by Jim Powers
Every time I advocate a pro-choice position on abortion, I inevitably get branded an atheist by someone who has confused politics with religion.
Usually the person “explains” to me that abortion is wrong because God (pick your flavor of God) breathes the breath of life into the fertilized egg at conception, and the zygote becomes a living soul. And every living soul is precious to God with the potential for God to use that life to do amazing things in the world. Therefore, abortion is murder, and should be against the law. And if I don’t agree with them, I clearly don’t believe in God and am going to Hell.
My standard response to folks holding this position on abortion is that while I disagree with them, and offer reasons why, neither my belief in God nor theirs is a reasonable basis for making law!
Laws are ultimately political acts affecting everyone in a society. Religion is personal belief, and the state has no business making laws mandating behavior based on the religious beliefs of whatever religion happens to be ascendent at any time in history. And if you are going to declare that life begins at conception, you can only do so based on religious belief. Such a declaration of the beginning of life depends on a (in my opinion faulty) religious belief.
Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Just two quick points here. By the first of the Genesis accounts (there are two) of the creation of man, God created man and woman and all the creatures of earth from whole cloth. So, we don’t have a model here for when life begins with the way humans conceive.
Secondly, in verse 30, God parenthetically, referring to all animals in his creation, says, “everything that has the breath of life in it.” Do animals have souls that God breaths into them at conception?
God destroyed almost all life on earth during the great flood. Does God value all life equally?
I’m certainly not attacking anyone’s faith. Just pointing out why using a personal religious faith as the basis for secular law is a perversion of Christianity.
Jesus was not a Christian. He was born a Jew, lived a Jew, died a Jew.
Jesus did not create Christianity. Nowhere in the New Testament are we told that Jesus was here on earth to create a religion. Christianity is a religion about Jesus, based primarily on the theology of the Apostle Paul as represented in the books of the NT ascribed to him.
Jesus was not here to create secular laws for human behavior. On the contrary, in Matthew 22, where the Pharisees were trying to trip him up with the law, Jesus insisted there were only two laws he was interested in:
Matthew 22: 36-40 (KJV)
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
I’m pro-choice because, regardless of what I believe personally, creating laws based solely on my personal beliefs cancels the sincerely held personal beliefs of others. My Faith has no place in imposing laws that force others to conform to it.
Full Disclosure – Because I am commenting on matters of faith, I want to disclose my potential bias. For those who are not old and only know me in the various capacities I’ve served in for Polk County Publishing Company, here are my Christian creds.
I became a Christian at 10 years old at First Baptist Church in Nederland, TX.
I was licensed to the ministry at 17 at Bethel Baptist Church in Warren, Tx.
Ordained to the ministry at 21 at First Baptist Church in Woodville, Tx. when I became pastor at Bethany Baptist Church in Colmesneil.
I’ve pastored several churches in Tyler County over the last 50 years and supplied at most of them at one time or the other over all those years.
I was not a vocational pastor; I owned seveal businesses before coming to the Tyler County Booster in 2003.