Should the AME Church take a Pro Choice Stand? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

During the Social Action Commission meeting during the General Board Meeting, one of the attendees suggested that the AME church support a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. Bishop Norris smoothly moved this issue to a back burner. However, I would like this forum to weigh in on this issue. Can we theologically, support a pro-choice agenda?

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2003


This is a great question and it is long-overdue for serious discussion. The AMEC, like most black churces, has been conspicuously silent concerning the issue about abortion. In fact, the term abortion is not even referenced in the Index to the 2000 Discipline. I believe it is theologically un-wise for the AMEC to adopt an unregulated "pro-choice" policy. An unregulated pro-choice policy, favored by radical feminists, is essentially abortion on demand irrespective of the situation (rape, incest, health of mother, etc.). I only support abortion when the life of a mother is threatened. If a mother is disinterestd in caring for a child after impregnation the only moral alternative is to have the child put up for adoption and let someone else provide the child with love and caring. If life is considered to be sacred and we acknowledge that only God can give life and terminate life, how can we then articulate an unregulated pro-choice position when it directly contradicts the above Biblical and theological positions? Furthermore, how can the AMEC denouce capital punishment as immoral because it "arbitrarily" ends life yet support abortion which has the exact same goal. The contradictions are so transparent and they greatly diminish the effectiveness of the AMEC's witness. Given the Supreme Court's recent ruling striking down anti-sodomy laws, a companion topic to abortion is how will the AMEC respond to sexual unions among consenting homosexuals and gay marriage. Folks in our pews are anxiously awaiting our response. QED

-- Anonymous, June 28, 2003

I am Pro-Choice in the following situations: a. whether to have sex b. whether to use contraceptives.

However, choice ends once conception takes place. The only "choice" then is carrying to term unless other physical problems make this impossible.

Indeed, it would be unwise for the AME Church to have a blanket pro-choice policy. I would be inclinded to support an abortion only if the life of the mother is at stake. In cases of rape, I could possibly be persuaded in individual circumstances, but basically, I am still Pro-Life. In cases of incest, as distateful as that is, I'm assuming it is willful or consentual incest (otherwise, it falls in the category of rape), I remain Pro-Life.

Psychological issues are legitimate concerns in some cases, but they can be dealt with after the fact.

I don't think a pro-choice agenda can be "theologically" supported at all. Those who support such an agenda generally do not do so on a theological basis, rather they tend to use social reasons.

-- Anonymous, June 29, 2003

I most definitely echo the above voices. It is important that our church NOT attempt to be politically correct. We are a voice of morality, we are the voices of spirtuality. It is no way that we can support the murder of a child. Did God make a mistake when he allowed a child to be conceived! No. It is cause and effect. It is a sow and reap theory. WHY do we neglect to make a stand for what is righteous? What is wrong with us? When did the WORLD begin to influence the church and the CHURCH ceased to influence the WORLD. I can name plenty of scriptures that speak against abortion, but the bottom line is this, we are NOT God we cannot make decision to destroy HIS creation.

I have run into this same scenario in seminary. Many of our AME preachers are now saying that Jesus is NOT the only way. Now we want to say Women (which I am one) have the right to choose, When did this nonsense begin???

-- Anonymous, June 29, 2003

Rev Nicole:

Although I will not reveal my personal views on this subject, I was quite surprised by your response. Don't you think that there are women in your congregation who have had abortions? Should they be condemned because they chose (for whatever reason) not to carry their child to term? Theologically my dear sister, what does "free will" mean? Does God forgive those women who choose not to be mothers or does God condemn to death eternal? I agree it is difficult to cope in seminaries where Jesus is presented as "a" way and not the only way, yet for me that only strengthened my resolve to know God and my relationship to God. The AME Church must in my opinion, lift this issue in prayer and the only response that the church should make is a theological response. We don't need to sink to the depths of those movements who take scripture out of context or use scripture to further enslave. What ever the position of the AME church its position should offer hope,love and salvation whatever choice a woman decides to make one way or the other.

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2003

Bro. Harold- You make an intriguing comparison between the doctrine of "freewill" and the "right-to-choose". Nonetheless, Rev. Nicole sounds a lot like the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31. I'm sure her husband echoes similar sentiment :-) QED

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2003

Professor Dickens you are something else! I did not know that Rev. Nicole selects wool and flax and works with eager hands, I did not she was like a merchant ship bringing her meals from afar providing food not only for her family but for her servant girls as well.

I did not know that Rev. Nicole was into real estate speculation and a top shelf agri-businesswoman, who in her spare time finds time to do a little weaving while dealing with the poor and the needy.

I have no reason to believe that Rev. Nicole is anything other than a woman of virtue. And I have no reason to believe that her husband is not proud of her.

That said, her remarks on the abortion issue were quite clear I would like to see some theological support for the position. For example she says "Did God make a mistake when he allowed a child to be conceived! No. It is cause and effect. It is a sow and reap theory." I don't understand where she is coming from, after all God made Adam and Eve to dwell in the Garden of Eden and they ate the fruit of a forbidden tree, did God make a mistake?

I love the breadth of discussion that takes place on this bulletin board.

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2003

First of all Bro. Gibson I'd like to thank you for this discussion. It is a discussion that needs to take place, not only in our particular tradition but in other Christian traditions as well.

You have every right to ask what my theological basis is for the statement you quoted from my response.

Let me be clear about the sow and reap, cause and effect theory. Human beings exercise their own free WILL, as a result we must reap the consequences there of, whether those consequences are viewed as negative or positive. For instance, using your example, God did in fact put Eve and Adam in the garden with the forbidden tree. Just because the tree was available, did not give them permission or the right to take or eat from it. However, they did, as a result they had to suffer the consequences.

In other words, abortion is available unfortunately, however, does it make it right? Human Will never supercedes God's morality. This is not a theological debate, this is a moral issue. Those who have justified abortion are attempting to INTERPRET scripture. "Thou shalt do no murder" (matthew 19:18) is self explanatory they are also the Words of Jesus.

Finally, regarding the issue of "CONDEMNING" a person or persons who have had abortions let me say this, I preach the Word of God every Sunday, included in this Good News are the "rules" we must live by, and with all the preaching people still choose not to do what is righteous, however it is my responsibility, my labor, my call to preach the unadulterated Word of God, meaning untampered Word of God.

If a person makes a decision whether it be abortion, adultery, fornication, lying ... I do not condemn, I do not reject, I accept that individual, yet the person who has had multiple sexual partners and contracts AIDS can be forgiven and still live with AIDS. I am there to love and support and provide understanding, but if I can reach a person BEFORE they contract HIV/AIDS or an unwanted pregnancy, I'm gonna shout it from the roof tops, LIVE HOLY!

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2003

Regarding the issue of abortion; It is not for the Christian who disagrees with abortion to prove that it is scripturally, theologically, and morally wrong, but rather it is for the Christian who agrees with abortion to prove that it is scripturally, theologically, and morally right. It is the same case with evolution. It is not for the person who believes the earth and the universe was created by God to prove but rather it is for the atheist to prove that God does not exist. As you can figure out I am against abortion because it is wrong. It is not for me to prove it is wrong but rather for pro-choicers to prove that it is right. Mr. Gibson, please send me the theological, scriptural, and moral proof to support your claim. Thank You and God Bless!

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2003

Sorry Rev. Nate Colvin I have not taken a position on this issue. The issue I had with Rev. Nicole was a request for the theological support for her argument, which by the way she deftly used my example in an impressive way. Rev. Nate I am simply striving to get us to think theologically about all the things that we say. Although I am not sure I agree with your premise that just because abortion may be wrong in your eyes or even my eyes it is wrong for everyone, without supporting such an argument from the word of God.

For example the bible certainly prohibits killing, yet one of the glorious passages of scripture we fully embrace as an example of God's awesome power includes the killing of soliders who were following orders and doing their jobs just as the bible instructs that servants ought to do. This is not equivalent to abortion but it does highlight the fact that while thought shalt not kill killing does take place under the hand of God. This not to mention those passages when God's people are instructed to slay those who inhabit lands promised to them by God.

Rev. Nicole I am not sure or convinced that the word as presented in the bible is the untampered word of God, however it is the best guide we have and I heartily embrace the word of God and I love to hear it preached in its fullness.

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2003

Brother Harold _

You have really started something rare in my current AME walk, civilized dialogue about sexual morality. How about the husband-wife Colvin tag team? Pretty impressive I must admit. You probably didn't expect your quoting of Proverbs 31 or my gratuoitous compliment extended to Rev. Colvin would elicit a joint-response :-) Actually, Rev. Nate's consturctive emphasis on detractors "proving a negative" , i.e. God doesn't exist or developing the Biblical case for abortion, would be an unuusally high bar to overcome in the normal rules of rhetoric.

Let me state unequivocally that I oppose unregulated abortion because it is infanticide and as a consequence promotes black male genocide. Interesting how this discussion about abortion is becoming increasingly male-dominated. Rev. Nicole is the only woman who has weighed in with an informed opinion. Why have my feminist friends become uncharacteristically silent on this issue? Perhaps it is safe to say that men tend to be more "pro-life" in matters pertaining to abortion. Perhaps have we stumbled across another gender-divide issue in black Christendom. QED

-- Anonymous, June 30, 2003

I will not disclose my decision on this matter either but I think that the Church has made the same mistake as politicians: pro-lifers and pro-choicers have ignored the ultimate goal of making the "choice" of abortion less attractive and even unnecessary for women.

I propose another arena of discussion with pro-choice and pro- life...There is a common ground that can be found between the two polar opposites. What can we DO (action word) to decrease the necessity of abortion? There are a number of things:

To decrease the necessity of abortion, there are several alternatives: o Easy access to adoption information o Help obtaining housing, maternity and baby clothes, baby equipment, pre- and post- natal medical care, legal assistance and financial support o Continuing education o Flex Time at Work o Increased opportunities for virtual offices and telecommuting o Access to free child care in or near the workplace

I am in favor of a lean government and the unadulterated Word of God.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 2003

Shaunna opined -

".........I propose another arena of discussion with pro-choice and pro- life...There is a common ground that can be found between the two polar opposites."

I'm afraid you will be more successful locating the ruins of Noah's Ark in Mt. Ararat along the Turkish border than finding a "common ground" between pro-life and pro-choice factions. The passions exhibited by both sides illustrate the high stakes involved. QED

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2003

Although you may be correct in theory, politics tends to have much more rhetoric than action. Hopefully the revolutionary Christians on either side of the coin will step up and institute changes rather than another sound bite for their constituents.

-- Anonymous, July 07, 2003

I am very concerned with the repeated comment "I won't disclose my opinion". The consistent reference to "private beliefs" are what is hurting our Churches AND what adds confusion to items that the "CHURCH" should not be confused. Case & point is the decision in Alabama with the display of the 10 commandments being determined as UNCONSTITUTIONAL. People won't speak up, we want to remain in the center and have "private beliefs". I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus & will live for it and for him by any means necessary.

I do think we should have alternatives or additional supports available. I thought this was a very interesting point that Shaunna brought to the table.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2003

The very terms "Pro-Life" and "Pro-Choice" are chosen to place us at polar opposites. I take the position that abortion unless it is a medical necessity is wrong and ought not to be allowed. The medical necessity should not be determined by law but by the patient and the doctor. If the patient is a juvenile, the parents and/or guardians with advice from the doctor would make the decision. Christians should not have to agonize over this decision, for God supports the taking of a life only in order to preserve life. We complicate the debate with questions such as "When does life begin, etc.?" For me, this is simple: If you take any action deliberately to terminate a pregnacy is wrong except as stated above. Christians have a duty to work to change any law that allows abortion on demand for any reason other than to perserve life. That is one preacher's opinion, based on how I see the scriptures.

Be Blessed

Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2003

We have to be careful not to bend to traps the world has set up. The great commission tells us to teach the gospel, that is the role of the church. We point the way to Christ so that all may see. People will make their choices and they become accountable to God for themselves. Our role is to meet the people where they are as Jesus did. Not to judge or condemn, but to simply point the way and love everyone.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2003

Sometime we forget He also said to "go and sin no more"; and "the man you're living with is not your husban d."

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2003

Amen Rev. Paris!Why is it that when a Christian preaches sin no more we automatically think as the World? Condemn is not the same as telling someone the truth. Please understand, I do not condemn ANYONE, However, I do guide, and point to Jesus and Jesus is HOLY.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2003

"I won't disclose my opinion" is a personal preference. I have simply chosen this answer because I have found no matter how solidly I make my case theologically, and no matter how much I make the appeal for support in making the "choice" of life easier, there is always someone focused on attacking and judging my stance. Instead of judging opinions, I think we would be more productive ministering to the needs of you women with the unadulterated Word of God and allowing the individual to make her decision with her God.

-- Anonymous, July 08, 2003

Your are abosolutely right Sis. Shaunna when you say we need to preach the Word. In terms of allowing a person to make their own decision, they're going to do that anyway.

I agree and really think that the things you presented were quite realistic. However, while presenting those opportunities, putting our Word into action :) We must not neglect to try & influence someone's decision not to make a decision that they may end up beating themselves up about for the rest of their lives.

Do you know how many women I counsel who have had abortions? It is heartbreaking to hear a women 45 with children say they think & feel that they are worthless because of something (abortion) they've done 23 years prior. Its hard to convince these women that God has forgiven them, that the baby is with God, or that they are not murderers or that they are not being "punished" w/no children for the one abortion they had. I just want to try and influence someone NOT to do it! It is heard to counsel these women.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2003

Brother Gibson in his initial entry asked should the AME Church take a pro-choice stand? My answer is the AME needs to stick with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preach the word of God because it never fails. The gospel says thou shall not kill. Simple. It is not hard to understand. Thou shalt not kill. People go back to the Old Testament about marching armies and whatever. Jesus fulfilled the law. Thou shalt not kill. Easy.

If you call yourself a Christian then you believe what Jesus said. Preach the gospel and live true to the meaning of Jesus Christ. Let your light so shine before men that it may glorify your Father which is heaven. If you believe this then you will not have an abortion, meaning you will not kill.

If you believe this then you will not have sex outside of marriage to cause an abortion. Not all women and men will adhere to this. We know this since adultery has taken place since the beginning of time.

My reasoning is, if the AME Church were to issue a stance on abortion, then issue a stance on all the other sins as well. One is not worse than another. Lets start with adultery. How many in our denomination,from the Bishops office to the pulpits to the pewsare divorced? Lets issue another statement on lying. We have been lied to on a number of occassions from various sources in our churches. Let's then issue another statement on coveting. If we unmask and issue statements on what goes on in many of the districts then we are really in trouble. Jesus knew how the Pharisees and Sadducess worked. They knew the law well, and applied it vigorously to all but themselves.

If you point people to Jesus. Have them study His word, and trust the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts you have done what was asked. And as Rev. Nicole said you must live holy because Jesus is holy.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2003

I would be curious to know the opinion of AME members about the topic of abortion. Perhaps Clement Fugh, CIO or the AMEC, could design a special opinion survey to see how people feel about topics like adultery, homosexuality, HBCUs, women in clergy, etc. If we could somehow develop a partnership with prominent polling organizations like the Gallop Group or the Harris Group the information collected would be invaluable in our strategic planning.

Actually, Sister Brooks' appeal for the AMEC to have an expanded stance on sundry sins like lying, adultery, stealing, covetousness, etc. is already in place. Is is called The Decalouge. Reading the Decalougue (full version) brings parishoners and clergy in direct contact with God's Commandments for purposeful living and yielding to the authority of moral and divine law. Now whether or not folks actually believe the Decalouge is really another topic. If the AMEC refuses to acknowledge abortion as sin I'm afraid our theological credibilty will suffer irreparable damage. Our theology both historically and contemporarily is defined by a call to liberation (Dr. Luke 4:18). According to Dr. Luke, we are instructed to put our unwavering faith in Him who was sent to "set the captives free". Liberation from sin leads to harmony with God. The apprehension by the AMEC to promulagate a pro-life position (codified in the Discipline) has nothing to do with theology or moral law but sadly a capitulation to left-liberal Democratic politics. QED

-- Anonymous, July 10, 2003

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