Friday, October 24, 2008

Bonhoeffer on Abortion.

Christ and the German Resistance

image The issue of abortion is again prominent in our current political situation. It was addressed decisively by the Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906 – 1945) who lived during the period when the National Socialist Party of Adolph Hitler ruled Germany (1933 – 1945) and was executed for his involvement in the resistance to Hitler. Although his opposition to National Socialism is well known and admired, his opposition to abortion is not widely known. It provides substantial support for confessional Lutherans.

Here are his statements on abortion as found in his book Ethics:

Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life.  To raise the question of whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue.  The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of its life.  And that is nothing but murder.

A great many motives may lead to an action of this kind; indeed in cases where it is an act of despair, performed in circumstances of extreme human or economic destitution and misery, the guilt may often lie rather with the community than with the individual.  Precisely in this connection money may conceal many a wanton deed, while the poor man’s more reluctant lapse may far more easily be disclosed.  All these considerations must no doubt have a quite decisive influence on our personal and pastoral attitude towards the person concerned, but they cannot in any way alter the fact of murder.

Further information on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Resistance is available at

Christ and the German Resistance
Charles E. Ford, Ph.D.

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