*This is a very rough draft of a strange rebuttal I've developed against the Violinist Argument for abortion. I'm putting it out there not because I'm certain it's solid, but for honest critiques. If you would like to a more comprehensive and solid rationale for the intrinsic valuing of all human life, you can find that here. You can also find a more mainstream rebuttal for the Violinist Argument.
Imagine that time travel has been discovered and you have the opportunity to travel anywhere in history you'd like. Being a Christian, there is nothing more you desire than to go back and be there for the most influential moment in the history of the universe, the trial and crucifixion of our savior Jesus Christ. As you enter history, you slip into the crowd standing before Pilate and hear the offer Pilate is making to free one prisoner to the crowd. Being a part of the crowd, you can choose to free Jesus, the innocent, Barabbas the murderer, or a thief. You know your Bible and understand that Jesus has no hope of being freed. The crowd wants his blood too badly. But maybe, just maybe you and those who traveled back with you could influence the result between the thief and Barabbas. Maybe you could have the thief freed instead of the murderer. While you might not be able to save Jesus, you may at least be able to lessen the injustice that occurs in this situation. So do you vote to free Jesus, the innocent man, though your vote will have no influence, and allow a murderer to walk free? Or do you vote to mitigate a greater evil by voting for the lesser evil which has a chance of winning, though it would mean failing to support justice for the innocent?
I am a product of America. I've been trained to be a good citizen of the American Kingdom. I've been supportive of upholding the Constitution and founding documents. I've been patriotic. I've taken on my responsibility to vote in every presidential election for which I've been eligible. But during the last election cycle I realized that while I had been well-trained and indoctrinated in kingdom ethics by my country and community, I hadn't been all that well trained in certain Kingdom ethics by my spiritual community, particularly as it pertained to politics. Growing up, I was always told who to vote for or what issues to vote for by my spiritual community, yet I was never taught to evaluate that decision making process. I was to be like a questioning Berean when it came to the scriptures, but not when it came to political parties and issues. This is probably because the moral answer was always so simple in the political sphere. The Republican party is the only party which has a chance of winning and which doesn't support the great moral evil of abortion. The Republican party obviously deserves my unquestioning vote. On top of that, the Republican party has become so tied to the Religious Right - a huge demographic - that they'll give my Christian community more power and influence. With the Republican party, conservative Christians have the greatest chance of making America godly, or at least the greatest chance of staving off the impending moral decay by holding back God's judgment on our nation through the legislating of morality. So I voted Republican for the first three elections of my life - quite literally without thinking twice.
The topic of abortion is fraught with emotional pitfalls on all sides, and understandably so. My goal is to broach this topic intellectually and make a case for the pro-life position without undermining reverence and respect for the humanity and value of those who have chosen abortion. My hope is that this case can help those on all sides to clearly see the crux of the issue and the tremendous implications it has for establishing and maintaining human rights.
1. The Foundational Question: What is killed in abortion?
2. How to Determine Value and Rights: What quality and types of qualities confer rights and value to an individual?
3. Justified Reasons for Taking Human Life: What justifies the taking of human life?
4. Unjustified Reasons for Taking Life: What reasons fail to justify the taking of human life?
5. Bad Christian Arguments and Witness: Common pro-life/Christian arguments and actions which can undermine the pro-life position.
6. Counterrebuttals: A response to significant objections to the pro-life arguments.
Is it wrong to take the lives of a couple million innocent people to save several billion innocent lives? Is it ever morally justified to take the life of one innocent person to save many lives? What about lying? Is it ever ok to lie in order to save lives? If you were hiding Jews in 1943 Nazi Germany, would it be moral to lie in order to save innocent lives? The question of morality isn't nearly as cut and dry as we often like to think. While most instances of right and wrong seem fairly apparent, there is a large field of gray that also seems to exist.
One of the most famous conundrum scenarios in ethics is called the Trolley Car thought experiment. Individuals are told a hypothetical situation in which a trolley car is headed towards imminent doom, off a broken track or something like that. There is a very large man standing nearby. You know that if you push the man in the way of the trolley car, he will die, but the car will be held up enough to come to a stop and save the many lives in the car. What is the moral choice? Does saving the lives of many legitimize the immorality of taking one innocent life? What if the fat man weren't innocent. What if you had him in police custody after catching him in the middle of committing a murder. Would it be ok to push a guilty man in front of the car to save lives?There are all sorts of iterations to this problem, some of which you can find here.
The secular world often refers to Christianity as a religion, probably because it is. But many Christians don't seem to like being pigeonholed that way. Since Christianity is an exclusive religion, Christians feel the need to set themselves apart from "religion." I often hear Christians respond to such phrasing with disdain. "Christianity isn't a religion," they say. "It's a relationship." The response is a well meaning quip intended to rebut the modern notion that religion is merely a personal, mental and emotional system intended to help one make their way through life. There are hundreds of religions to choose from, and Christianity is just another. But Christians feel that Christianity is so much more than that and they want the world to know it. As I think about the popular Christian response to Christianity as religion, I am finding that it becomes more unappealing to me. Much of my dislike for the response probably lies in the way some Christians make the remark. The response is often accompanied by a self-righteous tone, and is frequently directed towards "sinners" and unbelievers in what seems to be more of a smug retort by the Christian who is upset at being stereotyped. Rather than the response being a theological or apologetic rationale for why one should be a Christian, it's just a pointed response. When used with such a demeaning tone, I find the quip absolutely unappealing. Even when used appropriately, however, I'm finding that I just don't like the way Christians respond. It's not because saying that Christianity is a relationship is inaccurate, but rather that it's not precise. It conveys a true idea, but it often fails to take the unbeliever or the Christian to the proper conclusion, and may actually do more harm than good.
For a much expanded version of the case for nonviolence in podcast form, check out the Fourth Way Podcast.
1. Introduction: My journey to pacifism
2. Biblical Teaching: A foundation for pacifism using scripture
3. Biblical Examples: Examples of explicit non-violence in the face of aggression from the Bible and Apostles
4. Early Church Teaching: Quotes from the early church fathers about their beliefs on war, soldiering, vengeance, violence, punishment, etc
5. Real Life Examples: Examples of non-violence, its implementation, and effect
6. Pacifism Applied: Explores what the process and action of pacifism look like
7. Evaluating the Christian Alternative to Pacifism: A look at a Just War theory of morally using violence as a Christian and asking how it isn't even more idealistic than pacifism
8. Pacifism Quotes to Ponder: A reflection on non-violence and violence from those who journeyed through persecution
9. Counter-Rebuttals: Rebutting the greatest criticisms leveled at a pacifistic position
10. Questions for Just-War Adherents : Returning difficult questions to Just War adherents about their ideology
*13. Addendums - Additional arguments and ideas I'm putting here until I reformat the site or figure out where I can include them.
*14. My Poetry - Poetry I've written in trying to work through various issues of the Kingdom, including nonviolence.
*15. My Book - While the book isn't specifically about pacifism, it deals with the consequentialist (ends justify the means) morality which my culture taught me that prevented me from living as Christ desires, which includes a nonviolent life. I think this inculcated morality is what must be addressed before many can hear Christ's words. I'm happy to share this document for free as well, just contact me.
The full, original article (not updated with more recent editions) can be downloaded in PDF format below:
*The views and ideas on this site are in no way affiliated with any organization, business, or individuals we are a part of or work with. They're also not theological certainties. They're simply thinking out loud, on issues and difficulties as I process things.