06 February 2013

Am I really having this conversation?

Sometimes facebook doesn't do me any favors.  Make that most of the time.  One of the blessings and curses of fb is the fact that you can have discussions/debates with other thoughtful people.  I said you can, as in, it's possible, not necessarily likely.  Such is the case I've found myself in for the past four days.  I belong to a group on fb for ministers from the Restoration Movement (read: a typically very socially and theologically conservative group), and the goal of the group is to foster ideas, discussion, and sharing on any number of trends, practices, beliefs, etc., we encounter in our ministries.  On Sunday, one member put forth this post:
After all the recent Sanctity of Life celebrations let me toss out a question. Pro-Life is the only right choice. No questions about that WHATSOEVER. Let me give you a little bit of medical knowledge and then ask a question for consideration.

According to drs who treat infertility, only about 1 out of every 4 or 5 fertilized human embryos ever are able to implant themselves in the wall of their mothers uterus and continue to develop further. A certain percentage of those that do implant also do not develop correctly and are also naturally eliminated by the body. These are medical facts and not subject to debate.

The line I have often heard among those who are pro-life (like myself) is that "Life begins at conception." If that is literally true, then God must be killing 4 out of every 5 "babies" that are conceived, because most fertilized eggs never make it to gestation. Certainly God is sovereign and can do as He chooses, but I find this natural conclusion of the concept that "Life begins at CONCEPTION" to be unsettling.

So... we do NOT have a right to intentionally end life in the womb... no argument. But, does life REALLY begin at conception, or is this an argument from emotion or slogan? Given our medical understanding, do we need to adjust this concept?
 I have questions about the data (how do they know 4/5 of fertilized eggs never implant?), but even assuming it's true, I think the questions at the end are very disturbing and have tremendous implications as to how one ministers and teaches on this subject from the pulpit.

We're up to about 80 comments on this topic so far, spread out among 5-6 of us.  I'm surprised and saddened by the fact that others have been not only sympathetic to the questions, but also have been advocating such things as: a baby has no soul until she draws her first breath (because of some twisted understanding of Gen. 2 and Adam becoming a "living soul" after God breathed into his body), an embryo/zygote/fetus is only a potential human being (despite all evidence to the contrary), and that it is problematic to assume that aborted embryos go to Heaven because (gasp!) Heaven would then be filled with babies.

So it seems the main problem these guys have is that because of the fact that, according to the Christian pro-life position, the majority of conceptions die; therefore, it is problematic to think that Heaven is "filled" with undeveloped embryos or tiny babies.  Apart from a complete lack of thoughtful study of Scripture and application of logic, it's just stupid and wrong.  I mean, really?  Heaven's glory is tainted by the presence of human beings whose only crime was not living long enough?

I'm pretty sure God has thought about this in advance and has made necessary arrangements.  Maybe God will allow those babies to grow up in Heaven, until they reach the "age" at which we all will be in Heaven.  Maybe they'll enter Heaven fully formed; God is not bound to preserve embryos as such forever.  

Additionally, I'm truly horrified by the "logic" that states that a baby has no soul until he/she draws first breath outside the womb.  The only difference, the only difference between a newborn and a baby one minute from birth is location.  There is no ontological change that occurs in the baby during the trip from the uterus to the outside world, no reason whatsoever to believe that one minute before birth, the baby has no soul and is therefore not a human being made in God's image, and the next moment, the moment of the first breath, when bam! they are suddenly not just a living mass of cells, but a soul-indwelt human being.  John leapt in Elizabeth's womb when Mary (pregnant with Jesus) visited.  How would that be possible if neither John nor Jesus had a soul?  The same logic that applies to personhood applies to ensoulment: does the baby have a soul one minute after they are born?  What about one minute before that?  And one minute before that?  And one minute before that?  If the soul exits the body at death, isn't it reasonable to assume that the soul enters at life, which begins at conception? 

My brain can hardly keep from exploding.  This is a group of ministers!  What are they teaching the people at the churches they serve?


Hannah Byrne said...

The "logic" in this man's post is absolutely horrifying.

Is he really saying that if a fertilized embryo does not emplant in the womb, God is "killing" a baby?

The answer to his question is that yes, a baby dies in that circumstance. I don't agree that this is necessarily God's fault, just like cancer, car accidents, and illnesses, and death at old age are naturally occuring and not necessarily "God's fault".

Unfortunately, we live in a world full of sin an death. Fortunately, God has sent his son to redeem us from this world!

Adam said...

I totally agree, Hannah. Fortunately, others pointed out early in the comments the problem/wrongness of God killing 80% of fertilized embryos. And, as is always the case, no matter what we said, they just couldn't accept it; they just kept repeating their tired, wrong ideas over and over. At least the conversation has died down about it in the group.