The worship of self, and the altar of self-determinism.

I have 3 wonderful daughters, and a child in utero. The due date has passed, so they are on borrowed time. They will grace us with their presence naturally, or, before too long, be issued an eviction notice in the form of an induction.

We are pretty keen to meet him or her, we don’t know which, it’ll be a surprise! My wife says that she “needs some motivation to get though labour.” In any case, we’ve spent the bulk of the last nine month (give or take) looking forward to holding them in our arms, wondering how we will adjust to having 4 kids to chase, and generally feeling tired just thinking about everything.

It was with great dismay I learned of the legislation passed in New York last Tuesday, which removed abortion from the criminal code and removed time restrictions on when “the procedure” could take place. It received fairly wide coverage in the media and has been described as a triumph for womens rights, state sanctioned murder, or anywhere in between, pending your political, moral and religious compass.

One element of this debate that has greatly puzzled me for too long is the lack of real communication between the sides. It is clear that those who are labelled “pro – life” are against abortion (usually) on grounds of recognising the life of the child. Those on the “pro-choice” side of the fence, prefer to define life beginning with first breath. Both sides are fairly inflexible with their definitions, and rightly so, to shift your definition cuts to the very core of their arguments.

There is little to no empathy from either side. There is even less listening. This is particularly evident in comments reportedly spoken by a US senator.

“You have to ask the question: Why would anybody actually use the abortion code to charge somebody with a heinous crime?” Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan. “We in the state of New York have many strict rules in our criminal code to deal with these kind of criminals.” — Read on

Any one who is Pro-choice, nods in agreement. Calls here, here.

However pro-life advocates are heart broken. Abortion is a heinous crime in their opinion. The attack can be mounted against the senator, using her own words.

We live in a society in which truth has “become” relative. Absolutes are the enemy, seen as closed minded, bigoted and ignorant. The rule of law has a tenuous connection to the morality of subjective relativism. As such we have legislators who wish to support both, the medical treatment of a 25 week infants, born prematurely, given every support in an attempt to save their life. But another 25 week old, left to die, or intentionally extinguished, as they have been deemed destined for destruction. The only difference between the two is their “value” to others. One is desired, the other is not. Desire should not be the fundamental building block of legislation. Desire is relative, subjective and ever changing. I have grave concern if legislation continues to be driven by desire, underlining a selfish framework.

In many ways we have Descartes to blame;

“I think, therefore I am” – Descartes

His philosophical framework, placed the individual at the centre of the universe, and everything else exists, only in as much as it have effect on the self. We’ve had many manifestations of this over the centuries. But each and ever framework, which places ourselves at the centre of the universe, misses the mark, and eventually falls down. The worship of self is the worst kind of torture, it never satisfies.

It goes without saying, as a pastor, that I believe God is at the centre of the universe. There is an absolute truth, his name is Jesus. We can determine the validity of actions by the truth.

The reason abortion is wrong, is not based on my subjective experience and values as determined by my framework and political upbringing. But based on God at the centre of the universe, declaring;

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” -God (Genesis 1:26)

If (and I’ll grant you it’s a big life changing if) God is at the centre of the universe, and we are designed in his image, to bear his likeness. We simply cannot prioritise personal convenience, socioeconomic constraints, or any other factors to extinguish a God given life. Yes their will be a cost, personally, corporately and globally. But it is worth it.

Paul, the author of Romans says;

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s  mercy, to offer your  bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing  to  God—this is your true and proper worship. Do  not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” -Paul (Romans 12:1-2)

We (People who know and love Jesus) are called to a life of self sacrifice, understanding the grace given to us, by God’s mercy. We are called to lay down our lives, our conveniences, our preferences in view of God’s mercy to us. Redeeming us by the blood of Jesus, from sin and death.

We are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, not offer our children as sacrifices on the altar of self determinism.


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