Obama and Abortions
ÂÕ Fr. Seráphim Májmudár, November 2008.
Vol. 07, Issue 03-04
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Christ is in our midst! He is
and ever shall be!
I hope you and your families are well during this season of the Nativity
Fast. I am writing to you simply to share the thoughts of my heart, which
has been heavy of late. Please forgive these unsolicited remarks-I offer
them with humility and love, trusting that you will receive them with the
For some years now, I have had a growing sense that our common enemy, the
devil, has sharpened his attacks against us, the faithful in Christ. I
have felt that he has done more than just attack each of us in the midst
of our own struggles and passions; he has been trying to tear us away from
the very basis of our Faith: The eternal value of human life. It seems
that he and his demons have been doing this on a massive scale, attempting
to encompass the entire Church, if that were possible.
This feeling became very powerful during my recent pilgrimage to the Holy
Land. It was there, in an apartment overlooking the Sea of Galilee, that I
watched the results of the US national elections. I am sorry to say that
as I took a walk along the shore, I literally felt sick in my bones. This
is not because I hate Mr. Obama (I don't) or because I am a partisan
Republican (I am not). It is because it seemed that I just watched
millions of Americans say definitively by their votes on national, state
and local levels-that the legalized slaughter of four thousand Americans
(commonly called "abortion") was simply "one issue among many"; that there
are just as many important issues such as the Iraq war, the economy,
health care, foreign policy and the environment-and to vote for otherwise
undesirable candidates simply because they claim to be "Pro-Life" is
foolish, "single-issue" voting.
Please understand that I am not trying to be political. Indeed, there is
nothing "political" whatsoever about the legalized slaughter of millions
of innocent children! It has nothing to do with Democrat, Republican,
Liberal or Conservative-but that is how the demons want us to think about
it. They want us to think that the most serious spiritual crisis of our
generation is simply "one issue among many." It is, in my poor and
inexperienced opinion, a massive deception on a scale that perhaps only
saints could begin to understand.
On the Mount of Temptation, the devil offered the entire world to Christ
if He would only worship him. We might ask: why didn't He? Imagine if
Christ had said "Yes, I will worship you", then the entire world would
have been (presumably) under Christ's benevolent rule. He could have ended
suffering, poverty and war. All of this in exchange for a simple act of
worship? It seems that the Lord could have brought about a "greater good"
and yet did not.
All simply to avoid worshiping the devil? How would that matter in
comparison to ending so much misery? The Gospel's answer is simple: that
the real enemy of mankind is death, not suffering. If Christ had brought
about "global hope" by worshiping Satan, what would have changed? Nothing!
Man's greatest fear is death, and that would have remained as strong as
ever. How nice can an earthly paradise be if we know that death awaits
each one of us? The devil, in his arrogance, thought that Christ could be
deceived, so he tempted Him with the same kind of Utilitarianism that he
is bringing about in our time: ie., "let's work together to bring about
the most good for the most people." The danger with this approach is that
it is abstract: "good" is an abstraction, and it is measured statistically-not
personally. The utilitarian universe is cold, impersonal and "just,"
because "goodness" is an idea, and not a Person.
But the root of our Gospel faith is the Life of Persons: the Life of the
Father, the Life of the Son, and the Life of the Holy Spirit. Everything
derives from that: The holy fathers of the Seven Councils did not argue
about health care or foreign policy-they defended the truth about the
Persons of the Holy Trinity. We might be tempted to think that they wasted
their time, wondering why they spent so much energy on seemingly arcane
theological fineries, when they should have been in their own towns,
helping people and "doing good."
But this is precisely the point: How does good come about in the world?
The holy fathers wanted nothing else than the Good. They would not settle
for an earthly kind of "good," because "only one is Good: that is God." On
the Mount of Temptation, Christ knew that "every good and perfect gift is
from above, coming down from the Father of lights," and not through shrewd
government policy, or even "people getting together for good." Goodness
comes into the world when Christ God comes into the world: It is not an
abstraction, it is a Person, the Beloved of the Father. This is the
teaching of the holy fathers, and they were willing to suffer torture and
death to preserve it.
The Lord said that the "sons of this age are more shrewd than the sons of
light," and I fear that we are being tempted to think that we can bring
goodness into the world through shrewdness, and not by grace.
Again: what is our starting point? It is the Person of Jesus Christ, the
source of Life and every goodness. We are Orthodox Christians because we
believe that goodness is a gift, that life comes into the world through
our loving relationship with Jesus Christ. He sends the Comforter to His
people, the New Israel. He does not sit back in Heaven and wonder if we
will somehow figure out how to do good in this world. He fills real
persons with the Holy Spirit, and those real persons bring life to the
world-real persons like St. Silouan, who carried the burden of the entire
world's pain in his soul, and exchanged it for life and mercy from the
Holy Spirit. This is how to bring goodness into the world!
The Lord creates every child to do the same thing St. Silouan did. So
every time one of them is murdered, the world is deprived of an infinite
blessing from God. What if Christ had been aborted? Or Panagia? Or St.
The devil wishes to steal our inheritance in Christ by convincing us that
it is foolish or irresponsible to "reduce" things to a single issue like
this. But what would St. Paul say right now? Would he say, "Beloved
brethren: Abortion is a fact; you're not going to change it simply by
changing the law. Work towards changing the underlying societal factors,
and hope that you can reduce the overall number of abortions through smart
and realistic policy."? Never!
Would St. John Chrysostom say, "Yes, abortion is bad, but there are lots
of other problems in the world. In fact, most of those children would lead
miserable lives of neglect, abuse and poverty; for them, it's probably
better to get it over with quickly anyway." Impossible!
Thinking like this is a direct denial of God's goodness in creating every
human being-because it is a denial of hope, which can only be found in
Jesus Christ. And this is what it is all about, isn't it? It is a question
about hope: in my sorrow, in the world's misery, is there really reason to
hope? We think it over: Maybe it is better not to have lived-and therefore,
not suffered-than to have lived and suffered? But by professing faith in
Christ, we have the audacity to hope that the answer is yes. I say it
again: By our faith in Christ, we make the outrageous claim that life-no
matter how "horrible"-is worth living.
As St. Paul already observed, to the unbelievers, this is foolishness! Why?
Because the world in its shrewd hopelessness cannot believe this.
Ultimately, the world is simply trying to make the best of what it sees as
an inherently meaningless situation. But if nothing is inherently
meaningful, nothing can be inherently precious. "Good"-the abstraction-becomes
simply that which is agreed upon as good. That essentially means, to use
Joseph Campbell's phrase, "Follow your bliss". The legal corollary is to
make sure that your bliss doesn't interfere in anyone else's bliss. Hence,
we cannot interfere with a woman's right to her own bliss, because it is
her body, and therefore her bliss.
But we of the household of Faith say, "No! Life is inherently precious,
because Jesus Christ is Life, and the Light of men. He dwelt in the
Virgin's womb for nine months" - and therefore, we cannot deliberately
take the life of a person that Jesus Christ created. He is the Lord of
Life and Death, and He alone. Some may say that we cannot attempt to "legislate
morality", even if we are personally Pro-Life. But how is protecting
innocent children from murder "legislating morality"? If four thousand
American schoolchildren were being abducted and murdered every day, would
it be "legislating morality" to try to stop it? Moreover, if you or I had
our own child murdered, would we be comforted being told "well, we are
succeeding in diminishing the overall child murder trend nationwide.
Statistically, "the pattern is approaching positive results." None of us
would. Why? Because we know instinctively that life is not about
statistics-it is about real, unique and living persons, just as our faith
is not abstract, but about Real, Living Persons: the Father, the Son and
the Holy Spirit.
Others may feel that trying to change the law won't do any good. But what
is the law? It is, ultimately, a set of promises to God. Laws are born of
our freedom: In our freedom, we make laws, and thereby tell the Lord, "These
are the ways in which we bind ourselves freely to Thy precepts, 0 Lord."
Remember Psalm II8: I will run the way o/thy commandments, when thou shalt
enlarge my heart. (Pss II8:32).
Law is an expression of our freedom as persons, and is a direct expression
of the measure with which we wish to be measured. We may not be able to
stop wars, famines or disease-indeed, the Lord said these things would
remain until His Second Coming-but God did give us the freedom to choose
our own laws. Why? Because by freely ordering our earthly laws according
to God's Law, we freely love God. Without freedom, there is no love. If we
allow laws that destroy innocent human beings, then we are freely
hardening our hearts before God. We cannot serve God and mammon. And on
the Day of Judgment, what will really matter? The only thing that will
matter is that we have soft hearts before Christ-that He knew us because
we freely put our hope in Him, and not in the sons of men.
This is why the issue of abortion is so central: It is always presented,
even by those of the Pro-Death position, as a question of freedom. Cain in
his freedom killed his brother Abel; but did freedom give birth to love?
No! Freedom gave birth to death. So the supposed "freedom of choice" is
anything but true freedom. It is slavery to death disguised as freedom.
The problem, for many, is the "hiddenness" of the child in the womb. Is it
a person? Is it just a ball of tissue? When does the soul enter it? But it
is precisely this hiddenness that gives us the freedom to love these
children, and to love the Lord who made them. Inside the hiddenness lies
the freedom. We don't hear their silent screams, but we defend them anyway.
By loving them without sensing them, we fulfill the Lord's word to Thomas:
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.
The great irony now is that we are faced with the "Freedom of Choice Act-FOCA",
which President-elect Obama has pledged, on record, to sign into law. I
leave it to you to read about FOCA and its potentially devastating
spiritual consequences. I beg each and everyone of you to do whatever you
can to stop this monstrous attempt on the lives of thousands of innocent
I also ask you to commit to one concrete way you can help defend His
innocent ones: Whether in the effort to block FOCA or other legislative
efforts; to volunteer at a local pregnancy help center and offer hands-on
kindness and love to real women in crisis; to pray for and console the
women who have already aborted children; to speak up in your parishes and
communities ("Blessed are those who so do and so teach... "); to donate
money and time in whatever way possible; to offer support to families you
know who have adopted children-and recognize them to be the heroes that
they are. Most of all, I ask every one of you to search your heart and ask
the Holy Spirit to guide you into His Truth, and to protect you from the
deception of the evil one.
If every Orthodox Christian in the United States took this approach, is it
not certain that God would fill our hearts-and purses-with everything we
need to accomplish it? The Lord already said yes to this: "Seek ye first
the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you."
Beloved brothers and sisters, let us stand firm for the Gospel in these
dangerous times! Glory to Jesus Christ, our Hope and our Life!
Forgive me a sinner,
Unworthy Priest Seraphim Majmudar, Silikou, Cyprus.