Possible trigger warning: please feel free to question and comment, but we ask for reasoned discussion and thoughtful engagement with the argument.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in the women’s bathroom at UNSW staring at a poster. It was a simple design with a blue jelly bean in the bottom right hand corner. Five Words. “This is not a child”. Nothing else. The designer of this poster boiled down a very complicated moral and ethical issue to five words.
I am a 24 year old Christian woman who converted to Christianity in my university years. It is needless to say my opinion on this matter is informed by the worldview I subscribe to. I am sure you’ve heard the classic reasons why, namely the view of a creator who cares about his creation so much that He would send His Son to pay the penalty of their sin. I am not here to engage in a debate on why I think abortion is wrong. In my opinion that happens best in relationships as you work out the messiness of life. Rather, I am keen to take one step back and ask a more important question. How did you get there? How did you get to the point where you began to think a foetus wasn’t a human? How do you work out what is right and wrong?
We have entered into a time where abortion, same-sex marriage, the use of pornography and the like are widely accepted and so we are now beginning to accept them before actually assessing the moral weight of them for ourselves.
I spend most of my days on the university campus of UNSW, chatting to university students about matters pertaining to God and life. Something that I along with my colleagues have observed is the shift of our culture where morality is informed by our ethical judgements. It seems to me that we are no longer concerned with the rightness or wrongness of things. The lines have become blurred. We have moved away from upholding our obligation to the truth and moved towards the best outcome for the individual, mainly me.
The ethical framework of our generation is the increase of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. You make the decisions you do to enhance your experience of life. We all do it, from the small decisions to the big decisions. This is how we’re intrinsically wired, right? This seems so evident in the video diary of Emily Letts, who documented her experience of her abortion. Having the child aborted avoided the burden that child would have had on her life. Her life is better because of it. So abortion is okay.
Let us take this to it’s logical end. If we abide in this framework, we will surely end up justifying all sorts of evils. Lying is justified when I take a sickie because I deserve a day off. Downloading my entertainment illegally is justified because I am entitled to it. Cheating on my spouse is justified because I am in love. This sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?
I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to making decisions for the betterment of myself regardless of the cost of others. Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University, aptly identifies that we will rationalise any sort of behaviour as long as we can maintain a positive self image. Where do we draw the line?
How will you assess the moral value of life? My greatest desire is to see many young people standing up for what is right instead of standing up for what will best suit me. How do we determine right and wrong? We don’t. If there truly is a Creator, He does.
About Kat: 24 years old, shorter than most people. I became a Christian at the University of New South Wales when I was presented with the truth about Jesus from the bible. I studied music education and worked as a music teacher in Western Sydney for a short time. I am currently back at UNSW, in my second year of a ministry apprenticeship at Campus Bible Study. I’m married to Daniel and we enjoy sipping coffee and listening to good music whilst fantasising about our dream dog.