Wednesday, November 22, 2006

License to Kill

One of my former students recently told me he had heard some Christian professors from another school question whether evangelicals should not “rethink” our stance against abortion because of the tremendous suffering caused by unwanted pregnancies.

It is true we need to respond with greater love and help to everyone – but especially people like women who are suffering because of an unexpected baby. But I cannot agree with the professors.

First, most abortions are not committed to avoid suffering. They are done for convenience. But even physical or economic or romantic or mental suffering is not really good reasons to kill relatively innocent human beings – even if they are in the body God has entrusted to you. And, scientifically speaking, unborn human beings are still living human beings. There is no point at which an inanimate object becomes alive or at which a non-human object becomes human. At conception living sperm and living egg join to create a living human being.

Certainly, a license to kill would seem handy to most of us. That emotionally devastating ex boyfriend, the boorish spouse, the obnoxious neighbor, the cruel boss, the embarrassing relative, the sycophantic rival, the lying coworker, the greedy captain of industry – none of them would be much missed and so much human suffering would be ended by their elimination (there is a song in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado based on just this idea). But of course I jest. Even very bad humans, who cause pain to others every day, cannot be justly killed through extrajudicial processes without legal justification or excuse such as the defense of others from deadly force. All humans are made in the image of God. And we are all sinful. Some reason for wanting to eliminate any of us could be found by a truly righteous judge. But in God’s mercy, instead of allowing the open season on humans we so richly deserve, God has said “Do not murder.” Killing is reserved for just war and just legal process against a limited number of serious crimes.

Whatever made people claim it was ok to kill babies in the womb or nearly out of the womb? A license to kill may go with “spies at war,” but not with “mothers to be.”

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