“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.”
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.