An Intersection of The Holy Communion and The Life in the Womb: A Brief Note
One’s practice of communion and one’s opinion about abortion overlap, for they have a common element: the view of the individual.
“I will partake of the Lord’s Supper in the congregation of believers, even when I believe and act in opposition to the Lord’s words and to the Church’s confession.” That assumption attempts to make one’s self a master of the Lord and His table; it demands that He serve an individual’s worldview. Furthermore, the assumption suggests that one’s view of Holy Communion and the beliefs of the congregation are irrelevant to the common table. Yet who in the Body of Christ eats the one bread and drinks the one cup as an individual? Is that not an impossibility? Paul addresses that destructive heresy, which was splitting Corinthian congregation; for individuals had been going ahead with their own meals—while some feasted, others were neglected (1 Corinthians 11:17-22). To receive / practice the Holy Communion in any way that sets one’s self apart from the rest of the Body, to partake in the communion on the basis of personal assertion in distinction from the confession of the Body of believers—both the confession of the Church as the Body of Christ Jesus and the confession of Christ’s body and blood present in the communion—idolizes the self, exalting one’s personal beliefs over that of the Body and the One who gives Himself in the communion. Rather than a body with a head, the kind of gathering of individuals asserting personal rights to hold beliefs contrary to the Body necessarily devolves into an amorphous always-dividing-creature, until one is truly an isolated individual with one’s own confession of the self, with the self as the only reference point. One must reject an approach to the Holy Communion that begins with the self.
The self as the chief reference point manifests itself also in one’s teaching about life (in the womb). An opinion that encourages abortion and supports actions that not incidentally but purposefully aim for death evidences a grave disconnection of the self from community. For those opinions and actions minimize the communal nature of life, ignoring how one came to be, within a community, and how one continues to live, in a community. By definition a community is a multi-generational assembly, for one cannot self-generate. Indeed, the womb of the woman is the first and primary type of house (multi-generational community), for in the womb the woman houses a child in community with the mother. The euphemism “pro-choice” functionally means that I may decide apart and even against that community from which I came and from which the community grows. That sort of argument contends that I am able to live as an autonomous individual, which clearly by experience is not a valid conclusion. One is raised within a community and thus by nature an individual is related intimately and essentially to the community; I have an individual existence because I acknowledge that I live in a community. It does not follow that because I am a distinct individual I may act in a way that ignores community or extinguishes community. To exercise a radical individualism—no one may determine what happens to my existence except me—as the determinative factor denies one’s humanity, for humanity can only come from a prior human, and to insist on self-determination attempts to destroy that generative link and rebuild an independent existence from the inside. Self-referential freedom is really no freedom, for if a choice is confined to myself, then I am captivated to myself (a tiny space indeed!) and not living freely in the community. Consider these questions: “Do you really trust yourself with yourself? For you got yourself into this, and now you believe that you are the answer?” (See James K.A. Smith, On The Road with St. Augustine, pp. 68,69). Genesis 1-2 reveal the communal nature of life as created by God; all things were created to work as one in harmony, for the functionality of the whole and the glory of the Creator. Genesis 3-4 describe the dysfunction, when the individual precedes the community—I may do this apart from my place in creation. Abortion fundamentally interferes and denigrates the image of God, for it urges man to be a bringer of death rather than to fulfill his image in the blessing “be fruitful and multiply”. When the word of God no longer is the primary means of blessing and the will of the created usurps God’s will, the individual attempts to control and create community according to personal desires. One must reject a view of life that begins and ends with self-designated and self-contained authority.