Recent events in the African country of Kenya forced out Adventist Church to make a moral decision, and our leadership decided to declare its neutrality on the issue of abortion, which is definitely a moral issue. So my question is: Can a church be neutral on morality? If a church decides to be neutral on morality, then what is its role in society? Is it to say: “We are neutral on sin, perversion, and murder? Was this the attitude of the prophets in the Old Testament? Did they say: “There are two sides in this moral issue, and we have chosen to remain neutral? Was John the Baptist neutral on moral issues? Why was his head chopped off? And why was Jesus crucified? Was it because he was neutral on justice and truth?
What Happened in the Country of Kenya?
You may wonder: “What happened in the country of Kenya?” Under the current law, abortion is illegal in said country unless the life of the pregnant woman is in serious danger, and there is a bill under consideration designed to liberalize such legislation. The protestant majority in the country is opposed to such a change and is actively engaged in defeating the new legislation which would make it easier for women to secure and abortion.
Our Adventist Response to this Political Crisis
So what did our Adventist leaders do in response to this political crisis? Did they join the other protestant organization in its opposition to the liberalization of the existing abortion law which forbids the killing of innocent unborn human beings? Did our church stand firm in defense of the unborn? Did our leaders side with those who believe in the unborn right to life? Did they decide to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak in their own defense? Did they come in defense of the Sixth Commandment which forbids murder? Not so! Those leaders declared the church’s neutrality on moral issues.
“The church’s statement reiterated local Adventist leaders’ wishes to remain neutral on the law …The Adventist world church has never released an official statement on abortion, but it does offer guidelines on the issue.”
Our Adventist Guidelines on Abortion
And what do those guidelines say about abortion? They say the following among other things:
A. “Prenatal human life is a magnificent gift of God. God’s ideal for human beings affirms the sanctity of human life, in God’s image, and requires respect for prenatal life.”
B. “God calls for the protection of human life and holds humanity accountable for its destruction”
C. “God is especially concerned for the protection of the weak, the defenseless, and the oppressed”
D. “Abortions for reasons of birth control, gender selection, or convenience are not condoned by the Church.”
E. “Abortions for reasons of birth control, gender selection, or convenience are not condoned by the Church.”
So far so good! These statements seem to place our church on the side of life. Where is then the church’s neutrality expressed by our Kenyan leaders? What are the serious reasons which would justify the killing of the unborn? Keep on reading.
F. “Women, at times however, may face exceptional circumstances that present serious moral or medical dilemmas, such as significant threats to the pregnant woman’s life, serious jeopardy to her health, severe congenital defects carefully diagnosed in the fetus, and pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.”
What happened here? The church is saying that if the unborn baby is the result of a sinful act—rape or incest—it is morally acceptable to punish the guilty? No! To punish the innocent! This statement has pushed justice out the window! The church also implies that the handicapped do not deserve to live! They have no right to life! If the unborn has a physical defect or abnormality, it is morally justifiable to kill such individuals before they have taken the first breath.
Now a word of caution: The above statement makes an exception in case where the pregnant woman’s life is in serious danger. This does agree with the current Kenyan law. The law does allow abortion when the woman’s life is in jeopardy. My view is as follows: The moral duty of a physician is to save human lives; if the doctor can save only one life instead of two, he is still on the side of life.
But there is another important point here. The above statement makes reference to the health of the woman, and the defenders of abortion have always included the mental health of the pregnant woman as an integral element of the woman’s health. This is where the slippery slope is, because all a woman who is faced with an unwanted pregnancy need to do to get rid of her baby is to find a physician who agrees with her that her mental health is being affected by the pregnancy.
The mental exception is what opened the door for elective abortions which was practiced with impunity in several of our Adventist hospitals. Our Adventist guidelines clearly state that the church does not condone abortions on demand, but what good can this do to the unborn if the church is neutral on abortion? This is why thousands of elective abortions have been performed in some of our Adventist medical institutions. A woman says: “This pregnancy is affecting my mental health; I cannot sleep nor concentrate on my studies and work. I want an abortion, and bingo! Another innocent baby is executed in order to protect the woman’s lifestyle.” And here is more.
G. “God gives humanity the freedom of choice, even if it leads to abuse and tragic consequences. His unwillingness to coerce human obedience necessitated the sacrifice of His Son.
What is the church saying with the above statement? Notice the emphasis on “freedom of choice.” What does this freedom of choice suggest? It suggests that we do actually have the freedom to murder the unborn with moral inpunity.
But his is not all. It also argues that Jesus died in order to grant us the freedom to kill our own children. Well, I always thought that Jesus died to free us from sin—not to protect our freedom to sin!
What can we conclude from all the above considerations? Can we agree with the position of the Adventist Church and its defense of neutrality concerning moral issues affecting out society? You decide! Here is what a highly respected Adventist pioneer said about neutrally on moral and political issues:
“You show me a church that fails to take a stand on political issues that involve moral principles, and I’ll show you a church that is spineless, irrelevant, and morally bankrupt. . . . No issue is too controversial for us to address and honestly in pages of our church paper.”
Uriah Smith. Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. Quoted by P.A. Lorenz. Adventist for Life News, Vol. III, Issue 3. (n.d., Heritage Edition): 3.