Viewpoints. . .


Against the rising tide of permissive legislation relative to abortion on request, those who raise religious arguments seem to have little success in stemming the waves. This is so because the religious arguments carry no weight with those who have long since assumed that the arguments are sociological rather than religious. One can read article after article concerning precreation, sex, abortion and related subjects without ever hearing a moral or religious argument advanced pro or con.

The most recent and most impressive case of the sociological dominance in the abortion situation came to view when one of the female Representatives in the New York legislature loudly find vehemently argued for a woman’s complete right for freedom over her own body. When the legislature finally remodeled New York’s liberalized abortion law, Governor Rockefeller vetoed the bill using precisely the same argument. Christians will recognize this argument as related to man’s first sin when in the Garden he claimed for himself complete freedom and the right to do as he pleased with no let or hindrance on the part of God or man.

The liberalizing of abortion laws stems then from the combination of a philosophy which claims complete autonomy for man plus women’s liberation which at present has insisted on removing a double standard in sex. The male of the species has long ago found it possible to live a sexually promiscuous life and the female now wants the same privilege. The freedom ideal has long been rampant in Western society but it certainly received a new impetus with the nihilistic freedom motive of Jean-Paul Sartre and his atheistic Existenlialism. Same would go so far as to say that the only definitive characteristic of man is his freedom.

Stir into Sartre’s freedom motive a liberal dose of hedonism, that is, pleasure as the end and objective of human life, and you have all you need to back up liberalized abortion legislation. This pleasure principle operates according to the prescription of Jeremy Bentham who worked out a kind of “hedonistic calculus.” Bentham advised that we take the nearest pleasure over against the more distant one. The one we envision for tomorrow may never come, so take your “kicks” now. This is the basis for the “now” generation. This kind of thinking is fortified by the TV commercial which suggests that we get all the “gusto” we can because we only go this way once. It is the life aim of those who espouse a philosophy of Naturalism which sees nothing beyond the grave and asserts that “when you’re dead you’re dead a long time.”

One could perhaps go on to show that the atomistic approach to society and personal rights can also be traced to the Nominalism of medieval thinkers like William of Occam. In any case, we should counter the arguments of the abortionists with religious and “right-to-life” arguments but must show also that every life is of interest and is of concern to society as a whole. Liberal abortion laws are a threat to the integrity of the family as the foundation of society and its place as a God-ordained and fundemental societal institution.

No doubt illicit sex relationships create the largest number of demands for abortion. But it should be clear that within the marriage bond, according to the Bible, a woman does not have complete autonomy as 10 her own body, neither as to intercourse nor as to child bearing. Mutuality is of the essence of the marriage bond and this then extends further to society also. John Donne, the English poet. said, “No man is an island.” The abortion movement is a bid for complete feminine insularity. All persons must now be a law unto themselves. The leaders of our modern women’s lib movement want to stand once more with the defiant stance of mother Eve with all its dire consequences. They do not have the patience to wait around for the “mother promise” of Genesis 3:15 and the new hope which it can bring to a society which was broken by the lust for autonomy. That society can only be put together again under the redemptive and integrating ordinances of God. Complete autonomy will have to give way to self-sacrificing love.


Nick R. Van Til teaches philosophy at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa.


Voices of concern are raised increasingly concerning those who were once recognized and honored as staunch defenders of the Reformed faith who now seem to have lost their zeal and are ready, if not to deny, at least to compromise the position for which they were once so highly respected by those within the church who still love the historic, Reformed faith and are concerned for its preservation. It is not difficult to understand why such should become the cause of disappointment and even the subjects of criticism. However I would like to raise a question at this point.

How much responsibility must we who express dismay at the action of the compromiser assume for what he has done? I ask the question because it has become increasingly evident to me during the last year or two that those who defend the faith often become the target of assault and even persecution from colleagues and fellow workers. Let me give an example or two of what I mean.

A minister dedicated to the propagation of the Reformed faith recently told of the ostracism he and even his family have experienced from colleagues and their families because of his support of the Reformed faith. A member of a vital study committee recently said with, tears running down his checks: “I find myself having to defend the Reformed faith to men who were brought up in it.” Not long ago I attended a lecture at which the speaker spent the better part of an hour ridiculing a writer who had taken an unpopular position in defense of the faith.

More examples could be cited but the above mentioned are sufficient I believe to confirm the following that G. Aiken Taylor wrote in his penetrating article “Ecclesiastical Zoology” which appeared in this periodical in July 1970:

“The so-called liberal, on the other hand, may be found in much greater profusion, but is not nearly so domesticated. Generally inhabiting ecclesiastical offices and control centers, this species is crafty, cunning, deceptive, intolerant, unmerciful, ruthless. ‘Liberal’ only towards his own kind and charitable only when he is having his way, he will plead for tolerance when he is at a disadvantage and never yield an inch when he’s in the driver’s scat. Never, but never expect a fair sake from him.”

It is the presence of such “liberals” in faculty meetings, board rooms, committee sessions, mission conferences and eeclesiastical gatherings that have made life at times extremely difficult for the committed followers of the Reformed faith. It is the pressure tactics of such “liberals” which have often forced the committed to compromise.

Whose fault is it then? I would not for one moment excuse the person who compromises the truth, for such action is inexcusable. I would ask, however: Has the church faithfully Supported her leaders who often in the face of strong opposition and even ridicule must defend the Reformed faith? Have the members who criticize the man who in desperation finally agrees to a compromise prayed for him whom they now feel compelled to judge? Had they let him know that they were appreciative of his efforts on behalf of the faith and that they were supporting him in his defense of it? The committed members of the Church must as never before realize and assume their responsibility toward those who are contending for the preservation of the Truth within the Church.

When Amalek came against Israel  in Rephidim, Moses, was able to continue his ministry on behalf of the people only as long as Aaron and Hur held up his arms in support. Let the Church today pray and encourage her leaders who increasingly must defend the faith against the attacks of those within their own “household.”


Arthur Besteman is pastor of the North Street Christian Reformed Church of Zeeland, Michigan.