No political issue seems to galvanize the orthodox churches like those that involve human sexuality. Abortion is a prime example in our day and age when more traditional church sex issues like pre or extra marital intercourse have taken a backseat, perhaps because society largely accepts these latter activities as inevitable. Every political arena for decades has seen those on each side of the abortion issue going toe to toe, each demonstrating absolute certainty of the inherent correctness of their position on the matter.
Recently I read an article in which the author responded to a question concerning abortion and the Orthodox Church’s longstanding battle to eliminate this procedure in this country. The question raised went something like this- Why does the church oppose abortion if aborted children go right to heaven, having not yet reached the age of accountability, while full term children would likely not become Christians and therefore go to eternal damnation ultimately. It is an interesting question with a number of corollaries, like why have children in the first place, but we will not deal with that here.
The author’s response to this question was primarily two fold. First, he noted that the whole doctrinal question of the age of accountability is not well established biblically and therefore not understood consistently within the church. He admitted that on this basis the existence of an age at which a child then becomes responsible for responding to God’s requirements for salvation can be challenged. He said frankly that the lack of such forbearance for young children would reflect poorly on God, but that the possibility of such a lack could not be dismissed simply for that reason. I assume that this is simply his admission that God’s lack of forbearance for those ignorant of Jesus is already a harsh enough depiction of God, so if no age of accountability is allowed, then God appears no worse for it.
The second part of the author’s answer assumes an age of accountability and was particularly interesting because it has a secondary implication, which we will explore later. According to the author, if aborted children go the heaven as generally understood, then they would arrive there not having ever tasted of sin and therefore unable to really comprehend the concepts of love, mercy, and forgiveness which form the foundation of God’ redemption. In that state they would become “second class” citizens in heaven, not appreciating the magnificence of God and therefore missing out on the opportunity to worship God appropriately. Salvation would be no big deal to those who were never classified as sinners in the first place.
The secondary implication to this argument derives from the fact that up until a few generations ago a good number of children, either died in childbirth or before reaching what most would conclude is the age of accountability. That being the case, as we go back in history, one would assume that most of the people of the more distant past who ended up in heaven would be children who never really lived. Heaven would, in fact, be mostly populated by the very second class citizens the author is troubled by.
Am I saying all this to justify abortion? Certainly not! Abortion is moral issue demanding a great national debate, and this debate must include the theological and moral implications of everyone involved, not just of those who view abortion as their right.