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February 09, 2016

Comments

Just for the record, it looks like there's a lot of angry back-and-forth in this conversation. I don't want ABS to feel like a gazelle surrounded by lions (or a fire-breathing giant rhino surrounded by little cats, either) so I will identify myself a little more clearly (do you think this helps?):

I'm a 32-year-old engineer in California, male, who is married with two kids and one on the way.

I grew up in church but I don't think my faith was mature at all until college, when my longstanding legalistic self-righteousness finally crumbled into despair which Jesus generously pulled me out of. I get that everybody's in a different place. And I get that sexual morality is a really tough, personal, gut-wrenching (more like gut jack-hammering) place.

I'm not associated with STR and I actually haven't paid too much attention to this forum except to hear my own voice (like, a lot), and to respond to people who respond to me.

If ABS identifies as an outsider to the mission and values of STR, then I congratulate you on your courage.

Just for the record, it looks like there's a lot of angry back-and-forth in this conversation.

i. First, I think it's time that pro-lifers start clearly labeling abortion apologists as the moral monsters they are. When I say that promoting, protecting, or advocating for killing innocent human beings is morally degenerate, callous, or depraved and when I say that they have sick parallels with the genocidal logic of Hitler and that their arguments in favor of abortion actually go beyond what Hitler tried to implement I'm not stating anything factually incorrect.

When I liken their position to 1930s Nazi Germany I'm not just creating a false equivalence for rhetorical effect. It's a fact that more humans have been killed through abortion than humans were killed in the holocaust. It's a fact that the arguments used by pro-choicers are more expansive than the arguments used by Nazis to exterminate a sub-set of their population. It's a fact that the Nazis thought of a segment of humanity as "life unworthy of life" (Lebensunwertes Leben) and that pro-abortionists in the Salon article are using the exact same concept in their argument for abortion.

I'm pulling the sheet of modern enlightenment and civility off of their ugly worldview. They hide the nature of killing innocent humans under a set of language maneuvers, like calling the child a fetus. Even "abortion" serves to create some conceptual distance from the reality of the killing of innocent humans.

ii. Second, look at how those on the left often frames their debate by utilizing moral shame in their own agendas. Conservatives and Christians are often immediately labeled as bigots, homophobes, sexist, or racist. Recently someone in another forum referred to Ted Cruz as a "scum bag" simply because was an evangelical and, thus, stood for normal Christian values that Christians have had for thousands of years.

The left is not afraid to frame the debate in moral terms and heap moral shame upon their opponents. And it's been extremely effective in the culture wars. Look at how effective they've been with the issue of homosexuality by framing it in moral terms and heaping moral disapproval on the person who doesn't go along with their views. Why are conservatives so afraid to actually talk about the moral realities and implications of their opponent's position?

Notice that ABS immediately went into moral shaming in her (I'm going to assume ABS is a woman because she denied ever having an abortion because she was "sterile") very first post on this forum, before anyone had a chance to interact with her:

"This article, like all other "Christian" anti-abortion articles is "pro forced-birth" - Not one consideration to the woman who gives birth to an unwanted child. ... Perhaps if the author spent more time adopting children rather than preaching this rubbish, there may be a solution... Stop idolising having childed. Sounds revolting right?"

That was ABS's attitude of moral disgust before anyone had the opportunity to interact with her, so you certainly can't say that my tactic of turning the tables of moral disgust, so to speak, on her is what caused her to continue to frame things in terms of moral disgust and frame abortionists as "a55holes."

ABS used vulgar language for an emotional punch, expressing her level of disgust: calling the article crap, saying "Then what the hell is marriage about???" "then damn well treat it as such!" "... utter sh1t..." "...compassionate a55holes"

And notice that most of this vulgar language was not directed at me but at other people (KWM, WisdomLover, the original article) who were trying to interact with ABS without using the same moral shaming that I employed. So it's not like my approach escalated things with ABS. ABS came into the discussion swinging moral outrage at the pro-life position.

Along these lines I think people could learn from this: https://youtu.be/sL3SQyK7H5E

I don't agree with everything Ben Shapiro says and he takes a harder line than I do, but he does make some valid points that are in line with what I've said above. I'm in favor with pulling the moral mask off of morally deplorable positions like killing innocent human beings. It's not just name calling, it's reality labeling. This isn't the tactic I take in every issue or most issues.

If ABS identifies as an outsider to the mission and values of STR, then I congratulate you on your courage.

I think there is definitely a place for a soft word that seeks to turn away wrath. But I think sometimes we get stuck trying to build our interlocutor up while they are trying to tear us down and the effect is completely unfruitful. They just walk away thinking "Glad that scum bag recognizes my virtues!" I don't think it takes much courage to argue with a group of people on the internet and call their reasoning crap, utter sh1t, or compassionate a55holes.

Italics for President, 2016:

Of course you're right about giving a true name to the false rhetoric employed to morality-shame Christians who oppose today's legal environment surrounding abortion. I remember how broadly the left used morality to justify gay marriage. But I am inclined toward caution in giving a name to any given individual who promotes these views, and especially one with whom I'm interacting. Don't you think this is an important distinction to make?

It's very clear in Romans 2... just substitute "abortion apologist" for "uncircumcised". But Paul kicks the chapter off with "Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." And the "therefore" comes after a naming the condemned as "without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful..."

In Matthew 18 Jesus gives a terrifying warning for folks who cause one of these little ones to sin. Whatever happened to being loving and merciful? Isn't Jesus JUDGING?

I think it comes down to Matthew 7: "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." This is followed by the speck in the eye parable. The low-hanging fruit here is that God can judge, because he's perfect.

These moral monsters are actually just us, grown up in a slightly different family or a slightly different church, and not yet drawn to Jesus and his generosity. It's my thought that the apologist's message boils down to this: "Friend- you don't really believe that, do you? Please, come back to your senses and trust Jesus!"

This is only possible if the apologist trusts that all the anger and all the abuse is directed toward Jesus, not him or her, so as not to get mad at slights.

I think that there's an important role for believers in humbly forming a public, reasonable, and correct-in-God's-eyes rebuke of culture even as we pray for God's mercy on all of us. But I'm not convinced that this is apologetics... wouldn't this be a pastoral, or perhaps prophetic task?

I just read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and the author's last words in the book, published in 1850 or so, are as follows: "...not surer is the eternal law by which the millstone sinks in the ocean, than that stronger law, by which injustice and cruelty shall bring on nations the wrath of Almighty God!"

ESCalifornia,

I'm going to respond here not because I think there is anything really at stake at this point, but because I think it's worth trying to hash out apologetic method here. I don't presume I'm infallible here and I'm open to correction if I hear good criticisms... But since I acted from a considered position here I will spell that out.

But I am inclined toward caution in giving a name to any given individual who promotes these views, and especially one with whom I'm interacting. Don't you think this is an important distinction to make?

No.

But in reality it depends on the person and the issue.

Concerning the issue: murdering innocent humans, and the most helpless among them--children--is one of the vilest and worst sins.

Concerning the person: I've talked to plenty of pro-choice people who did not show the callousness or engage in the truth-twisting games that ABS did in this conversation. In fact I was in a discussion about this issue in another forum on February 5th. And there I didn't throw their moral depravity in their face. In fact all I did is explain the pro-life position and why it doesn't make sense to say that the pro-choice position is better for women.

Why the difference? Because in one situation the person didn't engage in underhanded tactics of distracting the issue (what happens after abortion), creating a straw-man of the pro-life position (sex=children), or try to pretend like the pro-choice position was more virtuous and shame pro-lifers. And to top it all off act incorrigibly when corrected: continue to repeat the straw-man about 4 or 5 times (or more) when they were corrected on it.

In other words, in one conversation the person seemed to be merely mistaken. They weren't aware of why pro-lifers believed what they did. And they had been lead to believe in an evil position. When I explained the pro-life position he didn't try to misrepresent it. When I corrected some of his errors he didn't try to repeat them incorrigibly. He didn't pretend as though his position was actually the virtuous one and ours the revolting one.

What ABS is doing, on the other hand, is evil. ABS doesn't just happen to believe in a position that is evil, she acts as an apologist for evil and she does so by employing techniques that are dishonest and that are employed in brainwashing (no joke, you can read about them yourself in the book I mentioned earlier by psychologist Joost Meerloo).

In that situation I'm not going to make a distinction between the evil of the position and ignore the evil of the apologist. The guilt of the apologist should be brought to bear upon herself, so that perhaps her conscience can be awakened and she can repent or so that the audience (whoever happens to be seeing the interaction) can get a full view of what's really going on with this charlatan.

As for you appeals to Bible passages about judging:

http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2005/06/judging_is_a_ne.html

These moral monsters are actually just us, grown up in a slightly different family or a slightly different church, and not yet drawn to Jesus and his generosity.

Recognizing that we could be in the same position, but for the grace of God, doesn't change the fact that some moral monsters need to be exposed as such or that moral shame serves a useful function in our society.

It's my thought that the apologist's message boils down to this: "Friend- you don't really believe that, do you? Please, come back to your senses and trust Jesus!"

I don't see why the apologist should have the same message for every situation and I don't see why the apologist should always assume that a person doesn't believe what they say they do.

This is only possible if the apologist trusts that all the anger and all the abuse is directed toward Jesus, not him or her, so as not to get mad at slights.

That's fine... But I don't see what it has to do with my conversation here since I never got angry about any "slights" directed toward me. Any emotion I had was not on behalf of myself but on behalf of the millions of children that are being murdered, which ABS is trying to protect.

Here is something Tim Keller tweeted a few days ago: "The greater our love for someone, the greater our potential for anger at what is destructive in their lives."

Likewise, W.G.T. Shedd wrote "if there be no love of righteousness, there is no anger at sin, and, conversely, if there be no anger at sin, there is no love of righteousness."

Anger isn't always appropriate and I'm not trying to say that because Shedd or Keller said this that it automatically justifies my response in this conversation. But I think it's true that just because we are mad about something this does not mean are being mad is inappropriate.

I think that there's an important role for believers in humbly...

I don't think "mad" or "angry" is the opposite of humble, such that in order to be mad you have to throw out humility.

Hi Italics for President 2016,

Getting a feel from your response, I don't sense that you have any open criticism for me to respond to but that you are deliberately developing your position in a defensible way.

I think you're really on to something in calling-out progressives on their moral shaming rhetoric. It's not a thought I had really formed before. I think based on this, the following question arises in situations as when the Human Rights Coalition calls South Dakota's new laws "vile" and "shameful": What is the moral framework that defines vileness and shame? Let's bring that framework to the forefront explicitly and evaluate it on its merits. Is it self-consistent? Is it coherent? Does it actually protect the people it purposes to protect? Does it avoid the fallacy of redistributing injustice as happened during the French and Soviet Revolutions, instead of reducing injustice as any moral thought really should do?

In my opinion, God's morality isn't arbitrary or based on divine whim but it's actually really good and it beats the competition on its merits. I think this conversation, suggested by your resistance to progressive morality shaming of conservative ideas, could be a fruitful area for apologetics.

Read this today: http://www.challies.com/articles/the-character-of-the-christian-gentle

And it raises a doubt as to my method here and so perhaps I should err on the side of caution. Perhaps there are ways to bring the force of moral depravity to bear upon someone that are less biting my words here.

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