Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Single-Issue Voting | A Respectful Exchange

A few days ago I wrote in this space, taking sad exception to single-issue voting.

Nate (whom I don't know) responded:
Jim, I was linked to this post by a friend.

While I can agree with some of the individual sentences in your post, taken as a whole I find your logic severely lax. Stated another way, your position seems to be "YOU don't have the moral ground to vote against the murder of innocent babies by the millions each year UNLESS YOU are also committed to funding full healthcare, education, and guaranteed wages for all people."

That is absolute poppycock. By no stretch of the imagination would a reasonable, moral person - and particularly a follower of Christ - say the same thing about the Jewish Holocaust: "you don't have the moral ground to oppose the Nazi genocide of the Jews unless you are also committed to paying for their healthcare, education, and employment."

The issues of education, healthcare, the economy, the war(s), the poor - these are all important issues that should have Christ-followers at their forefronts!

However, the wholesale murder of millions of babies stands apart - it is in a different category, a category that is unambiguously evil and, therefore, in opposition to the will of God. Any and every follower of Christ is commanded, by God, to oppose evil and to support righteousness... where the two are "gray" there is room for debate.

My reply:
Nate, I’m saying our struggle is not against flesh and blood and this is not a one-front war.

I’m not persuaded of the equivalence between Nazi genocide and legal abortion — from where I’m viewing the world, abortion is ambiguously evil — somewhat in spirit of the David Foster Wallace passage Daniel included in his comment above.

I know that’s beyond the pale for you because you are convinced abortion is murder. I know we don’t share the same certainty about what God does in the womb. I see how that leads you to question my faith, my intellectual rigor, or both.

What does not seem to be in dispute between us is that life is endlessly unsafe for the born. Going directly to the extremes, every day there are 27,000 excess deaths (as they say in the morbidity tables) — a number that is less obscene than the 42,000 daily excess deaths when I started paying attention to this in 1983 but still horrific at the granular level of 27,000 families grieving when we had the means to prevent the death of their child, parent, sibling...

That’s nearly 10 million unnecessary deaths a year...down from somewhere north of 15 million 25 years ago...not down nearly enough.

Likewise, the incidence of abortion has been reduced dramatically from its statistical highs and that is good news in a qualified way. I think we would agree that zero abortions would be about right because zero would reflect the shalom of God radiating from our households into the communities where we are committed to serving the common good. Zero would signify that the kingdom of God had broken out among us.

Or would it?

Even if I concede the possibility that Senator McCain has become a true believer in the cause (and I would say the proof of the pudding is in the eating) he remains, as far as I can tell, uncommitted to addressing the conditions in which abortion and much else flourishes.

I’m asking my friends, you among them, to look at a bigger picture of engagement and prevention that does not conflate everything into this [or any] one thing.

1 comment:

J.P. St. Pierre said...

Nazis? The Holocast was a military operation by Hitler to methodically eliminate Jews. Abortion in America is individual women facing the toughest moment of their lives. The U.S. government doesn't round up young woman and force them to abort their babies (that would be communist China, our largest trading partner).

As a male it's hard for me to comprehend the emotions a pregnant 17 year old girl who is being raised by a single mom herself, in a bad part of town, goes to a crappy school, works a crappy minimum wage job, and her boyfriend is suddenly nowhere to be found, she must be terrified and feeling like she doesn't have a lot of options.

Right now our culture condemns young girls who have abortions but we punish the girls who make the choice to have their babies by calling them white trash and we hate them for being welfare cases and existing off our hard earned tax dollars.

I think that a pregnant 17 year old girl would be less likely to have an abortion if there was real substantial support out there for her.

But, that would be "socialism" and we can't have that.