*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.
What's the difference between a lost cause and a noble one? When does another chance turn into the last chance? If we're supposed to forgive someone seventy times seven, as Jesus said, how do we respond to the 491st offense? These are difficult questions all Christians must ask themselves. As I ruminated on such questions over the past few years, I was never able to arrive at a solid conclusion. In fact, I don't know many Christians who have nailed these issues down. Whether the answers are just too difficult to see, or our hearts too hard to accept the Christ-like answers we really know to be true, most of us, most of the time, seem to meander away from truth or certainty. In such a pragmatic society as ours, we are strangely content with labeling Christ's hardest exhortations, like those on forgiveness and mercy, as conundrums - gray areas we're happy to keep gray. Instead of working hard to discern God's Word and align our decisions with Christ's teachings, we instead tend to choose to be guided by our subjective, situational feelings rather than the objective truth our savior brought, and the tangible truth our savior lived out. Instead of embracing grace and forgiveness apart from merit, we all too often choose to forgive - or not, based on who has wronged us, how many times they have wronged us, or how severely they have wronged us. Our feelings are often the determinate standard for our actions, not God's decree.
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.
Daddy, I'm scared to go to the beach. What if there is lightning again?
I assured Elin that she could trust me and that I wouldn't purposefully take us into danger. As we continued our preparations to walk down to the beach, she didn't seem too reassured. She had honed in on the danger of lightning.
But daddy, if there was lightning, you would protect me, right?
While her faith in me was endearing, I had to break the news to her that I couldn't protect her from lightning if it struck. In fact, if I held her hand like she wanted, that would only allow the lightning to strike us both. I just wasn't powerful enough to stop lightning. Elin thought for a minute, then asked another question. She didn't ask it in a genuinely inquiring way. She already knew the answer to her question - but the answer she was coming up with didn't comport with what she had been taught.
wouldn't God protect me?
If we had lived our whole lives in a world devoid of sharp objects, what would we think if we were to see a blade for the first time? As our hand examined it and we cut ourselves, our initial tendency may be to surmise that the maker of this object was malicious, for the effects of her creation are certainly evil. But what a faulty conclusion this would be if the maker of this blade had intended for it to be used to cut down trees in order to build comfortable dwellings, or a blade to harvest wheat for the many wonderful feasts she held. While the knife could certainly cut and kill, the sharpness of the blade would say nothing about how it is to be wielded. As we came to know more about the maker of the blade, we might eventually arrive at the conclusion that the maker was fond of precision and balance in order that the wielder might extend his life through its use. But our initial experience with the blade was that it had cut us. The mishandling of this well-made blade may lead to pain - or even death.
A few weeks ago, our youth group played an interesting game called "Courageous or Stupid." The leader provided a number of scenarios and the kids had to discern whether the action was courageous, or stupid, as the name of the game implies. Give it a try.
- Walking into a fire
- Jumping into freezing water in the middle of winter
- Running across a busy highway
I didn't know too much about Eastern Orthodoxy before preparing to move to Romania. While I still have much to learn, I have spent the last year picking up pieces of information, talking with individuals who identify as Orthodox and making my own observations. There are many aspects of Orthodoxy which stand out - aspects of theology, worship, traditions, etc. But perhaps the first and most apparent aspect which will stand out to any onlooker is the Orthodox church buildings. Orthodox buildings are far more ornate and opulent than Catholic and Protestant churches. They catch the eye with the glimmer of gold you can see from miles away. Learning about Orthodoxy has lead me to believe that one of their major emphases is on the beauty and experience of God. Their architecture is meant to accost your senses and the sensual experience only grows from the outside in, as your entrance into the church greets you with many colors and the smell of incense.
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.
Many pro-choice proponents point to ectopic pregnancies (where the embryo doesn't implant in the uterus, but in other areas, sometimes the fallopian tube or ovary) as an example of pro-life hypocrisy. Many pro-lifers argue that it is never right to seek the death of the unborn, yet the majority of pro-lifers recognize the legitimacy of aborting a fetus involved in an ectopic pregnancy. While I have come to the conclusion that this is an inconsistency of many pro-lifers, I think this area is a bit grayer than all the other areas due to our culture being steeped in pragmatic ethics. If we believe that allowing an ectopic pregnancy to continue will result in both the mother's life and the child's life being taken, pragmatic ethics makes it seem as though we have the right to take one life to save another. It is a lesser evil. So before I present my case against abortion in ectopic pregnancies, I'll provide the Christian case for abortive ectopic pregnancies. Please be reminded that here, just as in all other sections, I am not making a case for the purpose of condemning. If there is grace for me, there is grace available for everyone else as well.