True love waits

No-one wants abortions to happen. To reduce the numbers, there are three main paths- legal restrictions, better religious education, and better sex education. I want to speak up for the second.

Better religious education, and more people following in the footsteps of Christ, will reduce abortions. The two great commandments are to love God, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. This means respect and care for all, including those who need abortions. It also means care for those who are at risk of needing abortions: social groups which may be found through sociological research. They are our sisters; every hair on their head is numbered. Rescuing them from abortion does not mean enforcing rules on them, but making it as far as possible unnecessary. We enforce rules on subjects. Sisters deserve better.

Constantine used Christianity as the ideology of his empire. It became a system of moral control of the populace: the State could kill the body, and convince the person soul and body would be destroyed in Hell. Before that, Jesus told us how to navigate a strange, unpredictable world, in which the rich, living in luxury and self-indulgence, kept back the wages of the labourers by fraud; a millennial time, when there were wars and rumours of wars, and tales of a Messiah and the coming of God; people trying to live as best they could by following the rules they thought were God’s rules, and a watchful Empire taking over, ready to enforce its will by extreme violence. About forty years after he died, the Empire destroyed the Temple.

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world be saved through him. Jesus did not tell the rich young ruler to rule in a more moral fashion, but to give up all stake in that society and become an itinerant. Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.

So it is not the Christian’s job to enforce rules on others. We recognise that is the State’s job, and every person should be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. We obey because of conscience, not just fear. Jesus sent out the seventy, expecting them to be welcomed and fed, and so we should behave like those hospitable Jews. We should bear one another up with a tender hand.

We should also not judge, but remember our own frailty and need. We each need the support of the community, so should not deny that support to others. So when someone needs an abortion, we should support that; but work so that fewer abortions are needed. Self-respect and respect of others promotes sex in a loving relationship, rather than abusive or exploitative sex.

The Christian who only intervenes to say No- who takes no interest in a woman until she needs an abortion, and then denies her what she needs- behaves in the opposite way to Christ and drives people from Christ.

Dirk van Baburen, Christ washing disciples feet

30 thoughts on “True love waits

  1. There are more important options than just the three you mention (sex education being the only reasonable one of the three): the first and foremost option is to get more of us respecting women enough to be responsible for themselves to make medical decisions they deem sufficient.

    As long as intractable patriarchal religious belief is granted a place at this medical table, we are not going to achieve this. Ever.

    Yet if one wishes to reduce rates of contraceptive abortion, then there are obvious approaches like better access to free contraception, better access to free medical care that respects client privacy, better sex education as you mention and so on.

    But all this is just wind as long as religions frame the issue as a moral one, framing abortion with the moral stigma we see and hear trumpeted over it. And religion isn’t going to grant women this respect until more of us start criticizing religious interference at the medical table.

    So the primary step is to respect that abortion is a medical concern carried out for all kinds of reasons and not just the contraceptive kind. It’s not my moral concern what your medical issues are. It’s not your moral concern what my medical concerns are. For governments to interfere with treatments in the name of religiously inspired morality is an attack against the medical right to treatment for half the population. If the woman considering a termination of a pregnancy for whatever reason she deems sufficient is concerned about the morality of her actions, then that’s her business and not ours.

    That’s what we have to wrap our heads around and for populations that do so, the abortion rate plummets.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What I am saying is that if it is a moral concern, the moral concern starts well before the abortion is needed, and embraces liberating the woman, which will mean fewer unwanted pregnancies. Hurting women is not the way to reduce abortion; reducing unwanted pregnancies is.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tildeb, Clare is not referring to patriarchal religious belief (intractable or otherwise), nor is she referring to a medical procedure. What she’s referring to occurs long before medical intervention is required. Your references to “medical decisions”, “medical table”, “medical care”, and “medical concern” indicates to me that you have failed to to grasp her message. I understand her reference is to how society views sexual and intimate relationships (amongst others).

      Religious education does not necessitate that moral stigma be attached to anything, and Clare states that. I believe attaching stigma is in itself immoral, and I hold that from a religious point of view. Religion does not need to impose rules nor force patriarchal values on society. Religious education does not require you to be taught a set of “moral” rules that must be obeyed. Religious education is not the same as religious indoctrination. Please don’t make that mistake.

      If you require evidence, perhaps you could read these selections or the full essay Towards a Quaker view of sex. Admittedly the publication is now over fifty years old, and some aspects of it seem dated now, but I believe you would find its conclusions favourable. The document is without doubt religious, yet would you disapprove of its values being taught? Would these not help reduce the need for abortions and would they elevate the place of women in society?

      For a slightly more modern take on religious sexual values, the article Having Sex Like a Qaaker. Again a set of religious values that are likely to a positive effect in reducing the need for abortions.


      • What I wanted to point out is that when we frame some issue in a particular way – say, a medical issue framed as a moral issue first so that religious interference and/or intervention and/or input can then be supposedly justified – we then become another problem for those involved in the medical issue no matter how benign/supportive/enlightened/godly we think we are being.

        Your sexual activities are none of my concern as mine are none of yours. They belong to each of us. I recognize and respect that boundary. But do you offer the same in return?

        Here’s the problem. As soon as religion gets involved by couching some human activity as a moral concern – as if religious belief is licensed by some qualification for moral considerations and pronouncements – all of a sudden the boundary disappears. All of a sudden a whole bunch of people think that because they are representatives of that religion they have the right to advocate against and intervene in the privacy of others, the right to step into education, the right to step into court, the right to step into medicine, the right to step into politics, and so on, and voice these ‘moral’ concerns to effect and alter these human activities. The basis for doing so is not expertise in any of these areas nor based on accumulated and relevant knowledge; the ‘expertise’ is supposedly granted to be of a moral nature.

        Says who?

        Why, the religious folk! Surprise, surprise.

        Religious expertise concerns one thing and one thing only: its own dogma. That’s it. That’s the boundary where expertise based on knowledge comes to an abrupt end. In all other areas of human concern, religion houses zero expertise including morality, including compassion, including empathy, including charity.

        Religion has no business, no right, no reason to insert itself into medical issues any more than I have the right to insert medicine into dictating religious dogma and its belief tenets in the name of medical ethics.

        I think it’s important to understand why all of us need to respect autonomy boundaries and stop granting knee-jerk acceptance to religious interference in any area outside of itself. That’s why I pointed out that of the three ‘main paths’ Clare introduced about reducing the need for abortion services as far as religion was concerned, her religious framing of the moral aspect was not effective except by making available better sex education.

        What would be effective is to stop framing issues as moral ones, ones that religious belief has no business interfering, no business getting involved in a veritable host of services that many from the religious communities intentionally hinder in the name of morality. This is a major problem if, as Clare says, we actually want to address the needs of women and support their reproductive health care including the need for abortion.


        • Dear Tildeb, you have some excuse in misunderstanding, as I did not explicitly state who should have better religious education: I meant Christians. I then produced some Bible quotes, the most cutting from the letter of James. But I did say “It is not the Christian’s job to enforce rules on others”, so hearing you explain that to Barry, who agrees, is a trifle wearying.

          Liked by 1 person

        • The point I was making is that the arguments presented in that essay are religious while being based on reason and compasion. The methods can and are being used by Christians in regards to abortion. I believe that is what Clare is promoting to other Christians. There is no place for ancient dogma, stigmatisation, or judgement.

          And this is where the Christian education, or let me rephrase that as “education of Christians”, comes into play. Many Christians today are blinded by dogma disguised as morality. They have forgotten Jesus’ message. Clare puts this clearly and unambuguously in the last paragraph of her post, yet you don’t seem to see it:
          The Christian who only intervenes to say No- who takes no interest in a woman until she needs an abortion, and then denies her what she needs- behaves in the opposite way to Christ“.


          • Yes, I get that, Barry. It was the sentiment that so many religious folk think it’s all fine and dandy for religious folk to think their religious beliefs should play a role in the discussion about (for, against, in support of, non judgmental, whatever) in this case abortion (hence, the entirely misguided and presumptive suggestion made by Clare about providing better religious education might help reduce the need for abortion services). I was saying there is no basis for religious people to assume such a medical issue between doctors and their patients involves them in any way, shape, or fashion, beyond the doctor-patient relationship, and explained that religious belief should play no role regarding this relationship or the services for it because it has no expertise – moral, medical, or any knowledge whatsoever – upon which to justify it.

            For example, better sex education, fine. Better religious sex education, no. Emphatically no.


            • Could you try to make your points more elegantly? Your comment says very little at great length.

              And it misunderstands. Christians should reduce abortion by: reducing poverty and serving the community, not by legal restriction, protest, or threat. If you had read my post intelligently, rather than stopping at “better religious education” and getting all worked up, you might have seen that.


            • I did read it through and thought to myself you’ve confused and conflated the ‘good intention’ particulars of your religious beliefs with the breaking of the autonomy principle, that because women are autonomous agents, private abortion is strictly a medical issue between each women and her health care providers. Period.

              The concrete ways to reduce the rate of abortions has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with religion.


            • May I ask you Tildeb, if you have read “Towards a Quaker View of Sex”, or a synopsis? It’s a religious work from beginning to end, originally conceived to help homosexual Friends cope with the difficulties of living in a homophobic society in the late 1960s, but grew to encompass all areas of sexuality. What is in it that would cause you to say “emphatically no” to it being used to base a sex education program on? Is it the conclusions that are reached, or is it because the authors are members of a religious sect?

              I’m still not sure why you keep arguing that religious belief should be kept out of doctor patient relationship when Clare most emphatically is not advocating that.


    • I clicked your link, and read:

      This is not biblical teaching and what has made us angry is that some woman has decided that she wants to play God and wants to lead women to do the same thing. We do not need empowered women. Those women ignore God’s teaching, willfully sin and disobey God’s instructions and such women are not building a strong family but destroying one.

      I am afraid that I stopped there. I see that you quoted that, and other parts of this other article, in order to refute it; but that quote is so far out to make me shut down. All I wanted was to give a religious and Biblical case that we Christians should not interfere in others’ lives at all, but rather seek to improve them. We are called to follow Christ. I remember a song Evangelicals sing-

      From heaven you came helpless babe
      Entered our world, your glory veiled
      Not to be served but to serve
      And give Your life that we might live

      This is our God, The Servant King
      He calls us now to follow Him
      To bring our lives as a daily offering
      Of worship to The Servant King

      -so how could we seek to be master rather than to serve?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Three criticisms:
    1) Roman law did not change very much with the Christianized Empire, though I think Theodosius tried to make homosexual acts illegal, but even that was controversial. For most of the history of the Christian West there was a clear distinction between immoral and illegal. Prostitution or drunkeness were considered sinful, but generally not illegal either because those sins were not considered to impact the common good, or because enforcing the law would be more trouble than it was worth. Preaching heresy on the other hand was considered a threat to the common good so that was illegal and could be severely punished.
    2) I don’t think it is enough to say “let’s help these women so they don’t feel the need to procure an abortion”. In a materialistic and individualistic society where people place no value on chastity, marry late (if at all), where mothering is seen as an inferior career, where child-rearing is expensive and unrewarded, men irresponsible, extended family structures weak, and spouses disposable, abortion will be common. It does not matter what sort of options or care you give pregnant women. If you want to reduce abortion without resorting to police-state tactics, the whole culture must be evangelized.
    3) Whether or not abortion should be legal or illegal is like anything other prudential political decision. Does it help the common good? Is it possible? What will it cost the society?


      • In a place where it is already illegal, it is probably best to keep it that way. In a place where it is legal and common, I doubt there is much that can be done on a legislative level besides trying to discourage it.
        If you compare it to other evils like slavery, something that in the U.S. was ingrained into the culture and economy, it took 600,000 dead soldiers to end it. A prudent man living in the 1850s would, I think, look at that cost and decide banning slavery wouldn’t be worth it.
        Not all evils can be fixed.


  3. As you might imagine, I’m not convinced better religious education (whatever that is) would make any difference in terms of reducing abortion rates. Better religious education along the lines you suggest above might make abortion less of a contentious issue though.


      • I find that mostly SoM and atheists are on the same page when it comes to understanding what religion, and Christianity in particular represents. The just disagree over whether it’s real or imaginary. I can’t agree with either stance. Just like the knowledge of nuclear science can lead to good or harm, so to with religion. Take away dogma and intolerance from religion, and it can be a power for good.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: moronic comment of the month – comparing abortion to slavery | violetwisp

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