Thursday, August 09, 2007

Abortion - My Turn

There are so many crises facing the church that it seems overwhelming to choose one. I have chosen abortion because of recent investigations into my affirmation of the literal virgin birth. My framework for making ethical decisions is as follows:

1. Gather the relevant facts.
2.
Determine the ethical issues.
3.
Ask what principles have a bearing on the issue or case.[1]
4.
List the alternatives.
5.
Compare the alternatives with the principles.
6.
Consider the consequences.
7.
Make a decision.

1. Gather the Facts[2]

What does the Bible Say?

Since the Holy Scriptures are the rule of faith and life,[3] the first place I look for facts are from it. There I find that human beings are made uniquely, in the image of God.[4] Conception and the resulting birth of a child are not simply acts which propagate a species. Rather, conception is a particular blessing of God.[5] This fruit of the love between a husband and wife is special evidence of God’s love and sovereignty.[6] The birth of a child is a reward and a gift, or heritage, from God.[7] Scripture commonly refers to conception, rather than birth, as the moment of our beginning.[8] God speaks of us as known, cared for, protected, and loved by Him before birth[9]. He often announces His specific purpose for individuals while they are yet unborn.[10] The Hebrew דלי and the Greek βρεφος, used to refer to newborns and youth, are used in Scripture to refer to the unborn. This teaches us the continuity of existence before and after birth.[11] Thus, it seems that the Scriptures portray God as recognizing a person as human even before they are conceived – and all the more so once there is a sign of conception.

What does medical science say?

Abortion is defined[12] as “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.” There are two types of abortion: spontaneous and induced.[13] Only induced abortions are in view during this discussion as they are the only ones that involve human agency. Pregnancy is defined as “the condition of being pregnant.” Pregnant is defined as “containing a developing embryo, fetus, or unborn offspring within the body.” Embryo is defined as “the developing human individual from the time of implantation to the end of the eighth week after conception.” A fetus is “a developing human from usually three months after conception to birth.” Offspring is “the product of the reproductive processes of an animal or plant.” By these definitions, induced abortion is the intentional killing of a developing human.

Conception is “the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both.” Within twelve hours of the initial contact between a sperm and ovum, their haploid pronuclei have fused to create a genetically unique cell.[14] It is either male or female, and is distinct from the cells surrounding it in many ways. Nothing else will need to be added to make it more or less genetically human than it already is;[15] all it needs now is nutrition and protection. Within eighteen hours, this genetically unique cell will have begun the process of autonomous cellular division. Medically speaking, there are three differences between the human life of the zygote and of the mother: maturity, location, and independence. Providing nutrition and protection, this zygote will move inexorably toward those three goals. This, along with the pattern of growth outside of the womb, shows that the adult human being is the end result of the continuous growth of an organism from conception. This development will not need any further input that changes the essential nature of the fetus while it grows. Therefore it seems that there is no essential difference in the personhood of the fetus and that of a mature adult.

2. Determine the ethical issues.

What is at stake, ethically, is whether or not this act of intentional killing is murder.[16] Murder – the unjustified, intentional killing of another human – is recognized as wrong in virtually every ethical and legal system. By the definitions provided above, it would seem that abortion is murder. Yet, since jurists, legislators, professional ethicists, theologians, pastors, and church members do not speak with one voice concerning whether or not abortion is murder, the situation is not to be resolved by a simplistic resort to lexical denotation. To determine if abortion is to be recognized as murder we must show that the life so ended is human in legitimate ways. If this be shown, then we must find adequate justification for the intentional ending of the life in order to not be murder.

3. What principles have a bearing on this issue?

From the Biblical data it is clear that God has meaning and purpose for each human life, and at times He declares as much before birth[17] or even conception.[18] God forbids us to kill innocent human life.[19] God requires us to protect and care for the needy and helpless.[20] Apart from the Scriptures, there stand at least three questions to answer. First, is the product of conception (whether a blastocyst, embryo, or fetus) a person? Second, does the product of conception deserve protection and “rights” equal to those of humans? The third question centers around the interrelation of a mother’s rights and the rights of an unborn. Once these questions are synthesized with a person’s moral framework, they will decide between a basic pro-abortion or anti-abortion stance (regardless of how they nuance this in terms of their ability to make normative demands on others).

4. List the alternatives.

Once these questions are synthesized with a person’s moral framework, they will decide between a basic pro-abortion or anti-abortion stance (regardless of how they nuance this in terms of their ability to make normative demands on others).

5. Compare the alternatives with the principles.

Pro-abortion[21]

1. A woman has the right to do with her own body whatever she chooses.

Medical science (as well as common sense) tells us that the cells are not genetically her body but are rather are cells that are in her bodily space. In approximately half of the cases, the cells are XY in chromosomal sex! We should also note that, though the fallopian tubes and womb are hers, neither law nor moral codes recognize a person’s absolute right over their own body. For instance, laws prohibit illicit drug use and prostitution. Similarly, the exercise of bodily autonomy is constrained by the possibility of risk proposed to others in the use of that body (e.g., assault). The argument is untenable if the fetus is actually a person. If the fetus is female, does this right to somatic autonomy not reach to her as well (lest we risk ageism) Moreover, it begs that very question, a question that our investigation into medical knowledge does not seem to negate. If indeed there is an independent life at stake, morality has conventionally sided with life rather than freedom as that which is to be preserved.

2. It creates overwhelming financial hardships which threaten the mother and the baby.

The argument assumes that without access to abortion, women will not be able to control the size of their families, condemning them all to a life of poverty and undue burden. The argument fails by logical extension: if we were to exterminate all persons who are defined as financial burdens by someone else, at what point would we count their contribution to society worthwhile enough that they deserve to live? Only if the fetus is not a person is it justifiable eliminate it as a means of cost control. The argument also confuses exterminating the focus of a problem with eliminating the cause it.

3. Unwanted or handicapped children should not be forced upon parents.

If a child is not wanted, it seems a more apt commentary on the parent’s worthiness for existence than the child’s. No one wants the homeless to be in their state – poor and rejected; yet we deny that extermination is an option because of their basic human dignity. Instead, we take up their cause and struggle to ameliorate their suffering. In the more problematic case of the severely deformed and handicapped, we must guard against any statement that could be used to justify the killing the handicapped ex utero.[22] Again, this statement begs the question of the personhood of the fetus. Moreover, it claims to know that the life of a handicapped or deformed person is somehow so debased that death is preferable.

Anti-abortion / Pro-Life

The personhood of the fetus makes it morally reprehensible to terminate it.


6. Consider the consequences.

As many have argued that virtue would be increased should “every child be a wanted child” we should note that, rather than decreasing child abuse, abortion has had just the opposite effect upon our national psyche. According to figures from the National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), child abuse has dramatically increased since abortion as legalized.[23] In 1973, the year the Supreme Court legalized abortion, the agency reported 167,000 cases of child abuse. In 1983, it reported 929,000 cases. By 1991, the number of cases had soared to 2.5 million cases – with the numbers still going up today. And, of course, such figures do not even include the 36 million children killed by abortion – the ultimate form of child abuse. Reporting errors (whether in under or over reporting) have been statistically accommodated in the above sampling and seem an unlikely source for the increase.


I have mentioned some of the consequences that occur when these arguments are extended to others whom we acknowledge as persons. We have simply investigated the outworking of the fact that "No one has the right to choose to do what is wrong.” There is the concern of areteic ethics that asks what virtue is created by these actions. A culture that consistently dehumanizes a group will end up themselves inhumane.[24] Calvin said:

“...for the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”[25]

Calvin points out that once we are able to do the thing deemed more atrocious (kill the fetus)then the less monstrous becomes easier for us. (Matt. 6:23) Likewise, Jesus said that in the end days “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matt. 24:12) Moreover, the extension of care for the helpless and the weak is a virtue commended to us by Christ.[26] In so far as we do we show the kingdom of God on earth – a place where people are valued and objects are used.

7. Make a decision


It seems as though the only option I can find for a Christian to hold given my particular stance towards scripture, my understanding of immutable truths, moral accountability before God, and the human propensity toward the magnification of sin is to become an ardent pro-lifer. However, this stance cannot simply work itself out in standing in front of abortion facilities or calling legislators (though both would be effective). Instead, as Jesus entered deeply into the experience of sinful humanity (without sinning), so we must be willing to enter into the pain and anxiety of those women facing the prospect of single parenthood or the temptation to abort. This means re-ordering our own lives so that our physical and mental resources are made available to help those who are found at the end of their rope. If we believe that lives are at stake, then we must be willing to lead by example and show that the momentary material success achievable by aborting is a cheap bargain and – at best – a bait-and-switch tactic.
All of this we do in the hopes that Christ’s return will be soon and that we would have the privilege of announcing his kingdom through loving acts until such time. Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come! (Rev. 22:20)

Footnotes:

[1] My moral framework is deontological via divine command theory, yet resonant with aretaic ethics.

[2] I do not intend to address of the legal background of abortion in the American (or any other ) context here. Something can be immoral without it being illegal and vice versa.

[3] WCF I.2 (BoC 6.002).

[4] Genesis 1:27; Job 10:8-12; Ephesians 4:24.

[5] I Samuel 1:1-20

[6] Genesis 4:1; 20:18; 29:30-30:32.

[7] Psalm 127:3-5.

[8] Genesis 4:1;21:2; 29:33,34,35; 30:7; I Samuel 1:20; Matthew 1:20,21.

[9] Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4,5; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Job 31:15.

[10] Genesis 16:11,12; 25:23; Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:4,5; Galatians 1:15,16; Matthew 1:18-25.

[11] Genesis 25:22;I Peter 2:2; Luke 2:12; Acts 7:19; l Timothy 3:15; Luke 1:41,44; 18:15

[12] Unless otherwise noted, definitions are from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, (Springlfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2003). (Emphases added.)

[13] s.v. “abortion.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

[14] Jones and Schraeder, “The Process of Human Fertilization,” Fertility and Sterility, vol. 48, no. 2, Aug. 1987, p.
191.

[15] Unlike any cells around it, this cell, by multiplication, will produce every other kind of cell in the body.

[16] As I have promised to not deal with the issue of legality, the moral definition of murder is in view rather than the legal definition of murder.

[17] Genesis 16:11.

[18] As is the case with Isaac (Genesis 15:4; 18:10; 21:1ƒƒ), Samson (Judges 13:3ƒƒ), Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14); John the Baptizer (Luke 1:5ƒƒ, 11-17, 24); and Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15 / Galatians 4:4; Isaiah 7:14 / Matthew 1:18-25 / Luke 1:26-38; Genesis 21:12, 22:18 / Luke 3:23ƒ, Galatians 3:16 etc.).

[19] Genesis 9:5,6; Exodus 20:13; Ezekiel 20:31; Amos 1:13; Leviticus 18:21; Jeremiah 32:35; WLC, Q. 136 (BoC, 7.246).

[20] Proverbs 24:11,12; Psalm 10:17,18; Psalm 41:1; Matthew 18:10 (cf. BoC, 4.111; 5.114).

[21] I shall begin with the arguments posited in scholarly and popular forums of debate concerning the issue.

[22] A fact that has not been lost on the handicapped community.

[23] D.J. English. “The Importance of Understanding a Child’s Maltreatment Experience Sectionally and Longitudinally.” Child Abuse & Neglect, 27:2003, pp. 877-882.

[24] Stephen Ray, lecture on the Language of Sin and the Other (10/02/03).

[25] Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses, (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1950), 3:41,42.[26]
Most poignantly in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5.

20 comments:

Jim Jordan said...

Excellent post. It amazes me that people hold so fervently to arguments for abortion that are so easily defeated. It's a difficult issue but all pastors must be clear that it is a horrible wrong. Love can not be indifferent to or condone genocide. Great work.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Chris,

I would like to print thispost and share it with some non-blog reading friends. Would that be ok?

Chris said...

Ben,

I'll email you the print version. Better formatting, and I fixed a few typos.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Thank You very much Chris.

Aric Clark said...

Chris,

Nice post.

As you know, I essentially agree with your conclusions, though methodologically I think you get there via a few false routes. For example, you structure your argument with the "decision" made at the end, which obfuscates the fact that your decision was made before hand and shaped your consideration of the evidence. Indeed, as you reveal in your first paragraph the entire framework for making an ethical decision only comes into play AFTER you've determined by some other means that an ethical issue is at stake which you have a prior investment in.

None of this invalidates your arguments at all. Neither would I use it as a way to argue against you, I would only bring it up as a methodological consideration.

Bayou Christian said...

Chris,

If I knew you were going to respond I could have saved some time and energy!

nah I probably would have bloviated anyway.

Thanks for some great work.

Bill

Heather W. Reichgott said...

This is a really well-written post. I don't share Aric's objection--it seems clear that your project was to investigate more deeply why you believe what you believe, not to set out facts first and then make a decision second.

I wanted to add something else into the mix here. I'm pro-life--however, I don't think that criminalizing abortions will have any effect in stopping them. The best way to stop abortions is instead to stop unplanned pregnancies. So, lots of informative sex ed for everyone, free condoms, free birth control, plus continual work against the societal messages that say women exist to be sexually available to men, plus preventive education against date-rapes and other situations where it's hardest to use contraception. Empowering women to avoid unplanned pregnancies is the best way to stop abortions from happening.

Chris said...

Thanks, Heather. As always, you're lucid and clear. Let me conduct a small thought experiment with you to explore the relevance of your proposed solution.

What if someone said that they thought that discrimination against homosexuals was wrong? They argued that it is an offense not only against the person's dignity and humanity, but also an assault on God through violence to the imago dei. However, that person's plan was not to legislate against it.

Instead, they thought that it should be safe, legal and rare to discriminate against persons of non-heterosexual orientations. Their fervent hope was to reduce these incidences of discrimination by reducing the chances of someone discriminating by erecting walls that would keep potential discriminators away from non-heterosexual persons. At the same time, sensitive individuals were constantly telling everybody discrimination isn't so much "wrong" as it is a bad alternative to other ways of reacting and acting towards non-heterosexual persons.

Is that a good plan? I didn't think so either. That's why I'd never risk it when someone's life is on the line. I also think that we need to see more emphasis on reducing non-marital sexual encounters as this would produce a net benefit not only in reduced out-of-wedlock pregnancies but also in STDs and in the psychological ramifications of non-covenantal sex.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

Actually, that'd be great, regarding "safe, legal and rare" discrimination against homosexuals. I think that's actually what removing G-6.0106b would accomplish. It might even end up being like the situation we had for a long time (or do we still?) where churches who still can't handle having women elders and deacons can appeal for a waiver. Churches that don't want gay ministers, elders, or even members could apply for a waiver. Don't want a gay minister, you don't have to hire one. Wonderful. And then the antigay folk could have their all-straight churches, and the rest of us could get on with things. Meanwhile, presbyteries who really wanted to ordain gay candidates, or churches who couldn't fill a quorum unless they ordained gay elders, would be able to do their thing. That'd be fabulous.

Regarding "reducing non-marital sexual encounters": You know, I've been a youth leader, and my approach with kids is always, "abstinence is the best way to keep from getting a disease or getting pregnant." But not every kid is going to abide by that all the time. So in individual conversations I've had the condom talk with kids, and the birth-control talk, and probably every youth-group meeting SOMETHING came up that required the "how do you negotiate about play and boundaries in a responsible and loving way" kind of talk, whether sexual or not. I'd rather they not be having sex while they're still trying to figure out the basics of how to communicate with each other. But I can't make them, and so for the ones who do become sexually active, I've made sure they have the information they need to keep themselves safe and not create any NEW lives they're not yet equipped to care for.

Chris said...

Great! We'll start with the "rare" numbers at roughly the same for abortion. That'd put murderous discriminatory acts at only 1,370,000 per year. However, at that rate, I'm not sure what would happen after three years, though....

I'm not sure what your context is for "youth work" but I've been a youth director in a local church and served on committees of presbytery for that and campus ministry. When I taught on this subject, my responsibility under God was to tell them what the Scriptures make rather plain: only sex within the marital, covenantal, one-flesh relationship of one man and one woman is appropriate and pleasing to God. Anything else is sin.

Because it is sin, it will definitely break your fellowship with God. (However, that can be restored with repentance and trust in both the salvation and lordship of Christ.) Because it is sin, it will definitely break your relationship with yourself (either through disease or - more likely - distress and depression). Because it is sin, it will most likely break your relationships with others (including your collaborator, your family, and your church).

It's a shame that when kids come to the church and ask questions about sex, especially of the "what can I morally/physically get away with?" variety, we give them the same crap that the world does. That's why I was so thankful to see an honest and positive resource from PfR called Speaking a Mystery.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

Dear Chris, OK, so that's your teaching. What did you do when one of your kids came to you and said "I've recently become sexually active"? How do you make sure that you're not shaming your kids to the point that they can't come to you at all, BEFORE infection or abortion or something happens?

As interesting as it is to wander all over the landscape with you, I do want to get back to the point, which I think was "It is concluded that abortion is bad. Now how does one actually stop it in real situations?"

Chris said...

Heather,

None got ever came to me with that issue. They came to me concerned about others in their peer group and one with an older sister living a profligate life. We prayed about it, and I told them that being a friend doesn't mean sanctioning or enabling everything they do; it means telling the truth (even when it hurts) and deciding to be there for the person when things fall apart.

I do want to challenge one presupposition in your rebuttal. I'm a candidate to become a Minister of Word and Sacrament, not a Minister of Public Health or a Minister of Education. Those things touch on my calling, but they are not the church's primary function. You never sacrifice the primary function to do a secondary or tertiary one. Part of the reason the mainline churches shrank is because we were so concerned with being mainline and less concerned with being churches. I don't go to church to hear about the latest health improvement (though I thank God for parish nursing programs). I don't go to church to hear the latest on youth informational strategies (though I thank God that people are taught everything from ESL lessons to quilting at my church). I don't go to church to hear political commentary (though I'm glad to see how the Scriptures challenge the powers of government and culture - and me!).

I come to worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness and to hear the oracles of God from those who have been divinely set apart and lawfully called to be servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Aric Clark said...

Oooh! It's gotten interesting in here. I want in! I want in!

Chris,

Since I don't know your situation it's impossible to tell, but it may be that none ever came to speak to you about their issues directly because they knew the reaction they would get would be disapproving. This is a common problem I find with clergy - those most in need don't want to talk to them because they expect (and get) disapproval. As justified sinners I think we have a responsibility to always lead with grace. We come to an understanding of ourselves as sinners only by the gracious forgiveness of the risen lord.

This leads me to a problem I have with something I believe underlies many of your arguments (though you've never said so outright). I doubt you would phrase it this way, but it is often said that 'truth trumps love'. I think you would probably say something more like 'love is always truthful' or something - in terms of behavior it leads to a similar outcome. It results in this abrasive exterior that is, well, unloving. (I'm really not trying to be insulting here - acknowledging that I've never met you in my life).

What it comes down to for me is that the truth doesn't exist independently of love. Truth is the child of love and love isn't abstract, but concrete. You have to actually be in a loving relationship with a person to be able to tell the truth to them. In other words, it is not loving to approach someone you barely know or don't know at all (as I am doing now) and try to correct them, whether you are right or not. Love always precedes truth.

Nor am I advocating being dishonest about your views or just being nice to people in order to get them to like you before dropping a bomb on them. One has to be authentic for love to work in any case. One also cannot love on a pretext. If you're just being nice in order to get close enough to start fixing them, you're not really loving them. It means, horror of horrors, that we really have to like and love a person for who they are sins and all, just as Jesus does. If we do that we won't even have to start working on them like projects. Our love itself will encompass and transform us and them alike.

Doug Hagler said...

I'm definitely not surprised that your ethical methodology is entirely deontological. That makes a lot of sense. I would say that other methodologies might bring interesting insights (teleology, areteology) but I also have a feeling you won't like them.

Chris said...

Doug,

If you look again, you'll see that I am concerned with aretaic ethical investigation. That's why I mention rises in child abuse, etc on account of th love of many "waxing cold."

Is there a teleological critique you'd like to bring?

Doug Hagler said...

Chris: I noted that, but I honestly think it is an afterthought that doesn't figure strongly in your overall method as described (very responsibly I'd say) before you began. I'm not saying that's *bad* necessarily, so it probably wasn't worth mentioning. The important thing is that your method is transparent, which it is.

Just a few notes that stood out:

Of course this treatise is limited, since it is, as you said, binding only for someone who shares your exact commitments and preconceptions. For an audience lacking even a few of those, you have a much harder task ahead of you. (I say this with sympathy as someone who tackled this subject rigorously as well)

In number 6, when you talk about child abuse increasing after the legalization of abortion, you do not demonstrate a causal relationship. I can refer to your own arguments about global warming - a statistical correlation is not necessarily causal. So, these increased numbers could have been caused by any number of other factors, or perhaps simply by the increased rate of reporting such family/intimate crimes that has been the case for a few decades now. (I can't access the link - perhaps a case is made there? Either way, if there is a clear, demonstrable causal connection, it needs to be made clear for the argument to have any force)

In number 7, I think you approached what for me is a neglected issue on the pro-life side - the need for much greater commitment to new mothers facing the terrible decision of whether or not to abort. There is the characterization bandied about that liberals don't care about children in the womb, whereas conservatives don't care about them once they're out of it. I think this is a mis-characterization, but there is also some truth to it, in terms of each side having a myopic focus on only one instantaneous aspect of the problem.

Finally, from a scriptural point of view, what do you do with the many passages where God either kills children or commands that they be killed (in some cases, even eaten!)? For example: Exodus 12:29; Leviticus 26:22, 26:28; Numbers 21:35, 31:17-18; Deuteronomy 2:33-34, 20:16, 28:53; Joshua 8-10; Jeremiah 19:9; Ezekiel 5:8-10...there are lots of others. It seems that, taking the Bible as a primary source of objective facts leads one to conclude that God values the lives of Israelite children, but not of others for the most part. Certainly, God's universal concern for all children seems impossible to demonstrate based on Scriptural evidence alone - unless you're selective, of course, which begs the question - in an inerrant document, how does one select what is 'inerrant-er'?

As for whether I agree with your conclusions...my own moral argument is a lot longer, probably less clear, and significantly more secular. I agree with (what I take to be) the central moral claims of the pro-life and the pro-choice side and try to put them into a single moral imperative. If I ever post about it, you can decide if you like it or not, but its too much to add to your poor, already-abused comments page.

Chris said...

Doug,

We all carry presuppositions into our ethical work. I am up-front about mine being tied to the self-revelation of God in Scripture. Most of the presuppositions people have are also derived from the self-revelation of God (either in Scripture or in nature), even if they are not aware of that fact. Romans 1 and Psalm 8/19 clearly describe that all humans, by virtue of being created in the image of God, have knowledge of him sufficient to convict of sin. My job as a Christian ethicist is to tease out what's already there, sharpening it as best I can through the Scriptures and the book of the creation. I would argue that, rather than limiting the argument, it applies to everyone who would hold to two convictions: 1) killing an innocent human is wrong; and 2) logical consistency is required in ethical thought.

I agree with you that the aretaic component was less apparent. The constraints of the paper (this was initially a final section to a 20 page senior statement of faith for LPTS) demanded that I focus on the most compelling and clearly demonstrable arguments. Moreover, I think that projecting the values to be generated by a certain ethical stance is considerably harder than forecasting weather. I would never make it a main point in my argument because of its speculative and highly subjective nature. It does have a place in terms of persuading people already convinced of the right to act upon that knowledge. My views on abortion go much deeper than revulsion at murder, as does my response "in real life" and in pastoral practice. I'd love to see your take on this and suss out virtue theory therein.

To your critiques:

(6) As you look at the paragraph, please notice that I am not arguing that abortion is directly responsible for a rise in incidence or severity of child abuse. Rather, I was presenting evidence that the pro-abortion argument of making a more loving society through ensuring "all children are wanted children" was at best a false start. I showed that, as child abuse had not diminished but had increased since Roe v. Wade (and the article referenced in the footnotes attempts to statistically control for under/over reporting), there was no evidence that open access to abortion had decreased a usable measure of child-worth.

If there is another argument for a virtue created only by (or even "better by") unrestricted access to abortion, please point me to it.

(7) You asked me to deal with Biblical "passages where God either kills children or commands that they be killed." Few, if any, are happy that such a state of affairs came about in history. Nevertheless, I fail to see how it poses a problem for any segment of my argument. (If you see it, please point it out.) I don't see any of those passages used to support abortion, and I'm unaware of any divine revelation that certain women are receiving that say 'have a surgeon kill your baby.'

"[T]aking the Bible as a primary source of objective facts leads one to conclude that God values the lives of Israelite children, but not of others for the most part." That's why my argument goes all the way back to bearers of the imago dei rather than children of the covenant. The Noahide law bind all, and use that specific reason for punishing murder in courts of law. Moreover, Jesus showed his love for all children by healing Syro-Phonecian girls and Roman boys. Finally, my argument is informed by the Scriptures, but you could take them out and it would still stand (assuming the presuppositions of murder as wrong and logical consistency were left in the equation, unjustified as they are aside from the Judeo-Christian theistic set).

Doug Hagler said...

Ok, good responses. Brief...er, response-responses.

(6) True, but the critique still stands. You don't demonstrate a causal correlation either way. It could just easily be the case that having "every child be wanted" led to a more loving society, but this was coupled with an increasing incidence of reported family abuse cases in the last few decades. Essentially, its anecdotal either way.

(7) I was just pointing out a common problem in arguing that "God values human fetuses" that is based solely in Scripture. Its interesting that you turn to saying something like 'its too bad these things happened in history', when otherwise you argue consistently that scripture is so much more than a historical document. You'll recall, of course, that I do argue that we need to keep in mind that scripture is a historical (historically limited) document, and get referred to as an "enemy of God" for my trouble. There is also the issue that going back further in the record does not solve - that these things still happened, were reportedly commanded by God, etc. I think this causes a big problem for your argument.

I definitely agree that we need to interpret these things through the lens of the life and teaching of Jesus, I just point out that when I attempt this tack, picking one part of scripture over another as you are clearly doing, I've learned to expect a forthcoming attack in general. (I'm not singling you out here as an attacker)

Also, I don't see how you can argue that the belief that murder is wrong is only justifiable in a J-C theistic set. Maybe I don't understand what you're claiming here. It can be justified through purely logical/ethical/philosophical means (and has many, many times), as well as in other theisms, or in non-theistic religions like buddhism, which actually has a far more powerful anti-violence stance than christianity historically.

Doug Hagler said...

And yes, your argument might still stand without reference to scripture, but you'd have to argue much more strongly and rigorously for the murder aspect of it. You'd also have to argue much more strongly for the claim that a zygote or fetus is equivalent to an adult human being, or even a child. There are strong arguments in both cases that you'd at least have to address.

So I guess what I'm saying is that it would be a very different argument, overall.

Chris said...

Doug,

You say that the killing of the murderous Canaanites (who regularly sacrificed their children to Molech) poses a problem to the argument. Can you explain the nature of the problem? I'm sure you recognize that just stating your perception does not establish the case.