Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 7, 2005, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

A fundamental right to life

By Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

Disturbing rhetoric has emerged in the abortion debate. It has been stated by proponents of abortion that a woman’s right to choose is a “fundamental right.”

How is it that the right of choice is held to be more sacrosanct than life itself?

The prevalent view of our culture is that choice is sacred. This is the result of the popular philosophy of our day, which is often labeled as “postmodern.”

This philosophy rejects objective truth. It is suspicious of any comprehensive claims of right and wrong. Such claims of morality are now left up for the individual to decide. In short, truth is a matter of choice.

This is rooted in existentialism. For the existentialist, there is no objective meaning in life. Truth is not outside of ourselves, waiting to be discovered. We formulate our own meaning. We decide what is true for us. Thus, for an existentialist, choice is what constitutes genuine living.

Now, we can get a better handle on the abortion rhetoric. The debate isn’t about what happens to the unborn infant. The debate isn’t about the mourning and grief after the abortion is completed. The debate isn’t about life. Choice is framed as the fundamental issue.

It is a fundamental right. After all, it defines what is right and wrong. It is what defines our lives and gives it meaning.

Is this the type of society we truly want? Should we leave it up to each individual to decide what is right and wrong? A society needs to be governed by objective truth and standards in order to function. A society ruled by individual choice ultimately leads to chaos; each person lives as he sees fit.

Because we need objective truth, God has preserved His Word for us. God’s Word is where he reveals himself. Therefore God’s Word teaches us what is right and wrong. In addition, God’s Word also proclaims to us how we are saved by grace in Christ Jesus apart from our works.

It is His Word that informs us that He has created man and woman in His own image. Because we have been created in His image, human life is not to be quickly and carelessly disposed of – even a life still growing in the womb. Something that is formed in the image of God deserves greater worth and consideration.

Jan. 22 marked the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade landmark decision. Since this decision in 1973, and until 2002, a staggering amount of abortions have occurred. It has been estimated that 44,010,378 abortions have been performed in the United States (from projections based on Alan Guttmacher Institute and Centers for Disease Control statistics).

Each abortion does not merely represent a choice that has been made. Each abortion represents a human life that has been terminated. That human life was created by God. It is highly valuable to him. Therefore, life should be valuable to us. In other words, it should be the fundamental issue.

The prophet Jeremiah (1:5) states that God knew him before he was formed in the womb; God set him apart before he was born. This means we do not look to our choices in order to give life meaning. Meaning and purpose for our lives come from our Creator.

The direction of this debate, therefore, needs to change. The fundamental right is not choice. The fundamental right is life. This is what deserves to be considered sacred.


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