“The human ability to rationalize is demonstrated in the lengths we will go to redefine what it means to be a person. First, we commit ourselves to do something we think is in our best interests. We start with our conclusion, the place we want to end up. Then we look for ways to get there while still keeping our sense of personal morality intact, so we don’t have to be plagued by guilt. This is called rationalizing.”

Sound familiar? Maybe a little bit convicting? We all rationalize wrong choices or wrong thinking, and we all vary in our self-awareness of when it’s happening. Randy Alcorn, as quoted above, recently shared on his blog an excellent analysis of the dynamic of rationalization as it relates to abortion by J. Budziszewski, professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin.

Dr. Budziszewski wrote in an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in 2005:

“If deep conscience really does hold within it a belief in the wrong of deliberately taking innocent human life, then consider where this leaves a woman who has an abortion. Parsing the rule against murder, there are only six possibilities of rationalization. She may tell herself (1) that her act is not deliberate, (2) that she is not taking anything, (3) that the unborn child is not innocent, (4) that it is not human, (5) that it is not alive, or (6) that what is wrong may be done.”

Starting today, I am going to take the next few days to share these “possibilities of rationalization” with you. Consider as you read: Does this thinking sound familiar to you? Do you know someone who believes this? Do you believe it? When confronted with a logical analysis of our justification of immoral behavior or thinking, our brains sometimes try to double-down and rationalize the rationalization.

But in the case of abortion, the act’s gravity and ramifications will often short-circuit successful rationalization, and our consciences (activated by God’s Holy Spirit) won’t allow us to explain it away. The choice at that point is to repress God’s prompting and sear our consciences…or respond to the Holy Spirit, release our rationalizations, and walk forward in truth. The latter is my prayer today for those who have chosen–or who are considering–an abortion.

Possibility 1:

“It is wrong to deliberately take innocent human life. But I didn’t mean for this to happen; I wasn’t trying to get pregnant.”

The reasoning here is that if something happens that I do not intend–in this case, pregnancy–then no matter what I do about it, I am not responsible. This line of thinking is incompatible with any coherent idea of personal responsibility. It is like saying “I didn’t plan for my wife to become disabled, therefore I am not responsible for poisoning her.”

Possibility 2:

“It is wrong to deliberately take innocent human life. But I’m not taking life, the doctors are doing it. This is just something happening to me. I’m not involved.”

This time the underlying reasoning is that once I have made a decision, the results are out of my hands–even if I planned and intended them. It is like saying, “I didn’t take my landlady’s life. If you want to blame someone for her death, blame the hit man I hired, not me.”

Read part two of this series here.

Have you or has someone you know experienced an abortion? Talk to my friends at Garden of Hope to take your first step toward healing!

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