Election ‘08 Reflections

Just a few random reflections from the previous night and this morning.

  • Thank God it’s over. Seriously, thank God it’s over. Yes, there is/was an awful lot at stake with this election, but the power of politics to reveal even the most rational of individuals as complete asshats and/or total ignoramuses has never been clearer than it was this year.
  • Of course, it’s not really over. There’s a lot of work and rebuilding to do, and people can still easily become asshats and/or ignoramuses at the drop of a hat.
  • John McCain’s concession speech was full of decency and class. I just wish his supporters would’ve followed his example.
  • I found it interesting that when Obama spoke of McCain, his crowd applauded.
  • I’ve seen several folks already talking about 2012 with a slight bit of yearning. Stop it. It’s 2008 and you need to live in the now, so to speak, because that’s the only time you’ll be able to make a difference. The only plans I’m making for 2012 are plans to be more informed than I am now.
  • I’ve become increasingly convicted about my Christian duties with regards to the president, and I think they can be summed up in two words: “respect” and “pray”. Neither of which, to my shame, I did well when it came to Bush.
  • Speaking of respect, his name is Barack Obama, not Barry, the Obamessiah, or any other juvenile reference. Same goes for “Dubya”. You’re not in second grade: have the common courtesy to call your president by his real name.
  • I need to stop watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as much. They’re brilliant shows, and like all comedians, they often have the ability to say things that others should be saying but aren’t—and get away with it. But for me, they feed into so much cynicism and skepticism when it comes to my leaders, that it’s not very healthy. But to each his own.
  • Holograms look really cool in Star Wars and Star Trek but look like absolute crap on cable news networks.
  • I sincerely hope that Obama supporters will be able to take all of that faith that they’ve placed in their man, and translate it into action. That they’ll really listen to him when he talks about sacrifice and service, and actually do such things, rather than simply stop after celebrating their victory. That they’ll take to heart what Obama said last night: “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.”
  • I hope and pray that Obama has a change of heart when it comes to abortion.
  • I am anxious about the next four years, but more than ever, I realize that my ultimate assurance and comfort don’t come from an election, a president, or a political party, but from the fact that God is still on His throne, He is still sovereign, and He is never moved by the plans of man. And I realize that, while I’m to be loyal to my country, even if I oppose some of what it stands for, my ultimate allegiance lies with the Gospel of Christ and the Kingdom of God.

36 Comments

Comment #1

I’ve been using “Barry” only because it was my understanding that for a portion of his life that’s what people actually called him.  If that’s not true, I am ashamed.

Comment #2

Jason,

Great post…couple of thoughts:

—I really agree about graciousness and prayer.  Because of his abortion position I literally have ZERO respect for Obama.  But since last night I’ve been really convicted to kep him in my prayers and to not react with the hate and vitriol that cerain folks gave Bush.  It only diminishes the hater to react like that.

—I’d call McCain’s crowd fairly tame for a losing, disappointed bunch.  It’s tough to be on this side of it.  What really fried me was the chanting crowd that gathered in front of the White House to “celebrate” Obama’s win…Bush has cetainly shown a lot of class towards a man who basically ran on a platform of Bush Sucks (yes, I’m simplifying, but not too much).  Now let’s see Obama and Co. return the favor.

—All that about respect aside, I think funny is funny and let’s face it, Obama has done some stuff that just cries out for some mocking, The One / Obamessiah nicknames…and I’m someone who likes Bush but still finds Will Ferrell’s impersonation to be laugh-out-loud funny.  So respect, yes, and prayer, double-yes, but let’s not get too sensitive!

—Lastly, amen and amen to the last bullet: God is still in charge and as Overstreet said last night, he won’t ever be giving a concession speech!

Comment #3

Cody:  When it comes to abortion issues, I think we have to look deeper than just pro-life or pro-choice; I think we need to look at how actual policy decisions will affect abortions.  If we look at Obama, he is calling for more affordable health care to those who don’t have it, and better sex education, both of which will actually reduce the number of abortions people have.  McCain’s policy would have been to hopefully appoint a supreme court justice, in the event that one retires or dies, that would overturn Roe v. Wade.  This position doesn’t actually do anything on its own, particularly because its unlikely that the scenario would ever take place.  So we can either become obsessed with a position, or we can try to find solutions.

As for mocking Obama, I think it is every comedians/satirists job to do so, though I think my favorite bit is Obama’s self mocking during his speech at the Alfred E. Smith dinner.

Comment #4

I can agree with you on most of these points, others I will not argue out of respect for the fundamental differences in our beliefs. The one thing I would like to comment on is your seventh point, the one about showing respect. In essence I can agree with that, you should show everyone some kind of respect, just not as blindly as you would imply, especially in the case of our current President.

Somewhere between No Child Left Behind, The Patriot Act, and his administration’s insistence that global warming doesn’t exist, there came a point when I lost any respect that I could ever have for George Bush Jr. So, I cannot, and will not apologize for mocking the buffoon that too many people considered fit to lead this country. You might consider this immature—admittedly, it can be— but at the end of the day society needs descent. Someone has to tell you that the emperor has no clothes, because not everyone can figure it out for themselves.

As for our President Elect, the fact that he was voted into office shouldn’t be the only reason you respect him. All of the baby murdering aside, he is an educated person who can carry himself with at least modicum of class, and seems genuine in his desire to salvage the mess that America has become. He surrounds himself with capable people who share this vision, while encouraging everyone to do there part to make their country a better place. If that isn’t respectable, I don’t know what is. So, until Obama proves that he is an unfit leader, or makes a flaming ass of himself on a regular basis, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, as well as my respect.

Comment #5

Sorry for the post spam, but (the other) Matt hit the nail on the head about the abortion issue. Better healthcare and education will do more to prevent unplanned pregnancies and unwanted children/abortions than overturning RvW ever will. I don’t think anyone can say that deep down they believe aborting an unborn fetus/child is a good thing, but denying a woman the choice to govern her own body isn’t any better. Like so many hot button topics, abortion is a complex issue that some people refuse to understand.

Comment #6

“Holograms look really cool in Star Wars and Star Trek but look like absolute crap on cable news networks.”

Word, to the nth degree of wordness.

Comment #7

Where do you draw the line with abortion?
Would you force a rape or incest victim to have her child?

Comment #8

Regarding my comments about respecting the president and whatnot, I didn’t mean to suggest that humor, satire, and so on should never be done or have no place at all within society. FWIW, my comments were primarily intended to reflect my own growing position that, as much as I love a good satirical jab, more often not it does little good. Rather, it just fuels my own cynicism and skepticism, which is no good at all.

It’s certainly a fine line between respecting the office and poking fun at the foibles of the individual. And sometimes, the situation warrants that you have fall off the line into one side or the other.

@Jon: To look at that question from a slightly different perspective: would you kill/destroy an infant/fetus because it’s the product of rape/incest? I certainly don’t want to diminish the wickedness done to the woman, but in the case of a pregnancy caused by rape/incest, there are TWO innocent parties: the woman and the child that is the result of the rape/incest. Yes, the woman is the one who has been horribly violated, but the child is innocent as well, so why should it be put to death, i.e., be made to suffer for an evil that it did not commit? Should that at least be considered?

Comment #9

Jason Morehead, on point as usual!

Comment #10

I understand your position.
But, you’ll never be able to force a woman to have a baby after she has been raped.
You just can’t do it.

Comment #11

@Jon: And I understand what you’re saying, and I’m not talking about forcing anyone. But if you do believe that human life begins at conception, it adds an extra level of complexity and urgency to an already complex and urgent situation.

Furthermore, I think people—especially Christians—need to exercise an extra level of grace due to the vileness of the situation. In these sorts of situations, especially, people on the pro-life side need to be exercise compassion.

Comment #12

Agreed.
And as usual your blog made me think about both sides of an issue.
Now what band are you going to turn me on to next?
:-)

Comment #13

Matt, Bush believes in Global Warming and he’s stated it more than once. He’s unsure of its cause, which puts him in line with scientists—even fairly anti-Bush ones—across the globe.

Otherwise, I must second the comments regarding The Daily Show/Colbert. It can be hilarious, and sometimes even insightful, but the cynicism it produces isn’t healthy. We are a deeply cynical nation, and it’s killing civil discourse. It won’t stop with Obama as president either, as the euphoria and sentimental feelings will fade and the reality that we elected a flawed man like the rest will settle in. Yes, keep up the satire, but keep it in proper perspective. It reminds me a little of when the Wittenburg Door used to get uneasy when readers told them the magazine was the only connection to other Christians they could handle.

Comment #14

Obama’s approach to abortion concerns a whole lot more than boosting education and health care. He is openly committed to turning back the clock on some of the advances that have been made by the pro-life cause.

I have never quite been able to understand why people mention “incest” as a separate category when discussing the abortion issue. If the sex that led to a particular pregnancy was non-consensual, then it was rape, plain and simple. And if it was consensual, well, then the pregnancy in question is just like almost every other pregnancy out there. Why create a third category that overlaps both of the existing categories?

Comment #15

@Jason:  Of course the unborn should be considered.  It would be wrong to assume that the children of rape victims will necessarily have a poor quality of life.  After all, the mother could always give the child up for adoption or take advantage of safe haven laws, or in fact be a wonderful mother; but we do live in an age where even having a baby could very well leave you penniless and unable to not only take care of a child, but unable to take care of yourself.  This goes back to the point that making health care be more affordable will reduce the number of abortions.  No doubt a number of a abortions are directly caused by the thought that one couldn’t afford it.
I completely agree with showing such people compassion; the last thing they need is someone screaming at them that they are a murderer.

@Peter, I think the idea is that if a man has a daughter, it might be easy to convince the daughter that there is nothing wrong going on.  In other words, the girl may consent because of her trust and the authority of the person committing the act, and also because it may never have occurred to her that there was something wrong.  Its sort of gray, but its easy to imagine someone going along with it if they never know otherwise.

@Justin
Pres. Bush belief in global warming doesn’t give him the authority to censor scientific reports and have an environmental policy that completely ignores it as an issue.  I think we can agree that whether it is man-made problem or not it is always better to be more environmentally conscientious.

Comment #16

@Peter: Turning back the clock on the anti-abortion movement… Good, maybe we could get some legislation enacted that would prevent people from harassing young women who are walking into a Planned Parenthood office.

That’s what I have never been able to figure out about anti-abortionists. As a whole, they go out of their way to make it difficult for young people to learn about safe/responsible sex, and birth control, then get bent out of shape when a girl chooses to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Sure, there’s adoption, which is what I would favor, but most young women aren’t emotionally equipped to deal with giving birth and handing their child off to someone else. Coincidently, these also tend to be the young women who aren’t—for any number of reasons—capable of properly caring for a child. For every teenage mother success story out there, there is at least half a dozen instances where they should have waited to start raising kids. Besides, making the practice illegal won’t stop abortions from happening, if anything it will make them more dangerous to have.

Having an abortion isn’t an easy decision to make, but sometimes it’s a best option for some people. Why make it harder on families than it has to be?

@Jason: I saw the hologram footage, and IMHO, they were awesome. The only thing bringing it down was the guy actually saying “hologram” a million times.

@Matt: As usual you are more eloquent than I am, thank you for your comments.

Comment #17

Matt.  Either life begins at conception or it doesn’t.  It all comes down to that.  That’s why Rick Warren worded his question to Obama the way he did, and that’s why Obama tripped all over it.
  If it doesn’t, there should be no more regret or remorse than any other operation.  And no more government intervention either.  What would be “hard” about getting an abortion if it’s not a life?  It wasn’t “hard” for me to have the tumor removed from my large intestine that was threatening to change my life.  Why do you need a reason at all, much less rape/incest/etc?

If it IS a life, whatever the reason, you’re killing it and trying to pretend it never happened.  A lot of anti-abortion-ists are not compassionate.  They yell.  They do inappropriate things.  I’m not trying to defend their actions, but they do things because they believe that a death is occurring.  If you thought someone was killing someone else, I’d like to think you might have SOME reaction to that thought too.  And I’d further like to believe your reaction wouldn’t be to just find a safer easier way to facilitate that killing.

When is killing your 2 day old baby the “best option for some people”?  Never, not when the result of rape, incest, or inconvenience.  And that’s because we all agree that the 2 day old baby is a life.
The reason abortion is “hard” Matt, is because you know somewhere deep in your mind, that it’s more than just unwanted parasite.  You’re not letting yourself admit it.

Comment #18

@Daniel:

So if abortion is murder what should the punishment be?  Cause its so painfully clear that there is no possible gray area or that people might have regrets for reasons other than murder.  Nope, not possible.

Comment #19

@Daniel
a) I never said anything about rape/incest. It is likely that there are far fewer instances of abortions as a result of rape than there are from plain old unprotected, consensual sex. Throwing out the rape/incest card is (sorry Jon) a weak argument.

b) I will ADMIT that when sperm smacks into a fertile egg that it has the potential to gestate into a fully functioning human being. Do I believe that this is an “act of god” that should be cherished regardless of ANYTHING ELSE? No, I do not.

c) I didn’t say that a fetus is not alive. Also, I wouldn’t compare something that could kill you, like a tumor, to an unborn child.

Though for a sense of perspective, your tumor was alive. The cells that comprised the whole tumor were individual organisms that live, feed, and die. The steak that you eat was alive before being shot in the head with a pneumatic hammer. The sauce on your pizza was once a living being, that started as a seed and grew into a plant. The beams that hold your roof up were once alive. So please, don’t feed me that ALIVE crap. Much of this world is ALIVE, you’re not admitting to yourself that you value the life of your own species over all others. Not that I’m judging negatively for it. I just think that humanity as a whole should get over their sense of divine right, life is life as far as I’m concerned.

Is it better that someone were born into a world where the one person you should love and trust more than anything else resents you, abuses you, abandons you, leaves you filthy and broken. Is it better that you never know a place to call home, to have no family, to live in a system that shuffles you around like meat on a slab until you are old enough to be abandoned all over again. Is it better to live and die never truly knowing what love is then to have never been born at all.

Take off your blinders and see that the world isn’t black and white, right or wrong. There’s more to life than eating and breathing, and your soul is not hardwired upon conception. Try considering the quality of a life for a change.

Comment #20

Wow.. Good stuff Matt.

One point here.. A recent study I read concluded the adult pregnancy rate associated with rape is estimated to be 4.7%.
Ask those women how weak that argument is.

Comment #21

@Matt: You threw out a lot of stuff in your previous comment, and I want to try and go through it all carefully as possible.

I will ADMIT that when sperm smacks into a fertile egg that it has the potential to gestate into a fully functioning human being. Do I believe that this is an “act of god” that should be cherished regardless of ANYTHING ELSE? No, I do not.

That possibility you mention is why people who view abortion negatively do so with such fervor. If there’s even a chance that that “thing” could be a human being in any form, then it requires advocacy, if not outright protection. And that’s true regardless of whether it’s an “act of God” or not.

Though for a sense of perspective, your tumor was alive. The cells that comprised the whole tumor were individual organisms that live, feed, and die. The steak that you eat was alive before being shot in the head with a pneumatic hammer. The sauce on your pizza was once a living being, that started as a seed and grew into a plant. The beams that hold your roof up were once alive. So please, don’t feed me that ALIVE crap. Much of this world is ALIVE, you’re not admitting to yourself that you value the life of your own species over all others. Not that I’m judging negatively for it. I just think that humanity as a whole should get over their sense of divine right, life is life as far as I’m concerned.

Life is special, regardless of the form that it takes—on that we agree. And as such, it should be stewarded and cared for responsibly. But part of that care is understanding the proper order of things, the proper order of creation. And that’s where we run into a fundamental difference.

Not all life is equally special, not all life is truly sacred. To make some sort of egalitarian statement—that “life is life”—which implies that the life of tumors, cattle, tomatoes, and trees is on par with the life of a developing human fetus requires a line of reasoning that, if taken to its logical end, can easily give rise to some disturbing ethical and moral dilemmas.

That is, unless you’re okay with taking a fairly misanthropic—and perhaps, even nihilistic—view of things.

Is it better that someone were born into a world where the one person you should love and trust more than anything else resents you, abuses you, abandons you, leaves you filthy and broken. Is it better that you never know a place to call home, to have no family, to live in a system that shuffles you around like meat on a slab until you are old enough to be abandoned all over again. Is it better to live and die never truly knowing what love is then to have never been born at all.

There are an awful lot of (cynical) assumptions in that statement. It sounds like you’re assuming that, if a woman doesn’t get an abortion, she’ll feel nothing but hate and resentment for her child. That may be the case with some women who don’t go through with it, but what is the percentage? It’d surely be an interesting study, to find out what women feel about their un-aborted children? Do they regret the decision? Or are they glad that they stuck it out?

However, I do think you hit the nail on the head in one regard: the “system” is surely in need of great repair. If women are to be convinced that they should keep their unwanted children, then the alternative needs to be made much more desirable.

I know of organizations that take women who decide to keep their children, and support them financially, medically, etc. throughout their pregnancy. Perhaps that’s something that should receive greater attention and support. And certainly, the foster care system needs to be seriously remade, so as to prevent children from being made “to live in a system that shuffles [them] around like meat on a slab until [they] are old enough to be abandoned all over again”

Take off your blinders and see that the world isn’t black and white, right or wrong. There’s more to life than eating and breathing, and your soul is not hardwired upon conception. Try considering the quality of a life for a change.

I agree with you, in part. Issues that may very well be black and white on the surface become increasingly complex as you delve into them, and abortion is obviously a perfect example.

For example, as the other Matt asked, if abortion is murder, what should the punishment be? Should the doctors who perform abortions be tried as murderers? Should women who get abortions be tried as accomplices? And has been pointed out elsewhere, abortion is not singular, isolated issue. It has a nearly symbiotic relationship with a whole host of other issues (e.g., education, poverty).

At the same time, just because issues are complex and not easily divided into black and white, right and wrong doesn’t mean that there isn’t right and wrong, that there aren’t moral absolutes towards which we should strive and which ought to govern our lives.

There is “right” and there is “wrong”, and simply because it’s difficult or inconvenient to ascertain what is right and what is wrong doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do so. As you put it, our souls are not “hardwired upon conception”. We have free will, and part of having free will is understanding the moral dimension of the world around us, and understanding the moral responsibility that we all bear as a result.

As for “considering the quality of a life for a change”, methinks you can only get so far with that if you don’t define what, exactly, that life is. If you don’t have a pretty good idea of that, how is it possible to truly judge its quality?

Comment #22

@Jason
As I’ve said previously, we do indeed have fundamental differences in our beliefs, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

When you mention the “proper order of things,” who/what exactly defines this order? From my own perspective, order is defined by the strongest, those that have the ability to dominate and impose their will upon others. This is of course is a broad statement, as it applies to the way humans—and other animals—interact within their own communities, as well as how we interact with the rest of the world. It just so happens that humans are currently the dominant species on this planet, so we categorize the world in terms of it’s usefulness to us; trees give us warmth and shelter so they are good, parasites and viruses kill us so they are bad.

When you say that “not all life is truly sacred” I assume that you are implying that human life IS sacred while other life is not. This is a way of thinking that I completely disagree with. The world we live in is based on balance, one organism relies on another. Everything is sacred, nothing is holy is a philosophy that I hold near to my heart. Which I suppose is where the “disturbing ethical and moral dilemmas” should come along, but for the most part, they don’t. I’ve long ago come to terms with the dichotomy of the world versus human nature. For all the years of the collective human experience we’ve never been able to figure out how to get along with the rest of the world, which is by and large a product of being at the top of the food chain for so long. And yes, I am perfectly content with what contemporary society would call my nihilistic world view. If anything, I suppose you could say that I am not as vehemently pro-human as the rest of our species.

There are an awful lot of (cynical) assumptions in that statement. It sounds like you’re assuming that, if a woman doesn’t get an abortion, she’ll feel nothing but hate and resentment for her child. That may be the case with some women who don’t go through with it, but what is the percentage? It’d surely be an interesting study, to find out what women feel about their un-aborted children? Do they regret the decision? Or are they glad that they stuck it out?

You are making a huge assumption about my statement, I was not trying to present a global overview of the mother/child dynamic—and you know that. If that were the case, we would never have made it out of the cave. That said, there are women out there that, for all the love they might have for their child, do resent the fact that they gave birth. A situation that often leads to the most appalling forms of abuse and neglect. You asked Jon why an unborn child die for the sins of it’s father, I am asking you why a child should unnecessarily endure a lifetime of suffering for the mistakes of it’s (immature/irresponsible/shoddy/etc…) parents? How would you compare what if any suffering occurs during an abortion to the suffering that a child endures before being shaken to death by a parent? The point I making is that some people are grossly unqualified to have children, so why force them into it if they don’t want to be? Also, since I do not consider abortion murder, I will not tell you what the appropriate punishment should be for the mother or the doctor involved.

We have free will, and part of having free will is understanding the moral dimension of the world around us, and understanding the moral responsibility that we all bear as a result.

The concept of morality is now and has always been an extension of the will of a populace. Moral standards are not set in stone, they are constantly evolving. Morality and it’s byproduct law are both products of humanity. As such, it is the responsibility of a people to determine right from wrong. There have been some issues that people have been able to agree on for thousands of years, but the gray areas, like abortion and homosexuality, are the ones that we will continue to argue over.

Comment #23

Matt, you keep siting reasons for an abortion.  Why?  If it’s not a separate life with value this is unnecessary.  The attempts to justify it only illustrate to me that you think there needs to be a reason, and I believe you think there needs to be a reason because on some level you can see that it’s wrong.  What’s so wrong about it?  Why not have abortions for fun!?

  Running with it anyway… You brought up neglect, the abuse, the resentment, ad-NAUSEUM…  are all separate issues.  They are problems we face.  They are important and we need to address them.  Let’s all commit to being just as energetic about on those topics as this one.  But, they do not have anything to do with when life begins. 


Let me repeat this thought; You would never suggest killing a one day old baby at the prospect that it will have a hard life and be a burden to those around it.  Why is THAT crazy, but ending it’s life a month earlier is merely “a hard decision”?

Comment #24

@Matt: Once again, you’ve thrown a lot out there, causing me to stay up way too late so as to ensure that what I right is up to snuff. :)

When you mention the “proper order of things,” who/what exactly defines this order? From my own perspective, order is defined by the strongest, those that have the ability to dominate and impose their will upon others. This is of course is a broad statement, as it applies to the way humans—and other animals—interact within their own communities, as well as how we interact with the rest of the world. It just so happens that humans are currently the dominant species on this planet, so we categorize the world in terms of it’s usefulness to us; trees give us warmth and shelter so they are good, parasites and viruses kill us so they are bad.

Well, obviously, given that I’m a Christian, I believe that God has defined, and upholds, the “proper order of things”.

Humans are at the top of the pyramid, so the speak, but not because we’re the biggest or the strongest on the planet (and sometimes I wonder if we’re really the smartest). We’re just as feeble and frail as anything on this world, as any natural disaster can easily reveal.

We’re at the top of the pyramid because we’ve been created in the image of God,  and have been placed there by His sovereign providence. Which is something we should accept with humility because creation doesn’t belong to us—it belongs to God, its creator. We are simply stewards of what He’s given us and we will ultimately be held accountable for how well we cared for it. And while it’s pretty evident that we’ve botched the job at times, that doesn’t change our role or our responsibility.

When you say that “not all life is truly sacred” I assume that you are implying that human life IS sacred while other life is not. This is a way of thinking that I completely disagree with. The world we live in is based on balance, one organism relies on another.

I disagree that life is based on balance. Life is based on God’s order and from that order proceeds balance.

Humanity is not called to live in harmony with creation, per se. We are called to care for, nurture, and exercise dominion over it. This is often referred to as the “cultural mandate”, and is described in Genesis 1:28.

“Dominion” in this context does not refer to dominating simply because we can: it doesn’t mean that we have the right to “rape the earth”. Rather, it means to exercise needful and prudent control for the improvement of things—much like someone might exercise control over a tree, via pruning and whatnot, to improve it, make it stronger, and bear better fruit.

On a related note, if order is defined by “those that have the ability to dominate and impose their will upon others”, than how is the balance you mentioned truly possible? There might be balance, but it is balance achieved and maintained by force. And it exists, not because “one organism relies on another”, but because one organism is simply capable of imposing its will on another. Which, to my mind, sounds more like tyranny than balance.

It sounds like you want a world that is driven by those who impose their will upon it, but you also want a world of harmony in which organisms exist together in a symbiotic relationship. But to my mind, those ideas are antithetical to one another.

You asked Jon why an unborn child die for the sins of it’s father, I am asking you why a child should unnecessarily endure a lifetime of suffering for the mistakes of it’s (immature/irresponsible/shoddy/etc…) parents? ... The point I making is that some people are grossly unqualified to have children, so why force them into it if they don’t want to be?

You’re absolutely right that a lot of people who shouldn’t have children, for any number of reasons, go ahead and have children. I don’t think they should be forced to keep the child if it’s obvious that they’re unable, or unwilling, to provide for it. And that’s doubly true if they’re going to threaten or endanger it.

All of which is to say that I believe that other options, from better education about sex and pregnancy to more effective adoption programs, should be made more open and available.

Also, pregnancy is difficult, no doubt about that. And some women simply don’t want to go through it, regardless of the non-abortion options available, due to the difficulty involved. And honestly, I’m not sure what to do in such situations. But even so, I do believe that a lot of abortions could be prevented if only non-abortion options were made more accessible and “attractive”.

Not to be too naive, but I’d like to think that, for an aborted child, there were several persons out there who would’ve made wonderful parents, and would’ve given that child the love and support that it required. I’d like to see it easier for those people to get children, so as to prevent them from unnecessarily enduring anything (e.g., abortion, abuse) and to make it easier for people who have children, but are incapable of caring for them, get support, education, etc.

Comment #25

Continued from the previous comment…

The concept of morality is now and has always been an extension of the will of a populace. Moral standards are not set in stone, they are constantly evolving. Morality and it’s byproduct law are both products of humanity. As such, it is the responsibility of a people to determine right from wrong. There have been some issues that people have been able to agree on for thousands of years, but the gray areas, like abortion and homosexuality, are the ones that we will continue to argue over.

I agree with you to a point. Standards do change over time. Witness the change in attitudes towards such heinous activities as slavery, infanticide, and child labor. (Which isn’t to say that such activities have been eradicated, but they have diminished.)

However there is a difference between “standards” and “morality”. The treatment of human beings as mere property has always been immoral, regardless of what a particular society’s standards might have been at a given point in time. Infanticide is as immoral now as it was 2,000 years ago; Roman law may have made it acceptable to kill a child born with deformities, but that didn’t make it right.

I shudder to think that morality is just “an extension of the will of a populace.” If a populace thinks that rape is acceptable and even preferable, does that truly make it so? And if you’re in the minority that believes that rape is horrible and should be punished, than to what standard can you appeal to justify that belief if said standard is set by the pro-rape populace?

That may seem like a facetious example. But history has shown us time and again that populaces have been perfectly willing to approve and even celebrate the most wicked of activities, from slavery and oppression to genocide.

This brings me back to what you said earlier. You said that “order is defined by the strongest, those that have the ability to dominate and impose their will upon others.” Does this mean that morality—which seems to me to be part of said order, at least within human society—is also defined by “those that have the ability to dominate and impose their will upon others”?

Again, if that’s true, I shudder to think at the consequences. If that’s true, than bullies and tyrants can do whatever they want, and their victims can’t even label such activities as “wrong” or “unjust”, because those things are defined by the bullies and tyrants.

Now, you may say that that’s not what you mean, that you don’t agree with that. But at what other conclusion can you arrive? Unless there are moral absolutes in the universe that are not simply “products of humanity”—and I believe there are such absolutes, which is ultimately why we do see bullies and tyrants brought to justice from time to time—than morality more or less changes at the whims of societies. And in theory, if not in practice, anything, even the worst atrocities, can become worth celebrating so long as the majority approves it.

Which is a very frightening and disturbing thought.

Comment #26

@Daniel: Again I would ask that if everything is black and white, it is either life or it isn’t, than what should the punishment be for a women who gets an abortion?  What of women who force themselves into miscarriage by drinking certain herbal teas or drinking themselves to death?  What about women who take the morning after pill or women who take birth control, which prevents a fertilized egg, in your view, a life, and prevents it from implanting?  If you think that anything less than 1st degree murder, 2nd degree murder, and conspiracy to commit murder is an ok punishment, then clearly things aren’t as black and white as you would like to believe.  As for the difference between a day old baby and a fetus, there are still cultures that believe that a baby isn’t a living being until they are named 2 weeks after birth.  Whether that is right or wrong I couldn’t say, but I don’t think either extreme (conception or 2 weeks old) is right. 

@Jason
I agree, and I think everyone pro-life and pro-choice would agree, that the foster care system, adoption system, and the organizations that will pay for medical bills for expectant mothers are excellent alternatives; however they are severely underfunded.  Better funding and advertising of these programs would no doubt lessen the number of abortions, which is in everyone’s best interest, but it isn’t there.  There are a number of things that would reduce abortion, better funding of these programs, better and more affordable health care, better sex education, but the pro-life movement is so vested in the choice that they are often overlooked.  Look at the previous election, a number of stories popped up about catholics who didn’t want to vote for mccain, but were morally obligated to because he might appoint a judge against roe v. wade, rather than rationally thinking about what would better reduce abortions.  If the pro-life movement wants to make any headway, they need to lobby for better education, better programs, and more funding to help pregnant women carry out their pregnancy rather than guilt tripping people and believing that one law will fix everything, that is, they need to stop trying to fix the symptom and try to mend the illness.
As for moral relativism vs. moral absolutes I would say that nothing is absolute only more likely.  I don’t want to change this to an evolutionary debate, but I personally believe that all the morals we have are simply consequences of our genes and the formation of evolutionary stable strategies.  There are those that follow the rules, those that don’t, and those that take advantage of the rules and it all evens out in the end.  Sure we get some Hitlers, but they don’t last.

Comment #27

@Daniel: You really should quit trying to tell people what they are thinking, it’s rude and you are way off base. I was trying to argue the point for not BANNING abortions, not that we should all have abortions like they’re a Sunday tea party. Regardless of the legality, or moral latitude, abortions will happen, so isn’t it better that they are preformed in a sanitary environment with the proper medical equipment, than somewhere that is unregulated? I guess you’d think it was an appropriate punishment if a woman ended up with a uterine infection and could never have children in the future when she could be a better mother, or worse she could die.

Are you so entrenched in the belief that you are always right, that you cannot see an issue from more than one side? Or would admitting that there are shades of gray, even on this issue, completely shatter the ideological wall from which you stand. I shutter to think what you would do if someday the protestant church decided that life begins at birth and abortions are okay by them.

@Jason: As you’ve pointed out, you are a Christian, and I am not. This will always be at the core of our disagreements, and since I’m not in the business of making converts, I’ll agree to disagree on a lot of your points. I will say that you might have been confusing physical strength with the kind of strength I was talking about, I believe your people have that saying about the meek inheriting the earth, that sort of applies to what I was saying as well. Also, I just want to point out that it’s only your cultural perspective that deems killing a child with deformities wrong. If you were a Roman about 2,000+ years ago you probably would’ve consider it the just thing to do. Which was also the point I was trying to make before. Yes, that does have scary implications, but the world is a pretty scary place if you stop and think about it.

<eom>

Comment #28

If there was a God, and it wanted white Christian males with websites to decide how to legislate a woman’s body, and unwanted pregnancies, he would’ve given them the uteruses. ;)

Comment #29

@Daniel: You really should quit trying to tell people what they are thinking, it’s rude and you are way off base. I was trying to argue the point for not BANNING abortions, not that we should all have abortions like they’re a Sunday tea party. Regardless of the legality, or moral latitude, abortions will happen, so isn’t it better that they are preformed in a sanitary environment with the proper medical equipment, than somewhere that is unregulated? I guess you’d think it was an appropriate punishment if a woman ended up with a uterine infection and could never have children in the future when she could be a better mother, or worse she could die.

Are you so entrenched in the belief that you are always right, that you cannot see an issue from more than one side? Or would admitting that there are shades of gray, even on this issue, completely shatter the ideological wall from which you stand. I shutter to think what you would do if someday the protestant church decided that life begins at birth and abortions are okay by them.

More traditional murder is going to happen as well.  You can’t stop it.  Regardless of the legality, or moral latitude, murders will happen, so isn’t it better that they are preformed in a sanitary environment with the proper medical equipment, than somewhere that is unregulated? 

At the risk of being even more rude by telling you what you’re thinking, you’re assigning SOME value to the unborns’ life, but not as much as your own.  Why?

There is no gray area.  There are situations that are simply to large and complicated for us to discern and we take our best swing at them. 
This one’s easy to discern, just hard to execute. 

And in response to the repeated requests for my opinion on a punishment for abortion; I will begin by stating that like most of the pro-choice discussion points, that is a separate topic.  I’m perfectly willing to debate the issue, but it has nothing to do with whether the act of abortion itself is wrong or not.

Comment #30

@Daniel
You are right.  The legal punishment of having an abortion has nothing to do with the debate of whether abortion is right or wrong.  It does however have everything to do with whether abortion is murder or not.  If you are going to claim that abortion is murder, then the punishment for abortion has to have the same weight, if not, then your claim that abortion is murder is null.  Remember, your argument never was “either abortion is right or it is wrong”, your argument is “either abortion is murder or it is not”.  And if you are going to say it is murder, then you have to say that those who have abortions are murderers and should be punished as murderers. 
The refusal to come out and say that women and doctors should be tried as murderers only illustrates to me that you do not think that abortion is murder, and I believe you do not want to admit this by saying what the punishment should be because on some level you can see that a fetus does not have the same value as a human life.

Comment #31

Haha…  I see wut ya did there.

But I disagree.  Debating what the proper punishment is, in my opinion, remains a separate issue.

If you’re just looking for some kind of outburst where I say ALL ABORTION DOCTORS SHOULD DIE AND BURN IN HELL then I’m sorry.  You’re going to be disappointed.

Comment #32

I’m not looking for an outburst, what I’m looking for is an admission that you don’t think that doctors who perform abortions and women who get abortions should be punished as murderers.  If you think that abortion is truly murder and the value of fetus is worth just as much as your life, then there is no other option, it is not a separate issue.  Now if you wanted to rescind and just say that abortion is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed, that’s fine, then the punishment is open to debate; but if you are going to equate abortion to murder, then the punishment must be to try them as murderers.  If you are uncomfortable with that, or disagree, then I would suggest that you agree that a fetus does not have the same value as a human life, and that abortion is less than murder.  Again, all I am looking for is a simple yes or no: Yes they should be tried as murderers, or no they should not be tried as murderers.  If you are unwilling to say, than you cannot possibly equate abortion to murder because you are clearly lacking in your convictions to call the women and doctors murderers.

Comment #33

@Matt: Apologies for not responding sooner, but you know how it goes.

If the pro-life movement wants to make any headway, they need to lobby for better education, better programs, and more funding to help pregnant women carry out their pregnancy rather than guilt tripping people and believing that one law will fix everything, that is, they need to stop trying to fix the symptom and try to mend the illness.

I couldn’t agree more. Change on this issue—or any issue, for that matter—won’t effectively happen until change occurs in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people. And on that end, I’ve actually seen some encouraging signs. But there’s a long way to go, and a lot of work that needs to be done.

To that end, pro-life folks, and especially Christians, face the difficult and delicate task of holding forth the horrific nature of abortion while not demonizing or politicizing the other side. I’m encouraged by people like a friend of mine, who actively works with teen parents, even taking some into their own home to care for them. Would that more folks, myself included, followed their example.

As for moral relativism vs. moral absolutes I would say that nothing is absolute only more likely.  I don’t want to change this to an evolutionary debate, but I personally believe that all the morals we have are simply consequences of our genes and the formation of evolutionary stable strategies.  There are those that follow the rules, those that don’t, and those that take advantage of the rules and it all evens out in the end.  Sure we get some Hitlers, but they don’t last.

It doesn’t matter if we get Hitlers or not. The mere fact that there even exists the possibility of people desiring to not follow the rules, or who take advantage of the rules, should tell you that something’s horribly wrong with the system—and with us. You shouldn’t have to wait for a Hitler to come along, someone who really doesn’t follow the rules, to see that.

I long for a world where there are no Hitlers, where the mere thought of Hitlers is greeted with shock and dismay, or laughter at the absurdity of such a thing. I long for a world where things don’t simply even out in the end, or just sort of zero themselves out.

To my mind, that’s nothing more than a sort of resigned acceptance of the existence of bullies and tyrants.

As you’ve pointed out, you are a Christian, and I am not. This will always be at the core of our disagreements, and since I’m not in the business of making converts, I’ll agree to disagree on a lot of your points.

Fair enough. But seeing as how we’re talking about ideas, worldviews, etc. that disagree with and oppose eachother quite a bit, one of us is bound to be wrong and one of us is bound to be right. And with all due and sincere respect, we can only agree to disagree for so long before one of us runs out of room for disagreeing.

I will say that you might have been confusing physical strength with the kind of strength I was talking about, I believe your people have that saying about the meek inheriting the earth, that sort of applies to what I was saying as well.

How so? How is a world that is defined by “the strongest, those that have the ability to dominate and impose their will upon others” compatible with Jesus’ words? How is the concept of domination and imposition compatible with Jesus’ call to submission and humility?

Also, I just want to point out that it’s only your cultural perspective that deems killing a child with deformities wrong. If you were a Roman about 2,000+ years ago you probably would’ve consider it the just thing to do. Which was also the point I was trying to make before.

This is a very interesting statement, and on the surface, it has the potential to seem quite reasonable because different cultures do have different standards, and those standards do evolve over time. But if you start expanding upon it, you have to allow for some very disturbing possibilities.

According to your rationale, it could easily have been the “just thing to do” for Hutus to kill nearly a million Tutsis in Rwanda because their “cultural perspective” deemed it okay. Same goes for the Serbian soldiers who raped Muslim women during their “ethnic cleansing” campaigns. And the 15th century Church when they unleashed the Spanish Inquisition on Jews, Protestants, Muslims, and others. And the American settlers who drove Native Americans off their land.

If it’s all merely a matter of “cultural perspective” that determines what is right and wrong, than it may very well have been the “just thing to do” for ordinary German citizens to accept and support the imprisonment, harassment, and slaughter of millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and others.

Yes, that does have scary implications, but the world is a pretty scary place if you stop and think about it.

You’re right, it has very scary implications, especially if taken to its logical and necessary end.

It means that anything, even history’s most horrific and atrocious deeds, can be shrugged off as a matter of “cultural perspective”. It means that those who have been victims of such deeds may not have any moral power behind their cries and demands for justice, because their oppressors can simply say they were doing what was right for them at the time. And it means that you and I can’t truly condemn such deeds—i.e., we can’t express any concern over the world being a scary place—because we have a different “cultural perspective” than those who have committed those deeds, and who are we to judge them?

The minute you start making morality ultimately relative and determined by cultural, social, and historical perspectives—as influential as those things are—you run a mighty risk because we all have different cultural perspectives. There must be something that transcends all of our perspectives if we’re to have any hope for true morality and justice.

Comment #34

@ Jason
I doubt there are many that want to see another Hitler, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  As I said, I believe its our genes; some random mutation or hormonal issue that makes us act in a certain manner.  If you want a Darwinian reason for Hitler, I would estimate that all genocide is the “phenotypic” expression of a gene that tells us that outsiders are bad, which for years was the only way to survive.  The concept of borders, racism, sexism, bigotry, and even genocide are all expressions of this notion that is built in our genes.  Are we creatures of our genes?  I like to think that we can resist what our genes program us to do, that that resistance is what makes us human, but when you look around at everything that has happened under man’s watch, I don’t know.

If I may respond to your comments to the other Matt:
I don’t think anyone has to run out of the room disagreeing.  Its good to have friends that you disagree with.  It helps you sort out what you truly believe; it helps sharpen your real views.  I will never understand political talk shows where the point is to yell louder and longer.  That is not an argument, nor is it entertaining.  I will never understand people who refuse to read books or articles on a topic because they disagree with the premise.  Furthermore I will never understand people who subscribe to a certain religion or philosophy without studying other religions or philosophies.  How can you be sure of what you believe when you don’t know what you don’t believe?

As for moral relativism vs. absolutes.  As you said, are cultural views change over time.  If that is the case than how can there be absolutes.  We live in a world of terrible things that we allow to happen on different levels.  Murder is bad, but killing someone in a war is completely different.  Genocide is terrible, but slowly letting a people die off due to famine, poverty and AIDs, isn’t my concern, and hey remember, its OK when God tells us to do it in the Old Testament (can God make an absolute and then change it?).  We turn our backs to all sorts of the evil in the world because the situation is different.  Now I know we are imperfect creatures, but when faced with that, how can one argue that there are moral absolutes when we have all these exceptions, and when viewpoints change overtime and even God tells us to not follow the “absolutes” sometimes.  I would say that the only thing absolute is that the winning side gets to say what was right and what was wrong.

Comment #35

The concept of borders, racism, sexism, bigotry, and even genocide are all expressions of this notion that is built in our genes.  Are we creatures of our genes?  I like to think that we can resist what our genes program us to do, that that resistance is what makes us human, but when you look around at everything that has happened under man’s watch, I don’t know.

If we’re truly creatures of our genes, as you put it, then that means that everything about us is a product of their programming. If that’s true, how is it possible to then resist their programming? Where does this extra power or strength to rebel against our “masters” come from?

I don’t think anyone has to run out of the room disagreeing.  Its good to have friends that you disagree with.  It helps you sort out what you truly believe; it helps sharpen your real views.  I will never understand political talk shows where the point is to yell louder and longer.  That is not an argument, nor is it entertaining.  I will never understand people who refuse to read books or articles on a topic because they disagree with the premise.  Furthermore I will never understand people who subscribe to a certain religion or philosophy without studying other religions or philosophies.  How can you be sure of what you believe when you don’t know what you don’t believe?

You’re absolutely right: one shouldn’t believe things blindly. One should keep an open mind, listen to as many sides as possible, do their homework, engage in debate and discussion, etc. But at some point, you have to make a decision. You have to decide what, of all the things you’ve read, studied, etc., makes sense, and best explains reality as you experience it. Otherwise, all of that effort is ultimately for naught. As G.K. Chesterton put it, “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

Of course, being flawed humans, we’re not going to be able to understand or comprehend things fully, which is why we need to maintain an open mind. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we must, if we’re going to stand for something and actually believe in it and make it a valuable part of our life, make a decision once in a while.

Now, we’re going to disagree, and we should do so passionately and respectfully. But no matter how respectful and open-minded we remain, someone is bound to be wrong and someone is bound to be right.

One person says that there are no such thing as moral absolutes, that morality changes between times and places; another person says that moral absolutes do exist, and apply equally to all men. One person says that there is no supernatural reality, that the material world is all there is; another person says that there’s another world beyond the material one. Statements like these are diametrically opposed; they are the antithesis of one another. As such, you can have all of the debate and discussion you want, but at the end of the day, either the first person is right, or the second person is right. To claim otherwise is to act illogically and unreasonably.

As for moral relativism vs. absolutes.  As you said, are cultural views change over time.  If that is the case than how can there be absolutes.

As I said before, there is a difference between “standards” and “morality”. Standards are relative; they can and will be different between societies, civilizations, eras, and cultures. But morality ultimately transcends such things, and provides a measuring stick by which to evaluate and judge standards.

A very basic example of what I mean: curse words vary from culture to culture, language to language. A word that might be very offensive here in the U.S. might be completely harmless in another country (and vice versa). So here, we see different standards, and it’s difficult to say that one person is truly being immoral simply because they happen to say a certain word.

However, if I truly curse you, it doesn’t matter what words I use or what culture I’m from, etc. I’ve done something immoral, and that fact transcends where I happen to live.

Comment #36

Continued from the previous comment…

We live in a world of terrible things that we allow to happen on different levels.  Murder is bad, but killing someone in a war is completely different.  Genocide is terrible, but slowly letting a people die off due to famine, poverty and AIDs, isn’t my concern, and hey remember, its OK when God tells us to do it in the Old Testament (can God make an absolute and then change it?).  We turn our backs to all sorts of the evil in the world because the situation is different.  Now I know we are imperfect creatures, but when faced with that, how can one argue that there are moral absolutes when we have all these exceptions, and when viewpoints change overtime and even God tells us to not follow the “absolutes” sometimes.

Well, for starters, your comments about God making an absolute and changing it merit a discussion (or three) all its own. But where, exactly, does God permit or allow people to ignore those suffering from famine, poverty, etc.? There is nowhere in the Bible where God says it’s OK to disobey His law, to disregard His standards (and certainly, if Isaiah 1:16-17 and James 1:27 are any indication, caring for the poor and suffering is part of His law).

There are plenty of instances within the Bible where people do disobey God’s absolutes—where people murder, deceive, rape, etc.—but that doesn’t mean that God condones or approves of such behavior. He may allow such things to happen—and after all, we do have free will—but that’s different than approving them. And what’s more, those who commit such deeds are held accountable and brought to justice as demanded by God’s absolutes.

I would say that the only thing absolute is that the winning side gets to say what was right and what was wrong.

If that’s the case, if “might makes right” is truly the way the world operates, than what’s the point of standing up to any kind of wrongdoing, tyranny, or atrocity? What’s the point of standing up for justice for those who have been brutalized by this world’s bullies?

If someone comes along and takes your possessions, does the fact that they were stronger than you make them right. Are they “right” only until you are able to gain the upper hand, and take back what’s yours?

Such thinking can lead only to cynicism and despair, if taken to its logical end. If what you say is really true, then there’s no hope for humanity. All that awaits us is an endlessly brutal cycle of victims and oppressors. This is exactly what we’ve seen in eastern Europe, as ethnicities who have been oppressed in the past finally gain enough power to turn the tables on their former oppressors—though it’s only a matter of time before the tables turn back again.

As a Christian, this is something I emphatically deny. The winning side does not get to write history, not in the long run—though it may seem that way at times. There is a standard, a moral absolute that undergirds all of human history, and has been written into the heart of man. And even though we may freely choose to ignore it, that doesn’t free us from its authority. And if the winning side—whoever they might be—has gone against this standard, they will be dealt with accordingly, at some point

On a sidenote, this is one of the most fascinating and remarkable things about Christianity, IMHO. It is a religion that ultimately sides with the oppressed, the victims, the fatherless, and the widows. It is not the religion of the tyrants and the bullies, though tyrants and bullies have often used it to support their regimes. It breaks the cycle of victims and oppressors, not by using might to affirm its right-ness, but rather through grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice (i.e., the example of Christ). And as such, it ultimately stands against the notion that “the winning side gets to say what was right and what was wrong.”

Comments are no longer accepted for this entry.