Abortion is arguably one of the most controversial topics in modern society. Although it may seem straightforward – life or death – it is much more complex than people think. An individual’s faith can heavily influence the lens from which they view abortion. The Christian’s decision for Pro-Life and opposition to abortion is influenced by the overall Christian belief based on the teachings of the Bible; however, different denominations and churches can influence an adherent’s response to abortion. This is due to the human understanding of the Bible, religious ethics and traditions, and morality within the Christian faith.
When referring to abortion, there are two separate campaigns: Pro-Choice and Pro-Life. People who stand for Pro-Choice support a woman’s right to choose abortion or not. Thinking abortions are acceptable, those who follow the strict religious Pro-Life camp believe that abortions are always wrong and the foetus should be treated in the same way as any other human being. Whether a person is Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, their stance can be significantly influenced by religion, especially Christianity, as shown through statistics from the Public Opinion on Abortion by religious affiliation, collected by Pew Research Centre from 1995-2019 (shown in appendix: Figure 1). Religion is a subculture within the larger cultural system. Different Religions and denominations have a wide influence on the teachings of topics like sexual morality, masturbation, abortion and premarital practices. People who grow up in a culture of religiously practising communities are more likely to be influenced and agree to the opinions and standpoint of others, and this contradiction can be supported by a poll conducted by Gallup News in 2019, showing that the percentage supporting Pro-Choice is much higher for those who attend a religious service weekly than those who do not attend at all (see Appendix: Figure 2). It is assumed that those who attend church every week, have a valid influence on surrounding friends, family members, and community. Steven M. Albert writes that an individual plays a social-ecological approach to social (and spiritual) relationships and the community environment where the adherent’s impact.
According to The British Journal of Sociology, the Christian worldwide view on abortion is. There are many different denominations within the Christian faith and it’s churches differ in their religious acts and teaching methodologies due to the Word of God being passed during the reformation. The Reformation movement that occurred during the 16th century was the act to “reform” the Roman Catholic Church lead by a long list of reformers including Martin Luther and John Calvin, out of which came the four major divisions of Protestantism: Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist and Anglican. From these four major denominations grew numerous offshoots such as Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Methodist, Mormons, Orthodox, Seventh-day Adventist and the list goes on. Each denomination differs slightly from the others in their focus or doctrine: Baptists primary focus is baptism, United Methodist and Mormons widely focus on the availability of the Passover meal, other Churches may focus more on the sovereignty of God vs. free will, the future of the church, post-tribulation rapture, signs of the modern times or spreading the Gospel to ‘the ends of the earth’. The difference between these divisions is not whether Christ is Lord and Saviour, but rather the honest opinions of flawed people seeking to attain purity and Honour with God due to their conscience and understanding of God’s Word. Seventh-Day Adventist’ (SDA) is a denomination that follows what the Bible says and get their name from worshipping on Saturdays. Numerous verses such as Job 31:15 speak on God fashioning us in our mother’s womb, regarding the foetus as an individual designed by God for God obtaining value and life – this leads them to be Pro-Life. SDA’s believe that if people followed God’s ten commandments, abortion would not be needed in the first place, but this does not ignore the fact that it still happens. If the mother’s life is in danger or cases such as rape or incest have occurred – which already goes against God’s will for moral conduct and His law – SDA’s will allow for an abortion. A Catholic’s stance on abortion is also Pro-Life. They believe that no one can justify the cause of taking a life no matter how good the intention, this is very different from the United Church of Christ (UCC) that has repeatedly tried to legalise abortions. The UCC’s reason behind this is according to an abortion NewsMax article uploaded by Jacqueline Emigh.
One of the biggest arguments within the controversy of abortion is, classifying when the life of the child actually starts. According to the South Australian Health Government and the Pregnancy Advisory Centre is the only Australian state to regularly collect, publish, and release their abortion data in annual reports on their outcomes. 5% of the population believe that abortions should not be permitted in any circumstance. It is assumed this small percentage would largely be of Christians, based on the figures of the American Values and Belief polls research conducted in May 2019 (see Appendix: Figure 3). Christians who believe God breathes life into the foetus or embryo believe it is a person from stage one; however, people that argue for Pro-Choice say the foetus should not be ranked superior to the woman holding it – supporting their argument is reputable studies showing that the foetus cannot feel pain in any way prior to 24 weeks gestation and generally does not awaken until birth. The foetus may not feel pain in the early stages but this does not deny it is still a significant form of life in the making.
According to the Australian laws of abortion, murder is a legal term used to describe the. Since a foetus can be viewed as one-with or a separate entity to a woman’s body with its own rights, using the term ‘murder’ for abortion is not legally nor medically correct. SA Health says people who oppose abortion misuse the term ‘murder’. Legally speaking, the misuse of the word ‘murder’ reveals how an individual feels and morally thinks towards the subject, rather than what abortion “actually is”. The relation of religion to abortion reflects the theology of certain faiths in response to the status of the foetus as a person. The Catholic Church believes that life starts from the moment of conception and that that human life begins when the spirit or soul enters into the body according to the doctrine of Immediate Animation, therefore, abortion is an act of murder. In contrast, the Evangelical Lutheran Church believes that abortion should not be legal up to foetal viability, but if the mother or her child’s life is at risk after foetal viability, only then is it a “necessary” abortion. The Roman Catholic Church considers abortion as a moral wrong based on the teachings of the Bible and the Natural Law; a term to describe ethical thought which comes from the concept of God’s perfect creation. The perspective that if one studies the way life works and learns the laws of nature, then they will learn how humans should behave. For Catholics, life begins once a woman’s egg is fertilised by a male sperm. This life is independent of the mother and father due to its unique genetic coding, giving it distinct individual features. For them, a foetus is not a potential life, but a life with potential. The Roman Catholic Church itself has had a massive role in the politics of abortion and has influenced many of their follower’s outlooks on abortion throughout history.
Abortion is a complex topic for Christians because the word abortion is not clearly mentioned in the written Word of God; however, it does speak on this issue in the Old Testament in Exodus 21:22-25 when God addresses the penalties of killing a child before birth inside a pregnant woman. This is proof that eradicating an unborn life is a sin against God. According to the Bible, God knows every person before they exist and has a purpose for each individual as expressed by David talking to God in the Psalms. So, eradicating an unborn life is a sin against God – according to these verses – implying that personhood is bestowed long before any development of a baby can be detected in the womb. Although the Bible says these things, some Christians still choose to abort. Pro-Lifers argue that God’s Word clearly states and so therefore, it is not up to humans to decide who lives and who dies.
Many people may choose to abort for different reasons, one reason being that the unborn baby has been detected with a disability or abnormality and believe that the foetus will never have a full life. In their eyes, aborting is the kindest thing to do, but, the Bible clearly teaches that and, this is including the disabled and the unborn. So to take a life because it is not “perfect” is questioning God’s handy-work. Some Christians may still choose to abort despite all the advice given in the Bible, this can be due to personal ethics, their understanding of the Bible’s teachings or an individual’s choice knowing that God will not love them less according to Romans 8:35-39. God forgives, but his word says that and He also says that the Holy-Spirit has endowed us with a conscience that when we go against it, we feel troubled and un-right (Romans 2:14, 16). When Christians follow the example of Jesus Christ and his commandment of agape love – agape, a Greek word that means selfless love – they are slow to judge, this goes for those supporting Pro-Choice and the women who choose abortion. An anti-abortion film Unplanned released in 2019 directed by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, shows the effect Christians leave on women of Pro-Choice when they condemn them compared to loving them with agape love. This film uncovers how either decision – abortion or not – is just as hard as the other. So, if Christians truly seek to save the lives of the babies in danger, loving and praying for the mothers has a far greater effect on their decision than forcefully protesting against them.
Christians who do choose to abort their child can find themselves with a guilty conscience. Christians will turn to their faith, church, or social media seeking an explanation of their feelings in a search for comfort and justification. This may stem from different places. The Catholic Church believes that if someone willingly commits evil for good, then pandora’s box is opened for he or she to claim they were committing evil for the greater good. Catholicism also believes that not one innocent life can be erased even if it is in the intention of saving millions. This belief influences Catholic followers not to take a life or support abortion as if they do, more evil will be unleashed that can never be atoned for. For other Christians such as Assemblies of God, they see abortion as less about what the church says and more about what God says, as they base their teachings and understanding of human beings on the Bible. For them, abortion is a matter that not only concerns Christians but their God.
The mundane world encourages stigma of “No one is above man, so therefore you answer to no one, you can do whatever.” But a Christian’s worldview is that they answer to God above anyone else and He has commanded His people not to murder according to the ten commandments in the Old-Testament. They should follow His will and desires according to His word. Christian, Sue Bohlin, writes on Probe Ministries, that a massive factor to abortion is. According to Bohlin, the Old-Testament gives us insight into God’s view of unborn life. In the original Hebrew language, the word for unborn is yeled which is also used for young children, so it is believed that the original language did not need a separate word for unborn babies. The word yeled is also used to describe the unborn John the Baptist in the New. All are children in the eyes of God even before they have been fashioned in the womb.
In conclusion, religions within the Christian faith such as Catholics, Assemblies of God, and Evangelical Lutherans do influence an adherent’s view towards this universally controversial topic whether they are for or against. As Christians widely believe that abortion is wrong, a small percentage are Pro-Choice due to their individual morals, churches teachings, and personal understanding of the Bible. The way an adherent views abortion is heavily influenced by components inside the church walls such as religious practices, traditions, and the way every human views God. All these factors cause this so-called straight-forward matter into a complicated argument that really comes down to an adherent’s own personal ethical beliefs. Christianity has a major imprint in the matter of abortion, but what an adherent believes is right or wrong will ultimately lead them down the path of abortion or not. If a woman decides to abort their infant, Christianity according to the Bible welcomes the mother with open arms to free her guilty conscience and find peace in God.