Orthodox America

  Freedom of Choice

The debate over abortion that has engulfed society can simply be broken down to a matter of two popular slogans: the right to life vs. freedom of choice. While those opposed to abortion speak of the right to lift. of the tiny baby carried in the womb of a mother, those in favor talk about women's rights to control their own bodies and the freedom of choice in matters of reproduction. An Orthodox Christ/an, writing to this author argued:

I believe that it is no one's business if a woman should decide to have an abortion...since the woman has a rational mind--that is Gad given-she is able to make the proper decision as to whether to carry this child to term.

       In the November 11, 1989 edition of The Greek American, an independent newsweekly published in Astoria, New York, Constance Callinicos wrote:

      There is no question in my mind that the fundamental basis upon which rests Woman's freedom, her ability to educate herself, her mobility, her self-actualization, her very survival as human being is her control over her own body. It is her first ownership, this body, it must be inviolable, her sacred temple to herself....A woman must be allowed to choose, and she must never be prevented from choosing her Self first, if that is what she deems the best choice for her. 

Freedom of choice! The right to control one's own body! The right to control one's own destiny! What noble sounding words! Who could disagree? It's so very American and democratic. It's so very un-Christian. It's so very un-Biblical. Yes, it is true, we do have freedom of choice over everything in our lives, God has given us a free and rational will. He will not and does not force us to accept His way but leaves the choice entirely up to us. God is definitely "pro-choice" when it comes to controlling the lives of His creatures. What the above authors have failed to notice, however, is that there are serious consequences for the choices we make in life. St. John Chrysostom wrote in the fourth century, "The lack of knowledge of the Scriptures is the root of all evil," and is certainly why so many Orthodox Christians are fooled by society into thinking that they can be "prochoice" on abortion and other serious issues in their lives. What does the word of God say about the freedom of choice? What are the consequences of the choices we make? 

Consequences of Choice

St. Paul, writing to the Romans, talks to these young Christians about the consequences of the choices that society presents to them. Indeed, Christians living in pagan Rome in the first century knew every one of the choices that we are faced with today! St. Paul writes:

      Those who live as their human nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants. To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. And so a person becomes an enemy of God when he is controlled by his human nature; for he does not obey God's law, and in fact he cannot obey it. Those who obey their human nature cannot please God. So then, my brothers, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to. For if you live according to your human nature you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions; you will live. Those who are led by God's Spirit are God's sons....Since we are His children, we will possess the blessings He keeps for His people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for Him, for if we share Christ's suffering, we will also share His glory (Rom. 8:5-17).

      St. Paul is very clear in stating that we have only two choices in life: follow our own desires, our own will, our human nature or allow ourselves to be controlled by God and obey Him. The consequences of these choices are also clear: for the former way-death and alienation from God, for the latter way-life and the right to become a child and heir of God. Unfortunately in this fallen, sinful world of ours it is not always easy or pleasant to follow God's way rather than our own. This is why St Paul ends by writing about sharing Christ's sufferings. It's painful and hard to bear an unplanned pregnancy rather than choose the easy route of abortion. It's painful and hard to control our sinful desires and inclinations rather than give in.

      Many Orthodox Christians, because of their lack of knowledge of the Scriptures think that they can listen to society and accept the philosophy about the "freedom of choice". God does not force His way on us hut we must be aware of the consequences we face for our decisions. God wants us to enjoy life both here and in the world to come! God desires that we become His sons and daughters who will inherit all that Christ possesses now in the Kingdom but He leaves the choice up to us: 

      I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him for that means life to you and length of days... (Deuteronamy 30:19-20).

Father Edward Pehanich 

Reprinted from the "Education and Information Bulletin" published by Orthodox Christians for Life, P.O. Box 805, Melville, NY 11747.