During all the debate within the PCUSA about ordaining homosexuals and revising the form of government, I was surprised there was little discussion about another very contentious and divisive issue – abortion.
Apparently this issue was well-settled in the denomination, but I had no idea what that settlement was. It is rarely mentioned in the many Presbyterian web sites and blogs I visit. The attitude in my congregation is sharply anti-abortion, but what does the larger denomination think?
Now I’m sorry I asked. And that is probably why it is so rarely discussed.
The first hint came from a recent document from the General Assembly Mission Council — headlined, “Women’s reproductive health under attack (and so are PC(USA) reproductive health policies!): The assault on women.”
Like many things that come from the PCUSA, this is a peculiar mix of hysterical left-wing rhetoric — “the assault on women” — and more tempered language intended to soothe conservatives – “PC(USA) policy is clear. It respects the diverse viewpoints that Presbyterians hold on the issue of abortion and the question of when human life begins. It respects the diverse ways that Presbyterians interpret the Bible.”
So it “respects diverse viewpoints,” but considers those viewpoints “an assault on women.” How can that be? It cannot be. One cannot “respect” people who are “assaulting women.” Like so much of what comes out of the PCUSA, it is window dressing for the real agenda.
And in fact the purpose of this document is to recruit more people to join the group “Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options.” So, while the PCUSA “respects” its pro-life members, it puts its money and its organizing effort into pro-abortion groups. If it really “respected” both sides, it would also support a Presbyterian pro-life organization.
This was just one document. I figured I should dig a little deeper, so I found the “Report of the Special Committee on Problem Pregnancies and Abortion,” adopted by the General Assembly in 1992.
This is another example of how progressive Presbyterians give lip service to conservatives in order to put their agenda into action. First, appoint a committee with a “diverse,” membership. Then allow the conservative side to write about the theological underpinnings of their position. Then completely ignore them and pass what you want without restraint. They know the conservatives, being conservative, will not make a fuss, especially since their views were aired and they really, really, want everyone to get along.
There are many beautifully written sections in this report. Here is just one example:
“In the sixteenth century, during the Protestant Reformation, when the Reformed tradition of which we are a part was in process of formation, there was a sharp debate as to the relative authority of Scripture and the decisions and teachings of the church. The Reformed tradition, with other Protestant groups, affirmed that Scripture is the unique authority for the church’s teachings and life. Where another authority, such as a tradition that does not have a biblical base or is the result of human reason alone, is given weight equal or superior to Scripture, the church loses its way and begins to alter the revelation that has been given to us. Jesus then ceases to be the Lord of the church, and the church becomes its own authority.”
There is much of this nature, including a theological exposition (Position A on page 9, if you are interested) that strongly supports a pro-life position, saying, for example:
“The Scriptures clearly testify that not only is all life precious to God, but that all life belongs to God…. God’s ownership of life extends not only to those who have been born, however, but also to those still in the womb.”
A counter position is also offered by the pro-abortion side (Position B), but this is very weak, saying, for instance:
“Real decision making is one of the gifts of God to us as human beings…. It is also very difficult to claim that God’s intentionality is present in every conception when there are so many genetic deformities and such a high percentage end in miscarriages.”
Good grief! Yes, humans are given the “gift” of being able to make decisions, but almost all of our decisions are bad ones. The entire Bible is the story of humans making bad decisions. The only time we make good decisions is when we put aside our pride and “decide” to trust in the Lord – including “God’s intentionality” when a “genetic deformity” occurs. In fact, I know of a couple who had a “deformed” baby and that was the best thing that ever happened to them. It cured them of self-centeredness and taught them how to love and how to give of themselves.
The rest of the paper completely ignores the will of God and turns into a political polemic. For instance, the discussion of “problem pregnancies” morphs into a discussion of “unintended pregnancies,” as if anything that is not intended by humans is “a problem.” God’s intentions are completely absent and not worth any mention. I am close to several women who did not “intend” to get pregnant when they did, but God had other “intentions” and their birth control failed. The result of God’s “intention” was not a curse, but a gift.
And on it goes. Once again, the report gives periodic lip service to the “diversity of views.” It provides as a unifying principle:
“The church ought to be able to maintain within its fellowship those who, on the basis of a study of Scripture and prayerful decision, come to diverse conclusions and actions.”
Right. But then it goes on to bind the PCUSA to a set of policy positions that completely ignore the principles of over half of the membership of the denomination (the committee conducted a survey that found only 26% of the members of the church agree that women should be able to get abortions for any reason they want, but that is exactly the position the committee took.) Let’s cut to the chase.
The official position of the PCUSA on abortion is (among other things) that
- There should be no limits on access to abortions.
- There should be unlimited public funding of abortions.
- People who demonstrate against abortions should not be allowed to use “abusive language.”
The public funding issue is interesting. Earlier in the report it says:
“… the church must remember that it fulfills its obligation to try to shape public life not by the imposition of law, but by preaching, teaching, and living its gospel. The church cannot demand that its ethic, which is born out of its faith in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture, become the law of the state (especially of a pluralistic state like ours) for all persons.”
It goes on to summarize:
“Christians should try to follow Christian standards of behavior in matters of private morality, but shouldn’t try to impose those standards on others.”
But that is precisely what it is doing when it calls for public funding of abortions. It is forcing people to pay for a service they may find abhorrent. Progressives have no problem imposing progressive morality on unwilling people.
There is barely a mention of adoption, and even then it is only something that churches should consider offering, not something that should be encouraged or funded by government.
Similarly, abstinence is mentioned only as a small element of “comprehensive sex education” in the schools.
So, there you have it. The PCUSA holds the most radical pro-abortion position of any major national organization I have come across. Every dollar you put into the collection plate helps to fund this agenda.
Next time: The Hits Keep Coming