October 21, 2017

Twenty Myths That Keep Christians From Discussing Abortion

23348372.jpgI’ve had very few posts on abortion in this space, and there’s a reason for that. You can’t have a reasonable discussion most of the time. Everything devolves into a rhetorical, emotional conflict that resembles professional wrestling. In a cage.

It’s really embarrassing that so many of us can’t talk about abortion like intelligent, civil people. It just seems to be too much. And here are twenty reasons why. Twenty myths- and yes, that’s what I said- that keep Christians from discussing abortion.

They seem self-explanatory to me, but I’m sure some of you will appreciate explanations, but I’m wanting to focus on the myths themselves, not the debates about each one. I may or may not write much more in the comments, but I will be moderating this comment thread more than a little closely.

Let’s see if we can at least put these myths aside and recalibrate one of the most important moral issues we’ll ever examine; one we all have a stake in settling.

Remember: these are MY myths. You may disagree strongly. Just express yourself appropriately.

The Twenty Myths That Keep Christians From Discussing Abortion

1. Men can’t have children, so their views on abortion are irrelevant.

2. Women are too emotional to be rational about this subject.

3. The Bible is so clear on the issue of abortion, there doesn’t need to be a discussion.

4. Abortion is a terrible thing, and we can never allow terrible things to happen.

5. Only Christians can discuss the truth of this issue, because they are the only ones who believe the Bible.

6. If you don’t agree with my position, you are supporting murder.

7. If you aren’t as angry/emotional as I am, you don’t understand the issue.

8. Anyone not in favor of my position is the moral equivalent of a serial killer or a Nazi.

9. Every argument that can be made about abortion, has been made.

10. No one ever changes their mind on abortion.

11. Everyone who reads the Bible correctly on this topic will come out at the very same positions on all questions relating to abortion, laws and policy.

12. Your views on abortion are the issues that defines whether I can accept you as a Christian or not.

13. All Christians who are against abortion will support the same political candidate.

14. All those who oppose abortion morally will agree on laws and legal consequences.

15. One human soul is infinitely valuable.

16. Anyone who brings up other “life” issues in the abortion discussion doesn’t understand how serious abortion really is.

17. Abortion is different from other life issues.

18. There are no metaphorical or rhetorical limits on what can be said in a discussion of abortion.

19. Abortion is worse than other kinds of human life lost by direct, intentional human action toward innocents.

20. Everything I’ve heard from either side is exactly what they all believe is true.

Comments

  1. could you elaborate on #15 please? This is an interesting post, one I’m not sure about so I thought I’d ask for an elaboration before jumping to any conclusions

  2. I don’t believe there is any Biblical warrant to say that one human being has value without limits. That would be true of God, but being made in his image makes us valuable, but not infinitely valuable.

    There are circumstances- horrible to contemplate- where the value of a person or group of persons is measured against other factors.

    I think that kind of rhetoric goes places that aren’t helpful, especially since all persons have equal intrinsic value as persons.

    I am not suggesting that, for example, persons who are limited or old are of less value than other persons.

    I am suggesting that the word “infinite” is not necessary to define the value of a person and it can cloud discussions of life issues.

  3. I would like to hear you view on #16

  4. If you talk about any other life issue- like AIDS or preventable disease in Africa, for example- and ask where’s a similar level of outrage as compared to abortion, you’re told that you don’t understand abortion.

    Abortions in America seem to be an issue of a unique sort for many Christians. I think that single focus on one life issue and general ignorance about many other issues tends to undermine what Christians have to say about abortion.

  5. Thanks, as this is a very helpful post. As you indicate, there are levels, degrees, nuances, etc. in whatever position one takes. You also note the prevalent practice of “demonizing” those who don’t see it exactly the same way that I or you or whomever sees abortion or any other issue. That doesn’t help at all.

  6. Thank you for this post. All the points are good, but I particularly appreciate the points about other life issues, and opinions on law/politics. It’s really not a black and white issue; it’s a very complicated one and should be treated – as with every thing else – with compassion and pastoral sensitivity.

    I’d suggest another one – women only have abortions because they are too selfish to have kids or don’t want to deal with the consequences of their actions.

  7. re #16 there’s more than loss of life at issue (although that’s one half of the equation), so the 2 types of death (abortion / preventable diseases) can’t be equated. Abortion is more serious because it affects the moral development of Christians. It teaches children that it’s ok to murder. It makes our sad society a tad more sordid than it was to begin with.

  8. Could you expand on #6? I could read that from a few different perspectives and would like to know what you intended by it.

  9. I mean a person stakes out a position on abortion, and someone else takes a slightly different position, leading the original person to say the difference between the two positions amounts to murder

    Example: Someone believes abortion should be illegal in every case. A second person says he believes it should be legal in specific situations. The first person says the second is promoting murder.

  10. For me, I have a few abortion myths I regularly butt heads with.

    1. One cannot be both pro-life and pro-choice.
    2. The bible must be interpreted solely in the light of pro-life rhetoric, because Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Anything you find in it that suggests that fetuses or embryos have less than full human rights, is not a sign that the bible is iffy on the subject, but that the interpreter is attempting to justify evil.
    3. Discussing the issue, or exploring other positions on it, means you approve of abortion, that you’re less moral, or that you’re immoral. Even to question it erodes the sanctity of life.
    4. Pro-choice candidates aren’t really Christians. They’re just pretending to be so as to get votes. They have no personal relationship with Jesus, nor do they read the bible or pray or understand theology; otherwise they wouldn’t be pro-choice. (You sorta touched on this one with your #12.)
    5. If a candidate doesn’t believe as I do about abortion, they’re instantly disqualified from my vote. Even if their opinion will be something they will never be able to take action on — city council, county clerk, state board of equalization, or any such position where the abortion issue is extremely unlikely to come up.

  11. To throw in my two bits, I think some issues are between God and the immediate participants and do not involve any other jurisdictions. One way to test this is to take it to the literal extreme, call it, abortion, murder one punishable with death. Well scripturally, that sentence can only be carried out (if so wished ) by the blood avenger who can only be the closest blood relative to the victim who in this case would be aborted child’s mother. So a legal approach is pointless, one can see its a family issue and non of the states business be it laws against or funding for. (In Canada there no laws either way but funding for )

    I am not trying to infer that it is not an abomination, I have personally been involved, two times, in deliverances where it was revealed to us that the bondage was due to the persons’ mother having just considered abortion.

  12. Many thanks.

  13. God calls Himself “the helper of the helpless;” Jesus’ warning “What you’ve done to the least of these…” gets bandied about for all kinds of causes: wouldn’t it seem HIGHLY applicable in the case of the unborn infant who is the most helpless and innocent person in the human community?

  14. I never suggested otherwise.

    This post is about ways of conversing that seem to discourage the conversation.

  15. Michael,

    I’m still not getting you on no. 6. Perhaps I’m just too bull-headed, but either it an act of murder or it isn’t…right? Help me out here.

  16. Let me be as clear as possible.

    In my view it is a discouragement to the conversation for anyone to say “Either adopt my exact view or I will deem your view murder.”

    If a person is convinced that’s the case, so be it. But to say, “Your view that legal abortion is sometimes sadly a possibility is actually the same as murder” doesn’t work for a conversation.

    I have a view. I don’t believe those whose view is more permissive than mine are automatically murderers.

    The post is about why its proven very hard to talk about the issue.

  17. heh. it is simply amazing how many of these myths i regularly come into contact/conflict with… and how many I used to adhere to in my past.

    and i have to chuckle at how #11 and #14 jump to their oh-so-logical conclusions based upon this one issue.

  18. The problem seems to me that people pick a side, and then basically refuse to even listen to any argument that doesn’t agree with it. It’s a classic case for a point where we let our hearts get in the way of our heads.

    The obvious question for pro-lifers, is if a women does have an abortion, and it’s illegal and murdering a baby and so on, what jail time should they do? 25 years?

    I find it incredibly arrogant to think that anyone should be able to tell others how they should lead their lives, when it comes to something like abortion. It’s not their place to judge. They have no right to do so.

  19. I saw evidence of #1 in my local paper just the other day. A woman columnist complained about how many emails that she gets from boys when she talks about being pro-choice. Just the fact that they didn’t have to have the child, made their views unnecessary. According to her, the more the guys reacted the more she was pro-choice.

    Personally, I think that men should be involved, both in the discussion and in whatever action the discussion causes.

  20. Pete,

    I don’t think that the people suggesting abortions ought to be illegal suggest that the woman should do time for having one. If it is illegal it would be the abortionists doing time, not the women, they’re are also victims in the crime.

  21. Why is #17 a myth?

  22. I don’t believe any issue involving human life operates on fundamentally different assumptions than any other. There are factors that differ, but the person wanting to insist that he has a right to be more outraged by the death of an American baby by abortion than by the death of a Sudanese child by war is being inconsistent in my view.

  23. I’m still a bit confused about 15.

    I guess maybe I’m associating “infinite in duration” plus “valuable” to “infinite in value.”

    I suppose I’ve never really heard it applied to the abortion debate, though.

    (And issue 6, while I agree it is a dialog-killer and worthless (nay, counterproductive and foolish) bit of rhetoric, is certainly from the perspective of certain views on the nature of abortion anything but a “myth.”)

  24. Tim Young says:

    Outrage isn’t the issue in my mind. If the Sudanese child had never been born, then there is no issue. The right to actually be alive seems primary. Without that, there are no other “life issues”.

  25. #2 might be a myth that pro-choicers subscribe to more.

    They would attack, say, a requirement that the mother view an ultrasound before making a decision to abort as ’emotional manipulation’.

    They don’t respect women who change their minds enough to attribute the change of mind to a moral decision based on new data.

  26. torainfor says:

    How about “The point and the focus should always be solely concentrated on keeping the unborn alive. The secular culture that makes single-motherhood so difficult and the Christian culture that makes it so shameful are irrelevant.”

  27. The ‘myths’ I hear (usually in late September every year) are:

    “If you don’t go out and hold an ‘abortion kills’ sign on the first Sunday afternoon in October (National Life Chain Sunday) on the main thoroughfare with your two, four, seven, nine, and eleven year old children standing in front of you (the guilt inducers), then you are a murderer and also a fake hypocritical Christian.”

    “If we all get together and vote for the Republican candidate for President in November and he wins, then abortion will no longer exist in this country” (the religious right said this eight years ago and abortion is still present)

  28. Re. #6: I’ve sometimes told pro-choice people they support legalized murder of the innocent. I don’t start at that point, but you have to call it what it is. I mean, is it a human being or not? Is the unjust taking of human life murder or not?

  29. Nicholas Anton says:

    Major flaws in the discussion about abortion are;

    1) A failure to define terms clearly.
    2) A failure to define the purpose of the act (therapeutic abortion) clearly. (In other words, am I removing the unborn fetus to save the mother or to destroy the child.)
    3) To argue the issue on emotional rather than rational principles.

    Any and every act in life, including every medical procedure, carries within it a risk of injury and death. The difference between high risk activities and murder center around the intent of the procedure. If the prime intent of an activity is to take a life, that is murder. On the other hand, if the intent is to save a life, even though it may cost the life of another, that in most cases is not murder.

    The reason why I object to the contemporary practice of abortion is because in most cases an abortion has not been successful without the death of the unborn. In other words, the purpose of the abortion is to kill the unborn child.

  30. I really appreciate this post. Thank you for having the willingness to go out there and talk about it.

  31. A major problem is the “more, higher, most, highest” mindset Michael described a couple weeks ago. It prevents us from giving this important issue the in depth examination that it deserves.

  32. Actually I find #16 as the most troubling aspect of the Pro-Life movement. I see life as a continuum, and any assault on that life, legal or otherwise, as an issue for Christians to address. Focusing on one part makes it appear that our concern ends at birth. But that’s me.

  33. Michael, I agree that there is a great deal of rhetoric about abortion that makes taking about it very difficult. If you moved from where you sit to a more liberal community, you would find that abortion is equally difficult to talk about in any terms but unquestioned acceptance. Abortion at one point became the driving issue for the largest part of one of our political parties.
    While numbers can bore, it’s useful to keep the scale of our abortions in mind. 49 million abortions since Roe. More abortions every year than died in all the wars this nation ever fought. The scale of abortions in America is mind boggling. Discussions about degree or other factors pale when you consider the raw numbers. You have to bow your head in sorrow when you consider the pervasive nature of abortions in America.
    Far from not being able to discuss abortion in a rational way, I would gladly engage. There are a host of factors that have to be considered both when thinking about a specific child and when considering the whole problem.
    The issue for our society is precisely that these factors cannot be considered, cannot be disucssed. Everything, every consideration, is absolutely subordinate to the womans’ unfettered right to make her own choice.

  34. Nicholas the reason why your approach of prime intent will have difficulty working objectively in society at large is that “subjectively” there are two lives at stake: the mother’s life (as she knows it) and the unborn infants.

    To some mothers, they’d rather lose their child than have to go to night classes as a single mother to finish their bachelor’s degree. Because Americans are so selfish that is really a life and death issue subjectively. Abortion should be approached objectively speaking.

    That’s why “what is the subjective intent of the mother” will not always work.

  35. Nicholas Anton says:

    jmanning

    I did not intend to approach the subject of abortion in a subjective sense. The intended core of my argument was that though all human activity can result in death, there is a difference between possibly fatal human activities to save life and calculated fatal human activities to take life. If my choice involves the death of one, versus the death of two (ectopic pregnancy), I would choose the former, even though that choice may entail a therapeutic abortion. The act of abortion in itself is not the sin, but rather the reason for and behind it. This reasoning also brings into question many forms of birth control.

    Again, was the abortion performed to save a life or to destroy a life? One could ask the same questions regarding war.

  36. Joseph,

    I’m not sure I get your logic. If we take the standpoint that abortion is murder, which is the crux of the pro-life (or con-choice as it should really be) argument, then the following ensues…

    By the “she shouldn’t do time” theory, then if I decide that someone should be killed, and get a hitman to do it, you’d have the hitman do time and not me? Surely we both should.

    Similarly, if abortion is flat out wrong in all cases, then the woman should do time to.

    If you don’t do that, you’re accepting that actually, maybe the woman might have a valid reason.

    (For the record, I’m pro-choice)

  37. When it comes to understanding both sides of the debate, people (especially Christians) need to realise that pro-choice and pro-life people are not actually arguing over the same thing.

    Pro-choice people are named such because they defend the choice to have an abortion. If a woman chooses not to have an abortion, the pro-choice side is happy because at least the choice was available.

    Pro-life people are actually concerned with the practice of abortion because they believe that an unborn embryo / fetus / blastocyst is a human being.

    Let me ask you this question: If every single woman who became pregnant chose to keep their baby rather than abort it, would pro-choice people be unhappy? In theory, the answer is no – they would not be unhappy, so long as choice was available. Even if 100% of women chose to have their baby, the fact that they have a choice is what pro-choice people wish.

    Similarly, if every single woman who became pregnant chose to keep their baby rather than abort it, and if a choice between keeping and aborting it was available, would pro-life people be unhappy? In theory, the answer is no – so long as no pregnancies ended in abortion, pro-life people should be happy, even if the choice for abortion was available.

    And there we have the beginnings of common ground between the two sides. If society could get to the point where no one had abortions while, at the same time, a choice to abort was available, then both pro-life and pro-choice people would be happy.

    I personally would be happy to be in a society in which no abortions took place if the price I have to pay is that abortion is safe and legal.

    And this is where good policy can be made. Why is it that other countries have lower abortion rates than the US? What drives women in those other countries to either keep their babies or prevent conception? If it is shown that public sex education campaigns are successful, then why not have one in the US? Preventing unwanted pregnancies is the key to reducing abortion to zero.

  38. I haven’t read through all the comments so i’m not sure if i’m repeating someone. I’m not the point of this post was to be humorous, but i laughed out loud. I appreciate the honesty of the myths that people buy into. while reading almost every myth i always had a picture of a different person in my head that has personified that myth. so funny.

  39. A few comments have pointed out how high the abortion rate in the U.S. is – very significantly higher, in fact, than in those European countries where abortion is less restricted and less controversial, and where people are much less likely to be religious or observant Christians. I wonder how those of us who feel that criminalizing abortion is the key to ending it would make sense of these statistics. We live in a country where, what, 20-25% of people identify as evangelical, ~25% identify as Catholic, and significant portion of the population is regularly and vocally religiously observant. How is it that our abortion rate is so much higher than the rates in other, much more secular Western nations? It seems clear to me that our culture and our policies contribute to our high rates.

  40. I did read all the comments, and though recognizing this subject as somehow very important, I laughed, too, at the well-elaborated list.
    (BTW, by “somehow very important” I mean only to suggest that I am not entirely sure by what measure this subject is so infuriating. I think about abortion alot; but I never seem to get to a well-defended position. It is like playing chess: I think that I am doing the right things, but I get walloped upside the head by Crafty, the computer chess engine.)

  41. Brian Pendell says:

    I’d like to take issue with $15 as a myth. But before I do, I’d like to move away from abortion to general discussion. Perhaps a better way to re-word it would be:

    “A single human life is of TRANSCENDENT value”.

    as opposed to
    “of INFINITE value”.

    The problem is that once you start calculating human life in purely utilitarian terms , you start treating it as if it were any other commodity. When you start thinking in terms of humans in terms of ‘commodity’, it’s not hard to start thinking of them as cattle or slaves.

    For instance, if you can directly equate human life to a monetary sum — say, as people do ‘human resources’ at a lot of companies — then it becomes logical to, say, eliminate three human jobs to save $150k as it would to dispose of obsolescent PCs. The fact that these humans have lives, sons and daughters depending on them, and have given you loyalty and service for years mean nothing.

    Or another example. Suppose a family has 5 children when they can only comfortably support 3. Why not sell the extra two kids to pimps, thus comfortably converting liabilities to assets? This, after all, is something that is very common to do with daughters in pre-modern Japan.

    Christians don’t do that, nor do Jews, because we know that human life is simply off the scale vs. material things. That if you sacrifice a human life — especially an innocent human life — for material ends or for comfort, you have done wickedly.

    What is it the rabbis say? ““He who saves a life, it is as if he has saved the world entire.”

    Thus, human life is of transcendent value. When compared to any other commodity, it is off the scale.

    However, I can agree with you that human life is not infinite, in the sense that there is a coin it can be compared to, and that is other human lives. That’s the whole point of the death penalty in the OT — sacrifice the life of a murderer, not only to avenge the death of the innocent but as a deterrent to others. Same thing in war; humans sacrifice their own lives to save the lives of others, and sometimes take the lives of the wicked to save the lives of those they protect.

    Sometimes human lives need to be measured … but the only proper thing they can be measured against is other human lives. Against material things, they’re simply off the scale.

    THere’s another point I want to bring up. You say

    “I don’t believe there is any Biblical warrant to say that one human being has value without limits. That would be true of God, but being made in his image makes us valuable, but not infinitely valuable.”

    Now hold on a minute … follow the logic with me.

    1) God’s life is of value without limit. (given above)
    2) God laid that life … a life whose value is limitless… down for human beings.
    3) What does that say about how highly God values human life?

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.

  42. Brian, I think a large amount of the debate is the definition of “single human life ” . . . I’m not really sure what a “Human Life” is, and I don’t believe there is consensus on this issue.

  43. I wrote that I was an Obama supporter and was told that to support him for president was basically to be party to genocide and to (probably) incur God’s wrath on the U.S. Talk about a conversation killer.

    Thanks for the post. It would be great to be able to talk about this with cooler heads.

  44. Brian Pendell says:

    “Brian, I think a large amount of the debate is the definition of “single human life ” . . . I’m not really sure what a “Human Life” is, and I don’t believe there is consensus on this issue.”

    First of all, I want to, again, move away, from the issue of abortion specifically and into more general areas.

    Monetheless, I think I’m going to throw the sophistry flag on that one. Based on point #12 of the evil overlord list.

    http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html

    “12) One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.”

    Substitute “idea” for plan and you’ve got the general idea. Go down to your local kindergarten and ask what a human is. They will tell you “a man or a woman, a boy or a girl”.

    Simple, isn’t it?

    IME, the more confusing and obfuscating people make the issue … well, IME about 80% of the people are truly confused but a remaining small percent … the author of that confusion .. is a pettifogging lawyer who is trying very hard on behalf of his client to obscure the very obvious moral wrong that is being done.

    It’s a variant of occam’s razor: In any given moral argument, the side that employs the more gray areas, the more fuzzy boundaries, the more obscurantism, is usually the side that is in the wrong. Much like an octopus hiding behind a cloud of ink, one doesn’t obfuscate if one has nothing to hide.

    Example? American slavery. I’m reading “Many Thousands Gone”, and in the very earliest American history Black indentured servants were treated identically to white ones … there really wasn’t much of a color line. It was only when slavery became really profitable that people came up with a whole line of sophisticated reasoning explaining why it was a good idea to treat other humans as if they were property. And they were so successful abolitionists were a minority up until the 1860s.

    Or another example: The prophets of the OT. One of the true gifts of a prophet, IMO, was the ability to cut through the fog of lies, justifications and rationalizations to the heart of the issue and expose it to simple light: Do not bow down to idols. Do not sacrifice your children to Moloch. It is unlawful for you to have your brother’s wife. And so on. Neither John the Baptist nor Jesus nor Jeremiah nor Moses nor even Paul were into excuses, which are much like the mental equivalent of the fig leaf Adam felt he had to put on when he went before his God. Because his naked deeds were shameful.

    Is everything black and white? Of course not. Is there a place for wisdom, common sense, and gray areas? Of course yes. But we shouldn’t try to cloud the matter more than we have to, and I can’t imagine standing before the judgment seat of Christ, trying to justify my participation in something like slavery on the basis that I didn’t know what “human life” is. If I do not know what every grade school child knows, willful ignorance is the only explanation.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.

  45. Pete,

    I’m not sure your analogy comes through. As I said, in the occurrence of an abortion the woman is a victim as well as her child. The abortionist would be the one put behind bars; he or she should know better. Whether the woman knew what she was getting into is another question, but in any case she should be given help and support with her pregnancy. Sacrificing the unborn out of fear or for convenience should be known as no option.

  46. А комментарии тут по-настоящему интересные. Будем следить за комментами и далее 😉