Evil Nazis, The Sky fairy and questions about abortion and euthanasia

Today in the House of Commons there will be an attempt to amend the Domestic Abuse bill in order to significantly liberalise the abortion laws still further. I am asking all MPs including our local MPs John Speller and Preet Kaur-Gill to vote against this.

I have two reasons for asking them to do this. Then first and most important is that lives matter.  I believe that how we treat the most fragile and vulnerable in our society tells us a lot about what our society truly values.  AS a Christian, I believe that we were made in the image of God. I love these beautiful words in Psalm 139

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.[1]

Secondly, there is I believe a constitutional issue at stake here.  It can’t be a healthy democratic situation where people can simply pin onto one Bill an amendment that in reality has little or nothing to do with it. This makes a mockery of the process and is also only likely to slow down and disrupt the original purpose of the Bill. In this case, we are talking about a piece of legislation that has already been delayed for a long time.

However, in this article I want to step back a little and think about the bigger question of how we approach ethical discussions like this.  Today on twitter, Andrew Lilico offered the following poll.

The options we were given to vote for were

  • Modern reason and evidence
  • The Bronze Age sky fairy

Now you get how I came to the middle part of this article’s title. For the middle part, we need to refer to a later tweet in the conversation. In the discussion, a few of us began to talk about the pejorative language used in such debates and how it polarises. So I commented

And Andrew responded

I think that this is a very helpful and salient point. Let me talk first of all to those of you who stand with me on the “pro-life” side of the debate. We believe that taking the lives of babies is wrong, utterly wrong.  Similarly, we associate euthanasia of elderly relatives with the Nazis and the horrendous events on the concentration camps.  But if we simply think of those who support abortion and euthanasia as callous, evil Nazis then we may be taking an unhelpful step. It may mean that we may struggle to understand why someone can on the one hand be a dotting mother of their baby and support abortion. We may fail to understand why kindly, loving people would campaign for a relative’s right to take their own life with medical assistance.

What we don’t realise is that they likewise are looking back at us and thinking that we are the callous evil Nazis and on the whim of our sky fairy god we are ready to bring young girls who have been raped and men and women suffering crippling, chronic, incurable paid to sacrifice on that god’s altar.

Even as we disagree, it is important to remember that we are talking about real, loving parents, children and grandchildren who are struggling to work out what is the most compassionate way forward. We may think that in fact the solution accepted by them is lacking in true compassion but it is important to understand that motive.

At the same time, I would ask those who are pro-abortion and euthanasia also to stop and think. Is it simply a callousness and a slavish superstition that prevents Christians from seeing the enlightened ethics that arise out of modern science?  Are we really making a choice between a bronze age sky fairy and contemporary rational, scientific based thinking?

At this stage it is important to step back and see the bigger historical picture. First of all, notice that far from simply appealing to ancient texts on the wrong side of history,  history, philosophy and ethics has been on the side of those who think we should not take vulnerable lives in this way for the best part of 2000 years. It is not modern science against some ancient superstition.  It is rather, a fairly recent, view against much of our history as a civilisation.

Now, those arguments against euthanasia are in fact rooted in Scripture and reasoned out of it to develop an ethic but that in fact strengthens the case.  You see, this is exactly the point that people like Rodney Stark and more recently Tom Holland (Dominion) have been making.  The very science and philosophy employed today to argue against this so called bronze age sky fairy’s followers is rooted in the very history of their faith and in their Scriptures. Without the Christian Gospel we don’t have the basis for the scientific discoveries that we made in more modern times.

It was Christian beliefs that pointed us to the value of human life and the order and structure of the universe that made it possible for people to make great medical break throughs. It was a Christian world view that enabled philosophers to develop an ethical framework. Further, it was the turning of early believers to faith in Christ that encouraged ethical growth including a reaction against slavery and the ending of abortion and infanticide practices.

Using modern philosophy and science to undermine those ethical foundations is like a parasite turning on its host, it is as though these two disciplines have turned in on themselves.

As well as asking our politicians to place a halt on the current plans for abortion, I would encourage us all to step back from the brink and start to talk again about where we get our ethics from and what it means to value life and the freedoms we associate with human life and dignity.

[1] Psalm 139:13.

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