US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appears to have a rather aberrant view of her faith. Claiming to be a good Catholic, she is of course a leading supporter of abortion rights. Indeed, she is a Democrat with pronounced leftwing views, including a strong pro-homosexual agenda.
How these various radical social and political views are supposed to square with her professed Catholicism is hard to fathom. But she continues to trumpet her faith while pushing these quite unbiblical positions. Of course she is not the first politician to hold such obviously conflicting viewpoints. And she will likely not be the last.
Pelosi has recently reaffirmed her pro-abortion stance. And she even tries to argue that it is a Catholic thing to do so. She recently told Newsweek magazine that her faith puts her at odds with the Catholic Church’s official teachings on such things as homosexuality and abortion.
She claimed that the violation of a woman’s free will is inconsistent with the Catholic faith: “I am a practicing Catholic, although they’re probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith. I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will.”
Now I am not a Catholic, but I can pick up specious reasoning and unbiblical foolishness fairly readily. And we have plenty of both in this short paragraph. Official Catholic teaching in this area is quite clear. Abortion is just not on, and a consistent pro-life view is everywhere a part of Catholic social thought.
That is because the Bible has a consistent and insistent pro-life ethic. And yes, both Scripture and Catholic teaching emphasise the importance of free will, but never as some end in itself. Freedom of choice is an inseparable part of moral action, but it is not an absolute.
While different theological schools will have differing understandings of free will, it is indeed a basic doctrine and an important component of social and ethical discussion. But the Scriptures never absolutise free will as if it can stand independently of the rest of God’s expressed purposes and plans.
We are made in God’s image and part of that likeness includes the aspect of personal volition. We can make choices and choose between various options. Of course with the Fall man’s volition, like the rest of his nature, has been severely tarnished. Yet freedom of the will remains an important part of who we are.
But the Bible never claims that the mere exercise of the will is some inherent good. It all depends on what we choose, and why. It is a philosophy such as the secular version of existentialism which lays so much import on the issue of choice.
For many existentialists, the really important issue is the fact of choice itself, and not so much what we choose. Thus human existence is affirmed and deemed substantive based on the simple fact that we can choose. The authentic self is the choosing self. Of less importance are the actual choices we make.
Thus whether we help an old lady across the road, or push her in front of an oncoming truck is not as vital as the simple fact that we have made a choice and acted upon it. But the existentialist version of events is not the Biblical one.
The Bible places much emphasis on the object of our choice; on what we choose. Mere choice in and of itself is not virtuous or to be sought as an end. What we choose and why we choose are the key concerns in biblical thought.
As Joshua exhorted the Israelites: “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Or as Yahweh said through Moses in Deuteronomy 30:19, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”
Our everyday practical choices are of great importance. We must make sure that we choose wisely, and choose for God. As James 4:4 puts it, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
All three of these passages – and many more – can be applied to the remarks made by Pelosi. We are to choose life, not death. That should be a pretty clear guideline for any believer who is thinking about the abortion issue. We are to choose whom we will serve: God, and his revealed will in Scripture, or human agendas and political platforms.
And we are to choose to please God, not the world. If we only had these three biblical passages to consider, people like Pelosi – and others who claim to be followers of Jesus – would know that the empty rhetoric of “choice,” stripped of any moral context, is simply not part of how Christians are to approach the ethical challenges of the day.
Indeed, for Pelosi to go on about how important it is for women to “have that opportunity to exercise their free will” is foolish in the extreme if we simply flesh it out a bit. If a woman commits infanticide, is it still a good thing, and somehow a Catholic thing, as long as it was freely chosen?
If a woman freely chooses to commit arson or theft, are we to be satisfied with that simply because free will was exercised? And this cuts both ways as well. Pelosi is quite keen on granting special rights to homosexuals. But what if a homeowner freely chooses not to rent out his property to a homosexual?
Will Pelosi honour that freedom of choice? What if a Catholic small business owner refuses to hire a homosexual? Will Pelosi be satisfied with that, simply because a choice was made? Pelosi has elevated freedom of choice into some sort of absolute when it was never intended to be.
What we choose and why are the main things – not the simple act of choice itself. So if Pelosi is going to continue pontificating on such matters, all the while claiming to be a good Catholic, then she had better start paying some attention to clear Church – and biblical – teachings, and to some basic common sense as well.