Monday, March 5, 2018

The cruel, irrational God of the Pro-life advocate

There have been some unspeakably wicked things done in the name of God over the centuries. In my lifetime I can't think of a more wicked act done in the name of the Christian God than the Republican Party's nefarious campaign to teach Christians that God opposes abortion.

In Frank Schaeffer's autobiographical book - 'Crazy For God' - Frank reveals that his father, Francis Schaeffer (the defacto father of the pro-life movement) came to regret his participation in the politics that would spawn the pro-life movement within the American Republican Party. In Frank's later book - “Sex, Mom and God” - Frank illuminates further the corrupt politics that brought regret to his father's last days. Both of these books, as well as Jonathan Dudley's book 'Broken Word: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics' are excellent resources for anyone interested in knowing the full convoluted history of the anti-abortion heresy being taught in Evangelical churches today for the purpose of maintaining political power in America.

People of faith have wrestled for years with the abortion arguments. Only in the last few years have I come to fully understand the deeply flawed and socially destructive nature of the anti-choice argument.

Safe medical abortion is a relatively new phenomenon in the world. When this procedure was unexpectedly legalized, in 1972, many in the Evangelical Christian world began to wonder out loud where Jesus might stand on the issue of abortion. There were no centuries old church decrees concerning abortion in existence, so the responsibility initially fell on the individual believer to decide for themselves what the 'will of God' might be concerning abortion. 

Although abortion was widely embraced as a godsend by many respected Christian thinkers during the 1970's, including Southern Baptist theologians, opposing forces soon emerged intent on re-shaping the layperson's understanding of abortion - for political purposes. Anti-abortion activists and authors such as John Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer began teaching that abortion is an unprecedented form of last days evil and those who practice it commit murder.

With doctrinal uncertainty brewing in Evangelical America, some leaders within the Republican Party saw an opportunity to seduce a larger segment of the Evangelical voting block away from the Democratic Party by making abortion rights a hot-button political issue among politically minded Evangelicals. Frank Shaeffer and his father were commissioned by Republican political operatives to create several films designed to teach American Evangelicals that God opposes abortion – that abortion is nothing short of murder. These films were then  shown in Evangelical churches throughout America.

This is a thumbnail history of how many Evangelical Christians were first taught to believe God opposes abortion. 

This essay will attempt to expose why the pro-life argument is flawed from both a 'Traditional' and a 'Non-traditional' Christian perspective.

First, what's wrong with the pro-life or 'anti-choice' world view – From a traditional Christian perspective of God?

The logic of the pro-life world view begins its trajectory off the rails by denying that the creation of human life is an extended process initiated - not by God - but by the will and actions of human beings.  Pro-life advocates also declare a fetus a person and that person-hood begins at conception.  A similar statement of false logic might be: A stack of lumber is a house. Pro-life advocates stray further from logic by insisting that the soul – or one's self-awareness and personality - come into existence at the moment of conception as well.

If it is true that all conceptions are the will of God, then the pro-life position could remain somewhat logical from a traditional Christian perspective.   But if one believes that not all conceptions are the will of God - such as conception from rape, incest or casual sex, then the pro-life position quickly becomes illogical.

But the most illogical aspect of the pro-life argument is the wholly illogical assumption that it is God's unchanging will that all human conceptions result in live birth.  That God - were he to be given a choice - would never prefer that some conceptions do not result in a live birth.

The belief that God desires all conceptions come to term simply because men and women have managed to produce a conception is illogical because it strips God of autonomy of will once conception has occurred.  So no matter if that conception came about as the result of rape, incest or sex between partners unfit to be parents or for any other reason, the pro-life worldview strips God of autonomy of  will to desire the termination of that conception.  God's hands have been tied.   A similar statement of false logic would be: I successfully robbed a bank so now I should assume God wants me to keep the money.

It is illogical to think that just because a man and woman have managed to mix an egg and sperm together it must therefore be God's will that a child be born in the world.  In humanity's distant past conception might have been considered an act of the will of God never to be interfered with, but doctors today can produce conceptions on demand in the lab by simply mixing the correct ingredients. Humans and humans alone are who have been given the power to bring forth conception from the void - not God - the will of God need not be consulted to produce a conception.   Any mad scientist can mix the ingredients which starts the process which leads to the creation of human life.

The anti-choice worldview is promoted in our Evangelical churches by means of very powerful manipulations of the emotions, along with a preference for some scripture verses over other scripture.   Fear and ignorance is the real foundation of the pro-life advocates argument.

Fundamentalist Christians would do well to settle all the conflicting scriptural arguments concerning human reproduction with the only passage of scripture describing the creation of human life. Genesis 2:17 (KJV) “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” 

This passage of scripture states clearly that the creation of a living soul is a process and not an instantaneous event.  The human soul – one's self awareness and personality - does not come into existence until after the breath of life has entered the body and yet the pro-life advocate declares that a human soul comes into existence at the moment of conception.

Scientists now understand, in part, why nature often aborts a partially developed fetus through miscarriage.  Chromosome damage is routinely discovered in the autopsies of miscarried fetuses.  Chromosome damage leads to DNA replication errors, which causes birth defects.   

Evidently nature is much more concerned about ensuring a healthy body for a potential human soul than it is about the destruction of a fetus through miscarriage - because nature is by far the most prolific abortionist of all.  Researchers currently estimate that well over half of all human conceptions end in spontaneous abortion.   Some conceptions don't implant in the uterus while others detach after an extended period of gestation.  Why, dear pro-life advocate, is nature involved in such murderous behavior?

Our evolving understanding of miscarriage reveals that nature is at work using her particular brand of wisdom to ensure that not all conceptions result in live birth - attempting to create the perfect human body - for the sake of the soul which will ultimately be required to inhabit that body.  Humans must use their own evolving understanding of reproductive biology in a similar fashion – to abort when necessary - to ensure that no child is born with a defective body needlessly.

So, what's wrong with the pro-life argument - From a non-traditional Christian perspective of God?

A majority of people understand it is illogical and highly counterproductive to oppose reproductive choice.  Abortion is often the most rational course of action for the sake of the woman, her family and the potential child.  Those of us who do support reproductive choice need to better understand how people involved in the pro-life movement begin to become incapable of thinking rationally about the abortion issue.

The answer lies in the psychology of belief in God and the psychology of delusion.  Delusion is a powerful state of mind which when induced divorces one from certain aspects of reality and restricts one's ability to think rationally.  A delusion is induced by embracing any significant 'false' belief concerning the nature of reality, or as Jesus explains in New Testament scripture, "If the light within you is darkness, then great is that darkness." 

Jesus also teaches in New Testament scripture that there are lasting negative psychological consequences for anyone who believes and teaches something false about the 'nature' of God.  Jesus called the induction of this particular delusional state, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (The unpardonable sin) - being in a state of believing something untrue concerning the 'nature' of God - ascribing wicked attributes to the nature of God.

Leaders of the pro-life movement unwittingly ascribe wicked attributes to God by inferring it is the 'nature' of God to desire women to participate in the creation of life process against their will (should it be necessary) and to bring children into the world after a fetus has been shown to have birth defects.

This is the perverse theological foundation of the pro-life argument, once you strip away the emotionally charged false narratives about murdering babies and claims of fetus person-hood pro-life advocates employ to snare their prey.  Once a conception has occurred the 'nature' of the pro-life vision of God becomes no different than that of a super villain in a horror story - a mad scientist demanding that his breeding stock carry their fetuses to term at any cost.

Nature is by far the most prolific abortionist, utilizing her own encoded wisdom to ensure the viability of a fetus before birth takes place.  The God envisioned by the pro-life advocate denies that humans should use their own wisdom in a similar fashion, to ensure that no child is ever born unwanted, unloved, severely handicapped or without the vital resources to thrive – the most crucial factors that ultimately ensure the viability of a child. 

The God of the pro-life movement has been envisioned by those who unwittingly and recklessly attribute wicked and irrational attributes to the 'nature' of God. Those who come to believe in this vision of God are stripped of their ability to think rationally about abortion and become enslaved to their fear of the anti-choice God.

Women contemplating giving birth because of their fear of the pro-life vision of God would be well served to discard their fear – which is not of God – and be sober and circumspect while making their reproductive decisions, because every newborn child will be subjected to the circumstances of their birth.  Only the individual woman knows if she should allow a conception to come to term.

Until institutionalized fundamentalist religions undergo significant intellectual reformation the world will remain at war with itself politically over the issue of abortion and children will continue to be born into environments unfit for the well being of their souls while all of mankind suffers for it.