Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Good Idea

I found this via an email from Culture Campaign. Say what you will about the Roman Catholic Church, but they do tend to stand firmly behind their beliefs. That's something that the rest of Christendom could emulate. It's true that they have their liberal factions, and apparently more Catholics voted for Obama than didn't. But when it comes to those things that define what it means to be a Roman Catholic, the heirarchy doesn't bend. I like that.

Here, we read that the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, led by Chicago's Cardinal George, have re-iterated their support for the unborn and have done so in the strictest of terms. Again, I find it gratifying that there are some that are committed to good as they see it without worldly influences dictating their direction. Read Cardinal George's statement here.

The issue of abortion is often described as a "wedge" issue. I've even heard Newt Gingrich use the term, though which issues he considers "wedgie", I'm not entirely sure. It goes without saying that for me, and many, many others, human life cannot be considered a "wedge" issue. I was set to look for a third party when it was said that McCain was considering a pro-abortion VP. I'm glad I didn't have to make that choice. Anyone who believes abortion is a wedge issue needs to have their moral compass checked for defects.


Democracy Lover said...

The Roman Catholic Church also opposes the death penalty. Also "The most consistent and frequent promoter of peace and human rights for the last two decades has been Pope John Paul II.

From Iraqi War I to Iraqi War II, he has echoed the voice of Paul VI, crying out before the United Nations in 1965: War No More, War Never Again!

John Paul II stated before the 2003 war that this [Iraq] war would be a defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified."

I don't hear you applauding these positions. The Roman Catholic Church does have a relatively consistent ethic of respect for life, unlike their fundamentalist Protestant coreligionists.

A wedge issue (Wikipedia) is "a social or political issue, often of a divisive or otherwise controversial nature, which splits apart or creates a "wedge" in the support base of one political group." Abortion is such an issue regardless of one's position on the subject.

Marshall Art said...

I don't applaud those positions if they mean that war for self-defense or to depose a ruthless dictator is part of the deal. And as much as I admired JP II, he's totally wrong to say that this Iraq war isn't morally justified. He's entitled to be wrong now and again. And now we see, as the surge has sped up the finish of this conflict, that the result should be a good one for all involved, not the least of whom is the Iraqi people and others in the region.

I totally understand the definition of a "wedge" issue. What I don't understand is that there are so many people who choose to deny the facts regarding abortion, or more to the point, human life and human development, that they'd take the pathetically selfish and sorry position that abortion should in any way be considered a "right".

Marshall Art said...

Oh, and as far as the RCC opposing the death penalty, capital punishment has definite Biblical support. I don't have any trouble with people who wish to forgive the murderer(s) of their own family members, but the state shows how much it values human life that it would place that penalty upon those who illegally take the life of another. It it the state's duty to so honor life in that manner.

Dan Trabue said...

capital punishment has definite Biblical support

So do open borders, good treatment of foreigners, NO concept of the idea of "illegal immigrants," kidnapping the women of the nation you have defeated and taking them as your wives (after killing all the other men, women and children), stoning to death disrespectful children, slavery, etc, etc, etc.

There are many ideas which have SOME biblical support if you cherry pick the verses.

Marshall Art said...


I can't believe you're still trying to run that nonsense. Please don't do it here. There's no "cherry picking" involved as far as capital punishment is concerned. Your goofy arguments using treating foreigners well (which we do when they enter according to our laws---laws not in existence in ancient Israel) and how to deal with captives after battles (a command specific to a specific people at a specific time) are only good at fooling those not at all studied in Scripture. In that it's like lying.

Dan Trabue said...

No, Marshall, those well-versed in scripture are well-aware that there are many old testament and some new testament writings that clearly are teachings that are not universal in nature.

My legitimate point is: Just because you can find a place in the Bible that supports your view on an issue (the death penalty, for instance, or slavery or treating women as chattel, etc) does not make it a solid biblical teaching.

Just as one can point to a very few OT verses that endorse a death penalty (for disrespectful children, for instance, or women who have been raped without crying out, perhaps), one can also point to slavery instances in the Bible or other teachings that are clearly not Godly or pertinent today.

CLEARLY, the OT Israelis did not have jails. Therefore, one could make the case that WE ought not have jails, but rather we ought to kill off the disrespectful children and murderers and raped women and we won't need a jail, right?

That's a bad argument.

One MIGHT make the case that there is SOME biblical support for capital punishment and be reasonable. But when one claims that there is "definite Biblical support" for it - ignoring other passages or different circumstances that might argue against it - then one sounds less than reasonable.

For instance, how do you KNOW that the commands to kill the men, women and boys - but save the girl children to make them your wives - of a conquered people is "a command specific to a specific people at a specific time," BUT the command to institute the death penalty is NOT "a command specific to a specific people at a specific time"? Where in the Bible does it say that one OT teaching is universal and one is place and time-specific?

Democracy Lover said...

Marshall, support of a woman's right to choose is not a denial of "facts" about abortion, it is a different reaction to the situation. Calling those who support choice "pathetically selfish and sorry" is not an argument. I'm sure there are many pro-choice folks who have some choice adjectives for the anti-choice activists as well.

I think Dan is doing a great job of handling your argument about the death penalty being biblical. In this case as in others, the pre-conceived idea that the bible is literally true and therefore internally consistent is getting in the way of understanding its message.

Marshall Art said...

"Marshall, support of a woman's right to choose is not a denial of "facts" about abortion..."

Of course it is, DL. The facts are that life begins at conception. Every person you've ever met has been the very same person they now are from the time daddy's pollywog forced its way into mommy's egg. There is no science or biology that sees it any other way. The arguments for abortion ultimately put the whim of one person (and perhaps that person's sperm donor) over the life of another person who was invited into existence by the actions of the parents. There's no honest argument that defends the practice whatsoever that doesn't involve the life of the mother. It's all about convenience. It's pathetic, and it's "pathetically selfish and sorry". So that was descriptive of the pro-death argument, not an argument in itself.

And if you think Dan is doing a great job rebutting my argument, then I've been giving you far more credit than you've deserved. His arguments are lame, as you'll see.

Marshall Art said...

Yes, Dan, those well-versed in scripture are well-aware of when a piece of Scripture is still applicable (universal) and when they aren't.

My legitimate point is this: There is definite Biblical support for the capital punishment that is not contradicted elsewhere. From Genesis 9 "And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."

Yet there is no legitimate support for slavery or treating women like chattel. What there is instead is people like you who like to use the thinnest of arguments using totally out of context pieces of Scripture in order to support a liberal, anti-capitalist, pacifist attitude that you expect people to take seriously. Once again, that stuff might work in debates against the Biblically ignorant, or the easily fooled, but not by rational thinkers.

"For instance, how do you KNOW that the commands to kill the men, women and boys...etc"

Because I'm not an idiot and can plainly understand that which is not a mystery to anyone with a reasonable IQ. Those from the Clinton school of "IS" might have difficulty with the obvious. I don't play those games.

Dan Trabue said...

In other words, you are making it up as you go along.

"THIS verse is CLEARLY universal, but THAT verse is CLEARLY cultural." says Marshall.

If you appoint yourself god and the one true arbiter of what is right and good, I reckon you're right.

Dan Trabue said...

The problem with your reasoning, Marshall, is this (at least as I understand it - please correct me if I'm wrong):

1. The Bible says in some place "Action X is Good."

2. The Bible never directly rejects Action X as good.

3. Therefore, Action X is Good AND those who suugest Action X might NOT be good are ungodly, immoral idiots who can't reason their way out of a paper sack!

The problem with this approach is that slavery, women-as-chattel and killing children ALL become moral goods right along with capitol punishment.

No, sometimes, we must look at the spirit of the teachings of the Bible. CLEARLY, for most moral agents, it is always a moral wrong to kill children. CLEARLY, it is always wrong to enslave people. CLEARLY, it is wrong to treat women or minorities or any Others as chattel.

No, the Bible never comes out and says such things directly in so many words, but these are clearly evident to most of us, you included, Marshall. Just because an action is endorsed as a Good at some point in the Bible and is never contradicted, does not mean it is a moral good. It is WRONG to kill children for being disrespectful - even if the Bible endorses such capitol punishment.

You want to argue otherwise? I don't think so.

Marshall Art said...


First of all, I never said that killing children, slavery or treating women poorly is either right or wrong, either Biblically or otherwise. What I said was that what you used as examples of what some might claim as Biblically supported cannot be justified.

Secondly, you mix things that have been addressed in different ways. The idea of putting to death one's misbehaviing children has been answered in one of my first posts that describe which OT concepts are still applicable, which are not and why.

Thirdly, there is no direct Biblical support for slavery as there is for capital punishment. Ignoring the fact that slavery in the Bible was not the same as slavery in early America, there are only mandates as how slaves and masters should interact as Christians. In other words, as slavery was a taken-for-granted way of life, there is only reference to how one should act within the concept, but nothing addressing the concept itself, just as there was OT teachings about how to deal with the taking of hostages/slaves after battle, rather than the taking of hostages/slaves itself. That's not the same as supporting the concept.

Dan Trabue said...

one of my first posts that describe which OT concepts are still applicable, which are not and why.

Where might this be found?

I'll hop back to your first posts and see if I can find it.

Dan Trabue said...

Can't find anywhere where you discussed your criteria for what are and aren't universal OT teachings. Any help?

As to the Bible and slavery, I offer the following excerpt from a pro-slavery treatise written in 1850:

Abraham, the chosen servant of God, had his bond servants, whose condition was similar to, or worse than, that of our slaves. He considered them as his property, to be bought and sold as any other property which he owned. In Genesis xvii, 13, 23, 27, we are told that God commanded Abraham to circumcise all his bond-servants, "bought with his money," and that Abraham obeyed God’s commandment on this same day.

In Genesis xx, 14, we are told that Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and men servants and women servants, and gave them to Abraham. In chapter xii, verse 14, we are told that Abraham possessed sheep and oxen, and he asses, and men servants and maid servants, and she asses, and camels.

Also, in Genesis xxvi, 14, Isaac is said to have had possessions of flocks and herds, and a great store of servants. In other places in Genesis, they are spoken of, but always as property...

It existed in every country known, even by name, to any one of the sacred writers, at the time of his writing; yet none of them condemns it in the slightest degree. Would this have been the case had it been wrong in itself? would not some one o the host of sacred writers have spoken of this alleged crime, in such terms as to show, in a manner not to be misunderstood, that God wished all men to be equal?


Your argument for capitol punishment sounds pretty similar to this argument, at least to me: Finding an instance of a situation in the Bible and inferring its moral aptness for today.

Still, I'd love to read your defense of your biblical criteria for when a biblical injunction or story is and isn't universal.

Marshall Art said...


Try my very first post.

Marshall Art said...


Your reprinting of the 1850 piece is irrelevant. I don't deny that people use Scripture in any number of corrupt ways. My point is that they can't truthfully support their misinterpretation. Thus, the piece from Gen 9 is definitive. Your 1850's piece is not. To say that the Bible supports or mandates slavery is just plain wrong. All one can say about slavery is that the Bible doesn't take an opinion one way or another, but that if one is to have slaves, or if one is a slave, there is a "right way and wrong way" for both.

But to bring up the 1850's piece does get me to the real question of what YOU believe about the Bible. Is it telling us to slaughter entire villages or cities? Does God mandate that WE take slaves? It's one thing to say the some might think so, but I certainly don't. Do you? If not, it's pointless for this discussion, and most, to even bring up these verses.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

The term "wedge issue" was developed by Republican political strategists to describe certain issues that would be volatile enough to drive a wedge between certain constituent groups and their usual political preferences. The reliance upon social and cultural issues - whether it's abortion, school prayer, gay marriage, or pornography and issues surrounding human sexuality in general - were deliberately selected by Republicans in the early 1970's to drive a wedge between working-class whites and rural constituencies and the Democratic Party. The tactic succeeded for years, even though the Republican Party showed a certain lack of any serious desire to actually do anything about these "problems".

That is why they are called "wedge issues". They were christened such by the people who invented them. With the exception of the bleeding cancer of race, social and cultural issues have largely been absent from American politics for most of its history, excepting the expansion of the franchise during the first thirty years of the 19th century, then women's suffrage.

The discovery that certain segments of the population were turned off some elements of the Democratic Party over matters of style - an acceptance of minorities, an acceptance of modern trends in the popular arts, a tolerance of and even acceptance of sexual behaviors not so much non-existent but previously considered morally vicious - served the Republicans well for a long time. Now, as times have changed, the usefulness of wedge issues has decreased, to the point where this past Presidential election cycle not a peep was heard from either Sen. McCain or Gov. Palin on the topics of abortion, legally enforced Christian prayers in public schools, illegal immigration, or what George Will continues to call the coarsening of our culture (whatever that may actually mean).

A heightened awareness that the principle function of government is not to be the arbiter of moral ideals, or the enforcer of an arbitrary code of behavior, but rather to provide for domestic tranquility and the common defense, and the understanding that the past eight years have provided neither were the impetus for a rejection of Pres. Bush by the voters, and even by Sen. McCain.

I know that these issues will remain important for certain segments of the population. That they aren't for most people, however, was demonstrated by their absence this past year or so in the primaries and general election cycles.

Marshall Art said...

Thanks for the waste of time, Geoffrey. Apparently, like Biblical prohibitions against homosexual behavior, you need to be told more than once that I'm well aware of what a wedge issue is. The little history lesson doesn't make any more clear what was already crystal. It does, however, beg the question of why such issues were introduced in the first place. I think it's pretty obvious that those were not problems for most of our history. Abortion, homsexual behavior, pornography, sexual promiscuity, were all considered immoral and there was little debate on the point. As liberal rationalizations came into play regarding these issues, they became a more prominent aspect of our culture, much to the dismay of moral people. Thus, as with religious freedoms needing protections today, it became necessary to separate such immorality from those wishing to maintain decency and traditional values.

At present, however, more pressing issues have pushed these "wedges" to the back burner. National security, the economy, border control, and of course, SCOTUS appointments loom much larger as dangerous threats to the nation. However, some of these issues, such as the rights and personhood and value of the unborn, parallel exactly the issue of the rights, personhood and value of the black slave earlier in our history. And the ramifications of lax morals in the area of human sexuality is without question and a definite threat as well.

But as all things take their place, a long list of concerns by the conservative faction of our country adjusts as the concerns rise or fall in intensity. Islamic radicalism still warrants attention, despite our success in Iraq, and the state of our economy has also risen to prominence as a concern for most in the land. Still, it's not as if other concerns are removed from the list. They are only rearranged, and their importance isn't a reflection of the current arrangement. That is to say, being number four on the list doesn't mean it isn't still close to number one in the minds of moral people.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

They were introduced for one reason - for Republicans to win elections.

Why the hell do you think Republicans haven't done anything about them, with the single exception of gay marriage? If action were taken, they would disappear as issues to be leveraged for electoral victory!

As far as "being schooled" by you in anything, it's more in the "bad example" type of schooling. Bad writing, bad thought, bad ways to argue.

Anonymous said...

Whether someone uses abortion as a wedge issue or not, the real question is whether it is immoral. Since it destroys innocent human life (a scientific fact), we can conclude that it is immoral. Good for the Catholics for standing up against it.

If they protest the death penalty because they think it is unfairly applied, then I respect their position. If they think it is un-biblical in principle then they are grossly mistaken.

Even if it is the latter and even if they were successful in eliminating the death penalty, the consequence of keeping one guilty murderer in jail per week instead of executing him is a small price to pay for putting a dent in the 20,000 abortions per week in the U.S.

Marshall Art said...

"They were introduced for one reason - for Republicans to win elections."

Or, they've helped Republicans win elections because they reflect the opinions of other Americans. Perhaps you're suggesting that Democrats do not think in terms of what they can do or use to get elected? Both sides support or oppose issues and aim to win elections in order to address those issues (or so they say). It's laughable in the extreme to suggest that somehow only Republicans "use" issues to win elections as opposed to seek the win to effect beneficial change. If there's any side that "uses" issues to gain power, one needn't go farther than the nearest Democrat to know which is which, especially since they have a habit of softening their leftist positions in order to win.

Jim said...

"Since it destroys innocent human life (a scientific fact)..."

The "innocence" of a fetus has been proved by scientists? Really? Can you cite the proof?

blamin said...

So it’s come to this. The old “how can you support capital punishment and be against abortion” question.

I see this as yet another way to obfuscate. Pro-lifers have made clear their position on this issue.

Besides the obvious abomination of abortion, the whole issue goes to our culture. How can any sane person look their chosen maker in the eye and support abortion on demand? Choice?!

It’s the zeitgeist of our time. Is this how we want to be remembered?

Marshall Art said...

"The "innocence" of a fetus has been proved by scientists?"

Now you're just being goofy (and doing so quite well). Obviously, grade school instruction in sentence structure provides the point of the statement. Common sense provides the understanding of why that human life destroyed by abortion is innocent.

Anonymous said...

Good answer, Marshall. I try to just deal with arguments and not guess at motives, but comments like the one about innocence (or repetitive ones about capital punishment inconsistencies) are just smokescreens.