The Geoscience Research Institute (GRI) has issued a letter stressing the value of human life in light of the biblical record of creation. This letter is addressed to the committee editing a new Seventh-day Adventist statement on abortion.
Church administrators from all over the world will vote this abortion statement during the Church’s Annual Council meetings October 10-16, 2019, held at the Church’s world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. The GRI letter supporting a biblically sound statement arose out of conviction that the Bible’s teachings must guide Christians’ understanding of abortion, just as they should any other controversial issue in society. Political and economic pressures are real, as are the emotional reactions surrounding abortion, but none of these should distract from the Church’s duty to clearly proclaim the Bible’s revelation of the infinite value of every human life.
The Text of the Letter Reads:
”Dear “Public and Official Statement on Abortion Working Group:”
The biblical description of creation, with its six-day time table and special creation of humans, provides the theological and moral foundation for human rights and respect for human life. As society has turned away from the biblical story, there has been a decline in respect for human life, as seen in the legalization of assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion on demand, and calls for artificial production of humans through cloning. Lack of respect for human life is also seen in the epidemic of abuse and neglect of children, neglect of the mentally ill, and violence toward and exploitation of the weak.
From the perspective of biblical creation, every person, whether born or unborn, old or young, healthy or disabled, is endowed with the image of God and is of infinite value. We deplore the tendency in our society to regard humans as just one more species of animal, albeit a unique one. We also deplore the trend toward treating humans like commodities, to be used or exterminated for reasons of economy or convenience. The true value of human life can be understood only in the light of the biblical story of creation and redemption.
In this context, we support development of a clearly stated, biblically sound statement on abortion. We acknowledge and support the work toward this end by the Biblical Research Institute and the Bioethics Committee. We advocate giving strong emphasis to the implications of the biblical story of creation for the value of human life in both belief and practice. We want to be known as a community that derives its moral principles from biblical teachings, values human life more than comfort or reputation, and shows compassion to all. Our proclamation of the three angels’ message will be strengthened as it is accompanied by an emphasis on the practical implications of biblical creation.
L James Gibson
Director, Geoscience Research Institute”
This is from a friend:
I’m trying to leave this situation in God’s hands, but can’t help but have the feeling that this is one of those times when we are His servants and need to stand in His service. Just today, I was thinking about the current “1992 Abortion Guidelines” and how they relate to the shortest Commandment:
Thou Shalt Not Kill.
Then it occurred to me, the second shortest Commandment is:
Thou Shalt Not Steal.
I wondered, what would the guidelines look like if I just swapped out “stealing” for “abortion”. It took surprisingly little additional editing:
The 1992 Abortion Statement Rewritten in Context of The Eighth Commandment
“Many contemporary societies have faced conflict over the morality of stealing. Such conflict also has affected large numbers within Christianity who want to accept responsibility for the protection of personal property while also preserving the personal liberty of others. The need for guidelines has become evident, as the Church attempts to follow scripture, and to provide moral guidance while respecting individual conscience. Seventh-day Adventists want to relate to the question of stealing in ways that reveal faith in God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things and in ways that reflect Christian responsibility and freedom. Though honest differences on the question of stealing exist among Seventh-day Adventists, the following represents an attempt to provide guidelines on a number of principles and issues. The guidelines are based on broad biblical principles.
1) All of creation is a magnificent gift of God. God's ideal for human beings affirms the sanctity of human life, in God's image, and requires respect for personal property. However, decisions about property must be made in the context of a fallen world. Stealing is never an action of little moral consequence. Thus property must not be thoughtlessly taken. Stealing should be performed only for the most serious reasons.
2) Stealing is one of the tragic dilemmas of human fallenness. The Church should offer gracious support to those who personally face the decision concerning a robbery. Attitudes of condemnation are inappropriate in those who have accepted the gospel. Christians are commissioned to become a loving, caring community of faith that assists those in crisis as alternatives are considered.
3) In practical, tangible ways the Church as a supportive community should express its commitment to the value of personal property. These ways should include:
strengthening family relationships
educating both genders concerning Christian principles of personal property
emphasizing responsibility of both male and female for planning a family budget
calling both to be responsible for the consequences of behaviors that are inconsistent with Christian principles
creating a safe climate for ongoing discussion of the moral questions associated with stealing
offering support and assistance to people who choose not to steal
encouraging and assisting fathers to participate responsibly in the parenting of their children.
The Church also should commit itself to assist in alleviating the unfortunate social, economic, and psychological factors that add to stealing and to care redemptively for those suffering the consequences of individual decisions on this issue.
4) The Church does not serve as conscience for individuals; however, it should provide moral guidance. Stealing for reasons of covetousness, laziness, or convenience are not condoned by the Church. People, at times however, may face exceptional circumstances that present serious moral or financial dilemmas, such as significant threats to the person’s life, serious jeopardy to their health, severe economic hardship carefully documented in financial statements, and hardship resulting from economic depression or losing employment. The final decision whether to steal or not should be made by the person after appropriate consultation. They should be aided in their decision by accurate information, biblical principles, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, these decisions are best made within the context of healthy family relationships.
5) Christians acknowledge as first and foremost their accountability to God. They seek balance between the exercise of individual liberty and their accountability to the faith community and the larger society and its laws. They make their choices according to scripture and the laws of God rather than the norms of society. Therefore, any attempts to coerce people either to remain honest or to steal should be rejected as infringements of personal freedom.
6) Church institutions should be provided with guidelines for developing their own institutional policies in harmony with this statement. Persons having a religious or ethical objection to stealing should not be required to participate in the performance of robberies.
7) Church members should be encouraged to participate in the ongoing consideration of their moral responsibilities with regard to stealing in light of the teaching of Scripture.”