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The Christian, Abortion, and War: An Argument for Life

The Christian, Abortion, and War: An Argument for Life

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Published by Robert R. Wadholm
An extended essay on the ethics of abortion and war.
An extended essay on the ethics of abortion and war.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Robert R. Wadholm on Mar 22, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Christian, Abortion, and War: An Argument for Life
Robert R. Wadholm
IntroductionThe two ethical topics of abortion and Christian involvement in war areinterrelated (Zahn 1973, 132). A person’s right not to be killed and the obligation not tokill other people are “the same concept viewed from two different standpoints”(Dombrowski 1991, 99). Don Marquis (1998) asserts that killing other humans isimmoral because every person has a future—potentially a life like our own (339). For theChristian, killing is wrong because humans are made in the image of God. God cares forall His creatures and He loves humans so much that He gave His own Son to redeemthem (John 3:16). Killing breaks God’s law (Ex. 20:13), and incurs God’s judgment(Gen. 9:5–6; Rev. 21:8). God, not man, has the right to ultimately judge and kill humans.Jesus’ Golden Rule compels Christians to love others as themselves. These are a few of biblical bases of the sacredness of human life. For a Christian the circumstancessurrounding war and abortion may present compelling arguments in favor of exceptionsto the law against killing. However, the arbitrary and unjustified destruction of humanlife is always wrong. The thesis of the present evaluation is that abortion is alwaysarbitrary and unjustified, and that Christian participation in war is never justified.Various Christian assumptions and theological implications enter into the debatesover abortion and war. For instance, Christians believe that death and the non-existenceof a human being are not necessarily evil (Dombrowski 1991, 99). However, as DietrichBonhoeffer (1955) affirms, “bodily life, which we receive without any action on our own
part, carries within itself the right to its own preservation” (154). Christians view bodilyhuman life as both an end and a means to an end (155). John Klotz (1973) presentsseveral theological implications that should be considered in a Christian analysis of abortion and war (34–37). First, God created human life, and is ultimately sovereign overhuman life. Second, God’s providence must be trusted but never tempted. Third, deathand killing are a result of original sin (Gen. 2:17; 4:8). Fourth, humans bear God’s imageand are stewards of their lives before God, but are bound to die. The biblical doctrines of creation, divine providence, evil, and anthropology are all foundational to thedevelopment of a Christian ethical position on abortion and war.A wide variety of Christian ethical positions on abortion and war have beenadvanced. A systematic methodology is useful in evaluating and valuating these ethicalpositions. In the present essay, the abortion debate and the war debate will be analyzed asseparate, yet connected, issues. A brief history of ethical approaches to war and abortionwill be presented. Following the example of Cahill (1994), the various Christian (andsecular) approaches to abortion and war will be tested for internal consistency andcoherence, scriptural warrant, precedent, and prescription, uniformity with theunderstanding of the “community of faith,” and experiential validation (210). Christianethical positions must be Christocentric, biblical, rational, consistent, and experientiallyverifiable. A further criterion for a Christian position on war or abortion is “analogousconformity to the paradigmatic social challenges that the first Christian communitiespresented historically” (244). In the present essay, a Christian ethical approach toabortion will be developed, followed by a Christian ethical approach to war and a fewsummative conclusions on both issues.
The Christian and Abortion
The modern abortion debate centers on two important, yet distinct, questions. Isabortion moral, amoral, or immoral? Should abortion be legal, illegal, or beyond legal(Boonin 2003, 3–4)? The present essay focuses primarily on the first of these questions.This is because the social criminality of abortion is in part contingent upon the personalimmorality of abortion (Smedes 1983, 125). Two extreme positions in the debate areconservative anti-abortionism and liberal abortion advocacy. The traditional anti-abortionargument may be formed into a syllogism:Killing innocent humans is immoral.The fetus is an innocent human.Therefore, killing fetuses is immoral (Gensler 1998, 325).The liberal position offers four arguments for abortion rights. First, due to the subjectivityand personal nature of the issue, abortion is a relative good or evil based on thecircumstances in individual situations. Second, women have an absolute right to privacyand a right to deal with their bodies as they see fit. Criminalizing abortion infringes uponthese rights. Third, quality of life issues sometimes necessitate abortion to avoid abjectpoverty, emotional and psychological distress, or even the possibility of neonataldeformation or disability. Fourth, the personhood of the fetus is questionable at best, andthis requires us to think of the fetus as not possessing any rights (or at least possessingless rights than the mother) (Pojman 1998, 277). Generally abortion advocates concludethat abortion is moral or amoral, but is perhaps immoral in certain late-term abortions.At the heart of the issue of abortion is the conceptualization of homicide. Thequestion is “Who is protected against homicide (i.e. who has a right to life)?” Philip

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