken proved to be a major concession to those who favor abortion. The whole matter is reported in the RES News Exchange under the title, “Netherlands (GKN) Synod Speaks Out On Abortion.” The article reads:
At a previous sitting, the Synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN) refused to make a statement on abortion because opinion was divided. Rather than issue a pastoral statement which had the support of a scant majority, the Synod requested its study committee to resume the discussion and come to a formulation that would be acceptable to a larger number.
In the discussion several expressed the opinion that the new report did not represent a convergence of the two different positions but only combined the two original directions, side by side. A pastoral letter, one held, cannot be drafted to include differing positions. “The church should not speak if it has nothing to say.” It was also argued that the church should not attempt to provide guidelines for border situations; this should be left up to the doctor and pastor.
The committee was agreed that human life is never without value either in its beginning or in its final stages and must, therefore, always be respected. Abortion is also not an acceptable means of family planning. The question, however; was raised whether the fetus in the womb has a value equal to that of a full-fledged human being.
Dr. Klaas Runia and the Rev. J. C. Seegers framed a counter-proposal which broke the impasse. The Synod stated that 11) the church, which confesses that man is created in the image of God, testifies to society regarding its deep reverence for life, also in the process of becoming. 2) Arbitrary administration of abortus provocatus should therefore be condemned. 3) Abortus Rrovocatus (Induced abortion, H.H.) can only be acceptable if the mental or physical well-being of the mother is seriously threatened. 4) In doubtful situations the church should not give general guidelines: here office-holders will have to provide pastoral guidance on the basis of their own responsibility. Both parents, or, if an unwed mother is involved, the mother will ultimately have to decide in responsibility toward God and man. 5) The church and its members must do everything possible to see that the newborn child is received and cared for in love: this means, i.e., insisting that the possibilities for adoption be speeded up and made more effective. (RES N E 3/4/75)
There are a number of remarks which a decision of this nature prompts. In the first place, there is little evidence of principle in such a decision. According to the first paragraph, Synod postponed a decision because of divided opinions. Whatever the position of the “scant majority” may have been, Synod was afraid to express it officially because there were too many opposed to it. So Synod decided to refer the matter back to a committee to come up with a position which would be “acceptable to a larger number”. This is not the way of principle, but the way of expediency. Synod was not concerned about the rightness or the wrongness of abortion, but was interested solely in making a decision which most of the delegates could accept.
Dr. Klaas Runia and Rev. J. C. Seegers formulated a proposal which apparently contained the gist of what Synod finally adopted. And the way of compromise was the way of approving abortion. This is inevitable. A compromise is always a devil’s compromise. The truth, cannot be compromised without losing it. This is what happened in Synod’s decision.
In the second place, the statement numbered “1” sounds, at first reading, to be rather pious. One wonders, of course, why a Reformed body has to testify to society that it has a deep reverence for life. But, be that as it may, it is always good to have such a deep reverence for life. But this first point adds that it’ has a reverence for life “also in the process of becoming.” Now this latter expression is not new with the Synod of the Gereformeerde Kerken. It was an expression used d number of years ago in the Reformed Journal when Dr. Henry Stob also gave qualified approval to abortion. But the point is that this expression makes a distinction between human life as such and human life in the process of becoming. In other words, the fetus is not human life as such, but is only human life in the process of becoming. I have no idea of how anyone can make any real sense out of that distinction; but the fact is that the distinction is exactly pertinent because it provides a handy ground for the approval of abortion. When a fetus is aborted, so the argument goes, human life is not taken; rather human life in the process of becoming is destroyed. And thus abortion is supposed to be freed from the charge of murder. It is apparent from what follows that this is exactly the argument of the decision.
In the third place, the grounds given for abortion are the mental and physical well-being of the mother. At any time the mother’s mental and physical well-being is threatened, an abortion may be performed. This, however, is purely subjective. Who is to judge when especially the mental well-being of the mother is threatened? Only the mother herself can really judge this. No doubt, the Synod felt the force of this because it adds, “Both parents, or, if an unwed mother is involved, the mother will ultimately have to decide in responsibility toward God and man.” Hence, at any time the parents decide that an abortion is justified, the church can say nothing about their decision. It is theirs alone to make. And the church can only express its approval.
This is the same position which the world takes: for the world, too, has liberalized its abortion laws on the grounds that the ultimate decision rests with the parents, or perhaps with the mother alone. Hence, murder is condoned.
We have written concerning this matter before. But we want to emphasize again that abortion in all cases except where the choice is very concretely between the life of the unborn child and the mother is murder. And it is ,murder because it is the killing of a person. To speak of “life in the process of becoming” is a subterfuge. To ask the question, when a, fetus becomes viable, i.e., when a fetus can live apart from its mother, is to ask an irrelevant question. The child in its mother’s womb is a person from the moment of conception. Abortion is the destruction of a person. This is, by definition, murder.
When the world condones: murder, it is a dreadful thing, for abortion is even contrary to nature. There are many in the world who recognize this. There are many members of various “right-to-life” groups who are not Christians. There are many, even of the world, who shudder at the idea of abortion. There are many doctors and nurses who refuse to perform abortions even though they have no faith. They do so because the very idea of taking the life of a person is contrary to nature. It is opposed to the natural knowledge of the law of God which every man has. Paul speaks of this in Romans 2:14, 15: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”
But when the Church condones murder, one can only shake his head in puzzlement. After all, the Church not only knows the law of God as it is contained in the whole of the Scriptures, but it has no other reason for existence than to uphold that law, defend it, fight for it and condemn at the top of its voice all those who oppose it. This can only be an indication of how apostate the Church has become.
There is something terrible here. It involves the whole matter of the, conscience. The conscience of a person is, after all, the voice of God testifying in a person concerning God’s law. This conscience is not some sort of inner light, some sort of inner voice of God which speaks only subjectively. It is always the inner voice of God which, speaks subjectively in connection with the objective testimony of God’s Word. The objective testimony of God’s Word may be in creation, for Paul writes in Romans 1 that “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Even in creation God testifies to the wicked that He alone is God and that He must be obeyed. The conscience is never apart from that objective testimony. But those who are born and raised in the, sphere of the gospel have the testimony of the Scriptures which are so much clearer than the testimony in creation. The conscience of these: people speaks all the more clearly; for the nearer one stands to the center of the testimony of the truth, the more clearly does’ also his conscience speak.
This is why it is always very hard first to condone and practice a sin. One must fight against his conscience. But if one persists and continues to practice such a sin, gradually the voice of the conscience is stilled. It doesn’t speak any more. It is, to use an expression of Scripture, seared with a hot iron. (See I Timothy 4:2) It is, from a certain point of view, impossible for a man to continue to violate the voice of his conscience. A violation of his conscience will drive him insane. And so he must still it. He must silence it to preserve his own sanity. This he does by inventing all kinds of specious arguments, making all kinds of foolish distinctions, committing repeatedly the sin of intellectual dishonesty by which he persuades himself that the position which he knows is wrong is after all right. Such subjective persuasion is indeed possible. In fact, really every man does this more or less. The only escape ever from this perpetual self-deception is confession of sin.
But having succeeded in convincing himself that the wrong is right, he has silenced his conscience. Then he can sin with impunity. He may still have his moments when doubts arise; but he is now adept at silencing any doubts, so that he may continue his evil way. This is a terrible thing, for this is exactly what Scripture means when it speaks of hardening. For one who is hardened, there is no hope. He is of a reprobate mind. This is what is happening in the world. This is now also happening in the Church.