Lesson 2: Let’s Start with Jesus

It’s pretty obvious abortion is the main issue dividing the Church in our time. The Body of Christ is split apart over a question that people acknowledge Jesus himself never addressed.

This omission indicates that first-century people did not see it as a major problem. However, it also invites us to imagine how Jesus might have answered if asked the question. Chances are his response would not completely satisfy either Pro-Life or Pro-Choice advocates. Our Lord steadfastly refused to offer absolute definitions or take absolute positions.

I came to appreciate that recently when writing a sermon on the Good Samaritan parable. A lawyer asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus does not answer, claiming he should know what is written in the law. He responds with two commands from the Torah: Love God with our whole being and our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. When Jesus agrees, the lawyer observes the critical issue then, who is the neighbor he is supposed to love? Jesus refused to give the concise definition he desired and instead used the blessed ambiguity of words to tell a story. This time it is one of the most beloved in the scriptures.

Jesus again turns the question around and says we are to be the neighbor who loves and cares for anyone we encounter in need. We realize this is not a trite statement as a third of the parable recounts how well the Samaritan cares for the poor soul left penniless and near death. He goes to him, binds up his wounds, pours oil and wine on them, takes him to an inn, cares for him during the night, gives the innkeeper money to continue care until he is completely well, and promises he will make good if any more is needed to finish the job.

I came away thinking Jesus does not give definitions but instead offers models we can use in the diverse situations of real life. To illustrate this, I suggested the congregation imagine a politician asking Jesus how he should vote on the abortion issue. Jesus responds by asking what the law says. The politician replies, “All life is sacred.” “Right,” says Jesus. But the politician pushes further, claiming the critical issue is when life begins.

Instead of giving a precise answer, Jesus tells a story about how people care and don’t care for a young pregnant woman in need. He refuses to engage in an abstract argument that might result in an absolute law. Instead, he offers a story that can apply in any conceivable situation.

And that story makes clear whatever position you choose must first take complete care of the pregnant woman in need. Of course, we all can come up with several objections. However, I think if you start with Jesus, he directs you to start with the pregnant woman in need before you.

Next week I’d like to begin examining the main arguments of the Pro-Life position.

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  1. Eilzabeth says:

    I have been thinking about this parable, too. But in my contemplation, I have concluded that the church is acting as the robbers: beating the pregnant woman, and leaving her for dead on the side of the road for the sake of its pro-life agenda.

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