A visitor to the Delphi forum "Liberal Christianity" posted a question about the Liberal Christian perspective on abortion. This was one member's answer, which impressed everyone who read it. She has given permission for it to be reprinted elsewhere.

Liberal Christians and Abortion

One thing to understand about Liberal Christianity is that it tries to adhere to the spirit of scripture and not necessarily to the letter. There are often no specific scriptural texts on a particular subject. Or the specific texts may say the opposite, taken literally, than what a Liberal Christian would understand to be the spirit of scripture as a whole.

If you ever go back to look at the 19th century debates about abolishing slavery, you will see what I mean. Not a single text in the bible says that slavery ought to be abolished. On the contrary there are specific instructions to slaves to be diligent and obedient to their masters. So the supporters of slavery had lots of scriptural backing for their position, and the abolitionists had very little. But the abolitionists based their case on what the bible teaches overall about the nature of human beings, and God's love for each and every one, and drew the conclusion, in spite of what a surface reading of scripture seems to say, that slavery was morally wrong and ought to be abolished.

When it comes to abortion, I cannot speak for all Liberal Christians, but this is my take on it.

  1. Every conception creates a human life and God loves and honours that human life and wants it to develop to its full potential. Every abortion is tragic insofar as it ends a human life.
  3. Every woman's life is dear to God as well. God loves the mother as much as the child and wants childbearing to be a joy for her. God never values the child above the mother (as most anti-choice advocates do) nor the mother above the child.
  5. In some circumstances, bearing a child would bring great hardship to the mother and to others in her family. In such a case, one may have to weigh whether the cost of bringing a new life into the world is justified when the impacts on other lives are considered. This is a never a judgment to be made lightly, nor is there a simple rule one can follow, as the circumstances vary so much from one situation to another. All things considered, in some circumstances it is better not to continue the pregnancy. (Just as, in some circumstances it is better not to continue a marriage.)

Scriptural justifications:

  1. No where does the scripture equate an abortion with murder. While abortion is a serious decision, and to be avoided whenever possible, it does not break any commandment to go ahead with an abortion when necessary.
  3. In any case Christians are not bound to any law--not even the Ten Commandments--save the law of love. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are to discern what is the most loving action in any circumstance, and do that, even if it appears to break the written law. Jesus pointed to several incidents of this sort, especially in regard to the sabbath laws.
  5. Given point 2, we must also guard against a sentimental and meaningless love that oppresses rather than helps and encourages. John wrote to the early Christians that anyone who claimed to love God while hating a brother or sister was a liar "for if you do not love the brother or sister whom you can see, how can you love God whom you cannot see?" Much of what I see in anti-choice literature bears the stamp of a superficial and non-costly "love" for the embryo one cannot see, while taking no thought for the need of the mother whom one can see. The same people who would have the mother bear the child often support cuts in social assistance that would help her raise the child, and refuse to support day-care centres so the child could have a safe environment while she works or attends school, and refuse to support meaningful assistance to parents of children with disabilities.

    All too few people look at the broad picture and the way we need to create a SOCIETY that welcomes children into the world. Laying all the responsibility on the shoulders of individual women is not just.

    My conclusion is that anyone who does not love the mother cannot legitimately claim to love the child she is bearing. Anyone who has not looked deeply into her personal circumstances has no right to judge her decision. (There are, I am glad to add, a number of counseling services which do just that, and do provide a mother with material and emotional support so that she can look forward to raising her child.)

  7. God knows all, God understands all, God is merciful and compassionate and ready to forgive. Any woman who has come to the decision to abort prayerfully and thoughtfully will know the peace of God in her decision. And God will know her heart and forgive.

    If a woman gets an abortion for self-centered reasons, then let God be her judge. As Jesus said, it is not for us to judge; that is God's affair.

    And if a woman comes to repent of having had an abortion, God is ready to receive her repentance and forgive.



My Own Beliefs