Mark Galli of Christianity Today: ‘Another Fake …’

“The Old Testament does, in fact, seem to make a distinction between the life of a child and the life of a fetus.”

– Mark Galli of Christianity Today (who forbids you to agree with him)

“Another Fake History” cries Mark Galli of Christianity Today denouncing Jonathan Dudley’s recent CNN column, “When Evangelicals Were Pro-Choice.”

Fake, fake, fake, because … well, um …

Yeah, Galli’s not very clear on that part.

Dudley “mischaracterized Bruce Waltke’s views,” as pro-choice Galli writes, because:

Waltke was writing about Old Testament views on contraception. The Old Testament does, in fact, seem to make a distinction between the life of a child and the life of a fetus (it never extracts a “fetus for a fetus” principle, for example). But as Waltke notes, the Old Testament nonetheless “protects the fetus,” And “while the Old Testament does not equate the fetus with a living person, it places great value upon it.”

Or, in other words, exactly the view of pro-choice Christians.

A fetus has great value, but a fetus is not the same as “a child” and a fetus is not the same as “a living person.”

Great value, but not a child.

That is what pro-choice people believe. That is what I believe.

That is not what anti-abortion people believe.

To say that the Bible “does, in fact, seem to make a distinction between the life of a child and the life of a fetus” and to say that the Bible “places great value” on a fetus but “does not equate the fetus with a living person” is to concede that the “life begins at the ‘moment’ of conception” claim of post-Nixon Christianity Today is inconsistent with what the Bible says.

Galli is not upset with Jonathan Dudley for misrepresenting Waltke’s position. Galli is upset with Dudley for agreeing with it.

When Waltke wrote that for Christianity Today back in 1968, it was not controversial. It was simply an unremarkable statement of what evangelicals believed the Bible said.

Galli now believes the Bible says something else and therefore all true Christians must vote Republican. Or he believes all true Christians must vote Republican and therefore the Bible says something else.

Or a bit of both, probably.

Most of Galli’s post is not a critique of Dudley, but a critique of Waltke. Galli’s argument in the rest of his post presumes that a fetus is exactly the same as a child. He doesn’t argue this, or even assert it, really, he just presumes that every fetus, embryo and zygote is utterly indistinguishable — morally, theologically, biologically — from an infant, toddler, child or adult.

Keeping with that presumption, Galli describes abortion as “the wholesale slaughter of millions.”

I’ve noted in recent days that anyone who really believed that would be compelled to demand free access to contraception and obliged to call for massive research to prevent the death of more than half the human “persons” conceived every year.

But consider also what it would mean for someone to truly believe such a thing while going about one’s daily routine, or annual routine, or quadrennial routine, the way that Galli and the majority of anti-abortion evangelicals do.

To truly believe that and to behave as they do would be to suggest that the occasional party-line vote, prayer, vigil, march, post on Facebook or publishing of a stern rebuke of Jonathan Dudley is somehow a proportional and adequate response to “the wholesale slaughter of millions.” That’s monstrous. It’s the moral equivalent of someone driving around Berlin with a “Don’t Blame Me — I Voted for Thälmann” bumper-sticker.

A group that stands mostly inert, timidly wagging a finger of condemnation at what they believe to be “the wholesale slaughter of millions” will have a very hard time making the claim that they are innocent bystanders. For that same group to declare themselves morally superior bystanders is just too much to take.

 

  • http://kingdomofsharks.com/ D Johnston

    These discussions of pre-politicized evangelism are fascinating. I was born in the 80′s, so evangelicals have been hardline conservative Republicans for my entire life. Even though I realize this was not always the case, it’s still tough for me to picture evangelicals as anything but conservative Republicans. This must also be true for evangelical kids my age and younger, and yet these are the people who are turning away from the politics of the movement and partisan politics in general. In other words, the people old enough to remember this shift are denying that it ever happened, while the people who grew up with it don’t even care.

    It’s a strange world.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    A group that stands mostly inert, timidly wagging a finger of condemnation at what they believe to be “the wholesale slaughter of millions” will have a very hard time making the claim that they are innocent bystanders. For that same group to declare themselves morally superior bystanders is just too much to take.

    That is simply the result of the equating of abortion with Kitten Burning, a heinous crime against which they feel compelled to form a Coalition to express their opposition.  

    Kitten Burning causes suffering, abortion ends suffering before it has a chance to begin.  

  • Katie

    And let us not forget that if you seriously believe that a zygote is a person, it would then follow that *every* miscarriage would need to be investigated, criminally, to make sure that it couldn’t have been prevented.   It might also require, for example, providing women with certain medical conditions access to the medical treatment they need to reduce their chance of miscarriage.
    Or, since providing women with access to medical care makes them irresponsible, make it illegal for women who have a elevated  chance of having a miscarriage to become pregnant.  After all, if a woman knowingly becomes pregnant, knowing that she has, say, a 50% chance of miscarrying, well, you could hardly justify leaving an innocent fetus in her care,  could you?

  • Turcano

    I’ve noted in recent days that anyone who really believed that would be compelled to demand free access to contraception and obliged to call for massive research to prevent the death of more than half the human “persons” conceived every year.

    To be fair, that’s not quite true.  You also have the option of becoming a terrorist.

  • Carstonio

    A group that stands mostly inert, timidly wagging a finger of
    condemnation at what they believe to be “the wholesale slaughter of
    millions”

    To a large extent, these are the same folks who oppose same-sex marriage and planned single parenthood like Murphy Brown, on the grounds that children need both parents. Yet they don’t insist on mandatory marriage for single women who didn’t plan to become pregnant, or remarriage for widowed or divorced parents. Very similar to the disconnect that Fred describes. These folks  seem to treat the intention to bring a child into the world without a father as worse than if that happened through a combination of circumstances. Here their chief concern seems less about the welfare of fatherless children and more about paternal privilege.

  • Jillian

    a fetus for a fetus? the purpose of life for a life was to exact justice on the guilty for taking life, thus upholding the value of life. a fetus cannot take life. 

  • fraser

    Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin has, in fact, proposed a state investigation for miscarriages. A Virginia legislator proposed that any woman who doesn’t report a miscarriage can go to jail for a year.

  • fraser

     Case in point: Dan Quayle wrote a book back in the 1990s discussing the obvious superiority of two-parent families. Then includes a single mother on the grounds that her husband walking out wasn’t her choice, so she shouldn’t be judged as any less of a good mother.

  • JustoneK

    some fetuses have taken multiple lives at once.

  • Carstonio

    I remember Quayle’s posturing on the issue of single mothers. He labeled the Murphy Brown character as selfish, which seems paternalistic to me on a couple of  levels, as if real-life women who do that treat babies as dolls or status symbols. Maybe men like him subconsciously believe that all mothers want to raise their children in opposite-sex marriages and that Murphy Browns are in denial. Or maybe they’re paranoid about men becoming unimportant or irrelevant if women choose to conceive and bear children without husbands.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Well, for deontologists and other moral non-consequentialists this kind of makes sense. I mean, once I embrace the idea that it doesn’t matter what the result of my actions is, only that I behave the way I’m supposed to behave, or behave the way decent people behave, or whatever, it seems to follow that actually improving people’s lives can be less important than disapproving of stuff that merits disapproval.

  • Carstonio

     From my quick research on deontological ethics, it doesn’t seem exactly the same as authoritarianism in principle, but the distinction may not be relevant in practice.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     Oh, it can be a relevant distinction. I know non-authoritarian deontologists, as well as authoritarian consequentialists. That said, I suspect that deontology (or better yet virtue ethics) is a more comfortable moral stance for reasonably intelligent authoritarians than consequentialism.

  • AnonymousSam

    For that matter, given the stress on a woman’s body, you could make a case for arresting the fetus for attempted murder.

  • AnonymousSam

    Try looking up genetic chimera. They are what happens when one zygote absorbs another. It could be argued that this is a fetus taking life, as the other zygote would have developed into a twin if it weren’t for being absorbed by their sibling.

    (It’s also really kind of interesting, as it results in a person with two sets of DNA. The example which came up in another thread was of Lydia Fairchild who was genetically the aunt of the children produced with her husband.)

    This, of course, ignores those situations when complications of pregnancy result in the death of both the fetus and parent…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Born in the 1970s, but didn’t become aware of right-wing Christian entry into politics until the 1980s, so to me as well it always seems to have been “that way”.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Wrong. The purpose of “life for a life or equivalent” was to limit it, from the old “two lifes for one life” esp. when dealing with inter-tribal blood feuds.

    And by accepting and specifying a fixed amoutn of monetary recompensation as justice, bloodshed was potentially reduced.

  • Liralen

    The biggest problem I have with that article is the dishonesty of the title  “Another Fake History…” since he basically confirms the facts about the change in evangelical views about abortion.  He just disagrees with why they changed.

  • vsm

    I’d think that depends on your type of authoritarianism. I can’t really see a deontological Stalinist, for instance, but some form of consequentalism would fit nicely.

  • Alex

    Nice try.

    The arguments assumed that Evangelicals were, en masse, Pro-Choice by cherry picking a few quotes from various evangelicals. The assumption of course was that those darned Catholics and Republicans (who, as we know through the past 80 years, are joined at the hip) made everyone veer to the FarRight(tm) on the issue.

    Galli is demonstrating that this is clearly not the case, and the arguments were intentionally murky and in bad faith.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    So are you denying that George H. W. Bush changed his very pragmatic viewpoint on birth control to a more ‘orthodox’ right-wing one for the sole intent of capturing a voting bloc that was inflexible on the matter?

  • JanNH

    The Bible says that GOD gives Life when God gives BREATH. It couldn’t be clearer — Life begins when Birth takes place.