THE PRACTICAL PERFORMATIVITY OF AN ORTHODOX PRO-WHOLE-LIFE ETHIC by Giacomo Sanfilippo

Fewer parents circumcising boys | Black babies, Baby died, Parents

Orthodox and other pro-life Christians are often accused of being “pro-birth” while caring little for the health and welfare of the child and its mother once it has left her womb. The politicization of pro-lifism seems to be more about controlling women and violating their God-given personal autonomy than actually helping them and their preborn children with social, economic, and mental health supports during pregnancy and the life of the child from birth to the threshold of adulthood. In a tradition where the Sunday of the Last Judgment and the Sunday of the Good Samaritan stand at the centre of our ascetical consciousness on our path to God in the age to come, it should be clear to us Orthodox that the practical performativity of a pro-whole-life ethic consists obligatorily, and not optionally, of putting our money where our mouth is. Nowhere does the Gospel command us to march in virtue-signaling parades or to applaud legislative initiatives that have horrifying consequences in the real lives of real women, many of whom are already mothers caring for the children they already have.

The Gospel does, on the other hand, command us to provide food, drink, clothing, shelter, a supportive human presence, to everyone in need. Our very salvation depends on it. Our hope of universal salvation—or, for some of us, our doctrinaire certainty of it—gives us no license to complacently disregard the requirements of an authentic life in Christ in imitation of God who makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall without partiality on the righteous and the unrighteous.

I have two friends in Nigeria, a young Christian couple living in economically disadvantaged conditions, even by local standards, despite the husband’s steady, full-time employment. Notwithstanding their best precautions, they find themselves with an unplanned, unexpected pregnancy with their first child, a little girl. Yet they chose to accept the child as a gift from God and not to have an abortion. The baby is due around October 20. At this late stage of the pregnancy, they don’t have the resources to provide their child with the equipment and supplies that we take for granted, or to prepare a space to accommodate and to feed the wife’s mother who is coming soon to stay with them to assist with childcare for the first two or three months.  

This is where the Orthodoxy in Dialogue community can spring to action.

Please consider sending a gift of any amount to editors@orthodoxyindialogue.com via PayPal. Put “Baby” in the message. We will send every penny to the family via Western Union. In due time, we will report on the total collected and share a photo of the family with each donor. (For their safety and privacy, the husband prefers not to have their pictures distributed randomly on the pages of Orthodoxy in Dialogue.) We’ve set a goal of at least $500 USD. Every $10 helps.

The Lord loves a cheerful giver. He will bless you richly for your kindness. 

Giacomo Sanfilippo is an Orthodox Christian, founding editor of Orthodoxy in Dialogue, and PhD candidate in Theological Studies at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. He is most known globally for his work in sexuality, gender, and Orthodox theology.

Orthodoxy in Dialogue seeks to promote the free exchange of ideas by offering a wide range of perspectives on an unlimited variety of topics. Our decision to publish implies neither our agreement nor disagreement with an author, in whole or in part.
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2 thoughts on “THE PRACTICAL PERFORMATIVITY OF AN ORTHODOX PRO-WHOLE-LIFE ETHIC by Giacomo Sanfilippo

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