Should we talk about Abortion in the Church? PDF Print E-mail

These words from Terry Schlossberg & Elizabeth Achtemeier (1994) ring true for the Church today. Excerpt from the introduction of Not My Own: Abortion and the Marks of the Church, p. 7-8

©imabase - Fotolia.comThe Centrality of the Subject

The heat generated by the abortion issue in our culture has led many pastors and lay people to consider it an inappropriate subject for the church. They believe that discussing abortion is like deliberately setting a torch to the church because, in their minds, it divides believers and diverts their attention from the primary role of the church to preach the gospel, pastor the sheep and teach the faith. "Let us put this abortion debate behind us," urged the wife of one pastor, "and get back to what the church is supposed to be doing."

That is sheer blindness to what is happening, because abortion expresses our society's increasing cheapening of and careless disregard for human life.

And the slippery slope, which years ago was only prophesied, has become a reality. When we read the newspapers these days, we find stories about euthanasia and assisted suicide; about withdrawing medical care from the elderly and other supposedly unproductive members of our society; about teenage murderers who are given slaps on the wrist and turned back onto the streets. A person can be killed in any one of our big cities just because someone wants the sneakers or the new jacket he or she is wearing. And an unborn child can be killed in the womb because that child's presence interferes with someone's independence or interrupts a student's plans for the future. The church is under orders to care about human life—to care about those created by God in his own image, those for whom Christ gave his own life—and to communicate the Christian valuation of those lives to the culture in a way that utterly resists the cheapening of life.

Far from being a peripheral matter for the church, abortion concerns the very foundations of our faith. And when church members face the possibility of abortion, they are facing questions of how Christian faith affects their lives. The fear of division that produces silence in the pulpit and inaction in the pews withholds help from the men and women who daily are making decisions that determine the future of their unborn children.

The issue of abortion concerns the basic characteristics that make the church the church—the Word rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. Only where those characteristics are found can we claim to be the church of Jesus Christ. The church's stance toward abortion can undermine or underscore those distinguishing marks and thus undermine or underscore the identity of the church itself.

The Christian Church has always been summoned by its Lord to be a light shining in the darkness, a city set on a hill, the salt that gives life its saving savor. And that summons concerns the church's response to abortion as much as any other aspect of the church's life. Our continual prayer, therefore, is that the church will fulfill the role to which it has been called, exhibiting the marks of the true church of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Not My Own: Abortion and the Marks of the Church is available for purchase from Presbyterians Pro-Life.



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