Thursday, June 4, 2009

Answering a Question about my Moral Outrage Comment [Jay]

In my previous post I said the following:

"I whole heartedly agree that the moral outrage of those opposed in principle to abortion is not appropriate in light of the moral offense"

A commenter responded:

"Please clarify this. Are you saying that pro-lifers are not outraged enough over abortion?"

Here is the clarification both in the comment thread of that post and here because I thought it was worth posting and that the quesiton was fair and deserved answering. I hope it clarifies my position.

I intentionally did not use the term pro-lifers. Largely because I am not certain that the term itself is particularly descriptive. Pro-lifer seems as broadly defined as anti-slavery was in the pre Civil War United States. So many factions that wildly disagree on tactics and convictions identify themselves in that category from the absolute pacifist to Scott Roeder. So if I said something to the effect of, “Pro-lifers are not morally outraged enough over the moral offense of abortion,” I am not even certain such a statement has any real meaning.

My point was very intentionally worded. There are a majority of Americans that see themselves as pro-life and a larger majority of Americans that consistently express that they believe that abortion ought to be restricted. Why? Do they identify the unborn as human beings with moral value? Do they believe that abortion is the unjustified destruction of human life? I am not certain on what grounds we oppose abortion outside of that reasoning.

I am blessed to talk to a lot of people about this issue from pastors to lay people. The overwhelming majority of Christians that I hear from are in principle opposed to abortion on the grounds of the humanity of the unborn.

Now we have three distinct elements. What is happening? Who is it happening to? How am I responding? I personalize the third element because people approach problems differently in a group than they do when the question is pointed personally at them.

What is happening is inarguable. It is merely a matter of gathering the data and confirming that this many number of abortions have happened under these circumstances. This is a matter of facts that are not disputed. To whom is this happening is the key point of the contention. What are the unborn?

My statement merely made the following observation. If you accept the undisputed facts of what is happening and believe that the best evidence (both scientific and philosophical) demonstrates that it is happening to human beings of moral worth then the third question is now profoundly important.

I faced that question personally one day when the truth of what we are in the midst of settled fully on me and was forced to evaluate all three of those elements. As the first is a constant, I must deal with the second and third. I was convicted that my personal response to the first two elements was woefully insufficient and began to demand of myself that I do more. That I personally invest in standing against so grave an evil.

Mr. Saletan appears to believe that if the third element of that thought process is not murderous rage then the second element of belief in the unborn as fully and morally human is insincere. I obviously disagree. But I do think that there is a reason that so many people are convinced of the humanity of the unborn and so few of them allow that belief to activate them in a truly meaningful way beyond voting cycles. Abortion is like swimming in the Olympics. Once every four years we get all worked up about it, but then it fades into the background until the next election or a Supreme Court nominee is made. The problem is that the abortion machine continues to run unabated throughout the years whether anyone is running for office at the moment or not. So how do we activate this larger group to see the need to personally invest in this struggle in a meaningful way?

Well for me, it happened because I had the chance to evaluate those three elements and then see for myself that I could do more. When I went beyond merely objecting to abortion on passionately held principles and began to allow the conviction that this violence must be actively opposed by me personally to inconvenience my life.

I do not know what it looks like when all of the people that are principally opposed to abortion express the fullness of their moral outrage, but I pray to God it looks like something more than what we are seeing now.

1 comment:

  1. For years, i opposed abortion but did little to fight it.

    In Illonois, a woman was cleared of killing her new born infant because, even though the child was heard crying, it could not be proved that the umbilical cord was detached.

    That woke me up.


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