Splitting Heirs

A member gave me a newspaper clipping of a letter to the editor someone had written to the local paper.  The writer makes the argument that it is irrational for Christians to object to abortions, since there are countless miscarriages that occur before parents even know they’re pregnant, and therefore don’t mourn the passing of.  If God allows such things to happen, it can hardly be seen as sinful to object to humans performing abortions.

This sounds like a compelling argument, and the writer implies through it that a fertilized egg is not actually a human being until some later, arbitrary point in development (they do not specify what that point is for them).  They also implicate the Creator as uncaring or unloving or inept for allowing babies to abort spontaneously at very early stages of development.  There is finally reference to traditional Catholic teaching on the fate of such babies  as eternal limbo, based on Mark 16:16.  
What is the Christian response to this argument?  We begin by laying out what the Bible says on the matter – and we don’t shortcut.  
  1. God created all things, and created them good and perfect.
  2. Mankind rebelled against the divine order of creation, thereby casting all of creation into a state of imperfection and rebellion against the good, perfect, natural order of things
  3. God promised that there would come a time when order is restored
  4. The beginning of the fulfillment of that promise occurred with the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, and his perfect life & ministry, innocent death and resurrection on the third day, followed by his ascension into heaven and promised return
  5. When Jesus returns, we will experience in full the reconciliation of all creation that his death and resurrection have effected already in actuality (with his resurrection as the first demonstration of this)
So we have a situation where we know that things are supposed to be a certain way, and yet they are not.  Christians assert that life begins at conception.  Without other interventions or aberrations of the process, conception normally results in the birth of a human being.  That human being didn’t transform into a human being from something else at an arbitrary point before (or after) birth – they were human from the moment Mom and Dad’s respective DNA contributions resolved themselves into a unique, new set of genetic material.  
We know how pregnancy is supposed to proceed and culminate – with the birth of a healthy child.  But it doesn’t always proceed this way, as the author notes.  Sometimes, for a variety of reasons both known and unknown, the process is interrupted and does not complete as planned.  Does this mean that the fertilized egg was not human in every sense of the word?  Hardly.  It just means that sometimes that human life is lost before we’re ever even aware that it existed.  Our awareness of it’s existence is not what makes it human.  
We would not claim that spontaneous miscarriages are the norm, regardless of how often they occur.  Clearly, they are an aberration, evidence of the natural process gone awry.  Again, this is separate completely from parental knowledge of the child’s existence, or parental attitude towards the child’s existence.  From the most basic scientific understanding of the process, a miscarriage is exactly that – something wrong in an otherwise normal process.  
Does the fact that a human life sometimes does not develop fully justify knowingly and intentionally ending a human life?  I don’t see how this logically follows.  If we would acknowledge that, for a couple hoping for a baby, a miscarriage is an aberration (whether or not the couple know they were pregnant or not), then how can we suddenly insist that the abortion of a pregnancy is somehow normal or natural?  
We’ve already said that Biblically speaking, creation isn’t working the way it should because of sin.  So we should expect that there are problems in creation, such as the spontaneous miscarriage of a baby.  Does this make God guilty of this?  Is God responsible for the loss of these lives?
In the broadest sense, yes, because nothing occurs without the permission or volition of God.  He allows the effects of sin to continue to play out in creation.  Yet He has also promised that this will not always be the case.  God is not unwilling or unable to stop sin and the consequences of it – He has instead told us that He will address the problem fully in his timing, which we must presume (if we posit the existence of a personal, loving, all-powerful God) is better than our ideas of what the best timing would be.  
However the blame for the problem of sin and brokenness in creation must be laid back at the feet of humanity – both Adam and Eve initially as well as every person who has lived after them (with the exception of Jesus).  We are bound up in it, but we entered into it initially willingly.  As with any argument that attempts to hold God responsible for the effects of sin, we conveniently remove ourselves from the picture first, as if we do not in very personal as well as less personal ways contribute to the ongoing brokenness of the world within and around us.
The Christian response to the fact that there are spontaneous, unknown miscarriages is that this is part of being in a sinful world.  It is not an indication that these children were not human.  And while we may not know about them, the God who created them does, and they will not remain lost forever.  
As to the Roman Catholic teaching on limbo, this is a bit trickier, as there are apparently several different kinds of limbo in Catholic teaching.  Limbus Paternum is described as the abode of the dead in Christ who are awaiting his Second Coming.  Anyone who dies in Christ enters this temporary limbo where they are happy, where their condition in limbo is indeed temporary, and where there status will change (to appropriate Facebook-isms) to eternal bliss after the Day of the Lord.
Limbus Infantium is taught to be the abode of those who die in original sin prior to being baptized, but without additional personal volitional guilt & sin.  Catholic teaching on this subject has changed over time.  Prior to Augustine it was assumed that babies who died prior to baptism would not be allowed into heaven (since Catholic teaching interprets baptism as a requirement for salvation), but they would enjoy an eternity of happiness outside of the presence of God.  Augustine at first agreed with this but later denied it and insisted that anyone who died prior to baptism was damned.  Thomas Aquinas broke away from this approach nine hundred years later or so, returning to an insistence that those who died unbaptized would not suffer in eternity, but could also not enjoy the full presence of God, either.  It is unclear if the Church has an official stance on the matter, but that many Catholic theologians favor Aquinas’ more moderate views on the subject.
As a Protestant, I’ll argue that where Scripture is silent we should not speak, and that I disagree with Catholic teaching that baptism is required for salvation.  This teaching is contradicted by the thief on the cross in Luke 23, unless we posit (without any basis for doing so) that the thief had been baptized at some point previously.  
What I can assert is that the God who created all things good and was willing to sacrifice his own Son to save us can be trusted to do the right thing for t
hese very young children who die before they are even known to be present.  I can also assert that this God in no way will accept abortion as a suitable practice.  That human life is destroyed unknowingly at times through unintentional natural (or unnatural) processes is not a justification for the intentional destruction of known human life.  

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