A hymn to St. John the Baptist
Elizabeth was freed from barrenness while through the voice of Gabriel the Virgin conceived in her womb and remained a virgin. John the Forerunner leapt beforehand within his mother, foreseeing in the virginal womb his God and Master Who became incarnate for our salvation. (from the Octoechos, Tone 5, third kathisma hymn, Tuesday Matins)
Abortion is murder
Since the March for life will take place this month, I decided to go off on a tangent from my plans for this blog site and devote this post to Pro-Life. The Orthodox Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception; therefore, we cannot consider the abortion of a child in its mother’s womb to be anything else than to take a life, to kill. Some people argue: What about rape? Well, then make it legal only for victims of rape—this I say not because I endorse this statement but only to make a point. It is better to for such a woman to be counseled, have the child, and—if she chooses not to keep it–then give it up for adoption.
What about the case where a woman’s life could be in danger? An answer to this is probably the work of a counsel of bishops. Still, with faith in God and prayer, the course of nature can be directed.
Yet let us see what we find in the Scriptures concerning this, what do they reveal to us about an unborn babe in the womb? Does the life of the child begin there? The hymn to the Forerunner with which this post begins refers to the meeting of the Theotokos and Elizabeth in the Gospel of Luke. And so we read in the Gospel of St. Luke:
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And, speaking to Zachariah, the Archangel Gabriel said of St. John, “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb”.
St. John the Baptist experienced joy while yet in his mother’s womb. So how can our society condone abortion? St. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. So how can our society condone abortion? Is it possible that in this manner saints may have been killed who could have changed the course of the world?
Again our Lord says to the Prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”. (Jer. 1:5)
God Himself says he formed the prophet Jeremiah while yet in the womb. We are not all prophets but every human being is a unique creation of God, and this begins in the womb. So how can our society condone abortion and kill a unique creature of God—a human being since every human being born into the world is a new encounter with God?
Let us take one more Scriptural text and quote the Holy Apostle Paul. He writes to the Galatians: “But when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace”. (Gal. 1:15) God separated him from his mother’s womb. The word separated is used in the King James and New King James Versions but it is lacking in precisely conveying the Greek. The Apostle Paul is here telling us that he was set apart, or appointed, or chosen from his mother’s womb. The translation into Slavonic, for instance, has the meaning “chosen”.
So with the above comment of the holy Apostle Paul we again see how life begins in the womb and precisely as the Orthodox Church teaches at the moment of conception. And this latter is seen in our Christology, concerning the incarnation of God the Word. St. John of Damascus writes:
For the very Word of God was conceived of the Virgin and made flesh, but continued to be God after this assumption of the flesh. And, simultaneously with its coming into being, the flesh was straightway made divine by Him. Thus three things took place at the same time: the assuming of the flesh, its coming into being, and its being made divine by the Word. (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 3, Chapter 12)
Later on, in speaking of the two natures of Christ he writes: “from the first instant of conception there was no divisions whatsoever of either form”. (Ibid. Book 3, Chapter 15)
So then, in reference to our Lord Jesus Christ, he rightly teaches that from instant of conception there were no divisions in His divine and human natures. This is why the late Archbishop Dimitri of Dallas and the South, in expressing the Orthodox concept on this matter writes: “The two natures were united in the one Person of the Saviour at the moment of conception in the womb of the Virgin”. (The Doctrine of Christ, p. 48)
So our society, in legalizing abortion, has to admit that they are taking lives, in legalizing abortion they are killing, in legalizing abortion they are committing murder.
Something we can do
Among other organized public measures and events, while at home we can pray. Pray for those who have had abortions: for the healing of those who are repentant and the repentance of those who are hardened. Pray for those who are considering aborting a child and the doctors who commit this horrifying deed that God will open their minds to understand the evil of this and touch their hearts with compassion for the unborn child. This can be done in the form of the Jesus Prayer, for example: “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on those who have had abortions: heal the repentant and bring to repentance those who are hardened.” I would like to add one last word, a word of encouragement for women who have had an abortion. You should pray for the aborted child just as you would for any of your living children. Pray that God will have mercy on your child and all aborted children. And then, you have the hope that you will see your aborted child in the kingdom of heaven. And you will recognize each other, the child will say to you “Mom, I forgive you. Mom, you helped me with your prayers. Mom, I love you.”
May God grant this. Amen.