Turning to science to answer the question “When does life begin?” is a completely ignorant expectation. If a medical doctor or scientist tries to prove/disprove the source of life or the supernatural/spiritual using scientific measures, then that person has completely stepped outside legitimacy and into his/her own personal belief. Likewise, it’s just as ridiculous for a pastor or theologian who is not also a biologist to attempt to speak intellectually about genome mapping, DNA sequencing, and biological evolution (you can read how I think biological evolution reconciles with Christian salvific theology here). All either party can assert is belief, not fact.
Science: a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws
Theology: the study of God and of God’s relation to the world
Science studies how the world works, then develops theories of how that system has operated in the past and how it impacts the present and may impact the future. Theology studies how God relates to/interacts with mankind and the rest of creation. These two things are not in any way opposing, unless one study asserts belief about the other. The proper interaction of biological science and theology is that theology injects value into the observations of biological science. Science theorizes the method by which the human body developed and theology tells us why life is significant.
All of that to say…
Christians will fall on either side of the issue of abortion regarding its legality… and both sides have reasons that they believe are valuing human life. Let’s just go ahead and throw out two segments of the argument regarding human life:
- The conservative who wants to kill doctors who provide abortions
- The liberal who wears shirts saying “I love abortion”
Both groups are too disgusting of individuals to be included in this discussion. Neither are representative of, or capable of, intelligent thought or intellectual reasoning. So I am not even worried about addressing their perspective. What I would like to offer is an alternative to the bickering within Christian circles regarding this topic as a political issue. So…
I propose that Christians begin to assert claims about which they can speak intelligently: the significance/value/sanctity of all life.
I think the difficulty many Christians will face is providing a framework for a consistent progression of beliefs regarding the sanctity of life. We allow politics/politicians too great an influence over our faith, whether it’s a politician with an “R” or “D” behind the name. If we begin talking about the value of human life in general, then we will be forced to wrestle with the entirety of our views… and realize that much of what we stand in the streets screaming, or arguing about on Facebook and Twitter, has absolutely no grounding in the teachings of Jesus.
The job of a Christian isn’t to create laws that force people to think and believe like us. It’s to reveal a glimpse of a God who loves his creation. We don’t just speak to abortion, we speak to the value of the elderly, the poor, the prisoner, the immigrant, and the forgotten. It’s a little more self-convicting when we begin crossing the line of a nice, tidy political argument about abortion… and begin speaking about the things many Christians don’t do… and don’t want to even bother doing.
It may create a mess that is hard to clean up or sort out. It could result in a group of loving, but misunderstood people who are hard to control or to neatly define…
…But that’s also how the religious leaders of Jesus’ day viewed him.