Abortions, Miscarriages, and Contraceptives: Catholics and Protestants. Who is right?

Several independent studies have confirmed that there is a spike in young women having miscarriages in Kenya. In the recent report, the central province is considered as having the most of abortions, contraceptives, and miscarriages in the country. In this rate the central province will have its population reduced by up to 30 % in 30 years. The church speaks out about these issues, not within the scientific data, but as a Biblical based moral issue. Who is right?

Theological differences between the Catholics and the Protestants did not start yesterday. Rather, it is a battle that has been going on for centuries. Specifically, this battle started within the 15th century AD with the emergence of a German theologian by the name of Martin Luther (The reformation movement) Luther was a priest within the then universal church or the Catholic Church, as we know it. As a theologian, he came upon the letter of James and after reading it over and over again, he screamed, “Sore Scriputura” (Scripture only). He was protesting against the held theology of the time that the church (meaning the institution) had been given the sole authority as the overseer of the gospel and the evangel (the good news).

In this case, it was those who had been qualified within the Catholic Church (Priest) who had divine authority as custodians of the biblical revelation. It was they who had the power to interpret and guide the people into its meaning and application. This became the foundation of not only the authority of the Church, but also resulted in the church creating dogma (traditions) that was meant to guide the believer into the application of scriptures. Part of these dogmas included the teaching that even salvation was preserved within these traditions. “Therefore as by the offence of one Judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5. Quoted vs18)

The argument is that St. Paul in Romans is advocating the universal salvation of all men (In Christ) in the same way there was universal condemnation for all men (In Adam). Therefore given that the church was the authority, “Whatever you bid on earth will be bound in heaven” then the church had the authority to set out a process through catechism and dogma within which a person would find this salvation. This included the establishing of what we call sacraments. However, Luther argued from James that this amounted to the church giving out salvation certificates to humanity on the basis of the things they do through the church. Luther argued that salvation was not by these works but by un-merited favor or what we call grace: Humanity receives salvation through accepting this grace of God where Christ died on the cross. He also argued that it is scripture that is inspired not church dogma, thus his “Scripture alone” statement.

Here lies then the decision of both the Catholics and the Protestants. Given that the church has authority within dogma (traditions) the priest, the bishop, the cardinal, the pope’s instructions are authoritative, even absolute in some cases. But the protestants, having argued that the individual person has the right to come directly to Christ through faith, and thus also has the right to access the Bible: that is to read it, interpret its intended meaning through the spirit, and apply it as led by the Spirit , the pastor’s words has to be consistent with the Bible. If not, the individual does not have to follow.

On this case of contraceptives the Catholic Church issues their directive to their followers believing that they act on behalf of Christ as overseers of the Bible. Given the biblical teaching that all life is sacred, they stand against abortion. On contraceptives, they believe that God has provided a natural methodology of preventing pregnancy and the use of external methodologies goes against this divine mandate. The Protestant pastors do preach against immorality and evil, which includes abortion, but they leave the believer to make the decision.

Given human weakness the two positions are not easy. It is true that the individual will not stand before God under the umbrella of the Church. Kila mtu atauchukua mzigo wake mwenyewe. However, in many issues, the Catholic Church has been more consistent in their opposition to many moral ills than the Protestants. For this they are to be commended. The Protestants with their freedom have endorsed much morally questionable behavior. Still, ni kila mtu na mzigo wake mwenyewe mbele za Mungu. Na siku hiyo ina kuja”

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD) HTBluff Associates. @HTBluff

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