Gloucester Daily Times Debate on Abortion (28), January 17, 1986

Personal Response to January 16 Column by Regina Cole

[At various junctures in this debate, I wrote personal letters as opposed to ones published in the Times, seeking to communicate more directly when possible; sadly, none of these personal letters were ever answered]

Dear Regina:

In having reflected upon your recent “Breakdown Lane” column, I would like to submit to you a few summarized thoughts. And moreover, I’d be pleased to sit down with you and discuss the issue in greater depth, in the spirit of your final paragraph.

“Moral superiority” only comes from insecurity. If God is God, and if his revelation in Christ is wholly true, then the biblical Christian understands his or her role as a servant, to persuade and love. It trusts judgment into God’s care. This broadly defines the ethics of Christian behavior in a pluralistic society, and ethic that demands no more political freedom or expression than we are first willing to grant our ideological opponents, so long as we both honor the U.S. Constitution. It is the opposite of the “holier than thou” attitude.

But by the same token, it confesses belief that all of us one day have to face God’s judgment. And unless we have repented and embraced forgiveness, we will face that final condemnation. Jesus did not force change, because he knows that all of us are free moral agents as created in God’s image. But his talk of love is balanced by the fact that he talked of hell more than the rest of the Bible combined. And he did so because of his love — to rescue us from hell.

The rub with Christianity is that Christ, unique in all of history, claimed to be the total embodiment of truth. He is all the truth, he was and is perfect. The next question then becomes a Christian, believing in the truth, thus represents the truth, given our own imperfection. It does accept people as worthy of love and respect, and accordingly it will ask hard questions.

At the bottom line, there is one indisputable fact when we discuss abortion. And that is simply that biological life begins at conception, and that abortion is the deliberate cutting of of life in the human womb. You and I both came through our mother’s wombs — our genetic uniqueness and identity began exactly at fertilization. You are so right — there are many painful and complex issues that surround this factor, but they can only be addressed with hope if the clear facts are acknowledged up front.

I am always glad and eager to listen to anyone who would add to my arguments on this or any issue, to have my position challenged. If you do care Regina, I would truly like to talk about it in an unharried, gracious manner. I believe you will find me conducting myself in such a manner. Let’s give it a shot — who knows, we may both benefit and grow as a result. Just drop me a letter or a phone call.

Sincerely yours,

John C. Rankin

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