Saturday, March 17, 2012

Presbyterian Church and Abortion

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The article from Church and Society called “Problem Pregnancies and Abortion’ provided much of the magisterium of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on the issue. The article begins by stating the resolutions that the General Assembly adopted. From there, it begins to get more involved as to exactly what the Church deems to be its position on the multi-faceted issue.

The article, as was already mentioned, begins by citing the passed resolutions from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). The last of the six resolutions really exemplifies the point of all of the resolutions as well as the article. It essentially states that each member of the Church must not look to the government or to the national church headquarters to help those facing problem pregnancies. Rather, he should look to himself to see what faithful Christians, moved by the love of Christ, can do to help those facing such problems. (p.1) The article then moves into the section called “Policy Development,” where it describes its basic stances and how they were derived. It is at the beginning of this section that contains the heart of the document, discussing the agreements and disagreements within the Church as well as the implications for the life and witness of the Church. After these two parts, the article shifts to a call for action from members of the church as well as society. Some of these calls are influence the media through letter writing campaigns or boycotting; work to limit pornography through communication and/or boycotts; encourage and provide training for quality sex education (the article writes that the Gospel discusses sexual activity in light of a pure, faithful marriage); attempt to reduce the number of abortions (1- through education and � through providing alternative means to abortion). The Church realizes that there are circumstances where abortion is not the least of the options. But the point is to stress education on sexuality and preventative measures that may cause problem pregnancies.

The main source that the Church used in producing this document is Scripture. It first becomes apparent in the sixth resolution. Christians are to learn from the Bible and become moral decision-making agents on their own through the love of Christ that becomes expressed in the Bible. The article explicitly states that Scripture contains nothing specific on the topic of abortion, but the wholeness of the Bible expresses respect for the woman and the child before and after birth. (p.1) Near the beginning of the document, one of the important points is that the Church ought to maintain fellowship with those who study Scripture and come to diverse conclusions. (p.0) Problem pregnancies are affected by such complicated circumstances, the Church concedes that it has no complete wisdom or authority to address each situation. Yet it states that Christians seek the wisdom in the Scripture in facing such situations. The main focus of the article is that the Church must encourage its members to make decisions based on their own understandings of the love of Christ as taught in the Scripture. The article does make an appeal to science as well. This part of the article discusses the different opinions of when life begins, and it is broken down into 5 stages. The Church does not readily conclude that any of these are the “correct” choice, but no matter to which position any member of the Church holds, life is sacred at that point, because Scripture is about respect for human life. There is also an appeal to Natural Law, where the article discusses that respect, honesty, and power-sharing are important to a healthy family. The main source of this magisterium, though, remains scripture.

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