Blog Archives

The False Analogy Between Interracial Marriage and Same-Sex “Marriage”

In the eyes of many same-sex “marriage” advocates, those who oppose this legal innovation are cultural throwbacks, akin to people who opposed interracial marriage. And so, once that analogy is made, it would only make sense that those who support interracial marriage would also support same-sex “marriage.” But does this analogy hold water?

According to Ryan T. Anderson, author of Truth Overruled, there are several reasons why we should reject this analogy as false:

Great thinkers throughout human history—and from every political community until about the year 2000— thought it reasonable and right to view marriage as the union of husband and wife. Indeed, this view of marriage has been nearly a human universal. It has been shared by the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions; by ancient Greek and Roman thinkers not influenced by these religions; and by Enlightenment philosophers. It is affirmed by canon law as well as common and civil law.

Bans on interracial marriage, by contrast, were part of an insidious system of racial subordination and exploitation that denied the equality and dignity of all human beings and forcibly segregated citizens based on race. When these interracial marriage bans first arose in the American colonies, they were inconsistent not only with the common law of England but with the customs of every previous culture throughout human history.

As for the Bible, while it doesn’t present marriage as having anything to do with race, it insists that marriage has everything to do with sexual complementarity. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, the Bible is replete with spousal imagery and the language of husband and wife. One activist Supreme Court ruling cannot overthrow the truth about marriage expressed in faith, reason, and universal human experience.

We must now bear witness to the truth of marriage with more resolve and skill than ever before. We must now find ways to rebuild a marriage culture. The first step will be protecting our right to live in accordance with the truth. The key question, again, is whether the liberal elites who now have the upper hand will treat their dissenting fellow citizens as they treat racists or as they treat pro-lifers. While elites disagree with the pro-life position, most understand it. They can see why a pro-life citizen defends unborn life—so for the most part they agree government shouldn’t coerce citizens into performing or subsidizing abortions. The same needs to be true for marriage. And we need to make it true by making the arguments in defense of marriage.

Ryan T. Anderson, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, 6-7

Brief Answers to Pro-Abortion Claims

In light of the media explosion over the released Planned Parent videos by the Center for Medical Progress, I thought it would be helpful to provide a brief list of responses to some of the most common claims of in favor of elective abortion (abortion on demand), especially of those defending PP in light of this shocking footage.

People that are pro-life are merely irrational religious people.

It unfair to dismiss those who support the unborn’s right to life as irrational and or even influenced by fundamentalist Christian ideas. It also does not help to categorized arguments as religious or non-religious. Arguments in favor of any position are either true or false, valid or invalid. Those who appeal to supposed “secular” values are neither neutral nor do they stand on rational higher ground. Both sides are trying to present scientific and moral cases for their position.

When life begins is a decision each person (mother) must make for themselves.

This is sheer biological relativism. The science of embryology is clear on this matter, and has been for a long, long time. And it’s precisely this clarity that is the reason why so many abortion advocates will not engage the debate on the scientific issues. Here is a very helpful list of quotes from a multitude of embryology textbooks that clearly define human life as starting at conception.

It’s not a baby, it’s a fetus.

As noted above, the science is straightforward: a fetus is not a thing.  Calling a human being a “fetus” is like calling another human being a “teenager.” A teenager isn’t a thing, it’s a stage of development. The word ‘fetus’ applies to a stage of development in the life of a thing, and that “thing” is a human person.

A fetus is not a human being, just a clump of cells.

Again, this way of speaking of the unborn is unfair and biases the discussion. We simply cannot dismiss the unborn as a “bundle of cells.” We are all– whether at 7 weeks of development or 70 years of life — a “bundles of cells.” The number of cells we are made up of is irrelevant to the issue of human dignity. Adults may be a larger “bundle of cells” than their smaller siblings or relatives, but they do not thereby have a greater right to protection under the law than those who are smaller and therefore made up of fewer cells.

A woman has the right to do whatever she wants to her own body.

Abortion takes place within a woman’s body, not to a woman’s body, per se. The abortion happens to the body of the unborn as it is either burned with a saline solution, or ripped apart piece by piece out of the mother’s body. Unless we accept the absurd conclusion that each mother possesses 2 unique sets of DNA and generic make-up, we must agree with the link posted above that the unborn is a unique, living, and distinct human person from the mother.

Abortion on demand should be available to all, because it’s the only option for woman that are the victims of rape.

Statistically speaking, less than 1% of abortions take place because of rape/incest, and therefore it is a red-herring thrown it in the mix to justify unfettered abortion for all. In the few cases where a woman is pregnant as a result of rape, we must be supportive, compassion, and willing to help her get through both the initial pregnancy, but also help into the child’s early development. We care about unborn babies, mothers, and developing children. Nevertheless, there is no reason why an innocent child conceived by a violent act should be killed because of the sins of his or her father.

The real challenge is ultimately between the conflicting “rights” of two distinct people. On the one hand, there are the rights of the unborn human being who cannot protect, defend, or speak for themselves, and on the other hand pro-abortion advocates posit the rights of the mother to kill their undesired child.

Remember, if the unborn is not a human being, there is not moral justification needed for abortion (any more than we need a moral justification for a tooth removal). But, if the unborn is a human being, there is no moral justification for killing it.

Hardwired for Sin?

Can someone be genetically predisposed to violence, drug addiction, or even aberrant sexual behavior? What if homosexuality can be demonstratively shown to be a genetic predisposition?

The bottom line is that the genetic element in sin does not excuse it. To see that, it is important to put the issue into an even wider perspective.  Christianity forces us again and again to widen our angle of vision, for it calls us to see everything from the perspective of a transcendent God and from the standpoint of eternity. Such perspective helps us to see our trials as “light and momentary” (II Cor. 4:17) and our sins as greater than we normally admit. From a biblical perspective, the difficult fact is that in one sense all sin is inherited. From Adam comes both our sin and our misery. We are guilty of Adam’s transgression, and through Adam we ourselves inherit sinful natures. If a genetic predisposition excuses sodomy, then our inheritance from Adam excuses all sin! But that is clearly not the case. Of course, Reformed theology construes our relationship to Adam as representative, rather than merely genetic, and that is important.  But Adam represents all who are descended from him “by natural generation;” so there is also an inevitable genetic element in human sin.

-John M. Frame, “But God Made Me This Way!”

Arguments for the Existence of God: Morality

We’ve looked at the transcendental necessity of God to ground the truths of logic so now let’s turn to laws of morality.

I believe in a Real Right and a Real Wrong. Now we turn to the issue of objective morality or ethics (I’m using them interchangeably here). Have you ever wondered whether our outrage at the evil in this world is an expression of personal distaste? Whether the recent Virginia Tech shootings were objectively evil? I ask this because I’m of the view that without the God of the Christian faith (i.e. the God revealed in the Old and New Testaments) the underpinnings of ethics are destroyed, and the moral motions that we feel every day of our lives are rendered non-sensical.

Now here’s an important note to take into consideration. I’m not saying that only Christians are moral people. On the flip side, neither am I saying that all non-Christians are horrible, evil people. What I’m talking about here is what are the fundamental foundations our assumption about reality that underlie our beliefs about morality, right and wrong. Richard Dawkins may very well be a nicer, kinder, and more law abidding citizen than I am. That’s not in question. The question is whether, on a worldview that rejects the existence of God, are those basic pillars that support our common everyday assumptions about ethics there? I don’t think that they are. Without the infinite-personal God of the Bible, how do we define good and evil, right and wrong? I’m convinced that we can boil down the matter to only left two alternatives: either 1) an individual subjectivist response, and 2) a collective subjectivist response. For the sake of handling the various possible replies, I have distinguished the alternatives. However, as we will soon see, both alternatives reduce to subjectivism and skepticism.

Individual subjectivist responses. This is the view that a given acts our behavior is good or bad because I have chosen it. If I commit myself to a given path, it is good. If I am made to do something I chose not to do, it’s bad. If the non-Christian claims moral justification (that which makes a good acts good, and a bad act bad) is found in what one chooses to do, we are left with no standard whatsoever by which we can condemn the worst types of behavior. Pedophilia, rape, incest, bestiality, and murder, are all morally acceptable. Why? Because for those that commit such acts, they were the products of active volition. This view can be quickly be placed to one side.

Collective subjectivist responses. The term “collective subjectivist” may strike some as paradoxical at best and oxymoronic at worst, yet such a title is fitting for “society says” moral relativism. According to this position, morality is, in a weak sense, objective in that the individual is not free to create moral norms from scratch. They are to live within the ethical structure of societal consensus. Such an ethical standard is collective. Yet, on the other hand, it nevertheless remains a subjectivist position on meta-ethics (i.e. on how we philosophically justify or provide warrant for the system we’re espousing). What makes the collective approach ultimately subjectivist and indeed relativist is that each society determines it’s own moral norms, and accordingly, one culture (or sub-culture) cannot condemn the actions of another. The problems for this approach are equally evident. If indeed no supra-cultural definition of evil (or good) exists, how can two or more cultures or sub-cultures with different standards of ethics be compared? Consistently applied, the collectivist subjectivist model prohibits us form labeling the crimes committed at Auschwitz evil. In fact, it becomes even more problematic because not all German citizens would have approved of the war crimes and genocide of the Nazis. So, what we are left with is at least two moral sub-cultures in WWII Germany, those that would call the Nazi actions evil, and those who participated in those actions and condoned them. But any system that strips us of the ability to make moral distinctions is highly counter-intuitive. A paradigm that seeks to explain our “moral motions” must respect the moral outrage we feel at events such as the holocaust. Moreover, we do instinctively know right and wrong in most cases. We can proclaim moral relativism from the rooftops all day, that is, until someone steals our belongings, or hurts our family members. Suddenly we feel that it’s not something that we simply dislike, but rather that it is something that’s truly wrong! Then we become moral absolutists.

Lastly, if we reduce we moral claims to preference claims then we would have to radically change the way we commonly speak. Instead of saying “The terrorists who flew two airplanes into the World Trade Center buildings were wrong, and it was an evil act!”, we would have to replace it with, “I personally do not think that the Terrorists attack on Sept.11th was expedient, and it did not accord with my subjective tastes, but I could be wrong. I don’t want to “impose” my morality on anyone!” I feel my point has been made.

The Christian Response. Lastly, allow me to touch upon why I believe that the Christian God is the best bet for explaining the our ‘moral motions.’ When we find our selves taken with a belief that person X should not have committed Y act, what we’re saying is that person X is morally obligated to have done the right and good thing. In the case of murder, we’re saying that person X ought to have a respect for innocent human life, and ought it a word that implies obligation. But, we do not have obligations to mere material things. I have no obligations not to throw a stone across a beach. The stone demands no such loyalty. But both obligations and loyalty can be pledged to a person. Personal relationships imply certain obligations and can demand loyalty. But what about ultimate moral obligations? Moral obligations are, after all, hierarchical. My loyalty to my brother places certain obligations in my path, but my relationship to my mother demands an even higher level or loyalty. But my mother cannot simply ask me to rob a store. If she did, I would have to tell her that I couldn’t because it would break the law and would (in principal) cause civil unrest. But what if my government told me that I am obligated by my citizenship to randomly kill any person living in my immediate community that was not born in America? What should I do then? I would appeal to a higher standard of obligation. But what higher standard is there? Maybe one could say the ‘world community’, but that only pushes the question back one step.

Ultimately, who’s my greatest loyalty to? If i’m correct to say that obligations and loyalty only make sense in the context of personal relationships, then ultimate loyalty is due to an Ultimate Personal, or, as I’ve said above, a Personal Absolute. But Christianity is the only religion in which the greatest thing in existence (the ultimate metaphysical reality) is a Personal Absolute. In other philosophies, religions, and myths, you have absolutes that are not personal (like Plato’s form of The Good, Hegel’s Geist, Brahma is Hinduism, etc.), or you’ll find personal gods or principles that aren’t absolute (the Greek Pantheon, the god of Mormonism, thetans in Scientenology, etc.) Only in the Bible do you find a God, the final reality, that is both person and absolute/ultimate. This in my mind is strong evidence for the Christian conception of God as the best explanation for ultimate, objective, universally binding ethics.

Conclusion. Now this is my reason for rejecting an empiricism model of epistemology. It cannot account for the metaphysical assumptions that underlie the scientific method, and it cannot account for the existence of universal, immaterial absolutes, such as numbers, laws of logic, and universally binding principles of ethics. While on a Christian worldview all such things make perfect sense, and in fact can be explained (at least at the beginners level) to a child in Sunday School. One may not agree with the answers posited by Christianity, but they have to admit that Christians do have answers to these philosophical issues. Thanks so much for listening to this (rather extended) letter. Also, please forgive me for the great length of time it has taken to complete it. My prayer is that we can both understand the position of the other person fairly, and see where we’re coming from.

For more see:

Believe in Jesus…and Do Whatever You Want?

More than a few Christians have expressed concern that the Reformed doctrine of eternal security leads to a lazy attitude toward holiness. This is one reason why many Reformed people (Calvinists) feel uneasy talking about ‘once saved, always saved,’ or even ‘eternal security.’ Instead, Calvinists speak of ‘perseverance of the saints’ or even the ‘preservation of the saints.’ Founding faculty member of Westminster Seminary, John Murray, sheds some much needed light on this subject:

The new covenant also finds its centre in the promise, ‘I will be your God and ye shall be my people’. The new covenant as an everlasting covenant reaches the zenith of its realization in this: ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people’ (Revelation 21:3). But we must ask: Do believers continue in this relationship and in the enjoyment of its blessing irrespective of persevering obedience to God’s commands? It is one of the most perilous distortions of the doctrine of grace, and one that has carried with it the saddest records of moral and spiritual disaster, to assume that past privileges, however high they may be, guarantee the security of men irrespective of perseverance in faith and holiness. Believers under the gospel continue in the covenant and in the enjoyment of its privileges because they continue in the fulfilment of the conditions; they continue in faith, love, hope, and obedience. True believers are kept unto the end, unto the eschatological salvation; but they are kept by the power of God through faith (cf. I Peter 1:5). ‘We are made par- takers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of confidence stedfast unto the end’ (Hebrews 3:14).

It is through faith and patience we inherit the promises (cf. Hebrews 6:11, 12). We shall be presented holy and unblameable and unreproveable before God if we ‘continue in the faith grounded and settled and not moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (Colossians 1:22, 23). Paul the apostle could exult in the assurance that his citizenship was in heaven and that one day Christ would change the body of his humiliation and transform it into the likeness of the body of his glory (Philippians 3:20, 21). But co-ordinate with this assurance and as the condition of its entertainment is the protestation, ‘Brethren, I do not yet reckon myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press on toward the goal, unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13, 14).

Paul knew well that if he were to attain to the resurrection of the dead all the resources of Christ’s resurrection power must be operative in him and all the energies of his personality enlisted in the exercise of those means through which he would apprehend that for which he was apprehended by Christ Jesus (cf. Philippians 3:10-12). This is just to say that the goal is not reached, the consummation of covenant blessing is not achieved in some automatic fashion but through a process that engages to the utmost the concentrated devotion of the apostle himself. It is not reached irrespective of perseverance, but through perseverance. And this means nothing if it does not mean concentrated obedience to the will of Christ as expressed in his commandments. We readily see, however, that the attainment of the goal is not on the meritorious ground of perseverance and obedience, but through the divinely appointed means of perseverance. Obedience as the appropriate and necessary expression of devotion to Christ does not find its place in a covenant of works or of merit but in a covenant that has its inception and end in pure grace.

-John Murray, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics, 200 (emphasis added)

John Frame on Socialism, Capitalism, and Poverty

The following is from Frame’s Doctrine of the Christian Life:

To enlarge on these remarks about government welfare, I will say a bit more about socialism and capitalism as systems of economic organization. Since the eighth commandment presupposes private ownership of property, it rejects systems of economics that deny that principle. Marxism, in particular, argues that property belongs to the nation as a whole, represented by the state. Therefore, on that view, the state has the right to control all means of production, all products, and all the wealth. In other words, the state should control the whole economy. In fact, then, for Marxism, the state replaces God as the ultimate owner and controller of the world. This view full under the biblical description of idolatry.

We have seen in recent years the collapse of the Soviet Union, a huge experiment in Marxian communism. China remains totalitarian as of this writing, but it’s economy has become less and less socialist over the last few decades and more open to individual enterprise. The remaining Marxist strongholds of Cuba and North Korea are impoverished. So the pragmatic argument for Marxism is no longer credible. Nor is the moral argument, that socialism brings people out of poverty. Capitalist economies in the West have been far more efficient at the alleviating poverty, though that task is not over by any means.

Further, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the rest of the world breathed a sigh of relief. For socialism has an inner drive toward world conquest. Since the economies of nations are interdependent, a state cannot fully control it’s own economy without controlling the economy of the whole world. Another way to say this is that once the state replaces God as the owner and controller of the world, the deity of the state must be expressed universally, just like God. So the state becomes omnipresent, as well as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. Read the rest of this entry

Neither Conservative, Nor Liberal…Biblical

In the introduction to his work on ethics, John Frame asks what should be our ethical bias . His response:

The point of Christian ethics is not to be as liberal as we can be, or as conservative. It is, rather, to be as biblical as we can be…Jesus rebuked both the conservative Pharisees and the liberal Sadducees; Paul rebuked both legalists and libertines. Understanding God’s will rarely means falling into lockstep with some popular ideology. We need to think as part of a community, listening to our brothers and sisters, but we also need the courage to step aside from the crowd when God’s word directs us in that way.

-John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life, 6-7

These words are especially poignant during an election year.

Homosexual Marriage and Christian Love

As the internet is still abuzz with discussions of  Biblical view of homosexuality I thought sharing a few comments might serve to help clarify things. These thoughts aren’t original by any means, but they are especially apropos in light of the present culture war.

A legitimate concern. Many Christians are concerned that the latest round in the debate over the legal status of homosexuality (especially as it applies to the issue of homosexual marriage) is merely a power tactic of the Republican party to rally support from evangelical and otherwise Christian voters. Now, I don’t doubt that some in the GOP are willing to use whatever cultural conduit is found useful to bolster their voting base. It’s also worthy of noting that some Christians assume that politics is the crucial key to transforming culture in a godly and righteous direction. This is simply mistaken. This faction of Christianity must beware of the leaven of playing the world’s power game.

Another perspective. So, I’ll admit that opposition to homosexual marriage can indeed be used as a Trojan horse for a covert GOP agenda. But that’s not the only explanation.  Such opposition can also be the result of individuals who do not believe the State has the authority to define (or in this case, redefine) marriage. That’s why the issue of gay marriage isn’t about homosexuality at all: It’s about the definition of marriage.  The State does have the authority to grant civil unions, tax breaks, etc. to whomever it chooses. That is perfectly within their preview. What it cannot do is redefine an institution it did not create. That largely comes from other spheres (the family, the church, and behind that, ultimately the creation ordinance of God).

Read the rest of this entry

Worldview and Ethical Reasoning

John Frame on persuasive ethical argumentation:

Cogent and persuasive ethical reasoning presupposes a worldview and standards of judgment. It is not easy to argue these from nature alone. For Christians, these standards come from Scripture. So apart from Scripture, ethical argument loses its cogency and often it’s persuasiveness. Nonbelievers, of course, won’t usually accept Scripture as authoritative. But they may at least respect an argument that is self-conscious about its epistemological and metaphysical presuppositions.

In public discussion, it may sometimes be desirable to argue a position without directly referring to Scripture. We may, for example, point to the cultural consequences of China’s one-child policy, or to the general indifference to human life encouraged by legalized abortion, or to the societal consequences of secularized education. Arguments like these will be persuasive to some non-Christians. They appeal to that knowledge of natural revelation that they are unable fully to suppress. But when someone presses us to ask, for example, why we think that indifference to human life is a bad thing, we must in the end refer to Scripture, for that is the ultimate source of our values.

-John M. Frame, Doctrine of the Christian Life, 954 (This is taken from appendix F, “Is Nature Revelation Sufficient To Govern Culture?”, also published in Frame’s latest work The Escondido Theology)

Better Bumper Sticker Theology

I’m with Michael Bird on this one:

I’m not a big fan of bumper sticker theology: that is, sticking pithy theological slogans onto the bumper of the car. I particularly dislike the one ‘Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.’ While true at one level, it overlooks the crucial ingredient in the Christian life being the renewing power of God working in us through the Spirit. It might be better to write, Christians are not perfect, but God is at work in them through the vitalizing power of the Holy Spirit to transform these cracked jars of clay into glorious vessels of holiness, righteousness and goodness – if only bumper stickers word that big! In Paul’s writings, renewal is the process of transformation into the image of God that is realized through the operation of God’s glory and via the agency of the Spirit. The Spirit is continually at work in believers to make them less like themselves and more like God’s son.

Michael F. Bird, Introducing Paul: The Man, His Mission and His Message

Marriage = (A Response)

Perhaps you’ve seen the poster pictured above in your journeys across the interwebs. It’s a quasi-comical statement about the “foolishness” of Biblical marriage. The point is clear, while many (or most) Christians strongly advocate a definition of marriage that sees it as a lifetime covenantal union between one man and one woman, there is a “clear” discrepancy between their “traditional” position and the Book from which they’re supposedly basing that view. My friend Ra McLaughlin, webmaster and Vice President of Curriculum and Web Delivery at Third Millennium Ministries, has given me permission to repost his response to this poster on Facebook. His thoughts are clear, detailed, and yet concise:

Biblical law doesn’t require women to marry their rapists (cf. Ex. 22:17). The bride price to be paid by rapists was a sort of reverse dowry, not payment for “property.” It was owed whether or not the woman married the man. In the only example of rape and subsequent attempted marriage that I can think of at the moment, the woman’s family chose to murder the rapist and his people rather than give her as a bride (Gen. 34).

The Bible also doesn’t require the stoning of women that couldn’t prove their virginity (unless otherwise stated, legal penalties are maximum not mandatory; cf. Joseph’s treatment of Mary in Matt. 1:19). Similarly, levirate marriage was not a requirement; it was assumed that the women would want an heir, but it wasn’t a necessary arrangement (cf. Deut. 25:7).

Read the rest of this entry

Ethics and the Application of Scripture

How should Christians apply the Bible to subjects never directly addressed in its pages? How should we think about topics like economic structures, energy policy, medical policy, stem cell research, etc?

 Some seem to believe that Christians form ‘moral’ beliefs only on issues directly touched upon in Scripture. We need to reconsider this position.  The Christian worldview addresses all issues of life. But how? The short answer is “in nuanced ways.” Scripture speak so to everything in life, whether explicitly or , in the words of the Westminster Confession, “by good and necessary consequence.” For some issues, the Bible is both clear and straightforward (‘You shall not commit murder,’ etc), while on other issues we apply the authority of Scripture by asking what principles can be derived from its larger narrative and commands.

Here’s an example of the latter. Neither Jesus, Paul, nor anybody else in the Bible spoke about road safety. Why? I think we both know the answer. So, how can the Bible address issues such as this?  Well, for one, the Bible says that we such obey our governments insofar as they do not demand something that God has forbidden. Setting a speed limit violates no Biblical injunction, so we should follow them. Secondly, the Bible also commands that we regard human life as sacred because they are created in the image of God. This causes me to study and note the things I could possibly do in a car that would injure or harm another person in any way (and to learn to avoid these things). If this includes getting it tuned up regularly, etc., these are things that I do in order to honor God and to honor fellow human beings created in His image.

So, in a nutshell, obeying the authority of Scripture encourgaed me to study these others things, not shy away from them. The same would apply to energy policy, medical ethics, etc.

When Does Life Begin?

Though it’s common to hear that we don’t really know when life begins, the medical answer seems pretty clear.

Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic): “By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School): “It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.”

Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of Pennsylvania): “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.”

Dr. Jerome LeJeune, “the Father of Modern Genetics” (University of Descartes, Paris): “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence.”

Contrary to popular belief on the Christians take abortion, the case for the pro-life position is largely a scientific case. The theological dimension is the ethic premise, ‘You should not take an innocent human life.” But whether the fetus is a human being, one whose life should be protected as any other innocent human life (by law), is determined by a scientific analysis of the nature of the fetus itself. Rhetoric, whether ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice,’ muddles the issue and generates more heat than light.

For more on this issue, on both the scientific issues involved as well as the moral/theological issues, see:

(HT: Justin Taylor )

See also my Abortion and Personhood

Abortion and Personhood

Recently, a reader of this blog left a comment. It was in reply to an entry I made on the anniversary of the Roe V Wade abortion case. The comment was short and to the point. Actually, it was an argument. Here it is:

1) It is morally wrong to murder an innocent person.
2) A fetus isn’t necessarily a person.
3) Therefore, abortion isn’t murder nor necessarily morally wrong.

I began to write a reply directly to the author, but because I’ve lately been swamped because of several life-changes (having relocated) I haven’t had much free time to blog. So I thought I’d use my reply as an entry. Here it is:

Thank you very much for your reply. I also appreciate that you stated your disagreement  in the form of an argument. My point of departure from your argument is on your second premise,  “A fetus isn’t necessarily a person.” Here is why I respectfully disagree with your position.

First, you said a fetus isn’t necessarily a person. This I understand as some hesitation on your part. The fetus isn’t necessarily a person…but it might be. If I’m understanding you correctly, then a lack of certainty should warrant a pro-life stance. Here is an example I learned on the issue. Imagine a demolition crew has properly wired a building in order to tear it down.  The foreman asks if the building is clear for the blast about to tear it down. One of the workers says, “I’m not sure.” What would a responsible foreman do? Uncertainty, when it may very well put the life of a human being at risk, calls for caution. So, if we’re not sure if the unborn is a “person” then there’s a serious chance it just might be, and if we kill it, we’ve killed an innocent person with all the rights of any other person.

Secondly, I have difficulty with any position that admits that the unborn may be a human being, but not a human person. Though this is a common distinction that’s heard on many fronts, I don’t believe that it’s a valid one. The value of our life is based on our nature, not our function, i.e. it’s who and what we are that gives us value, not what we can do. The common criteria for distinguishing between a human being and a human person I find arbitrary and self-serving for most pro-abortion advocates. Before I mention these criteria, I want to defend why I made the above statement. All of the common markers for “personhood,”, if consistently applied, would just as much rule out newborn infants, as it would rule out unborn babies.

Here are the common traits people employ to distinguish human beings from human persons;1) Size, 2) Level of dependency, 3) Environment, 4) Development. This is commonly referred to as the SLED test for human personhood. Rather than reinvent the wheel, allow me to point you in the direction of some helpful material that aids in thinking through why these criteria aren’t sufficient.

Here are some additional resources:

Free Worldview Lectures!

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Here’s are my favorites by Christian philosopher and apologist Ronald Nash:

1) Apologetics

2) History of Philosophy and Christian Thought

3) Ethics (Introduction)