The Current Seventh-day Adventist Abortion Guidelines

Editor’s Note: With a proposed statement on abortion on the table for consideration at the 2019 Annual Council meeting of the General Conference’s Executive Committee, we thought it would be helpful to publish the current official guidelines on abortion that were approved and voted on October 12, 1992. They follow in full below:

Abortion

Oct 12, 1992

Many contemporary societies have faced conflict over the morality of abortion.* Such conflict also has affected large numbers within Christianity who want to accept responsibility for the protection of prenatal human life while also preserving the personal liberty of women. The need for guidelines has become evident, as the Church attempts to follow scripture, and to provide moral guidance while respecting individual conscience. Seventh-day Adventists want to relate to the question of abortion in ways that reveal faith in God as the Creator and Sustainer of all life and in ways that reflect Christian responsibility and freedom. Though honest differences on the question of abortion exist among Seventh-day Adventists, the following represents an attempt to provide guidelines on a number of principles and issues. The guidelines are based on broad biblical principles that are presented for study at the end of the document.**

1) Prenatal human life is a magnificent gift of God. God's ideal for human beings affirms the sanctity of human life, in God's image, and requires respect for prenatal life. However, decisions about life must be made in the context of a fallen world. Abortion is never an action of little moral consequence. Thus prenatal life must not be thoughtlessly destroyed. Abortion should be performed only for the most serious reasons.

2) Abortion is one of the tragic dilemmas of human fallenness. The Church should offer gracious support to those who personally face the decision concerning an abortion. Attitudes of condemnation are inappropriate in those who have accepted the gospel. Christians are commissioned to become a loving, caring community of faith that assists those in crisis as alternatives are considered.

3) In practical, tangible ways the Church as a supportive community should express its commitment to the value of human life. These ways should include:

1. strengthening family relationships

2. educating both genders concerning Christian principles of human sexuality

3. emphasizing responsibility of both male and female for family planning

4. calling both to be responsible for the consequences of behaviors that are inconsistent with Christian principles

5. creating a safe climate for ongoing discussion of the moral questions associated with abortion

6. offering support and assistance to women who choose to complete crisis pregnancies

7. encouraging and assisting fathers to participate responsibly in the parenting of their children.

The Church also should commit itself to assist in alleviating the unfortunate social, economic, and psychological factors that add to abortion and to care redemptively for those suffering the consequences of individual decisions on this issue.

4) The Church does not serve as conscience for individuals; however, it should provide moral guidance. Abortions for reasons of birth control, gender selection, or convenience are not condoned by the Church. Women, at times however, may face exceptional circumstances that present serious moral or medical dilemmas, such as significant threats to the pregnant woman's life, serious jeopardy to her health, severe congenital defects carefully diagnosed in the fetus, and pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. The final decision whether to terminate the pregnancy or not should be made by the pregnant woman after appropriate consultation. She should be aided in her decision by accurate information, biblical principles, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, these decisions are best made within the context of healthy family relationships.

5) Christians acknowledge as first and foremost their accountability to God. They seek balance between the exercise of individual liberty and their accountability to the faith community and the larger society and its laws. They make their choices according to scripture and the laws of God rather than the norms of society. Therefore, any attempts to coerce women either to remain pregnant or to terminate pregnancy should be rejected as infringements of personal freedom.

6) Church institutions should be provided with guidelines for developing their own institutional policies in harmony with this statement. Persons having a religious or ethical objection to abortion should not be required to participate in the performance of abortions.

7) Church members should be encouraged to participate in the ongoing consideration of their moral responsibilities with regard to abortion in light of the teaching of scripture.

Principles for a Christian View of Life

Introduction

"Now this is eternal life; that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3, NIV). In Christ is the promise of eternal life; but since human life is mortal, humans are confronted with difficult issues regarding life and death. The following principles refer to the whole person (body, soul, and spirit), an indivisible whole (Genesis 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Life: Our valuable gift from God

1) God is the Source, Giver, and Sustainer of all life (Acts 17:25,28; Job 33:4; Genesis 1:30, 2:7; Psalm 36:9; John 1:3,4).

2) Human life has unique value because human beings, though fallen, are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Romans 3:23; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 3:2; John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18,19).

3) God values human life not on the basis of human accomplishments or contributions but because we are God's creation and the object of His redeeming love (Romans 5:6,8; Ephesians 2:2-6; 1 Timothy 1:15; Titus 3:4,5; Matthew 5:43-48; Ephesians 2:4-9; John 1:3, 10:10).

Life: Our response to God's gift

4) Valuable as it is, human life is not the only or ultimate concern. Self-sacrifice in devotion to God and His principles may take precedence over life itself (Revelation 12:11; 1 Corinthians 13).

5) God calls for the protection of human life and holds humanity accountable for its destruction (Exodus 20:13; Revelation 21:8; Exodus 23:7; Deuteronomy 24:16; Proverbs 6:16,17; Jeremiah 7:3-34; Micah 6:7; Genesis 9:5,6).

6) God is especially concerned for the protection of the weak, the defenseless, and the oppressed (Psalm 82:3,4; James 1:27; Micah 6:8; Acts 20:35; Proverbs 24:11,12; Luke 1:52-54).

7) Christian love (agape) is the costly dedication of our lives to enhancing the lives of others. Love also respects personal dignity and does not condone the oppression of one person to support the abusive behavior of another (Matthew 16:21; Philippians 2:1-11; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:8-11; Matthew 22:39; John 18:22,23; John 13:34).

8) The believing community is called to demonstrate Christian love in tangible, practical, and substantive ways. God calls us to restore gently the broken (Galatians 6:1,2; 1 John 3:17,18; Matthew 1:23; Philippians 2:1-11; John 8:2-11; Romans 8:1-14; Matthew 7:1,2, 12:20; Isaiah 40:42, 62:2-4).

Life: Our right and responsibility to decide

9) God gives humanity the freedom of choice, even if it leads to abuse and tragic consequences. His unwillingness to coerce human obedience necessitated the sacrifice of His Son. He requires us to use His gifts in accordance with His will and ultimately will judge their misuse (Deuteronomy 30:19,20; Genesis 3; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 3:5,6, 6:1,2; Galatians 5:13).

10) God calls each of us individually to moral decision making and to search the scriptures for the biblical principles underlying such choices (John 5:39; Acts 17:11; 1 Peter 2:9; Romans 7:13-25).

11) Decisions about human life from its beginning to its end are best made within the context of healthy family relationships with the support of the faith community (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 5,6).

12) Human decisions should always be centered in seeking the will of God (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 6:6; Luke 22:42).

*Abortion, as understood in these guidelines, is defined as any action aimed at the termination of a pregnancy already established. This is distinguished from contraception, which is intended to prevent a pregnancy. The focus of the document is on abortion.

**The fundamental perspective of these guidelines is taken from a broad study of scripture as shown in the "Principles for a Christian View of Human Life" included at the end of this document.

These guidelines were approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the Annual Council session in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 12, 1992.

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Further Reading:

Proposed Seventh-day Adventist Statement on Abortion,” October 11, 2019

A Christian Woman’s Perspective on Abortion,” by Stella Oliveras, October 11, 2019

Primer on U.S. Abortion Law: Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenge to Louisiana Abortion Restriction,” by Michael Peabody, October 7, 2019

Geoscience Research Institute Calls for a ‘Biblically Sound Statement on Abortion,’” by the Geoscience Research Institute, October 4, 2019

An Open Letter Concerning the Adventist Church’s Abortion Guidelines,” by Mark B. Johnson, October 4, 2019

A Clinical Ethicist’s Perspective on Creating a New Abortion Statement,” by Mark F. Carr, October 2, 2019

"Abortion Rates and Ratios Continue Dropping in the United States" by David Larson, September 27, 2019

Our Abortion Guidelines Are Too Good to Replace” by David Larson, September 16, 2019

Abortion Law: Adventist Leaders Active Behind the Scenes” by Kent Kingston, September 18, 2019

Amidst Growing Criticism Adventist Church is Revisiting Abortion Position” by Michael Peabody, September 23, 2019

Adventist Church Works to Clarify Its Stance on Abortion,” Adventist News Network, August 30, 2019

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Official Guidelines on Abortion, approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the Annual Council session in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 12, 1992.

This article originally appeared in the current Spectrum print journal, volume 47, issue 3, which includes several articles on abortion.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9937

This statement has been the cause of many leaving or not joining the Adventist Church. They see it as a contradiction. On the one hand we say, “all ten commandments are equally important” and we point out that other churches observe 9 of the ten and explain away the fourth. Then once we have people convinced that they should sacrifice anything for Jesus and keep all ten commandments, we have an official statement that basically explains away the 6th commandment.

This leaves a real conundrum to new believers, and honestly, I’ve never been successful at explaining this to people.

The new statement is not perfect by any stretch, but it is at least much better.

I think that the new one only MUDDIES the WATERS even more…

1 Like

How so, Tammy…what do you see?

Hi Kim, :grinning: My friend Nic Samojluk wrote a very good breakdown of the paper, he lays it out very clearly, I’ll share what he said here…

“Proposed Seventh-day Adventist Statement on Abortion"

Dear recipient of this email,

I will highlight my personal reaction to the excerpts I copied from the proposed document known as “Statement on Abortion" to be voted by the General Conference Executive Committee

“As a result, individuals are at times faced with difficult dilemmas and decisions regarding a pregnancy.”

The term “dilemma" is defined as a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more equally undesirable alternatives. The decision to violate God’s prohibition does not represent a real dilemma where the alternative is equally undesirable. Murder makes a person ineligible for salvation unless repented of such a grievous sin.

“2. God considers the unborn child as human life. Prenatal life is precious in God’s sight, and the Bible describes God’s knowledge of people before they were conceived.”

Excellent statement!

“3. The will of God regarding human life is expressed in the Ten Commandments and explained by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount."

Excellent statement!

“The sixth commandment states: “You shall not kill” (Exod 20:13), which calls for the preservation of human life. The principle to preserve life enshrined in the sixth commandment places abortion within its scope. Jesus reinforced and broadened the commandment not to kill in Matthew 5:21-22 “

Excellent statement!

“This means that all human beings are stewards of whatever God has entrusted to them, including their own lives, the lives of their children, and the unborn.”

Excellent statement!

“Since God is the Giver and Owner of life, human beings do not have ultimate control over themselves and should seek to preserve life wherever possible.”

Excellent statement!

“He does not hold children accountable for the sins of their fathers (Eze 18:20) “

Excellent statement!

“Jesus speaks of the least of His brothers (Matt 25:40), for whom His followers are responsible, and of the little ones who should not be despised or lost (Matt 18:10-14). The very youngest, namely the unborn, should be counted among them (Isa 58:7-11).”

Excellent statement!

“Consequently, in rare and extreme cases, human conception may produce pregnancies with potentially fatal prospects and/or acute, life-threatening birth anomalies that present individuals and couples with exceptional dilemmas.”

See my comment on the meaning of the term “dilemma" above!

“Decisions in such cases may be left to the conscience of the individuals involved and their families. These decisions should be well-informed and guided by the Holy Spirit and the biblical view of life outlined above.”

Does this imply that the Holy Spirit may sometimes lead women to take the life of their unborn in violation of God’s Law?

“Abortion is a serious issue, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church considers it out of harmony with God’s biblical plan for human life.”

Excellent statement!

“While not condoning abortion, the church seeks to support women and couples who are confronted with the possibility of abortion,”

This statement needs clarification. Does this include moral support and approval of child’s murder?

Ref.: https://spectrummagazine.org/news/2019/proposed-seventh-day-adventist-statement-abortion

My Urgent Request to Pastor Ted Wilson:

It is 2:00 AM in Loma Linda, California, and I am so disturbed I cannot go back to sleep. My fear is that this “Statement on Abortion” will be an addition to the Adventist document known as “Guidelines on Abortion.”

In the event my fear is confirmed, I will most likely request to be dropped from membership in the SDA Church. I cannot continue supporting a church that is neutral on one of God’s Commandments. Those guidelines are a license to kill innocent human beings under special circumstances invented by Adventist theologians.

Nic & Marta
nic1@inbox.com
http://adventlifenews.wordpress.com

Thanks for the reply, Tammy.

2 Likes

Nic seems to imply could “feel” like the “unpardonable sin” to the
mother. To ADD to her mental distress.
I have enjoyed Nic’s other comments in the past on Issues, but I
see no compassion stated in this one.

1 Like

There was much to pick apart in the comment- but I see what you are saying and agree.

I see Moses having to call for Rock Throwing brigade to cleanse Israel.

1 Like

That analogy isn’t too far off…

1 Like

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