Monday, December 24, 2012

St. John the Baptist's Personhood

The argument for abortion has taken twists and turns for pro-choice advocates. Once it was the question as to when life actually began in the womb and once medicine confirmed that life actually began with the fertilization of the human egg by the human sperm, then the other question asked and used by pro-choicers was whether or not this new life was actually human. With the advent of DNA testing we come to solid evidence that the DNA of the new life IS actually a human life. It is not a puppy or a kitten but a human life.

Now we are confronted by the question of whether or not this new life is actually a person. If we cannot prove it is a person then there is no reason not to abort. Since the "person-hood" of the unborn cannot be proven in solid terms or defined such as a materialist demands then it stands to reason that a rejection to abortions cannot be justified by the pro-life advocates. Then again to some who defend abortion, it has nothing to do with any of the above questions but simply as a choice a woman can make given it's her right to have an abortion.

If Christians have difficulty with the notion that an unborn human life is not a person or has not reached person-hood in their development then we have to ask the question of when does an unborn, human life acquire the characteristics that makes it uniquely a person. I've read several articles by people trying to define what makes an unborn human a person and the definitions run the gamut. I can ask twenty people the same question and get twenty differing definitions of what is or makes a human being a person.

I suppose we could ask whether or not emotions are part of being a person and we would have to answer yes. If we accept the argument that though human, the life in the mother is still only a mass of tissue, a blob that DNA says is human but without person-hood then this blob would not have emotions let alone exhibit them. But to a confused Catholic that truly does not know if the unborn are persons we should consider last week's reading of Mary visiting Elizabeth. If we as Catholics believe scripture as divinely inspired and inerrant then this reading should have given the confused Catholic pause. Here are the verses;

Luke 1:41-44
41 And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

The first thing we must notice is that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost when she spoke to Mary. In fact what Elizabeth said to Mary was actually inspired by the Holy Spirit. And what did the Holy Spirit say through Elizabeth?   

44. " For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy."

If St. John had been merely a blob or a mass of tissue though human but without person-hood, then he would not have leapt for joy. Joy is an emotion that we all feel at times as PERSONS! He heard the sound of Mary's voice and reacted with emotion. Only a person could do that and react in this manner. If we truly believe God as the author of holy scripture and holy scripture is inerrant then what are we to make of the above passages? There are other verses also in the Old Testament that gives testimony to the unborn as being a person.

I realize that this may not convince anyone that is not a believer in the Bible as proving that the unborn, human life is a person, but I personally know some people that are Catholic but are not sure of this and are genuinely confused. Perhaps this verse can go a long way in convincing them that the Church is has been right all along: Being human DOES mean we are in fact persons and not just human blobs without personality.


  1. Aside from religion, the term “non-person” also defies science and reason. Human life begins at conception as an objective fact. To say the first stage of one’s life or one’s personhood begins at some other threshold of consciousness or viability is subjective; a matter of opinion. To declare something as important as this on something subjective is irrational, especially when something objective is available.

    I do think this is an appropriate topic around Christmas since we read about John and Jesus in the womb or being born. Merry Christmas!

  2. Very well said Ben, but we do need to realize that reason has been thrown out the window on this issue and irrationality has become the norm sadly enough. Merry Christmas by blogger brother!

    1. What you say is true, but when I bring up science & logic with prochoice-ers, I can see them beginning to doubt their own reasoning (sometimes). Peace to you and your family!

  3. Something else about the Visitation.

    Babies move in in uteri all the time. Any mother will tell you this. But the miracle is that the same Holy Spirit that inspired St. Elizabeth to call the Theotokos MOTHER OF YHVH--for what else can "Mother of my Lord" mean in a Jewish context?--but that she was likewise inspired to recognize the significance of the unborn Forerunner's movement.

    Christ is born! Glorify Him!

  4. Yes she was Jack and I noticed that also.


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