Friday, May 11, 2018

How Consistent Do We Need To Be?

Source: LiveAction https://www.liveaction.org/news/amazing-photos-of-preborn-babies-in-the-womb-show-that-life-begins-at-fertilization/

Pro-Lifers like me are inconsiderate, hypocritical jerks.

That's what you will think if you spend enough time listening to those who criticize pro-life conservatives for their alleged inconsistency. Consider the words of Pastor John Pavlovitz during the 2016 Presidential Election, a writer, activist and so-called star of the religious left:

"I actually don’t believe you’re pro-life, I believe you practice a far more selective and convenient defense of Humanity. From where I’m standing it seems as though “Life” for you, comprises a very narrow demographic—one that bears a striking resemblance to you. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable to you, something benign and comfortable, something in your own image.
You see, it’s not that you’re really pro-life, you’re pro-straight, white, Christian fetuses." -John Pavlovitz, "GOP-I Wish You Really Were "Pro-Life"
Pastor Pavlovitz then goes on a very emotional diatribe about the alleged inconsistencies of conservative pro-life advocates, highlighting how they are not really "Pro-Life" unless they take the time to address every other issue of controversy.

Aside from not citing a single example of pro-lifers actually arguing that only "straight, white, Christian fetuses" should be spared from abortion, and also ignoring the work of pro-life advocates like Star Parker, Dr. Alveda King, Christina Marie Bennett, and many others, all of whom uniquely focus on the problem of abortion in minority communities, he doesn't provide a single explanation for why any of the issues he lists need to be addressed with the same seriousness as abortion. He simply assumes moral equivalency, without providing any arguments for that assumption whatsoever. He then goes on to ridicule his opponents for what he sees as selectively valuing only life until birth.

Apart from these gross academic errors, I would raise a question for Pastor Pavlovitz: Let's assume that pro-lifers like myself actually did everything he was asking of us. We supported socialized medicine, ending capital punishment, gun control, police reform, and the military. Will Pavlovitz and those who make this kind of argument then join us in opposing abortion on demand? Chances are, they will say no, to which one should respond, "Then why bring up our supposed inconsistency in the first place? If you support abortion, then offer a defense of it, instead of attacking me personally."

To cite another example, a few weeks ago I was helping put up a graphic abortion display at San Diego State University. A young woman, quite angrily, began asking me whether or not I opposed war, inhuman treatment of animals, or supported same-sex marriage. Stopping her so I could offer a response, I asked the following:

"Tell me, if I were to join you in supporting all your views on those issues, would you then join us in opposing elective abortion?"
"Of course not! I am solidly, 100% pro-choice!"
To which I responded, "Then why did you highlight those other issues, which really have nothing to do with abortion, when you support any abortion for whatever reason? Why not offer a defense of that, instead of changing the subject?"

Instead of refuting the pro-life argument, bringing up supposedly inconsistent beliefs does nothing to justify killing a preborn baby. It's simply a lazy way to change the subject and score cheap points by making people you disagree with look bad. Such a behavior is pretty unbecoming of anyone claiming to be educated, let alone claiming to support justice.

Mr. Pavlovitz, I wish you really did care about social justice.




Thursday, May 10, 2018

Personhood Theory: The False Dichotomy Between Humans and Persons


Surrounding the abortion debate, there is a distinction that is made between being a human and being a person. Advocates for abortion argue that just because someone is human does not necessarily mean they are a person. The argument is no longer about whether or not the unborn are human. That is clearly established through the science of embryology. Personhood is now the benchmark of determining value and worth as a human being. The problem is that no one agrees when personhood begins. Some say it is ability to feel pain, others say it is cognitive awareness, while others argue it is the ability to exercise rational thought.

Dichotomizing the human and the person provides the pathway for egregious injustice. We are not the first people in history to apply this theory and use language in a way that denies an entire group of people their rights as human beings. Hitler used dehumanizing language against the Jews and they were not seen as persons. Americans used dehumanizing language against blacks, and they were not viewed as persons. Now we use dehumanizing language against the unborn claiming they are not “persons” like us until they can meet some arbitrary standard. We are familiar with the saying that those who don’t know history are bound to repeat it, but even those who do know history still allow evils to repeat themselves. They come back to us in different forms with different groups of people being targeted. Every time the injustice is vehemently defended so that people can feel moral and pious in their advocating for evil. This is what has happened with abortion.

Abortion rights hide behind a selfish fa├žade of human rights, women’s rights, and personal freedom. We do not have the right to do what is wrong. Our human rights should never trample on someone else’s right to life. The personhood theory places value on a human being based on what they can do for society. A short story by Philip Dick called “The Pre-Persons” written in 1974 illustrates the slippery slope that personhood theory places on society. In that world, no one was a person until they were twelve years old and capable of doing algebra. This standard was enforced by a totalitarian state. The personhood theory now pushed in America has not reached that extreme but who’s to say it won’t in the future? Many bio-ethicists already support infanticide and euthanasia based on the personhood theory. When our value as human beings is based on what we do, no one is safe. Right now, people attribute personhood to an ability to feel pain, a capacity for cortical brain functioning, reasoning, viability or consciousness. Everyone exercises these things in varying degrees in their life. Who’s to say that these give us value and magically make us persons? Arbitrary standards for being persons need to be resisted. We are valuable simply because we are human. If personhood theory is correct, equal human rights are non-existent. Be on your guard against the dichotomy of humans and persons. One day, the state might decide you are not a person based on some arbitrary function you cannot adequately exercise.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Why The Church Must View Abortion Images

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ gives a powerful message to His audience on the dangers of focusing so hard on being religious that we overlook those most in need of our help. (Luke 10:25-37). Using as examples a Jewish Priest and Levite who simply passed on by a man who had fallen prey to a group of robbers while traveling to Jericho, he highlights that it was a Samaritan, a class hated by the first century Jewish community, who best exemplified the commandment to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Today, the danger of passing by those in need on the issue of abortion has to be continually emphasized in the church. Consider the following data, collected and published by CareNet:


  • 4 in 10 women who had an abortion were churchgoers at the time of their decision
  • Only 7% of women discussed their abortion with anyone at church
  • Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.

  • A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
  • Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
  • Only 3 in 10 think churches give accurate advice about pregnancy options

Clearly, abortion happens far more within church congregations than many are comfortable admitting. However, there are many within the church today who think that this issue is overly discussed, and needs to be talked about less in contrast with other issues. Consider the following comments from Pastor A.R. Bernard. He asserts that the church should focus less on "personal sins" like abortion and same-sex marriage, because black evangelicals like himself are more concerned with other issues, like police shootings and "income inequality". 

Aside from the debates over whether those are major problems today(For more on these topics, see Walter E. Williams "Race and Economics" and Thomas Sowell's "Discrimination and Disparities") the moral problem of abortion still remains for the church: If 900,000 women are having abortions in America per year, and 4 in 10 women who have abortions were attending church at the time, then 225,000 or more abortion minded women were sitting in church pews across our nation in one year's time. That is not a small number. 

What leads many church leaders to shy away from discussing abortion? I'm convinced it's because the church doesn't want to talk about the act of abortion itself. Many will talk about it in terms of an abstract, political issue(And many then go on to add "But we don't talk about politics here") But most will never show their congregations just what an abortion does. In fact, I am convinced that many leaders aren't aware of the horrific nature of the abortion act itself.

This is a wrong approach, I think. If congregations and church members are not aware of just what abortion does to the unborn child(And to her mother) then if follows that they won't stop to consider the ramifications of that decision, both morally and spiritually. This is why I think, now more than ever, congregations must compassionately address the issue today by showing abortion, exactly as it is, through pictures of what it actually does. If 225,000 preborn children a year are at risk of being killed, then to not address this issue is to pass by on the "other side of the road" when our neighbors are in the most need. 

I think the method of showing abortion imagery that is used by pro-life speakers at LTI and elsewhere, such as Scott Klusendorf, Greg Koukl, and Dr. Mike Adams, among others, is the best method for doing this. They will give the context for showing the images, and will make the viewing optional by dimming lights or cutting out the sound from the video. Children who are under the age of 13 are sometimes encouraged to leave the room, but parents can make the decision to let them watch if they so choose. If in front of a church audience, they will show how the Gospel of Jesus Christ gives the best answer and hope to those in the congregation who have experienced abortion, or know someone who has. Even more so, having a post-abortion healing ministry present at the church or resources on hand can help those who most need help. Groups like Silent No More and Surrendering the Secret are phenomenal in helping post-abortive men and women find the hope and forgiveness that is offered by Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, there are some pro-life speakers who have sprung the images on audiences without warning; however, if appropriate warning is given, congregations will not only know the need for engaging on the abortion issue, they will know what exactly is at stake with abortion itself: The intentional killing of an innocent human being.

Some may object and will raise the concern that this will cause guilt for those who have experienced abortion, which is a valid concern. However, I think the better question to be asked is: Are we really helping anyone by not addressing the issue? You may remember several years ago when a French Court banned a video of Down's Syndrome children because it may unintentionally cause guilt for women who had made the decision to abort their child because he or she had been diagnosed with the disorder. That should raise a question: How far are we willing to go to spare someone guilt? Should we hide the truth so as to ensure that no one experiences pain? Or should we show the truth in a manner that will obviously raise pain, but in such a way that can help bring those in pain to find healing? And if showing that truth can help others avoid the future pain of a bad decision, is it worth the risk? I think the answer is obvious.

Jesus called out those who pass by on the other side of the road when their neighbors are in the most need of their life. When our neighbors' lives are at stake, avoiding truth is not an option.