Changing the culture by hospitality

My colleague Mark Mitchell argues that we should change our model of cultural engagement from that of warfare to that of hospitality:

In two recent pieces, I argued that 1) the language of “culture war” is not helpful and should be discarded, and 2) that to the extent that liberalism is rooted in a denial of limits, it is anti-culture, for culture is, at the very least, a set of established norms that include prohibitions as well as prescriptions. In short, to weaponize culture is to destroy culture, and to attempt to forge a culture that denies limits is incoherent conceptually and disastrous socially.

So where does that leave us? I want to suggest that we need rethink the meaning of cultural engagement. “Engaging” culture in the idiom of warfare has not produced much in the way of results. Yet at the same time, those who want to preserve historic norms regarding marriage, sexuality, and even life and death are understandably reticent to simply abandon the field to those who seek to undermine or destroy those norms.

To rethink the possibilities, we might find help in a most unlikely place: a late second century letter from an otherwise unknown author named Mathetes to an equally obscure recipient named Diognetus. The letter is an apologetic of sorts, a kind of primer on what set the new Christian sect apart from the pagan religions of the time as well as from Judaism. In a section dedicated to describing the manners of the Christians, Mathetes remarks that “they marry, as do all [others]; they beget children but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed.” If we unpack these lines, I think we can find a plausible alternative to the culture war, an alternative that Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other men and women of good will can employ as a means of engaging the culture creatively and winsomely.

The phrase I want to focus on is this: they have a common table, but not a common bed.” Of course, the author is describing the lifestyle of the early Christian community, who were known for sharing meals with each other. They were also known for the limits they recognized: they were exclusive sexually even as they were promiscuous in their hospitality.

The emphasis here is the practice of hospitality (with obvious limits), and I want to suggest that hospitality is a radical alternative to both the language and practice of culture wars.

In the ancient Greek world, as in some cultures today, hospitality is a central concern. To practice hospitality to strangers is considered a duty demanded by virtue. The author of the book of Hebrews goes even further when he writes: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” To practice hospitality is to open one’s home and thereby one’s concern to others. It is to shake off the narrow and narrowing confines of self-interest and attempt to love one’s neighbors, which, according to Christ, is the second great commandment after loving God.

When we share a common table, we necessarily cease, at least for a time, from contending against each other as our attention turns toward rejuvenating our physical bodies. We can lay aside differences as we join in one of the most basic of human activities. As we share food and drink, our common humanity is starkly revealed. Good food and good drink facilitate, nay almost demand, conversation, and conversing over a shared meal is a means by which differing ideas are mellowed by the common activity undertaken by all. Hospitality breeds friendship, and friends often disagree, but disagreements between friends are of an entirely different nature than disagreements between avowed enemies.

But hospitality is not merely the sharing of meals. Consider, for instance, how the seemingly intractable abortion debate changes when we consider it through the eyes of hospitality. Abortion is a striking instance of inhospitableness, for who could be more in need of hospitable care than an unborn child? A hospitable culture cares for the weakest and the most frail. A hospitable culture, in the context of abortion, is a culture of adoption. The abortion issue looks different when adoption is the obvious choice for a woman who is pregnant and unable to care for her child. What if churches, synagogues, mosques, and civic organizations made adoption a priority? What if laws were passed to make adoption simpler and less expensive? What if churches had funds to help pay for adoptions by families in their congregations who couldn’t afford the fees? What if, in addition to weekly attendance numbers and financial statements, church bulletins or bulletin boards featured the number of adoptions sponsored by the church? What if every pro-life family adopted a child in need of a home or financially helped another family do so? In what way would these acts of hospitality change the culture?

To be sure, abortions wouldn’t end. But people on both the left and the right—those who are ardently pro-life as well as those who are pro-choice—can agree that decreasing the number of abortions is a good thing and that fostering a culture of adoption is one way to accomplish this end. While hospitality will not solve every problem (neither will any policy, program, or party), a culture of hospitality will address a variety of issues—care for the infirm, the elderly, and the poor, for example—in creative ways that are simply overlooked or ignored by those who are focused primarily on public policy, court decisions, and protests. One solution looks primarily to the political arena for redress; the other, like the Good Samaritan, takes the wounded traveler and cares for him. Do you want to change the culture? Practice hospitality.

via The Culture of Hospitality | Front Porch Republic.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Booklover

    “One solution looks primarily to the political arena for redress; the other, like the Good Samaritan, takes the wounded traveler and cares for him. Do you want to change the culture? Practice hospitality.”

    I would agree, but I would also submit that this is precisely what the Catholic church has been doing for centuries with their chains of hospitals and adoption agencies and homes for unwed mothers and shelters for the poor. This idea may be new to new churches, but not to the Church that has been here from the beginning.

    I’m not even Catholic, but I can see that. Some other churches have also followed suit, but the idea is new to many new churches.

  • Booklover

    “One solution looks primarily to the political arena for redress; the other, like the Good Samaritan, takes the wounded traveler and cares for him. Do you want to change the culture? Practice hospitality.”

    I would agree, but I would also submit that this is precisely what the Catholic church has been doing for centuries with their chains of hospitals and adoption agencies and homes for unwed mothers and shelters for the poor. This idea may be new to new churches, but not to the Church that has been here from the beginning.

    I’m not even Catholic, but I can see that. Some other churches have also followed suit, but the idea is new to many new churches.

  • Dan Kempin

    What?

    You mean the way we live matters?

    The way we behave matters?

    The way we talk about and talk to each other (even on a blog) matters? Wow. I’m going to have to re-think everything.

    Sarcasm aside, this letter of Mathetes has a great turn of phrase and has been making the rounds on the Christian blog circuit, but I think there is a bit too much being read into it. This isn’t an argument against “culture war,” (though to be honest, I still don’t really know what that means), for they (the Christians referenced in the letter) were uncompromising in their presentation of the truth. Rather, I think it is an argument for the importance of Christian living. We cannot make an argument verbally (or carry on a culture war, if you prefer) if our own life contradicts what we are saying.

    This, I think, is a bigger crisis within the church than is the cultural decay outside of the church.

    And come on, Mark Mitchell! How can you say that Diognetus is obscure? Try googling him. Why, Mathetes and Diognetus are right up there with Paula and Eustochium.

  • Dan Kempin

    What?

    You mean the way we live matters?

    The way we behave matters?

    The way we talk about and talk to each other (even on a blog) matters? Wow. I’m going to have to re-think everything.

    Sarcasm aside, this letter of Mathetes has a great turn of phrase and has been making the rounds on the Christian blog circuit, but I think there is a bit too much being read into it. This isn’t an argument against “culture war,” (though to be honest, I still don’t really know what that means), for they (the Christians referenced in the letter) were uncompromising in their presentation of the truth. Rather, I think it is an argument for the importance of Christian living. We cannot make an argument verbally (or carry on a culture war, if you prefer) if our own life contradicts what we are saying.

    This, I think, is a bigger crisis within the church than is the cultural decay outside of the church.

    And come on, Mark Mitchell! How can you say that Diognetus is obscure? Try googling him. Why, Mathetes and Diognetus are right up there with Paula and Eustochium.

  • Jimmy Veith

    Thank you for that article. Even as an Obama supporting Democrat, I found that I agree with everything that was said.

    Maybe Christians should focus more on the immorality of abortion, rather than the legality of abortion. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy will not have an abortion if she thinks it is immoral, regardless of whether or not it is legal. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy who has no moral qualms about abortion, will likely have an abortion whether it is legal or not.

    By the way, I think that most women, regardless of their political persuasion, already have serious moral qualms about abortion under most circumstances. Most women consider it disrespectful to imply that they do not. It is the idea of criminalizing the decision making process that they resist.

    I know that most readers of this blog will continue to insist that abortion be made illegal. That is OK. That is what democracy is all about. But that is not the most important issue on whether or not a woman is going to have an abortion. I think that conservatives, of all people, should recognize that what holds society together in the first place is the moral conscience of the people, and the government is not capable or competent enough to be a substitute for that. Maybe all of us should focus more on nurturing a moral conscience in our culture.

  • Jimmy Veith

    Thank you for that article. Even as an Obama supporting Democrat, I found that I agree with everything that was said.

    Maybe Christians should focus more on the immorality of abortion, rather than the legality of abortion. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy will not have an abortion if she thinks it is immoral, regardless of whether or not it is legal. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy who has no moral qualms about abortion, will likely have an abortion whether it is legal or not.

    By the way, I think that most women, regardless of their political persuasion, already have serious moral qualms about abortion under most circumstances. Most women consider it disrespectful to imply that they do not. It is the idea of criminalizing the decision making process that they resist.

    I know that most readers of this blog will continue to insist that abortion be made illegal. That is OK. That is what democracy is all about. But that is not the most important issue on whether or not a woman is going to have an abortion. I think that conservatives, of all people, should recognize that what holds society together in the first place is the moral conscience of the people, and the government is not capable or competent enough to be a substitute for that. Maybe all of us should focus more on nurturing a moral conscience in our culture.

  • Mary

    I’m with Booklover at #1. There are multitudes of Christians and whole denominations that are doing precisely just that. We just don’t get as much media coverage. The whole “dog bites man”, and” if it bleeds it leads thing”.
    Pregnancy Care Centers are doing exactly what Jimmy Veith mentioned in #3. I worked in one for years and saw hundreds, probably thousands of lives changed because of kind words and hospitality.
    I don’t know about the rest of you, but my family was taught to give sacrificially to those in need, but “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”. There are times when someone will thank me for a kindness that my husband gave and I didn’t even know about it! I am sure that it is going on all around us with out our knowledge.
    Just need to keep on keeping on.

  • Mary

    I’m with Booklover at #1. There are multitudes of Christians and whole denominations that are doing precisely just that. We just don’t get as much media coverage. The whole “dog bites man”, and” if it bleeds it leads thing”.
    Pregnancy Care Centers are doing exactly what Jimmy Veith mentioned in #3. I worked in one for years and saw hundreds, probably thousands of lives changed because of kind words and hospitality.
    I don’t know about the rest of you, but my family was taught to give sacrificially to those in need, but “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”. There are times when someone will thank me for a kindness that my husband gave and I didn’t even know about it! I am sure that it is going on all around us with out our knowledge.
    Just need to keep on keeping on.

  • Richard

    James Davisson Hunter wrote a terrific book, “To Change the World,” which makes this basic point when he argues for “faithful presence” in our vocations as a way of impacting culture. It’s a powerful book–particularly in its indictment of the religious right in its Nietzschean will to power through politics.

  • Richard

    James Davisson Hunter wrote a terrific book, “To Change the World,” which makes this basic point when he argues for “faithful presence” in our vocations as a way of impacting culture. It’s a powerful book–particularly in its indictment of the religious right in its Nietzschean will to power through politics.

  • Tom Hering

    Hospitality might even work for the party of culture warriors. You know, welcoming the poor and minorities into the Republican coalition, crafting policies that help them in conservative ways, and communicating concern for them rather than continuing to demonize them. It’s a thought.

  • Tom Hering

    Hospitality might even work for the party of culture warriors. You know, welcoming the poor and minorities into the Republican coalition, crafting policies that help them in conservative ways, and communicating concern for them rather than continuing to demonize them. It’s a thought.

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    This approach will accomplish much more than the kind of ridiculous chest-thumping, angry, playing to the crowd kind of nonsense I see popping up from time to time on various Christian forums. In my own tradition, Lutheranism, I see angry denunciations of homosexuals and homosexuality with grandiose spleen-vents.

    To what end? For what purpose?

  • http://www.cyberbrethren.com Rev. Paul T. McCain

    This approach will accomplish much more than the kind of ridiculous chest-thumping, angry, playing to the crowd kind of nonsense I see popping up from time to time on various Christian forums. In my own tradition, Lutheranism, I see angry denunciations of homosexuals and homosexuality with grandiose spleen-vents.

    To what end? For what purpose?

  • Carl Vehse

    Publisher McCain @7: “This approach will accomplish much more than the kind of ridiculous chest-thumping, angry, playing to the crowd kind of nonsense I see popping up post from time to time on various Christian forums.”

    There. Fixed it. ;-)

  • Carl Vehse

    Publisher McCain @7: “This approach will accomplish much more than the kind of ridiculous chest-thumping, angry, playing to the crowd kind of nonsense I see popping up post from time to time on various Christian forums.”

    There. Fixed it. ;-)

  • MarkB

    Jimmy Vieth @3
    “Maybe Christians should focus more on the immorality of abortion, rather than the legality of abortion. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy will not have an abortion if she thinks it is immoral, regardless of whether or not it is legal. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy who has no moral qualms about abortion, will likely have an abortion whether it is legal or not.”

    One thing that is forgotten in the Christian right is that even if you outlaw abortion some people will still consider or have abortions even if they are illegal. There is no difference if God’s eye whether we sin by action, omission or thought. So the sin is still there even if the abortion does not occur. As Christians we need to, as one Lutheran for Life organization says “Saving lives for now and eternity.” We need to address this issue by using resources that are solely given to Christians, Law and Gospel. Many who are involved in abortions have had the Law of God sitting heavily on their shoulders for many years, they need to hear God’s Gospel that Jesus the Son of God was sent to live a perfect life to fulfill the Law, for us sinners. Jesus also went to the cross to pay for all of our sins, including the sin of abortion.

    As Jimmy Vieth says, “Maybe all of us should focus more on nurturing a moral conscience in our culture.” This I can agree with Jimmy whole heartedly. Thank you Jimmy for your insights.

  • MarkB

    Jimmy Vieth @3
    “Maybe Christians should focus more on the immorality of abortion, rather than the legality of abortion. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy will not have an abortion if she thinks it is immoral, regardless of whether or not it is legal. A woman with an unwanted pregnancy who has no moral qualms about abortion, will likely have an abortion whether it is legal or not.”

    One thing that is forgotten in the Christian right is that even if you outlaw abortion some people will still consider or have abortions even if they are illegal. There is no difference if God’s eye whether we sin by action, omission or thought. So the sin is still there even if the abortion does not occur. As Christians we need to, as one Lutheran for Life organization says “Saving lives for now and eternity.” We need to address this issue by using resources that are solely given to Christians, Law and Gospel. Many who are involved in abortions have had the Law of God sitting heavily on their shoulders for many years, they need to hear God’s Gospel that Jesus the Son of God was sent to live a perfect life to fulfill the Law, for us sinners. Jesus also went to the cross to pay for all of our sins, including the sin of abortion.

    As Jimmy Vieth says, “Maybe all of us should focus more on nurturing a moral conscience in our culture.” This I can agree with Jimmy whole heartedly. Thank you Jimmy for your insights.

  • Abby

    “Maybe all of us should focus more on nurturing a moral conscience in our culture.”

    Moralism and legalism are enemies of the cross (think of the Pharisees and Scribes). We need Law and Gospel. And the Gospel always trumps the Law. “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12, 13 (Romans, Galatians) That is the tradition I come from. There are already enough churches using a “moralistic therapeutic deism” approach in this country. They either become proud in their works like Pharisees or go down in despair because they know they can’t bring themselves before God and make it by their own personal holiness.

    The true Church should just keep doing what it is doing. The true message of Jesus will always be rejected until He returns.

    Do you realize it was the Church and the State that killed Jesus?

  • Abby

    “Maybe all of us should focus more on nurturing a moral conscience in our culture.”

    Moralism and legalism are enemies of the cross (think of the Pharisees and Scribes). We need Law and Gospel. And the Gospel always trumps the Law. “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12, 13 (Romans, Galatians) That is the tradition I come from. There are already enough churches using a “moralistic therapeutic deism” approach in this country. They either become proud in their works like Pharisees or go down in despair because they know they can’t bring themselves before God and make it by their own personal holiness.

    The true Church should just keep doing what it is doing. The true message of Jesus will always be rejected until He returns.

    Do you realize it was the Church and the State that killed Jesus?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I believe in hospitality, not because it changes people, but because Christ commands it whether or not it changes people.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I believe in hospitality, not because it changes people, but because Christ commands it whether or not it changes people.

  • Abby

    Here are some thoughts about how we are going to “sustain freedom” in this country (which includes a discussion of “ordering morality”):

    http://www.socratesinthecity.com/ video (41 min) “A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future” by OS Guinness

  • Abby

    Here are some thoughts about how we are going to “sustain freedom” in this country (which includes a discussion of “ordering morality”):

    http://www.socratesinthecity.com/ video (41 min) “A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future” by OS Guinness

  • Abby

    @11 Yes, that is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. There is enough to keep us busy!

  • Abby

    @11 Yes, that is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. There is enough to keep us busy!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Good point, J.

    Giving and blessing and enjoying hospitality as alternative to coersion. “…honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”

    Sounds a lot more fun than fighting to me!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Good point, J.

    Giving and blessing and enjoying hospitality as alternative to coersion. “…honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”

    Sounds a lot more fun than fighting to me!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article:

    One solution looks primarily to the political arena for redress; the other, like the Good Samaritan, takes the wounded traveler and cares for him.

    There is some irony here. Christian right-wingers have vociferously decried attempts by the government to solve social ills, saying that such projects are doomed to failure. And yet, as noted in this quote, many of those same people then try to solve our social ills … by trying to gain power in or use the force of government. But, you know, in a “conservative” way. Ahem.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    From the article:

    One solution looks primarily to the political arena for redress; the other, like the Good Samaritan, takes the wounded traveler and cares for him.

    There is some irony here. Christian right-wingers have vociferously decried attempts by the government to solve social ills, saying that such projects are doomed to failure. And yet, as noted in this quote, many of those same people then try to solve our social ills … by trying to gain power in or use the force of government. But, you know, in a “conservative” way. Ahem.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Still, even among those who aren’t ardent Culture Warriors, things are in a sad state. When I read about the church in the New Testament, I simply don’t see a lot that reminds me of our churches today.

    As noted in the article, the early church had “a common table”. And we have light snacks after church and a potluck every now and then, at which we generally only feed a fraction of the church members, and even then they are expected to contribute. Kind of pales in comparison to the picture painted in Acts, doesn’t it?

    And, while there are Christians today who are very passionate about adoption and clearly doing something about it, can we deny that the average Christian, like the average non-Christian, still sees children today as something to fear, as a burden? Is it perhaps easier to adopt children when the prevailing cultural assumption is that they will take care of you when you were older, as opposed to today’s prevailing assumption that you will have to pony up huge chunks of cash for them around the time you are wanting to retire?

    In short, do we really have a community in our churches these days? Or has the love of many grown cold?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Still, even among those who aren’t ardent Culture Warriors, things are in a sad state. When I read about the church in the New Testament, I simply don’t see a lot that reminds me of our churches today.

    As noted in the article, the early church had “a common table”. And we have light snacks after church and a potluck every now and then, at which we generally only feed a fraction of the church members, and even then they are expected to contribute. Kind of pales in comparison to the picture painted in Acts, doesn’t it?

    And, while there are Christians today who are very passionate about adoption and clearly doing something about it, can we deny that the average Christian, like the average non-Christian, still sees children today as something to fear, as a burden? Is it perhaps easier to adopt children when the prevailing cultural assumption is that they will take care of you when you were older, as opposed to today’s prevailing assumption that you will have to pony up huge chunks of cash for them around the time you are wanting to retire?

    In short, do we really have a community in our churches these days? Or has the love of many grown cold?

  • Abby

    I believe the LCMS is branded as “conservative.” Here is what we are talking about: http://www.lcms.org/wmlt

    “In short, do we really have a community in our churches these days? Or has the love of many grown cold?” Yes.

  • Abby

    I believe the LCMS is branded as “conservative.” Here is what we are talking about: http://www.lcms.org/wmlt

    “In short, do we really have a community in our churches these days? Or has the love of many grown cold?” Yes.

  • fjsteve

    To me, this article presents a straw man and then tries to knock it down with unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. Oh, people are going to stop having abortions because adoption is easier? Please! Most people who’ve already accepted abortion as a viable option aren’t going to want to endure the nine months of inconvenience of pregnancy unless there is something limiting their access to abortion. That’s as easy for me to see as the fact that the politician who promises the most chickens will win.

    Sorry, this is a complex social problem with no easy answers. To be sure, we would all benefit from more charity in our culture but lets be real.

  • fjsteve

    To me, this article presents a straw man and then tries to knock it down with unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky rhetoric. Oh, people are going to stop having abortions because adoption is easier? Please! Most people who’ve already accepted abortion as a viable option aren’t going to want to endure the nine months of inconvenience of pregnancy unless there is something limiting their access to abortion. That’s as easy for me to see as the fact that the politician who promises the most chickens will win.

    Sorry, this is a complex social problem with no easy answers. To be sure, we would all benefit from more charity in our culture but lets be real.

  • kerner

    I find myself agreeing With Jimmy Veith and Michael B. Christians should place more emphasis on the moral pvroblems with abortion. That doesn’t mean they should abandon making it illegal, but the first is a prerequisite for the second.

    Consider the decline in tobacco smoking. Its detractors have not suggested an outright ban…yet. They have first focused on making smoking socially unacceptable. Over time, people have stopped defending smoking, and even the people who smoke believe they shouldn’t be doing it. Then, rather than go for an outright ban, they have gradually taxed tobacco and restricted the places it can be smoked, thus reducing it use further.

    I had a law professor who claimed that criminal law was basically moral law. Crimes are not simply acts of bad jugdment in the eyes of society. The criminal code are a list of activities society considers so objectively wrong that nobody should engage in them, or be punished for doing them.

    What my professor was driving at was that you can’t get a society to obey a criminal law unless the great majority believe that the prohibited behavior is morally wrong. Trying to outlaw something before that point only results in widespread law breaking. Now, not all immoral behavior should necessarily be made criminal. But no behavior that is not widely regarded as immoral should be made criminal, because people will balk at being told not to do something unless it is wrong.

    Therefore, Christians do indeed need to get people to understand the immoral nature of abortion. People need to be ashamed of doing it. Only then will legal restrictions be possible.

    So, Jimmy and Michael, any thoughts on ways that Christians could go about doing that? I think shame and revultion was the goal of all those contrasting pictures of living thriving vs. mutilated and dead fetuses that people hold up outside clinics. But perhaps you have something else in mind.

  • kerner

    I find myself agreeing With Jimmy Veith and Michael B. Christians should place more emphasis on the moral pvroblems with abortion. That doesn’t mean they should abandon making it illegal, but the first is a prerequisite for the second.

    Consider the decline in tobacco smoking. Its detractors have not suggested an outright ban…yet. They have first focused on making smoking socially unacceptable. Over time, people have stopped defending smoking, and even the people who smoke believe they shouldn’t be doing it. Then, rather than go for an outright ban, they have gradually taxed tobacco and restricted the places it can be smoked, thus reducing it use further.

    I had a law professor who claimed that criminal law was basically moral law. Crimes are not simply acts of bad jugdment in the eyes of society. The criminal code are a list of activities society considers so objectively wrong that nobody should engage in them, or be punished for doing them.

    What my professor was driving at was that you can’t get a society to obey a criminal law unless the great majority believe that the prohibited behavior is morally wrong. Trying to outlaw something before that point only results in widespread law breaking. Now, not all immoral behavior should necessarily be made criminal. But no behavior that is not widely regarded as immoral should be made criminal, because people will balk at being told not to do something unless it is wrong.

    Therefore, Christians do indeed need to get people to understand the immoral nature of abortion. People need to be ashamed of doing it. Only then will legal restrictions be possible.

    So, Jimmy and Michael, any thoughts on ways that Christians could go about doing that? I think shame and revultion was the goal of all those contrasting pictures of living thriving vs. mutilated and dead fetuses that people hold up outside clinics. But perhaps you have something else in mind.

  • fjsteve

    So let’s tax abortion! That will go over like a brick.

  • fjsteve

    So let’s tax abortion! That will go over like a brick.

  • kerner

    fjsteve:

    Sure, but a lot of states HAVE been imposing regulations that have driven up costs. But the regulations are also geared toward moral education (listen to the baby’s heartbeat, view an ultrasound, receive education on fetal development…stuff like that). Of course, now that Obamacare is supposed to pay for abortions, increasing costs may not be as helpful.

    But the first step is for people to understand how wrong it is to be doing it in he first place. People are less likely to do something they are ashamed of.

  • kerner

    fjsteve:

    Sure, but a lot of states HAVE been imposing regulations that have driven up costs. But the regulations are also geared toward moral education (listen to the baby’s heartbeat, view an ultrasound, receive education on fetal development…stuff like that). Of course, now that Obamacare is supposed to pay for abortions, increasing costs may not be as helpful.

    But the first step is for people to understand how wrong it is to be doing it in he first place. People are less likely to do something they are ashamed of.

  • Stephen

    Kerner @ 19

    As to your last paragraph, I think a very good (and massive) advertising campaign might do it, one that made a convincing moral argument WITHOUT invoking God. Or at least it could bring the numbers down like you say in that it could make abortion socially unacceptable. I think it could be done using a completely rational argument sans any religious language. And in fact, I think it would be better without such invocations. As tODD noted on another thread, the problem is perception.

    I doubt it will ever be illegal, and I’m still not convinced it should be outright banned. But it is possible to change perceptions about what is moral based solely on humanistic values we all share. The language needs to move away from “rights” and toward defining what that group of cells is once joined in conception.

    A long time ago I was at dinner with a guy who worked on Madison Avenue in advertising. He said something to me that was startling. It was one of those moments where you learn something that you already knew instinctively. He told me that advertising is about “creating value.” It caught me because rather than thinking about value in purely monetary terms I immediately thought of ethics. Values can be “created,” it seems to me, in the sense that they already exist and only need to be identified and “sold.” That’s the perception thing advertising does so well.

    So, what is needed is a campaign to make abortion truly rare that identifies the blastocyst as fully human on terms we can all agree on. That message has not been done well. I suggest arguments be based on reason and science only and not religion. Hard facts and not faith. They would go something like this – all the DNA is there and that being will not develop into anything else but a human person. What’s needed is food and shelter. Denying these things to any other helpless human being is obviously immoral. We (all) know that. Jimmy hints at this too when he says that women do not take abortion as lightly as is claimed. But they may be convinced by other arguments. We argue about the best way to care for those who cannot care for themselves – poor, disabled, homeless, elderly, etc. But few disagree that we shouldn’t make some kind of attempt to do so, whether it’s the government, churches or individuals starting foundations or being charitable of their own volition.

    I would amend what Jimmy says in just that way – take the god-language out and start arguing (cleverly) for human rights. It’s about the conscience, and there would be nothing un-Christian about aguing in just that way.

  • Stephen

    Kerner @ 19

    As to your last paragraph, I think a very good (and massive) advertising campaign might do it, one that made a convincing moral argument WITHOUT invoking God. Or at least it could bring the numbers down like you say in that it could make abortion socially unacceptable. I think it could be done using a completely rational argument sans any religious language. And in fact, I think it would be better without such invocations. As tODD noted on another thread, the problem is perception.

    I doubt it will ever be illegal, and I’m still not convinced it should be outright banned. But it is possible to change perceptions about what is moral based solely on humanistic values we all share. The language needs to move away from “rights” and toward defining what that group of cells is once joined in conception.

    A long time ago I was at dinner with a guy who worked on Madison Avenue in advertising. He said something to me that was startling. It was one of those moments where you learn something that you already knew instinctively. He told me that advertising is about “creating value.” It caught me because rather than thinking about value in purely monetary terms I immediately thought of ethics. Values can be “created,” it seems to me, in the sense that they already exist and only need to be identified and “sold.” That’s the perception thing advertising does so well.

    So, what is needed is a campaign to make abortion truly rare that identifies the blastocyst as fully human on terms we can all agree on. That message has not been done well. I suggest arguments be based on reason and science only and not religion. Hard facts and not faith. They would go something like this – all the DNA is there and that being will not develop into anything else but a human person. What’s needed is food and shelter. Denying these things to any other helpless human being is obviously immoral. We (all) know that. Jimmy hints at this too when he says that women do not take abortion as lightly as is claimed. But they may be convinced by other arguments. We argue about the best way to care for those who cannot care for themselves – poor, disabled, homeless, elderly, etc. But few disagree that we shouldn’t make some kind of attempt to do so, whether it’s the government, churches or individuals starting foundations or being charitable of their own volition.

    I would amend what Jimmy says in just that way – take the god-language out and start arguing (cleverly) for human rights. It’s about the conscience, and there would be nothing un-Christian about aguing in just that way.

  • Abby

    @22 “. . . advertising is about “creating value.” It caught me because rather than thinking about value in purely monetary terms I immediately thought of ethics. Values can be “created,” it seems to me, in the sense that they already exist and only need to be identified and “sold.” That’s the perception thing advertising does so well.” . . . Someone look for the ad agency.

  • Abby

    @22 “. . . advertising is about “creating value.” It caught me because rather than thinking about value in purely monetary terms I immediately thought of ethics. Values can be “created,” it seems to me, in the sense that they already exist and only need to be identified and “sold.” That’s the perception thing advertising does so well.” . . . Someone look for the ad agency.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    I hope you take what I say at least a little bit seriously. It is something I’ve thought about a lot. I think the pictures of aborted children is the right strategy but maybe the wrong tactic. Though it may change a few minds at times, for something to have a greater appeal it would have to be cast in more positive terms like, i.e. “first off these are kids, and kids are great, and here’s why, here’s how it is done, here’s what you can do to be successful at it.” Shame can work, but it can also be very off-putting. Thinking about it another way, imagine instead being able to convince a culture that having a child, whatever the situation of the mother, is actually the best, most positive and desirable option. What would that involve?

    I think abortion on demand is a reflection of values that are (currently) in ascendence. That could change.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    I hope you take what I say at least a little bit seriously. It is something I’ve thought about a lot. I think the pictures of aborted children is the right strategy but maybe the wrong tactic. Though it may change a few minds at times, for something to have a greater appeal it would have to be cast in more positive terms like, i.e. “first off these are kids, and kids are great, and here’s why, here’s how it is done, here’s what you can do to be successful at it.” Shame can work, but it can also be very off-putting. Thinking about it another way, imagine instead being able to convince a culture that having a child, whatever the situation of the mother, is actually the best, most positive and desirable option. What would that involve?

    I think abortion on demand is a reflection of values that are (currently) in ascendence. That could change.

  • John C

    If preventing an unplanned pregnancy is more acceptable than having an abortion, then shouldn’t there be easier access to contraceptive information?

  • John C

    If preventing an unplanned pregnancy is more acceptable than having an abortion, then shouldn’t there be easier access to contraceptive information?

  • Abby

    Stephen @24: I take you most seriously! I meant it when I said, find the agency. I am most pro-life. Abortion makes me ill. I used to work in computer graphics as well as coordinated all print and mailing of our fundraising materials. I used to be in “advertising” too.

    A problem I see though is the conscience. Everyone has one. If it is working it would automatically prode one to be guilty over making the choice to abort. Or at least to wonder. (A really beautiful movie on this is “Bella.”) Now if the choice is to override the conscience, then the conscience weakens. God’s law is written in all of us. I cannot believe that when women choose to abort that they are not aware of some guilt over doing it. Women are choosing this and overriding their consciences. So, I’m not sure that hitting them with an ad campaign will have much effect. However, if it saves some little lives it would be worth everything. I’m sorry if I led you to think I was against your idea. I definately was not. I would love to see abortion outlawed. Period. Even if women try to continue to get them illegally.

    My sister-in-law had an abortion. I pleaded with her to let me take the baby and raise it. She said, no. (However, at the time I didn’t see consequences that would come down the road.) Her mother also had 2 abortions. Which has plagued her to this day, and she is 90 years old.

  • Abby

    Stephen @24: I take you most seriously! I meant it when I said, find the agency. I am most pro-life. Abortion makes me ill. I used to work in computer graphics as well as coordinated all print and mailing of our fundraising materials. I used to be in “advertising” too.

    A problem I see though is the conscience. Everyone has one. If it is working it would automatically prode one to be guilty over making the choice to abort. Or at least to wonder. (A really beautiful movie on this is “Bella.”) Now if the choice is to override the conscience, then the conscience weakens. God’s law is written in all of us. I cannot believe that when women choose to abort that they are not aware of some guilt over doing it. Women are choosing this and overriding their consciences. So, I’m not sure that hitting them with an ad campaign will have much effect. However, if it saves some little lives it would be worth everything. I’m sorry if I led you to think I was against your idea. I definately was not. I would love to see abortion outlawed. Period. Even if women try to continue to get them illegally.

    My sister-in-law had an abortion. I pleaded with her to let me take the baby and raise it. She said, no. (However, at the time I didn’t see consequences that would come down the road.) Her mother also had 2 abortions. Which has plagued her to this day, and she is 90 years old.

  • Stephen

    Thanks Abby. That’s awful about your sister-in-law. The law always accuses. If we could do the law written in our minds every time, then we would not need the mercy of God. I too believe that deep down, everyone knows it is wrong. So the task is to trouble the conscience on the one hand AND promote the virtue/value of children and parenting. I think an ad campaign, coupled with a concerted effort by people of good will, Christian or not, to help and support women and families, could be successful at doing both.

    But perhaps (oddly enough) because of my own experience as a parent, I’m on the fence about making it illegal. It has to do with who and how such decisions are made. We’ve got the “safe, legal” but not the “rare” part. It’s kind of like O.J. vowing to find Nicole’s real killer. Yeah right.

    I agree with the others who say that a focus on the immorality of it is the place to rally the troops. And the way to get there is by changing the perception of that unborn child as being human and nothing less. And beyond that, what are we doing to make the world ready to receive them? Not that we can create some perfect situation, but I would imagine (and it has been expressed to me) that many women in the position who are considering abortion see the world as already hostile to them. Sometimes it is because they have been treated badly by men. How do you change that?

    And how do you make kids and parenting really, really popular? I like the commercials I have seen sometimes late at night that offer to help women who are afraid with adoption options. I wonder if they work very well.

  • Stephen

    Thanks Abby. That’s awful about your sister-in-law. The law always accuses. If we could do the law written in our minds every time, then we would not need the mercy of God. I too believe that deep down, everyone knows it is wrong. So the task is to trouble the conscience on the one hand AND promote the virtue/value of children and parenting. I think an ad campaign, coupled with a concerted effort by people of good will, Christian or not, to help and support women and families, could be successful at doing both.

    But perhaps (oddly enough) because of my own experience as a parent, I’m on the fence about making it illegal. It has to do with who and how such decisions are made. We’ve got the “safe, legal” but not the “rare” part. It’s kind of like O.J. vowing to find Nicole’s real killer. Yeah right.

    I agree with the others who say that a focus on the immorality of it is the place to rally the troops. And the way to get there is by changing the perception of that unborn child as being human and nothing less. And beyond that, what are we doing to make the world ready to receive them? Not that we can create some perfect situation, but I would imagine (and it has been expressed to me) that many women in the position who are considering abortion see the world as already hostile to them. Sometimes it is because they have been treated badly by men. How do you change that?

    And how do you make kids and parenting really, really popular? I like the commercials I have seen sometimes late at night that offer to help women who are afraid with adoption options. I wonder if they work very well.

  • Abby

    “I agree with the others who say that a focus on the immorality of it is the place to rally the troops. And the way to get there is by changing the perception of that unborn child as being human and nothing less. . .”

    I believe I’ve heard enough tidbits along the way to prove that even science can document that life begins at conception. I wish all the data could be brought together — and that could definately be used in the ad campaign! Let science prove it is a baby.

    As far as letting it remain to be legal — then we are still letting everyone — Drs, nurses, the mom, the dad — all be murderers. It is a very wide and deep net.

  • Abby

    “I agree with the others who say that a focus on the immorality of it is the place to rally the troops. And the way to get there is by changing the perception of that unborn child as being human and nothing less. . .”

    I believe I’ve heard enough tidbits along the way to prove that even science can document that life begins at conception. I wish all the data could be brought together — and that could definately be used in the ad campaign! Let science prove it is a baby.

    As far as letting it remain to be legal — then we are still letting everyone — Drs, nurses, the mom, the dad — all be murderers. It is a very wide and deep net.

  • kerner

    Stephen:

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that, in this case, secular science is on our side. Everything we have learned in the last 50 years about biology, genetics and gynocology supports the conclusion that the fertilized egg is an independent, although totally helpless, human life and not an appendage of the mother’s body. These facts can be support very compelling arguments that abortion is the taking of a human life, pure and simple, and thus morally wrong.

    But compelling though such arguments may be, they still won’t convince everyone. Similar arguments did not convince slave owners that, since “All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights”, then it is immoral to buy and sell black people like property. Self interest always gets in the way.

    But I am also very interested in what our other liberal colleagues, Michael and Jimmy, are going to do in response to our mutual conclusion that abortion should be condemned as immoral. Once a subject has been confined to the catagory of personal morality, for a lot of folks it becomes a private matter that nice people don’t talk about. Certainly such things don’t seem very important to our culture in this day and age. I wonder a little bit if this is just a way for liberals to get us all to just stop talking about abortion altogether. If that is where this is going to take us, than I have to be against it because we can’t let this issue just drop. Not if we really believe that people are dying every day because of abortion.

  • kerner

    Stephen:

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that, in this case, secular science is on our side. Everything we have learned in the last 50 years about biology, genetics and gynocology supports the conclusion that the fertilized egg is an independent, although totally helpless, human life and not an appendage of the mother’s body. These facts can be support very compelling arguments that abortion is the taking of a human life, pure and simple, and thus morally wrong.

    But compelling though such arguments may be, they still won’t convince everyone. Similar arguments did not convince slave owners that, since “All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights”, then it is immoral to buy and sell black people like property. Self interest always gets in the way.

    But I am also very interested in what our other liberal colleagues, Michael and Jimmy, are going to do in response to our mutual conclusion that abortion should be condemned as immoral. Once a subject has been confined to the catagory of personal morality, for a lot of folks it becomes a private matter that nice people don’t talk about. Certainly such things don’t seem very important to our culture in this day and age. I wonder a little bit if this is just a way for liberals to get us all to just stop talking about abortion altogether. If that is where this is going to take us, than I have to be against it because we can’t let this issue just drop. Not if we really believe that people are dying every day because of abortion.

  • Abby

    Stephen and Kerner: This video is excellent –

    This is an amazing video on life from conception to birth using the newest x-ray scanning technology, which won these guys the Nobel Peace Prize.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=fKyljukBE70

  • Abby

    Stephen and Kerner: This video is excellent –

    This is an amazing video on life from conception to birth using the newest x-ray scanning technology, which won these guys the Nobel Peace Prize.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=fKyljukBE70

  • Abby

    That video should be viewed in every confirmation class!

  • Abby

    That video should be viewed in every confirmation class!

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    The issue I am concerned with in terms of legality is the sovereignty of the family. One could argue that because it is legal abortion is actually being promoted, not just by feminists, but by our own government. I’m not completely deaf to that argument. But if there are ANY legitimate reasons to abort a child (are there? Maybe. And who decides what those are? A judge?) how can such things be policed? Having been in the room with the doctor and my wife anticipating whether or not “everything is okay” for both mother and child leads me to pull back from saying it should be illegal (and mind you I’m not talking about Down’s Syndrome or something like that and opting out of raising such a child). But if it becomes more difficult to obtain – say one has to go to court perhaps – is that a solution, or does it endanger women? I really don’t know. That’s sort of how the argument goes. Is it self-interest to want my wife to survive a pregnancy so that she can not only care for the child in her womb but those she already has? Perhaps. What I do know is that I think absolutely no one else should be in that room other than myself, my wife and our doctor.

    So that leaves the morality of it as a place to gain ground it seems to me.

    And Kerner -

    Eventually, the argument that slaves were humans was persuasive. And yes, self interest does get in the way, but maybe it doesn’t have to. Can an argument be made that it is in a woman’s/family’s self-interest to have children rather than abort them? I think so. It’s less healthy physically and psychologically. That has been shown. With this kind of information presented in a persuasive way, along with the other things we know about DNA and such, what it would take is a very clever ad campaign designed to be both forceful and gentle, one that recasts things in terms of a woman’s self-interest and the higher moral ground. And I don’t think those two things are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    And I think it is inaccurate to say liberals are not concerned about morality and doing the right thing. For all of us, some values trump others. Sometimes that is very clear cut and sometimes not so much. Outrage over drone strikes that kill US citizens, sloppy security at our embassy in Libya, or outrage over 4 million children in poverty in this country and record low taxes paid by the few hundred super rich who possess over half our country’s wealth, screwed the economy for everyone else (in the world!) and control our political system. I think most people pick and choose the moral high ground they want to stake their claim on based on a number of things. And just so you know, if it’s any consolation, all of the above bothers me, including how to change the perception of abortion. It seems to me that such things are best done in this country through marketing.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    The issue I am concerned with in terms of legality is the sovereignty of the family. One could argue that because it is legal abortion is actually being promoted, not just by feminists, but by our own government. I’m not completely deaf to that argument. But if there are ANY legitimate reasons to abort a child (are there? Maybe. And who decides what those are? A judge?) how can such things be policed? Having been in the room with the doctor and my wife anticipating whether or not “everything is okay” for both mother and child leads me to pull back from saying it should be illegal (and mind you I’m not talking about Down’s Syndrome or something like that and opting out of raising such a child). But if it becomes more difficult to obtain – say one has to go to court perhaps – is that a solution, or does it endanger women? I really don’t know. That’s sort of how the argument goes. Is it self-interest to want my wife to survive a pregnancy so that she can not only care for the child in her womb but those she already has? Perhaps. What I do know is that I think absolutely no one else should be in that room other than myself, my wife and our doctor.

    So that leaves the morality of it as a place to gain ground it seems to me.

    And Kerner -

    Eventually, the argument that slaves were humans was persuasive. And yes, self interest does get in the way, but maybe it doesn’t have to. Can an argument be made that it is in a woman’s/family’s self-interest to have children rather than abort them? I think so. It’s less healthy physically and psychologically. That has been shown. With this kind of information presented in a persuasive way, along with the other things we know about DNA and such, what it would take is a very clever ad campaign designed to be both forceful and gentle, one that recasts things in terms of a woman’s self-interest and the higher moral ground. And I don’t think those two things are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    And I think it is inaccurate to say liberals are not concerned about morality and doing the right thing. For all of us, some values trump others. Sometimes that is very clear cut and sometimes not so much. Outrage over drone strikes that kill US citizens, sloppy security at our embassy in Libya, or outrage over 4 million children in poverty in this country and record low taxes paid by the few hundred super rich who possess over half our country’s wealth, screwed the economy for everyone else (in the world!) and control our political system. I think most people pick and choose the moral high ground they want to stake their claim on based on a number of things. And just so you know, if it’s any consolation, all of the above bothers me, including how to change the perception of abortion. It seems to me that such things are best done in this country through marketing.

  • Abby

    The video link above seems to be not working. I believe this one will work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70

  • Abby

    The video link above seems to be not working. I believe this one will work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKyljukBE70

  • Abby

    Stephen @32: Life is so complicated. I thank God everyday for Grace and Mercy through Jesus. He remembers that we are dust. And He had to fix the problem for us. Otherwise we’d be toast.

  • Abby

    Stephen @32: Life is so complicated. I thank God everyday for Grace and Mercy through Jesus. He remembers that we are dust. And He had to fix the problem for us. Otherwise we’d be toast.

  • Stephen

    Yes Abby, life is complicated, fragile, strange. I have more questions than answers.

    I just read this:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/abortion-debate-flares-in-ireland-over-death-of-critically-ill-woman-denied-quick-termination/2012/11/14/4b53b4d4-2e52-11e2-b631-2aad9d9c73ac_story.html

    This bothers me and I don’t have an answer.

  • Stephen

    Yes Abby, life is complicated, fragile, strange. I have more questions than answers.

    I just read this:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/abortion-debate-flares-in-ireland-over-death-of-critically-ill-woman-denied-quick-termination/2012/11/14/4b53b4d4-2e52-11e2-b631-2aad9d9c73ac_story.html

    This bothers me and I don’t have an answer.

  • Abby

    “I have more questions than answers.”

    I, too. I annoy my pastor regularly with unanswerable questions.

  • Abby

    “I have more questions than answers.”

    I, too. I annoy my pastor regularly with unanswerable questions.

  • Abby

    I read the article too. But even the Drs wouldn’t be able to predict all of the outcomes. I don’t think there is an answer in that case. It is Nature taking its course it seems. Would the woman have lived if the baby would have been taken? The blood poisoning may have already been irreversible. The article leaves a lot more questions.

  • Abby

    I read the article too. But even the Drs wouldn’t be able to predict all of the outcomes. I don’t think there is an answer in that case. It is Nature taking its course it seems. Would the woman have lived if the baby would have been taken? The blood poisoning may have already been irreversible. The article leaves a lot more questions.

  • Stephen

    ” I annoy my pastor regularly with unanswerable questions.”

    I was notorious for doing this in Confirmation class. :)

  • Stephen

    ” I annoy my pastor regularly with unanswerable questions.”

    I was notorious for doing this in Confirmation class. :)

  • Abby
  • Abby
  • Stephen

    Abby,

    Thanks for the article. As the father of a girl, I am not opposed to parental consent laws. This would be consistent with my need to preserve family sovereignty. I am not an absolutist in this, but close.

    The article left me wondering about the effect of cultural pressures in the “red” states as much as the effect of legislation. I think it is just as likely that this is the reason for the low rates as anything. Admittedly, there’s no doubt that restricting something makes it more difficult to obtain. But again, if abortion is in any way a necessary medical procedure for woman, I think that they should be availed of it without unclear doctor/patient relationship that are inhibited by law. That seems to have stopped the woman in Ireland from receiving the care she needed to live. Where was the mercy in that situation? I cannot get past this.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    Thanks for the article. As the father of a girl, I am not opposed to parental consent laws. This would be consistent with my need to preserve family sovereignty. I am not an absolutist in this, but close.

    The article left me wondering about the effect of cultural pressures in the “red” states as much as the effect of legislation. I think it is just as likely that this is the reason for the low rates as anything. Admittedly, there’s no doubt that restricting something makes it more difficult to obtain. But again, if abortion is in any way a necessary medical procedure for woman, I think that they should be availed of it without unclear doctor/patient relationship that are inhibited by law. That seems to have stopped the woman in Ireland from receiving the care she needed to live. Where was the mercy in that situation? I cannot get past this.

  • Stephen

    But I will admit that most of the reasons for terminating a pregnancy are not convincing to me. That’s me, and I don’t know if that is because I am Christian or not. Personal lapses aside, I’ve never been anything else. I do have vivid imagination, (and maybe an over active conscience too) and being a parent it is obvious to me that kids come into the world hard wired in some ways, so the argument that fetuses are not people is not convincing either.

    I think the only argument that convinces me that it ought to remain legal is the life of the mother. And again that’s me. And that’s also why such a decision ought to be up to the discretion of the woman in consultation with her doctor, her spouse and maybe her pastor. When it comes to rape and incest, I offer no insights except to say that I agree that it is a human life that is conceived and lost.

    Above kerner said that babies are dying every day. Yes they are, from lots of things. 4 million children in poverty in the US. Can we make a law against poverty, at least for kids, when we know it troubles our conscience (or perhaps should) as much as abortion on demand?

    I want to see it your way, and in many ways I do.

  • Stephen

    But I will admit that most of the reasons for terminating a pregnancy are not convincing to me. That’s me, and I don’t know if that is because I am Christian or not. Personal lapses aside, I’ve never been anything else. I do have vivid imagination, (and maybe an over active conscience too) and being a parent it is obvious to me that kids come into the world hard wired in some ways, so the argument that fetuses are not people is not convincing either.

    I think the only argument that convinces me that it ought to remain legal is the life of the mother. And again that’s me. And that’s also why such a decision ought to be up to the discretion of the woman in consultation with her doctor, her spouse and maybe her pastor. When it comes to rape and incest, I offer no insights except to say that I agree that it is a human life that is conceived and lost.

    Above kerner said that babies are dying every day. Yes they are, from lots of things. 4 million children in poverty in the US. Can we make a law against poverty, at least for kids, when we know it troubles our conscience (or perhaps should) as much as abortion on demand?

    I want to see it your way, and in many ways I do.

  • kerner

    Come on Stephen. Children living in poverty and children killed by abortion are apples and oranges. Children living in poverty occurs as a result of choices made by many different people and is a symptom of those all those choices. There is no single, ultimate irrovocable choice: “this child shall henceforth live in poverty!” And no single law can prohibit poverty.

    While a woman’s decision to abort (kill) her child may involve a lot of complex individual factors, it is, essentially, a single, irrevocable, and terminal decision, and action. Like all single actions which kill another human being, a single law CAN prohibit abortion. And even though a law would not prevent all abortions, it would reduce them a lot.

    My position is that this needs to be a “both and” approach, not either or. A criminal law that prohibits acts that are not believed to be morally wrong will not be very effective.

  • kerner

    Come on Stephen. Children living in poverty and children killed by abortion are apples and oranges. Children living in poverty occurs as a result of choices made by many different people and is a symptom of those all those choices. There is no single, ultimate irrovocable choice: “this child shall henceforth live in poverty!” And no single law can prohibit poverty.

    While a woman’s decision to abort (kill) her child may involve a lot of complex individual factors, it is, essentially, a single, irrevocable, and terminal decision, and action. Like all single actions which kill another human being, a single law CAN prohibit abortion. And even though a law would not prevent all abortions, it would reduce them a lot.

    My position is that this needs to be a “both and” approach, not either or. A criminal law that prohibits acts that are not believed to be morally wrong will not be very effective.

  • Stephen

    Well kerner, that was a bit tongue in cheek, and I’ll admit it is not a one to one comparison. But growing numbers of children in poverty seems to me worthy of similar outrage in a country of such vast wealth that is evermore concentrated in the hands of so few, a few who have so much political influence that they can expect to pay less taxes (or none), rob or squander pensions and investments of others to enrich themselves, then give themselves bonuses with bail out money, be largely forgiven their nefarious dealings, and even defended as entitled to their riches by conservatives.

    No there is not one single choice that means one must live in poverty. It’s a whole series of them. And some of those choices do essentially condemn people. Those who have never lived in real poverty have no clue about how much the deck is stacked and how little is available in terms of help. What if I had used some other example? Why so much outrage over drones killing Americans (and I’m not saying it isn’t problematic mind you) and nary a peep when it comes to the thousands of children killed as collateral damage in the war in Iraq, a war that was begun on false pretenses, poorly planned and executed (not because of the military either), essentially was a poke in the eye to our allies, and yet which conservatives defended as necessary and even desirable? Who are those kids dying over there anyway? Country boys, Mexican Americans, African Americans – you know, the ones who get all those gifts from Obama.

    Anyway, that’s a bit of a rant I admit. But I don’t know. It all sounds political to me and not just about moral outrage over injustice. It’s unfortunate that we cannot get together and be consistent in our outrage anymore. That is most certainly a problem with our age, our shared postmodern dilemma. All statements are political.

    But I agree that things won’t change until abortion is largely seen as immoral. And I agree that, in general, it is. So answer me this – are there any legitimate medical reasons for an abortion – yes or no? It’s a simple question, but if yes, then how can it be criminal on the one hand and necessary on the other?

    Well, we’ll get to see this played out in Ireland me thinks:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/15/us-ireland-abortion-idUSBRE8AD1QD20121115

  • Stephen

    Well kerner, that was a bit tongue in cheek, and I’ll admit it is not a one to one comparison. But growing numbers of children in poverty seems to me worthy of similar outrage in a country of such vast wealth that is evermore concentrated in the hands of so few, a few who have so much political influence that they can expect to pay less taxes (or none), rob or squander pensions and investments of others to enrich themselves, then give themselves bonuses with bail out money, be largely forgiven their nefarious dealings, and even defended as entitled to their riches by conservatives.

    No there is not one single choice that means one must live in poverty. It’s a whole series of them. And some of those choices do essentially condemn people. Those who have never lived in real poverty have no clue about how much the deck is stacked and how little is available in terms of help. What if I had used some other example? Why so much outrage over drones killing Americans (and I’m not saying it isn’t problematic mind you) and nary a peep when it comes to the thousands of children killed as collateral damage in the war in Iraq, a war that was begun on false pretenses, poorly planned and executed (not because of the military either), essentially was a poke in the eye to our allies, and yet which conservatives defended as necessary and even desirable? Who are those kids dying over there anyway? Country boys, Mexican Americans, African Americans – you know, the ones who get all those gifts from Obama.

    Anyway, that’s a bit of a rant I admit. But I don’t know. It all sounds political to me and not just about moral outrage over injustice. It’s unfortunate that we cannot get together and be consistent in our outrage anymore. That is most certainly a problem with our age, our shared postmodern dilemma. All statements are political.

    But I agree that things won’t change until abortion is largely seen as immoral. And I agree that, in general, it is. So answer me this – are there any legitimate medical reasons for an abortion – yes or no? It’s a simple question, but if yes, then how can it be criminal on the one hand and necessary on the other?

    Well, we’ll get to see this played out in Ireland me thinks:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/15/us-ireland-abortion-idUSBRE8AD1QD20121115

  • Stephen

    Oh yuck! I’m gonna get hammered aren’t I?

  • Stephen

    Oh yuck! I’m gonna get hammered aren’t I?

  • Abby

    Stephen: Septicemia can be caused by many things.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kidney-infection/DS00593/DSECTION=complications

    The reporting of this news is slanted. It is playing into the hands of the “activists” and the family – who, as Indian, could very well be non-Christian (Hindu or 100 other religions). The family only “believes” that not taking the baby killed the mother. There are not enough medical facts reported here.

    During my pregnancy for my second daughter, I was diagnosed with septicemia. My Dr. cared for me and I did not die. Neither did my daughter. Mine came from a blood pressure issue. . I also had a miscarriage over which I grieved and was devastated for quite a while.

    As a young teenager I knew I would never have an abortion. I knew that from the minute of conception it was a baby. I live in a town with a Catholic hospital with the same values – that the baby would be saved over the mother. As a young pregnant mother I was tempted to go to the Catholic hospital to deliver my children. I didn’t because I knew my Dr. My husband knew that if there were this choice to make that I would want the baby to live. I knew I would go to heaven. I wanted my child to live and believe and go there too.

    Where does this come from? I don’t know. I know I had a very strong Christian education given me as a child. I know I loved God and knew Him.

    The lines are not always clear sometimes. I believe in a God of great grace and mercy. Grace is very high, wide, and deep. If I make a mistake when I make a choice I believe in God’s forgiveness.

    I do hate to see “activists” and non-believers changing laws and forcing Christians to abide by them. Like the healthcare mandate now facing our church under Obamacare. Forcing my church body to pay for abortion pills for employees if they want them. My President said he will go to jail first. That is my kind of guy. I’ll even go with him.

    Ireland may well go “secular” on this issue. Just as we will always keep abortion legal, will legalize same-sex marriage, will legalize recreational marijuana, will legalize physician assisted suicide, and on and on. We will get rid of God and social issues from our “platforms” – however, we will still have to make laws on social issues because of God’s laws that are written in our hearts. We will always be fighting these issues for public consumption.

    So, what is a Christian to do? Love your neighbor as yourself. The activists and the non-believers. Our job is to make non-believers into believers. Be good husbands and wives and teach our children. Work at our churches. Do good.

    So, my solution for myself is to find (which I have) a very fine Christian Dr. And we will agree to do what we can in my life according to our faith.

    I hope I have not offended you, Stephen. These are some of our “unanswerable” questions. So, bottom line we make choices. Hopefully, with much prayer. And with much reliance on a great and loving God.

  • Abby

    Stephen: Septicemia can be caused by many things.

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/kidney-infection/DS00593/DSECTION=complications

    The reporting of this news is slanted. It is playing into the hands of the “activists” and the family – who, as Indian, could very well be non-Christian (Hindu or 100 other religions). The family only “believes” that not taking the baby killed the mother. There are not enough medical facts reported here.

    During my pregnancy for my second daughter, I was diagnosed with septicemia. My Dr. cared for me and I did not die. Neither did my daughter. Mine came from a blood pressure issue. . I also had a miscarriage over which I grieved and was devastated for quite a while.

    As a young teenager I knew I would never have an abortion. I knew that from the minute of conception it was a baby. I live in a town with a Catholic hospital with the same values – that the baby would be saved over the mother. As a young pregnant mother I was tempted to go to the Catholic hospital to deliver my children. I didn’t because I knew my Dr. My husband knew that if there were this choice to make that I would want the baby to live. I knew I would go to heaven. I wanted my child to live and believe and go there too.

    Where does this come from? I don’t know. I know I had a very strong Christian education given me as a child. I know I loved God and knew Him.

    The lines are not always clear sometimes. I believe in a God of great grace and mercy. Grace is very high, wide, and deep. If I make a mistake when I make a choice I believe in God’s forgiveness.

    I do hate to see “activists” and non-believers changing laws and forcing Christians to abide by them. Like the healthcare mandate now facing our church under Obamacare. Forcing my church body to pay for abortion pills for employees if they want them. My President said he will go to jail first. That is my kind of guy. I’ll even go with him.

    Ireland may well go “secular” on this issue. Just as we will always keep abortion legal, will legalize same-sex marriage, will legalize recreational marijuana, will legalize physician assisted suicide, and on and on. We will get rid of God and social issues from our “platforms” – however, we will still have to make laws on social issues because of God’s laws that are written in our hearts. We will always be fighting these issues for public consumption.

    So, what is a Christian to do? Love your neighbor as yourself. The activists and the non-believers. Our job is to make non-believers into believers. Be good husbands and wives and teach our children. Work at our churches. Do good.

    So, my solution for myself is to find (which I have) a very fine Christian Dr. And we will agree to do what we can in my life according to our faith.

    I hope I have not offended you, Stephen. These are some of our “unanswerable” questions. So, bottom line we make choices. Hopefully, with much prayer. And with much reliance on a great and loving God.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    You have not offended me in the least. Thanks for your honesty. I pretty much agree with all of it. I/we also grieved (and sometimes still do) a miscarriage. At the time, I was as concerned about my daughter living without her mom as I was for my wife. In those moments, all one has is faith.

    I’m not disagreeing that abortion is wrong, it’s the criminality of it I don’t see in every case – and it seems to me it would have to be in every case. If there are ever legitimate reasons for abortion then I do not see how it can be criminalized. And for me, it doesn’t matter if someone is Hindu, they still should receive mercy. That is the calling of the Christian. Did she receive it? I guess we cannot know. Certainly the hospital can say they were not obligated by law to offer it. But then is this a case of the man being made for the law? (Mark 2:27) Perhaps.

    I was thinking about the marijuana thing in light of this. It’s somewhat (legally) the same situation backwards. It has been shown that marijuana has medical benefits for cancer and AIDS patients. It also has a great deal of cultural acceptance. So then, why is it criminal? The news from Mexico isn’t good. People are dying there because our laws regarding drugs have created a multi-billion dollar black market. Are there any lessons from Prohibition to be learned?

    Perhaps what bothers me most in our culture war is the inability to compromise. There are many things that disturb me these days, but I am no utopian either. It doesn’t sound like you are. We both sound like realists. I think we are still a long way from tyranny from both sides. We have lots of things to work out, but it seems we are becoming less likely to do that together, and that’s troubling most of all.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    You have not offended me in the least. Thanks for your honesty. I pretty much agree with all of it. I/we also grieved (and sometimes still do) a miscarriage. At the time, I was as concerned about my daughter living without her mom as I was for my wife. In those moments, all one has is faith.

    I’m not disagreeing that abortion is wrong, it’s the criminality of it I don’t see in every case – and it seems to me it would have to be in every case. If there are ever legitimate reasons for abortion then I do not see how it can be criminalized. And for me, it doesn’t matter if someone is Hindu, they still should receive mercy. That is the calling of the Christian. Did she receive it? I guess we cannot know. Certainly the hospital can say they were not obligated by law to offer it. But then is this a case of the man being made for the law? (Mark 2:27) Perhaps.

    I was thinking about the marijuana thing in light of this. It’s somewhat (legally) the same situation backwards. It has been shown that marijuana has medical benefits for cancer and AIDS patients. It also has a great deal of cultural acceptance. So then, why is it criminal? The news from Mexico isn’t good. People are dying there because our laws regarding drugs have created a multi-billion dollar black market. Are there any lessons from Prohibition to be learned?

    Perhaps what bothers me most in our culture war is the inability to compromise. There are many things that disturb me these days, but I am no utopian either. It doesn’t sound like you are. We both sound like realists. I think we are still a long way from tyranny from both sides. We have lots of things to work out, but it seems we are becoming less likely to do that together, and that’s troubling most of all.

  • Abby

    Stephen:

    “I was thinking about the marijuana thing in light of this. It’s somewhat (legally) the same situation backwards. It has been shown that marijuana has medical benefits for cancer and AIDS patients. It also has a great deal of cultural acceptance. So then, why is it criminal?”

    In all of these things (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, marijuana, etc.) the problem is trying to legislate morality. Some people say you can’t do it. Do you agree though that these things should be regulated for reasons of health and well-being, and for the protection of the extremely powerless and vulnerable?

    My son works in the mental health field. I remember reading some statistics about (even light) smoking marijuana and what damage it does to the brain. A high percentage of mental health patients are drug users. Of course one of the treatment aspects is to try to eliminate this as a course for healing. As in the use of alchohol, you can contribute much cost–both to your own deteriorating health and well-being as well as monetary– to the medical system by abusing these products. Most of the abusers don’t have good health insurance and so the cost is given to us the taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid. My sister is dying of liver disease from alcohol use. All of her medical cost is born under both Medicare and Medicaid. Including a liver transplant if one should materialize–which I don’t think will.

    “We have lots of things to work out, but it seems we are becoming less likely to do that together, and that’s troubling most of all.”

    As you can see, these issues are extremely complicated. I wouldn’t run for a political office if my life depended on it. My brain would explode :) My spirit to fight is not strong enough.

    I look at this in light of The Prodigal (Luke 15:11-32). He wanted to try out the “far country.” And God has to let the consequences play out. But when and if “they” come home, we need to forgive and throw a party! And like with my sister, offer love, comfort, and Gospel words for her remaining time. To nurture the tiny light of belief she has in her. She is not angry. She sees the weight of her past conduct now. My encouragement to her is that she doesn’t have to fear God. He will be merciful.

  • Abby

    Stephen:

    “I was thinking about the marijuana thing in light of this. It’s somewhat (legally) the same situation backwards. It has been shown that marijuana has medical benefits for cancer and AIDS patients. It also has a great deal of cultural acceptance. So then, why is it criminal?”

    In all of these things (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, marijuana, etc.) the problem is trying to legislate morality. Some people say you can’t do it. Do you agree though that these things should be regulated for reasons of health and well-being, and for the protection of the extremely powerless and vulnerable?

    My son works in the mental health field. I remember reading some statistics about (even light) smoking marijuana and what damage it does to the brain. A high percentage of mental health patients are drug users. Of course one of the treatment aspects is to try to eliminate this as a course for healing. As in the use of alchohol, you can contribute much cost–both to your own deteriorating health and well-being as well as monetary– to the medical system by abusing these products. Most of the abusers don’t have good health insurance and so the cost is given to us the taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid. My sister is dying of liver disease from alcohol use. All of her medical cost is born under both Medicare and Medicaid. Including a liver transplant if one should materialize–which I don’t think will.

    “We have lots of things to work out, but it seems we are becoming less likely to do that together, and that’s troubling most of all.”

    As you can see, these issues are extremely complicated. I wouldn’t run for a political office if my life depended on it. My brain would explode :) My spirit to fight is not strong enough.

    I look at this in light of The Prodigal (Luke 15:11-32). He wanted to try out the “far country.” And God has to let the consequences play out. But when and if “they” come home, we need to forgive and throw a party! And like with my sister, offer love, comfort, and Gospel words for her remaining time. To nurture the tiny light of belief she has in her. She is not angry. She sees the weight of her past conduct now. My encouragement to her is that she doesn’t have to fear God. He will be merciful.

  • Abby

    Regarding my sister. One outcome that has happened recently is that both of her children, who were not brought up in the church at all, agreed to let me organize the baptisms of their two little boys. So, my goal (?) is that, possibly, I might be able to get at least one of the parents (my nephew) to come to church with me so his little one can attend Sunday School. This is what I am after now. It might be possible.

  • Abby

    Regarding my sister. One outcome that has happened recently is that both of her children, who were not brought up in the church at all, agreed to let me organize the baptisms of their two little boys. So, my goal (?) is that, possibly, I might be able to get at least one of the parents (my nephew) to come to church with me so his little one can attend Sunday School. This is what I am after now. It might be possible.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    You are breaking my heart.

    I agree that all these things need regulation. Like abortion, I would opt (and vote for) legislation/legislators who would turn back laws on parental consent. I can’t see that, for this one thing, we ought to allow teenagers to get a quite invasive medical procedure without their parents knowing a thing. I understand the (liberal) argument on the other side and it is not persuasive.

    I think marijuana being decriminalized, legal with certain conditions, taxed and regulated would be better. It might be merciful to some with serious medical needs. And we would not drive it underground and fuel a criminal enterprise.

    And a person as honest as you would not have a chance in politics!!! Keep offering those words of mercy and comfort to your sister. She’s had plenty of the law of sin and death I’d imagine (Romans 8), so much so her body is wrecked from it. He is merciful and abounding in love for her. All that weight she feels has been already taken on by Another and crushed forever.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    You are breaking my heart.

    I agree that all these things need regulation. Like abortion, I would opt (and vote for) legislation/legislators who would turn back laws on parental consent. I can’t see that, for this one thing, we ought to allow teenagers to get a quite invasive medical procedure without their parents knowing a thing. I understand the (liberal) argument on the other side and it is not persuasive.

    I think marijuana being decriminalized, legal with certain conditions, taxed and regulated would be better. It might be merciful to some with serious medical needs. And we would not drive it underground and fuel a criminal enterprise.

    And a person as honest as you would not have a chance in politics!!! Keep offering those words of mercy and comfort to your sister. She’s had plenty of the law of sin and death I’d imagine (Romans 8), so much so her body is wrecked from it. He is merciful and abounding in love for her. All that weight she feels has been already taken on by Another and crushed forever.

  • Abby

    …”you would not have a chance in politics!!! ” That’s what I thought :)

  • Abby

    …”you would not have a chance in politics!!! ” That’s what I thought :)

  • Abby

    …”You are breaking my heart. ” No broken heart. I love your last paragraph!

  • Abby

    …”You are breaking my heart. ” No broken heart. I love your last paragraph!

  • Stephen

    Getting little kids baptized is always good! “Do not hinder them.” “this promise is for you and your children.”

  • Stephen

    Getting little kids baptized is always good! “Do not hinder them.” “this promise is for you and your children.”

  • Stephen

    Romans 8 Abby!

    8:36 As it is written:

    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • Stephen

    Romans 8 Abby!

    8:36 As it is written:

    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

  • Abby

    Stephen,
    One of my favorite verses! Such comfort and peace to know that we are so hidden and protected with Christ. Being that we are 100% sinner and 100% saint while here on earth. I also love Galatians 5:1. As well as the whole rest of the Bible!

  • Abby

    Stephen,
    One of my favorite verses! Such comfort and peace to know that we are so hidden and protected with Christ. Being that we are 100% sinner and 100% saint while here on earth. I also love Galatians 5:1. As well as the whole rest of the Bible!

  • Abby

    “I would opt (and vote for) legislation/legislators who would turn back laws on parental consent.”

    As well, as for passing out contraceptives to Junior Highschoolers! We are truly becoming an extremely messed up country.

  • Abby

    “I would opt (and vote for) legislation/legislators who would turn back laws on parental consent.”

    As well, as for passing out contraceptives to Junior Highschoolers! We are truly becoming an extremely messed up country.

  • Stephen

    Abby @ 55

    Sure. Again I think that is to usurp the role of the parents. But what we lack is any middle ground. I would have known absolutely zero about sex had it not been for 7th grade when they took all the boys into the auditorium and gave us the biological facts. So I’m not so sure my parents generation had this all figured out either. I’m not for willful ignorance or secrets. Discretion certainly. I plan to talk to my kids about it in light of our beliefs before anyone else does. And I would hope that should there ever be a crisis of some kind, we would have built enough trust for them to know they could come to us and not be further shamed.

  • Stephen

    Abby @ 55

    Sure. Again I think that is to usurp the role of the parents. But what we lack is any middle ground. I would have known absolutely zero about sex had it not been for 7th grade when they took all the boys into the auditorium and gave us the biological facts. So I’m not so sure my parents generation had this all figured out either. I’m not for willful ignorance or secrets. Discretion certainly. I plan to talk to my kids about it in light of our beliefs before anyone else does. And I would hope that should there ever be a crisis of some kind, we would have built enough trust for them to know they could come to us and not be further shamed.

  • Abby

    Stephen, I honestly don’t think “middle ground” exists. It seems we either become “far” something or “far” another. An “all or nothing” mentality. Now, if I am considered to be “far-right” (which I do not think I am), my basis is what I see from God’s Word. I really can’t seperate that from my decisions. Sometimes God’s Word is not exactly directive. So we can only do exegesis as best as we can. And with much prayer. And then go. Eventually we’ll see the good or evil that transpires from the decision. If we are a believer, God will be there with mercy and tender love– even though consequences are not necessarily erased. Like an earthly father who needs to let his children learn to walk and stumble and fall on their own. But we love that child no matter what.

    A mother told her young children that if they didn’t behave that I wouldn’t come to visit them again. The next day I sat the kids down and said, “Now look at me, are you listening? You could never be so bad that I would not come to visit you. If you did something so bad that you ended up in jail, I would come to visit you. Everyone sins. Even adults. Everyday.” The little boy said to me, “What sin did you do today?” So I told him one! They went away happy.

  • Abby

    Stephen, I honestly don’t think “middle ground” exists. It seems we either become “far” something or “far” another. An “all or nothing” mentality. Now, if I am considered to be “far-right” (which I do not think I am), my basis is what I see from God’s Word. I really can’t seperate that from my decisions. Sometimes God’s Word is not exactly directive. So we can only do exegesis as best as we can. And with much prayer. And then go. Eventually we’ll see the good or evil that transpires from the decision. If we are a believer, God will be there with mercy and tender love– even though consequences are not necessarily erased. Like an earthly father who needs to let his children learn to walk and stumble and fall on their own. But we love that child no matter what.

    A mother told her young children that if they didn’t behave that I wouldn’t come to visit them again. The next day I sat the kids down and said, “Now look at me, are you listening? You could never be so bad that I would not come to visit you. If you did something so bad that you ended up in jail, I would come to visit you. Everyone sins. Even adults. Everyday.” The little boy said to me, “What sin did you do today?” So I told him one! They went away happy.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    I hope you are wrong about the middle ground. Maybe it is a “no man’s land” but it’s often where I end up. I feel like I’m there a lot, teetering. And you can see a lot from sitting up on the fence. :) Depending on who I find myself around I can come off like the most conservative person they’ve ever known. And then in another setting I’m a hippie flake. I try not to pigeon hole myself except to consider my station in light of my vocations. I’m not sure I’m even qualified for that. But if I can do that well (and I usually screw it up) I will have accomplished something worthwhile. It seems it would be accurate to say that we have identities (pl) rather than just one identity in that regard. Who am I today? Only one answer never changes.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    I hope you are wrong about the middle ground. Maybe it is a “no man’s land” but it’s often where I end up. I feel like I’m there a lot, teetering. And you can see a lot from sitting up on the fence. :) Depending on who I find myself around I can come off like the most conservative person they’ve ever known. And then in another setting I’m a hippie flake. I try not to pigeon hole myself except to consider my station in light of my vocations. I’m not sure I’m even qualified for that. But if I can do that well (and I usually screw it up) I will have accomplished something worthwhile. It seems it would be accurate to say that we have identities (pl) rather than just one identity in that regard. Who am I today? Only one answer never changes.

  • Abby

    Stephen, . . .”in another setting I’m a hippie flake.” Boy, are we alike! I was talking to a pastor once, and all of a sudden he smiled and said, “You’re a hippie!” :) I’m not a hippie, but I really, really do like Gal. 5:1! I’m definately not a pietist. Even though I try to control sin as best as I can.

  • Abby

    Stephen, . . .”in another setting I’m a hippie flake.” Boy, are we alike! I was talking to a pastor once, and all of a sudden he smiled and said, “You’re a hippie!” :) I’m not a hippie, but I really, really do like Gal. 5:1! I’m definately not a pietist. Even though I try to control sin as best as I can.

  • Abby

    “Who am I today? Only one answer never changes.” I heard a pastor say, “If when you sin you don’t immediately go to Jesus — you don’t get it.” That’s who we are.

  • Abby

    “Who am I today? Only one answer never changes.” I heard a pastor say, “If when you sin you don’t immediately go to Jesus — you don’t get it.” That’s who we are.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@46):

    If there are ever legitimate reasons for abortion then I do not see how it can be criminalized.

    But we — or, rather, our legal system — does this all the time. Some drugs have legitimate uses, and yet are criminalized outside of those particular uses. Speeding is also punished legally, but we make exceptions for emergency vehicles (or, I’m told, even people driving pregnant women to the hospital). And so on. Heck, there are even, according to the law, legitimate reasons to kill another adult (e.g., in self-defense), though we all expect murder to be criminalized.

    Why not the same with abortion? Most pro-life people I know — even the ardent ones — concede that the life of the mother can be a valid reason for an abortion.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@46):

    If there are ever legitimate reasons for abortion then I do not see how it can be criminalized.

    But we — or, rather, our legal system — does this all the time. Some drugs have legitimate uses, and yet are criminalized outside of those particular uses. Speeding is also punished legally, but we make exceptions for emergency vehicles (or, I’m told, even people driving pregnant women to the hospital). And so on. Heck, there are even, according to the law, legitimate reasons to kill another adult (e.g., in self-defense), though we all expect murder to be criminalized.

    Why not the same with abortion? Most pro-life people I know — even the ardent ones — concede that the life of the mother can be a valid reason for an abortion.

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    “Why not the same with abortion? Most pro-life people I know — even the ardent ones — concede that the life of the mother can be a valid reason for an abortion.”

    I guess I haven’t heard that much. Nor have I seen a description of what that would look like and how it would work. The case in Ireland is still unclear, but it does seem that even when the law allowed for the life of the mother, other things got in the way. She came in for emergency care, was obviously septic. Is that what women should expect at the hospital? Would it mean that DNCs be policed or that women would somehow need to get a court waiver? How would that work? Seems like most doctors or hospitals, even with an exception, would not want to touch that situation, and as they didn’t in Ireland, and just go ahead and risk the life of the mother to suit the law. That sounds pretty merciless to me.

    But I get your point. I really do. As I’m sure you know, having a child is a very intimate thing. I can’t get past that for myself. How does one then advocate to prohibit something for others who have less qualms about it when they want to protect that intimacy for themselves? Does that make sense?

    Advertising, that’s the ticket to every shared value in our culture, isn’t it?

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    “Why not the same with abortion? Most pro-life people I know — even the ardent ones — concede that the life of the mother can be a valid reason for an abortion.”

    I guess I haven’t heard that much. Nor have I seen a description of what that would look like and how it would work. The case in Ireland is still unclear, but it does seem that even when the law allowed for the life of the mother, other things got in the way. She came in for emergency care, was obviously septic. Is that what women should expect at the hospital? Would it mean that DNCs be policed or that women would somehow need to get a court waiver? How would that work? Seems like most doctors or hospitals, even with an exception, would not want to touch that situation, and as they didn’t in Ireland, and just go ahead and risk the life of the mother to suit the law. That sounds pretty merciless to me.

    But I get your point. I really do. As I’m sure you know, having a child is a very intimate thing. I can’t get past that for myself. How does one then advocate to prohibit something for others who have less qualms about it when they want to protect that intimacy for themselves? Does that make sense?

    Advertising, that’s the ticket to every shared value in our culture, isn’t it?

  • Stephen

    I mean is the problem that they are too easy to obtain? Deep down, that does not seem to be the real issue, but only a symptom.

  • Stephen

    I mean is the problem that they are too easy to obtain? Deep down, that does not seem to be the real issue, but only a symptom.

  • Stephen

    The real issue seems to be that it is wrong and people should not take part in it. Lots of things are wrong and they are not all illegal.

    Oh crap! I didn’t want to say that last thing, but it’s what I’m thinking. We have a conflict between two orders – family and society and legalization was the way to reconcile that conflict. With the contraception debate there is a conflict between the orders of church and society. Opting out would be way to reconcile that one.

  • Stephen

    The real issue seems to be that it is wrong and people should not take part in it. Lots of things are wrong and they are not all illegal.

    Oh crap! I didn’t want to say that last thing, but it’s what I’m thinking. We have a conflict between two orders – family and society and legalization was the way to reconcile that conflict. With the contraception debate there is a conflict between the orders of church and society. Opting out would be way to reconcile that one.

  • Stephen

    A couple links on the Irish case from Google. The first one gives some history of the law in Ireland, the other introduces international law issues.

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/liz-mcmanus-culture-of-secrecy-and-silence-brought-us-to-this-sorry-place-3295316.html

    http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/from-india-pressure-on-ireland-over-abortion-laws/

    I wonder if the outcome of this could somehow be a win/win. I’ll be watching it evolve.

  • Stephen

    A couple links on the Irish case from Google. The first one gives some history of the law in Ireland, the other introduces international law issues.

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/liz-mcmanus-culture-of-secrecy-and-silence-brought-us-to-this-sorry-place-3295316.html

    http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/from-india-pressure-on-ireland-over-abortion-laws/

    I wonder if the outcome of this could somehow be a win/win. I’ll be watching it evolve.

  • Abby

    Stephen, Clash of the religions. Women’s “rights.” You should go to India and see what the women’s rights are over there. I was there. After all, this couple was living in Ireland, not India.

  • Abby

    Stephen, Clash of the religions. Women’s “rights.” You should go to India and see what the women’s rights are over there. I was there. After all, this couple was living in Ireland, not India.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    You really area a hippie! Don’t tell me you went there to meditate.

    Actually, I spent some time in India. It was a while back (late 80s), but it was a while (6 mos.). I have some Indian friends and acquaintances. A new grocery just opened around the corner from my house. I pretty jazzed! I could eat Indian food for the rest of my life every day and be quite happy I think. While I was there I never missed food of any kind except perhaps beer (it was a mission thing) and maybe guacamole. Things are changing there, but it is still quite stratified and misogynistic compared to here. I hope I can return some day with my family.

    Culture clash is what America does best, eh? You’ve reminded me of an Irishman, a grandpa, I spoke to one afternoon. He told me of how one of the most marvelous things he saw while he was here was a parade at his grandchild’s elementary school. So many cultures represented. Not quite like that in Ireland yet I guess.

    I’m going to stay tuned. Maybe something can be learned from how they resolve things.

  • Stephen

    Abby,

    You really area a hippie! Don’t tell me you went there to meditate.

    Actually, I spent some time in India. It was a while back (late 80s), but it was a while (6 mos.). I have some Indian friends and acquaintances. A new grocery just opened around the corner from my house. I pretty jazzed! I could eat Indian food for the rest of my life every day and be quite happy I think. While I was there I never missed food of any kind except perhaps beer (it was a mission thing) and maybe guacamole. Things are changing there, but it is still quite stratified and misogynistic compared to here. I hope I can return some day with my family.

    Culture clash is what America does best, eh? You’ve reminded me of an Irishman, a grandpa, I spoke to one afternoon. He told me of how one of the most marvelous things he saw while he was here was a parade at his grandchild’s elementary school. So many cultures represented. Not quite like that in Ireland yet I guess.

    I’m going to stay tuned. Maybe something can be learned from how they resolve things.

  • Stephen

    Oh, and contrary to popular belief, I found India to be extraordinarily beautiful, especially its people. Some amazing Christian brothers and sisters there.

  • Stephen

    Oh, and contrary to popular belief, I found India to be extraordinarily beautiful, especially its people. Some amazing Christian brothers and sisters there.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@62), the case in Ireland is tragic, but is anyone holding it up as an example of how things should be?

    Maybe I haven’t read enough about it, but it seems to me that Ireland does allow for abortions to save a woman’s life. Given that, the case in Ireland appears to be about a bad doctor, not a bad law. After all, the doctor had no legal reason to fear performing the abortion. And, at least in hindsight, it’s clear that whatever non-legal reason he acted on was ill-informed.

    Seems like most doctors or hospitals, even with an exception, would not want to touch that situation…

    But, again, we already give hospitals and doctors this power with respect to powerful drugs. We’ve outlawed the drugs for general use, but we tell doctors that it’s a judgment call for them whether to prescribe or apply them. Of course, there is some abuse of this system — some people get drugs that aren’t medically helpful. And in some of those cases, our legal system goes after the obvious abusers. But overall, mercy is given to people in danger and pain. Why can’t abortion be like that?

    Again, how is this case in Ireland normative? It is obviously the exception.

    … as they didn’t in Ireland, and just go ahead and risk the life of the mother to suit the law.

    But the Irish doctor didn’t act to “suit the law”. The law granted him the right to perform an abortion to save the mother’s life, and he refused. How is that the law’s fault?

    The real issue seems to be that it is wrong and people should not take part in it. Lots of things are wrong and they are not all illegal.

    Duh. It’s all about the third party. You know, the child. If you want to ruin your life in any number of ways, I and most people are pretty happy to let you do so. If you keep it to yourself. But if you want to hurt a third party, the law steps in. That’s pretty much the whole point of the law. Right?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@62), the case in Ireland is tragic, but is anyone holding it up as an example of how things should be?

    Maybe I haven’t read enough about it, but it seems to me that Ireland does allow for abortions to save a woman’s life. Given that, the case in Ireland appears to be about a bad doctor, not a bad law. After all, the doctor had no legal reason to fear performing the abortion. And, at least in hindsight, it’s clear that whatever non-legal reason he acted on was ill-informed.

    Seems like most doctors or hospitals, even with an exception, would not want to touch that situation…

    But, again, we already give hospitals and doctors this power with respect to powerful drugs. We’ve outlawed the drugs for general use, but we tell doctors that it’s a judgment call for them whether to prescribe or apply them. Of course, there is some abuse of this system — some people get drugs that aren’t medically helpful. And in some of those cases, our legal system goes after the obvious abusers. But overall, mercy is given to people in danger and pain. Why can’t abortion be like that?

    Again, how is this case in Ireland normative? It is obviously the exception.

    … as they didn’t in Ireland, and just go ahead and risk the life of the mother to suit the law.

    But the Irish doctor didn’t act to “suit the law”. The law granted him the right to perform an abortion to save the mother’s life, and he refused. How is that the law’s fault?

    The real issue seems to be that it is wrong and people should not take part in it. Lots of things are wrong and they are not all illegal.

    Duh. It’s all about the third party. You know, the child. If you want to ruin your life in any number of ways, I and most people are pretty happy to let you do so. If you keep it to yourself. But if you want to hurt a third party, the law steps in. That’s pretty much the whole point of the law. Right?

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    “But, again, we already give hospitals and doctors this power with respect to powerful drugs. We’ve outlawed the drugs for general use, but we tell doctors that it’s a judgment call for them whether to prescribe or apply them. Of course, there is some abuse of this system — some people get drugs that aren’t medically helpful. And in some of those cases, our legal system goes after the obvious abusers. But overall, mercy is given to people in danger and pain. Why can’t abortion be like that?”

    That’s pretty sound, sorta kinda. But in those instances where a drug is used – like morphine for instance – it does not require a life be taken to administer the drug (your last paragraph! There’s that pesky third party to consider). What I meant is that because such a thing is necessary when it comes to abortion, doctors back off if there is any question about what the law will allow. That seems to be what happened in Ireland.

    And no, the Ireland case is certainly not normative, but it might be a good test case for what is possible in regards to restricting abortions except in cases of the life of the mother as long as the law is clear. It seems the abortion was not performed because of that reason – too legally unclear and risky for the doctor. The “it’s a Catholic country” remark seems to have been in reference to why there are restrictions in Ireland in the first place, and why the doctor insisted she wait until there was no fetal heartbeat, even though the law does not actually stipulate this condition before the procedure can be performed. But then I may be reading it wrong.

    And my comment regarding the “real issue” was meant to reflect the idea that the best way to combat abortion as a “choice” is to make it so socially unpopular, and having kids far more popular, that we would truly have a situation where it was rare. That’s where this whole thing got started. But then I’m a dreamer. I’m in good company though, because I doubt abortion will actually ever be criminalized in this country, at least not until the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Americans are changed first. Not seeing that happening.

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    “But, again, we already give hospitals and doctors this power with respect to powerful drugs. We’ve outlawed the drugs for general use, but we tell doctors that it’s a judgment call for them whether to prescribe or apply them. Of course, there is some abuse of this system — some people get drugs that aren’t medically helpful. And in some of those cases, our legal system goes after the obvious abusers. But overall, mercy is given to people in danger and pain. Why can’t abortion be like that?”

    That’s pretty sound, sorta kinda. But in those instances where a drug is used – like morphine for instance – it does not require a life be taken to administer the drug (your last paragraph! There’s that pesky third party to consider). What I meant is that because such a thing is necessary when it comes to abortion, doctors back off if there is any question about what the law will allow. That seems to be what happened in Ireland.

    And no, the Ireland case is certainly not normative, but it might be a good test case for what is possible in regards to restricting abortions except in cases of the life of the mother as long as the law is clear. It seems the abortion was not performed because of that reason – too legally unclear and risky for the doctor. The “it’s a Catholic country” remark seems to have been in reference to why there are restrictions in Ireland in the first place, and why the doctor insisted she wait until there was no fetal heartbeat, even though the law does not actually stipulate this condition before the procedure can be performed. But then I may be reading it wrong.

    And my comment regarding the “real issue” was meant to reflect the idea that the best way to combat abortion as a “choice” is to make it so socially unpopular, and having kids far more popular, that we would truly have a situation where it was rare. That’s where this whole thing got started. But then I’m a dreamer. I’m in good company though, because I doubt abortion will actually ever be criminalized in this country, at least not until the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Americans are changed first. Not seeing that happening.

  • Abby

    Stephen @68: I thought the people were beautiful too. Especially the women. And their high sense of family was amazing. I enjoyed it there. But it was somewhat of a culture-shock. I also met amazing Christians. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod previously had missionaries there. I was taken to several LCMS Indian churches. The only thing I recognized in the sermon was “Martin Luther.” :) I even was taken to the very tip of Southern India where (I think) 3 oceans merge. On the beach was the Mahatma Ghandi memorial. It was the most pathetic thing I ever saw for a memorial for him! It was a very interesting trip to be sure. And yes, I went to the Taj Mahal. I wasn’t going to go all the way there without seeing that! No one had a clue where I was over there. I remember thinking that if something happened to me, no one would find me! To be young and foolish again.

    Back to the subject: If an Irish couple were living in India, and the same thing happened to her there. Would they raise an international ruckus? Who would hear about it? No one.

  • Abby

    Stephen @68: I thought the people were beautiful too. Especially the women. And their high sense of family was amazing. I enjoyed it there. But it was somewhat of a culture-shock. I also met amazing Christians. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod previously had missionaries there. I was taken to several LCMS Indian churches. The only thing I recognized in the sermon was “Martin Luther.” :) I even was taken to the very tip of Southern India where (I think) 3 oceans merge. On the beach was the Mahatma Ghandi memorial. It was the most pathetic thing I ever saw for a memorial for him! It was a very interesting trip to be sure. And yes, I went to the Taj Mahal. I wasn’t going to go all the way there without seeing that! No one had a clue where I was over there. I remember thinking that if something happened to me, no one would find me! To be young and foolish again.

    Back to the subject: If an Irish couple were living in India, and the same thing happened to her there. Would they raise an international ruckus? Who would hear about it? No one.

  • Abby

    Stephen: I did plenty of meditation there. The Christian kind.

  • Abby

    Stephen: I did plenty of meditation there. The Christian kind.


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