by Fr. John Whiteford –
This is part of a pattern on the part of the Fordhamites at “Public Orthodoxy,” of downplaying Christian morality, and suggesting that it is fluid, something apart from dogma, and therefore open to debate and revision.
To have an Orthodox bishop participate in this March, be given a platform, and to have him endorse “a woman’s right to choose” to kill her baby was an embarrassment. And make no mistake, everyone understood exactly what he was saying.
The Washington Post cited it as an example of a “pro-choice” shift among many Christian and Jewish groups. George Demacopoulos, editor of “Public Orthodoxy,” who champions the abandonment of Christian morality in the Orthodox Church, is cited in support of Archbishop Elpidophoros’ [pro-abortion] coming out speech:
“George Demacopoulous [sic], a Fordham University theology professor and expert on Orthodox Christianity noted that abortion is legal in every major Orthodox country. While the faith views abortion as tragic and wrong, he said, it also respects the autonomy of women. Church and state are generally separate, he said, and abortion is more divorced from politics.
“In the United States, the debate is very much positioned as these two goods at war with one another; we’re being asked to pick. And he’s saying that’s theologically wrong,” he said of Elpidophoros. “It’s a Christian truism that you can hold seemingly contradictory views. Christian moral teaching isn’t black and white“” (Washington Post: “The threat to Roe v. Wade is driving a religious movement for reproductive choice,” by Michelle Boorstein, February 5, 2022, Emphasis added).
This is part of a pattern on the part of the Fordhamites at “Public Orthodoxy,” of downplaying Christian morality, and suggesting that it is fluid, something apart from dogma, and therefore open to debate and revision. Here they suggest that one can affirm the sanctity of life, while supporting the “right” to murder the innocent.
Elsewhere, they suggest that perhaps homosexual sex might be allowable, and transgenderism is something we should embrace. Up until recently, while we have seen a shift on the part of modernists in the past decade towards defending sexual deviancy, they at least used to give lip service to being pro-life. Apparently, the slippery slope is a thing, and where it stops, nobody knows.
What does George Demacopoulos mean when he says that we believe abortion is “tragic and wrong”?
Orthodox Church: Abortion is Murder
The Church has unambiguously taught, from the beginning that abortion is not just a tragedy or a wrong choice, but that it is murder. If you believe it is murder, affirming someone’s right to murder someone else is moral nonsense.
The earliest Christian document outside of the New Testament is the Didache (which is usually dated to be of first century origin), and it says:
“…thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born” (Didache 2:2).
Canon 91 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council states:
“As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortion, and those who take foetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to the penalty prescribed for murderers” (D. Cummings, trans., The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons by Saints Nicodemus and Agapius (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 395).
Canon 2 of St. Basil (whose canons were specifically affirmed by the 4th and 6th Ecumenical Councils, states:
“A woman that aborts deliberately is liable to trial as a murderess” (Ibid, 789).
There is absolutely no ambiguity at all on the question of whether or not abortion is murder. How you deal with someone who has engaged in this sin pastorally is another question — and there certainly is forgiveness for those who confess and repent — but that it is a sin which is absolutely prohibited by the Church, is as clear as it gets. There are not shades of gray here. You will not find a single Church Father or Saint of the Church that calls abortion anything less than murder.
The Scriptures are abundantly clear that God takes the shedding of innocent blood very seriously. We are told that God destroyed the kingdom of Judah because they engaged in child sacrifice:
“And he [Manasseh] made his son pass through the fire [a form of child sacrifice], and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger” (2 Kings 21:6).
“Surely at the commandment of the Lord this [the destruction of Judah by the Babylonians] came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon” (2 Kings 24:3-4).
So is it morally tenable to say that you believe abortion is murder, but affirm the “right” of others to engage in it? Let’s see how this logic works when applied elsewhere:
Can a person really be opposed to rape, but not want to “impose their morality” on others? No.
Could a person oppose lynching, but not want to “impose their morality” on others? No.
And so clearly a person cannot be opposed abortion, and yet affirm the “right” of others to engage in it.
Every law reflects someone’s morality. There is no reason why Christians should not use their power to vote to influence the laws to protect innocent life. This after all is why the March for Life takes place, and if you want to affirm “abortion rights,” you should not only show up at the counter protest, rather than style yourself pro-life — you should also admit that you have departed from the Orthodox Christian Tradition, because as a matter of fact, you have.
Excerpts from: Fr. John Whiteford Blog. (Minor organizational edits and bolding of key phrases done by blog editors done to enhance readability.)