By Andrew Walker
Sometimes there are arguments advanced that inflict such damage to Christian social ethics that the only way to respond is in satire.
Craig Watts, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, over at RedletterChristians.com has written a post on why abortion should not be a wedge issue for Christians when it comes time to vote.
Count me unpersuaded. I’m less unpersuaded by his argumentation, and more persuaded that Watts’ discomfort on the issue is because abortion has become too militarized of a topic. It’s just too nasty and uncomfortable. So, de-escalation is called for.
Abortion is so uncomfortable and even sinful that Mr. Watts resolves to keep it legal. Why? Because abortion, he argues, occurs less in countries that permit it. Cookie thievery, it should be noted, occurs less where cookie thievery is actually legal, too. These facts are bunk, mind you. Contrary to his assertion, U.S. statistics show that abortions decline where even modest restrictions are enforced, like informed consent and parental consent. Rev. Watts’ arguments’ statistics rest upon faulty, outlier argumentation. But let’s not allow facts to get in our way.
Let’s try an experiment. How about we replace one word of our Red Letter friend’s title and see if our Red Letter friend seems so reasonable. Let’s merely replace “abortion”—a politically uncomfortable word—with “genocide”—a word that has accrued much political glamor (think: Christians ought to be against the genocide in Darfur!)—and see if the consciences of the Justice crowd are pricked. Let’s try it:
Why Genocide Should Not Be Politically Decisive for Christians
Hmm, genocide. 50 plus million persons snuffed out of existence. Maybe, just maybe, abortion qualifies as genocide. You can decide.
By the looks of it, genocide sounds like something all Christians should be against, not just Red Letter Christians—you know, the types of Christians who fawn more grievously and sanctimoniously over economic disparity than legally sanctioned infant dismemberment; those whose consciences are pricked more by the clanging bells of Wall Street profits than the monotonous hum of an abortionist’s cannula violently pulverizing an unborn child, oops, I mean “the contents of the pregnancy;” those whose vision for Matthew 25 is a statist paradise. Unborn persons are disposed of in plastic bags labeled “medical waste” but Red Letter Christians have fair trade coffee and TOMS, so all it well amidst the Religious Left and their untainted consciences.
You see, the important thing is that Christians relieve their consciences of petty things like the sanctity of life. Nowhere does Watts argue for making abortion illegal. In a compromise thinly disguised as surrender, Christian Leftists such as Watts have reached a critical point in their Christian ethics and their Christian political engagement where discomfort with icky topics can be allayed: “Don’t make abortion illegal,” they say. Compromise. Seem reasonable. Work to “reduce” abortion like those peaceniks who worked with the KKK to reduce the number of lynchings. Oh wait. Sorry. That never happened. People back then—with their antiquated consciences and all—wanted to make lynching illegal. That’s like, sooooo 1957. Fight Wall Street barons. Journey to Palestine to oppose Israeli aggression, just don’t make calls for abortion to be illegal. Got it?
Two paragraphs below, I’ve edited out everything related to abortion and inserted language related to lynching, a murderous activity that white supremacists inflicted with great evil upon the African American community. I hope Rev. Watts’ views on the legality of abortion can teach us something about whether we ought to have outlawed lynching or merely fought to have “reduced” it because “reduction” seems far more politically appetizing than being the curmudgeonly Right Winger who insists on calling evil, well, evil. Name it. And claim it. Unless you want to vote Democrat and be Christian. Then, you merely genuflect before the altar of cultural appeasement and avail yourself of every caricature imaginable.
Rev. Watts says this:
I hate abortion. But this is not the issue that should be mobilizing Christians when it comes time to vote. The belief that legislation will save unborn lives is misguided. Love, persuasion and an environment of support will accomplish much more. Imagining that legislation will stop abortion is just wishful thinking. Such legislation, were it to become law, would do more harm than good by pushing women to turn to unsafe illegal abortion. If Christians are going to be politically engaged, let it be for issues that truly matter for the well-being of those who are the most vulnerable and least advantaged.
Let’s edit and revise with something equally as awful as abortion, but isn’t afforded such high levels of political correctness: Lynching.
“I hate lynching. But this is not the issue that should be mobilizing Christians when it comes time to vote. The belief that legislation will save African American lives is misguided. Love, persuasion and an environment of support will accomplish much more. Imagining that legislation will stop lynching is just wishful thinking. Such legislation, were it to become law, would do more harm than good by pushing white supremacists to turn to unsafe illegal lynchings. If Christians are going to be politically engaged, let it be for issues that truly matter for the well-being of those who are the most vulnerable and least advantaged.”
We would do well to be for the “issues that truly matter,” issues of “justice,” right?
Will do, Rev. Watts.