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October 16, 2006


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I just came across a fascinating article from Touchstone this September about a similar discussion at a Catholic Prep School. An exert,

"Samantha: Yes, but what science says doesn’t matter.

Me: (silent, unsure of an appropriate response to such an assertion)

Samantha: Just because something is true doesn’t mean you have to believe it.

Me: Okay. (I write her last sentence on the board so it’s plain as day.) Are you sure that’s the argument you want to make to defend a right to abortion?

Samantha: Sure. I can go through my life denying what science says is true. I have that right.

Me: Yes, I guess you can. I can refuse to believe, for example, that the world is round. I can insist it’s flat.

Samantha: Exactly.

Me: But can that kind of thinking ever become the foundation of our laws, even if some unreasonable folks want to base their personal decisions on it? If we do, laws just become a matter of who has the power, not what’s right and true. Laws would simply be what the lawmaker wants them to be, for his own convenience. If the ones making the law want to say wife-beating is okay, then that’s the law; it doesn’t matter if it’s “true” that women are people and have rights. Or Hitler can have his concentration camps. Or America can have black slaves. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it, because (the lawmaker says) just because something is true doesn’t mean I have to believe it.

Samantha shrugged."

See the whole thing,


>>>"Against this stands a kind of social determinism in which we predict the “necessary” outcome of our current situations and conditions and difficulties...We forget the God who acts."

A huge point that comes into play in all kinds of issues these days. From the sound of your starting point tomorrow's session is going to be an interesting one!


Matt - I had a read through that article; that's almost unbelievable, but, since I have had simliar experiences, rings all too true.

Leslie - I'll keep you posted of any interesting tidbits of discusson.




(Ok, this post lapses into Anglican land in Canada - sorry to all the non-Anglican readers. Skip to the 'inflammatory question' at the end.)

I think the quote from the GS resolution is an interesting one, in light of the recent comments about how we have a tendency to over-focus on the 'official' or canonical positions. It seems to me that the Anglican church has seriously dropped the ball on all of the items mentioned in a, b and c

"a) such educational programs in the Church and comparable secular agencies which exist or may exist in the future for family life, birth control and social responsibility;
(where are those broad reaching 'educational programs' in the Church in the last 26 years?)

b) effective action to provide skilled counselling for families and individuals facing unwanted pregnancy;
(How do we access that 'skilled counselling' and how/who is trained for it? Is it skilled counselling we provide or 'directed action'? Does skilled counselling, even if it holds a particular position, include exploration of all available options?)

c) community responsibility to ensure adequate practical help in the care and nurture of children."
(I would love to see a whole parish get behind supporting a person facing an unwanted pregnancy - with financial, medical, birth option, child care, housing etc etc, but the reality is, it just doesn't happen. And most women would not be comfortable in such an exposed and vulnerable relationship in a community.)

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the GS resolution process, the reality of many GS resolutions is that they get passed with a certain passion, and in the momont, nobody really wants to disagree with such pastoral 'motherhood' statements as are found in a, b and c. In reality, in most places in Canada, a pregnant woman experiences none of those things in most Anglican churches. Of course there are exceptions, but where in there is the pastoral response to support the woman in whatever she herself chooses? Yes, OF COURSE we, as a church, support life and we think that's the preferred option. But it's not for us to decide for someone else how they should choose, nor for us to shame someone who chooses something other than what we think. Not all Anglicans concur with the resolution and, though that is the 'official position', we certainly don't hold it as doctrine.

I would cringe to think that someone is using the GS resolution as the church's 'Official Position on Abortion'. There are a lot of resolutions kicking around that just haven't been looked at since they were introduced - there just isn't time in the process. Sometimes (I'm not talking about sexuality here!) that leads to difficulties. Then of course, there's the whole quagmire of abortion and genetic testing. I share some of your outrage in that judgement of human life and worth.

I love life. I've given birth twice. But I still advocate for choice, as no two stories or two lives are the same. That I suppose is the huge challenge in ethics - can we legislate individual stories and lives? ahhh, treading in such murky water. It's hard. None of these are definitive answers, so don't go pouncing too hard on me - I've heard all the arguments in both directions.

Inflammatory question - not meant to be taken too seriously, but as food for thought...Given the reality that this is a gender issue, I wonder if the taboos on abortion would change if the male partner in the equation was required to be painted purple for a year, or have one of his testicles removed, if his actions resulted in an 'unwanted pregnancy'. It's another place in society where women are shamed, and men can disappear.


I got the GS resolution as our "official position" from the national ethics resource person of the Anglican Church of Canada. It also appears that we haven't addressed any ethical considerations on this issue since 1980 (the church being conerned about some other issues since then). So as it stands, what we have before us in this resolution is the ACC's "official position". Which I think is dependant upon what I lay out as what I see as some "Gospel principles" about ethics in general.

It's also noteworthy that the ACC hasn't looked at all at the issues of genetic testing in relation to this topic; and things in the genetic testing realm have changed quite dramatically in the last 25 years.

I think that we in Canada suffer from an "americanization" of this topic - where pastoral and theological considerations are always seen in the light of a political action to legislate/not-legislate around abortion as if it were an isolated issue, separate from our broader vision of society.

Judy - I think your analysis of the "abc's" are on target. One of the things I lament is that not everyone, but a lot of people in the so-called "pro-life" segement, are really what I would call merely "pro-birth", not really pro-life. The holistic view of the entire concern (for the woman/mother, the family circumstances, the social/economic future, etc) are not adequately addressed.

It's always a hot topic, and I'm sure the range of responses from students will be wide and varied - and passionate.


I never understood murder to be a "gender issue."


ummm... Troy - do you want to expand on that a bit...? ie - I'm just not sure how someone reading it would be led to understand why you hold it, and it's quite full of presuppositions which I think you should flesh out.


Careful, Troy. One: Murder has always been profoundly a gender issue. Two: Any statement that introduces such a heavily loaded term into a discussion on abortion, and in a seemingly offhanded way, risks coming across as lacking in compassion and grace at the very least, at worst lacking the desire to continue any sort of productive discussion or work towards solutions.

Now, given that this is a blog, I will presume that your full opinion is more layered than your one comment makes clear, under which circumstances I would just remind you that, given that this is a blog, all the more care should be taken with choice of wording given the lack of other cues. And at the risk of saying too much, I would further suggest that a good rule of thumb might be to write "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen".

I will add the following quote, even though I think it is getting well off the original topic:

"The StatsCan report also found most homicides were committed by someone the victim knew, with crimes committed by strangers hitting a 25-year low. While 64 men killed their wives, only 14 women killed their husbands." --

I won't presume to try and simplify this discussion with one statistic, or pretend that stats can't be used to lie... only to help suggest that this is a complex issue and that it is all connected, especially gender and murder.

That being said, I have never understood abortion to be a "murder issue."


...I think Jesus understood anger as a "murder issue." (Sermon on the Mount, Matt: 5:21 ff)

steve the z

I have a difficult time with abortion, believing that at conception God has breathed life into a new creation. However as I get older I have come to understand that life has difficult choices, that people want to do the right thing but are faced with pain and confusion, sometimes just misinformation. I can easily forgive those who have had or been involved with an abortion, as God has given me grace to extend. Not that I am special in any way, as Winston and Joseph can affirm. But because God's prompting as grown me to being able to have grace, which is His grace.

My response to abortion is one of sadness and anger, sadness because we have lost something profound and anger because a girl/lady has not felt the support she needed from her community to continue the pregnancy full term and have the people around her support her enough to ensure that her needs would be met.

I realize this is a complex issue in some cases, but I wander if the number of abortions in Canada isn't due in some part as our failing to create strong communities? How can we as reasonably stable members of a community be there for people considering abortion, not in any condeming way, but as people who would accept, love, give jobs to single mothers, or whatever it took. Basically my question is this, what responsability do we have to bear in this issue? In my frustration I have many times have used hard language to describe abortion (and other issues), so I understand that (actually I do that a lot), however we have to move on, and the way I have moved on is to wander what I could do. Not that I am doing anything yet, but I hope that God will provide an oppourtunity, or maybe I need to seek one out.


good thoughts, steve.

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blank stare...

  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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