Resolution to Support Equality of Love and Value for Both Born and Unborn Children

Resolution #3: Resolution to Support Equality of Love and Value for Both Born and Unborn Children
Workbook Page: 211-212

What it does:

  1. The Florida Annual Conference would be on record stating that life begins at conception.
  2. The Florida Annual Conference would be on record interpreting the Gospel of Matthew to include unborn children as one of the intended groups Matthew refers to as “neighbors” and “strangers.”
  3. The Florida Annual Conference would be on record as equating all abortions as “harm” as referenced Wesley’s Three General Rules.
  4. The Florida Annual Conference would be on record endorsing Lifewatch as a ministry partner.

Voters against the resolution likely feel comfortable with where the United Methodist Church currently stands on the issue of abortion and sees no need to make an additional statement.  They likely approve efforts to promote adoption as the best option for an unwanted pregnancy, but feel that there are cases in which abortion is an unfortunate but valid option.

Voters for the resolution will likely believe that all abortion is wrong, and perceive a “liberal” direction within the United Methodist Church on social issues that should be turned back.  They also likely hold views similar to those of Lifewatch in this and other issues.

Conclusion:  The resolution does a good job scouring the entirety of United Methodist literature for statements in opposition to abortion, in order to make it seem like approving this resolution is simply falling in line with what is already a settled matter within United Methodism.  If that was the case, one might wonder what the need is for the resolution.

The need is fundraising.  By submitting a resolution before over 1000 clergy and laity delegates, many of whom hold “pro-life” views, they keep themselves ever before a valuable donor base, stirring this debate every single year to remind people of the need to fund the effort.  Lifewatch uses Annual Conference every year to raise money for the “pro-life” cause, and whether the resolution passes or fails, they have succeeded in getting the opportunity to address hundreds of potential donors.

Previous REC writings have made the argument that making abortion illegal is not the right way to reduce the occurrence of abortion.  Making it illegal is an attempt to force a moral standard on unwilling people.  The church should continue to call people to keep sex as an expression of love within the context of the marriage covenant.  Abortion doesn’t happen because it’s legal—it happens because people are increasingly promiscuous.

Surely no one in good conscience would celebrate an abortion.  If an abortion is performed, it means that something has gone wrong.  That said, there are too many sincere, faithful physicians and medical ethicists that can, in good conscience, point out instances in which not performing an abortion does more harm than performing it.  This is not the venue to begin listing a collection of instances for debate—but it is important simply to note that connecting abortion to Wesley’s general rule to “Do no harm” is not as easily done as the resolution asserts.

Further, the resolution asks us to assert that unborn children are among those referred to in Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger in Matthew 25.  Bishop Carter’s writing, cited by the resolution, wisely states that consistency in Christian hospitality should logically include unborn children.  He doesn’t make the exegetical claim that Matthew had unborn children in mind when he recorded the account of Jesus’ teaching, yet the resolution is asking us to assert as much.

Finally, the resolution asks the Florida Annual Conference to go on the record as naming Lifewatch as a strategic partner in accomplishing its mission.  While there is good that surely has come from the work of Lifewatch, a careful look at the articles, documents, and strategies they employ show it to not likely be an organization that marches very closely in step with the Florida Annual Conference.  For this and other reasons named above, REC does not endorse the resolution.