Abortion and the Church of the East

With the upcoming elections, we see increasing attacks on the choice of life by those who have embraced the culture of death. Thank God that in opposition to that there are people who are increasing awareness of what Truth is… what Life is.

I am reproducing below a paper written by H.G. Mar Bawai Soro, years ago while he was in the Assyrian Church. It was from a series of teachings meant to convey to the faithful of his diocese the church’s teachings on various topics that are applicable these days. This view, from the standpoint of a church out of communion with any other apostolic church, shows the universality of the apostolic teaching on the topic of abortion.

Abortion

Bishop Mar Bawai Soro

CHOOSE LIFE

“And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” (Matthew 18:5)

Ask ten people what they see as the greatest challenge in human society today and you’ll get ten different answers or more. Poverty, the cost of health care, hunger and starvation, terrorism, the divorce rate, political corruption, homelessness, a crisis in education, trade and budget deficits, a lack of involvement – the answers are many and the challenges are real.

These issues and more threaten the fabric of society by making it more difficult for people to live in justice, love and peace with one another, as Jesus taught. Many issues challenge human society today and they all, in one way or another, impact on the freedom that people should be able to enjoy.

In the United States and elsewhere in the world, one particular issue has become politically and religiously very intense, a concern that is the most important human rights issue of our day: abortion. The direct killing of an unborn child by abortion has become an issue that divides people, who hold very strong opinions and beliefs about it.

The word abortion applies to two similar and yet radically different events. First, the natural miscarriage of a fetus before it is born can be called an abortion. It is spontaneous and does not refer to the type of abortion that has become so contentions today.

The second event described by the word abortion refers to the medically induced direct and deliberate removal of a fetus from the womb before it is fully developed and able to survive, causing its death. Most often an abortion is performed in such a way that it directly kills the unborn child as its intended effect. This direct killing is what most people are thinking of when they use the word abortion, although they may not use terms like “killing.”

The Church has always taught that taking an innocent human life is a violation of God’s law in the Ten Commandments and in the teaching of Christ. The fifth commandment as given in the Book of Exodus or in Deuteronomy simply states, “You shall not kill.” (Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17) The Lord also warned his people against the abominations of surrounding nations, which many times included infanticide (cf. Leviticus 18:21, “You shall not offer any of your offspring to be immolated to Molech,” referring to the practice of throwing infants into a fire dedicated to the god Molech.)

Jesus always showed a deep respect for life in the way he treated people, in his teaching, healing, and miracles, and in the ultimate gift of his own life for his friends (John 15:13). In the gospels he taught his great commandment of love, on which the whole law and the prophets is based. Love God with all your mind, strength, heart, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. “There is no greater commandment than these,” Jesus taught, (Matthew 22:38-40) and “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Those who promote abortion on demand note that Jesus did not specifically forbid abortion in the gospels – he did not use the word “abortion” or talk directly against it. Clearly he did not need to. The Ten Commandments are unequivocal, and Jesus upholds the law of his Father, even the “smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter” without exception (cf. Matthew 5:18), strongly cautioning those who break God’s commandments (cf. Matthew 5:19).

In the early Church, the document called the Didache (The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) specifically refers to abortion and teaches against it. “There are two paths, one of life and one of death, and the difference is great between the two paths” begins the Didache. Later it repeats the commandment “you shall not kill” and then, in that same section, teaches “you shall not kill a child by abortion, neither shall you kill it when born.” (Didache 2:2) Clearly the Didache was responding strongly to problems that it recognized in the community at the time, using the moral authority Jesus gave to the Apostles to reinforce the Church’s respect for all human life.

Today the Christian Church continues to teach forcefully against abortion. Many Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Church leaders have tirelessly written and spoken about the dignity of the human person, about respect for life, and against the evil of abortion. Because of the gravity of abortion (which amounts to murder), there can never be an exception. Abortion is never a right moral choice.

Abortion is morally wrong for many reasons. It is contrary to the law of God, who is the author and giver of all life. It also offends the dignity of the human person, created by God in his image and likeness. No human person, no matter how small or large, how young or old, how healthy or sick in body, mind, or spirit, ever loses the gift of human dignity given by God. An unborn child in the womb, small, defenseless, unseen, incapable of self-defense, has immense dignity in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the disciples of Jesus.

Abortion is also contrary to human rights. Among these rights, the most important is the right to life. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed in General Assembly by the United Nations in 1948, upholds the dignity of the human person and of human rights. The Declaration recognizes “the inherent dignity and [the] equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” as “the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” (Preamble) It teaches that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” (Article 3) Abortion sins against the most basic human right of the most innocent and defenseless among us.

For the whole Church, the gospel of Jesus is a gospel of life, not of death. For believers of all faiths, life is a precious gift. As Jesus brought the gift of salvation and life by his death on the cross, so does the Church promote a culture of life, over against the culture of sin and death that grips so many people in the modern world.

The paper was reproduced from here.

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