I was introduced to the music of Rend Collective just a couple of months ago. Today while listening to their music I came across their campfire experiment. I love it. Truthfully I want to give it a shot if some friends with some musical talent will join me. Who is in with me? God created us to be creative just like him. Fresh expressions of timeless truths will engage fresh generations. That’s where i want to live & interact. I’m grateful for this group and their love of the church. Below is their explanation of the campfire experiment.
I’m taking a few posts to lay out what I believe to be some key things to think about when approaching the abortion discussion. You can see a summary of these topics in the opening post. Today, as legal abortion turns 41, I pray with everything I have we as a nation will have the veils lifted off our eyes at what we are doing.
In this post my hope is to examine the morality of the act of abortion, and then to examine the role of government in legislating on abortion. Now you and I know far more has been written by far better thinkers than what you will see here. Nonetheless, this is something I’m particularly passionate about so I’m going to give my best shot here
The Morality of the act of abortion
I won’t dwell long here as it is likely most reading this will affirm what I write. But maybe it will be clarifying to some. Peter Singer, a respected ethicist and distinguished bioethics professor at Princeton, once astutely outlined the argument against abortion in a simple syllogism:
- It is wrong to kill an innocent human being.
- A human fetus is an innocent human being.
- Therefore it is wrong to kill a human fetus.
In the past, the argument by pro-abortion advocates usually denied the second premise. But Singer, himself a staunch pro-choice advocate, finds this impossible to maintain. There is no point in the development process where the fetus moves from “non-human” to “human.” This is why he believes the first premise, not the second, must be denied. This is where the conversation is shifting. And this is where we must be compelling and consistent in defense of the inherent worth of human life.
The reason abortion is morally wrong is that abortion is the killing of innocent life (premise 1). The killing of innocent life is in direct violation of a pillar of one of our culture’s guiding moral principles. We as a culture believe people posses certain unalienable rights. Unalienable (or natural) rights are those not granted by a legal system but are considered universal applying to all people at all times, of which Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are just a few. Life is perhaps the most valuable of all of these rights.
We weep when our soldiers die, when our friends lose cancer battles, when a relative is lost to tragedy or crime, and when our neighbors pass on of old age. We weep because life is so valuable to us. Indeed there is nothing more valuable to us as Americans than the right of the individual to a free life.
As a Christian I believe this guiding principle is universal and was declared when God formed man in his very image. And like a messenger carrying the seal of his king, I believe we are all owed respect because of the seal we carry with us. When an innocent human person is killed by poison or a puncture wound to the head, I weep because what we value most was just taken from us. I get angry because injustice was committed. I am horrified because when that injustice is applauded.
But in your smart way of thinking you reply…”the right to live a free life is the very right that we must protect by allowing the woman the right to have an abortion.” Thank you for using my own words against me, it makes me feel smart. The difference of course is the difference between pregnancy and death. Pregnancy is a season, death is permanent. Pregnancy is difficult, death is irreversible. Pregnancy is life-changing, death is life-ending. Do not think for a second I take pregnancy lightly. I’ve lived it alongside my wife 5 times first hand over the past 5 years. It is fragile, scary, and exhausting even with a good support network. But the right to terminate a pregnancy cannot trump the right of another to live. And because it does not, abortion is morally wrong.
Perhaps the most common defense of legal abortion used, indeed the one used in Roe v Wade, is that the state cannot interfere with a woman’s right to privacy. And according to that 41-year-old ruling, her pregnancy falls under her right to privacy.
Our nation has many laws protecting the lives of the innocent and defenseless. These laws are a reflection of that guiding principle discussed earlier. Now that technology (you can hear & see a baby’s heartbeat at 8 weeks) and philosophy (refer back to Peter Singer) affirm that human life indeed begins at conception, our laws must be updated to uphold rights to life. As Wesley Smith observes in this fantastic commentary, Roe v Wade is not the first ‘dehumanizing’ gaff our Supremes have made that has needed correcting.
Legislation is not the magic bullet, and incredible work is being done to turn the tide on abortion despite its present legality. Let us remain grateful for God’s grace through these workers and see it as hope for a day when all Americans once again exalt life as an unalienable right.
The next post in this series is on the ‘Normalcy’ of Abortion.
The conversation is changing. When my grandparents were growing up, abortion was illegal, frowned upon, and kept silent. When my parents were growing up the conversation changed with the rise of the feminist movement. The rights of women in all spheres of life were brought to bear perhaps most poignantly on abortion. In the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that a woman’s right to privacy under the 14th amendment extended to her decision to have an abortion. And the conversation became about the rights to womens health vs. the ‘potentiality’ of life. I was born 9 years after Roe in 1982 yet the conversation was far from “settled.” Over the next two decades ultrasounds, medical videos, and entrenched opinions turned the conversation into an all out single-issue voter level fight. Debate swirled around whether or not a fetus was a ‘viable’ human life, especially in the early stages of pregnancy.
The conversation my kids are growing up in is changing again. It is changing because, as I outlined in a previous post, influencers in the pro-abortion camp have come to agree the fetus is indeed a human. The abortion discussion is no longer about whether the fetus is a human life, but whether human life is worth protecting over and above a woman’s right to privacy.
This shift has occurred over the past several years and, like all cultural shifts, provides an opportunity for people to advocate change. There are a few things we all need to be aware of if we are going to influence change:
1. The morality of abortion. All citizens must weigh both the act of abortion and the act of legislating on abortion. We must understand the moral and legal discussion so we can better engage the discussion.
2. The normalcy of abortion. In 2010, the most recent year the Center for Disease Control reported on abortion surveillance, 765,651 abortions were performed in these United States. That is 1.5 abortions per minute. Regardless of where you stand, something so weighty yet so normative in our culture calls you to be more informed on it.
3. The faces & names of abortion. Numbers aren’t enough to fully grasp this issue. This is a human issue that weighs much more heavily on those who’ve experienced abortion personally or as a close friend of someone who has. We must as a culture respect the weight of what we are talking about. We must become familiar with the great courage many young women are showing & the great support many organizations are giving.
4. How to influence the discussion today. Something I’m reminded of in this discussion is that it is easier than ever, in the land of social media, to be a pseudo-advocate. That is, you can align yourself with a position with relative ease, but not personally give of yourself to that very cause. Imagine if the civil rights activists would have written letters (ancient form of tweeting) about their concerns instead of marching on Washington on August 28, 1963.
The conversation is indeed changing. I’m going to give my best attempt to give a more thorough treatment of each of the points above over the next four posts. My hope is that it will mobilize your heart & mind to take action at some level, in some way.
Anger is never without reason, but seldom with a good one. - Benjamin Franklin
Sometimes devotional thoughts are more like musings than articles. I hope you will read the following as my musing on Titus 1-2, not a final draft.
Paul’s letter to Titus has done a number on me lately. Paul makes a point to give Titus a set of character qualities that together paint a picture of what the life of an ‘elder’ of the church should look like. The most repeated descriptor of what the elder, and as he models it, what the people of God SHOULD look like is…’self-controlled.’
My first reaction was ‘really?’ It’s not even in the 10 commandments. how about…’lover of God’ or ‘not a murderer’ or ‘husband of one wife?’ All of those seem more important than the occasional ‘letting loose.’
But then I started looking at my relationships. The Holy Spirit has a frustrating way of recalling the word of God to mind right after you disobey it doesn’t he? Almost like an out of body experience i watched myself yell at my kids. I recalled punching a hole in one of our walls (low moment) after an argument with courtney. Then I started realizing it’s not just anger Paul is confronting nor is he confronting all anger. It is the untempered indulgence to our passions that Paul is confronting. My propensity to laziness, my readiness to lie to make myself look good.
I began to connect what Paul was talking about when he called self-control a ‘fruit’ of the Spirit. For the Christian to be self-controlled is to be Spirit-controlled. It is to be so submitted to the Spirit of God that his reaction to a situation comes out of you instead of yours. This is what makes the ‘Serenity-Now!’ self-help tricks so impotent. Lesson learned: I cannot conjure self-control in the moment. Sure I might discipline myself to never SHOUT, but my desire to satisfy my urges is going to find another outlet like laziness or short-cutting or gluttony.
How can I have self-control like Paul calls for without completely detaching from my emotions? What great news that God is an incredibly passionate God. God is not a vulcan (had to!). He made us in his image after-all. We are not to detach from our emotions, we are to submit them to a new and better master.
I’m thinking of it like the way I play Mario-Cart with my kids. When they drive, they almost always finish last. But when they sit with me and I hold the wheel with them, they always win. That is, they win if they let dad guide the wheel. When they fight dad’s leading is when they lose ground in the race. So yes, it turns out Carrie Underwood had the right prayer in her lyrics after all. I walked into that one
The fight for self-control tonight with my kids, began this morning in my time with God. It continues today in my work-ethic. The fight for self-control is won or lost in my submission to the Holy Spirit today.
I have never met Eric Metaxas. My first encounter with the writing of Eric Metaxas was the result of a conversation with a friend who informed me someone had written a biography of my favorite theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas was an incredible experience for me. It reads well like a story should yet somehow does not compromise fact for fictional enrichment. What an impressive writer! Within a day of finishing it, someone told me Metaxas had spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier in the year. In this speech he embodied a new image for me of what a christian in the public square could look like. His story further reinforced my hope that there is a guy out there trying to follow Christ and influence others by doing so. Look no further than his Socrates in the City to see the fruit of his efforts. Talk about a ‘must attend’ evening I hope to be a part of someday. This latest book, 7 Men, shows a new angle in his work that I am grateful for. He leverages his storytelling to influence a generation of men who desperately need a change of direction. He moves from writer to minister in these pages and I couldn’t be more grateful for his work here in this regard. In the next couple of paragraphs you’ll see why i like the book. but I wanted you to at least encounter the man behind them whose work is serving as an inspiration to me.
Metaxas could continue on his skyrocketing authorial career without writing this book. The introduction to this book alone puts himself out on the ledge with those he is trying to influence. At first glance it appears to be a series of short biographies of influential people, which would be worth the read knowing the author’s savvy with a story. But this is one of those books where you really must read the introduction. Here he lays out his concern about the plight of manhood and his belief in the need for heroes and role models for young men. We cannot simply be told how to be a man, Metaxas says, we must see manhood in action. So, we get the stories of seven men whose greatness is marked by how they embodied a manhood we can emulate. This manhood is the God-honoring, others first, humble and courageous posture every man should aspire to. This manhood, he says, is ultimately embodied in Jesus Christ. Metaxas makes a point not to paint romanticized portraits of these men acknowledging their imperfections and struggles along their journeys. Yet these men saw frost’s two paths and each time took the one they believed was in obedience to God himself. And the rest…is history.
I believe this is something missing in christian ‘manhood’ material today. I agree with Metaxas that our young men need role models to follow. A 12 year old son of a fellow pastor here is reading 7 Men for exactly that reason. If my sons were older than 5, I’d be doing the same with them. Perhaps the best thing to do with this book after reading it and giving it to another man to read, is to do for others what he is trying to do for us. Let us give younger men role models and heroes they can aspire to follow. Let us choose obedience to Christ, let us choose courage, let us choose others over ourselves and let us do it all with the joy of one who has found meaning and hope in Christ. Let us point younger men to the Christ we follow.
This story recently came out of one of our small groups over at UNC-Chapel Hill. The relationships here capture the simple hope I have for small groups at the Summit.
I love bedtime in my home right now. My boys are 4 & 5 and their imaginations are easily captivated by a good story. Bedtime routine with dad is regularly 45 minutes but I cannot help it. I only have a few years with these boys like this and I plan to give it everything I can. The coup de gras of bedtime is the story. We either read the next story in the Jesus Storybook Bible, or I tell a tale from the Adventures of Beke & Zen.
Adventures of Beke & Zen
That’s right. I made up a story one night a couple of years ago on the fly about 2 brothers who “LOVE ADVENTURE!” and their names were “Beke & Zen.” Completely different than my two sons in front of me named Zeke & Ben. Of course they decided this was an instant classic and the next night I heard “can we hear another beke & zen story dad?” Thus set the trajectory of the adventures of beke & zen. They’ve been to the moon, the deepest oceans, to the U.N., to Krispy Kreme, Africa, and a far away land called Texas.
The Fire Breathing Dragon
Tonight was the scariest tale yet. I went for it. Short Version: I told them about the time 2 brother knights (Beke & Zen) killed an evil fire breathing dragon (15 houses tall) in order to save princess ellie (who was wandering around the room yelling “DADA!”) who was stuck in the tall tower guarded by the dragon. Beke & Zen courageously killed the dragon and rescued the princess from certain death.
The Knight Always Wins
When I finished the story my oldest son looked at me very concerned and said “but Dad, what if the dragon would have won the battle?” His nervous tone and sad eyes revealed a genuine fear of this creature dad had introduced tonight. I looked at him with a big smile and said son “The Knight Always Wins.” like only children can, his whole body changed in an instant and with a giant smile he said “Yes! The knight always beats the dragon! That’s great dad!” The fear of the dragon dissolved in the certainty of the knight’s victory.
Here I find myself tonight reflecting on that moment longing for his joy. The joy my son’s confidence in the knight gives him. The true story of the world is that of a knight who always wins. He always defeats the enemy to rescue his princess. He never once leaves the princess because the dragon is too scary, and he never once fails to defeat the dragon.
My son will no doubt create new stories where those knights face off against dragons. And his favorite part will be telling the climax of the story. Because the knight always wins.