abortion created serious debates and controversies among the mainline Christians?
Pro-life vs. Pro-choice
The Roman Catholic and the Southern American Baptist Convention
Approaching matters from a historical point-of-view makes it possible for this paper to provide insight regarding Christian attitudes in the contemporary society and how they were shaped through time. Abortion represents one of the most contentious matters in present day society because of the tension that it generated in the Christian world. Although the practice is a part of a more general context concerning pro-life advocates fighting pro-choice activists, it also involved Christians because of the historic aspect that the issue represented for the religion. While many Christians have adopted pro-life positions, others have expressed their approval for abortion because of the matter's complexity. The Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention are actively involved in condemning abortion but currently experience great difficulty imposing anti-abortionist laws as a result of people's general determination to employ a secular approach when faced with the matter.
Abortion has always been a delicate topic among mainline Christians because it is generally categorized as an evil and sinful practice. The early Christian Church has expressed its specific disapproval of abortion on the grounds that it went against religious principles. The practice's moral and legal issues have been debated ever since Antiquity, as there have always been supporters of abortion and people who were against it. One of the principal elements of this debate is focused on the moment of conception and its relationship with the beginning of life. Christians traditionally believe that one's soul is formed at the moment of the respective individual's conception and that abortion is thus equal to murder.
Abortion has been around for several thousands of years and pagan religions generally accepted and encouraged the practice as a means to avoid bringing unwanted children into the world. Some of the early Christian leaders wanted their religion to be distinguished from other religions and employed a series of legislations with the purpose of promoting the belief that Christianity focused on moral principles. The Didache, one of the oldest Christian documents discussing the issue of abortion relates to how the practice is against God's laws but fails to provide a complex explanation regarding the grounds for this statement. Instead, it brings forward matters like adultery and a debate regarding a fetus' status. Also, many Christians opposed abortions because they associated substances used in the practice to be generated through unholy performances. Positions gradually changed as religious leaders found it difficult to determine whether or not a fetus could be considered to have a soul in the primary stages of a pregnancy. More liberal Christians came to consider that abortion was a sin that required penitence if it was performed in order to cover up others sins such as fornication or adultery.
Throughout the Middle Ages individuals continued to express uncertainty regarding the fetus and the moment when it started to have a soul. People during the Enlightenment period saw abortion as something particularly sinful and considered that the fetus had a soul from the very moment when it was conceived. Historic data shows that individuals did not change their thinking regarding abortion until the nineteenth century as some groups started to accept the practice as a result of associating it with the concept of freedom.
IV. Pro-life vs. Pro-choice
One of the principal factors that made it possible for abortion to become a controversy in the recent two centuries was the rise of feminism. Women started to express their perspective in regard to abortion and to how they were primarily responsible for deciding whether or not the concept should be legalized. Feminist advocates promote the belief that abortion should essentially be an uninfringeable personal choice. Also, they argue that women have to be provided with the right to choose whether they want to terminate a pregnancy or not. In contrast, pro-life activists consider that it is wrong to deny a fetus' right to have a life. They generally consider that it would be irresponsible for one to consider the well-being of the woman and the life that the child is going to have.
Pro-life and pro-choice activists are typically reluctant to consider arguments put across by their adversaries because this would be perceived as a sign that they are uncertain regarding their convictions. This controversy has generated much attention because of the large number of people involved in each group and because of the passion with which they pursue their objectives. It is very difficult to determine the degree to which these people are certain that their position is correct because many pro-life advocates consider that abortion is, indeed, advisable in certain circumstances while many pro-choice activists agree that it is sometimes wrong to support an abortion.
By trying to look into the arguments put across by each-other, pro-life and pro-choice activists are probable to understand that abortion is a complex matter and that one cannot simply vote in regard to whether it should be legalized or not. Abortion cannot simply be criminalized, as people have to be provided with sex education regarding the dangers coming along with having unprotected sex. Change first needs to occur on a social level in order for it to be possible on a legal one. However, with both belligerent camps being unwilling to yield in front of the other, it is very difficult for the authorities to install a system meant to look at matters from an impartial view. Pro-life activists, for example, have put across their explicit objection to having sex education being taught in schools. "They have opposed virtually every social change that is needed to prevent unwanted pregnancies as well" (Faundes & Barzelatto 155). These people are generally determined to promote the image of women as housewives who are mainly responsible for having babies, caring for them, and taking care of their homes in general. Studies fail to prove that sex education stimulates sexual activity or earlier interest in performing intercourse in adolescents. However, research has shown that such programs are very effective in preventing pregnancies in teenagers. This is not surprising, especially considering that inducing feelings related to conscientiousness and mutual respect in teenagers makes it less likely for boys to try to have sex with girls that are hesitant regarding the practice (Faundes & Barzelatto 156).
People in the U.S. were more determined in opposing abortion, and, as a result, many schools in the country came to refrain from practicing sex education. Western Europeans adopted a different standpoint and generally accepted sex education in schools and early in people's lives. Accordingly, "pregnancy rate among adolescents was two to five times lower in western European countries than in the United States" (Faundes & Barzelatto 156). The Roman Catholic Church is an enthusiastic supporter of the pro-life movement in the U.S. And promotes the belief that it is wrong for someone to perform an abortion. Even with that, the Catholic Church presently considers that abortion qualifies as one of the worst sins that someone can perform. A woman who has an abortion and the individuals who assist her in having it are excommunicated.
V. The Roman Catholic and the Southern American Baptist Convention
The Catholic Church considers that the zygote, the embryo, and the fetus are all human in nature and that ending their lives is equivalent to murder. It takes on a different approach in the case of a murderer, however, as it considers murder to be less serious than abortion. This religion employs a more liberal approach concerning the circumstances that make it possible for an abortion to seem moral, as it accepts the practice in a situation when it is performed in order to save the mother from dying. Also, despite the fact that it promotes pro-life principles, the church accepts abortion when it involves a person who is under eighteen or who has no alternative and has to perform the practice.
The church's position in regard to abortion is not a dogma and it can undergo changes in the future. Furthermore, a great deal of Catholic theologians has expressed their interest concentrating moral principles in devising new legislations concerning abortion. The recent decades have seen many changes occur in the church's position on abortion as the concept has come to contradict ethics. Church officials have come to accept that morality is more important than principle when it comes to abortion. It seems irresponsible to force someone to deliver a child as long as the fetus displays malformations that make it impossible for it to live for more than a few days consequent to the moment when it is born. In spite of expressing disproval toward abortion, the Catholic Church rarely penalizes Catholics when they perform the practice. Moreover, it seems that the percentage of Catholic women who have an abortion is relatively similar to the general percentage of women performing abortions. The Catholic Church generally promotes the belief that an action that…