Monday, January 31, 2011

An Important Read: Abortion Rate and New York Law

In one of the most telling articles written in some time, Ariel Kaminer of the New York Times makes a point that should be obvious:  less restrictive abortion laws raise the abortion rate of a city or community.  In other words, where there is less regulation in the area of abortion, the rate will be higher than cities where there are more ristrictions.  Consider the opening paragraphs:

Congratulations, New York City, did you hear the news? Fire-and-brimstone predictions from across the country have been confirmed. This is officially the abortion capital of America. A health department report released last month proves it: about 40 percent of all pregnancies in the city end that way, an average of about 90,000 a year in recent years.

No one is exactly celebrating the title. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and a group of multidenominationally horrified clergy condemned the statistics this month. Even abortion rights advocates expressed some concern about the numbers, trying to change the conversation to a broader one on reproductive health. As for ordinary citizens, many just wondered: Really? That many? 

Abortion is complicated, even in its capital city. Perhaps especially so: New Yorkers seeking to terminate a pregnancy can choose from more kinds of procedures at more kinds of facilities with fewer obstacles — and more ways to pay — than just about any place else. Women can get abortions in private doctors’ offices, at public hospitals or at clinics, some of which do not require an appointment.

She later adds:

New York has always been at the forefront of reproductive choice, from a 19th-century industry of sometimes dubious tinctures to an underground abortion network organized by local clergy in 1967. It was the home base of Margaret Sanger, the mother of American family planning. Abortion was permitted in New York State long before the 1973 Supreme Court decision — whose anniversary was Saturday — made it legal nationwide. 

Unlike many other places, New York has not passed laws limiting access to abortions. Patients do not have to return to the clinic on two separate days. They do not have to be told about what the fetus will experience, or have to look at the fetus on a monitor or have the procedure narrated to them in real time. Teenagers do not need parental consent. 

In many other parts of the country, doctors who want to perform surgical abortions have to go out of their way to learn how. In New York, such training is a standard part of the curriculum for obstetric and gynecological residents. So instead of quarantining abortion into special clinics, many doctors offer it as part of a menu of services. 

In New York, unlike in most states, Medicaid covers abortion. (In 2009, counselors at Planned Parenthood’s four clinics across the city helped more than 6,800 patients who were eligible to sign up for that program.)

Finally, New York’s public hospitals are unusual for being under the control of the mayor. Just try to get elected mayor of New York without demonstrating clear support for abortion rights.

All of these circumstances have combined to make New York something of a magnet — for doctors who wish to practice without restrictions, for women who want to live in an atmosphere of sexual self-determination and even for out-of-towners who want to end a pregnancy without stigma, without hassle or just without bumping into their neighbor on the way into the clinic. In 2009, 8 percent of the abortions performed across the city were for patients who live elsewhere. In addition to everything else, our abortion industry may function as something of a tourist attraction

This is simply a sad article for the simple fact that it is true.  Let us especially note that this is coming from a pro-choice organization - the New York Times - admitting what pro-lifer advocates have been saying forever.  Less restrictions increase the rates of abortions for the simple fact that open and free abortions become a form of birth control and eugenics and that is exactly what we are seeing in New York.
  Particularly troubling is the final sentence quoted above, In addition to everything else, our abortion industry may function as something of a tourist attraction.  That is the sad truth that ought to drive us to overturn this industry of death.

More could be said on this issue, and much has been said on this issue.  This is an important read that should grab the attention of every American and especially every Christian.  The author argues that the abortion issue is complicated and perhaps that is the biggest problem.  It shouldn't be.  The taking of life, regardless of defense behind it, ought to never be reasonable or legal.  Welcome to the world we live in.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Apparently New York will welcome the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, the wretched refuse, and the homeless with open arms with promises of a better life, but not our own unborn.

New York times - Abortion: Easy Access, Complex Everything Else 

For more:
Blogizomai - Legal, Safe, and Abundant:  The Shocking Truth of a Common Abortion Slogan 
Blogizomai - Abortion Reduction:  The Danger of Compromising on Life
Blogizomai - Abortion: Is Common Ground Possible?   
Blogizomai - The Follow of Abortion Reduction: A Lesson in Common Sense
Blogizomai - The Slavery of the Unborn: Why Abortion Reduction is Not Pro-Life
Blogizomai - From Life to Choice to Economics: A New President and a Change in the Debate Over Life
Blogizomai - Social Conservatives Take Heed: 100 Days of Change
Blogizomai - Colson: The March of Death
Blogizomai - "No We Won't": Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction

Friday, January 28, 2011

Repost Friday | "When You Bring Your Baby Home": Infanticide and Arbitrary Definitions of Life

To redefine anything is an exercise in confusion especially when political correctness is involved.  Take homosexual marriage for example.  The problem with redefining marriage to include gay couples is how limiting (in our tolerant age) marriage to just homosexual and heterosexual couples.  The problem with a depraved culture trying to redefine anything is that such definitions are arbitrary, obscure, and pulled out of a straw.

This is certainly true when it comes to redefining the rights of a human being from conception to a later time.  Pro-abortion proponents and even the law of the land says that a child does not receive the rights of life until they are completely out of the mother's wound.  That means that if a small portion of the child is still inside the mother, then by law, the mother can have the child aborted.

Recall the story a few years ago where a mother gave birth to her child in her home and then proceeded to murder her offspring.  She was let off the hook because since the child was still attached to the umbilical cord, the law considered the baby still part of the woman's body.  Fortunately, the law has been changed.  But it goes to show how arbitrary and heinous such definitions of life and rights really are.

The foolishness of granting rights to a child at birth and not at conception goes against common sense.  If a woman, for example, who is pregnant at 6 months and is hit by a drunk driver and both the child and the mother are killed, the drunk driver is charged with double homicide.  However, if that same mother had driven to an abortion clinic still at 6 months, she would have been exercising her rights as a woman to choose what to do with her "body."  The double standard is apparent and foolish.

Once again, redefining the meaning of life is arbitrary and open for redefinition.

One final recent example that has come to the forefront is particularly insightful.  In a recent debate from several years ago caught on C-SPAN between former Republican Senator Rick Santorum and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer regarding the definition of life and partial birth abortion.  Columnist George Will has offered the best discussion on the recently released video on youtube, but perhaps more could be added here.

Partial-birth abortion, as the name suggests, is the process of aborting a child while it has only been partially removed from the woman's body.  In partial-birth abortions, the child is only partially removed in order for the "doctor" to suck out the babies brains forcing it to go limp so that it can then be removed and thrown into a waste basket.  This is a barbaric form of murder and it is a shame that we "civilized" people consider it ok.

Senator Boxer defends the act as necessary.  Former Senator Santorum makes a number of important points while on the Senate floor.  Against the common argument that partial-birth abortion is an emergency procedure, the former Senator points out that if it is an emergency, why does it take 3 days for the procedure to take place?

Furthermore, the former Senator points out that the issue is more like infanticide than abortion.  During the exchange, this became very clear:

Santorum:  “You agree, once a child is born, is separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed? Do you agree with that?

Boxer:  “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.”

Sanatorum:  “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights . . . Obviously, you don’t mean they have to take the baby out of the hospital for it to be protected by the Constitution. Once the baby is separated from the mother, you would agree—completely separated from the mother—you would agree that the baby is entitled to constitutional protection?”

Boxer:  “I don’t want to engage in this.”

When you bring your baby home then it has all the rights of an American citizen?  Boxer has since said that her words were taken out of context, but the video speaks for itself.

Santorum's argument in this exchange between the two senators is a point that we need to take note of.  If we arbitrarily define life some time after conception, we are hard pressed to find a reasonable argument as to why life begins at the moment we decide.  Therefore, the former Senator rightly contends, we are on a slippery slope towards infanticide.  Can any of us really deny this reality?

The argument isn't that we all defend infanticide and that Senator Boxer is arguing in favor of it, but that take to its logical conclusion, the arbitrary argument that life begins when the child is completely born naturally leads to the arbitrary definition of life and rights even after it has exited the woman's body and is breathing on its own.  It is not a surprise that infanticide supporters like Peter Singer are so popular in America right now.

This is a reality that Christians must face.  If our culture continues down the path of arbitrary laws and definitions of life, then we will continue to rationalize more barbaric procedures and acts of violence against our own citizens.  Already euthanasia is legal in several states.  Euthanasia is the natural result of decades of legalized abortion.  After all, if we an kill at the beginning of life, why not at the end?  Now what we are seeing is perhaps the right of life determined by a third party and not the breathing child herself.

These are dark days that we live in.  Until we recover the rational argument that life begins at conception and thus deserves the full rights of any citizen conceived in America, we will continue to fall down this slippery slope.  The barbarism of our culture in the name of "choice" and "health" is about to get much worse.

George Will - Barbara Boxer in Context  
Denny Burk - Slightly Modified Infanticide

For more:
Blogizomai - The Question of Infanticide:  The "House of Horrors" & the Debate Over Life 
Blogizomai - What To Do With An Abortion Survivor:  Italy, Infanticide, and Secular Moral Confusion 
Blogizomai - "Badly Botched" Abortion:  Another Way of Saying Infanticide and Murder
Blogizomai - Are Ultrasounds Enough:  The Centeredness of the Sacredness of Life in the Abortion Debate
Blogizomai - The Threat of Trig Palin:  The Return of Life Worthy of Life
Blogizomai - The Personhood of Animals:  The Argument is Made Again
Blogizomai - Which Will We Choose?:  The Theology of Death or the Theology of Life - Peter Singer, Evolution, & the Ethics of Human Extinction
Blogizomai - "When You Bring Your Baby Home:"  Infanticide and Arbitrary Definitions of Life

Theology Thursday | God is and is Not: The Dangers and Foolishness of Apopathic Theology

I am not a woman.  I am not an atheist.  I am not bald.  These are all negative statements about myself (obviously).  But though they are negative, they are also positive.  Since I am not a woman, I must be a male.  Since I am not an atheist, I must be a theist.  Since I am not bald, I must have hair.  To speak exclusively in the negative does not mean that one can avoid speaking in the positive or affirmative.  To speak negatively is to at the same time speak positively. 

This has been a growing trend among postmodern progressive Christians and Emergents.  Rooted in their postmodern fear of theological arrogance, many have begun to say what or who God is not rather than say in the affirmative who or what He is.  To say who God is in definitive and exclusive terms strikes a postmodern believer as arrogant and condescending.  To say that God is immutable is to shut out everyone who believes that God changes.  Therefore, many postmodern believers simply avoid any clear language regarding God.

To their credit, most progressive postmodern Christians want to preserve the unknowability of God.  In other words, many fear that by systematizing theology, we "freeze dry" God (to quote Brian McLaren) and appear to suggest that God can be definitively known and studied like a dissected frog.  They offer a God that cannot be understood by human language and study arguing that God is beyond categories and academic study.

On the surface, one must admit that this is correct.  Unless theology convince us of this reality, then we have really missed the point.  Theology must not be an academic study whereby all the mysteries of the universe and the God that sustains them all is finally and completely discovered and unearthed.  Rather a vibrant theology must embrace the fact that what can be known about God is rather minuscule compared to all that God is.

However, many things can be known about God.  Theology is never complete, but God has revealed Himself.  If God has revealed Himself (and to speak in the affirmative, He has or to speak in the negative God is not silent), then what He has revealed can be known.  Many postmodernists miss this point.  Certainly many Christians deserve to be criticized for their bringing God down to our level and understanding.  But at the same time, postmodernists can equally be criticizing on what seems to be an attempt to give up on discussing deep theology leave God unknown even though He seeks to be known and has made Himself known through general and special revelation.

To avoid the conundrum of misrepresenting God or to say too much about Him that may leave others out, many have begun to practice apophatic theology, or, to theology that speaks of God only in the negative.  In other words, instead of saying "God is love," apophatic theology says, "God is not violent."  One of the leading theologians doing this now is Emergent leader Tony Jones who on his website wrote:

. . . the more I’m drawn to thinking about God, the more I am convinced of the unknowability of God.  And so I wonder if I took on the challenge of Maimonides and spoke about God only in the negative, only stating what God is not.

Did you notice the contradiction in his argument?  In a post introducing us to who God is not, He tells us what God is.  God is unknowable.  Therefore, we can conclude, God is not completely knowable.

Since Jones has began this venture, he has argued (rather simplistically without hardly any depth) that God is not:  male, does not have a mustache, on the side of the poor, just, static, or Emergent.  But Tony Jones is not alone.  Many postmodern Christians are beginning to approach theology in much the same way. The purpose of these arguments is to allow some conclusions about God and yet allow for ambiguity and "conversation."  The problem is that for many of these statements, there is little ambiguity.  To speak in the negative is to also speak in the positive.

Take Jones' argument that God is not static, or to put it another way, God is not immutable (or unchanging).  To say such a thing is to argue that since God is not immutable, he must be mutable.  Perhaps we can even say that God not only changes, but evolves.  Jones himself seems to indicate this when he writes:

The biblical narrative is clear that God changes God’s mind — in fact, it happens explicitly several times in the Hebrew Scriptures . . .

So is Jones really being ambiguous?  Does speaking only in the negative really prevent the problems of freeze-drying God?  Hardly.  To speak in the negative is to speak in the positive.  And if it is OK and "relevant" to speak in the negative, then why not speak in the positive.  How is this approach less exclusive or dogmatic?  By declaring what or who God is not, are we not limiting the conversation?

Postmodernists are trying to avoid the dangers of the past, but are only creating for themselves the same problems.  We must only go where the Scriptures take us affirming both the negatives and the positives of God.  God is holy and He is not evil.  Both are definitive statements about God and they are both true.  Let us then, affirm the gospel and deny aberrant views about God.  Both are necessary and both are Biblical.  Both are sound theology that transcends postmodernism.

In other words:  God is not postmodern.

For more:
Theology - The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Challenges 
Theology - The Stipulation that Paralyzes:  Tony Jones and the Limits of the Emergent Worldview
Theology - Pinata Theology:  Ignore the Issue and Swing at the Distraction - What Piper Has Taught Us About the Church
Theology - Orthopraxy is Rooted in Orthodoxy - The Postmodern Return to Rome 
Theology - Emergent Jews

Theology - The Clarity of Ambiguity: The Erosion of the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Emergent Church - Part 1
Theology - The Clarity of Ambiguity:  The Erosion of the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Emergent Church - Part 2 
Theology - The Clarity of Ambiguity:  The Erosion of the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Emergent Church - Part 3 
Theology - The Clarity of Ambiguity:  The Erosion of the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Emergent Church - Part 4 
Theology - The Clarity of Ambiguity:  The Erosion of the Perspicuity of Scripture in the Emergent Church - Part 5 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The State Of Our Union 2011

Here is the State of the Union speech of President Barack Obama as delivered last night to the nation.  This year there were two responses given by Republican politicians.  The first is the official Republican response by Paul Ryan, the second is the Tea Party response by Michelle Bachmann.

The State of the Union delivered by President Obama.

Read transcript here.

Official Republican response delivered by Paul Ryan:

Read transcript here.

Tea Party Response with Michelle Bachmann:

Read transcript here.

For more:
Blogizomai - The Contrasts Are Clear:  Obama and Jindal's Proposals  
Blogizomai - To Comfort a Nation:  Obama in Arizona and How the Nation Reacted 
Blogizomai - The Beginning of the End:  Obama Announces the End of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Watch SOTU Live Here!

HT:  Gigaom

The Question of Infanticide: The "House of Horrors" & the Debate Over Life

If pro-choice advocates were consistent with themselves and took their defense of abortion to its logical end, they would defend the "house of horrors" abortion clinic and the doctor who ran it.  Dr. Kermit Gosnell clearly was a man who believed fully in a woman's right to choose (and his right to profit off of it) and understood that the legal line of granting a child rights only when their last toe exits the womb is arbitrary.  Does a toe really make infanticide wrong and abortion right?  That's the question I am asking myself after reading about the grizzly conditions and practices of Dr. Gosnell's abortion clinic who has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of murder.

For those who are unaware, here is the story:

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman following a botched abortion at his office, along with the deaths of seven other babies who, prosecutors allege, were born alive following illegal late-term abortions and then were killed by severing their spinal cords with a pair of scissors.

“I am aware that abortion is a hot-button topic,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “But as district attorney, my job is to carry out the law. A doctor who knowingly and systematically mistreats female patients, to the point that one of them dies in his so-called care, commits murder under the law. A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law.”

Gosnell is facing charges of murder in the third degree for the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar.  Mrs. Mongar died on November 20, 2009, when she was overdosed with anesthetics prescribed by Gosnell.  He is also facing seven murder charges for the deaths of infants who were killed after being born viable and alive during the sixth, seventh, or eighth month of pregnancy. Gosnell is also facing numerous other charges.

Its almost unreadable.  This is the sort of stuff one would expect to read of the ancient barbarians, not of a doctor in the United States in the 21st century.  Weren't we assured that legalized abortion-on-demand would prevent these sort of heinous and unnecessary deaths at the hands of a butcher who cared more about his wallet than his patients?  Weren't we assured that with legalization came safety?  After all, to ban abortion would force women into back alleys where their lives would be put at risk right?  And yet the politically hot button issue of abortion prevented this city from investigating the butcher - at least since the 1990's.  So much for legal, safe, and rare.

But an even greater issue is at stake here.  I find it hypocritical that even those in favor of abortion find what this doctor has done to be wrong.  Is it not amazing how fickle our moral outrage can be when it comes to life.  If the children were executed while still in the womb, Gosnell would still be in practice instead of behind bars.

There are two moral dilemmas here.  The first regards the inconsistency of the rights our laws apply to the unborn.  The common example given regards a pregnant woman who is struck by a drunk driver.  If both the child and the mother die, the drunk driver is charged with double homicide because the life of the mother, and her unborn child, were taken.  And yet if that same mother had walked into an abortion clinic, she could have legally terminated her child without legal or moral outrage.  Feminists unite. She was just exercising her rights.

What I want to know is would this woman be charged with murder if she were a pregnant drunk driver who crashed into a pole and as a result her unborn child dies, would she be guilty of murder?  The absolute confusion is apparent.  Somehow the child has rights when its life is taken by a drunk, but not when taken under the free "choice" of its mother.

The second moral dilemma regards infanticide.  If abortion is moral, then why isn't infanticide?  Is it not foolish to argue that the presence of a foot inside a mother's womb makes killing a baby legal but when the child is fully outside of the mother suddenly to take the child's life is murder?  Is that not what Gosnell is charged with here?  By removing the infants from their mother's womb, Gosnell was committing murder.  How is that any different than terminating a pregnancy while the child is still in the womb?

Dr. Denny Burk, Dean of Boyce College, put it this way:

Why are we surprised that [Dr. Gosnell] would feel no compunction about killing a baby born alive? The reason is because we do not want to face the facts of what abortion really is. It’s the taking of innocent human life, and the value of that life does not magically increase by passing through the birth canal. People don’t see this truth because they don’t want to see this truth.

There is, however, one abortion supporter who does see this truth:  Peter Singer.  Singer is a bioethicists that teaches at one of America's most elite schools and has repeatedly and publicly defended and promoted infanticide as a moral option.  And I must say that of anyone I have read on the issue of abortion and the culture of death, he is more logical (though appalling) than most.

Singer raises the question of when infants should be protected under the law.  There are a number of options.  Should they be protected at birth?  Singer points out that conservatives have the upper hand here.  It makes no sense that a prematurely born infant is to be protected while an infant at the same stage of development and still in the womb is not to be protected.

What about at viability?  By this, Singer means should the infant be protected once it can survive outside the womb?  Singer argues that there are a number of problems with this view.  He has written, if we talk . . . of potential human life, then the on viable fetus is as much a potential adult human as the viable fetus.[1]  Furthermore, he argues The point at which the fetus can survive outside the mother’s body varies according to the state of medical technology. [2]  His point is that this argument must be applied inconsistency and thus the moral argument is conditioned on technology, not biology or fact.

What about quickening - that is, when the mother first feels the infant move?  Singer writes, It is no more than the time when the fetus is first felt to move of its own accord; but it cannot be denied that the fetus is alive before this moment, and we do not regard the lack of a capacity for physical motion as negating the claims of paralyzed people to go on living.[3] Did you catch that?  Singer is at least honest enough to argue that it cannot be denied that the fetus is alive before the moment of quickening.

This leads to Singer to conclude:

I conclude that the liberal search for a morally significant dividing line between the newborn baby and the fetus fails.  The conservative is right to insist that the development from zygote to infant is a thoroughly gradual process.

I must admit that on this point, he is right.  The pro-choice argument simply fails. Their search for a morally significant dividing line between the newborn baby and the fetus fails miserably.  Singer will then go on to argue for infanticide while I want to argue for pro-life convictions.  However, Singer rightly understands that if one holds to a pro-choice worldview, then how is infanticide logically and morally wrong?  That ought to be the issue of greatest concern coming out of Pennsylvania.  Whether the children were inside or outside the womb, is it no longer the mother's right to choose what to do with her own children?  The answer ought to be an obvious no (as the larger response has shown throughout the culture), but one must wonder then that if a woman has no right over the life of her just-born child while it is still attached to the umbilical cord, then why does she have the right over that same child's life before it is born?  Singer may seem radical (and he is), but at least he is taking the abortion argument to its logical end.

The fact that at the moment of conception the child possesses a unique DNA code different from its mother ought to be reason enough for the unborn to be legally protected with the same rights at the newborn and the adult.  The news of the "house of horrors" is shocking to say the least, but one must wonder why it is in our confused and morally depraved culture.  Abortion is indefensible on biological and moral grounds which is why most speak in terms of choice, rights, and freedom.

Here is the real truth.  The orgasm, as author Dinesh D'Souza has brilliantly argued, is our culture's greatest sacrament mean that abortion is a must have.[4]  The rally cry of feminists leading up to Roe vs. Wade and then echoed recently by our own President has been that it is unfair that women can become pregnant in a sexually liberated culture and thus burdened with a child, while men do not.  Thus abortion is a must if we are to be sexually free.

It all comes down to sex.  The majority of abortions are for the purpose of contraception and sexual promiscuity.  And if that is the real motivation, then why is Gosnell in the wrong.  After all, if we are enslaved to the god of sex, isn't the death of one more child (inside or outside the womb) well worth the worship of that god?  This is why we need the gospel.  Only the gospel offers liberation from slavery and life to the unwanted.  Whether unborn or unwanted, the gospel sees value in every human made in the image of God.  The sexual cult of the culture, however, only sees the temporal joy of self-gratification and if anything gets in the way of that, there is always the butchers knife and the countless other house of horrors on the block.

[1] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 109.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid., 110.
[4]  Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great About Christianity?, 269.

CBS Philly - Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Charged With 8 Counts Of Murder 
First Thoughts - Philadelphia Abortion/Infanticide Abattoir Consistent With Peter Singer Values
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - In His Own Words: A Radical Pro-Abortion President
Dr. Denny Burk - A Closer Look at Gosnell's Horror  
Human Events - The Nutty Professor 

For more:
Blogizomai - "When You Bring Your Baby Home:"  Infanticide and Arbitrary Definitions of Life
Blogizomai - What To Do With An Abortion Survivor:  Italy, Infanticide, and Secular Moral Confusion 
Blogizomai - "Badly Botched" Abortion:  Another Way of Saying Infanticide and Murder
Blogizomai - Are Ultrasounds Enough:  The Centeredness of the Sacredness of Life in the Abortion Debate
Blogizomai - The Threat of Trig Palin:  The Return of Life Worthy of Life
Blogizomai - The Personhood of Animals:  The Argument is Made Again
Blogizomai - Which Will We Choose?:  The Theology of Death or the Theology of Life - Peter Singer, Evolution, & the Ethics of Human Extinction

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shortblog Saturday - January 22, 2011

Once again, I want to highlight some of the posts at the Short-Blogizomai blog on things I commented on but not in great detail.  These are not all of the blog posts from the past week, but just some that I thought were worth highlighting.

Newdow At It Again: Atheism and Being Offended By What You Don't Believe In

Our buddy is at it again.  Atheist lawyer Michael Newdow is now suing to have the phrase "In God We Trust" taken off all US currency again.  It didn't work out the first time, maybe second time is a charm (or something like that).  Newdow is perhaps best known for his suing the nation seeking to take out the "Under God" phrase from the National Pledge of Allegiance.  He has also sued due to biblical content in Californian school textbooks and sought to prevent Chief Justice John Roberts from making President Barack Obama from reciting "so help me God" at his inauguration.

I think comedian Brad Stine sums up persons like Newdow the best:

Dude, your an atheist.  You don't even believe God is real, how can he offend you?  Which is more rational, a guy who believes in a God he cannot see or a guy who is offended by a god he doesn't believe in?

Fox News on the Rise of Christian Persecution in the Middle East

Fox News is the only major news outlet I have seen on TV that has highlighted the rise of persecution against Christians in the middle East (particularly in Egypt and Iraq).  Today they ran a news story on it and then had a panel discuss the issue.  It is rare that anyone in the West highlights the recent events against our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Let us keep them in our prayers.

For more:
Blogizomai - Pray for Our Brothers and Sisters in Iraq
Short-Blogizomai - Colson on the Persecution of Christians in Iraq
Short-Blogizomai - Free At Last:  Christian Woman Off Death Row in Pakistan   
Short-Blogizomai - Christian Persecution Finally Gets Notice 
Short-Blogizomai - Finally Out of the Closet:  The Church in China Becoming More Boldly Public 
Blogizomai - What's the Big Deal?:  Christianity and Homosexuality
Blogizomai - -The (In)Tolerance of the Homosexual Movement: See, I Told You So
Blogizomai - The (In)Tolerance of the Homosexual Movement: A Response
Blogizomai - Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Blogizomai - Where Does The Madness End? Where the Homosexual Agenda Leads - Part 2  

Who Says You Can't Have Your Cake & Eat it Too: The Lie of Contraceptives & Rare Abortions

The Baptist Press has reported on some interesting statistics.  According to the article, the increase of available and use of contraceptives has only increased the number of abortions, not decreased them.  This goes against the conventional wisdom which has argued for decades that when pregnancies can be prevented abortions will become more rare.  The article quotes one such supporter of contraceptives as saying, The reasons for the increasing rate of elective abortion warrant further investigation.  Something tells me they will still miss the obvious.  What they didn't consider (primarily out of a faulty understanding of human nature) is how contraceptives increase of promiscuity thus increasing the chances of "unwanted" pregnancies.

The article goes on to quote reads pro-life leader Christina Dunigan who wrote:

"Researchers scratched their heads in bewilderment, likely because they don't understand risk compensation. If you reduce the perceived risks of a behavior, people will compensate by behaving in higher-risk ways.

She added, "The Pill Pushers have chosen to ignore the data, and the reality of how human beings work. The more you create an environment in which people perceive sex as low-risk, the more people will engage in risky sex

This should be obvious and yet our secular culture will miss it.  This is not at all to suggest that contraceptives should be avoided, but that we should not be fooled into thinking that abortion has never been about contraception or that "safe" sex is foolproof.  I do believe that contraceptives have their proper place (between a married man and a woman), but our culture's firm belief in the curse of children has brought us to this point.  We have moved sex from one-flesh intimacy to sport and thrill.  Sex has become inherently self-centered, thus making children a curse.  Only when we see children as a blessing and abortion as murder of the highest rank can we recover our moral high ground.  So long as we remain this secular and loss, the numbers will only get much worse and the blindness of our culture will somehow only increase.

Who would have thought encouraging sex and promoting abortion as the "last resort" contraceptive would increase the practice of abortion?  And who said you could have your cake and eat it too?  We need a moral recovery.  We need a gospel revival.

Baptist Press - Study: Contraceptives raise abortion rate 

Super Mario Brothers

Friday, January 21, 2011

Repost Friday | Morality and the Role of Government: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism - What Rand Paul Has Taught Us

One day a libertarian and a conservative were having a conversation.  The conservative said, "I am distressed by the idea of fornication in public parks."  The libertarian responded, "I am distressed by the idea of public parks."*  This is the primary difference between conservatives and libertarians.  The battle cry for libertarians is freedom and liberty (hence the name) and thus sees a free society to be a right society.  In other words, libertarianism is primarily a political theory of government that believes that when a society is free (and yet not quit anarchical), society will be better off.

Conservatism argues otherwise.  Conservatives believe that maximum freedom is economically best it can however be morally is dangerous.  A conservative and a libertarian together fight against a growing government, tax hikes, and increase regulations in a society, but they primarily differ regards the limits of government.  In other words, libertarianism is primarily economic (and only vaguely political primarily in sense that the government protects individual liberty) whereas conservatism is primarily moral seeing a limitted government as best, but not perfect.

The real difference, as is the case with most political, moral, theological and economic theories, regards one's view of man.  Libertarianism assumes each individual is virtuous.  Virtuous individuals populate and create virtuous societies.  To believe that man is good does not mean that they never do wrong, but a collection of virtuous people will likely lead to a virtuous society.

This is why libertarians are against the drug wars and want to legalize all illegal substances.  They argue that by making it illegal only creates a black market which encourages crime.  This is the problem that Prohibition created in the 1920's.  By making alcohol illegal, gangsters like Al Capone became rich and powerful and opened the door to more illegal actions beyond the making and selling of alcohol like murder and robbery.

Conservatives, on the other hand, argue that man is flawed and corrupt.  Thus, to leave man free to do whatever he wants will only lead to depravity for sale.  Likewise, a big, powerful government will only increase corruption in soceity for itself will be corrupt.  So though conservatives favor small government, they do not favor a government as small as libertarians because conservatives give government some (but limited) responsibility to prevent rampid evil and depravity in society.

Take pornography and sexual vice for example.  If society were as free as libertarians would want, the porn industry would be larger than it is now.  It is no secret that sex sells and people are willing to spend billions of dollars a year on it.  The reason mankind is obsessed with sex is because he is flawed.  Libertarian economics seeks to legalize prostitution believing that it will make prostitution less profitable and people will move on to something more virtuous (not to mention the crime that oftentimes surrounds illegal prostitution), whereas conservatism understands that to legalize prostitution will endanger young women and embolden perverted men.

This is the problem that recent Republican nominee-elect Rand Paul ran into while appearing on MSNBC (anything but a conservative or libertarian news station) following his electoral victory in Kentucky.  Dr. Paul is the son of libertarian Republican Ron Paul who ran for President in 2008 raising libertarianism out of its cultural slumber.  Like his father, Dr. Paul seeks to shrink government and limit the regulations the government currently holds over its citizens.

While on the Rachel Maddow show, Dr. Paul was asked a question regarding the Civil Rights Act.  On the surface it appears that he is not in favor of the landmark law that ended segregation throughout the United States.  Maddow asked Paul is he thought "that a private business has the right to say, 'We don't serve black people?'"  Paul responded:

Yeah…I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race. But I think what’s important about this debate is not getting into any specific ‘gotcha’ on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized.

On the surface it sounds as if Paul is in favor of private businesses that segregate based on any form of discrimination whether it be race, gender, religion, nationality, wealth, etc.  But in fairness, here is the libertarian view: Government has no right to tell a free person who they can and cannot serve.  If the entrepreneur wants to predetermine and limit his customers, then he should have the right to do so realizing that by doing so, he is limiting his ability to maximize his wealth opportunities.  By not allowing an entire race to eat at his restaurant, for example, he is preventing his business from profiting from an entire population of society.  As a result, the owner will eventually open his business to everybody without any segregation.

One should admit that on the surface this is a logical belief, but the reality simply isn't true.  Our history shows that many business owners were willing to take the economic hit of not serving particular groups knowing that they would continue to profit from those who (im)morally agreed with the owner.  So in the case of racial segregation, owners who barred blacks from their place of business were financially rewarded by the continued business of the white customers who wanted and enjoyed that policy.  The entrepreneur's learned that their happy, racist customers balanced out the missing business from the black community.

This is where conservatism comes in.  Conservatism understand government to play the role of protector in society.  It must protect its citizens from outside forces (thus they have a military, diplomats, etc.) and from inside threats (thus they have police, judges, and law).  One of those threats is moral wrongs like racism and segregation.  Therefore, conservatives see the Civil Rights Act as a moral law that is just and right.  It is an example of when government should have intruded on the freedom of racist business owners.

Take Paul's argument here and apply it to something else.  He has repeatedly said that he is against racism and segregation and believes it to be immoral.  But his libertarianism prevents him from using the law to condemn and prevent segregation in society.  So his argument runs thus:  "Though I am personally against racism, I, nor the government, has the right to intrude on the individual rights of another person."

To apply such an ethic to racism is dangerous, but many are using that same faulty logic today especially in regards to other social issues like abortion and homosexuality.  How many people have said, "Though I oppose abortion and would never have one, I cannot tell other women not to have one.  That is their right and choice."  Oftentimes this argument is clouded in the, "if you make abortions illegal, women are going to have them in unsterilized alley's which will lead to the deaths of many women."**

As a Christian (and as one with conservative and at times libertarian leanings) I am appalled by this argument.  Because I believe that humans are flawed, I have a firm belief that where the gospel is ignored, government should have some (limited) role in preventing ramped immorality. Conservatives (and even liberals) rightly understand that the law is a moral document that defines our morality.  Every law is legislated morality.  Legalizing everything will not make immorality go away.  The continued slaughter of unborn infants proves the point.  Instead of the numbers dropping to the point of oblivion, abortion has become a source of birth control for sexually promiscuous couples and in the process more forms of infant murder are being debated like embryonic stem cell research, eugenics, and infanticide, not to mention euthanasia and other forms of state-sponsored murder.

Christians must be aware of these arguments.  Though Christians (especially Baptists) have held to a belief of limited government in recent centuries, we must understand that the Bible views government as one who protects its citizens and ensures a just and moral society.  There is the danger of bigger government (like what liberals and socialists promote) which only leads to an immoral society and also of a very small, limited government (like what libertarians want).  Small government seems best, but it should not be so small as to not protect the unborn and the discriminated against.***

I do not believe that most libertarians (and even liberals) are anti-moral.  However, I do believe that their political theory is flawed in its understand of the human nature and in the role of government.  Government, when given too much power, can become oppressive and history is littered with many examples of that.  But when given virtually no power, government and the broader society can turn a blind eye to injustice, bigotry, racism, sexism, hatred, and evil and American history has unfortunately illustrated.

So was banning (and therefore intruding on the individual liberties of many Americans) segregation just?  Yes.  Should government have stepped in.  Yes, for many were denied their rights.  Likewise, until the gospel takes hold of our society, government ought to step in and prevent the murder of untold millions of our fellow Americans and prevent the sexualization of women in our society (among other moral issues).  Freedom is a wonderful thing and is God-given and yet we can easily turn freedom into a license to sin in abundance.

So though I applaud Dr. Paul's concern for governments growth for it has become too bloated and unsustainable as it continues to increase our debt and intrude on our personal liberties.  At the same time, however, I am equally concerned with how far libertarians like the Paul's want to shrink our government to a point where immorality means taxable income.****

*Taken from Dinesh D'Souza, Letters to a Young Conservative, 12-13.
 **  Former first lady Laura Bush (whose husband was very pro-life) made this same argument recently on Larry King Live!
***  I know that at this point many will point to my belief that homosexuals should not be allowed to get married.  Before you scream at my hypocrisy, note that my firm belief against same-sex marriage is a moral argument.
****  Before closing, a quick word should be mentioned how a left-leaning media likes to pick at libertarians like Paul.  If you watch the interviews Paul did following the Maddow interview, many of the journalists begin to ask him questions that they would never ask a conservative like, "do you want to repeal minimum wages?" "do you want to get rid of the federal reserve?' etc.  However, the point remains, libertarianism has its many dangers even if they are at times mistreated and poked at by the media (much in the same way as conservatives are).

For more:
Denny Burk - Why I Can't Stand Libertarianism
Alex Chediak - Rand Paul Blows It On The Rachel Maddow Show 
ABC News - Rand Paul Says He's Being 'Trashed Up and Down' by 'Democratic Talking Points' 
Blogizomai - To Legislate or Not: Condelezza Rice, Libertarianism, and Morality

Theology Thursday | Does McLaren Reject Penal Substitution: A Review of the Evidence

Does Brian McLaren reject penal substitution?  Read his books and one will find that when he does mention the subject he raises questions but never comes out and openly rejects it.  However, many other times, the absence of its presence is also telling.

For McLaren salvation is primarily about the here and now, not the then and later.  Salvation isn't about getting us into heaven and out of hell, but about bringing the Kingdom of God down to Earth.  This contradicts penal substitution.  Penal Substitution says that salvation is concerned with both the here and now and the then and later.  Salvation is more "holistic" (to use the word) than what McLaren offers.  If salvation is only about solving political, systemic, and cultural problems, then salvation is limited and will mean nothing after death.  Penal substitution, however, demands obedience (or righteousness) while living and heaven after death.

Throughout his writings, one must conclude that McLaren not only redefines the cross and penal substitution but also seems to reject it.  The former pastor suggests that Jesus Himself did not even know why He had to die.  McLaren tells the story of a church member, George, who came into his office and asked him “why did Jesus have to die?”  The climax at the cross made no sense to him and so McLaren, as the pastor, spent two weeks thinking about that question before answering.  Just days before he was to give his answer, after researching the theology of “John Stott, J. I. Packer, James Boice, and others,” McLaren still had no answer.  Finding himself swimming at his parents house with his brother McLaren asked his brother the same question.  His brother answered, “well, neither did Jesus . . . Remember the story about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? . . . It sounds to me like Jesus didn’t really understand why it had to be that way either.  But the point wasn’t understanding it; the point was doing what needed to be done.”  After some thought, McLaren responded, “You know . . . for some reason . . . that doesn’t answer my question, but somehow, that’s better than an answer.  It kind of makes the question not really matter so much.”  And so McLaren gave the same answer to George who became “a committed follower of Jesus.”*

Furthermore, in the “conversation” between Dan, the burned-out pastor, and Neo, the postmodern Christian, in his book, A New Kind of Christian, Dan asks Neo why he failed to share the “gospel” with a certain woman who was hurting and craving “to feel closer to God again.”  Neo’s answer is telling:

'Dan, I don’t think that most Christians have any idea what the gospel really is . . . For example, how would you define the gospel?’  I said something about accepting Christ as your personal savior and justification by grace through faith, not by our works, based on the finished work of Christ on the cross, and he said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what most modern Christians would say . . . Does it bother you that Jesus never defined the gospel in this way?  And does it bother you that no Christians in history ever used the phrase ‘accept Christ as your personal savior’ until a few decades ago?  Does it bother you that our little gospel presentations are really just modern sales pitches that reduce the gospel to modern dimensions - laws, steps, simple diagrams, complete with sales close?'**

Neo goes on to define the gospel as “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  By the Kingdom of God, McLaren means the Kingdom as here and now. We must bring the Kingdom of God down on earth and we do so through politics, economics, social justice, etc.

In the sequel to A New Kind of Christian, McLaren deals specifically with penal substitution through the characters of his story.  Carol explains to Kerry the doctrine of penal substitution:

Well, I believe that God sent Jesus into the world to absorb all the punishment for our sins.  That’s what the cross was all about.  It was Jesus absorbing the punishment that all of us deserve.  He became the substitute for all of us.  As he suffered and died, all our wrongs were paid for, so all of us can be forgiven.  Ok?

Kerry immediately has her concerns regarding this “substitutionary atonement theory.”  Kerry is confused, “if God wants to forgive us, why doesn’t he just do it?  How does punishing an innocent person make things better? . . . It sounds like divine child abuse.  You know?”  She goes on to add, “Christian dogma and doctrine don’t make complete sense to me.  No offense, but I grew up with this stuff, and it just stopped working for me as I grew older.”  From here, the various characters, namely Dan and Neo, help Kerry and the others understand the various atonement theories regarding the cross.  Neo concludes that the theory that works best for him is the “powerful weakness theory” where Jesus became “vulnerable” on the cross.***

There are a number of interesting things to point out here.  First, nowhere in the discussion regarding the atonement do the characters refer to Scripture.  What McLaren offers, through the medium of story, is a list of theories, yet no answers.  Scripture is never alluded to.  Rather, these theories are just labels that theologians use to describe “how Jesus’ life and death play a role in the salvation of the human race.”      
Secondly, McLaren defines truth by what makes sense to the individual.  Kerry confesses that substitutionary atonement makes no sense to her and that it does not work for her anymore, therefore, it is not true for her.  So to McLaren, the seeker defines Christian truth, not Scripture.  In the end, just through this simple conversation among these characters McLaren allows the doctrine of penal substitution to be undermined in a matter of a few paragraphs.

What is most interesting about this interchange among the seekers in McLaren’s story is the striking similarity between McLaren’s treatment of penal substitution and Steve Chaulke’s description regarding it.  Both men refer to penal substitution as “divine child abuse.”
Quoting John 3:16, Chalke asks, “how then, have we come to believe that at the cross this God of love suddenly decides to vent his anger and wrath on his own Son?”  To Chalke, penal substitution contradicts God’s love:
The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse – a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offense he has not even committed.  Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith.  Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement “God is love”.  If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil.****

To Chalke, penal substitution has a number of flaws.  First, it is “child abuse” because God punishes Jesus for something He did not do.  It is also “morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith.”  Therefore, it is implied, Christians should discard it as unnecessary not because it is necessarily unbiblical, but because it has become a “huge barrier” to those seeking the faith.  Finally, if God is love, then how could He pour out His wrath and torture His Son in a vengeful way?  Did Jesus not Himself say to “love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil?”
In Chalke’s theology, the cross is the ultimate symbol of love.  “It is a demonstration of just how far God as Father and Jesus as his Son are prepared to go to prove that love.”

By redefining the gospel apart from the cross is a radical shift from historical orthodox Soteriology.  Jesus, in Emergent theology, becomes less of a sacrificial lamb and more of a unfortunate martyr who stood for something that was too radical for His day.  Something in which one must continue to learn and apply today.  McLaren wrote:
[This] new idea sees Jesus becoming vulnerable on the cross and accepting suffering from every one, Jew and Roman, and not visiting suffering on everyone in some sort of revenge.  It puts on display God’s loving heart which wants forgiveness, not vengeance.  The idea is about suffering and transforming it into reconciliation, and not avenging it through retaliation.  God rejects the violence, dominance, and oppression which have so gripped the world from the time of Cain and Abel until today’s news headlines.  The call of the cross is for mankind not to make the Kingdom come about through coercion but ‘to welcome it through self sacrifice and vulnerability.’*****

So in these writings it seems very clear that McLaren rejects penal substitution, but McLaren's refusal to speak clearly and embrace mystery makes it at time difficult to say with certainty that he rejects penal substitution.  But make no mistake about it, he does.

Take a recent comment he made on a blog post.  The context of the post was in answer to a reader's request for McLaren to speak positively about a movement, group, person, or belief that he disagrees with.  McLaren's response concludes:

And millions of wonderful and good-hearted people believe in penal substitution and a literal fire-and-brimstone hell, and have done so for centuries. The problem isn't the good people who, as you say, "reconcile these doctrines to help better shape society." The problem is the unintended negative consequences of these beliefs, especially as they're held by less sensitive or ethical people. And then there's the question of whether these beliefs are the best consolidations of the biblical data. But you wanted me to say something positive, so I won't go any further in this direction!

Notice the language. The context of the post is to say something positive to things he disagrees with.  He picks on proponents of the rapture and penal substitution.  So it is clear that by its inclusion, McLaren admittedly rejects both the rapture and penal substitution.

The reason McLaren gives for rejecting penal substitution is first because of "the unintended negative consequences of these beliefs, especially as they're held by less sensitive or ethical people."  McLaren does not go into more detail than that and so what he means exactly remains a mystery.  What he seems to be saying (or at least how I interpret them) is that penal substitution has been abused in the past as an excuse for licentiousness.  But one must not forget that entire books of the New Testament are dedicated to the subject especially 2 Peter and Jude.  The gospel is neither legalistic or libertarian.  Certainly persons have abused the gospel as a license to since, but abusing the gospel should result in correcting the abuser, not a wholesale rejection of the gospel.

The second reason he rejects penal substitution in this post is because of the biblical data.  I will not take the time to defend the biblical record regarding penal substitution.  Needless to say that from Genesis 3 all the way to the end, the Bible affirms propitiation and penal substitution.  Whether it be the slaying of an animal in order to provide Adam and Eve with clothes in Genesis 3, the day of atonement in Leviticus 16, or the exchange of Barabbas for Jesus in Mark 15, penal substitution runs through the whole Bible.

These reasons given by McLaren are rather weak.  McLaren is distrusted and disliked by many orthodox Evangelicals, not because of his stance on homosexuality or the church, but primarily because of his wholesale rejection of the gospel.  McLaren's soteriology is left to the social gospel and works righteousness.  So does McLaren reject penal substitution?  I see no evidence of his firm belief in it nor does it at all appear to be central to his understanding of the gospel.

Discussing McLaren in depth is important because he has written the most on the gospel, salvation, and the cross and his influence is unsurpassed.  Most Emergents affirm much of what McLaren believes including his understanding of the gospel and the purpose/meaning of salvation.  Therefore, many in the Emergent movement are far from orthodoxy and should be rejected for that reason.  Yes we can complain on McLaren's and many Emergents stances on various political and social issues, but our main concern should regard the gospel.  To get the gospel wrong is to get everything else in the Christian worldview wrong.

McLaren - Q & R:  Could You Say Something Positive

*  McLaren, More Ready Than You Realize, 79-82.
**  McLaren, A New Kind of Christian, 105-106.
***First quote taken from McLaren, The Story We Find Ourselves In, 101-102.  Neo says, “By becoming vulnerable on the cross, by accepting suffering from everyone, Jews and Romans alike, rather than visiting suffering on everyone, Jesus is showing God’s loving heart, which wants forgiveness, not revenge, for everyone.  Jesus shows us that the wisdom of God’s kingdom is sacrifice, not violence.  It’s about accepting suffering and transforming it into reconciliation not avenging suffering through retaliation . . . The cross shows God’s rejection of the human violence and dominance and oppression that have spun the world in a cycle of crisis from the story of Cain and Abel through the headlines in this morning’s Washington Post.  I don’t know . . . this theory might be nonsense, but maybe there’s a grain of truth in it.  The cross calls humanity to stop trying to make God’s kingdom happen through coercion and force, which are always self-defeating in the end, and instead, to welcome it through self-sacrifice and vulnerability.” McLaren, The Story We Find Ourselves In, 105-106.
****  Chalke, The Lost Message of Jesus, 182-183.  McLaren endorsed Chalke's book.
******  McLaren, The Story We Find Ourselves In, 105-106.

I have not quoted or mentioned McLaren's most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, because a fuller review of the book came after the writing of this article.  I have written on McLaren's understanding of the atonement and the gospel from the book elsewhere.

For more:
Thesis - Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Social Gospel
Theology -Thesis | Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accomodation to the Kindgom of God - Chapter 1
Theology - Thesis | Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Kingdom of God - Chapter 2.1
Theology - Thesis| Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Kingdom of God - Chapter 2.2
Theology - Thesis | Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Kingdom of God - Chapter 2.3 
Theology - Thesis | Brian McLaren and Emergent Soteriology:  From Cultural Accommodation to the Kingdom of God - Chapter 3.1 
Theology - SBTS and McLaren:  A Response to SBTS Panel Discussion
Theology - Hamilton:  McLaren and Whole Food Stores 
Theology - The Postmodern Social Gospel:  Brian McLaren Proves My Point  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Legal, Safe, & Abundant: The Shocking Truth of a Common Abortion Slogan

The abortion debate has become one of bumper sticker slogans on both sides of the issue.  On the right, we hear things like, "no pro-choice advocate was ever aborted."  Likewise, Christians point to arguments that everyone was formed by God in the womb, sovereignty given life, and that all of life is sacred, set apart by God to be lived out for His glory.  One of the slogans of pro-choice advocates, especially among leading politicians, is that abortion ought to be "safe, legal, and rare." 

In 1992, while running for President, Bill Clinton offered the slogan as a campaign promise.  Though staunchly pro-choice, Clinton set out his three firm beliefs regarding abortion:  it should be legal; they should be safe; and they ought to be rare.  His wife, Hillary Clinton repeated the slogan in 2000 when she was making her run for the White House. Now the President has joined the bandwagon.  Last year while in New Mexico, the President offered his belief that abortions should be legal and safe, and also rare.

The mantra of rarity is becoming more and more popular these days.  Now there is a growing movement, particularly among progressive Christians, to push for abortion reduction.  They believe that by eliminating poverty (usually through welfare and other government programs) and dealing with the causes of unwanted pregnancies (I think that's called sex outside of marriage), the number of abortions will drop.  Though this sounds like a plan, statistics have shown that each year the number of abortions has slowly decreased in number.  Though the rate is not dropping fast enough, it is dropping nonetheless.

All of that is changing however.  Since the inauguration of President Obama, the numbers seem to have plateaued.  Abortion Reduction proponents suggest that President Obama's loosing of abortion laws will actually lower the number of abortions in the country.  In other words, by making it easier to attain an abortion, people are less likely to have one.  For the past 2 years, our nation has been big on making abortions legal and (usually) safe, the numbers show that they are not doing a very good job at making them rare.

Consider the statistics coming out of New York City.  The data shows that approximately 40% of pregnancies in NYC end in abortion.  Forty percent!  But it gets worse.  According to reports, 60% of pregnancies among black women end in abortion.  This means that there are more black children being aborted than being born in New York City.  If this isn't the civil rights issue of our time, I don't know what is.  More black children have been murdered through abortion than through anything else in our nation's history.  Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is right in asking, How is it that black church leaders are so silent on this murderous assault on unborn African-American babies?

Nationwide, the abortion rate is around 22% meaning that over 1/5 of all pregnancies end in abortion.  The statistics are simply staggering.  In a nation that has abandoned the theological argument against abortion, perhaps the dire reality that for the past 35+ years, the United States has murdered over 50 million tax paying citizens.  Consider this truth the next time you think about our $14 trillion debt.

These numbers are simply staggering and ought to remind us of the foolishness of the pro-choice argument.  By making abortion legal and safe, they have not become rare.  Never mind the countless stories one could chronicle of the barbarism oftentimes found in abortion clinics where the human remains of aborted fetuses are left in garbage bags and even jars, the numbers speak for themselves.  We are murdering entire generations in the name of "choice."

It is time to dispense the lie that opening the doors of immorality decreases the statistics.  Furthermore, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that if only we lower the numbers of the aborted to a certain number, suddenly everything will be fine like the abortion reductionists want us to believe. The taking of one life is one too many. The depravity of man is such that if given an inch, he will always take countless miles.  The legalization of abortion may have been about choice, but it has become as much about contraception and eugenics than anything else.

Our only hope in really lowering the numbers of abortion and eventually making the barbaric practice illegal is ultimately through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our culture has so bought into the notion that we are merely animals (thanks Darwin) which has led to the notion that some lives are worth living and other aren't.  After all, if we're just animals, we're not really that special.  We choose who lives, God doesn't.  Furthermore, we've rationalized murder through the most barbaric of means.  Since when did choice trump the immorality of an act.  Only when a child is unborn does someone elses choice determine their fate.  If a mother has no choice over her child's life outside the womb, then why inside?

The gospel sees in every child a gift from God, not a curse.  The culture has so overplayed its hand in sexual liberation that it has turned marriage into something to scoff and children something to avoided.  Children are viewed as a curse in the eyes of the culture.  No wonder our children grow up feeling unwanted because every child knows that at one point their birth was at the mercy of mom and dad.  No one - not the culture, the law, the government, or even their doctor - was going to protect them from their parents decision.  To be born is to among the elect few anymore.

Legal and safe does not make abortion rare, it makes abortions convenient and the numbers in New York City and nationwide reflect that. So long as abortion is an option, a depraved, confused culture will see it as the best possibility when life gets in our way.  To many, unrestrained sex is a better choice than the gift of life.

Life is precious; not because society says it is, but because God is its Creator and Savior.  He not only made us, He has died for us.  Let us return to that fundamental truth.  If life is not worth living, then Jesus made a mistake.  The numbers of the murdered unborn are too staggering to comprehend and we as a nation ought to weep and repent for our bloody hands.  Though the bumper sticker and political slogan of legal, safe, and rare sounded nice, it has turned into our nation's greatest nightmare and sin.

New York Times - Religious Leaders Call for New Efforts to Lower the City’s ‘Chilling’ Abortion Rate 
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - Chilling Almost Beyond Belief 
Secondhand Smoke - Abortion: Shameful 39% Rate in NYC
CBS New York - 39 Percent Of NYC Pregnancies Result In Abortion 

For more:
Blogizomai - Abortion Reduction:  The Danger of Compromising on Life
Blogizomai - Abortion: Is Common Ground Possible?   
Blogizomai - The Follow of Abortion Reduction: A Lesson in Common Sense
Blogizomai - The Slavery of the Unborn: Why Abortion Reduction is Not Pro-Life
Blogizomai - From Life to Choice to Economics: A New President and a Change in the Debate Over Life

Blogizomai - Eugenics in the Present Tense: Eugenics in America Today - Part 1
Blogizomai - Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today - Part 2
Blogizomai - Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today - Part 3
Blogizomai - From White Sheets to White Coats:  Abortion and the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights 
Blogizomai - Social Conservatives Take Heed: 100 Days of Change
Blogizomai - Colson: The March of Death
Blogizomai - "No We Won't": Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction
Blogizomai -The "Personhood" of Animals: The Argument is Made . . . Again
Blogizomai - Hitler Is Alive And Well: Repeating the Mistakes of the Past

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Some of the Culture's Reactions to the Tuscon Tragedy

A week and a half after the tragic massacre in Tucson, AR which led to the death of several and the wounding of several more.  The vitriol towards conservatives, Republicans, and Palinites was rather shocking and has become more of the story in the culture than the shooting itself.  More ink has been used to write about Palin than has written about the shooter Jared Lee Loughner himself. 

To sort of remind ourselves of the craziness that all of this became, below is a collection of videos (only a very small sample) regarding the tragedy.  Some are good, some are bad, and some quit frankly are ugly.  In all of this, we oftentimes missed the point.  Our obsession and trust in politics has forced us to respond to everything non-political with our template political points.  Instead of this being a tragedy that transcended politics that should have brought us together, we used it as an opportunity to tear at each other even more.

This is a good exercise for Christians as well.  It is important that we understand what is going on in the culture and how the gospel shapes our worldview and how we respond to such tragedies.  The following videos remind me of how desperately we need the gospel because we are simply falling off our rockers quick.

To begin, here is Keith Olbermann from MSNBC making outrageous and inaccurate accusations and commands based on no evidence at all:

Consider also the following from one of the survivors of the shooting who has since been arrested for shouting "Your dead," to a Tea Partier in a public event:

And as for the Sheriff:


Fox News:

Here is the new Speaker of the House John Boener:

HT:  The Blaze

Sarah Palin's response:

Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

Bill O'Reilly's Response:

For more:
Blogizomai - Cheap Shots & Politics:  The Gospel & Assessing the Tuscon Tragedy - Part 1    
Yes It (Thinks It) Can:  The Gospel & Assessing the Tucson Tragedy - Part 2 
Blogizomai - Shining the Light in the Dark Place:  The Gospel & Assessing the Tucson Tragedy - Part 3 
Blogizomai - To Comfort a Nation:  Obama in Arizona and How the Nation Reacted 
Blogizomai - Marriage and the Limits of Law and the Courts: Why Only the Gospel Regenerates and Changes Behavior 
Blogizomai - The Power and Danger of Worldviews - What James Lee Teaches Us About Our Worldview
Short-Blogizomai - Palin Responds to Tucson Tragedy   
Short-Blogizomai - O'Reilly Responds to Tucson Tragedy