Abortion from a Mennonite Perspective
As an associate pastor in a Mennonite Church I am somewhat surprised by the lack of dialogue on the issue of abortion from the Anabaptist perspective. As a Christian who affirms Anabaptist understandings, I am committed to the pacifist position. I believe that violence in all cases is not God's will for our relationships. This includes war, the death penalty, domestic violence, economic violence, and abortion. At the same time, I believe that God is a God of justice and that He calls us to be people concerned about and involved in justice issues. Jesus Christ died for the marginalized in our society. I believe that these two positions are supported by and come straight from the teaching of both the Old and New Testament (with area for debate on the death penalty issue).
Although I heard great cries from my Anabaptist brothers when the Kosovo Crises broke, there is an odd silence when it comes to the unborn victims in our society. My Anabaptist brothers have alerted me to the death and destruction caused by U.S. economic sanctions on Iraq. Indeed, children are dying daily under U. S. Sanctions that fail to be effective in the face of a dictator that does not care that his people suffer. Yet, again there is an odd silence when it comes to the death and destruction of too many of our own children. It seems difficult, indeed impossible, for me to ignore the ongoing plight of the unborn in our society.
Yes, abortion is a political hot button. But if we apply the two-fold test of violence and injustice, there is scarcely another issue that compares. Yes, human rights violations for the already born are more tangible. That only underscores the tragedy of abortion. That human life, created in the image of God, is taken for any reason strikes at the very heart of God. In the Old Testament God instituted the death penalty for those who committed a capital crime. Many argue against the death penalty because of the value of human life. Yet, when we read God's reason for the death penalty, He goes one step further. Human life is valuable AND people are created in theimage of God. Read Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man (NIV)." Each person is God's workmanship that reflects His creativity and bears His image. To strike down a person made in God's image is to strike out at God himself.
I have a friend that is new to the Anabaptist teaching of pacifism, and he tends to refer to it as "passive - ism." Pacifism, properly understood and applied, is anything but passive. As people of peace we need to engage the culture in areas of violence and injustice. It is not enough to sit at home on the lazy boy and say, "I believe in peace." You are not a pacifist by intellectual agreement with the principle of peace and justice, alone. We need to learn to see the world as Jesus sees it, and act as Jesus would act. I believe that Jesus would and does defend the unborn. We need to learn to call abortion what it is. It is an issue of violence against children. It is an issue of grave injustice against the unborn.
At the same time, our culture does untold of violence to women by presenting abortion in a way that denies the emotional and physical realities. A woman or girl cannot kill her own child without emotional side effects. Many woman and girls have permanent physical side effects, one of them being death. Yet, these negative consequences are brushed under the carpet. In the cultural silence a crime of violence and injustice is committed against women.
If we believe that violence against unborn children is wrong, then we need to work towards ending that violence. If we believe that the culture of abortion continues to contribute to injustice against children and women, then we need to work towards ending that injustice. There are no easy answers and no quick fixes but there is work to be done. It begins with prayer. It continues with relationships, first with Jesus Christ then with a supportive community of faith. We need to reach into the culture of violence with the life changing love of Christ. It is furthered when those considering abortion are connected to real and responsible options - Options that respect the mother and value the child.
Metamora Mennonite Church