The Sanctity of Life: Christian from the Beginning

A few years ago, novelist Anne Rice, famous for her vampire stories, recommitted herself to her Catholic faith. She then announced that she was dedicating her writing talents to Christ. One result was the wonderful book, Christ the Lord, a story that imagines the childhood of Jesus.

It is apparent that Rice's beliefs are deep and genuine — which is why I was so surprised to learn she is endorsing a staunchly pro-abortion presidential candidate.

As Rice explained on her website, "My . . . vote must reflect my deepest Christian convictions. For me, these convictions are based on the teachings of Christ . . . which include feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, and above all, loving one's neighbors."

In response, my friend, Princeton professor Robert George, also Catholic, gently reminded Rice of the teachings of Mother Teresa: "We cannot fight credibly against other social and moral evils, including poverty and violence, while we tolerate mass killings by abortion."

George is right. Now, some of you may be thinking, "There Chuck goes again, mixing religion and politics." But as I write in my new book, The Faith, Christians did not leap into politics five minutes after Roe v. Wade was decided. Christian doctrine on the sanctity of life, coupled with the Church's involvement in politics, began 2,000 years ago.

For instance, the Didache, a first-century manual of Christian discipleship, teaches: "In accordance with the precept of the teaching, ‘you shall not kill,' you shall not put a child to death by abortion or kill it once it is born."

Church father Justin Martyr put it equally bluntly: "We have been taught that it is wicked to expose even newly born children" to die in the elements, for "we would then be murderers."

And in the Church's first political appeal in the second century, Christian apologist Athenagoras wrote this to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: "We say that women who use drugs to bring on an abortion commit murder."

Medical advances confirm what ancient Christians took as a matter of faith-that the essential identity of every human life remains the same from conception to natural death.

Whether we believe this and accept responsibility for the unborn child depends on our view of humanity. Do we believe that humans were created in God's image? Or do we believe, as the secularist does, that humans are just one more example of evolution's chance handiwork, no different in kind than lice and lungfish?

If we believe that life evolved by chance, humanity must invent its own reasons for being, and the ethics by which we govern ourselves. That means, whose lives we value become a matter of what can be done to produce the greatest happiness for everybody, but that is a deeply dangerous view-for unborn children, the handicapped, the elderly, or the simply inconvenient.

I hope you will read my new book, The Faith, because in it you will learn what Christians believe, why we believe it, and why it matters. We have defended, as you will see in the book, the sanctity of life at every stage through the centuries, including leading all the great human-rights campaigns. It may sound harsh, but in the book I say, "Christians who are pro-choice are denying the Gospel and have to question whether they have not separated themselves from the company of Christian discipleship."

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  • Guest

    Chuck Colson:  I believe you are exactly right.   True on the mark and as right as rain…..there can be no division…one is either Christian or they or not.   Protecting a child from harm is far different from any other voting issue.  You are either a Christian or you are not.

    What would  medical supervisor over a surgeon think or do if a surgeon decided that instead of using the standard technique for completing a standard operation, s/he decided to make a shortcut and just neglect the stitches and quickly sew up the outer skin and send the person back to the hospital bed!  Denying decades of confirmed ways to close the body to infection and 'doing one's one thing'!  

    The supervisor would think the surgeon had gone mad.   And indeed, I believe our people running for office have gone such.  Who are the religious people who are close to people like Obama that do not counsel him on his pro-abortion views.  He may have been so counseled and just does 'not get it'.  Sad, when so many people do not truly believe that being pro-life is the bedrock of the Christian Faith, as is the abolition of slavery, etc.   Hmmmmmmm…..makes one wonder.  God has to really work to get through to all of us, and, I include myself!   In Christ,  Patricia

  • Guest

    Chuck Colson and Patricia,

    Is there a more salient or fundamental rationale that pro-life persons and organizations ought to employ confidently and constantly, than recognizing and proclaiming that God's Great Commandment (Mt 22:34-40) – when it says "Love your neighbor as yourself" – applies, clearly and unequivocally to that innocent, defenseless human being, our neighbor, living in the womb?

    Who can call such understanding "political" and retain a scintilla of truthful cridibility?

    Starting with the reality of God's Great Commandment, a compelling impetous can be initiated, I believe, to motivate a substantial portion of the 50% of ALL eligible voters (!! 50% !!) who regularly remain away from the polls every election day.  Certainly these are not abortion ideologues!

    Would that be branded "political"?   Of course it would – by all those who would deny, increduously, that abortion-on-demand has been imposed on our nation by anything other than "pressure politics".

    Let the contest begin!  It will make an interesting and delectable contest in November 2008!  What say you?  Think about it!

    Peace,     Jakes

  • Guest

    Good work, Jakes!  Now, how do we implement this?

  • Guest

    Jakes, we've discussed and commented many times on this site that it's high time we challenge the so called pro-abortion christians. These people are of questionable creed and pedigree and need to feel uneasy. If "love thy neighbor" does not apply to the unborn innocent then it can not be extended to anyone else with any credibility. 

  • Guest

    Does "love thy neighbor" also apply to the thousands of young men who have been KILLED in our wars, perpetuated by our supposed anti-abortion president??  And how about the homeless who DIE of starvation when Jesus told us to feed the hungry and in doing so we feed him?  And what about our brothers and sisters in places like China who are MURDERED for their faith every single day??

     I am NOT a pro-abortion Catholic Christian, I am a PRO-LIFE Catholic Christian, and that means that I do pay attention to other issues besides abortion. YES, it is a holocaust, but so is the killing of thousands of innocent young men;  thousands of starving people in our world; and thousands who cannot freely call upon the name of Christ.  THOSE ARE KILLINGS TOO!

     Pay attention, Catholics, to ALL of what Jesus said.  I am with Anne Rice on this one.

    –You have made us for yourself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless until they rest in You. — St. Augustine

  • Guest

    Cooky642 and Goral,

    Thanks for your interest and prodding.  For now, some thoughts on the 50% follow.

    I would guess that reasons that prompt the 50% to not vote vary greatly and likely include things like the following:  Real busyness; Aversion to busyness; Low levels of hope or expectations, particularly toward government types; "Don't blame me, I didn't vote them in" complex; Absence from their minds of a personal obligation that they should participate in finding a way to help stop America's Culture of Death and after all, "I'm just one guy" (just one vote, also, if it comes to that); Perhaps never having any significant thoughts about abortion as a problem or politicos as the tools that facilitate its being and its continuing; No awareness of the accumulation of wealth, glamour and celebrity motivating elements and leadership of the culture of death; Deliberate non-voting to "send a message".

    So there are attitudes to overcome, starting with capturing attention and defining truth as simply, understandably and pervasively as possible.

    Departing now from the non-voting 50% directly, I'm wondering if a succinctly framed, highly noticeable, paid ad, say, in the NY Times, directed to, perhaps, Barack Obama, asking his reaction to the Great Commandment vs abortion of 3,000 innocent human beings every day might not be the springboard to get the whole initiative started.  Also, how does the Golden Rule fit in there?

    Now, the framing could be done very skillfully and comprehensively by persons like Chuck Colson or many others.  Pro-Life organization could easily finance costs.  The framed wording could become the kernal of the pro-life argument, to be stuck to and proliferated. 

    On our side in any discussions that ensue would be TRUTH.  Also, there would need be attitude adjustments by many on our side, sincere and consistent with what we are advocating – a respectful engagement, even with those arguing against us, despite any rancor they might hurl.

    Incessantly-told TRUTH (centered on the Great Commandment) with all its implications could be emphasized, anew and frequently, from pulpits and by laity, including – as a first priority – by all pro-life organizations. 

    Between now and November masses of citizens could be educated as to their personal obligations to "Love your neighbor as yourself" – not a nice option offered them, but a DIVINELY-PROCLAIMED personal obligation each has to stir themselves -PARTICULARLY WITH THEIR VOICE AND WITH THEIR VOTE to advise all politicians that WE, THE ELECTORATE WILL NO LONGER TOLERATE THEIR SUPPORTING PRO-DEATH WORKS IN THEIR GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES OR ADVOCACIES.  This would apply (be directed) to politicians at all levels, Federal State and local.

    We know that there is an ETERNITY involved in all this (for each of us, personally) and we don't intend that it be put in jeopardy for the sake of sparing ourself the effort it takes to cast a ballot. 

    Now, that's rough.  I hope it suggests initial steps of a wide, salient and pervasive initiative.

    Remember, the pro-death forces have no truth or honor on their side.  We've allowed them to get by on a "wing-and-a-deceit".  That won't work against TRUTH, which is that unborn human beings shall not be murdered.  God's Great Commandment says so.  An eternity is at stake for each and all of us to do something about it. 

    Abortion was snuck in politically.  American citizens have a divinely-commanded, eternity-involved, personal  obligation to love those babies (our neighbors) through our personal, democratic voices and votes!

    Hope that's not too large a bite at this stage.  May I hear from you?  Perhaps we should move discussion of this advocacy to a broader dais.  Any suggestions? 

    Peace,         Jakes

     

     

  • Guest

    Your comments have been addressed by none greater or humbler than Mother Theresa.  She said that without the right to life there can be no peace.

    Yes there are other issues, however, without the fundamental right to life, they're irrelevant.  The several thousand American voluntary military service people who died in Iraq is not equivalent to the 45 million plus innocent unborn killed in their mother's wombs through abortion. The method and reason for the deaths is not equivalent either.  Abortion can rightly be called a "Holocaust"  because it is the complete sacrifice of an unblemished innocent to the false god's of our age: hedonism and avarice. A holocaust sacrifice is one that is completely incinerated…like the Jews in the crematoriums and the babies in the abortuary crematoriums…yes many babies' bodies are burned to ashes.

    Many folks greater and more eloquent than I have addressed the issue you bring up.  I prefer to obey the teachings of Blessed Mother Theresa than the political whims of the likes of Anne Rice.  And, I'm with the Ten Commandments on this one:  "Thou shalt not kill".  Abortion is the direct killing of the innocent and is in a different category than anything you mentioned.

  • Guest

    elk abrikir,

    I agree with all you say about abortion, Mother Teresa et, al.

    Rather than citing the 5th commandment (against killing) I employ God's Great Commandment to love, which is more basic, while also more general (see Mt 22:40, also Rm 13:8-10)), thus allowing movement against even more than abortion. 

    Because of the tremendoous human toll of abortion it ought to be the primary target but family harmony, civil harmony and so much more (that aren't murder) come, clearly and directly, under the Commandment to love. 

    Further, to reverse the devastation of abortion, which has been imposed politically, we need to motivate all motivatable voters, religious or not. 

    I'm sure the Benedictines wouldn't object if we used their "Ora et labora"! 

    elk abrikir, may we collaborate, as we seem to have identical motives?

    Peace,        Jakes

     

    I would go a bit further to say that the Great Commandment state that even more basic and more encompassing than the 5th commandment against killing are the two parts of The Great Commandment: First and foremost "Love God" and "Love your neighbor as yourself", that being the foundation of all the commandments and the prophets

     

     such love being what the commandments all depend onis basic to all the commandments and Upon these together rest all the other , which, together    

  • Guest

    Jakes, don't know if you'll see this, but I wanted to make 2 comments.

    First, what draws me to your p.o.v.–besides your obvious enthusiasm–is a sence of "novelty": the abortion rhetoric on both sides has been nothing-but-negative for 35 years, whereas you're offering a positive argument that I think will draw more interest.  It's hard to pick a fight with someone who won't hurl negatives.

    Secondly, you might check out Dr. James Dobson's http://www.focuspetitions.com.  He's already got a Value's Voters petition drive going, and he might not only welcome but be able to direct your own efforts.  I know he's not Catholic, but in this battle we need to take/use our allies where we can find them. 

    Meanwhile, I'm going to check out bumper-sticker "factories" in my area, and see if I can start something here.

  • Guest

    suz, what do you think of this dialogue?  Please post if you see this.  Sometimes it seems like people with your views post one comment and never continue the discussion.  This isn't a preaching forum for one side or another. 

    If you believe you hold the truth with your position, then present a rational argument in defense of it. Please make the connection between human rights abuses in a sovreign nation, China, and your willingness to support US politicians who not only promote but are well financed by the multibillion dollar industry of abortion.  Please comment on the FACT that more black babies are aborted in the NYC boroughs than are born alive.  How have your connected that fact, along with the politicians who promote abortion (gov paid abortions is what both Clinton and Obama support) with people around the world in a mulitude of nations not being able to worship freely.

    I am not being shrill.  I would truly like your argument. 

  • Guest

    Or Suz, maybe you can simply answer these:

    What will a Democratic candidate do to:

    1. end or limit abortion (this must come first since it is the greatest evil; at least if one professes the Catholic faith)?
    2. NEVER have a war or conflict involving the military?
    3. end starvation worldwide?
    4. solve the problem of human rights abuses in each country in which they occur?
    5. end homelessness in the U.S.?

    Answer all of these (but especially the first for reasons stated above), and I’ll vote for the Democrat.

    In Christ,
    Michael

    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”
    – GK Chesterton
    “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” – also GKC

  • Guest

    (Michael, this was composed offline before I saw your post.) 

    Cooky642,   

    Thanks for your very germane responses, including your suggestion of Dr. James Dobson as a possible source or outlet, or support. Agreeing with your sentiments, I know we cannot do social, political things of value in isolation of, and without respect for others of good will, whatever their other allegiances might be.. Jesus said as much and more, so many times. My challenge, right now, is how my thoughts might best and efficiently appeal to them and benefit through their wisdom.

    I began comments here addressing you, Goral and Charles Colson. Utilizing posts associated with a single article (which becomes archived in a day) isn’t an efficient way to introduce an initiative needing pertinent, constructive criticism of its goals and content, hopefully including recommendations that might enhance any positive attributes it might contain. Your comments, Cooky, are helpful and appreciated by me. I hope you will continue to help (and hopefully others) think this through, fashioning into it all that might make it effective.

    My objective, right now, concerns awakening significant portions of the 50% of consistently non-voters, that The Great Commandment applies to each of them and involves their own personal eternities (significant portions of their lives and happiness, to say the least!). I don’t have the answers, just a conviction that their numbers are sooo massive and that they, predominantly are NOT ideologues tied to the culture of death (else they’d be voting with bells on!), that all interested in the dignity of every CREATED LIFE ought to be interested in helping this massive element of democratic Americans (the 50%) do what’s right. Not only the unborn but our nation and all its people will benefit massively.

    Now, just one more thought – one piece of reality. Charles Colson (nor any of his staff ) has not commented, nor has Goral, nor have posters other than yourself offered what appears to me helpful input. This is not said in way of criticism of them, as I don’t know their personal obligations and aspirations.

    I will check out the focuspetitions.com website, as you suggest, Cooky but would feel most confident if I might be advised by knowledgeable, conscientious persons like yourself just where I might post my story where it would – with a certain amount of stability – have the best chance of being available for the help and criticism I allude to above. My person capability of chasing down sources of possible help and replicating my ideas is quite marginal, to say the least.

    I’m creeping and nowhere near crawling. I need help from anyone who might see value in motivating erstwhile nonvoters to help place our beloved country out of the BUSINESS of the culture of death and more in step with the Great Commandment and the Golden Rule.

    The way lies available by awakening a massive pool of Americans (the 50%) whose dormancy on THEIR job (democratically guiding this country by their ballots) denies more than 3,000 innocent, defenseless human beings, THEIR neighbors in the womb, the dignity of safely continuing the lives their Creator has given them.

    To my simple mind this is simply commonsense and eminently DOABLE.

    Peace Jakes

  • Guest

    Jakes:

    I wish I had a good suggestion for you to further the idea. Overcoming inertia is a huge order but I firmly believe that, “Me and Jesus are an invincible team.”

    Begin in prayer. In particular, I have a deviotion to my guardian angel. I think these servants of God are super-strong advocates for us and work together with others to make thing happen “behind the scenes.”

    Consider creating a blog…and try to get others to link to it…this will increase its visibility on Google. Also, submit your idea / story to the authors of blogs that are already well-received.

    Right now, this is the best I have to offer. I will pray for the success of your endeavor and submit to you anything else I can think of.

    Oh, don’t forget to talk to the CE editors to see if they can’t craft a story with you or help you with some solid leads.

    In Christ,
    Michael

    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”
    – GK Chesterton
    “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” – also GKC

  • Guest

    Thanks, Michael,

    I'll duplicate this whole article and its posts and run it all by some friends who are very much more adept than I about blogs, what's involved in their creation and which existing ones might be both applicable for this subject and very frequently used.

    In the meantime I'd appreciate all comments helpful toward improving and proliferating my message. 

    Incidentally, for those who scorn the political, remember that that's just an avenue to move something down.  There are highways, country roads and all sorts of paths.  I've chosen the political path because that is the route that's been debauched to haul the cargo of abortion through it.  That path needs gates installed and perhaps other, unanticipated repairs to stop that incideous flow and allow passage of the love and respect of human dignity that the Great Commandment requires and the Golden Rule advocates.

    Sometimes we with identical purposes tend to haggle about who did what in the past rather than how can we move against today's circumstances and attitudes.  Who cares who first said something brilliantly.  Let's work to get that brilliancy into play in today's America.

    Peace,         Jakes

  • Guest

    Hi, Jakes.  I'm a little "behind", here, but I do have an idea for you that might pick up your idea.  The web site is GOPUSA.com.  They also have an email address at feedback@gopusa.com

    Let me see what else I can come up with.  Returning to this already-archived site is ridiculous.  You may contact me offsite at: cluscomb@earthlink.net, if you like.  Please put your name in the subject line so I don't automatically delete.  Thanks.

  • Guest

    Mr Colson, Michael, elkabrikir, et al…

    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to flake out or ignore your comments; I don't have time to check back that frequently.

    There was a wonderful article in today's Washington Post "I Voted for Obama, Will I Go Straight to ….?" that stated what I feel much more eloquently that I,,,the full text can be found here…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/22/AR2008022202380.html?referrer=emailarticle

    The part of the article that i wish I could have written is this:

    As to the death penalty, immigration, the Iraq war, health care and other social justice issues, these fall into the realm of "prudential judgment" — areas where Catholics of goodwill, say the bishops, can disagree. This, naturally enough, provides convenient cover for Catholic candidates who support the war, think the death penalty should be expanded, would leave millions uninsured and oppose immigration reform.

    This year's presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain, will be deemed worthy of support because of his consistent antiabortion voting record. But does anyone believe that outlawing abortion, or even turning the issue back to the states, will be anywhere near the top of McCain's priorities? It wasn't for Ronald Reagan (tax cuts and a military build-up trumped everything), or George H.W. Bush (a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood who appointed the pro-abortion rights David Souter to the Supreme Court), nor even for George W. Bush, who has yet to call for actually overturning Roe, much less a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion. Meanwhile, is it fair for a Catholic like me to suspect that the liberal economic policies of the Democratic candidate, whether Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, will result in less dire poverty and thus perhaps fewer abortions? And isn't that supposed to be the goal?

    The bishops seem to have forgotten that it is not simply aspirations that matter, though they seem more than willing to accept rhetoric ("I am pro-life") over results.

     I think that attacking the "other" position (as someone did, I see their post has been removed) is of no value.  I am a Catholic convert of 16 years, raised in a strict fundamentalist environment, know Scripture, and have a close walk with the Lord.  I mean no disrespect to your views, of course, but I see things quite differently than you. 

    –You have made us for yourself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless until they rest in You. — St. Augustine

  • Guest

    Suz:

    Thank you very much for the reply. I have no doubt that you, like we, are sincerely trying to live out our faith as best we are able.

    The problem with the statement from which you quote above, as I see it, is not whether abortion will be a top priority of the GOP nominee, but whether abortion access in both the US and even worldwide will result from the election of a (D) candidate.

    While one certainly wishes that the areas of reducing intrinsic evil in society would be at the top of every candidates platform, it is a sad fact that the Democratic platform calls for an expansion of access to abortion and embryonic stem cell research. No Catholic can stand for this. The Republican platform promotes a “Culture of Life” and seeks an end to abortion. The bishops are correct when they indicate that one may not vote for a candidate supporting intrinsic evil when one exists who does not.

    As to the author’s “prudential judgment” comment: This seems an attempt to invalidate accepted Catholic teaching on subsidarity and the rights of government in to support the author’s own agenda. Using a loaded word like “cover” and suggesting that one should act on “suspicions” about the effect of voting (D) and that “perhaps” total abortions will be reduced based on as-yet-undeveloped policies further suggest that the author is stretching to promote a Democrat victory.

    So which party will go further to ending intrinsic evil? I don’t know. Each is far from perfect because each is guided by men. The Catholic Church, however, is guided by the Holy Spirit. Certainly individual bishops are not protected by Infallibility, but all that the bishops have been doing in the case of the US election is reminding the faithful of the Church’s 2,000 year history of teaching about the sanctity of even the smallest life…and trying to see that each of us can achieve heaven, as well.

    In Christ
    Michael

    “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried”
    – GK Chesterton
    “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” – also GKC

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