jasonbwatson

July 10, 2014

Listening to the Other Side

Back in May Janie B. Cheaney wrote a piece for WORLD entitled “The debate is never over.” I was reminded of it yesterday when I wrote about Amanda Marcotte’s rant against those who hold to the position that unborn babies have a right to life. Cheaney began her column by quoting Barack Obama’s assertion that the debate over the Affordable Care Act “is over.” She went on to explain why that assertion was false and also why the tactic of declaring a debate to be over in the midst of that very debate is a tried-and-true, although entirely un-American, strategy.

I am not going to elaborate on Cheaney’s comments about Obamacare; you can find and read her column if you’re interested. But she made a point near the end of her piece that pertains to Obama’s declaration in the ACA, to Marcotte’s declaration on abortion, to many evolutionists’ declarations on creation and to any other debate in which either side tires of the debate and simply decides to say, “It’s over. I win.” Here is what Cheaney writes…

The nation that began with shouting and guns has–with one notable exception–developed a talent for settling disputes without guns, though always with shouting. Violent argument in pursuit of reasonable law is what we’re all about. But as dead set as we are on our own opinions, we must make room for listening and responding to what the other side actually says. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). In this country, debate is seldom over. If and when that day comes, what will really be over is the United States.

Cheaney’s point is that the United States is built around the idea that opinions and beliefs should be freely and passionately argued in the pursuit of law. Those on either side of the political spectrum who would rather just tell the other side to shut up and then declare victory are not only attempting to become philosophical bullies, they are undermining the very essence of what it means to be American. So rarely do we stop to think about what it would be like to be on the other side! Amanda Marcotte would never suggest the debate is over if the law of the land currently prevented abortion. Barack Obama would never have declared the debate to be over if Congress had voted to de-fund Obamacare. Evolutionists would never declare the debate to be over if every school board in the country decided that creation would be taught in the classroom as well as the theory of evolution. That’s the way bullies work, though; as long as they are the biggest, baddest, toughest and meanest it’s their way or the high way. Let someone bigger and badder some along, though, and their position instantly does a one-eighty. So I would ask Mr. Obama, Ms. Marcotte and others to kindly recognize that the debates are not over.

At the same time, though, I would like to ask those of us on the other side of those arguments–myself included–to remember the same thing. We have to be willing to listen to and respect the positions of those who disagree with us if we want them to listen to and respect us. We do not have to agree with them. We do not necessarily even have to be willing to compromise with them. But we do have to be willing to listen and to show respect if we want the same in return. No, we do not have to welcome Ms. Marcotte’s potty-mouthed insults, and certainly we could insist that we will listen only if she is respectful in her speech and tone, but we must all remember that we have to be willing to show respect if we expect to receive it. Mr. Obama and Ms. Marcotte and others may not see it that way but, if anything, that is all the more reason for us to listen and show respect to them. After all, the Golden Rule does not say “do unto others as they do unto you.” No, it says, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Quite a difference, isn’t there?

July 9, 2014

The Sanctity of Life

Caution: the contents of this post may sicken you and will no doubt offend you. Reader discretion is advised.

Sadly, there is a woman with an even more confused, twisted and disgusting view of abortion than Heather Ault. Her name is Amanda Marcotte and she is, according to her entry on Wikipedia, “an American blogger best known for her writing on feminism and politics.” She is just a few months younger than me, but we have beliefs and convictions that could not be further apart. On this past March 14 she wrote an article or blog post (is there a difference?) for the webzine The Raw Story entitled, “The Real Debate Isn’t About ‘Life’ But About What We Expect of Women.” Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-Chief of WORLD Magazine, called it “the foulest defense of abortion I’ve read in 30 years.” That is a sad commentary. Just to give you an idea of Marcotte’s views, take this… Her article leads with a picture of a very pregnant woman at a baby shower, surrounded by friends, presents, cupcakes and “Its a Girl!” balloons. Beneath the picture is the caption, “This is my idea of what hell looks like.”

Marcotte begins her rant by saying that the “atheist/skeptic” community was in an uproar over the issue of abortion. I am not sure of the details of their uproar but Marcotte thought she should “weigh in.” Here is how she begins her comments on the topic (though she used the expletives I am editing)…

The question isn’t whether or not legal abortion is moral—outside a few kooks, nearly all non-believers are pro-choice—but whether or not those anti-abortion kooks should be indulged and given the privilege of having everyone treat their [crap] arguments like they have value in free-wheeling discourse, or if they should be shunned on the grounds of being [crap] arguments the same way anti-gay or overtly racist arguments are shunned.

Notice that Marcotte begins from the same point so many who deny there is such a thing as absolute truth begins–by asserting that the issue has really already been settled and that anyone who does not agree with her is either a kook or a believer, and in her mind the two are no doubt synonymous. She begins by declaring the debate to be already over. Pretty easy to way to win, that.

Notice, too, though, that Marcotte goes further than simply declaring the debate over. She is not content to fling names at those who disagree with her. Rather, she speculates on whether or not those holding views contrary to her own should even be allowed to hold such views without being shunned. In the process of this speculation she once again insults their very position, of course, twice calling it an argument with merit equivalent to that of excrement.

Marcotte goes on, in her next paragraph, to state that she believes the pro-life argument should be shunned if for no other reason than that it is boring and has been used for the past forty years. “They’re still pooping out the same old crap argument they’ve been using for the past forty years—that an embryo or even fertilized egg that has no brain has more human rights than the woman who has been drafted into growing it against her will—that’s been debunked a million billion times,” she writes. Ignoring her apparent fascination with bodily functions that she seems to think will somehow enhance her argument, Marcotte is simply wrong in her position. Not only has the argument not be debunked at all, much less “a million billion times,” the scientific evidence that an embryo does have a brain and does feel pain at a very early stage of development has only continued to increase over the past forty years. Furthermore, no one, to my knowledge, has ever suggested that the unborn child has “more human rights than the woman” carrying it. Instead, those of us who hold to the pro-life position believe that the unborn child is entitled to the same human rights as the woman. That is what the sanctity of life is all about; no life is more or less valuable than any other. The woman carrying the child is doing it against her will, Marcotte suggests, but unless the woman was raped that simply is not true. Perhaps she did not choose to become pregnant, but choosing to engage in sexual intercourse is a de facto acceptance of the possibility of becoming pregnant.

To the suggestion that if society were more accommodating to women who are also mothers Marcotte has an answer; in short, it will not make any difference to her at all.

Well, let me just put a stop to this [crap] right now. You can give me gold-plated day care and an awesome public school right on the street corner and start paying me 15% more at work, and I still do not want a baby. I don’t particularly like babies. They are loud and smelly and, above all other things, demanding. No matter how much free day care you throw at women, babies are still time-sucking monsters with their constant neediness. No matter how flexible you make my work schedule, my entire life would be overturned by a baby. I like my life how it is, with my ability to do what I want when I want without having to arrange for a babysitter. I like being able to watch True Detective right now and not wait until baby is in bed. I like sex in any room of the house I please. I don’t want a baby. I’ve heard your pro-baby arguments. Glad those work for you, but they are unconvincing to me. Nothing will make me want a baby.

There’s no misunderstanding that position, is there? Of course what Marcotte is saying is that she is self-centered, but we all are as a result of our sin nature, so that is not unusual. What she is really saying is that her self-centeredness and her desire to keep her life exactly how she wants it for her own convenience trumps the right of the child she might carry to live. If that’s true, why does my convenience to get down the road in a hurry not trump the right of the guy in front of me going nowhere in a hurry to stay alive? I’ve often said (jokingly) that if I had a James Bond car I would have blown away an awful lot of morons on the highway. That is a joke but it points to the fact that I’m self-centered too and want whatever is convenient for me. The difference between Marcotte and me, then, is that I do not believe I, or anyone else, actually has the right to end the life of someone irritating or inconveniencing me. While Marcotte would no doubt agree with when it comes to the guy on the road in my example, she thinks that because the unborn baby would be temporarily residing in her body the situation is different and she can kill the baby if she wants.

Marcotte goes further in her argument though, stating that carrying the baby to term and putting it up for adoption is not a reasonable option, either, for a woman who does not want a baby at all.

And don’t float “adoption” as an answer. Adoption? [Screw] you, seriously. I am not turning my body over for nine months of gaining weight and puking and being tired and suffering and not being able to sleep on my side and going to the hospital for a bout of misery and pain so that some couple I don’t know and probably don’t even like can have a baby. I don’t owe that couple a free couch to sleep on while they come to my city to check out the local orphans, so I sure as [crap] don’t own them my body. I like drinking alcohol and eating soft cheese. I like not having a giant growth protruding out of my stomach. I hate hospitals and like not having stretch marks. We don’t even force men to donate sperm—a largely pleasurable activity with no physical cost—so forcing women to donate babies is reprehensible.

Forcing women to donate babies? Really? Again, unless the woman was raped, no one forced her to get pregnant. Society forces people to accept the consequences of their choices all the time; why should we not when it comes to carrying a baby to term?

When it comes right down to it, Marcotte’s position can be summed up in her own statement: “This is why, if my birth control fails, I am totally having an abortion. Given the choice between living my life how I please and having my body within my control and the fate of a lentil-sized, brainless embryo that has half a chance of dying on its own anyway, I choose me.” That is what it is all about. Whatever you may want to call it, Marcotte, and those who think like her, are one hundred percent self-centered and want to do whatever works for them. That is about the only thing about Marcotte’s article I can appreciate–she is bluntly honest about this fact that too many on the pro-death side try to avoid.

Just as I suggested with Heather Ault, we need to pray for Amanda Marcotte. But we also need to pray for our country, because we have, for more than forty years, made Marcotte’s position legal. Perhaps her argument will get enough attention that enough people will realize how incredibly stupid and inconsistent is the idea that the woman’s convenience trumps the baby’s right to live. We can pray for that, too.

July 8, 2014

Celebrating murder

Caution: the contents of this post may sicken you and will no doubt offend you. Reader discretion is advised.

The debate over abortion in the United States is not news, nor is the fact that there are very strong opinions on all sides of the debate. What may surprise you is that there is a woman in the United States who actually believes that “abortion is a gift from God” and that abortion is a “life-sustaining act.” Yes, you read that correctly.

The woman is Heather Ault, an activist and artist. Ault claims that she just assumed that there was only illegal abortion prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. She began to dig into the matter, though, and, according to an article in On The Issues magazine, said, “I found a lot of information, along with illustrations, about birth control and abortifacient products going very far back in American, and world, history. I was shocked to see these practices, some advertised on the back covers of women’s magazines throughout the 1800s and others dating as far back as the ancient Egyptians.” Ault had an abortion herself in 2001 and that “unwanted pregnancy” drove her to want to understand “the idea of controlling pregnancy.”

Ault began to share the information she was acquiring with the other students in the women’s studies course she was taking and then began looking for ways to communicate the information in artistic form. Her first effort was a series of four posters “depicting the history of the condom and showcasing herbal abortifacients like silphium,” which sold almost instantly. Ault decided that posters was the way to go since they were easy to create and to reproduce. She has now developed a 50-poster collection entitled 4000 Years for Choice. Ault has designed the posters to include information about “reproduction control” and to each include one “large word.” Since she wants to “empower and affirm” the pro-death movement (my word choice, not hers) she chooses to emphasize words like “affirm, cherish, discover, love, unite.” She also chooses to use “bright, lollypop colors so that the posters are cheerful and inviting.” It is bad enough to think that it is possible to create “cheerful and inviting” posters celebrating death, but there is simply no way to rationally believe that there is any correlation between words like “cherish” or “love” and the act of killing an unborn baby.

It will not surprise you that Ault’s theology is a bit warped. Her poster claiming that abortion is a gift from God uses the Venus symbol, the gender symbol for woman, for the “o” in “God.” Still, it is difficult for me to understand how she can think that it is possible to celebrate abortion. Yet, that is exactly what she wants to do. “I feel like the most important thing we can do to defend clinics is to show up with big, bold, positive messages that say ‘we’re here to celebrate choice,'” she said. She continues, “I’d like to see prochoice activists come to clinics for events, celebrations and parties, to create something positive between the health center and the community.” The only comparison I can imagine to this line of thinking would be Nazi Germany–and I do not make that statement lightly.

In January Ault delivered a speech at the University of Michiogan and her posters were displayed there through May. When Students for Life America asked the university to remove the display a spokesperson said that the display was not about the political issue of abortion, but rather “about the history of women learning to abort their fetuses in order to gain control over when they are pregnant.” (So aborting “fetuses” is not about abortion? Huh…what was I thinking?)

In an article on ChristianPost.com, Debra Schwartz, senior public relations representative for UM’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, said, “Contrary to what they are saying, this display is not about pro-choice or even pro-abortion. This is about the history of women learning to control their reproductive system. Heather [Ault] is trying to get past the hanger and the idea of back ally dirty abortions and celebrate the ways women, and men for that matter, can control their reproductive system through birth control and even by aborting a fetus.” The reality, though, is that is really does not matter what you call it; the simple fact of the matter is that Ault is celebrating and promoting the taking of innocent life as a convenient means of “controlling the reproductive system.” There is a huge difference between birth control and abortion, or at least should be. There is a huge difference between using medication (or some other method–Ault’s poster series highlights some very bizarre ones from ancient history including the use of crocodile feces or wild cucumbers) to prevent pregnancy and using a hanger, a pill or a pair of scissors to end the life of unborn child after conception occurs. Those of us who hold to the sanctity of life must not allow anyone to change or re-frame the debate on this.

Some of Ault’s posters read, “”Abortion Providers Are Heros!,” “Everyday Should Be Abortion Providor Appreciation Day!,” and “Calm And Peace Radiate From This Space. Celebrate Abortion Clinics!” One of the messages on notecards that Ault sells reads, “I didn’t see it as killing a baby–I was simply giving the life with in me back to God to protect and hold onto until the right time.” I am not making this up…and it just sickens me that Ault…or anyone feels this way! Notice, however, the wording in that notecard message–what was it being given back? “The life within me” it says. Interesting, is it not, since those who “celebrate” abortion almost uniformly deny that the fetus is a life? After all, if it is a life being taken when abortion is committed there is very little way to defend the practice.

Here is how Ault describes herself on her Twitter account: “Artist, activist, creative thinker, dreamer, and idea maker. I’m passionate about abortion rights and reducing the stigma though empowering history and images.” So despite the fact that Ault is “passionate about abortion rights” the University of Michigan expects intelligent people to believe that her poster display is not about the political issue of abortion. Sure… And those people carrying signs in support of the legalization or marijuana are not referring to the use of illegal drugs, either.

We need to pray for Heather Ault and for those who “celebrate” the culture of death that is called pro-choice. And again, we must refuse to allow Ault or anyone else to use semantics to recast the abortion debate into anything other than what it is–the taking of innocent lives. Anyone who celebrates abortion is celebrating murder.

January 16, 2014

“…not a woman’s rights issue but a human rights issue”

This coming Sunday, January 19, is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Since 1984 the the Sunday in January falling closest to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision has been recognized as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, having begun with a proclamation from President Ronald Reagan on January 13, 1984. Reagan’s proclamation asserted that the death of 15 million children by abortion from 1973 to 1984 was “a tragedy of stunning dimensions that stands in sad contrast to our belief that each life is sacred. These children, over tenfold the number of Americans lost in all our Nation’s wars, will never laugh, never sing, never experience the joy of human love; nor will they strive to heal the sick, or feed the poor, or make peace among nations. Abortion has denied them the first and most basic of human rights, and we are infinitely poorer for their loss.” President Reagan continued to issue proclamations for this Sunday of remembrance each year for the remainder of his presidency. President George H.W. Bush did so, too, as did his son, President George W. Bush. President Bill Clinton did not issue these proclamations, nor has President Barack Obama.

The National Right to Life has called the presidential proclamations and the designated Sunday “a wonderful statement of what the pro-life movement is really all about.” Not surprisingly, pro-abortion groups such as NARAL are adamantly opposed to the proclamations and the recognition of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, saying that they are in fact attempts to restrict women’s rights. This is not an argument restricted to NARAL and other extremist pro-abortion groups. An April 2009 article on FoxNews.com quotes actress Amy Brenneman as saying, “Unless a woman really has sovereignty over her own body we really haven’t come that far.” In other words, denying a woman the right to kill the unborn child living in her womb, should she so desire, is akin to denying women the rights to own property or vote or pursue career paths previously restricted to men.

Fortunately, there are others that articulately explain and defend the right to life and the reasons behind the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and not all of them are individuals that might be most commonly referred to by the mainstream media as right wing Bible bangers. For example, model Kathy Ireland presented her pro-life views very clearly in the same FoxNews.com article that quoted Brenneman.

Ireland explained, “My entire life I was pro-choice — who was I to tell another woman what she could or couldn’t do with her body? But when I was 18, I became a Christian and I dove into the medical books, I dove into science. What I read was astounding and I learned that at the moment of conception a new life comes into being. The complete genetic blueprint is there, the DNA is determined, the blood type is determined, the sex is determined, the unique set of fingerprints that nobody has had or ever will have is already there.”

Interestingly, despite what she learned in her research, Ireland claims that she resisted becoming pro-life; it still did not line up with what she thought was right and it certainly did not line up with what most of the people in her world believed. So, she continued her research, calling Planned Parenthood for help. “I called Planned Parenthood and begged them to give me their best argument and all they could come up with that it is really just a clump of cells and if you get it early enough it doesn’t even look like a baby. Well, we’re all clumps of cells and the unborn does not look like a baby the same way the baby does not look like a teenager, a teenager does not look like a senior citizen. That unborn baby looks exactly the way human beings are supposed to look at that stage of development. It doesn’t suddenly become a human being at a certain point in time. I’ve also asked leading scientists across our country to please show me some shred of evidence that the unborn is not a human being. I didn’t want to be pro-life, but this is not a woman’s rights issue but a human rights issue.”

Ireland’s argument is well stated, and as we approach Sanctity of Human Life Sunday I urge you to take a stand for life however you see fit. You may do it quietly, you may do it privately, you may do it publicly or corporately. However you choose to do it I would ask that you do it respectfully–the name-calling, threats and violence that have been employed by same in the name of the pro-life movement do not help the pro-life cause nor do they reflect well on anyone engaging in such activity. This truly is a human rights issue. Take a stand for life!

April 19, 2013

On the side of life

In light of the trial of Kermit Gosnell going on now it is quite fitting that the theme of the April issue of Tabletalk magazine/devotional from Ligonier Ministries is “Defining Personhood.” The issue includes an article from Randy Alcorn, founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries and author of the excellent book Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments.

In the article Alcorn writes, “Each person, regardless of his parentage or handicap, has not been manufactured on a cosmic assembly line, but personally formed by God.” This is the foundational truth for anyone with a biblical worldview on defining personhood–the fact that God Himself has knit together each human being according to His will and His plan, and that life begins at conception.

Alcorn quotes Meredith Kline’s observation: “The most significant thing about abortion legislation in Biblical law is that there is none. It was so unthinkable that an Israelite woman should desire an abortion that there was no need to mention this offense in the criminal code.” Alcorn elaborates, writing that every Israelite “knew that the preborn child was a child” and therefore God’s command “You shall not murder” was all that needed to be said on the matter.

Alcorn challenges the assertion made by those on the “pro-choice” side that a fetus or an embryo is not a human being. “Like toddler and adolescent, the terms embryo and fetus do not refer to nonhumans but to humans at various stages of development. It is scientifically inaccurate to say a human embryo or a fetus is not a human being simply because he is at an earlier stage than an infant. This is like saying that a toddler is not a human being because he is not yet an adolescent. Does someone become more human as he gets bigger? if so, than adults are more human than children, and football players are more human than jockeys. Something nonhuman does not become human or more human by getting older or bigger; whatever is human is human from the beginning, or it can never be human at all.”

The article is full of other brilliant counters to the many arguments so often trotted out by those on the side of death…the side commonly referred to as “choice.” Alcorn mentions the response of Alan Keyes to a thirteen-year-old girl in Detroit who asked whether he would support an exception for rape. Keyes, who, in my opinion, is one of the most effective defenders of the right to life today, responded to her question with a question of his own: “If your dad goes out and rapes somebody, and we convict him of that rape, do you think it would be right for us to then say, ‘okay, because your dad is guilty of rape, we’re going to kill you’?” The class, of course, answered no, as would any rational person.

Alcorn expands on Keyes’ response, writing that “Imposing capital punishment on the innocent child of a sex offender does nothing bad to the rapist and nothing good to the woman. Creating a second victim never undoes the damage to the first. Abortion does not bring healing to a rape victim.”

I have quoted more extensively here than I usually do, because quite frankly I think Alcorn and Keyes communicate the pro-life position more clearly, more powerfully and more effectively than just about anyone else, certainly than me. But it is important to remind ourselves of the arguments in favor of life, since the culture and the media so regularly and so loudly communicate the arguments in favor of death. Kermit Gosnell is a monster; there is no other apt description for someone who willingly does the things he did–and does it for profit, at that. I hope that receives the penalty for his crimes that he deserves. But incarcerating Gosnell–while a definite step in the right direction–will not solve the problem; it will not change the fact that millions of babies are killed in the United States every year. We need to pray, but we also need to act. We need to communicate with legislators, we need to actively support the pro-life position and those who are on the front lines defending life. And, unpopular as it may at times be, we need to directly and firmly challenge those who disagree that it is simply not possible to adhere to the Bible and support abortion. The two are simply not compatible; indeed, they are unalterably opposed.

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