Monday, November 19, 2012

Abortion, Wealth, and Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes is one of those books that I don't know what to do with. Indeed, it's one of those books that the church doesn't know what to do with, as its truncated appearance in the lectionary testifies to. Of course "All Scripture is God-breathed", but some of it is more God-breathed than others. Actually, breath might not be a bad description of Ecclesiastes, with this being one possible translation of the Hebrew word hebel - breath, wind, absurdity, transitory, vanity, meaninglessness. We find Ecclesiastes absurd, and so we ignore it, or use it -- like law -- as the foil for the gospel.

But what if this book is useful for training in righteousness? What if the Teacher has something to teach us? More specifically, what if he has something to teach us about wealth and abortion? The Teacher says this: It would be better to be an aborted child than to lack nothing except the ability to enjoy anything. In other words, as wrong or as cruel as we think abortion is, the aborted child is better off than many of us who think that abortion is wrong and cruel. This doesn't make us wrong about abortion, but it does make us wrong about the kind of life that we want children to call "good", the kind of life that it is worth not being aborted for. It is not our life of relentless, insatiable acquisitiveness, but a life capable of enjoying the gifts God gives, which include children.

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