Monday, October 6, 2008

Enough is Enough

An inexcusable justification for Obama support is rapidly gaining popularity. Those who adopt this commonly championed yet false case that abortion is no more important than other issues must be set straight, especially during a political campaign as monumental as this. Hip, trendy, and deliberately contra-Religious Right, the argument typically takes this form:

Abortion is a single-issue.
Single-issue politics is naive and wrong.
Therefore we should not vote based upon the abortion issue.

A severe problem for this argument lies in its assumption that single-issue politics is indeed wrong. Though combating slavery was unpopular in his day, William Wilberforce chose to devote the majority of his time, energy, and resources to passionately and successfully fight this one issue. Hardly a human being would claim that Wilberforce was politically irresponsible due to his functionally single-issue politics. Single-issue politics is not necessarily wrong; in fact, as Wilberforce's moral victory displayed, it can be a wise course of action. Therefore, this argument fails.

Moreover, it has become popular in the young evangelical community to "dethrone" the fight against abortion by trying to broaden what it means to be pro-life. For instance, many will claim that if a voter is primarily or even strongly concerned with the issue of abortion, then she can't possibly be equally concerned for the poor and the downtrodden. If she isn't equally concerned with the poor and the downtrodden, then she is not fully pro-life. Such uncritical disciples of the new left will sometimes adjust the argument by replacing the “poor and downtrodden” with "war". This anti-war version claims that those who oppose abortion but fail to oppose war are not fully pro-life. Both of these claims are untenable for these (but not only these) reasons:

1) Abortion is active murder of the defenseless and innocent. The poor and downtrodden should receive concern, sympathy and aid (from the private sector, I might add), but no one I am aware of has condoned their murder.

2) Abortion is active murder of the defenseless and innocent. War by contrast is intended to protect as many of the innocent as possible by solemnly fighting an enemy whose defining quality is hardly innocence.

Ergo, an issue hierarchy absolutely exists. Again, all issues do not carry equal weight. Despite the reality that a strong anti-abortion stance has recently fallen out of favor, such a position is still of utmost importance. To use Doug Groothuis’s coined term, fetus fatigue is no excuse for such an egregious lapse in judgement.

Barack Obama needs to be exposed for his tenaciously held, heinous positions, namely his fight and defeat of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act and his outspoken desire to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. While Christians should absolutely pursue civility in disagreement, morally atrocious policies such as these must be vigorously and unapologetically fought.

So, should McCain and Palin use the offensive strategy of negative campaigning? Absolutely. Isn’t this mudslinging? If the charges are true and pertinent, absolutely not. After all, sometimes it takes a pit bull to deal with a snake.

Please read Marjorie Dannenfelser's article on the need for the "politics of contrast."

32 comments:

Doug Groothuis said...

This essay is very much needed and astutely argued indeed; it cuts through layers of confusions that cover the evangelical scene.

Bravo!

Sarah Geis said...

Thank you. I hope and pray that many come to their senses before November.

Jeff Burton said...

You have made a necessary and excellent point, but there is another flaw in their argument. I won't concede that voting for government social programs is the Christian thing to do. In fact, I will argue that it actually harmful to the cause of Christ. By voting this way, we shirk our individual responsibility toward the poor, and worse, we ennervate the church. I've recently written about this here.

Sarah Geis said...

Jeff,

I couldn't agree more! In fact, my fundamental disagreement with the economic policies of the left is another (though lesser) reason I will not vote Democrat. It has become popular among the left and even among moderates to create a false dichotomy between "compassionate and Christ-like Democrats", and "greedy Republicans." This is wrong, lazy, and avoids the basic argument regarding the role of the state and freedom of the people. But, I digress as this is another topic.

Adel Thalos said...

Thank you Sarah. This is an excellent post and hopefully one that will begin to change people's minds. This is indeed excellent medicine for the ailments of irrational thinking.

Would you mind if I link your post on my blog? I would actually like to include your entire post as well...may I have your permission to do so?

Keep up the excellent God-honoring work.

Adel

Patricia said...

Very well stated, Sarah.

And I agree with Jeff. It is the responsibility of the church - you and me - to care for the poor and to use biblical principals to teach personal responsibility to those who need to be doing so.

Ben said...

Sarah - well said. I think there's another element at stake in this single-issue/multi-issue conversation, a very pragmatic element when it comes to an election: Abortion is the most clear-cut moral issue in politics that even an uneducated Christian (or any deontologist, for that matter) can figure out. On any number of other moral issues (empowering the poor, care for the environment, ending the war in Iraq, education), the distinction between McCain and Obama is primarily a distinction of strategy - they both desire basically the same outcomes, but have different strategies of getting there (strategies that require a great deal of thoughtful research to dissect). When it comes to abortion, the question is rather simple - will our laws reflect the right thing or the convenient thing?

Consider coming to this event on the seminary campus in about two weeks.

Paul said...

Similarly, my brief argument entitled Why I Can't Vote for Obama was labeled and too narrowly focused.

Sarah Geis said...

Adel,

That would be perfectly fine. Thanks!

Daniel said...

As in Apologetics theory I think Christians need a "cumulative case" when they decide who to vote for. Not single issue voting.

For a thought provoking treatment relating to this issue, go here: http://thesolomoniccynic.blogspot.com/2008/09/can-pro-life-christian-vote-democratic.html

As regards to Wilberforce, my thinking is that he was a member of Parliament in a Monarchy, not a President in a Democracy. He was in a different system of government in a different time and place. Parliament members back then were able to devote their careers to just one issue if they desired, as Wilberforce did. They were in office longer also.

The United States President is in office for a maximum of 8 years, during which this person has to cover an array of issues, foreseen and unforeseen. So I don't think the analogy with Wilberforce sticks. Evangelicals like to point to him as a Christian hero in government who sparked change (which is true!) but we need to remember that his context was entirely different than today.

Ben said...

Earlier this afternoon I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is pro-life and an Obama supporter. So, I'd like to relay a stream of thinking similar to this person's line of reasoning. This does not reflect my perspective on the matter, but I'm curious to hear others' thoughts...

For 37 years, we've been told by conservative activists that the way to change abortion law is by electing pro-life presidents who will appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, which will subsequently overturn Roe v. Wade. Well, I don't think it's gonna happen - the Senate will overturn any potentially landmark conservative justices (see Bork); presidents will appoint moderates, because moderates get approved, and moderates are unpredictable (see O'Connor). I just don't see Roe v. Wade ever getting overturned, so I'm not going to limit my presidential vote to the issue of which candidate will appoint the right kind of justices.

Responses? (Again, I'm speaking on behalf of someone else & I'm curious to hear what people think; this does not represent my own view on the matter.)

Sarah Geis said...

Daniel,

I believe some clarifying is in order.

1) I think the term "single-issue voting" can be misleading for a few reasons. For example, many people who are adamantly opposed to abortion are also actively concerned with of other areas, but like I argued in the post, wisely choose to devote much time and energy to the abortion front. However, this is still considered by many in opposition to be "single issue".

We must distinguish this from "only issue", though I would not fault people for being abortion "only issue" voters.

2) I maintain that Wilberforce is a wonderful example for Christians. Because despite the fact that he was in a different context, what he did can, and I argue should, be done by voters as they deem it necessary.

I derive this "should" from our duty to protect human beings who have no voice from murder.

Sarah Geis said...

Ben,

Good question. I hear this frequently! Here are my thoughts:

In short, a philosophy (even a political one) should not be defected from merely because some people fail to carry it out effectively. An individual who is skeptical about effectiveness is still without good reason to abandon a position such as abortion. The other alternative, besides not voting at all (which I understand but do not advocate), is a platform that promises to continue the murder of the helpless. (Though my argument does not depend on this, the facts are that great strides have actually been made on the abortion front relatively recently.)

Doug Groothuis said...

SG:

You are completely right in responding to the old charge that "The Republicans have failed to overturn Roe, therefore, vote Democrat." Talk about a non sequiter! This is like, "Modern medicine has not eliminated cancer; therefore, give up and start making smoking manditory for all humans."

Gabrielle said...

Hey Sarah and all,

Just responding because you didn't know if I would agree or not.

I agree on the single-issue part and defiantly feel that it has a place in politics it is typically how you get things done, but you know my feelings on abortion. I think you know that I do not condone partial birth abortion or anything like that. The decision like all decisions that people make should be made responsibly and once that child can live outside you or even have a shot at living outside its mother’s body, abortion should be off the table. I think 2 months would be as far as I would be willing to push the envelope on that. Morally for me the issue lies in the fact that even if abortion was illegal, girls who did not want the baby or to deal with it would find a way to get an abortion and then you have the whole back-alley, at home do-it-yourself things that can end up in death for both the fetus/baby and the mother. I do think that the one needless death is bad but two is worse.

My other thinking on the abortion issue is that it is a moral issue that our "secular" government should not be dealing with. I feel like the government should let it be legal and it should be up to the people to decide if they are morally opposed or for the idea. This is a free country and while I think that there is no good answer to this problem, I feel for that scared 14 year old who doesn't know what to do and can't tell her parents and can't have a baby because she can't take care of it and that girl who is pregnant by her father who is to ashamed to have the baby and the rape victim that is reminded of her rape every time she thinks about the child inside her. I understand the moral dilemma but is it really something that we want our politicians deciding for us?? I think not!! Most if not all politicians clearly couldn’t find their moral compass if it was stapled to their forehead!

I mostly wrote this for Sarah and I don’t want to spawn a whole argument on the abortion issue as that is not what this article is about. I can assure everyone you will not change my mind on the abortion issue. If you want to comment on what I said feel free but don’t draw me into an argument with you because Sarah’s blog is not the place for that! You (Sarah) might think I am a crazy lefty (I would hope you know otherwise about me) because of my abortion stance but I like to think that I bring new and different ideas to the table :)

Daniel said...

Call it what you want, single issue or only issue; people need to have more diversity in their political voting considerations. Like I said, it should be a "cumulative case".

And to my friend Ben's discussion raiser: I would agree with that. Roe might (keep word: might) be necessary but it is not sufficient. And it is the sufficiency of that legislative overturn that too many Christians are concerning themselves with. If a woman wants an abortion she will get an abortion, legally or illegally. Stop the abortion at the source--- the woman's thought process of making that decision to do it or not.

Gabrielle said...

"Stop the abortion at the source--- the woman's thought process of making that decision to do it or not."

Brain-washing anyone????? That is what the whole abortion issue boils down to at its most basic point (morals aside). CHOICE!!! Turns out we live in a free country where our morals are not handed to us by our dictatorship government. If you take away that choice, what other choices does the government have the right to take away?

I think that that was exactly Sarah's point. You can base your decision on something that is really important to you and it doesn't mean you will decide that way across the board. Single issue chocies are important but you can't always throw the baby out with the bath water where everything else is concerned. As Sarah said in her response to you there is a difference in championing a single issue in the broad spectrum of issues that you believe in and having only one issue that is the basis for your whole vote. There is a difference in termonology from single issue to only issue that I think you might have missed.

Ben said...

Gabrielle,

Your second comment has made a direct attack on Daniel's comment, so I will respond to that particular item.

You misunderstand Daniel. When he says, "Stop the abortion at the source--- the woman's thought process of making that decision to do it or not," he is talking about a pro-life strategy that involves persuading women to choose against abortion. He is not talking about manipulating or "brain-washing" anyone. He is saying, let's talk with people about why we think abortion is wrong, so that if they are faced with an unwanted pregnancy, they will choose not to abort the baby. This should be much less offensive to you than the idea of laws against abortion - Daniel is advocating the promotion of pro-life thinking in the marketplace of ideas; the choice you value would still belong to the woman.

Your first comment politely asked that the rest of us post-ers not open up an argument on abortion, so I won't do that here. At the same time, forgive me for referring you to some pages from a website that will challenge your thinking:
--In contrast with your comment, "once that child can live outside you or even have a shot at living outside its mother’s body, abortion should be off the table," consider an article titled "Degree of Dependency."
--In contrast with objections about back-alley abortions, consider one called "Women Will Do It Anyway."
--In contrast with most of your other objections, consider "The 'Choice' Facade."
You assured us all that we could not change your mind on this matter, but I respectfully invite you at least to consider the other perspective.

Gabrielle said...

I apologize for my misunderstanding of Daniel's abortion comment.

Gabrielle said...

I understand the arguements laid out in the articles you suggested I read. I really had not thought about the points in the choice article so it will be some new food for thought for me. The other two arguements I have heard before and while I tend to agree there are other arguements to take into consideration. I will start by saying that I am not for all types of abortion and in situations where there is no reason to have one except vanity, I do not think it should be allowed. However it is hard to draw the distinction between vanity and need. I went to high school with Sarah, so I do know all the Christian arguements against abortion. For me, it is a little bit about that choice but it is also about a lot of other things.

Deciding about the question of "life" and what it constitutes for a fetus is a moral issue. It is an issue that ceases it exist once the child is born and breathing on its own. For many Christians I understand the delimma and trust me it is a big one for me to over come with my background. Life however is not something we humans can even begin to define, it is only something that God can definitivly give us an answer to. My personal feelings on life probably differ a great deal from most of those that have posted on this blog and they stem from issues not pertaining to abortion. That is where I cannot change my mind and what for me makes certain abortions ok in my mind. However there is no way for a government to classify the need for an abortion as I said earlier. I do not lump myself with the pro-choicers (despite what it sounded like in my previous post) but at the same time cannot lump myself with the prolifers either. It is a difficult place to be and why I would not be able to participate in an arguement about abortion. I am not a fence straddler as I do have a clear point of view on it, it is just not a point of view that I share a lot because it tends to be misunderstood. I hope you understand!

Ben said...

Gabrielle - thanks for reading those pages, and thanks for sharing more about your thoughts.

Doug Groothuis said...

Daniel:

When abortions were illegal, there were a perhaps a few thousand a year and no one was forced to pay for one through taxes. Illegality makes for stigma and danger.

When they were legalized across the board in 1973 the numbers went up tremendously. Law makes a difference on behavior. If it is legal and some cannot afford it, then the statist mentality is that others must pay for it. This is the John Kerry/Barack Obama, et at viewpoint. Law also has (for better or worse) a teaching function. If X is legal for 35 years (abortion) many think it is fine, so they may have an abortion for any reason: my body, my choice (for any reason).

Welcome to the culture of death. Welcome to an amplified culture of death of Obama is elected:

1. He would sign the Freedom of Choice Act.
2. He would appoint pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and Federal courts.
3. He would use tax dollars for abortion on demand as much as possible.
4. He even supports partial birth abortions!
5. He doesn't want his daughters, "punished with a child," if they "make a mistake."
6. He would use embryonic stem cells for research (assuming this is not a moot point given new research on adult cells).

Daniel, come to your senses. These are not small things. This means opening the doors to an even greater holocaust on the unborn--not to mention all the other horrible things about Obama: inexperience, terrible judgment in associations (Ayers, Wright), hard left policies in every area, inability to address terrorism.

Anonymous said...

http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/baldwin/080822

David Strunk said...

Sarah,
I articulated a similar view over on my blog. Is it too shameless to include here? Well, I suppose I will.

http://theredemptiveangle.blogspot.com/2008/09/one-issue-voter.html

Hope all is well with you. It was great to see you Tuesday.
Dave Strunk

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah Geis said...

Dave,

Thanks for the comment and the link. I will cyber-venture over there and read it.

It was good to see you as well, and I hope you have a blessed weekend!

Daniel said...

Gabrielle,

Informing someone of the truth to a person in love is not brain-washing.

Daniel said...

Doug,

I'm not understanding why people think it so complicated that the illegality of abortion (or drugs, or murder or any other moral offense) is irrelevent because people do these things anyway. The sad fact is that if a woman wants an abortion she will get an abortion. She will go to Mexico, she will go to a far-left state that allows it, she will go to an alley to get it.

The number of abortions since the early seventies and now is also irrelevant. I know you're not taking a utiltarian ethic with this where you would rather have a few thousand abortions per year than one million. One abortion is too many, I know you would say that. There are way too many variables in the last thirty years to point back to a "better time" when abortion was illegal to say that that is what we need. I'm reminded of Schaeffer's film series we saw this summer. Things were bad then, how about now! The world is spiraling into chaotic rebellion from its Creator to gain autonomy.

And like the first paragraph said, there is nothing the government can do to stop people from getting an abortion IF they really want one. Sinners sin, I know you know that too.

So then, let us raise up the body of Christ to "persuay" (as Ben noted in his response to Gabrielle) women of the truth of this catastrophic moral error. Let us reach out to women considering abortion, in love.

Moving the Church into action via the power of the Spirit seems far more "sensical" than relying on a deeply fallen institution like government to fix the world's moral calamities.

Adel Thalos said...

Daniel,

You make some good points. But why exclude the legal and political change, while working on reaching minds and hearts with the truth about abortion as well as the truth of the gospel? Are we not to also work for a just society?

I don't think anyone naively believes that making abortion illegal will stop all abortions. Just as making auto theft illegal does not stop all auto thieves, yet it controls it to a certain level for a more just society. Would you also make the argument that grand theft auto should be legal?

Daniel said...

Adel,

Right. My critique is to those people who think that overturning Roe vs. Wade is a sufficient means of ending abortion. I don't think it is. It is necessary, but not sufficient. If we were to put as much time, energy and prayers into stopping abortion "at the source" like I argued, I think we would see more fruit than relying on a fallen institution like the government to make good moral choices.

So to recap, ending Roe vs. Wade might be necessary for some things (like stopping our tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood) but it is not sufficient for ending abortion (as too many conservative Christians think).

Susan said...

Sarah,
It was nice to meet you the other day! Good blogging!

reformationfaithtoday.com said...

Sarah, absolutely great post. I have linked to it on my site. This is an issue I have been posting about for many months. We must continue to challenge and debunk the lame arguments of the new left.