According to Life News Dot Com, there was a recent Pro-Life 40 Days for Life campaign that resulted in saving the lives of more than 700 unborn children from abortion. Apparently a local Planned Parenthood business in California is doing something similar by have its own 40 Days of Prayer. (Click here to read more on 40 Days of Prayer)
I appreciate the heartfelt tenderness of the Planned Parenthood business in their concern for women and their willingness to address the social injustices against woman. Truly there are injustices enacted upon women that need to be addressed. I am also impressed by the Planned Parenthood business’s desire to help educate individuals on the concerns and problems with STD’s. All very good and very impressive.
The Planned Parenthood business, Six Rivers, also has the religious support of the Humboldt Clergy For Choice. This group of clergy consider themselves to be, “religious leaders who value all human life. We accept that religions differ about when life begins. We are here to help. We believe that human life is holy. That’s why we believe in your right to choose to be a parent or not.”
While I am obviously Pro-Life as a Pastor and would disagree with this group of clergy, I would like to steer our conversation away from the typical talking points to this idea of being, “free to choose.” From the Planned Parenthood material, the freedom of choice in pregnancy is obviously between abortion, adoption or parenting. In fact the religious and ethical voice, “Faith Aloud,” considers all of these options to be, “good moral decisions.”
In contemplating this freedom to choose I wonder if there is even such a thing as complete freedom of choice? Are their boundaries and/or limitations in choice or not? If there are boundaries and limitations in one’s choice, does this still make one’s choice completely free? Furthermore, if there are boundaries and limitations, what are they and how do we define them? In other words, how does one arrive at whether or not a choice is good or bad, what criteria is used? As I previously pointed out, Faith Aloud arrived at the judgment that abortion was a “good” moral decision? How did they arrive at this conclusion and what is it that makes abortion a good choice? For something to be good, logically that means that there is something bad. What would constitute a bad moral decision for people with reproductive choices?
My concern is valid especially in the context of history. You see, as individuals we value the freedom of choice. As humans we want to make our own decisions and we typically make our decisions on our own criteria and what we think is important. Take for instance life. We assess the value of life based on criteria we think is important. Rather than viewing the value of life from the perspective of the Creator, we view life through our perspective and frankly have not done so well with our criteria in determining life’s value. Historically we have really messed this up. Examine for a moment the comments from a sermon by Rev. James Lamb, “We have used ethnicity as a basis for value and ended up with places like Auschwitz and Cambodia and Croatia and Rwanda… We have used skin color as a basis for value and ended up with slave trading and civil war… More and more we use health as a basis for value and end up with assisted suicide and euthanasia…” Now we use criteria such as costs for the potential parents and that newborns are not capable of contributing to their existence as a basis for value. As of late a disturbing article came out in the, “Journal for Medical Ethics,” stating the ethical reasoning,
“If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn.”
My point is that there is no such thing as a free choice, because all choices need to have and do have ethical limitations, otherwise the previous atrocities can’t be classified as morally wrong or ethically negative. (i.e. moral relativism) Furthermore, ethical boundaries and limitations need to appeal to criteria greater than the individual making the choice otherwise the atrocities above can be morally neutral or ethically good according to the criteria of the person committing the atrocities.
Prayer 41: Today we pray for clarity in understanding ethical boundaries and limitations.
Prayer 42: Today we pray for eyes to look beyond our personal criteria to the Creator’s criteria for all of life’s choices.
Prayer 43: Today we thank God for Life, for Life is holy and precious.