How Does Christianity Affect Public Opinion on Abortion?

Abortion is one of the most pressing issues of contemporary social life, at least in the United States. A question to allow abortion or prohibit it at all is so passionately discussed now that, according to many public and political figures in the country, it jeopardizes the very foundations of a pluralistic system of the United States, designed to combine a variety of approaches to the issues of morality and ethics. Nothing, except the problem of abortion, was able to divide the American public in two different camps from the time of the dispute on slavery (in the mid-19th century). So, two distinct camps participate in a dispute about abortion for a long time. On the one hand, opponents of the legalization of abortion present their arguments on the basis of the principles of religious morality, and they try to prove that abortion, being a termination of life of the fetus, is a murder of an unborn human and violation of the Sixth Commandment of the Law of God, “Thou shalt not kill.” On the other, hand, supporters of legalized abortion believe that every woman should be given a free choice – to do or not to do an abortion. According to their arguments, the amendment to the U.S. Constitution which prohibits this choice would violate a woman’s right to control her body as she sees necessary and useful. Thus, abortion is a short word with a terrible sense. It is just one word that shows the whole life tragedy of one person, and the word from which emerged the tragedy of the whole society and the world. In such a way, we are going to discuss the problem of abortions in our society, demonstrating the ways how Christianity affects public opinion on abortions.

Moral values ​​of people are in close relationship with their religious beliefs, so we are going to develop our theme by examining religious approach to the problem of abortion. Let us begin to research the issue of abortions from the statement that according to Christian religion, everything happens by God willing, and even hair will not fall from the head without His sufferance. So, once a fetus originated, therefore, it is a result of will of God, and the soul is there. This is a man. Therefore, abortion is both a murder and prevention of will of God (Critchlow, 1996). Of course, the above mentioned words are approximate interpretation of the thoughts of religious opponents of abortion, while they have many other arguments to prove their position.

Thinking about the ways how Christianity affects public opinion on abortions, we need to explore the problem, paying a specific attention to its roots. It is a well-known fact that since ancient times, the Church considers the deliberate termination of pregnancy (abortion) as a vile sin. Moreover, religious canons equate abortion to murder, while widespread and justified use of abortions in modern society, Church regards as a threat to the future of humanity and a clear sign of moral degradation, and Orthodox Church can not give a blessing to the abortion under none circumstances. People who argue in defense of abortions trying to prove that the fetus is not a child yet, but Christians are disagree with such a position, while they had strong evidences to the position. In addition, Naden mentioned that “in June 1974, shortly after Roe v. Wade, Pope Paul VI issued the Declaration on Procured Abortion, explaining the Catholic Church’s antiabortion stand in detail. He wrote: “The tradition of the church has always held that human life must be protected and favored from the beginning, just as at the various stages of its development.” In addition, the Church says that “to prevent birth is anticipated murder; it makes little difference whether one destroys a life already born or does away with it in its nascent stage. The one who will be a man is already one”(Naden, 2007).

To explain the position of the church, it is possible to mention that it is based on a belief that abortion, contraception and sterilization are modern forms of medical intervention in human reproductive functions and nobody except of God has a right to decide the life or death of a man. Church confesses that everything was created by God and human life is the supreme gift of the Creator. By the way, human life, according to the teachings of the Church, is not unconditionally given by God, but it is given to the person with the condition that he/she will save it responsibly. Evidence that God respects life above all, lies in the words of the Gospel: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In such a way, incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, i.e. adoption of human flesh by the Son of God, sanctified human life for ever and ever both in its physical and spiritual nature.

As we know from religious texts, a man was created in the image and likeness of God. The fall of Adam violated and destroyed the image of likeness of God in man, but the coming of Jesus Christ (the Second Adam) on the earth, restored the image and likeness of God with even greater intensity by His Life, Death and Resurrection. In His humanity, Christ restored Adam’s life that is the whole human race. As a result, a human being is a reflection of God’s existence because each person has the potential to become like God, until the soul reaches unity with Him. These changes, transformations and deification include the whole being of man, his soul and body, as we see them in the transfigured and incorruptible body of the risen Christ.

Finally, since the perfection of God is beyond our understanding, the process of assimilation to God, the development of human personality is endless. It begins at the moment of conception and continues until the hour of death. Thus, no one can say that he is a “personality” or became completely humane, in the full spiritual sense of the word because no one has achieved full theomorphism. But every man has the potential to become godlike personality to whatever stage of physical development he is, beginning from the womb of the mothers, being in the prime of life, and ending on the deathbed (Jelen, 1995).

In the New Testament, the first evidence of the personal status of a conceived life we can find at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. After Archangel announced the birth of Jesus the Messiah to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God rushed in “the city of Judah” to her cousin Elizabeth, who was already in the sixth month of pregnancy. And the following phrase can told us interesting things: “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:41-43). But as soon as the fetus leaped, i.e. responded to the approach of the Lord, it means that a man is mysteriously able to communicate with God before the birth because communication with God always goes personally.

To continue, the Mother of God was pregnant just a few days during the meeting. According to modern embryology, it was the time when the embryo has not yet taken hold in the wall of the uterus. Elizabeth refers to the Virgin Mary as to the “Mother of my Lord.” But God, according to Biblical tradition, is Personality and, therefore, the fetus is a personality even in 3-4 days after conception, and it is a completely separate entity, with a unique genome, etc. The fetus is a personality, and neither future nor potential, but actually existing because Elizabeth perceived the Virgin Mary and her fetus just in such a way. But if this is true of Christ, it is true of every human embryo because human salvation is built only through this identity. There is no such age or natural qualities of man, which have no place in the resurrection because human nature at its totality was seen in God incarnate. Moreover, the Bible often mentions both born and unborn children, and there is no mentioning of “almost children,” or “potential children,” or “virtually children”. There was no difference between newborn or unborn children for those who wrote the Old and New Testaments because all children were equally children of full value. Thus, the question of identity as a certain “new formation” arising at a certain stage of human development for the Orthodox believer completely disappears. Church long before any scientific discoveries, basing its positions on dogmas, acknowledged in an embryo a status of the individual and treated abortion as a planned murder of a man.

As we know, one of the most common arguments in favor of abortion is that every woman has the right to dispose of her body functions as she finds necessary, until the end of the life of an unwanted fetus. But of course, the church rejects this argument. Firstly, it points to the God-given sanctity of life, and also points to the fact that if a Christian is forbidden to raise their hand to their own lives, the more he has no right to terminate the life of another, even if it takes the form of not yet formed embryo. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Paul teaches, and it means that cessation of life of any person are a crime not only to man, but also in relation to the Holy Spirit (Rubin, 1994).

There also exists an additional ethic side of the problem. Is it possible to prevent the termination of life of the fetus if the mother’s life is threatened by the pregnancy? There is no doubt that it is a very difficult question from an ethical point of view. Many theologians believe that in such cases termination of pregnancy is permissible. Such situations are tragic, especially for the mother because they put a mother in a difficult choice between the preservation of her life or the life of a child. In these severe cases, there is a necessity to consider the possible negative consequences for the family. For example, if there are other children in the family, in a case of death of the mother, nobody will take a responsibility for orphans. Moreover, such situations must be approached in the spirit of Christian love and sacrifice. It would be senselessness and a complete lack of responsibility to continue the pregnancy if it threatens the loss of both lives, a mother and her child.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:27-29). It means that personality is the image of God in man, and it is the gift of God to man. Personality in its manifestation is always original, distinctive, unique, and therefore the only worldwide spiritual structure, not reducible to any other existent reality. Scripture deliberately emphasizes this aspect of uniqueness and originality of the individual, since this implies recognition of its unique values ​​of dignity and exceptional ontological privilege. Therefore, killing a man (whatever form it accepts: suicide, abortion, or other criminal penalty) was clearly seen in Christianity as a crime. Subsequently, this principle has been accepted as an achievement of civilization.

To sum up, we have discussed the issue of abortions from different points of views, paying a specific attention to Christian attitude to the problem. We have also proved the fact that Christianity affects public opinion on the theme of abortions because only God can give lives and take them away, while human interference in the process of birth in a case of abortion is a vile sin. As we have seen, the actual human life begins at fertilization. A man is bodily and spiritual being at the same time. It represents the unity of the soul (or spirit) and body. The existence of the human soul, as an immaterial entity, is manifested in the ability of human intelligence to create abstract representations, spreading the boundaries of time and space. Concepts of love, justice, or geometric concepts of circles, lines, and the point – they are not in the material world, but people can create them. This can be explained solely by the existence of a spiritual principle that can influence the brain, causing such ideas. It is impossible to imagine that something purely material can create intangible concepts, so the existence of soul is proved, in such a way, the existence of soul from the moment of conception that was also proved in the body of the paper explains the fact why abortion is considered to be a murder and why Christianity prohibits abortions, and influences on public opinion to warn people against vile sins.

 

Works Cited

Critchlow, Donald T. The Politics of Abortion and Birth Control in Historical Perspective. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1996.

Genesis. In The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, Volume I. 6th edition. NY: W.W. Norton and Co., 1992.

Jelen, Ted G. Perspectives on the Politics of Abortion. Praeger, 1995.

Naden, Corinne J. Abortion. Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2007.

Rubin, Eva R. The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History. Greenwood Press, 1994.

The New English Bible. NY: Oxford University Press, 1972.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: November 27, 2021]
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