The woman who was about to have her abortion one Thursday morning was talking to me in sad tones about her child. "I know I am carrying a child," she said, "and I know God has given me this child. But I am not ready now. So, I am giving the child back to God."
That morning was not the only time I heard those same words from a mother about to abort her child. In fact, I have heard it time and time again, as have other pro-life counselors.
"I am giving the child back to God." One of the problems with this statement is that it ignores the fact that the child is about to be destroyed. Yes, we believe in the immortality of the soul and in the reality of the life of the world to come. But the child is not a soul. The child is a human person consisting of a soul and a body. The act of abortion destroys that human person. It crushes the body.
To dismiss this reality and say, "I'm giving the child back to God" feeds into a way of thinking that is pretty common these days, namely, that the body really doesn't matter. In reality, however, it matters as much as the soul, because the body is just as much an aspect of the human person as the soul is. What happens to your body happens to you. To take care of your body is to take care of yourself; to destroy your body is to destroy you. Some say, "I can do what I want with my body." But look carefully at that statement. The "I" and the "body" are separated. The body becomes something I use, something with which I do something else. But my body is not a thing I have and use, like my pen or my car. My body is me!
The Church has always rejected the idea that a human being is a spirit who simply uses the body as a tool. If only the soul matters, then people can say things like, "If we love each other, why is sex wrong? As long as we have the right intention, our physical actions are OK!" In other words, the intention (an action of the soul!) is all that counts.
Follow this thinking further, and you end up saying, "If my body doesn't work well anymore, and is more trouble than it is worth, I have the right to be free from that burden! I have the right to die!" Again, the act of killing the suffering person is not seen for what it is, namely, destroying the person, but rather simply as an escape of the real person from his or her body!
To be free from the culture of death demands a new appreciation of the body. When we say we are made in God's image, we mean our bodies, too! Respect for life means respect for bodily life, a body nourished by the very Body of Christ, and destined, like His, to rise from the dead!