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IN OTHER WORDS: When it comes to sanctity of life, Bible must be authority

I read with interest the "In Other Words" letter by Rev. Kristi McLaughlin in the July 31 issue of The Daily Republic. I consider myself to be a pro-life advocate, and it troubled me that Rev. McLaughlin was trying to define me and my pro-life position. She describes pro-lifers as being more "against abortion" and not as much pro-life. She went on to say that to be really pro-life one must, in short, be a person who believes in big-government socialism. I would prefer to define myself and my position.

My worldview is where my pro-life position derives from. My worldview is defined by the Bible. While it might be more convenient to generalize or cherry-pick what I like or don't want to believe, I am stuck with what the Bible says in its entirety. The Bible spells out in no uncertain terms the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage. The reason life is sacred is because it is a gift of (and from) God, and every human being is created in the image of God. Therefore life is to be treated with reverence. Rev. McLaughlin is right on when she accurately quotes the Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13), "You shall not murder." This command clearly forbids the wanton taking of human life, but it does not forbid all taking of life. There are several justifiable reasons for taking of life, according to the sacred text:

1. Killing of animals for food (Acts 10:13).

2. Killing in self-defense (Exodus 22:2-3).

3. Killing while engaged in a "Just War."

The principles of the justice of war have been traditionally upheld by the Christian Church on biblical grounds, and are historically held to be: having just cause, being a last resort, being declared by a proper authority, possessing right intention, having a reasonable chance of success, and the end being proportional to the means used.

4. Capital punishment (Exodus 21:12-14).

These justifications and allowances for taking life have carefully guarded parameters precisely to preserve the sanctity of life. Yes, through the ages, people have abused these allowances and innocent people have died unjustly, but the principles still hold in my opinion. Quoting "Killing ... is never a light thing, even if you are in the right, even if you do it righteously."

To apply the sanctity of life to the abortion issue, the Bible is clear that God is partial to those who cannot defend themselves (i.e. widows, the fatherless, etc.). The unborn clearly fit this category. History tells us that the early Christian writings condemned abortion without distinction: consider Didache, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Saint Basil. Early church councils punished women for abortions that were combined with other sexual crimes, as well as makers of abortifacient drugs. The Hippocratic Oath (written approximately 300 BC) has historically called on health care givers to vow not to induce abortions.

Current medical knowledge clearly shows these unborn babies are in fact human beings. Bernard Nathanson co-founded one of the most influential abortion advocacy groups in the world (NARAL) and once served as medical director for the largest abortion clinic in America. In 1974 (while still a pro-choice advocate), he wrote an article for the New England Journal of Medicine in which he stated, "There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy ..." Modern medical technology verifies beyond a shadow of a doubt that human life begins at conception, and these tiny humans can feel pain at a very early stage of development.

While I understand that I could be a more consistent advocate for the sanctity of life, I am convinced that the right path for anyone who values the sanctity of life, especially from a Christian perspective, is on the side of protecting the lives of the unborn.

The Rev. Keith Nash is the senior pastor of the Mitchell Wesleyan Church.

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