God → Life → Choice → Sex
John C. Rankin
In 1986, I was asked to give a biblical pro-life position at a meeting of regional leaders from the American Baptist Churches (ABC), along with the national leaders of the Religious Coalition of Abortion Rights (RCAR).
Because of alphabetical placement, the ABC was always listed at the top of RCAR’s listing of member organizations (though it was only one committee in the ABC that had joined). Many in the denomination did not like this. So the ABC was reconsidering its affiliation with RCAR through a series of similar meetings across the nation.
It was a tense gathering despite the best attempts by the organizers to make it pleasant. I gave a theological sketch rooted in Genesis 1-2, part of which involved defining the relationship between life and choice. Namely, both are given to us by God, but choice is designed to be in service to life, not employed to destroy it. And I defined how the unborn fully qualify as human life, made in God’s image. The RCAR representatives in turn called me “anti-choice.”
So I asked them to define how choice relates to life, and they were unable or unwilling. I stated how I was truly “pro-informed choice” in my position, they did not refute my definitions, only falling back to the language of calling me “anti-choice.” I later learned that the ABC rescinded its membership in RCAR.
In March of 1989, I was invited to speak at a Crisis Pregnancy Center banquet in Ithaca, New York, in conjunction with a debate at Cornell University. In the banquet address, I was defining the ethics of choice rooted in Genesis 2. As I was speaking, I moved from an implicit clarity to an explicit one, namely, that the theological order of Genesis 1-2 starts with the sovereign God, then it defines the purpose of creation as the making of human life in God’s image, followed by God’s first words to Adam which equaled the gift of choice. It hit me – so simple:
God → Life → Choice.
The three basic elements of the order of creation, I thought. The three basic issues surrounding the abortion debate, it appeared. By extension, the reversal of this order was:
Choice → Life →/ God.
However, the next week I set to reviewing Genesis 1-2 with this newly observed paradigm. As I did, I realized I had not considered the fourth and final defining subject of Genesis 1-2, that of sex.
The inclusion of course revealed how the idolatry of choice, while powerful, is energized by the prior and more powerful idolatry of sex outside of marriage. The conflict between “pro-choice” and “pro-life,” in the language of the abortion debate today, only exists because of a reversal of the order of creation, when choice is used to destroy life. Thus, the full paradigm is:
God → Life → Choice → Sex.
The self-defining terms of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are thus in the middle of this paradigm, and in a graphic sense which identifies the locus of the conflict:
God → Life →// ← Choice ← Sex.
In other words, it is fidelity to God that defines life, and should properly motivate the political language of “pro-life.” And it is sex as sexual promiscuity that in truth defines the idolatry of choice, and thus motivates the political language of “pro-choice.” “Pro-life” thus reflects the order of creation, and “pro-choice” reflects the reversal. A false dichotomy is set up: sex/choice versus God/life, made possible because of how abortion-rights advocates yield to the reversal:
Sex → Choice → Life →/ God.
Sex outside of marriage employs atomistic choice to destroy the life of the unborn in the act of human abortion, and in an affront against God – the Creator of life, choice and sex.
In other words, abortion justifies sexual promiscuity and infidelity, and as such it is the ramrod of male chauvinism where the man who gets the woman pregnant outside of marriage is able to take off and leave her to face the pregnancy alone. When statistical factors are taken into account, this means that some 95 percent of abortions occur in a relationship where the woman is not married to the father, and some 4 percent where the husband is prone to divorcing her – thus equaling 99 percent male chauvinism. Is this a woman’s right, dignity or freedom?