Saturday, December 22, 2007

Anglican Submission on Victoria's Abortion Laws

The Diocese of Melbourne recently made a submission to the Victorian Government to be considered in the state's review of Victoria's abortion laws. The full text of the submission can be found at:

I found it a very disappointing read. The prophetic literature of the Old Testament makes it very clear that God loves deeply those in society that are without legal status, and he is very interested in how the rest of us treat those who cannot defend themselves. Indeed a major reason that He sent the Israelites into exile was because of how they mistreated the poor and marginalised.

In our day and age, it may not be widows and orphans that are in particular need of protection because we now have systems in place for their support, but there are still those in our society that cannot protect themselves. Amongst these are unborn children who do not even yet have the air in their lungs to scream against the injustice of their deaths. It is the role of the body of Christ to protect the weak and defenceless.

I recently read How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt. It was very enlightening. It looked at the state of the world before Christ and what forces had been at work to bring about the freedoms that we enjoy in today's western world. In the Greco-Roman world abortion was practised widely and a very low value was placed on human life. It was the actions of the church throughout history that brought about laws that made abortion illegal and protected the life of the unborn child. This was done in the face of great opposition from the Roman world. We should remember that no matter how much opposition we face, continuing to fight for the lives of unborn children we could end up being successful. Christians fighting for the unborn worked the first time around, by God's grace it could work again.

In the Anglican submission, when responding to the question of moral and ethical principles that should inform the abortion law in Victoria it is telling that they cite "public acceptance of the reality of abortion, including acceptance of the practice among women of diverse religious communities" (p3) as the basis on which they believe the law should be changed. Practise should not inform ethical and moral principles but rather the other way, ethical & moral principles should inform practise.

As Christians the ultimate source of ethical and moral principles is the Bible. It is His revealed will for how we should live our lives. What it says about the value of human lives, loving others, and about protecting those in our society that have no voice should not be put aside by the church just because it does not fit with public practise or opinion. The Bible is still truth whether or not the world accepts it. The church should SHOW how it is relevant and applicable.

An unborn child is human from the point of conception. Before they are even conceived they are known to God (Jer 1:5). You can't know an inhuman lump of flesh. A foetus is a child, a human being. Psalm 139:13-16 further shows how God is involved in creating the unborn child and that they are a marvellous creation. All made in the image of God, all made to bring Him glory.

Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes things happen to us that are not our choices and we have to live with it. The biblical position on this is that it builds our character and makes us better people when we face it with faith and belief that God will carry us through it, and that in His grace He will work ALL things together for good for those who love Him (Ro 8:28). So just because the pregnancy might be difficult, or just because the child might have a disability, or just because the father has run off, or just because the child was conceived during rape, or just because having the child is inconvenient to the parents does not mean that having the child is not still the BEST way forward when a woman is pregnant under those circumstances. Ok so this is tough stance, and not everyone could take it, but the church should be presenting a view on abortion that is based on the crappy circumstances of life but on the eternal and unchanging nature of God which is that HE WILL NOT ABANDON ANY WOMAN IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES IF SHE WILL ACCEPT HIS HELP. He is entirely faithful and loving. My experience is that the most utterly horrendous, awful and abhorrent thing that has ever happened in my life God turned around and made into something beautiful. Yes, it is hard to live through those kind of days. Yes, often you cannot see HOW you will get through it. But God picks you up, carries you through (yes, through not around), and heals the hurt and the pain, and gives you the strength day-by-day to keep going. This is what He desires to do in everyone's lives if they will let Him.

I really believe that there is nothing more relevant to the world than God's grace. They might not get it, mightn't want to hear about it, but we all need grace more than we need oxygen. This is the message the church should be bringing on the issue of abortion. That there is a God of grace who will not abandon any woman in her distress and that she doesn't need to rely on her own strength, her own resources to get her through the difficulties of parenthood. Abortion might seem like the answer, but it isn't. God is the answer.

God bless,

1 comment:

Ewan said...

Good comments Bec. The Melbourne Anglican submission was appalling. Pro-lifers from Bendigo tell me that when they approached one local Anglican vicar over the 'decriminalisation' of abortion issue, they were not only refused support but were also informed by said vicar that she helps girls obtain abortions by driving them to the 'clinic'!