Romans 8:3. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
Yesterday we looked at the importance of this phrase in Romans 8:3 – he condemned sin in the flesh. We stressed the importance of this deep theological truth for our union with Christ. God loves our bodies. He redeemed our bodies by condemning the Sin that dwells within our bodies. He made our flesh savable. He made our bodies habitable by his own holiness.
Today I want to extrapolate this doctrine out and apply it to the issue of abortion. January marks the anniversary of Roe v Wade. And this January saw New York State join the ranks of those states that will allow for late term abortions.
The biblical worldview, one that we see in Romans 8:3, is that humans are wholistic beings. We are both body and soul. We are a psycho-physical unit. God couldn’t save our souls without also saving our bodies. He had to end sin’s reign in not only the soul but also in the flesh. Christ had to take on an actual physical body in order to save us. All of this carries a huge ethical implication as it relates to abortion.
Today, many see a divide between personhood and humanity (the physical). Plato saw the body as being separate from the true self. Like a chariot driver is separate from his horse. French philospher Rene Descartes also separated the mind from the body (I think therefore I am). The mind actually needed to be freed from the body to thrive, he said.
The question regarding abortion used to be “when does life begin?” This is no longer the question. Almost every scientist, ethicist, theologian, and philosopher agrees that life begins at conception. The question now is “when does personhood begin?” Being a human is no longer the same things as being a person. To accept abortion is to accept a human/person dualism. But the Bible doesn’t allow for this. Our individual salvation doesn’t allow for this. And our salvation as a society doesn’t allow for this.
If sin can be condemned in the flesh, then the flesh (the body) must house sin. If life begins at conception, then sin also begins at conception. It begins when the flesh begins. But still many have tried to separate the sins of the body from true personhood or spirituality. This was the argument of the Corinthians. They believed the body to be merely a temporal casing for the soul. Therefore, they could just go around having sex with each other (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). But Paul taught them that what they did with their body was directly connected to their spirit, their soul. Christ was joined to their spirit and their flesh. Again, we are one whole being.
In order to kill the unborn we have to be able to say that the body is disposable, that it is lacking in value and dignity, and meaningless to personhood. We have to deny that the body and soul are somehow connected. But the scripture, God, and union with Christ won’t allow it.
“To live is Christ” offers us a better way. Those living from union with Christ must protect women and the unborn. These two things are not mutually exclusive. We can love both. We can provide justice for both. Abortion will never be defeated without a love and respect for women. If abortion rights are about respecting a woman’s bodily rights, what if we respected her bodily long before an abortion was deemed necessary? What if men fought not only against abortion but also against unwanted pregnancies by respecting women as the image bearers that they are, and manning up to protect women by adopting a Christ centered sexual ethic? Could this change things? In fact, it is the only real way to change things.
*Many of the thoughts in today’s blog came from reading Nancy Pearcey’s book Love Thy Body. I highly recommend it.