Personhood & Abortion
The topic of abortion has been front and center for many Americans over the past few weeks and it is a good thing. The work being done by the Center for Medical Progress is nothing less than heroic. Many needed conversations are now being had thanks to the light that is being shone on the darkness of abortion.
For many Americans, these videos have revealed the heinousness of abortion and Planned Parenthood. These videos have done a fantastic job showing us that abortion really isn’t about a woman’s right to health care. Rather, abortion is about money (or the Lamborghini you can buy with that money).
More conversations around the topic of abortion is a good thing. That said, many of these conversations find themselves confined by the parameters of American political discourse. Like almost every other political topic, the “talking points” for abortion have already been set for the public and doled out to us through Fox News or MSNBC (pick your side right?).
These “talking points” assume a perspective on the world that is far from Biblical. Even the talking points from the far Right of the political spectrum are not “Biblical.” Sure, they might come to the same conclusion, but even ultra-conservative American politics is far from a Biblical view of reality.
From the conservative perspective, the “tissue” growing in a woman’s womb is human life and therefore it is murder to kill it. From the liberal perspective, the “tissue” growing in a woman’s womb is just “tissue” and has no moral value whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong. I will be thrilled if American conservatives can legislate abortion out of existence. I hope and pray that happens soon. However, the inherent anthropology of both the conservative & liberal perspectives is far from Biblical. Both liberals and conservatives have a modern view of man (and I’m not just talking about the fetus here).
Biblically speaking, humans are “persons.” Man is made in God’s image. The Triune God is made up of three persons. One of the reasons God must be Triune is because God is a person. Being a person means that you have relationships with other persons. We can talk about God in a personal sense because God has always been in eternal relationship within the fellowship of the Trinity.
As persons, humans are always in relationship. But not only are humans in relation with other persons, we are also in relation with our environment. The key to understanding personhood is relationality. When God placed Adam in the Garden in Eden he told Adam what his relation was to his environment. Likewise, when god fashioned woman from the side of man, God, again, told Adam how they were to relate. We see how man is made in God’s image as a person because God created Adam in relation to everything.
The opening chapters of Genesis show that man is to relate to both his environment and to other persons in such a way as to bear fruit (Genesis 1:28). Understood Biblically, the world that God created for man is laden with potential. God has hidden potential in every corner of his creation and it is the glory of man to discover these potentialities and bring forth fruit from them (Proverbs 25:2). While the example of the natural world is pretty easily understood, the fact also remains true in the realm of human relationships. Parents are to “raise” children and husbands are to “love” their wives (Ephesians 6:4 & Ephesians 5:25). Both of these commands relate to the purpose of man to draw forth potential from the things that God has placed him in relation with.
With this in mind, abortion is nothing less than a rejection of human personhood. Rather than seeing the potential in the fetus and working toward the fruitfulness of its growth. The logic of abortion can only understand the relationship between a woman and an unborn child in terms of opportunity cost.
In the end, it should not matter whether the fetus is human life or not. Humans are to view the world through the understanding that they are in dynamic relationship to everything around them. An unborn child has undeniable potential that is being knitted together (in utero) by God. In the womb God is hiding potential in unborn human life. The glory of man is shone as we lovingly lay down our own lives in order to bring forth the potential in other persons and in the environment that God has placed us in.
This is what Christ has done in his perfect life of loving obedience, his willing death on behalf of the sins of the world, and in his victorious resurrection. Abortion is the opposite to this beautiful pattern in every way. Rather than perceiving the untapped potential in the unborn life and seeking its growth, abortion can only see the personal loss of freedom in such things. It is for this reason that abortion embodies, in such a grotesque way, the spirit that is antichrist.
Christ says, “Not your life, but mine will be taken.”
Abortion says, “Not my life, but yours will be taken.”
Food for thought.