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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Friday, August 14, 2015

A Welcomed Change Of Subject And In Tone

With the release of videos showing an alleged link between Planned Parenthood and the selling of the body parts of aborted fetuses has come a change in subject for many a Christian blog and writer. Instead of writing about how America's sky is falling because same-sex marriage is now legal, we are writing about abortion. And one of the most welcomed articles on the Christian view of abortion comes from the Calvinist International website (click here for the article. The article is written by Joseph Minich (very brief biography is attached to the article.

The best one word description for Minich's article on abortion, or more precisely on how Christians should respond to pro-choice logic, is the word 'balanced.' Does Minich demonize those involved in either seeking or providing abortions? No. Rather, he seems to want us to be able to relate to both. Or does Minich fuel our fires of anger so that we are inspired to respond harshly to pro-choice defenders? No. Rather, the kind of interaction with pro-choice advocates he encourages is both Christian in spirit and biblically rational in content. Thus, Minich does a wonderful job in his article in describing how we should respond to pro-choice advocates.

First, let's talk about how Minich's description of abortion participants is balanced. Does he say that abortion is wrong? Yes. But how does he say America should look at these participants? He suggests holding a mirror up to our past with our ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the land and the enslavement of Blacks. And what the participants of abortion, those who violently removed Native Americans from the land, and those who sold and enslaved Blacks had in common was the desire to experience a good ends.

The recipient of an abortion would receive a continuance of her freedom and that freedom is a good that should be pursued while the doctor is enabling the woman to gain this freedom and both being free and helping others gain freedom is a good that should be pursued. In the past, many Anglo-Americans found Manifest Destiny to be inspiring. We could add that once one sees the "superiority" of our society to what once dominated the land, then the old adage about the necessity of breaking a few eggs to make an omelette holds in check any rising pangs of conscience.

And finally, what could be possibly wrong with kind of aristocratic society that was sought in the South? Who could oppose those results? Those who had to suffer the most to gain those results could.

This blog's take on Minich's approach here is that the principle of justice applied in the justification of and employment of abortion is the same principle of justice once used to create the society we now enjoy. Here, justice is not thought of in terms of recognizing the worth of the recipients and thus treating them as they deserve. Rather, justice here is defined by what is necessary to build what is seen today as an ideal or most desired society.' And to build that kind of society, one group must be denied their rights so that the other group's rights can be recognized. So it is here that we have the rub. Yes, most, if not all, recognize at least some degree of the ugly truth about abortion. But the unsightly can eventually be covered by the ends.

How should we respond to the pro-choice case and it proponents according to Minich? First, we should acknowledge the legitimacy of the goods being sought while noting that these are not the only goods involved in the issue. Yes, one's personal freedom should be sought, but one's personal freedom is not the sole criteria in deciding about abortion because the goods of another party are involved.

Second, our desire for justice should mimic the justice we have received in Christ in that just as justice for us has become redemption, so we should hope for the redemption in the change of heart in both the women who seek abortion as well as the doctors who provide it. Basically, Minich is telling us that the kind of justice we seek in the practice of abortion should be should  molded by the Golden Rule.

Finally, we need to appeal to the good in others. Here, Minich wants to carefully define what that good in others is lest some see him as denying the doctrine of total depravity. By the good in others, Minich is referring to the 'remaining vestiges' of being human which still remains after sin. Here we could say that Minich wants to appeal to a common morality that can exist in society. And thus rather than those who support the pro-choice side as aliens, we need to relate to them according to what views and morals we have in common.

Minich's article here is excellent and should be read. And the following is what could be added. For not only should Minich point to our nation's treatment of Native Americans and Blacks as showing how we allow ourselves to override justice for others in our pursuit of a good for ourselves; from the beginning of our nation, our nation's elites have pursued a thing-oriented society rather than a person-oriented society, to borrow the language of Martin Luther King Jr. 

We should note that The Constitution itself was written in order to preserve the status quo of protecting the property rights of elites. One only needs to read about the events, like Shays Rebellion, that caused the writing of The Constitution, which is briefly documented in Henry Knox's letter to George Washngton and the Constitutional debates to understand the context of The Constitution. We should go back to this time because of both The Constitution's concern for property rights and the following quote by Martin Luther King Jr. (click here for source):
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

Today's emphasis on property rights over the welfare of people as demonstrated in Free Market Fundamentalism and Neoliberal Capitalism  is not less than the emphasis on such rights that existed in the writing of The Constitution. And from what we can see from King's statement is that when a society values things over people, the value of each person is less and less intrinsic and more and more determined by what that person contributes to those with or who are seeking privilege. Here we should note that when justice is determined by what creates some desired society, justice is determined by what establishes or maintains a privileged position for those who have or who are seeking such. 

Here, the common good we can seek when discussing abortion with pro-choice advocates is to seek agreement on the correctness of favoring a person-oriented society rather than a thing-oriented society. That to support a thing-oriented society because one is in the position of enjoying the status quo of such a society is to support a tenuous existence for oneself. For, in a thing-oriented society, if one's value depends on privilege, one's value in society depends on which group(s) can maintain privilege. In addition, to fail to recognize the intrinsic value of others is assault both the one who gives worth to each person as well as to hurt one's own humanity by abusing someone a fellow person. 

Yes, we should cite the Scriptures in discussing abortion. But we should follow Minich's advice in how we do that and in adding common concerns which both Christians and nonChristians share. And we should also note how issues like the intrinsic value of humans are tied to issues other than abortion and sometimes to issues that are sacred cows to us.

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