Hosea, God’s prophet, proclaimed: “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”
The other day I heard about and watched Sarah Silverman’s offensive pro-abortion rights video on YouTube, where Christ appears to her, hangs out, talks with her about many topics, including abortion, and gives the green light on abortion because, as he says, “Fertilized eggs are not people; people are people.” I was at least relieved that in this case, abortion was being justified by the mistaken notion that what is being aborted is not a person. Because, honestly, some of more radical arguments have become, “They may be persons, but a woman’s right to choose is more important.” I.e., they don’t care about human life. And yet, though the argument that the unborn are not people-–if true-–would at least be acceptable as a justification for why abortion is ok, the fact is that, the unborn are people, and our Lord’s people tragically are perishing-–despite what Sarah Silverman’s Jesus says. Ms. Silverman and others who are like-minded must learn some basic embryology. There is no stage of fetal development called “a fertilized egg.” When the human egg and sperm meet, a new, separate human being immediately comes into existence, with his or her own genetic code and make-up, and it is called a “zygote.” But, that is another post. What I would like to respond to is Ms. Silverman’s depiction of and portrayal of Jesus Christ, of whom I am a disciple.
I know the true Christ. Or perhaps, I strive as much as I can to know Him in this life. This is not arrogance; He Himself said, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” He came to earth as a human so that people would know Him; therefore, He IS knowable! As one who knows and loves Christ, I never entertained even for a moment that He would say the things He is portrayed as saying in Ms. Silverman’s absurd video.
It is interesting to note that, though Ms. Silverman does not believe in the divinity of Christ, nor is she His disciple, nor is she knowledgeable about His teachings, she nevertheless portrays Him as appearing to her and pronouncing his non-judgment on abortion. Why would one who mocks Christ then have her mockery of Christ announce that abortion is ok? Why bother? What validity does it add to her stance? Was it simply to render the most offense to Christians? Though she did cross some lines that most would not out of a sense of decency and respect, her portrayal of who Christ was and is are not unusual, or unique. Modern bookstores boast shelves full of books about Jesus-–who He was, what He believed, or whether He existed at all (He did-–the historical record is quite clear). It was Pope Benedict XVI who lamented that many modern and recent interpretations of Jesus are not accurate and instead more of a reflection of their authors’ personalities and agendas than a revelation of who Christ is. Ms. Silverman’s Jesus, though attempting to be edgy and unique, is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
But, for those who do care about Christ’s opinion, we need to ask: Is this what Christ would say-–that the unborn are not people, and therefore abortion is ok? Did he care about and have respect for women? Did he ever indicate in any of His recorded words, in are there hints in the revelations in the Jewish Testament or in the writings of St. Paul and some of His other earliest Apostles in Scripture what His opinion of abortion was and is? Are the words Ms. Silverman puts into Jesus’ mouth a valid assumption of what He would say? Would a Christ who was like the one portrayed by Ms. Silverman be rejected, tortured, and crucified? These are important questions, because there are many people who argue that Christ did not explicitly speak about abortion, and therefore we are really unsure of what He may have thought. Is it plausible at all that God could leave us without guidance on such an important issue? Let’s look at what we do know, and what He did say that relates to the issues-–the humanity of the unborn and respect and compassion for women. As a Roman Catholic, I know that the Church (which is the Body of Christ, and therefore IS Christ) speaks about this issue, and has given clear and explicit guidance, which sadly many reject, even many of those who call themselves Catholic. Since Church teaching on abortion has been outright rejected by many, let’s look at another source of information about the personality and mind of Christ, which is Scripture.
I don’t recall a single place in the Gospels where Christ even insinuated that He may not consider certain classes of people as “not people.” In fact, He often spent time with, ate with, ministered to, and healed those who the rest of society considered untouchable-–lepers, for example. Lepers were practically not considered human. They were banished from their families and friends and from their towns or villages. They were required to yell out, “Unclean!” if anyone was approaching. Christ not only ignored all of these prescriptions, but we have accounts of Him approaching lepers and even touching them, as He healed them and restored them to life.
Children were another class of people that were not considered to have any rights, and were, therefore, less than human in some way. One Gospel account says that His disciples were actually reprimanding people who had brought their children to Christ for Him to bless, and when Jesus learned of this, He was indignant and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these!”
Women also were hardly considered people. A wife was thought of as property. Women were dependent on husbands and/or sons financially, Jewish men were not permitted to speak to women in public, and restrictions were in place, such as not being able go out in public for a prescribed number of days when they had their periods or after childbirth. Again, Christ welcomed women in His inner circle, and we know that many women who followed Him and were devoted to Him.
Further, Christ not only is never shown as considering anyone less than important enough to spend His time with, but He explicitly says when speaking about the commandment to not kill, “But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.” When we call someone a name, aren’t we in some way declaring them less than human? If with our words we reduce someone-–out of anger, or out of fear, or for any other motive-–to something less than a whole, integrated person who is created in God’s image and likeness and thus has an inherent dignity and worth, then aren’t we on some level already attempting to kill him or her? In name calling, we attempt to destroy someone’s image, and therefore, also God’s image within them. Christ identified with each one of us, saying, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, you did it to me.” Christ identifies with and defends each and every person, and especially those who need defending the most (for example, the poor, the leper, the outcast, and the widow). This He extends to each and every person, without exception. Because we are His people-–His Father made us, and He is One with the Father. Considering Christ’s obvious compassion and identification with all people, I have to argue that Jesus indeed would definitely not say “Fertilized eggs are not people; people are people.”
In addition, Jesus, as a devout Jew, recited, prayed, and sang the Psalms, including Psalm 139: 13-16, in which the psalmist proclaims: “You [God] formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise You, because I am wonderfully made…My bones are not hidden from You, When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in Your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.” Jesus also studied the prophets, including Jeremiah, who said that God told him, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” These words are part of what formed the mind of Jesus and his worldview. This is what He believed and lived-–and these are the words of God. They are an expression of how Jesus views the unborn child-–as wonderfully made, loved by God into being, each having a special God-given mission and plan for his or her life. This view Christ held of life is illustrated, for example, in John 16:21: “When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.” He took it for granted that a child being brought into the world was a joyous occasion! It is beyond unfathomable that Christ would have been callous and disregarding of life within a mother’s womb.
God, through the Scriptures, speaks to us today, in our situations and in our modern culture. They are ancient texts, but they are inspired, and therefore still relevant. Who in our modern, Western culture are the downtrodden, the voiceless, the hidden, and the ones in need of protection? The unborn. They are being destroyed by the millions. After 41 years of legal abortion in the United States, we have destroyed an estimated 50 million unborn children. FIFTY MILLION! This is the most horrid genocide of all human history, by far. So, we see that ideas can be very dangerous, and calling a group of people “not human” is dangerous.
And who else may be downtrodden and in need of defense in our culture? Women. Again, who is Jesus, and how does He wish us to care for and defend women?
First, prevention of unwanted pregnancies in the first place by the way that we live our lives. We know that Jesus lived the virtue of purity and taught His followers to do so. This purity applies to every aspect of our lives-–how we speak, our motives, our thoughts, and is especially applicable to people our culture with regards to sexuality. Christ said, “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.” Where is THIS Jesus in Ms. Silverman’s video? These are strong words. Jesus has a firm warning for a man who even thinks lustfully of a woman. Lust is selfish desire, which objectifies another person for the sake of one’s own pleasure; it does not care for and want the good of the other person. So many sexual encounters today are based only on lust. Many men are quite sexually active and have no plans ever to get married and have children. They show little respect for women. (And this works both ways; women do the same to men.) And yet, our culture celebrates this, and our states and federal government fund and promote promiscuity through organizations like Planned Parenthood. Sarah Silverman’s video goes on after the abortion issue to discuss a man masturbating as completely morally neutral (and I realize the point it was trying to make, which is another error). This is accepting, condoning, and glorifying lust, which Jesus warned so strongly against. It is true that most people of our day would consider it literally impossible to remain sexually pure until marriage, including even masturbation. But , why? Christ said, “All things are possible for God.” That is why the Christian needs to live close to Christ, to draw strength in every way from Him. Fasting and penance help us to train our wills. If people lived this way, there would not be unwanted pregnancies to begin with. Men and women would not have sex when they were not willing to accept children. To live this way is true respect and care for women. We should not be doing things with our bodies that our minds, emotions, and spirits do not agree to! “Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no” was another saying of Christ’s. Does that not apply to our actions even as it applies to honesty and forthrightness in our words? Think of the fallout we are seeing from generations of people not living Christian principles in their sexuality-–everywhere are broken hearts, broken families, unwanted children, aborted babies, poverty, depression, addictions, pornography, pedophilia, human trafficking, suicide…and the list goes on and on.
So, purity and true respect for our ability to procreate is the ideal. But humans are not perfect. What about women who, nevertheless, do find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy? What would Christ say then? He said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and do not sin anymore.” He saved her life, he restored her, and He directed her to not add more sin on top of this sin of adultery. And “sin”, as discussed above, certainly in Christ’s mind would include ending the life of an unborn child which may have resulted from her acts of adultery. Jesus also spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, despite cultural norms which prohibited a Jewish man from speaking with a woman, and especially a Samaritan woman. He leads her into a discussion about life and then lets her know that He is aware she has had five husbands, and the man she is living with is not her husband. And yet, He is there talking with her and revealing His identity as the Messiah to her, even though this was considered a very sinful woman in her day. He was still more than willing to minister to her, to lead her towards Life, and we see that her life was changed after her encounter with Him. So, Jesus indeed meets women where they are, He calls them and challenges them, despite their sins and situations, to amend their ways and to accept His goodness and blessings. This of course includes accepting Life, even if it has not occurred within the ideal circumstances. This life is still precious, and God will still lead, provide for, and bless anyone who trusts Him and His ways.
I would like to part with describing just one more incident in the Gospels that reveals the mind of Christ on the rejection of the life of a child. Jesus spoke explicitly about childbearing and motherhood when He was on His way to be crucified and His tortures had already begun. A group of devout women met Him on His way, crying and lamenting. He, though suffering immensely, stopped to speak with and comfort them: “Do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ At that time, people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!” In these words, Jesus speaks to us about children being a joy, and the welcoming of children being a sign of hope. Therefore, the lack of welcoming children, is a sign of despair. When humanity has lost the desire to bring children into the world, hope has been lost. At that time, people will despair. I would say that we are living in those times. Children are rejected in unprecedented numbers through contraception, through delaying childbirth in the pursuit of successful careers and the amassing of material wealth, through abortion, and through false ideologies that mistakenly point to overpopulation as a drain on the earth’s limited resources.
Despite all this evidence and more of who Christ was and is, we have people who insist that Jesus would be cool with abortion, because he’s such an easygoing, laid back guy. No, He was, and is, a passionate, challenging, but caring person, who also is God. He wants nothing less than true happiness and salvation for all of His people. He gave His life for these people. He said, “This is my body, which is given up for you.” And we as a culture encourage women to say, “This is MY body” as she rejects the life within it.
Hosea, God’s prophet, proclaimed, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” Indeed. Let us know the Lord and His ways, which lead to Life! Let us not accept death as His solution to our problems-–He came that we might have life, and have it abundantly. To promote anything less than that as “caring about women” is a lie.