“You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.” – Didache 2:2
This verse is from the ancient Christian book Didache, written in the first century. That is, at the same time or briefly after most of the New testament. This is the first time we hear a Christian opinion on abortion, because if you haven’t noticed it – the Bible never mentions abortion! Not even once.
Yes, Psalms 139 talks about how we are created in our mother’s womb and how God looked at our “unformed body” (v. 16) as He created us, and based on this many Christians have concluded that abortion is equal to killing a baby. Technically though, the Bible does not condemn abortion – the Didache is the first Christian writing to do that.
On the other hand, the Didache is extremely early and accurately represents ancient Christian morals and teachings on a great variety of issues, and throughout most of church history it has generally been a consensus in the global church that abortion is immoral and sinful.
“Well, that’s because the church has been run by a literal patriarchy who ignore the rights and safety for women”, some may argue. And yeah, sadly it has. But abortion is not just about women’s rights, since there is also a baby, or a soon-to-be-baby, depedning on how you view it, that is also involved. Some of you may have heard about how the American NGO Planned Parenthood, who run abortion clinics, sell tissues from aborted fetuses:
This has become quite of a scandal, to say the least, over there in the US. Interestingly though, here in Sweden the media has hardly mentioned it. Sweden is as you may know a very progressive country where most people are pro-choice, and the only scandals here related to the issue is when the leader of the Christian Democratic party suggested that maybe midwives that don’t want to partake in abortions due to conscience should not be forced to do so, but stick to their ordinary work (that is, helping women to give birth). Many protested, arguing that this is the first step of a slippery slope banning abortion altogether, and the proposal was scrapped.
Yet, few people I believe will be able to watch the videos above, seeing Planned Parenthood officials talking about selling livers, lungs and heart tissue as they drink wine and dream about getting a Lamborghini, without getting the sense that something’s wrong here. It’s pretty gross what they’re doing. And pretty inhumane. I mean, it’s frightening how easily humans can decide that other humans aren’t humans. They point out some differences between them and what they want to kill and then argue that stopping their pulse and cutting their brain activity isn’t killing them, and if it is it isn’t worse than killing off a fly.
It is OK to question this. My fellow MennoNerd blogger Benjamin L. Corey, who is much more progressive than me theologically, has written a very good post called You Don’t Have To Be Afraid To Be A Pro-Life Progressive. Rachel Held Evans has developed similar thoughts on her blog, as has activist theologian Shane Claiborne. They recognize that abortion rates should be decreased because abortions aren’t very good, while also paying huge respect to the women involved in such decisions.
They call for more care for single mothers from the church, more information to the youth about birth control and pregnancy, and to be consistently pro-life “from the womb to the tomb.” After all, life doesn’t end at birth and many conservatives are quite hypocritical in condemning abortion but supporting war and death penalty. Jesus stands for life, life in abundance, and as His followers we should always choose life.