Unborn Lives Matter

Michael Metzger

The nomination hearings for Amy Comey Barrett will revolve around only one issue. Abortion. There are reasons why this is happening.

On Saturday President Trump nominated Amy Comey Barrett to fill the vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Senate hearings will however be pure theater. Abortion supporters will try to derail Barrett’s confirmation if possible.

This singular focus is due partly to our Enlightenment culture and scarred conscience. Let’s first talk about the Enlightenment. Descartes gave voice to it. “I think, therefore I am.” Enlightenment thinkers felt that in the past too much authority had been vested in authorities. Rational individuals decide for themselves matters big and small.

Matters such as unborn lives. In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Court reflected Enlightenment thinking. It ruled that when the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus regarding the beginning of life, “the judiciary is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

No consensus exists because the center no longer holds. In their original design, the university’s disciplines of medicine and philosophy revolved around theology. Knowledge cohered, providing a coherent consensus on issues. Enlightenment thinkers relegated theology to an outer orbit, so disciplines are no longer able to arrive at any consensus.

The result is incoherent Court decisions. Take Roe v. Wade. The ruling essentially says we can’t speculate on when life begins, so go ahead and abort. Hunters find this incoherent. Their maxim: If something moves in the woods, but you’re not sure what it is, don’t shoot.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) is even more incoherent. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Astonishing – until we remember that Descartes believed the individual is the final authority on life’s big questions.

Our incoherence reminds us a nation cannot scar its collective conscience without suffering grave consequences. Since 1973, 50 million babies have been aborted. God forms human life in the womb, so this is 50 million unborn lives murdered.

Pro-abortion people don’t like hearing the word murder. But it must be said. Breaking God’s laws (“Thou shalt not murder”) corrodes our conscience, that tender God-given capacity in every individual that either accuses us when we are doing wrong or defends us when we are doing right (Rom.2:15). A corroded conscience flips the switch. It defends us when we do wrong and makes others the problem.

Watch this play out in the nomination hearings. Barrett is a thoughtful, ardent Catholic. Abortion supporters will try to depict as a religious fanatic. Not the first time in history that this has happened. The English Slave Trade was a murderous business. William Wilberforce worked to abolish it. He was often depicted as a religious fanatic.

He wasn’t of course. Wilberforce was simply pointing out where Britain was going wrong. Sir James Mackintosh noted this in his tribute to Wilberforce: “I never knew a man who did more to evoke the conscience of the British people.”

Regardless of how the hearings play out, I pray that the conscience of the American people might be evoked to recognize that all lives matter, including those of the unborn.

 

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10 thoughts on “Unborn Lives Matter”

  1. Mike, Thank you for these words, in your opinion what is a course to fostering a reintegration of medicine, philosophy and theology and deconstructing the idea that freedom equals individual autonomy?

  2. Michael Metzger

    Joey: I’d start with John Henry Newman’s “The Idea of a University.” I’d use that (and several other good books on the subject) to build a plan that takes into account how reintegration is a decades-long project, if not a century. We have to rebuild cultural capital in order for our ideas of what defines a university to be taken seriously and acted upon by cultural gatekeepers in the educational world.

    As for deconstructing the idea that freedom equals individual autonomy, we have to recall the four types of individualism that have impacted America. One of the better books on this subject is Robert Bellah’s “Habits of The Heart.” He characterized the American version of evangelicalism as “expressive individualism,” the most recent form of the four individualisms. It equates freedom with individual autonomy.

    In other words, judgment begins with the household of God.

  3. Karen and I agree with your sentiments and thoughts, Mike. This is such an important topic yet ,other than Faith that good triumphs over evil, seems nearly hopeless to get people to stop aborting babies.

  4. Michael Metzger

    George: While I agree that solutions seem daunting, it’s not necessarily as hopeless as you feel it is. History shows a collaborative effort of leaders with various forms of capital (i.e. social, cultural, financial, political, religious, artistic) can change the world. Read “The Metaphysical Club” by Louis Menand. This collaborative effort of leaders with various forms of capital changed the world in the 1800s. They divided the world between facts and (what they deprecatingly called) “values,” (a Neitchzean term). Facts became the domain of truth, propositions, and science. Values became the domain of “tastes,” preferences, and religion.

    Tolerance in matters of taste became the highest virtue.

    This led to the founding of America’s first graduate institution, Johns Hopkins University in 1876. Welcome to the modern university.

    I humbly suggest that you and Karen likely have at least one type of capital that could be invested in a collaborative effort of leaders with various forms of capital that could change the world. I must however add that a McKinsey report in 2014 notes that the social sector is “deficient in collaboration.” Translated, collaboration like the kind I’m describing rarely happens in evangelical American Christianity.

    Why don’t you and Karen break the mold?

  5. Right on! The most important moral issue of our time since abolition. Yet pro life Christians vote for a pro-choice presidential candidates. That is far more troubling to me than non Christians opposing a pro life appointee for the supreme court. That is to be expected.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to reintegrate the disciplines! (Hey, that’s what I call the ministry…), Yes, the disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology have been dis-integrated. But the question arises, one that is up and beyond the issue of individualism that you correctly raise in this piece:
    How do we reintegrate these disciplines without giving privilege to CHRISTIAN theology? Nobody will allow that (unless it is a Christian university). We live in a much more pluralistic society than when universities began. We now allow different philosophies (Nihilism, Existentialism, Stoicism, Hedonism, Rationalism, Relativism, etc.)an. We may even allow different medicines (scientific medicine and osteopathy are both now being usurped by alternative medicine). How can we not also expect an open place for all the various theologies (all the various interpretations of Christian Scriptures, but also Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, etc.)?

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