Tag Archives: Abortion

Ethics Course “180” Review

Many people have asked me why I am teaching a course on Ethics at the church.  The implication is that it is unnecessary in some way:

  • because people already know how to act
  • because our positions are already reasoned and settled
  • all we need to do is toe the company line

But just as with all other areas of teaching in the church, the body must listen carefully and ensure that the reasoning and conclusions that we hold to and act upon are truly correct (Biblical, rational, logical, consistent, Godly).  So we are holding a class at the church and one of the first things we did was view a provocative video put out by Ray Comfort.

It is not safe to assume that simply because someone has a forum, audience, or church that their declarations are sound.  I have never been content to simply tell people what to believe (even though my teaching has a proven record of reliability :-)), rather people need to be exposed to process, argumentation, and reasoning. We need to know how to think not simply be bullied into what to think.

As a preface to my critique of Ray Comfort’s video “180” let me assert a few things:

  1. I agree with the major premise of the video:  Abortion is a moral issue with grave consequences.
  2. I applaud his engagement with culture, his desire to challenge and change people with the gospel message.
  3. I believe he has good motives.
  4. I understand that the video is not a formal presentation of arguments for and against abortion.
  5. I was moved emotionally by the video and was hopeful that those in the video who said they had changed their minds were sincere and that the change was a real and lasting change.

Having said that, the video is flawed.  I would not use this video as a means of persuasion – either for the gospel or for a position on abortion.  Here are my problems:

Continue reading Ethics Course “180” Review

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Intro to Ethics – Wednesday Study

Play

(The video feed is raw, so the volume is spotty, I will edit and update the post, if you are reading this then suffer through an unedited mp3!)

On Wednesday nights at Olive Grove Church we are studying Ethics together.  Last night was an introductory night where we outlined some basic terms and categories then watched a modern presentation of a Christian moral perspective on Abortion by Ray Comfort called 180.  I use the video as a discussion starter on ethical methodology and communication.  I challenged our audience to view the video critically by asking three questions as they watched:  What is missing from the presentation?  What is wrong with the presentation?  Would you find it compelling if you were an opponent of the view proposed?

Here are the notes/handout

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Q & A: Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?

As a pastor I get lots of questions, here is one of the more interesting ones I have received lately:

Hi Pastor Steve, I have a question I’m hoping you can help me with. What, if any, is your church’s opinion on birth control pills? I’ve been on the pill since we got married and neither of us had any convictions against it, but Sunday we were listening to Mark Driscoll’s Religion Saves and there is a part where he talks about all the different birth control methods and what is ok for Christians. When he came to the pill he said that Mars Hill hired doctors (I think 5) to do a study and that they concluded that they cannot confidently say that the pill doesn’t cause abortions, nor can they say that it does. Because of this his family decided to be cautious and not use it, they also don’t recommend anyone in their church use it. He said they certainly don’t consider it a sin or something that would involve church discipline but they do strongly caution against it. This was all news to us, we certainly don’t want to be taking any chances if the pill does cause abortion so we are praying about it and seeking counsel. So that is why I wanted to ask you if NCC or yourself had a stance.

Thanks!

Here is my response:

NCC does not have a policy regarding birth control pills.

My understanding is that the primary way birth control pills work is that they prevent pregnancy mainly by stopping ovulation. That would mean that no eggs are being fertilized hence no abortion. There are other corollary effects of birth control pills that in cases where an egg is produced and fertilized these corollary effects make it difficult for the egg to implant in the wall of the uterus and as a result of that is “aborted”, or miscarried.

This is not a new discussion, it is odd to me that Mars Hill “hired’ doctors to do this study. Randy Alcorn wrote a book on this in 1997 called Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? The “issue” really has to do with the ability of the fertilized egg to implant with the existing conditions caused by the added hormones. You can find that information through a simple Google search, or looking in the Physicians Desk Reference.

If I were to write Randy Alcorn’s book I would title it: Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Miscarriages? (it wouldn’t sell as many books though) That seems to be the essence of the moral argument: what is the true nature of the effect that is described as “abortion” in this instance. Abortion seems to me to be a deliberate action after the fact, “I find that I am pregnant, I don’t want a child, I take steps to end the pregnancy” or a specific decision to use a device that has as its main function to work after fertilization (like the IUD or RU486).

But the main purpose and function of the pill is to prevent fertilization from occurring and as a side effect it makes it more difficult in the rare instance of breakthrough ovulation for the egg to implant – not impossible just more difficult. I would call this miscarriage not abortion. You are not doing anything in a moral sense to “abort” you simply are taking the risk in good faith that feritilization will not occur. So your decision it seems to me is are you willing to take a risk that a breakthrough ovulation might lead to miscarriage. I still think that is a decision to pray over, I just think it is inflammatory to speak of that as “abortion” as it doesn’t have the same moral qualities.

for what its worth…

Steve

For a much different perspective, here is a PDF link to Randy Alcorn’s book: Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?

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There is No Santa Claus, A Political Cautionary

(I wrote a post last week on Proposition 8 that I had intended to be part of a discussion on the place of the church in politics, not to make a political statement or endorse a position or proposition.  This is the same sort of post)

When our kids were little we read books to them.  All kinds of books about all kinds of things.  Many of those books were story books, works of fiction designed to captivate their imagination.  My wife is a Christmas fiend and our house is transformed into a Christmas display every Christmas.  The decorations used and the stories told were not only “religious” in nature, but we also used many non-religious, or not so blatantly religious symbols at Christmas, including the story and image of Santa Claus.

We never told our children that Santa Claus was “real”.  We always talked about the possible origin of the Santa Claus story, and we never perpetuated the idea that Santa was the one who brought presents on Christmas morning.  Now maybe that is because we have never lived in a home with a fireplace, but more to the point, we never got into the habit of teaching myth as truth.  We felt that was an important parenting philosophy, especially as it pertained to the teaching of our children the truths of the gospel.  We wanted to be a trustworthy source of information and truth, and we didn’t want to be seen from our children’s point of view as manipulative.  When it came time for them to grapple with the parts of the gospel that were “unique”, ie. miracles in the Bible, but more importantly, the resurrection, we didn’t want our children to have confusion about our trustworthiness as proclaimers of the message.  We believe the resurrection is actually true.  If we lied to our children about Santa Claus, maybe they would conclude that we were lying about the resurrection.

Now on a scale of 1-10, our passion about the Santa Claus issue was relatively low.  We didn’t browbeat our friends who played this silly game with their kids (we mocked them), but we did challenge them.  We had friends who taught their kids that Santa was real.  When they encountered our kids it was sometimes a problem and we would hear:  “Don’t ruin it for our kids, tell your kids not to tell them…”  Well, we never told our children to lie about it either, so there were some uncomfortable moments.

So, what does this have to do with the church and politics?

My impression of politics as a 30 year veteran of the voting process is this:  Political rhetoric is rarely straightforward.  I won’t go so far as to say that politicians are liars, but many of you would.  Do they always lie?  No.  Do they always communicate the truth in a straightforward manner?  No.

It is not a simple matter to understand politicians. Let’s be kind, they don’t always lie, but they most always “spin.”  However you describe it, political rhetoric always needs to be “interpreted” and I have a hard time taking their message at face value. Most of their claims need to be “verified.”  That is a non-partisan observation.  It goes both ways.

For example:  Obama says McCain wants to tax health care benefits (true) and it will amount to the largest tax increase in recent history (not so true when taken with McCain’s proposal to give an increased tax credit).  Palin says she oversaw 20% of the nations gas and oil reserves as the governor of Alaska (the figure is closer to 15% and her oversight needs to be clarified, what does that mean?).  This kind of political “fudging” is what we all have come to expect from politicians, there is a mitigated integrity to their language. (This is the point I was making in the earlier post as I pointed out the way the language in the video put out by AFA reflected politcal rhetoric and was therefore open to question).

This becomes a problem for everyone who joins the political process.  We regularly hear “new” candidates tacitly acknowledge the reality of my observation as they promise to be different.  Because of this churches and pastors cannot afford to “affiliate” with the process. It is inherently flawed, and taints the whole message:  if you lied to us about Santa Claus, can we really trust the rest of your message.  Our primary message is our most important message and cannot be subsumed under a political campaign no matter how “worthy.”  The church cannot afford to have “mitigated” integrity as stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I am not advocating a passive position.  Power and influence can be exerted in ways other than becoming a political action group, and we weaken our voice when we “align” with one party over another.  When we become partisan, we lose our “otherness” in the argument.  If the message of the church on abortion gets mixed up as a “Republican” position, it is watered down for many who do not align with “Republicans” and dismissed not on the merit of the position, rather it is dismissed as a political opinion that is open to discussion and disagreement. (A good case can be made that this has already occured and our challenge is now how do we redeem our message from the mire of political plankhood?)

Are we not interested in influencing Democrats? Independents?  Libertarians?  Homosexuals?  We should be and  we cannot if we are a “Republican” church.  All we can do is seek political power and hope legislation and judicial appointments go our way, and then enforce our way.  I for one, do not trust that system to be the vehicle for our message.  If you do, I want to know why…

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