Plainspoken Reality

Stuart Smalley knew a thing or two.  My favorite line of his was, “Denial is not only a river in Egypt, you know.”

The other week , that little gem popped into my head as I engaged in a discussion on Facebook.  My friend Ken had written a status update insinuating that Barack Obama is not a Christian.  As Ken’s status updates oftentimes do (he has a knack–some would even call it a gift–others a curse–for this), it sparked quite a response.

A few Obama supporters jumped into the fray almost immediately, calling Ken’s ability to see accurately into question.  After reading their statements and cleverly worded questions (I gotta give props, honestly), I decided to jump right in.  My comments were generally ignored  (Perhaps that’s my “gift.”  Or maybe folks think I’m on crack and it’s best to leave me alone.  I can’t tell which.), but they generated a wee bit of conversation here and there.

My first comment was:

“You shall know them by their fruits.”

We harp on the importance of actions all the time. If ever there were an instance to put stress on one’s actions, this would be it.

Though one can no doubt find many relevant actions, I had his actions on one issue primarily in mind.  Anyone care to take a guess?

I don’t care what euphemisms he uses to describe the act.  Thinking it’s ok for doctors to crush and dismember an unborn child is incompatible with the Holy Spirit.  When folks suggest that someone with his kind of record on abortion and his apathy toward the carnage can know Jesus, they jump the shark.

My friend replied:

We don’t know him well enough to be a proper judge of his fruit. We may wish that he uses his platform differently, but none of us are close enough to the President to be able to make that judgement.

I dunno ’bout that.  When a politician works to defeat legislation that would protect children who are born alive after a failed abortion attempts (read the above link), I don’t need to sit down and have a beer with him to evaluate the fruit.  He has pledged his life and resources to defending the “right” for parents to kill their unborn children. He is part of the 40 million legacy. That is a rotten fruit of an enormous magnitude. This is something more than being merely wrong or misguided.

Here’s where the conversation got real interesting.  Or frustrating…you decide.  He replied:

So the test if someone is a believer in Christ or not is their stance on Roe v Wade?


You make it sound merely intellectual, like I’m saying that someone’s mere opinion on a mere court case determines salvation. That is a straw man. You know better.

It is really not that complicated. Giving oneself towards the cause of killing babies (that they are in utero makes no difference…they’re still babies. In Obama’s case, it’s even worse than that–he’s defended killing babies that are 90% out of the womb) is really hard to square with claiming to know Jesus.

Watch an abortion or see pictures of what it does to the unborn, and you will no longer be able to ask that question with a straight face.

I’ve reflected since then, and I’m convinced I should have spoken even more plainly.  As Princeton Professor Robert George quips, “One does not treat an interlocutor with respect if one refuses to speak plainly. Candor, far from being the enemy of civility, is one of its preconditions.”  The Old Testament prophets, Jesus, Paul, and the apostles all lived by that principle.  Some might balk at the harshness of the reflections that follow, but they are needed; this is no mere intellectual matter. My friend and I disagree deeply about a very important issue.  Sometimes “making nice” is not the best policy.  My hope is that if you call yourself pro-life but think that Roe, for some reason, should remain the law, my words make you think twice.

My friend made other comments: that Republicans vocally say they are against Roe but do nothing about it (not true), and that Obama wants to lower abortion rates by teaching about contraception (disingenuous, given his record, and his comments at Notre Dame.  What’s more, the goings on of a “common ground” meeting at the White House two days before his Notre Dame speech showed his intent even more clearly.).  These are claims I wanted to respond to, but they did not represent what concerned me most about the discussion.  Really, the question that kicked off dicussion–is Obama Christian?–wasn’t my main focus at this point.

Two things concerned me most: 1) The clever euphemisms surrounding abortion that my friend continued to employ, and 2) his failure to see or acknowledge a heinous evil entrenched in current law.

He tried to make it sound like I was claiming that just someone’s thoughts on a court case determines his/her salvation. In doing so, he attempted to suck the meaning out of the word “abortion.” A moment’s thought at what abortion actually is will show that question to be a strawman. This is no esoteric court case. Roe entrenched discrimination into our law. From 1973 onward, the notion that some human beings are more worthy of protection than others has been a part of our legal fabric. Not just that, but Roe made dismembering unborn human beings limb-by-limb an ok thing to do.

How could someone who is pro-life, who supposedly believes in the equal fundamental value of all and that every member of the human family possesses certain rights (including the right to life) just in virtue of being human, really think that Roe should remain intact?  Roe cemented into our culture the exact opposite of that bedrock pro-life value.  Ever since 1973, our law has declared that some human beings are more deserving of protection than others; that some human beings can be killed solely due to their parents’ whim; that the most vulnerable human beings–the unborn, who have no voice–are less worthy and valuable.

How can someone be pro-life but not be for doing away with that law?  Even though overturning Roe won’t bring the number of abortions to 0, it is an absolutely disgusting and vile law, just like laws allowing slavery, and just like segregation laws.  It should not just be done away with; it should be trashed.

One response to “Plainspoken Reality

  1. One addendum. Back on the subject of the President and his policy on abortion, some pro-lifers support him because they think he is in favor of reducing the number of abortions, and that he’s willing to forge meaningful common ground with pro-lifers. This is misguided. Robert George reasons rightly. In one of the above links, after he very carefully shows how Obama’s words on “reducing the number of abortions” is disingenuous, George concludes:

    “The President and the people he has placed in charge of this issue, such as Melody Barnes, have a deep ideological commitment to the idea that there is nothing actually wrong with abortion, because the child in the womb simply has no rights. This commitment explains the policy positions President Obama has consistently taken since he entered the Illinois legislature. It crucially shapes and profoundly limits what he and those associated with him regard as the “common ground” on which he is willing to work with pro-lifers. And it explains why he and they reject what we, as pro-lifers, propose as common ground.

    Because the President does not believe in the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family; because he does not believe that babies acquire human rights until after birth; because he does not see abortion as tragic because it takes the life of an innocent human being, he is utterly and intransigently unwilling to support even efforts short of prohibiting abortion that would plainly reduce the number of abortions. Moreover, he is adamantly in favor of funding abortions and abortion providers at home and abroad, and has already taken steps in that direction by revoking the Mexico City Policy and proposing a budget that would restore publicly funded abortions in Washington, D.C.—despite the well-documented and universally acknowledged fact that when you provide public funding for abortion, you get more abortions.

    Some pro-choice people think that the killing of unborn children where there is no grave threat to the mother, though bad and unjust, should not be made illegal at least in the earliest stages. Potentially we would have significant common ground with these fellow citizens in the form of policies to discourage abortion and reduce the number of killings. For example, we could join together to oppose the funding of abortion at home and abroad; we could work together for bans on second and third trimester abortions, on abortions for sex-selection, and on particularly heinous methods of abortion, such as partial-birth abortions; we could agree on what Professor Hadley Arkes calls “the most modest first step of all,” namely requiring care—at least comfort care—for the child who survives an attempted abortion and is born alive. We could provide desperately needed financial support for pro-life clinics that assist pregnant women in need—need that is not always financial, but is often emotional and spiritual—and encourage and help these women make the choice for life. We could enact waiting periods, informed consent laws, and parental notification laws that have been shown, in research by Michael New and others, to reduce abortions. We could reject the funding of embryo-destructive research, and join together to support promising research and treatments using non-embryonic sources of stem cells.

    However, far from meeting us on any of these areas of common ground, President Obama opposes our efforts. Political realities have prevented him from making good on his promise to the abortion industry to sign the pro-abortion nuclear bomb called the Freedom of Choice Act as one of his first acts in office. But he was not lying when he made that promise. His policies, and above all his appointments to key offices in the White House, the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, and elsewhere make clear that his strategy will be to enact the provisions of FOCA step by step, rather than as a package. As anyone occupying the role of David Axelrod or Karl Rove will tell you, this is obviously the politically astute way for the President to prosecute his agenda. The country does not accept President Obama’s extreme position on abortion. A recent poll showed that a majority of Americans now regard themselves as pro-life, and a majority favors significant legal restrictions on abortion. Plainly the President’s actual views are far more favorable to abortion than those of the general public; so if he is to advance his goals, and the goals of those who share his commitment to making abortion more widely available and easily accessible, the last thing it would make sense to do is try to enact FOCA as a package.

    The common ground I am interested in is with pro-life Americans who…have supported the President politically. The election is over, and the current question is not who anyone thinks will do the best job as President, or even whether one may legitimately support candidates who deny the fundamental dignity and right to life of unborn human beings and who promise to protect and extend the abortion license and expand the funding of embryo-destructive research. The question is: On which issues will we support the President’s direction, and on which will we challenge him because he is heading in the wrong direction? Those pro-life Americans who voted for him and support him should not object when we speak for the most vulnerable and defenseless of our fellow human beings, even when that means severely criticizing the President’s policies. They should stand with us on common ground, and join their voices with ours.”