Disabled Christmas 2
Ethics & Morality

Second Sunday of Advent: the gift of a child

 

It is this Second Sunday of Advent, and the trees are going up. It’s beginning to feel a bit more like Christmas. Children all over the world are eagerly awaiting the day of presents, as Christians anticipate the presence of the Christ-Child; the Word made flesh to dwell among us.

The baby is in the womb. God dwells in the tranquility of amniotic paradise, waiting to be born. Expectations are high: divinity has quite a lot to do. We’ve got quite a lot to do as well: houses to decorate; lists to make; gifts to buy and wrap; drink to stock.

Funny how some babies in the womb are worth more than others. There are now two categories of life: not the sheep and goats of the afterlife, but the ‘rightful’ and ‘wrongful’ lives of our earthly existence.

Imagine – insofar as you are able – the realm of disability, handicap, some imperfection in the flesh which sets one apart from normality. And then conceive – if you can – of a world in which a baby born disabled is determined to be a ‘wrongful life’, because doctors were negligent in diagnosing any abnormality in the foetus, and so erroneously permitted it to be born.

And so the parents of this ‘wrongful life’ are awarded compensation, not because of the innate disability of their baby, but because their child was never a ‘rightful’ human being in the first place: he lives only through the negligence of physicians; they made a mistake; he should have been aborted.

Damages in these cases consist of the cost of living for the child, which appear to be purely economic considerations, ie the cost of rearing the child for the persons taking that task upon themselves, including the extra costs related to the disability, and possibly also non-pecuniary loss for the child. And so we divide our babies: on the left are the rightful citizens, and on the right are the wrongful never-should-have-been citizens. Being human is insufficient entitlement to this rightfulness, for the physically imperfect are destined to be despised, rejected, aborted – even after they are born.

A ‘wrongful life’ claim is a claim by a child, and this will always be a disabled child, issued by its representatives, the parents, against a doctor or obstetrician, for having to live a life full of suffering because of a handicap while the child was not supposed to have been born at all but is born anyway because of a negligent act by the doctor or assistant.

We live in a world in which a disabled child can sue the mother for failing to terminate its life in the womb to avoid all future suffering. But why not, if that world says we can terminate a life in the womb simply because it lacks a Y chromosome?

Is it preferable – from the perspective of the disabled child – not to have been born at all? How can courts of law evaluate the existence of a child against his or her non-existence, and find that the latter is preferable? How can life be unworthy of life?

Imagine if divinity were considered a disability. Jesus in the womb becomes an object for termination, simply by virtue of discrepancies in his gene pool. It isn’t the Son of God who sleeps in amniotic suspension: it is the depersonalised ‘product of conception’, and a perverted conception it was, too. This isn’t a human being: it is a chimera. Mary isn’t carrying the Messiah, but just a clump of cells; a foetus. We ought to terminate: it is our moral obligation. Just think of the suffering we’ll be saving this poor baby from. Divinity is a dreadful handicap: the sufferings are profoundly emotional and spiritual, and ultimately, physical. The parents won’t be able to bear the sorrow and grief. If Mary had been warned, she might not have consented to the birth at all.

It isn’t the Son of God in the womb: it is only a potential son of God. It is not fully human: it is only potentially partially human. Who would want to rear a life disposed to paralysis and pain? There is no room in the world for those who are not perfect. God’s image must be sustained, and so we must reject the vulnerability of the crucified Christ in the form of the baby the world did not welcome.

We are the gods of competence, and we decide who lives and dies; who may partake of Holy Communion, and who must suffer nil by mouth. It is convenient mercy.

Christ’s love of life is reflected in the way Christians love life. The goodness of God has not yet reached everyone: it is for us to proclaim that Jesus is a life worthy of life, and that Advent offers a better hope than the X Factor.

The Second Sunday of Advent.
The Collect.

BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Epistle. Rom. 15. 4.

WHATSOEVER things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

The Gospel. St. Luke 21.25.

AND there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

  • James60498 .

    As always, Your Grace, when you write well, you really do write well. There is little to add and nothing to take away.

    But I do have a massive regret. Not with what you write, but with the way we respond.

    There are a few of your readers who may disagree, and it would be good to think that the more sensible of those will accept some of what you say and perhaps it will cause them to think.

    But the majority will be very much with you.

    But what will we do?

    Six months ago, I attended the “March for Life” in Birmingham. From memory, and of course from estimate, about 1200 people attended and there were some 20 protestors, notably from Student Unions and teaching unions.

    It hasn’t been going long in the UK, and it was the first time I had attended. Very much looking forward to it, on the morning before setting off I had looked on the website of a couple of Christian Organisations whose mailing lists I am on to see what they were saying about it. I know that they are 100% against abortion.

    Nothing. Not a mention.

    I do not know why. I am not trying to apportion blame.

    Did the organisers think it inappropriate to ask these organisations? Did they ask but were refused for some reason? I don’t know. I find it difficult to believe though that the organisers hadn’t heard of them, or that the organisations didn’t know the March was happening.

    Whatever other differences we may have, we need to work together on these things.

    If some tweaks have to be made to the organisation of the event then it must happen.

    Heads need to be banged together.

    If some have to accept that it’s not 100% “their thing” then they must do so and turn up nonetheless.

    One thing is for sure. If we cannot work together to oppose the murder of unborn babies then we are failing in what we do.

  • Dreadnaught

    I saw a photograph the other day of a new-born with a head
    without a cranium. In fact the baby’s head had developed only as far as a base
    of skull and not much else apart from a beautiful baby face and a flat top
    scalp. It had no prospect of survival beyond the few hours it sadly lived.

    I’m sure if this outcome was known in the early stages of
    development and it was my wife and child, I and she would have opted for an
    abortion. I cannot imagine how a woman especially, would feel that for the full
    period of her confinement she would be aware that eventually she would go
    through the trauma of giving birth to a dying baby.

    This woman did; that was her choice. Whatever courage or motivation she had was undoubtedly exceptional. How she coped and will cope with the lasting visual impact of that baby born without a skull I don’t know. One hundred years ago before trimesteral scanning was available the outcome would have been the same and may have resulted in the death of both mother and child. Her ante-natal care would have been virtually non-existant; her shock that she had not carried a healthy child would have mentally scarred her for life.

    Today in this Country we have eliminated the prospect of such a devastating impact on the parents by omission, and it is right for them and only them, to decide whether they want to intervene before the birth. It is still however, the reality for many women, living in less fortunate countries. Whether they accept it there as a punishment from the gods or God, is down to their cultural background. I think it is more to do with how the material wealth of the world is managed than the perfidious will of fickle gods and their ‘moral’ codes.

    Abortion under such or similar circumstances in my opinion would be morally justifiable.

    • chiefofsinners

      “It had no prospect of survival beyond the few hours it sadly lived.”
      Is this not true for us all? A few hours or eighty years followed by a painful death. What is the difference?

      • Dreadnaught

        A Lifetime.

        • chiefofsinners

          Which will undoubtedly contain much suffering and which is not significantly different to a few hours when compared to eternity (or to billions of years if you prefer).

          • Dreadnaught

            According to your logic it would be much better not to be born otherwise we are born to suffer; which if preordained is heartless in the extreme. It also derides the work of medics who dedicate a lifetime to easing suffering in others.
            Chief, I wouldn’t touch your brand of Christianity with my barge-pole.

          • chiefofsinners

            The point is just that all life is equal. It has nothing to do with Christianity.
            We are very prone to judge other lived in a narrow way.

          • Dreadnaught

            Not if by choice one causes the child to be born into a life that is incapable of sustaining itself save for misadventure or infirmity through its lifetime.

          • chiefofsinners

            Tricky area. I agree that non-intervention is different to deliberately ending a life. But then all babies are born incapable of sustaining themselves for several years of life. Withdrawing basic care from any baby would be murder. Much wisdom is needed in these situations.

    • B flat

      You are perfectly entitled to your opinion; and you are free to express it in our British tradition. However, Christians have always celebrated the Incarnation of God on the liturgical Feast of the Annunciation. That is nine months exactly before Christmas, the Birth of Christ. Christendom kept 25th March as the beginning of the calendar year, until GregoryXIII introduced the new Calendar named after him, and which the secular western world uses currently.
      This is, in shorthand, why it is not a matter of personal opinion whether abortion is permissible. At conception we have a human person, loved by God, and redeemed by Him for Eternal life. That person is protected by Divine Law in the command “Thou shalt not kill.”
      I have a friend who less than five years ago gave birth to just such a child you describe. The little boy was baptised with the name Nektarios at birth, and brought to church for Holy Communion the next Sunday, as a member of Christ’s Church. The whole parish supported the parents with love. Nektarios did not live many days and died in the care of his parents at home, in the certain hope of Eternal Life in God.
      No violence has been done, to persons or consciences. The family has grown with other children, and Nektarios is not forgotten. I am certain that the parents did the right thing. A person was born into the world and brought unquantifiable joy mixed with limited pain. As did Jesus.

      • Dreadnaught

        Unfortunately in certain circumstance we do kill our own kind to survive; and receive holy blessings in the process. I have direct experience of this and this is one of the main reasons I am atheist.

        • B flat

          But now you are being illogical.
          You are an atheist because you disapprove of what you cal “holy blessings…to kill our own kind to survive.” If that makes you reject God and His Church, I sympathise with your sensibility.
          Why then do you hold that you (or any private individual) can have the right to decide on the life or death of another?
          Unless of course you believe there is only a human being (by magic?) once the child is born. That is not atenable position for a Christian, at any rate.

          • Dreadnaught

            I did say one of the reasons not the reason. I have wrestled with question all my life. I have listened to religionists who all believe that they have access to the only truth: commonsense tells me they can’t all be right, yet they hold firm to their one ‘truth’. The closets I came to an understanding were the principles of Buddhism but had to jump off that train when it pulled into the station of karma and re-birth; so if anything I am a humanist.
            I regard myself as responsible for my own progeny but the ultimate responsibility in carrying a pregnancy I maintain, is that of couple, 60-40 in favour of the woman.

          • dannybhoy

            I think you’re a seeker after truth.

          • Dreadnaught

            I think we all are but then again there are many truths but in life some matter more than others. After life I expect nothing and content with the truths I have found in this ,the only life of which I am experiencing. I am not greedy for a second life or to extend the one I have if in doing so I don’t have the freedom to think and maintain myself independently.

          • dannybhoy

            I believe God desires the happiness and fulfilment of all men, and the proof of that is God the Son taking human form and dwelling amongst us and allowing Himself to be crucified so that we might be forgiven and reconciled to God, and have eternal life.
            Now I believe that with my whole heart. I see the differences that God through the Holy Spirit has wrought in me.
            But IF at the end of my life there was nothing: I just ceased to exist; I would still say that my faith had made me a much happier and useful individual.

    • IanCad

      As one who assigns to the abortion industry even more contempt than to ISIS or the diversity lobbies, I have to agree with you that, in those circumstances, termination could be justified.

  • Inspector General

    It all comes down to how special we think we are, in the eyes of our creator. There are some who believe, in effect, that we too are divine things. But we are not. We are subject to the same biology as the lowliest animal. We are offered the gift of salvation, but it is not bestowed on us. God will see some of us born, live out our lives, then dispose of us. Because those people were not, well, ‘good enough’. That is how we stand in the eyes of God. Nothing that special then.

    Some confinements were never going to be viable. Early on in the pregnancy, those cells will be expelled. To think that we can, through our weakness of compassion, allow a human to come into this world and experience daily suffering rather repels, as so it should.

    • dannybhoy

      “Because those people were not, well, ‘good enough'”

      Surely it all depends on how much the individual understood of God, of Christ and of salvation.
      I can only speak from my own experience, which is that although I always believed in God, I did not understand why I needed to respond to God’s offer of salvation and reconciliation conditional upon my free will response
      I rejected it because I thought I was decent chap and if there were more people in the world like me, the world would be a better place!
      It wasn’t until at age 22 God finally got through to me that I was a hypocrite and therefore a sinner.
      That was truly a revealtion that no amount of witnessing or discussion from and with my Christian friends had achieved.
      So I find myself believing that only God is able to judge the heart of a man or a woman, and know what their eternal future is..

      • Inspector General

        Get off your knees, Danny. You are as God intended you. No better and no worse. But one may say that your humanity is such that you are probably one of the righteous.

  • preacher

    A post worthy of deep consideration when babies are considered to be commodities. My main concern with Christmas is that we humans annually reset the trip meter of historical time to the Birth of Christ, thus we have allowed a false worldly image of the Lord to be portrayed amidst the baubles, fairy lights & mythology of ” Father Christmas ” that serves in the main the commercial hijack of the greatest event this World will ever experience, namely God becoming human with the intent of saving a sinful humanity from judgement by His own Sacrifice.
    The Christmas season now brings stress, divorce, acrimony & sometimes depression that can even result in suicide. Why ? because we have encouraged people to look no further or deeper than things, — commodities ! It’s not just the disabled that may have to suffer the violation of abortion, but those healthy babies that are simply not wanted, commodities that can be jettisoned as a ” Mistake ” maybe, one that was the result of the ” Christmas ” party ? An unwanted gift perhaps ?.
    No matter how hard we try to dress Christmas up with tinsel & trees, we cannot & must not divorce it from the mission of Jesus Christ & Him Crucified – for us, an adult of about 33 years who died that fallen humanity may be forgiven for All the sins of thought, word & deed, including the wanton destruction of the innocent & defenceless.
    He is no longer a baby in a manger, but the Lord & Saviour of all who accept Him. Death could not hold Him, but mortal man can reduce him to an excuse for a party, surely He must be worth more than that ?.

  • chiefofsinners

    Any of us who have known and loved a disabled person will have felt horror at the shallow attitude which our materialistic society has to life. People speak of compassion and preventing suffering but the real reason for abortion is the inconvenient impact a disabled child would have on their selfish lifestyle. These same people could themselves be viewed as disabled compared to those they worship: the more intellectual, more beautiful or more gifted.
    Minds are closed to this irony: the same thinkers would have us believe that mutation is the mechanism through which humanity achieved such heights, and all the beauty in the world was formed.

    • Dreadnaught

      but the real reason for abortion is the inconvenient impact a disabled child would have on their selfish lifestyle.
      I find this remark and much of your ignorant post, grossly insulting. Christian belief has done little to lighten your dark outlook.

      • chiefofsinners

        My post is not aimed at you, only at those who think this way. Do you doubt that some people do? Should they not be insulted, or at least have their evil thoughts brought into the open?

        • Dreadnaught

          I don’t care if your post was aimed at me – it was more than likely aimed at ‘people like me’ meaning not like you but with yourself as judge jury and executioner; which to say the least is a bit grand.

          • chiefofsinners

            It was aimed at the attitudes it describes. If the cap fits, wear it.

          • Dreadnaught

            If the cap fits, wear it. Did you think of this put-down response all on your own… I got news for you.

          • chiefofsinners

            “I got news for you”
            Did you think of this phrase all on your own? I got news for you…

          • Dreadnaught

            You may have the last word.

        • Dreadnaught

          One can only be insulted if one accepts the insult.

          • chiefofsinners

            Well I’m glad you’re not insulted then. I obviously misunderstood you.

          • Dreadnaught

            No – I took the insult personally.

          • chiefofsinners

            Why don’t you engage with the substance of the debate rather than bleating about your emotional response to it?

    • dannybhoy

      All life deserves respect, love and care because we believe God is the Author of life.
      But to say that God wills that all births are intended, is a step too far for me.
      Working with people with mild learning difficulties such as Downs Syndrome can be very rewarding.
      But did God intend that?
      I think not.
      People with profound physical and learning difficulties who cannot speak, cannot stand, cannot hear, are in pain, is God’s will?
      No. I don’t believe so.
      I think not only the child, but the parents and siblings suffer, and medical advances that can avoid these births or repair the genetic malfunctions that cause them are to be welcomed.

      • Inspector General

        A good attitude to take, Danny. We must never lose sight of the pragmatic when it comes to newborns that require intervention if they are at least to survive.

        If we go down the road of life whatever the cost, we are going to start worshipping ourselves, humanity. A worship that belongs only to our creator. Humility is required of us. We are a mere part of creation, and creation must not be seen solely as for the benefit of our wretched lives.

        • dannybhoy

          My views are shaped by having “hands on” worked with these children. That means washing them, dressing them, feeding them and toileting them.
          And after an eight hour shift I could go home..
          Not that I ever regarded them as worth less than you or me. or doubting that God loves them. It was more a case of looking at the heartache caused. The breaking up of a family, the desertion of a father who couldn’t cope with a profoundly disabled child, etc.
          It’s all very well to say how it should be: but you have to talk with the family, the mother and the father to understand the reality.

          • Dreadnaught

            Experience is a great teacher.

          • Inspector General

            Official statistics. Nine out of ten marriages collapse with a severely disabled child at home. Sooner or later. One acquaintance managed 20 years marriage, but his failed too.

          • dannybhoy

            And there is a similar parallel with the animal world, is there not?

          • Inspector General

            Do expand, old chap…

        • chiefofsinners

          Wise words also, IG.

      • chiefofsinners

        Who are we to judge these matters? We bring children into the world unaware of what might befall them. This is potentially more cruel, for some suffer far greater agony in life and death than a child with Downs’ Syndrome does.

        • dannybhoy

          Do you mean there may be some hidden purpose behind it?

          • chiefofsinners

            No, disabilities are part of our fallen, corrupted nature, not part of God’s plan. God works His purposes out despite all these things.
            I mean that we are all imperfect, some more than others. Just because I don’t have Downs’ Syndrome is not to say that I don’t have another genetic flaw yet to show up which will lead me to a painful death, or that I won’t suffer dreadful emotional pain, mental breakdown or an awful disease. A person with Downs’ may have a far happier life than me once the end is known from the beginning. I have known several and they are delightful, joyful people.

          • dannybhoy

            Gotcha and agreed.
            Fortunately He has so designed us that we are able to find some joy and pleasure in most things.

      • CliveM

        Brave post Dannybhoy.

        It is interesting how many people I have met who are condemning of those who have Downs children who they believe ‘should have aborted them’. Cruel and selfish are the kinder adjectives.

        It’s hard to judge those who are faced with the situation and feel over whelmed, however I do condem those who have the attitudes as I describe above.

        • dannybhoy

          The wife and I both worked in a residential home for children and adults with learning difficulties, and I had two years with children with profound physical and learning difficulties, so I should know a bit about it.
          The more able were great fun, especially Downs Syndrome. You treat them all with respect and good humour, The less able you care for their needs, smile and make them laugh if you can.

          • CliveM

            Hi when my wife got pregnant I can remember at least two ‘friends’ telling us we would be selfish to have a Downs child and that we must have the test. We didn’t and we don’t.

          • dannybhoy

            Difficult Clive.
            I never had kids, and I never wanted to try the various ‘solutions’ on offer. I accepted the situation, not as ‘God’s will’ but as a fact of biology.

      • Phil R

        So it is Action T4 then Danny?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_T4

        You see the commandment not to murder is just that. No more no less.

        However, if you want to be controversial, I would say that life that is not self supporting and can only be sustained with constant medical input should not be maintained. Clearly this would not just affect the unborn.

        • dannybhoy

          “However, if you want to be controversial..”

          What?

          How do you work that out?

          I speak from my own life experience and like any Christian or person of sincere faith, I seek to reconcile my experience with what Scripture teaches.

          Now for example “the commandment not to murder” is sometimes difficult.
          1st Kings 2>
          ““Moreover, you also know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, how he dealt with the two commanders of the armies of Israel, Abner the son of Ner,and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed, avenging[b] in time of peace for blood that had been shed in war, and putting the blood of war[c] on the belt round his[d] waist and on the sandals on his feet. 6 Act therefore according to your wisdom, but do not let his grey head go down to Sheol in peace.

          Was that murder?

          or verse 25
          ” So King Solomon sent Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he struck him down, and he died.”

          Was that murder?
          Did King David commit murder when he had Uriah the Hittite ‘eliminated’?
          There are lots of instances where murder may or may not have been committed Phil.

          • Phil R

            What you propose is in essence T4. In your world. We get to play God.

            What i am saying is that we have been there done that many times before.

            It always turned into a nightmare

  • Tutanekai

    Another lament from a Christian man yearning for the days when he could control the bodies of his wife and daughters.

    Those days are long gone. Women make their own reproductive choices now. Men are free to voice their opinions, but as this imaginary god of yours is supposed to have gifted each individual (even women!) with free will, even Christians must admit that the final choice belongs to the pregnant woman. She should be free to exercise that choice in line with her own conscience. Not the Church’s, not her husband’s, nor her father’s. The decision to bear a child affects the woman first and foremost. It’s her body. It’s her choice.

    Of course that won’t stop Christian men demanding that their wives obey them. Let them demand! Each woman is free to exercise her legal right to terminate a pregnancy within the terms of the law no matter what her husband demands.

    I have a family member who’s a Christian. His wife fell pregnant but chose to abort because of health problems that could have seriously endangered her life had she gone to term. Her husband demanded she continue with the pregnancy, and when she decided not to, made her life a living hell. She left him not long afterwards: who could stand being married to that much rage and bitterness?

    She’s rebuilt her life with a new husband. But he rests a prisoner of a marriage that exists nowhere anymore except in his own head, nursing a grievance against his former wife that has of course been transformed by religious zeal into a martyrdom syndrome of astonishing proportions.

    O woe is he! No wife, and no prospect of ever having one, not as long as his former wife remains alive at least. No children either. But a lifetime of gnashing his teeth, beating his breast and posturing at the foot of the Cross to look forward to. I don’t even think he’s all that unhappy. Hatred and thoughts of the revenge that his god will inflict on his “evil” former wife are heating his blood very nicely. He’s the perfect Christian. A paragon of every virtue born of self-inflicted suffering and a consummate showman making a spectacle of his faith for all to see…

    • Inspector General

      When a husband or wife is abandoned by their spouse, then the abandoned is free to marry again. When a wife refuses to provide children to a husband, then she shall be damned and he free to marry again. So sayeth the Inspector.

      • Tutanekai

        Tell that to the Catholic Church. As I doubt they see you as the Second Coming, or indeed any kind of seer or prophet, it will probably fall on deaf ears.

    • Anton

      “The decision to bear a child affects the woman first and foremost. It’s her body. It’s her choice.”

      It’s also the body of the unborn child. Who has no choice.

      “His wife fell pregnant but chose to abort because of health problems that could have seriously endangered her life had she gone to term. Her husband demanded she continue with the pregnancy, and when she decided not to, made her life a living hell.”

      Concentrating on the exceptions again? That situation and rape pregnancy constitute a tiny proportion of abortions. Can you justify the other 99%?

      • Tutanekai

        I don’t have to justify anything. If a woman chooses to terminate her pregnancy within the terms of the law, it’s no business of mine. I certainly don’t have to come up with moral justifications for her actions. She’s free to do what she wants with her body without having to justify her actions to me, you or anyone else.

        • Anton

          Yes, she is just as free to do those things as you are to duck my questions.

          • Tutanekai

            Your questions have no relevance for me. I’m not a woman. I can never be pregnant, therefore I can never be faced with the moral choice of whether I should terminate the pregnancy or not. I can’t put myself in shoes I can never wear.

            Abortion is an issue for women to decide. A man who has impregnated a woman may have a stake in the game in the form of potential offspring, but his power of decision is outweighed by the right of the woman to exercise personal sovereignty over her own body.

            If you don’t like that, complain to your god, not to me. He was the one (according to you) who gave women independent minds and the free will to make their own choices. He could have designed them to be mindless receptacles who obeyed their husband’s every command by instinct. But he didn’t. He gave them discernment and control over their own actions.

            Why can’t you abide by god’s plan when you’re so eager to tell others they have to?

          • Anton

            I have no authority to command anybody, nor do I wish to. I wish no more than to introduce people to Jesus Christ and explain why they need to meet him. What they do after that is not my business.

            Abortion is an issue for women to decide. A man who has impregnated a woman may have a stake… but his power of decision is outweighed by the right of the woman to exercise personal sovereignty over her own body.

            And also over the body of her unborn child: aren’t you ignoring that?

          • Phil R

            “Abortion is an issue for women to decide.”

            Clearly this has always been the case. Mindless? Women have never in history been mindless. Quite the opposite.

            Stating the obvious does further the debate on the morality of the action as the action you describe is fact. Stating a fact that is self apparent, cannot determine the morality of the argument.

    • chiefofsinners

      Your relative is not suffering because of his attitude to abortion, he is suffering because he has not learned to forgive. Anyone who cannot forgive those who trespass against him does not truly know God’s forgiveness.

      • Tutanekai

        Easy for you to say. Anyone ever murder your child?

        Of course I don’t believe abortion is murder, but he does. So do you if your posts are anything to go by.

        So how would you react if your child was murdered? Would you be full of love and forgiveness for the woman who murdered it? And when she walked out on you, would you rejoice at the prospect of spending your entire life alone through no (perceived) fault of your own?

        It’s really easy to tell others they have to forgive, isn’t it? I wonder how well you do when you have to put that theory into practice? Are you a real Christian, or is it all just talk?

        • Phil R

          “I wonder how well you do when you have to put that theory into practice? Are you a real Christian, or is it all just talk?”

          Being a Christian is not a test. We don’t pass or fail by what we do.

        • chiefofsinners

          I’m not telling others they have to forgive. I’m pointing out the cost of being unable or unwilling to forgive. God’s advice is good advice.
          Choose bitterness if you prefer: Are you a real atheist or is it just talk?

    • The Explorer

      A personal anecdote always lends immediacy. However, since the trajectory of Tutanekai’s life seems to differ from Linus’, this may simply be an invented example.

      • Tutanekai

        You demonstrate with astonishing clarity the limitations of the dogmatic mind. If you take it as an article of faith that I am Linus, and if what I say contradicts his story, then I must be lying.

        This can only mean that you accept the first line someone feeds you as absolute truth, and anything that contradicts it as lies. But what proof do you have that the initial story was true?

        If I am Linus, might not I have been making it all up when posting under that name? Might not I be telling the truth now? Or perhaps I’m just spinning another yarn, the better to confuse you.

        Place your faith in the written word backed up by no corroborating evidence and you lay yourself open to the possibility – indeed the probability – of being hoodwinked. That’s the situation every Christian on the planet finds himself in. If faith rests solely on a good story, it has no real foundation.

        • The Explorer

          It may be true – in which case, sympathies – but when compared with Linus’s story of the suicide at his school both smack of being examples taken from a situation ethics manual for the discomfiture of Christians.
          Both examples are powerful. In that sense, both are ‘true’ situations whether they actually happened or not. They could happen to somebody, and probably have.
          You are absolutely right. Tutanekai’s account differs from Linus’. So T might be lying, or L might have been lying, or both might be lying. None of that matters if the arguments are valid, but the intrusion of the personal tends to get in the way of that truth.

          • Anton

            Just politely ask him: Did you ever post at this blog under the name Linus, and please include a clear Yes or No to that specific question in any reply?

          • The Explorer

            I have. You think he’d oblige and miss out on all the fun of giving us the run around?

          • Anton

            Then ask him why he didn’t give a straight answer.

        • dannybhoy

          “This can only mean that you accept the first line someone feeds you as absolute truth, and anything that contradicts it as lies.”
          Christians are prone to believing people, and thinking the best of people. So sometimes we get it wrong and are taken for gullible mugs.
          But that seems to me far bettter than being devious or cynically manipulative.

          • Tutanekai

            What’s that, you wear your gullibility as a badge of pride?

            So much for Christian humility.

            The thing about cynical manipulation is that as a tactic for exposing the smug and self-satisfied hypocrite lurking beneath the smiley, happy-clappy, innocent façade of the typical Christian, it never fails.

            Your faith doesn’t perfect you. All it does is slap a thin layer of cheesy fakery over the top of the same mixture of good and bad intentions that drive us all. In fact it actually makes you worse than anyone else. All your interactions begin in dishonesty. The “look at me, I’m so holy and I love everyone” smile with nothing behind the eyes but pure indifference, or even malice, is one of the most chilling things about Christians.

            Give me the open hostility of a Muslim any day. At least you know where you stand and can take appropriate measures to protect yourself. The honest enemy is easy to spot. It’s the sneaky dissembler who pretends to be so innocent and friendly that you really have to watch out for.

            So who are you, Mr Oh-I’m-So-Innocent-and-Gullible-And-So-Much-Better-Than-You? You and your overweening sense of pride in your holier-than-thou’edness are on full display today.

          • dannybhoy

            Why thank you sir.

    • Anna

      It’s her body. It’s her choice.

      Indeed it is, and (except in situations of rape) when she consents to engage in a sexual act that could lead to the conceiving of a new life, she makes her choice. Thereafter, she may have the physical power to abort the baby, but morally speaking, she has no further choice in the matter.

    • VivM

      Bullshit.

    • Eos Pengwern

      I don’t understand why he doesn’t feel able to marry again. According to Matthew 19:9, if his wife has remarried then she’s committing adultery and in that case he’s perfectly free to remarry as well.

      • Tutanekai

        Tell that to the Catholic Church. My cousin has abandoned all personal moral responsibility to a gang of (self-proclaimed, but who knows what they get up to in private) celibate priests who tell him what to think, what to do and even how to feel.

        The first two of these things they manage to do quite efficiently. It’s the last they can’t quite pull off. You can lead a horse to water. You can even splash that water all over it. But you cannot make it drink.

        What you can do of course is guilt the horse out about not drinking, and tell him he’s bad or even sick for not being thirsty. If he’s docile and stupid enough, he’ll probably end up making a pretence of drinking if only to get you off his back. But he still won’t be thirsty.

        In Christian terms, the horse is my brainwashed sycophant of a cousin, who goes through the motions of Christian worship out of a sense of obligation and a strange mixture of pride and self-loathing, but whose heart remains as pagan as any Atheist’s. Which is all the Church requires. Outward conformity is its primary goal, as evidenced by the high praise my cousin wins from priest and bishop, who constantly hold him up as a shining example of Christian rectitude. Never mind that whenever his former wife is mentioned his eyes flash with hatred. That’s quite alright because, as his chaplain always says, it’s the sin of the evil bitch he hates, not the evil bitch herself. Of course he doesn’t use the term “evil bitch”, but given the way he spits out the words he does use, nobody can be in any doubt about his true meaning…

  • Arden Forester

    What happened to the twelve days of Christmas? They seem to start 24 days before.

    • chiefofsinners

      Bah humbug.

      • Anton

        Oliver Cromwell said that long before Scrooge.

  • len

    What is the value of a life?.Only God can determine that and Jesus paid the ultimate price for every person on this Earth past present and future .If this is the value and the price of a life and Jesus paid it in full then who are we to question that?

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Grreat article and thank You. I have read several articles which explain why the life of the unborn child is sacred, but this is the most eloquent of them to date

    I would like to make an observation regarding the recent shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colarado. When I heard about it I expected the media to put all its effort into demonising the anti-abortion groups and somehow trying to connect them with this crime. I thought the feminists and the pro-“choice” people would have a field day out of it, as when they try to cast all priests as paedophiles or all Christians as homophobes. Instead, the media seem to have been surprisingly mute on the motive behind the shootings. According to CNN, the accused mentioned something about “body parts” during interrogation. Is it just possible that the media are a little uncomfortable about reporting on the activities of Planned Parenthood?

  • Anton

    I would love to see some of those below who (I realise) have wrestled more deeply with these issues than I have discuss what is meant by the “image of God”.

    • chiefofsinners

      It means a three part being: soul, body and spirit, like God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The human soul is at the nub of these arguments , since it is eternal. Those who believe in limited atonement often believe that the soul of an aborted child is eternally condemned.

      • IanCad

        O Dear! The Immortality of the Soul.
        That Hellenistic and Pagan belief which is the foundation of Spiritualism.

        • chiefofsinners

          So do you believe in eternal life? If so, what lives eternally?

          • IanCad

            Most certainly; we have the Blessed Hope, when, in that great day we will rise to meet our Saviour in the air. We will live in our glorified bodies.

          • chiefofsinners

            And the Spirit is made alive upon conversion. So what of the poor old soul? Is the work of Christ insufficient?

          • IanCad

            The soul that sinneth; it shall die.
            Absolutely Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient. He has done it all. We have the option to obey.

          • chiefofsinners

            Cannot the dead soul be made alive, as much as the dead spirit and body?

          • IanCad

            The dead are no longer souls.
            Dust plus breath of life (Spirit) becomes a soul. Note that you don’t receive a soul.

          • chiefofsinners

            So what of 1 Peter 1v 9: “you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”?
            Or Rev 6v9 “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God”?

          • IanCad

            Body, soul, spirit.
            The first our physical self. Bones, blood, skin and, hopefully, a little hair and some muscle. The soul is our being, character, our personality, our uniqueness. The spirit, is that spark of life,

          • chiefofsinners

            Hmm. Not much there to refute the scriptures I quoted.
            If our souls are “our personality, our uniqueness” and this is lost at death, then how were Moses and Elijah recognisable on the mount of transfiguration?

          • IanCad

            Well we know that Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind.
            Satan and Michael disputed about the body of Moses. I guess Michael won; thus both could appear.
            I’d better not suggest that Michael was Christ as that discussion would be a bit too much at this late hour.
            I’ll content myself with you having the last word, if you so choose.

          • chiefofsinners

            Michael was not Christ. Michael “did not dare bring a railing accusation against Satan.” That is not the same being as the Son of God who said “get thee behind me Satan” and trod on the serpent, nor the Word of God, by whom and for whom all things were created.

          • dannybhoy

            “Soul and spirit can mean the same thing.”
            That seems to be the conclusion of that website I mentioned,. Neshema and ruach are the same thing/interchangeable, but what of the teaching of body, soul and spirit?

      • Anton

        As I understand it there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the words used for soul and spirit in the Old Testament Hebrew (nephesh and neshamah), the New Teestament Greek and in modern English. I’d love to see operational definitions of these words tied to what the Bible says. But my question was more about the extent to which somebody born with severe and permanent mental disability is in the image of God. Before I get accused of rampant callous humanism, I’m perfectly willing to accept Yes for an answer, but i’d like to see it argued out, because for the Christian it is the deepest point.

        • dannybhoy
          • Anton

            Thanks. According to Genesis 1:24 living animals have nephesh, but all of the 24 appearances of neshamah in the Old Testament (including God blowing the neshamah of life into Adam) is explicitly to do with man, except one, and that one (Genesis 7:22) is ambiguous, so one may take the other 23 as settling the ambiguity.

          • dannybhoy

            neshema(h) comes from the verb “linshom” “to breathe.”
            ” Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

            I have yet to find in Genesis where it refers to man having a spirit???

          • Anton

            “I have yet to find in Genesis where it refers to man having a spirit?”

            Which Hebrew word do you mean by “spirit”, please?

          • dannybhoy

            Man became a living being or soul (Genesis 2:7)
            Where’s the first mention of man having a spirit?
            We have the Spirit(Ruach) moving on the face of the deep, but I haven’t yet found the word ruach in relation to man’s being.

          • Anton

            I don’t know; I’m floating questions in hope of learning. I’ve made a study of neshamah in the OT but I’m still not sure what neshamah actually is.

          • chiefofsinners

            There is much that is not revealed in the Old Testament. God’s own triune nature is only there when viewed in light of the NT.
            The first point at which man’s spirit becomes relevant is Gen 2v17 “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”. On the day that Adam ate of the fruit his spirit died. (His body was also condemned to death but the sentence was delayed, by God’s mercy.)

          • Pubcrawler

            It may be that the vocabulary used at the time of writing hadn’t yet developed the precise theological distinctions that we are demanding of it. Perhaps it still hasn’t.

          • Pubcrawler

            Interestingly the LXX uses a completely different word (pnoe as opposed to either pneuma or psyche) at Gen 7:22.

          • IanCad

            Doesn’t pneuma come from pnoe? – To blow, or breath. And, the former word is translated as “Spirit” in the New Testament corresponding to ruach in the Old?
            I’m reading not researching!

          • Pubcrawler

            They’re from the same root, yes, but they mean different things. Pnoe is physical act or capability of breath, exhalation, whereas pneuma is used for what we would call ‘spirit’.

            (Sorry, that’s very rough and ready: I’m not at home with access to the tomes right now, I’ll have to come back to this anon.)

          • IanCad

            Don’t worry PC!
            I’m not up to Strong’s tonight.

          • Pubcrawler

            Phew, me neither 🙂

          • CliveM

            I agree with DB above! I was looking forward to more info.

          • dannybhoy

            Please do come back in this one!
            As far as I can see the word ‘soul’ in Genesis means ‘living organism or being.’ There is no mention in Genesis of ‘spirit’ other than the Spirit of God’

            So either the word translated ‘soul’ (nephesh) includes an unawoken/dormant component known as the spirit of man (ruach) or else it is entirely separate from the soul – a living creature. (I think the same word is used of animals)

            We need some input from our theologically inclined contributors and our Jewish friends.

            Meantime, I found this…
            “Meaning of the word “soul” in the Bible.”

            https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/theology-state-dead/meaning-word-soul-bible

          • Pubcrawler

            OK, later on Weds if I get time. But for now (because I have been looking into it further) see my comment to Anton nearby and what I said the other day over at Hannah’s place about there being some areas where we might have to settle for ‘we don’t know (in this life and perhaps also the next)’.

          • dannybhoy

            “what I said the other day over at Hannah’s place about there being some areas where we might have to settle for ‘we don’t know (in this life and perhaps also the next)’.”
            I saw that one.

            Meantime on further investigation I found this rather useful website….
            http://www.studylight.org/language-studies/hebrew-thoughts/index.cgi?a=601

            “נֶפֶשׁ nephesh, as with רוּחַ rûach “spirit”, is often used to describe the whole immaterial part of man,i.e., mind, emotions, will, intellect, personality, conscience . . ., that the two are similar is clear by the parallelism in Job 7:11:

            “I will speak / in the anguish / of my soul (nephesh);
            I will complain / in the bitterness / of my spirit (ruach)”

            Job 3:20 also describes the bitterness of soul just as there is a bitterness of spirit in Job 7:11. Other parallelisms between soul and spirit occur in Job 12:10 and Isaiah 26:9.”

            The article concludes with..

            “Jewish writings speak of the soul synonymously under several words or aspects:

            “three names the soul of man is called by, the soul, spirit, and breath”
            (Zohar in Numbers 67.fol 3)

            “The soul is called by five names: nephesh, rûach, neshamah, yechidah, chayyah
            (Genesis Rabbah 14.9)

            Of these latter five, the rabbis speak of nephesh as the life and vitality “in the blood” (Deuteronomy 12:23), rûach and neshamah “spirit and breath” as the vitality that specifically comes from God and ascends and descends (Ecclesiastes 3:21), yechidah as the aspect of man as unique and united, and chayyah as “life and survival”.

            Elsewhere, the rabbis (Siphre Deuteronomy 306; 132a) derive from the Old Testament the idea that man is first a unity but secondly of two natures, one from above (the soul & its synonyms just mentioned) and one from below (the body), but sometimes as we have seen even the soul can be described as from below with just the breath coming from above. Hebrew psychology is not an exact science!”

        • Anna

          “But my question was more about the extent to which somebody born with severe and permanent mental disability is in the image of God…”

          To the same extent as the rest of us. I have never given serious thought to this question because I have never doubted that a disabled person bore the image of God any less than a ‘normal’ person – but my reasons would include the following:

          1. All Adam’s descendants bear the likeness of God.

          2. God knit that (mentally ill) person’s body in his/her mother’s womb and breathed the breath of life into him/her.

          3. Sin has marred us all, and some of us in our mental capacities.

          4. Their lives have the same value in God’s eyes as anyone else’s – He does not judge as man judges (1 Samuel 16:7).

          5. It is possible that God loves them more, not less, than us who are ‘normal’. This point is the easiest for me to understand – because if I had a severely ill child, I would love that child more fiercely than the others who are well.

          6. Some have been allowed to suffer more than others – so that we who are strong may learn to love as God loves us – by tending to those who are weak. So their lives have a special purpose.

          7. Finally, at the restoration of all things, they, like all of us, will be restored to perfect wholeness.

          Why has God allowed them to be so? That the works of God might be displayed in them (John 9:2-3).

          While it is difficult for us to understand how God connects with them in the spiritual realm, it would be very strange indeed if He did not relate to them in ways that are beyond our understanding (Romans11:33-36).

          • Anton

            Thank you!

          • chiefofsinners

            What a superb post.

          • Anna

            Thank you

      • dannybhoy

        Which of course is rubbish.
        Like it says in the war cemeteries..
        “Known only to God.”

      • VivM

        I don’t think I’ve ever come across that belief, even in Calvinist circles.

        • chiefofsinners

          You should get out more. Or maybe not. It is an Arminian position based on the belief that conversion is impossible for those below the age of reason.

  • Manfarang

    Sinterklaas has already come.