Editorial: Living Souls

I intentionally shy away from making political comments on this blog.  I recognize the diversity of opinions which swirl around almost every issue, and I don’t want this blog to be viewed as politically slanted, and certainly not politically oriented.

But when it comes to matters of the formation of “the soul,” I think I am within the purposes of this blog to make some comments, and such is the case today.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) has recently stated that to advocate the existence of “personhood” in the womb is an extremist position.

At the very least, I want to be sure that the Oboedire family realizes she is wrong.  As far back as the Hindu Vedas, the “personhood” of the fetus at conception has been advocated.  The idea has been carried forward in Greek philosophy by such persons as Hippocrates.

Aristotle took a modified view which has been called “progressive ensoulment,” but even he saw some form of the soul from the moment of conception.  St. Augustine drew from Aristotle, but he (and later St. Thomas Aquinas) made it clear that even if the full humanity of the soul is a developmental reality, abortion is wrong because it interrupts the “humanization” of the fetus growing in the womb.

As general history moved forward, it is true that diversity of thought has entered the picture, even in the Christian community.  But it is simply not true to say that believing a fetus is a “person” is extremist.

Because babies in the womb cannot speak for themselves, a commitment to social holiness requires that they have “a voice” which at least reminds the world that what one congresswoman says is not universally true.  Advocates of fetal personhood are not extremists.   On the contrary, to believe in the personhood of the fetus is to believe in the sacredness of life early on.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 43 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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