Quality of Life
of the most pressing social issues facing Orthodox Christians today is
abortion: the destruction of the unborn fetus.
The Church has always condemned the practice of abortion, regarding it
as the moral equivalent of murder. This condemnation is not a "new"
position that the Church has formulated to deal with the modern widespread
practice of abortion. Actually, the practice of abortion, like murder and
adultery, is as old as fallen human existence. The only difference is that
modern technology and the refusal of the American Supreme Court to afford the
unborn the sanctions of the Constitution have made abortion a practical alternative
There may be
extreme cases when abortion might be considered as the lesser of two evils,
such as the endangerment of the life of a mother. But the vast majority of
abortions are performed as an alternative form of birth control. It is this
wanton and needless destruction of human life that the Church has legislated
against and decried through the centuries.
Advocates of "women's
rights" have linked the abortion issue closely with their movement,
disguising it under the name of "freedom of choice." The goal of this
movement is to reduce by legislation the differences between men and women with
the ultimate goal of a "sexless" society.
One of the
main differences that occur "naturally" between men and women is the
practice of their sexuality. It is no secret that men can engage in sexual
activity without worrying about the risk of pregnancy. Women, of course, run
the risk of pregnancy in their expression of "sexual freedom," unlike
their male partners.
"on demand" is, therefore, necessary in the thinking of the radical
feminist movement in order to provide "equality" with men in the
practice of "sexual freedom." The Church has denounced, of course,
the myth of "sexual freedom" through the Sacrament of Marriage in
which the lust of fallen human nature is redeemed and sanctified as a door to
salvation for those who are married. The radical feminist movement's quest for
a "sexless" society echoes in the political sphere the ancient
Gnostic heresy that man was created "unisexual;" it was only after
the Fall that there became a distinction between male and female. This doctrine is contrary to the teaching of
the Scripture: "male and female He
created them" (Genesis 1:27). It is only through the power of the
Gospel and the Cross of Christ that human beings, both men and women, can find
equality and true "sexual freedom."
through the Scriptural and liturgical tradition that She cherishes, regards
human life as beginning at the moment of conception: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me as you have spoken"
(St. Luke 1:38). The assent of Mary marks the starting point of the
Incarnation. The conception of the Lord is celebrated on the Feast of the
Annunciation, March 25. The Church also celebrates the conceptions of the
Mother of God (December 9) as well as that of St. John the Baptist (September
literature of the early Church, reflecting not only its life but also the
timeless sinful character of human nature, is replete with prohibitions against
abortion. An early document called the "The Teaching of the Twelve
Apostles," more commonly known by its Greek title,
"Didache," which some scholars believe may have been composed at the
end of the first century, says in regards to abortion: "You shall not slay the child by abortions." This
statement is reflected by many of the Church Fathers and in the Orthodox
Canonical Tradition. The Church expressed Her opposition to abortion when it
was a legally and socially acceptable practice in the old
"pre-Christian" Roman Empire.
In our own day
the Orthodox Church and Orthodox Christians must again expose the false promise
that underlies the so-called "freedom of choice." This will become
even more critical in the near future when the door opened by the abortion
issue leads to the deliberate killing of others. Persons who are too old to
care for themselves, the severely retarded and those suffering from
debilitating illnesses will be the next victims.
infamous Dr. Kevorkian has already set a foot through this door. Those who have promoted the legalization and
wide-spread practice of abortion have sought to justify their position by
speculating that an unwanted child would not have a sufficient quality of life should it be allowed to
social resources are strained in decades to come, unless the moral compass of
America is turned around, we can imagine the same people who brought us
abortion on demand to argue that any person not enjoying what they consider to
be a sufficient quality of life
should be put to death. Doubtless, they will have a kinder and gentler term for
Some voices are already arguing
that "mercy killing" or "medically assisted suicide" should be presented as a
"medical" option to families who have relatives suffering from such things as
extreme senility or advanced Alzheimer's disease.
The Abortion culture will not
stop with the unborn. It will eventually claim all of us as its victims. Do not make the mistake of thinking that it
will have no effect on your life. You
might just be dead wrong.
- Fr. Lawrence Barriger