Monday, June 8, 2009

Life and Death in Wichita

The Chicago Tribune ran an article by Al Mohler on the murder of George Tiller in Wichita. Mohler addresses the moral reasoning of those who would use violence to dispatch an abortionist.

Mohler writes:

The murder of Dr. Tiller was a grotesque denial of the sanctity of human life. This is not a cause that can be served by violence in any form. The abortion procedures employed by Dr. Tiller are horribly violent. Proponents of abortion want to keep the nation’s attention diverted from what abortion really means—and especially from what happens in a late-term abortion.

That violence is what we desperately want to see end. For this reason, the violence that was murderously deployed in Wichita requires us to be first in line to make clear that violence in the womb will never be overcome by means of violence outside the womb. Dr. Tiller’s murderer has blood on his hands, and he has bloodied the cause of human life and human dignity...

In 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was arrested for his opposition to the Nazi regime. The Lutheran pastor, a prominent leader in the anti-Nazi Confessing Church, had been involved in espionage and an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This pastor and theologian sought to defy the regime that was murdering the Jewish people and destroying human life with homicide on an unprecedented scale. Bonhoeffer acted in defense of human life, and for this he was executed in the Flossenburg prison camp in the final days of World War II.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer opposed abortion with full force. In his Ethics he explained: “The simple fact is that God had certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.”

Read the entire article HERE.


Dave Rogel said...

I especially like this, from near the end of the article:

..."even as the pro-life movement seeks to work within the political process in defense of life, our greater task is to reach hearts and minds toward the goal that no woman would seek an abortion." (Empasis mine)

Many of us who oppose abortion are accused of clamoring loudly that abortions should not occur, but remaining quiet about (or even opposing) things that would reduce the cause of abortions in the first place. Sex education and promotion of condom use is largely (almost uniformly) opposed by Christian conservatives on the grounds that it makes sex out of wedlock seem okay. The problem is that for a non-Christian, non-conservative 17-year-old, sex is already okay. If that person's mind can be changed, great. But quite often, it cannot.

What puzzles me is the idealistic lack of a Plan B. The thought process seems to be, "Well, we told those non-Bible-believers that the Bible tells us that extramarital sex is wrong, and somehow, they still had sex. Oh well--we told them the correct thing to do and discouraged the gray area that would have actually worked. Can't win 'em all, right?" The (even more discouraging) follow-up seems to be, "So, assuming that we want them to give birth to and raise the child, we can either a.) encourage the development of social programs designed to help the poor (such as 17-year-old single parents) and allow the child to have at least some of the (educational, medical, etc.) opportunities that other, more well-off offspring might enjoy, or b.) we can claim that such programs are a stepping stone to socialism, and oppose them as liberal assaults on our freedom. I don't want people to think I'm a hippy, so I choose 'B'."

In case you hadn't already guessed, I'm a big-time supporter of the so-called "pro-life, whole-life" concept. The less hope that a young pregnant girl has for the future of her child (and herself), the greater the appeal of an abortion. Oddly, many pro-life advocates have views on social issues which grind at this inverse proportion. What I've heard from Sen. Brownback on compassion for unborn babies AND compassion for those same babies once they are born makes all kinds of sense to me, and I'm surprised that he has been labeled 'moderate' (...oooh...bad....) for what should be obvious Christian principles of helping others, even to the point of unfairness.

"If anyone would sue you and take your [American right to ultra-low taxes], let him have your [funding for Medicaid, Day-care subsidies, Education assistance programs, etc.] as well." (Taken from the ESV, with my own approximate translations from the Greek words in brackets)

Todd, I'm sure you have a few thoughts on Sen. Brownback's "pro-life, whole-life" ideas. Agree? Disagee? Something in between? Am I seeing the whole issue incorrectly?

Harley A. said...


Problem is that the logic doesn’t pass a cursory smell test. Compare the amount of “sex education” and availability of prophylactics (not to mention social programs) in 1909 vs. the amount in 2009. Now compare the number of abortions – it’s inversely proportional. This is an issue of declining moral fabric (which has been exponentially facilitated by Roe v. Wade ) – not one of intellectual understanding or funding. I would also argue against the pragmatic approach - except for the fact that the pragmatic thing to do is to follow scripture. Nothing else works. If you reserve sex for the marriage bed and that only, you eradicate abortion, venereal disease, among other social problems. Period. But that’s not what people want to hear. And, I’m not holding a non-Christian to that standard. But, the answer to the problems still remains the scriptural model – I can’t change that. So, I say, by all means try what you can but I’m sorry to tell you, it won’t work.

When is comes to God, the idealistic plan IS the pragmatic plan.

Also, I think you grossly mischaracterize Christians whether you intended to or not.

Jase and Melissa said...

The general mischaracteriziations by which many pro-lifers are impugned are often born of well, ignorance. Perhaps a better conversancy with the "pro-life, whole-life" ethos of prolific crisis pregnancy centers -even within the Delaware Valley- will dispel the delusion that "many pro-life advocates have views on social issues which grind at this inverse proportion."

Plan A and Plan B and Plan C are all-quite inextricably- the Biblical imperative for abstinence. Even our founding fathers recognized the import of infusing Biblical principles throughout a secular republic. It's possible- just not always popular.

Dave Rogel said...

"Plan A and Plan B and Plan C are all-quite inextricably- the Biblical imperative for abstinence. It's possible- just not always popular."

I don't think any of us disagree about the perfectness of the solution of abstinence. I suppose our disagreement lies with our levels of optimism about society. I wish I could look at the world and see a rosy future in which everyone went to church and no-one had premarital sex. That would certainly solve the problems being discussed here. I just don't see that happening, and I'd rather go with the next best thing than nothing at all. For those who can be persuaded to abstinence--GREAT!! I did it, and I know that others can too. But not everyone will. And for those that won't, I'd rather allow for a not-perfect-but-not-awful option than the disaster that results from being on the wrong end of an all-or-nothing policy. If someone will not accept abstinence as an option, I'd rather them put on a condom and sin than to not put on a condom and STILL sin, but also contract a deadly disease and cause an unplanned pregnancy.

Abstinence is CLEARLY the superior solution. However, letting those who do not accept it--and those who attempt to abstain but make a poor choice in a difficult moment--fall off a cliff doesn't seem right.

Perhaps, some day, all people will abstain from sex until they are married. I hope that day comes. It hasn't yet. What's the plan between now and then?

Dave Rogel said...

When comparing the situation in 1909 with that of 2009, I agree that contraception and social programs were not then what they are now. However, equally nonexistant in 1909 was society's widespread acceptance of out-of-wedlock children. Take a stroll around Philadelphia (not its tame, friendly suburbs--try Broad and Allegheny) and what you see, what you overhear, in terms of pervasive sexuality, is as just as crazy by 1909 standards as the idea of minority grants for college tuition would have been. To invalidate a solution based on a comparison of two situations in which the problem itself varied as greatly as the available remedies is harley valid.

Dave Rogel said...

Oops--I meant to say 'hardly valid' in the post above. Sorry about that. :)

Harley A. said...

Dave, I fail to see where your argument is going. I think you made my point. You say that in 1909 having out-of-wedlock children was not socially acceptable. Exactly ! There was still a vestige of Biblical morality regarding this issue. We’d not been sexually freed then. That’s not to say everyone was Christian, but we were operating, by God’s grace, on a plane more in line with scripture, as regards sexual ethics (for whatever reason). So, of course the problem wasn’t as great. That’s what I’m trying to say. It doesn’t matter whether you are Christian or not – the solution to the problem is still the same. I’m not arguing that we should ignore effective solutions – I’m arguing your solutions aren’t effective…

Todd Pruitt said...

It is interesting to observe that in Africa free condoms are available almost everywhere. Also the U.N. and other organizations have made sex education highly available in Africa. There are safe-sex warnings on billboards etc. And yet the infection rate continues to sky rocket.

Likewise in the U.S. more sex education in the schools has not translated into lower STD infection rates or out of wedlock conceptions. Indeed those things have only increased. The burden of proof therefore is on those who advocate the more sex ed / more condoms approach. Thus far the evidence says it does not work. It leads me wonder what the true motive is behind such groups as Planned Parenthood.

Dave Rogel said...

I think you are attempting to convince me of something I already believe. I consider abstinence to be the best solution to the abortion problem (and STDs, and various relational problems, etc). We agree on the ideal solution.

We disagree on whether it can realistically happen again (in a societally pervasive manner, anyway). One might say, "It WAS the reality in 1909, so it IS possible". To which I would respond that people utilized horses as much as automobiles in those days--which proves that it is possible for horses to be a major form of personal and commercial transportation in the U.S....but not likely to ever happen again. I'm sorry I do not share your optimism about the direction of society. I hope, as sincerely as possible, that I am wrong.

Todd Pruitt said...


I think I am following you. I also am not optimistic about the direction of our culture. However, I am arguing (and I think Harley is as well) that the less desirable options (sex ed. & condoms) actually make the problem worse. It's not that they don't work as well as abstinence but may indeed exacerbate the problem.

DreamCamelot said...

I take you at your word in that you agree that saving sex for marriage is the only right answer. And while I'd prefer that those who engage in sexual immorality limit the damage by attempting to limit the harm, I don't think it is prudent for the church to be out explaining to people how to sin safely. It may even be counterproductive because it can lead people to think that they can sin and manage the consequences. Though the consequences of sin are tough, they serve an important reminder of why one should save sex for marriage.
Second, while gov't social programs for the poor seem like the kind and caring option, I don't think that they are. The "kind and caring option" is best done by the church and other community groups who can hold those they are serving accountable and provide moral instruction which the gov't doesn't see fit to do. The governmental intrustion into this area crowds out charity and provides an "economic reward" for poor choices that simply funds and leads to an increased rate of poor choices.

Dave Rogel said...


I hadn't read your latest comment when I wrote my last post, which was addressed to Harley--sorry if it seemed abrupt.

Is it possible that abstinence doesn't get a fair shake (in areas like public school sex-ed) because it is often presented as a religious concept rather than simply one that works? I'm curious.


The trouble is that the communities that are most in need of the church's intervention and sense of accountability are precisely the communities that have the fewest/lowest-attended churches. And the correlation should make sense. I mentioned North Philly in an earlier post, and it is a perfect example. The church where I previously held a post as Music Director had an ever-dwindling attendance and struggled to pay its bills every month. Other churches nearby were not so lucky and closed. How does North Philly (and other such communities) elude a downward spiral in which the very societal decay that requires the church to step in has already caused the church to disappear?

This is at the heart of the problem: areas with high percentages of church-going folk have strong churches; areas with low church attendance (and presumably more in need of the moral guidance the church offers) have far fewer, far smaller churches.

I worry that the Bible Belt will keep getting...Biblier, while less morally-stellar areas of the country will go down the toilet--independantly of one another. There seems to be a widening "morality gap" and I wonder how that can be stopped. How does the church step in and reclaim North Philly when it doesn't live there any more?


Jase and Melissa said...

You are exceedingly brilliant and I do hope that you throw your hat in the political ring soon! Your insights are refreshingly brilliant.

Pastor Pruitt,
Indeed, Africa serves as a tragic microcosm of the ineffecacious nature of "Plan B". Unfortunately, they will no longer benefit from President Bush's ardent endorsement of abstinence education on the continent.

Nostalgic remembrances of the early 20th century must justly inlude a tribute to the moral paragon that was Teddy Roosevelt. It's a wonder our society was able to thrive then, without the benevolent assistance of Planned Parenthood.

In any event, perhaps this cyber repartee will propel the professed chastity advocates to volunteer for their local non-profit abstinence programs, more affectionately known as Plan A.

Todd Pruitt said...


No doubt abstinence is branded as "religious" or worse "Christian." The insanity of the state's alergy to abstinence is that it is the only approach that will absolutely protect our children. They expect abstinence in regard to tobacco consumption.

Your thoughts about the impotence of the church in many urban neighborhoods is absolutely right. It's tragic. In the first three centuries it was primarily in the cities where the church grew and ministered. And the church will not impact the city unless the church lives there. Weekend guerilla rades won't cut it.

DreamCamelot said...

Dave: Tough questions and no easy answers. However, the downward spiral could be greatly curbed by ending what has been a significant cause: government welfare programs. Where did this societal decay come from? Where was it in the 30s, 40s, & 50s, when millions of minorities and immigrants ascimilated into NYC and other large metropolitan areas. We declared a “war on poverty” & NYC, Philly, Detroit, LA, Chicago, etc. are all far worse. Why is it that these urban areas that have been dominated by the “kind & caring” welfare programs of the social liberals are drowning in ecnomic and moral blight? We’ve created an ecnomoic incentive for immoral and irresponsible behavior; we’ve subsidized it. This has been well-docmented by many, such as Charles Muray, and the lessons of “welfare reform” in the 90s helped demonstrate this.
Despite caring, good intentions and deeds (which are important), part of the morality gap will always be a fact of life in a fallen world.
The church has a difficult task, and deserves a great deal of credit. We need our politicians to stop making the problem worse. Catholic and evangelical charities and their aid programs are far more effective at addressing social problems than most of our ill-advised gov’t welfare programs which exacerbate the very evils they aim to solve. Regards, Camelot