"But what's wrong with the 1992 statement on abortion?' ''Why the need to revise it?"
Frankly the 1992 document needs to be tossed out, apologized for, and re-written. Its writers meant well, but performed poorly. It says we respect prenatal life, then completely reverse course later in the document. To put it bluntly, the document neither represents Bible truth, nor the Spirit of Prophecy, nor the views of the Adventist body.
Yet I have great hope that there is a brighter day just ahead of us!
Here’s why so many people have such a big problem with this document:
Amazingly, in a document on the topic of the killing of babies (published by the Commandment-keeping church of God) you will not find the Sixth Commandment mentioned even a single time. You will not find the words "kill" or "murder" anywhere in the document. However, the document does make heavy use of the words "liberty" and "freedom" (meaning, of the mother, not the baby)... as if one has the freedom to kill somebody because the person might be born with "defects" or might affect your health negatively (more on that below).
Five Quick Things From the 1992 Document:
1. Life of the mother. Simply put, if there is actually a case where the mother's life is most definitely at stake, and killing the baby is known to be the only way to save the mother's life, one could reasonably move the discussion from the "murder" category to the "how-to-best-preserve-life" category. But, this is such a rare ethical-dilemma scenario, accounting for such a minuscule fraction of abortions, that it pretty well qualifies as merely an ethical hypothetical. Instead of parking here for a good, long debate (which we tend to do for some reason) let's agree on and speak up on the tragedy of the millions of babies being killed senselessly and unnecessarily.
Moving on to the real issues we're dealing with...
2. Mother's "health." The document says that in the case where the baby might impact the "mother's health" (which would naturally be interpreted to include also the MENTAL health of the mother) that we as a church refuse to say that murdering the baby in such cases is wrong. "Personal freedom" of the mother, after all. Raise your hand if you agree with that. My jaw dropped the first time I read this statement... when I was in the process of losing a Bible study interest over this very document.
3. A defective baby. Incredibly, the document even says that if there are "congenital defects" in the baby, that we as a church shouldn't say that murdering such a precious baby is wrong! For those who aren't aware of the current tragedy, the MAJORITY of Downs-diagnosed babies in the U.S. are killed before birth - a fact that makes the eugenicist's heart soar, but makes the average non-hardened heart, including nearly all Seventh-day Adventists' hearts, weep.
4. In the case of rape. Experiencing rape must be more horrific than imagination can conceive of; we need to amp up the grace and support. And not just for rape victims, but all mothers in crisis pregnancies. Then, is it moral to kill the baby conceived through rape? Let's be honest with ourselves. The Sixth Commandment does not say "thou shalt not murder, except in the case of rape." It simply says not to murder. Maybe the rapist deserves the death penalty, but the baby does not deserve to die.
5. Finally, the document takes a not-so-subtle political stance, stating: "any attempts to coerce women to remain pregnant... should be rejected as infringements of personal freedom." So, any attempts (like, through pro-life legislation?) to restrict the practice of killing babies SHOULD BE REJECTED. Many, many Adventists are very uncomfortable with the church venturing into political issues, especially by voicing in our behalf what the world calls a pro-"choice" position.
Now, contrast this troubling document with the inspiring comments from our leaders on this issue, posted in this viral video, which presently has been viewed pretty much only by Seventh-day Adventists. Take a look at the 'likes' - the speakers in this video have almost universal support among Adventists for the ideas they present. OVER 99% of the feedback is positive. Hundreds of likes; hardly a hand full of dislikes. The voice of the Adventist body is speaking.
And this isn't a mild video! It comes out and states clearly that abortion is murder, is killing, is violating the Sixth Commandment... and that so even in the case of rape.
And even more importantly, the video is filled with grace, hope, and love. Let's not lose that healing touch as we deal with the document controversy.
So, church leaders, are you hearing your people speak? Please prayerfully stand for the Sixth Commandment and the little babies Stand for right though the heavens may fall! We are behind you and praying for you! Say it with Martin Luther and all the courageous leaders like him: “Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God! “
"Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth" (Ephesians 6:14 KJV)
Scott Ritsema is the founder and director of Belt of Truth Ministries and Media on the Brain. He lives in Lakeview Michigan with his wife Cami and three amazing children!