Leave the side of evil
According to the results of a survey conducted by the Levada Center, 52% of the Orthodox and 61% of the Moslems [interviewed in Russia] do not regard abortion as murder. It is obvious that we are talking here about people who merely identify themselves as Orthodox or Moslems—participating little or not at all in the life of their respective religious communities.
This is a manifestation of what some sociologists call "poor faith." A person does not deny that God exists, he counts himself with the religious tradition that his forefathers were affiliated with—Orthodox or Moslem respectively—but this tradition in no way influences his relationship towards life, his ideas of right and wrong, or the decisions that he makes.
Abortion is one of the issues over which the views of the Church and the views of secular society are sharply divided. As it says in the document accepted by the Russian Orthodox Church entitled, "Foundations of the Social Concepts of the Russian Orthodox Church":
"Since ancient times, the Church has looked upon the intentional interruption of pregnancy (abortion) as a grave sin. The Canons equate abortion with murder. Such an evaluation is based upon the conviction that the conception of a human being is a gift of God; therefore from the moment of conception any interference with the life of the future human person is a crime."
Actually, this is not the position of the Orthodox Church alone—Catholics come out very sharply against abortions. Even Pope Francis, who has gotten a reputation as a "liberal" and "reformer" has recently emphasized that "this cannot be a subject for any kind of supposed reform or 'modernization.' It is not 'progressive' at all to try to solve a problem by way of the annihilation of a human life." Similar views are held by the majority of Protestants. Even some unbelievers come out against the "life-negating horror of abortions."
Why? Contrary to what the advocates of abortions usually say, there is nothing specifically religious in recognizing abortion to be murder. "You must not deprive an innocent human being of life" is an evident moral truth known to people even outside of Biblical revelation.
What is a human? Aristotle suggested a self-evident definition early on: "a human is a living being belonging to the human race."
Is the child in the mother's womb a living being, and not part of the mother's body? Yes.
Is it a human being? Yes, and what kind? To what race does it belong, if not the human race?
Is it innocent? Some supporters of abortion declare it to be "an aggressor" or "an unwanted tenant," which the mother has a right to kill or "evict." But such logic is absurd—the child in the womb is not undertaking any armed aggression, which it might have been permitted to repulse, and he does not commit any crime deserving the death penalty. He is an innocent human being, and to deprive him of life is criminal, not by virtue of any specific church principles, but by virtue of the moral principle self-evident to all: one must not kill innocent people.
The unique proclamation of the Church here is not that abortion is murder—here the Church simply bears witness to moral self-evidence. The Church proclaims the forgiveness of sins. Christ is the “Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)—among which is the grave sin of abortion. Everyone who comes to Him with repentance and faith obtains full forgiveness and the chance to start life with a clean slate. Many abortionists—and other people involved in this evil—have acted thus, and now come out in defense of life. The Church denounces the sin not in order to torment people with a hopeless feeling of guilt, but in order for them to repent, find forgiveness, and be saved.
“Mommy, don't kill me!”
But there is yet one more deep discrepancy between the secular and the church view of sin. The holy Apostle Paul writes about the fact that those who approve of sin are more guilty than those who commit it directly (cf. Rom. 1:32). This may seem strange, but it is so. A woman who commits an abortion may do it under heavy pressure from circumstances, when no one—neither the father of the child, nor her relatives, nor the doctor—shows support for her, but, on the contrary, urges her on to the sin in every possible way. Sin remains sin, and the person needs repentance and forgiveness—but the extent of the guilt here is different.
It is another whole story when a person in a completely comfortable situation and without any pressure accepts this sin as being permissible. It is no longer a manifestation of weakness in the face of severe trials—it is a conscious, free choice of evil and sin. And this approval is a serious sin which one must repent of—acknowledging that evil is evil and confessing that we stood on the side of evil. We must resolutely stand on the side of our Lord Jesus Christ; we must resolve to be Orthodox not in name only, but by a serious personal choice. This is what the first step to salvation may look like: that we refuse to consent to the evil that everyone around us regards as permissible.
21 / 12 / 2013
Other worthwhile reads on the topic:http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/65319.htm