Life in the Marketplace of Ideas
Strengthen Families, Strengthen Society: An Interview with Jim Daly
I haven't seen research on how policy positions break down according to Protestant versus Catholic, or one denomination versus another, so I'm not in a strong position to speak with authority in that regard. Yet I'd guess that it's more a demographic issue. Although I don't have the exact data with me, I believe that about 65 percent of those over age 40 or 45 support traditional marriage, while 60-65 percent of those below 40 years of age support same-sex marriage.
There's probably some fatigue amongst evangelicals. I don't think people will run from scriptural truth. It's important for the church to stand on its principles. The world struggles with this. They expect the church to bend its moral truth in order to accommodate the culture. But one of the wonderful things of the Christian church over the centuries is that it's had a bedrock foundation of scriptural truth it has stood upon. At times the culture has supported it. At times the culture has gone against it. We may be at a moment where we're seeing a transition from support to opposition, but that shouldn't change what the church teaches.
Polling data tells us that more Americans now identify as pro-life than pro-choice. The younger generations in particular are more pro-life than the older. Are we reaching a tipping point on the abortion issue, where pro-lifers might be able to achieve some real substantive legal victories?
I do sense a change of heart in the culture. The weight of the moral question is rising to the surface, even within camps that have not traditionally supported a pro-life perspective. More and more people are rethinking their position on the abortion issue.
Fundamentally, now that we have more advanced technologies that can show us what life looks like inside the womb, people are coming to the conclusion that this is more than a blob of tissue. It's a child, very early in development. It's a baby sucking its thumb, a baby with ten fingers and toes, two eyes and ears. You can see the dimensions and all the amazing detail. Technology more than anything has confirmed that this really is a human, and people are concluding that this is not something a good culture should do.
Abortion is not new. It's not just contemporary to this culture. The idea of discarding an unwanted child through inducing labor or exposure—or throwing the baby in a river, which was the practice in Roman times—is not new. Christians in that era would find children in these exposed elements, bring them home and raise them as their own. This was one of the hallmarks of the early church.
So as we consider abortion, it's important to remember the heart. It's hard to rip the natural, God-given heart out of a human being. There's something there, when someone looks at that ultrasound image. It resonates. I think that's the God-factor. Even in our core being, even if we don't know God or have a relationship with him in a Christian context, there's something in our heart that says, this is not good to kill this baby.
Are events like the Kermit Gosnell case shaping public perception of abortion?
Absolutely. It's adding weight to the debate. We had quite the revelation there for about a two- or three-week period where the Gosnell situation was exposed. We had the Manhattan research that showed that 40 percent of pregnancies in Manhattan were ending in abortion. Then we had the sting operation by Lila Rose that showed the underage sex-trafficker talking about how to get abortions for girls, and the Planned Parenthood staff seemed to support that perspective in the video.
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.