Christianity and Society

Why Churches in Malawi Should Refuse to Endorse Abortion even on the Grounds of Rape or Incest

Recently, the Nyasa Times, one of Malawi’s online news sources, reported that Malawi churches are endorsing abortion here. I am saying Malawi churches because Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), which represents almost all denominations in Malawi has given a green light to the bill that legalizes abortion and is scheduled to be tabled in Malawi Parliament soon.

I already wrote against abortion here. But I am writing again because I believe that Malawi Council of Churches has failed to shine the light of the gospel in a world that is struggling to do what is biblically right in regard to the issue abortion.

The General  Secretary of MCC, Bishop Gilford Matonga, was quoted in the article asserting: “The church opposes abortion on demand; meaning if a woman is pregnant should not just seek abortion at free will. The proposed law gives three grounds on why abortion can be done. One is when she is raped, when her life is threatened by the pregnancy and on incest thus when a family member impregnates a child. But also when there is a malformation of the fetus- no proper development of the child in the womb.” The article then continued to say that MCC has endorsed and thrown its full support behind the bill.

The aim of this post is to critically look from a Biblical perspective the three grounds that MCC is advancing for its endorsement of the abortion bill which are rape, incest, and malformation of the fetus. I will not tackle the issue of therapeutic abortion (when the life of the mother is threatened) because I already discussed that in my previous blog post.

First, the MCC supports abortion of pregnancies due to rape cases. For sure, rape is one of most horrible and heinous sin that can be committed against a woman and ultimately against God himself. I believe human words cannot fully express the pain, shame, and disgrace that the victim of rape undergoes. So my argument does not intended to minimize the impact of violation that rape victims experience.

Having said that I still believe that rape should not justify abortion of the pregnancy that has come out of it because of the following reasons:

  • The Bible prohibits us from taking away the life of anybody including the baby that has been conceived in rape (Exodus 20:13). This is the obvious reason, is it not?
  • Every conceived baby is knitted together in his/her mother’s womb by God (Psalm 139:13) and is fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139:14).
  • God is sovereign which means that God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11) and there is nothing that can take place in this world without him willing it to occur. Now this is very hard to grasp and swallow, especially, in cases where a woman has been violated. However, for us Christians, we can rest assured (not without pain and sorrow) that all things work together for our good although we might not always see the good right away (Romans 8:28).

It is also important to remember that the baby conceived is as “innocent” as the mother carrying him or her. The baby is not the criminal and by God’s grace he/she might grow up to be a great instrument that God uses to advance his kingdom and glory in this world. So I believe the church should encourage Christians who have been raped not to abort the pregnancy rather it should come along and assist them through their trauma.

The words of Stephen Schwartz in his book, The Moral Question of Abortion, are worthy pondering: “Refusal to allow abortion for rape cases is not a failure of compassion…Saying no to the woman is not a lack of compassion for her, but simply calling attention to what abortion really is: murder. Refusal to sanction murder is not lack of compassion” (147).

Before I move to the next ground endorsed for abortion by MCC I should point out here that according to the literature that I have laid my hands on, the percentage of pregnancies that are due to rape is very small and within the single digits. Again, this is not to trivialize the sin or the problem of rape but only to acknowledge that the church will experience fewer cases of women who contemplate abortion because they were raped.

Secondly, MCC has backed abortion of pregnancies due to incest. Incest is a horrible sin and the Bible strongly condemns it in both the Old and New Testaments (Leviticus 18:6-18; Deut. 27:22; 1 Cor. 5:1-5). However, the Bible does not command us to murder babies that are born out of this sin. My reasons against abortion of the pregnancy due to incest are the same as those I have highlighted above namely: it is murder; the baby conceived is fearfully and wonderfully made by God; and as horrible as incest is, we still understand that it occurs not apart from God’s will.

Furthermore we need to consider the story of Jesus Christ. His family tree reveals two acts of incest. Two of his ancestors Lot and his first born daughter committed this sin and through them came the nation of the Moabites from which Ruth came from and through her came king David and ultimately Jesus himself (Gen. 19:30-38; Ruth 4:13-21; ). It’s not just Lot and his daughter but also two more other ancestors, Judah and Tamar. These two also committed incest (Gen. 38:1-30). Yet through their heinous and abhorrent sin, God worked all things according to the counsel of his will to bring the best out of it, Jesus Christ the only Savior of mankind (Matt. 1:2-6). Do you now see why we should believe that in all things God works for the good of his people?

According to the literature that I have read, the percentage of pregnancies that are a result of an incest relationship is also very small. Just as I have already stated, this is not to belittle the sin of incest but to acknowledge that the Church in Malawi and indeed the rest of the world will deal with fewer cases of pregnancy due to incest.

Lastly, MCC has endorsed abortion of pregnancies in which it is feared that the baby will not develop well. My apologies for repeating myself, but the answer to this issue is, again, God’s sovereignty. He is the one who has knitted together the baby with that disability. Any perceived anomaly does not mean that the child will not develop to the full. How many stories have we heard of couples who were told by doctors that their conceived baby will not develop to the full and later the doctors were proven wrong? Doesn’t Job remind us that our lives are in God’s hand from the day we are conceived (Job 12:10) and no single person has the power and the right to decide that because there are fears that a baby might not develop well in the womb, he/she should be killed?

Moreover, we need to remember that all of us are conceived deformed with sin. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” confesses David in Psalm 51:5. It is only through the grace of God that we are brought to the Chief Surgeon, Jesus Christ, who reforms and transforms and makes whole again through the Holy Spirit and the gospel. Can’t we trust God to do the same to the babies who might be deformed physically? Doesn’t he have the power to preserve and sustain their lives?

All in all, abortion is very horrible and no single church in Malawi should endorse a bill that seeks to legalize it. Therefore, without fear of contradiction, I can boldly state here that MCC has missed it. They have failed to be the light and salt of the world as Christ commands his Church to be. However, it is not too late to recant and withdraw the endorsement. My prayer is that MCC will do just that.

 

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