Tag Archives: abortion

Mulling Over the Civil War, 150 Years Later

150 years ago the United States of America went to war with itself. An interesting article over at CNN explored four reasons why we’re still fighting that war.

It’s full of interesting ideas and rationales. I found two of them worth talking about here:

1) Power of the Federal Government

H.W. Crocker III, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War, says Southern secessionists were patriots reaffirming the Founding Fathers’ belief that the Colonies were free and independent states.

They were also reaffirming the Founding Fathers’ belief that black men only counted as two-thirds of a person and could be sold like cattle. But you know, details.

But I’ll give Crocker some credit, he does pose a fair question:

“If the Southern states pulled out of the union today after, say, the election of Barack Obama, or some other big political issue like abortion, how many of us would think the appropriate reaction from the federal government would be to blockade Southern ports and send armies into Virginia?”

Ouch. There’s a question for the pro-life crowd. If Roe vs. Wade is overturned and California says “We’re out,” is the appropriate response to go to war?

An over-simplified question for a way more complex issue. Of course Abraham Lincoln said yes and did go to war over a moral issue. Which brings me to the second interesting idea.

2) Christianity Poisons Politics

At the time of the Civil War the political center disappeared in the wake of the Second Great Awakening, according to David Goldfield, author of America Aflame, a new book that examines evangelical Christianity’s impact on the war.

Goldfield says evangelical Christianity “poisoned the political process” because the American system of government depends on compromise and moderation, and evangelical religion abhors both because “how do you compromise with sin.”

“By transforming political issues into moral causes, you raise the stakes of the conflict and you tend to demonize your opponents,” Goldfield says.

So Christianity is to blame for the Civil War? Ouch. I’m over-simplifying (again), but it’s an interesting idea.

Some might say that’s good. Eradicating slavery is a battle worth fighting and in the case of the Civil War that’s meant literally. It’s interesting to make comparisons and talk about whether that’s worth doing today, but that’s probably one of the few times in history when you can invade to enforce a moral issue. Who would the pro-life crowd propose we invade in order to stop abortion? Or perhaps less inflammatory, who could we invade today to stop human trafficking? There’s no country that legalizes and supports slavery today like the South did 150 years ago.

I don’t have any answers here, I’m just mulling ideas.

We’ll Take Any Newborn

A few weeks back I pondered the difficult question of adoption and abortion. I asked the church why adoption isn’t standard practice in the face of abortion.

Well, one church has answered. Pastor Vic Pentz of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta promised in a recent sermon that his church would “care for any newborn baby you bring to this church.” They’re partnering with the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services to make that acutally happen. It’s a bold statement and doesn’t get into any of the many complicated issues involved in adoption (it’s not exactly as simple as bring a baby to the church), but I love it. It’s a strong step forward for the church.

If the church is going to value life, I think they need to truly value life. And that means stepping forward to care for babies that would otherwise be unwanted. That means walking alongside moms and dads who would consider abortion because they don’t think they have the resources to care for a baby. That means doing whatever it takes for life, whether it’s keeping families together or creating new ones.

Adoption and Abortion

If the practice of abortion ended the world would have to deal with 42 million unwanted children every year. How can anti-abortion advocates respond to that when there are already 148 million orphans in the world? How can we ask for more unwanted children when we’re not taking care of the already orphaned children in the world?

I ask this question not to defend abortion. I don’t like abortion. The numbers are staggering—42 million abortions worldwide every year? That’s nearly as high as the annual worldwide death rate (approximately 56 million people die ever year).

I ask this question because I don’t think anti-abortion advocates focus enough on solutions. Adoption is one solution, and while churches and Christians are very supportive of adoption (I should know), they’re not supportive enough (to the tune of 148 million children without families).

For many Christians, adoption is a “good thing.” It’s a good deed you did and we’ll applaud you for it, but it’s not a normal practice. It’s what you do when you can’t have kids. It’s what you do when you’ve already had a few kids “of your own.” But it’s rarely a first choice. It’s rarely promoted as something all families should consider (I was ecstatic to see Rick Warren talking about promoting adoption in his church).

I know adoption isn’t for everyone. There are inherent challenges and if you’re not prepared you have no business adopting. But it just seems inconsistent to me that Christians are so against abortion but don’t seem truly prepared to end abortion.

When a pregnant mother considers abortion, would you step forward to adopt her baby? And why would she believe that you’d adopt her baby when she sees the 148 million orphans we haven’t adopted?

Abortion is a difficult issue and I hate talking about it because it’s so divisive. But this question has been nagging at me for a while. Why isn’t adoption standard practice in the church? It’s definitely supported and encouraged when it happens, and I’d wager that it’s more widespread in the church, but it’s still far from the norm. If adoption were the norm it would change the abortion debate. For that matter if adoption were the norm it would change the world.

Choose Adoption

I don’t like talking about abortion. Today’s the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and it’s hard to avoid those discussions today. I don’t like those discussions because it’s such divisive issue and I see both sides of it. I can’t stand the bitterness and anger and hatred that inevitably floods the conversation.

I’d rather focus on something we can all agree is good, like lowering the number of abortions. One way to make that happen is to encourage and support pregnant women as they choose adoption.

With that in mind I love this comment from Ruth Graham, daughter of Billy Graham, who helped her daughter navigate two unplanned pregnancies:

“No life is a mistake. God has plans for each life. And there are no illegitimate children—there are only illegitimate acts. And I believe that birth mothers are very courageous. They are living in a society that tells them they don’t have to carry to life. It’s legal in this country to have abortion, but they choose life. They lay down their lives; literally, their reputations, their figures, their school careers, sometimes their families kick them out. And the Lord said that there’s no greater love but that a man lay down his life for his friends, and these young women lay down their lives for their children. And I applaud them.”

The brave women who place their children for adoption instead of choosing abortion need to be celebrated.

Anne Lamott: Abortion a “Moral Necessity”

I like Anne Lamott. I really do. I even put up with her wacky universalism. But it’s comments like these in a pro-abortion op-ed piece in the L.A. Times that I can’t handle:

It is a moral necessity that we not be forced to bring children into the world for whom we cannot be responsible and adoring and present. We must not inflict life on children who will be resented; we must not inflict unwanted children on society.

Forced? Since when was having sex forced (obviously it happens in rare instances like rape and incest, but that’s not the main discussion here)? Usually it’s a choice to drop your pants and jump in bed. If we must not “inflict life on children who will be resented” than the solution isn’t abortion, it’s abstinence.

I like sex as much as the next guy, but sex has consequences. Wonderful, beautiful consequences. And if you can’t handle those consequences, if you’re not responsible enough, then keep your pants on. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.

Sex is not an unalienable right. It’s a responsibility. Maybe that’s a stodgy viewpoint, but it seems pretty basic to me. Ignoring the biological purpose of sex for the benefit of our own pleasure is a bit messed up. I’m all for the pleasure—have fun. But with it comes responsibility. The two can’t be separated. (link via CT’s Weblog)

Stupid TV, be more honest

Last night the WB’s Everwood explored the subject of abortion. It’s such a don’t-go-there topic that advertisers dropped that episode of the show leaving the WB scrambling to replace them. But for all the fear and hype, the show was amazing.

Rather than take one extremist slant or the other, the show faithfully explored both sides of the issue. They actually engaged in an honest and valuable discussion about one of the most controversial topics in the last 40 years.

The decidedly liberal Dr. Brown was approached and asked to perform a quiet abortion for an 18-year-old girl in the small Colorado town of Everwood. Brown talks with the girl and encourages her to explore her options before making a decision. He stresses that it’s her choice, but that it’s a traumatic decision. He urges her to talk with a counselor.

Throughout the show, Brown goes through a transition, at first grudgingly willing to perform the abortion, but then deciding against it. He presents both the pro-choice views he and his late wife once supported, and the pro-life view that he finds himself leaning towards. In the end he decides that he cannot personally perform the abortion. The girl is referred to another doctor and goes through with the abortion, though it’s not portrayed as an easy choice.

There’s even more twists to the story that make it more intriguing, but I found myself amazed at how delicately and honestly they approached the issue. They may not have had the adamant pro-life stance some Christians would hope for, but they didn’t just spew left-wing rhetoric either. They wrestled with the issue in a way no one seems willing to do today. They admitted the pros and cons of both arguments and acknowledged the shitty situation for what it is, no matter how things turn out.

The sub-plot to the abortion issue involved Delia, Brown’s 8-year-old daughter, discovering a porn magazine, forcing Brown to broach the issue of sexuality with his innocent daughter. The maturing of his daughter made for a nice foil to the abortion story (OK, that’s the writer in me), but I was more impressed at the honest portrayal of real parenting. Brown sat his daughter down at the table to talk about the magazine. Imagine trying to talk to an 8-year-old who just saw Penthouse for the first time. A sitcom would play it up for laughs. 7th Heaven would make it an easy and cheesy discussion, wrapped up nicely in a minute and half. A lesser drama would have rushed the scene, ending it with parental failure.

But Everwood stretched the scene out, forcing you through Brown’s embarrassed agony as he tried to find words to talk to his own daughter about pornography. The scene dragged on, and Brown didn’t have a well-rehearsed speech to give his daughter. He stumbled with his words, he stopped and started, he didn’t get very far. Welcome to real parenting.

I wish he would have had a better answer for his daughter, would have taken a stronger stance about the exploitation that is the heart and soul of pornography. But I respect the honesty of showing what parenting is really like. How would you explain pornography to your 8-year-old? Would you? Or would you avoid the issue like so many do. Skeletons in the closet, or buried at the bottom of the drawer, as the case may be.

Who says TV is entirely stupid?

How Do We Treat One Another?

You know what, I don’t have anything to say today. So I’m going to let someone else speak:

“The way we are with each other is the truest test of our faith. How I treat a brother or sister from day to day, how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street, how I respond to the interruptions from people I dislike, how I deal with normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day may be a better indication of my reverence for life than the anti-abortion sticker on the bumper of my car.

“We are not pro-life simply because we are warding off death. We are pro-life to the extent that we are men and women for others, all others; to the extent that no human flesh is a stranger to us; to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love; to the extent that for us there are no ‘others.'” (A Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, page 140)