Sunday, September 28, 2008

This guy must have been reading Dangerous Idea

HT: Ed Babinski.

32 comments:

Ron said...

Sure, socialism decreases abortion but that doesn't make socialism right nor does it get around the fact that our government's policy on abortion as decided by Roe vs. Wade is wrong. Our society never democratically decided that abortion should be legal. The Supreme Court did and forced it on us.

It is not just about the results of policies but the principles and the rationale behind them. As long as abortion is still considered to be morally permissible, we will see the culture of death advance on other fronts as well. Maybe the pro-life cause is a lost cause but if we don't stand for the innocent in our own country, no one will.

Obama and the Democrats moral message is exactly against everything that Christianity has fought for and stood for and that is why I cannot fathom supporting them.

Charlie said...

Obama and the Democrats moral message is exactly against everything that Christianity has fought for...

The attenuated sense in which your statement is true is that it is 21st century American Christianity, in particular, that Obama's moral message may contradict. Serious distinctions can and should be made between this brand of Christianity and Jesus Christ's actual teachings.

Charlie said...

Christians for Obama

Charlie said...

BTW Joe Biden is pro-life.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what matters to Pro-Life Republicans more: abortion or taxes? It seems pretty undeniable that a larger social safety net would result in a dramatic reduction in abortions. But this would require higher taxes. Are Pro-Life Republicans willing to have their taxes raised, even for the sake of saving unborn children?

Anonymous said...

Ron, I wonder whether you can put any meat on the assertion that "the Democrats moral message is exactly against everything that Christianity has fought and stood for"?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Victor, I hadn't read that speech. It is fantastic.

The naysayers seem to have not read the speech. It is a quite personal and searching analysis of what it means to be a Christian public servant in a Democracy where one religion doesn't get to set the laws.

Ron said...

anonymous,

What I was referring to was Obama's position on abortion. Christianity has always been pro-life since the first century so it is not true as Charlie claimed that Obama only conflicts with 21st century American Christianity.

Brad said...

Anon, as a pro-life voter I don't necessarily want higher taxes. However, I would be ecstatic to give money and time to local orphanages or adoption agencies.

Also, I frequently see the argument made linking government policies to what Christ taught. Christ didn't teach government policies. Christ taught individual policies. Governments and individuals have different roles. Governments should deliver order and justice... individuals should deliver love.

Charlie said...

Brad, if there were assurance that some government policy, P, would help the sick and suffering, and that the implementation of P wouldn't cause any worse evils in the process, then individuals who seek to deliver Christ's love would rush to support P. In this way there is a link between what Christ taught and government policies.

people who seek to deliver love would not bicker about P causing higher taxes, and they would not resort to a "look out for number one" individualist ethic, as some have done here.

Charlie said...

What I was referring to was Obama's position on abortion. Christianity has always been pro-life since the first century so it is not true as Charlie claimed that Obama only conflicts with 21st century American Christianity.


Obama is pro-life in a larger sense than you care to think about. If Obama gets in with tax cuts and a better healthcare system we will have less abortions than we do now, that is virtually guaranteed. Republicans, even if they followed through with their promise to overturn Roe v. Wade (they haven't and they won't), would contribute to higher abortion rates.

"Unlike many commenters and others who simply show up every four years and vote on the abortion issue, I have actually done something more than post comments on blogs to attempt to end the practice of abortion. I gave eight years of my life to get pro-life candidates elected to office. Between 1987 and 1994, I worked on 28 campaigns for pro-life Republicans. This work came at financial sacrifice to me and to my family. When my peers were advancing in the financial ranks, I was packing up my small family and moving to places like Bainbridge, GA to help get candidate who were opposed to abortion elected to local, state and federal office. I did it gladly, as a reflection of how opposed I am to abortion.

A few things happened since that time. First, I became a follower of Jesus. I was always a Christian, by which I mean that I always trusted in Christ to avoid hell. But, in the years since I left politics, I have increasingly felt called to follow - to imitate, to learn from the teachings of, and to be shaped by the model of - Jesus. These means that I am seeking, each day, to be converted and to become more and more like Christ.

I am supporting Barack Obama. I am disappointed that Sen. Obama has not supported legislation that would protect the unborn, particularly in the late term. However, even through the sole lens of abortion, I truly believe that an Obama Presidency will change the culture in which unwanted pregnancies will be met with stronger economic and communal support, making the birth of the child a much more imaginable possibility.

On the whole range of other Christian moral issues and social teaching - just war, dignity of the person as made in the image of God, strengthening of the family, caring for the poor and the needy, valuing work and workers, and caring for creation - Obama stands head and shoulders above Sen. McCain. The whole range of life issues about which scripture and the Church have always been concerned will fare better with Sen. Obama as President.

So, please, vote in light of Biblical and Church teaching on the issues of life." - will samson

Brad said...

Charlie, can't we show Christ's love individually, and still desire small government?

Is it really showing love to create more government programs to help the poor and needy? Or is it showing love to individually volunteer and give money to those who need help?

I think that all too often, government programs are created to lessen our active responsibility.

I want to vote for someone who will simply keep order and justice. Leave the loving to the individuals, not the government.

Anonymous said...

Brad,

Can you direct me to the Scriptures mandating that the role of the government should be solely to maintain order? Can you direct me to the passages in which God expressly prohibits that governments look after the poor and widows and orphans? Because I'm pretty sure I can find you some scriptures from the Old Testament that say exactly the opposite.

Where exactly do Conservatives get this idea that God is against governments using their resources to look after the poor, the sick, the homeless, etc? I'm of the opinion that this separation between the moral responsibilities of individuals and governments is entirely manufactured by selfish Republicans who do not want to put their (tax) money where their mouth is.

But I'm willing to be convinced. Even if you can't find scriptures supporting your view, maybe you can give me some kind of theological argument. Explain to me why God would be against governments making it a priority to take care of the less fortunate, so long as most of its populace was willing. And then explain to me what reason, besides selfishness, a mostly Christian population would have for not being willing to help out?

Ron said...

Let us say for the sake of argument that Obama's big government policies will reduce abortions since those who would get abortions for 'economic' reasons would be less inclined to do so. While this would be a great thing for all the children who's lives would be saved, I think in the long run it is a bad thing partly because it tacitly still proclaims that abortion is morally permissible.

When many state governments have laws which charge people for two homicides (or murders) when they kill both a pregnant woman and her unborn child, to have abortion be legal is nonsensical. It basically is saying that the fetus is only a child if the mother wants to carry it to term, but if she doesn't than it doesn't have any constitutional rights. So even if we assume that Obama's economic policies will decrease abortions, the injustice in our system still remains.

I agree with Brad that Christ did not set out government policies but was challenging individuals. Societal or government change comes when individuals collectively agree on principle(s) and/or actions(s). This gives the best benefits to the giver and the recipient. To use government as a tool to rob Peter to pay Paul ultimately helps neither and would make us end up like Europe.

Ron said...

Anon,

"Can you direct me to the passages in which God expressly prohibits that governments look after the poor and widows and orphans? Because I'm pretty sure I can find you some scriptures from the Old Testament that say exactly the opposite."

Remember that the OT commands about government helping that poor was solely for Israel which was a theocracy. Our government is based upon different principles.

"I'm of the opinion that this separation between the moral responsibilities of individuals and governments is entirely manufactured by selfish Republicans who do not want to put their (tax) money where their mouth is."

I know of statistics (not that one should always trust these) that show that conservative people give more to charities than do liberals. If this is true, than it is liberals who should individually give more rather than easing their conscience by forcing everyone to pay more taxes so that the government can (probably ineffectively) help the poor.

'The separation of moral responsibilities' makes sense because the government's function is different than a individual's function in God's eyes. On the Last Day, it will be individuals, not governments who are judged for their sins.

The govenment's obligation to the poor is only to help them if every other option fails. It is a last resort, not a magic solution.

Charlie said...

Brad,

Is it really showing love to create more government programs to help the poor and needy? Or is it showing love to individually volunteer and give money to those who need help?

I reject your oversimplified false dichotomy. It is love to help both on an individual level as well as by supporting efficient government action. I rather doubt, Brad, that you have enough financial resources and time to deliver love to the most amount of people who need it. Why not support policies that could help even more? This should be so especially if you're a Christian who claims to "show love".

Charlie said...

bad thing partly because it tacitly still proclaims that abortion is morally permissible.

When many state governments have laws which charge people for two homicides (or murders) when they kill both a pregnant woman and her unborn child, to have abortion be legal is nonsensical. It basically is saying that the fetus is only a child if the mother wants to carry it to term, but if she doesn't than it doesn't have any constitutional rights. So even if we assume that Obama's economic policies will decrease abortions, the injustice in our system still remains.



Tu quoque. McCain and Palin would keep the status of abortion laws at state-level decision. (Palin, despite her "personal" views, explicitly confirmed this in a recent interview.) So even with McCain/Palin, the tacit moral permissibility of abortions would loom. We could grant that both sides have the permissibility problem, but with Obama better socio-economic circumstances would conduce to a decrease in abortion rates. Not so with McCain. This is why a lot of pro-lifers are now voting for Obama -- look around you.

Brad said...

Anon, I can't say that God prohibits government from helping the poor, but I know that he commands me to do it.

It's probably not worth the time to debate verse-for-verse in blog comments, but I can say that the majority of God's commands to the Jewish nation focused on justice and security. When God mentioned loving your neighbor and caring for the poor, his audience was not a government, his audience was individuals. When I operate as an individual, my focus is love, when I operate as a government (voting) my focus is justice and order.

Ron is right on with the morality of abortion. I would trade every comfort we are blessed with for a nation with moral principles.

Charlie said...

When God mentioned loving your neighbor and caring for the poor, his audience was not a government, his audience was individuals.

That's a shockingly bad argument. None of us now living were directly addressed as an audience in the Bible when God mentioned loving your neighbor. So does that mean we have a different function entirely? God may address audience x directly with a message, and that message could still be relevant to audience y.

In any case, it still doesn't follow from your premise that God would not want us to support a government policy that cares for the poor. Brad, you cannot seriously suggest that God wouldn't want Christians to do this if it helps people. That is CRAZY.

I don't get it. As a Christian your inclination should be to help people when you can. What's motivating hesitance you and so many other republican Christians display. Higher taxes? Less personal responsibility among some (but not all) of the poor? How are either of these considerations enough to outweigh one's duty as a follower of Christ to help people during suffering, given that you have the opportunity to do so? If supporting government policies could help perform that duty efficiently and widely and not bring about any worse evils, you honestly are prepared to say that God would NOT want us to support the policy because he's made some fine distinction specifying that the government is not to deliver love? Do you realize how insane that sounds?

Jer. 22:16 "Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy; then it was well. Is that not what it means to know Me?" declares the LORD.

Deut. 15:10. You shall give generously to [your poor brother], and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.

Prov. 19:17. He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.

Jer. 7:5-7. "For, if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever."

Is. 58:10. "And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."

Luke 14:12-14. "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Luke 12:44. "Sell your possessions and give alms; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Mt. 19:20ff. The young man said to Him, "All these commands I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

Brad said...

Charlie, I am not prepared to say that God opposes government helping the poor. He just never says that it is the role of government.

I am not advocating doing away with all government assistance. I am advocating that in a government setting, ethical laws (such as stealing, murder, abortion) are more important to God than social commands. Social commands are aimed at individuals.

By the way, if you apply your x to y relationships with every verse in the Bible, you can get it to say some pretty crazy stuff!

Blue Devil Knight said...

Err, my above comment on Obama's speech was meant for Victor's previous post on Obama's religion speech.

Anonymous said...

Let us say for the sake of argument that Obama's big government policies will reduce abortions since those who would get abortions for 'economic' reasons would be less inclined to do so. While this would be a great thing for all the children who's lives would be saved, I think in the long run it is a bad thing partly because it tacitly still proclaims that abortion is morally permissible.

So, what's wrong with doing both? In fact, aren't the facts pretty much forcing you to do both, if you want to be true to your convictions? You should be looking to vote for pro-life Democrats, as they are the only people in the political spectrum who are fighting the fight on both fronts.

Anonymous said...

Remember that the OT commands about government helping that poor was solely for Israel which was a theocracy. Our government is based upon different principles.

So you're saying that a democracy can't raise taxes to provide health care, even if most of the people want it to, but it can criminalize abortion, even if most of the people don't want it to?

I know of statistics (not that one should always trust these) that show that conservative people give more to charities than do liberals. If this is true, than it is liberals who should individually give more rather than easing their conscience by forcing everyone to pay more taxes so that the government can (probably ineffectively) help the poor.

Keep your eye on the ball. What's at issue here is not just charitable giving, but the kind of society that decreases the number of abortions. The kind that decreases abortions is the kind that has a broad social safety net that makes a pregnancy less of an economic crisis. The kind that will provide for pre-natal and post-natal care. the kind that mandates long-term, paid maternity leave. It's just unreasonable to expect that such initiatives could be provided in the amount necessary to drop the abortion rate by charitable giving.

At best, what your argument shows is that liberals serious about social justice should give more and that Conservatives who are serious about reducing abortions should be willing to pay more taxes for programs that have a proven effectiveness at accomplishing that goal.

You and Brad seem to be struggling with whether or not individuals should give charitably or whether they should vote for governments which will increase the safety net. Well, I have good news for both of you! There's no contradiction here! We can and should do both.

Mike Darus said...

I am looking for an excuse to vote for Obama. I especially like his vow to "reduce the number of abortions." However, the Democratic Platform does not read the same way: "Choice
19 The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's
20 right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any
21 and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
22
23 The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning
24 services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empowers people to
25 make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care
26 and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce
27 the need for abortions.
28
29 The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by
30 ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care,
31 parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs."

So do I believe Obama or the Platform?

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I am not prepared to say that God opposes government helping the poor. He just never says that it is the role of government.

Here's what I don't get. Even if that's true, at best what that it means is that we are free with regard to this decision. As citizens of a democracy, independently of our charitable giving and independently of our voting for leaders who will overturn Roe vs Wade, we can advocate for the creation of the kind society which has been proven to reduce the number of abortions.

Why wouldn't we do that? Because the Bible never expressly tells us to do this via government? The Bible never expressly tells us to do many good things that I'm sure God is nevertheless happy to see us doing.

And at the risk of repeating myself, I'll again point out that there is a blatant contradiction at the core of your position. On the one hand you want to say that we can't use government forces for the Christian goal of eliminating poverty, but on the other hand you want to use government forces for the Christian goal of eliminating abortion. Why can you use government for one and not the other?

Anonymous said...

mike darus,

It seems to me that Obama and the platform are saying exactly the same things. They want abortion kept legal, but they want to reduce the number of abortions by education, contraception, and social programs that make it easier for a woman facing an unintended pregnancy to chose life. Where's the discrepancy?

Brad said...

Why can you use government for one and not the other?

Anon, there is a vast difference between helping the poor and criminalizing murder.

Apparently I have to vote for one or the other (D or R). I will vote against murder because I can't personally judge someone for murder, but I can personally help someone who is poor.

Isn't Obama's platform another way of saying the end justifies the means?

Anonymous said...

To throw another monkey wrench at the Republicans here, I'll just mention this World Health organization study of abortion across the world:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/
articles/85456.php

(I wrapped the text to get the whole link in.)

It shows that the illegality of abortion does not reduce the abortion rate. In fact, it has no discernible effect on the abortion rate at all. Some countries where abortion is illegal have a higher abortion rate than countries where abortion is legal.

The study shows that what limits abortion is exactly the things in the Democratic Platform: education, access to contraception, paid maternity leave, and free access to pre and post-natal health care.

So in a charitable spirit, I humbly submit to you that if what you're actually interested in is saving the lives of the unborn, and not in making symbolic public moral statements about what is and isn't permissible, you should be a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

Anon, there is a vast difference between helping the poor and criminalizing murder.

Happily granted. But that's not the issue. The issue is, what's the relevant difference between using the government to eliminate poverty and using the government to eliminate abortion?

I don't grant that abortion is identical to murder, and as I've said in other threads, unless you advocate the death penalty for women who have had multiple abortions, neither do you.

Apparently I have to vote for one or the other (D or R).

It's not true that your only choices are voting for a Democrat or a Republican. You can vote for Republicans for President (since they will appoint Supreme Court Justices) and you can vote for Democrats for all other offices of the government (since they will be more likely to enact broad social programs). Or you can become a member of the Democrat for Life party by going to their website. Or you can petition your Republican Representatives to promote a broader social safety net. Or you can start your own political party.

I can't personally judge someone for murder, but I can personally help someone who is poor.

You may not be able to do anything about murder, but you can do something about the abortion rate. The kind of broad social programs that liberals favor has been shown to reduce abortions, while making abortion illegal has been shown to have no effect on the abortion rate. So in fact you can do something about both poverty and abortion. You can do something about both of them, at the same time, with the same act. You can vote for Democrats.

Anonymous said...

I will vote against murder because I can't personally judge someone for murder, but I can personally help someone who is poor.

I neglected to note that this response does not tell us why you think it is impermissible or inappropriate for governments to intervene on behalf of the poor. Even if you, as a voter, have to choose between the party that wants to criminalize abortion or the party that wants to reduce abortions through broad social programs, that doesn't mean the government can't or shouldn't do both.

So again, I'd like an argument from my Christian brothers as to why government should not create a broad social safety net.

Brad said...

I'd like an argument from my Christian brothers as to why government should not create a broad social safety net.

Here it is with no sugar on top... I am sure I will get responses that I am being unloving... that seems to be a easy comeback.

It depends on how you define "safety net." I believe there already is one in place. I don't hear of rampant starvation in America.

Laziness: is it a coincidence that the last couple generations have been the laziest in America's history. This seems to go hand-in-hand with not having to work for what you get. A safety net goes hand-in-hand with our economic moral hazard.

Ineffectiveness: you always hear of people "falling through the cracks." It is less likely that people would fall through the cracks if generosity was on a personal level.

God doesn't require that we balance out our wealth until everyone is equal. He asks us to take care of the poor and needy and to be good stewards with what we have (some more than others).

We should want to see a system that rewards people who are good stewards with what they are given. It's harder to waste your friend's money than the government's money.

Anonymous said...

It depends on how you define "safety net." I believe there already is one in place. I don't hear of rampant starvation in America.

By safety net, let's say a government with policies that will effectively reduce the abortion rate.

And there isn't starvation in America, but there is hunger, and it's mostly children that suffer from it.

Laziness: is it a coincidence that the last couple generations have been the laziest in America's history. This seems to go hand-in-hand with not having to work for what you get. A safety net goes hand-in-hand with our economic moral hazard.

I don't know how you measure laziness. Maybe you'll tell me. But let's grant for the sake of argument that federal aid to the poor increases laziness.

Point 1 - Wouldn't that argument also work in terms of private charity? If private charity is just as adequate, and fully capable of providing as much support as government programs, then aren't the risks of it promoting laziness the same? I know you'll say later in your response that it's harder to steal from your brother than your government, but any charitable system that is sufficient to replace government programs would have to be so large that it would no longer be personal. For example, during Katrina and other recent hurricanes, people had no moral problems with defrauding the Red Cross.

2. I don't think arguing about it will get us anywhere, but I'm dubious that the possible moral threat of laziness justifies one in doing nothing about the actual moral reality of the following: children who suffer through hunger several times a week, children who do not have health care, mothers pressured by stark economic realities to have abortions, etc.

Is laziness such a virulent moral threat that it justifies you doing nothing about all of the above? That's not something I want an answer from you on, necessarily. I'm just suggesting you think about it.

Ineffectiveness: you always hear of people "falling through the cracks." It is less likely that people would fall through the cracks if generosity was on a personal level.

I don't get that impression from the stats I've seen. What we do know is that charitable giving in the US at present is not sufficient to replace government programs at present levels, much less to expand them to the levels necessary to reduce abortions.

God doesn't require that we balance out our wealth until everyone is equal.

Nor do I. That's not what we're talking about here. I'm talking about a Western European style system. Incomes aren't equalized in Europe. In Europe, people who work hard are rewarded, and do much better than people who don't. There are still poor people in Europe, and there are rich people. There is a system that rewards work. But there is also a broad safety net which all but eliminates hunger, provides health care for everyone, including children, and gives women facing unexpected pregnancy enough resources to choose life.

So again, you and Ron seem pained over these choices, when actually there's no choice that needs to be made. We can have both a broad safety net and a system that rewards work and punishes laziness.

I'm not here to beat up on you, dude. I've certainly got a long way to go on a lot of these issues. If you weren't concerned about the well-being of all people, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Unfortunately, I have work to do and I can't keep up with these responses. It was nice talking to you.