Peacemaking Begins in the Womb: PDF Print E-mail
Written by P.J. Southam   

Abortion should top the list when churches speak out against violence

Ethan7smHow would our nation be different if we had as many signs publicly displaying the beatitudes as we did the Ten Commandments? The beatitudes, or blessings, are those eight sayings of Jesus Christ from his Sermon on the Mount that are recorded for us in Matthew's gospel chapter five. One of those beatitudes is "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." As followers of Jesus we are called to be peacemakers. We should work to make peace within our households, our neighborhoods and communities, and in the larger world.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 2010 began a peace discernment process in response to the long years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2014 the General Assembly of the PC(USA) approved five affirmations for discussion, debate, and voting in the presbyteries. The five affirmations have been sent to the presbyteries for their discussion and advisory vote. A summary of discussion and results from the vote will be returned to the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy.

The second affirmation is this:

2. We confess our complicity in the world's violence even as we pray for the Spirit's courage to "unmask idolatries," to speak truth about war and oppression, to stand with those who suffer, and to respond to acts and threats of violence with ministries of justice, healing, and reconciliation.

As a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA. I confess my (and my denomination's) complicity in the violence of tearing pre-born children from their mother's wombs. My health insurer, the Board of Pensions, pays for abortions every year. The PC(USA)'s abortion policy does not condemn abortions before the stage of viability beyond the womb.

Abortion is the idolatry of autonomy, or "self-law." It is the lie that says a person does not belong body and soul to their faithful Savior Jesus Christ, but instead belongs to their own self. Abortion certainly oppresses the babies it kills. Abortion oppresses women who resort to violence as a solution to a life situation. Abortion oppresses men who are taught that they can avoid the consequences and responsibilities of manhood. Abortion oppresses our nation by depriving us of the gifts, talents, and lives of those who never take a breath and enter our society. Abortion oppresses our national spirit by not giving us the opportunity to care for those vulnerable children, women, and men, and show them the love of Jesus Christ.

And so I, along with many other pro-life Presbyterians, stand prophetically against the violence of abortion. Protection of defenseless human life, both pre- and post-natal is a practical way to truly "affirm peacemaking" and engage in peacemaking. It provides meaningful, positive and concrete results. I support, and encourage you to support also, pregnancy care ministries that work for justice, healing, and reconciliation, for mothers and their children, and for mothers and fathers.

If you are able at your presbytery meeting to speak up when affirmation number 2 is discussed. I encourage you to, as I did in my presbytery, show your fellow presbyters how our own complicity in abortion violence stands in contrast to peacemaking. I pray that hearts and minds will come to realize that peacemaking begins in the womb.

P.J. Southam is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Larned, KS , where he lives with his wife Sue. P.J. has served on the PPL Board of Directors and is currently on PPL's Theological Advisory Board.



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