He Said It…Well, So Do I…

Lee Irons thinks it doesn’t matter…

Though Irons seems to do what I call the (neo) Kuyperian-Kabuki dance as he eschews Modern forms of institutional and objective transformationalism and suggests the more relational and subjective Po-Mo version of it (“The best way to make a difference is to engage in personal evangelism, to get involved in real relationships with people, to pray that God would change people’s hearts, and to continue our efforts at offering counseling and adoption services. It’s ultimately a cultural issue, and the culture won’t be changed by legislation or by getting more conservative judges. I think the Lord is glad that the political sword is proving ineffective. Perhaps we’ll be more inclined to pick up that other sword we’ve locked away in the cabinet and allowed to get rusty — the sword of the Spirit.”), it is nevertheless good to hear someone like Irons get away from the painfully irrelevant and two-dimensional approach to his political duties in this small quarter of the KoM called America.

True, the Kabuki dance’s implication to dump wholesale the concern for laws and institution for pure personal relationalism is akin to telling the local magistrate to take the laws off the books and just rely on man’s efforts to better himself. (I don’t know about your sheriff, but I think mine would tell me to break the pill in half next time.) In other words, while I eschew modern forms of Christian transformationalism, that doesn’t mean sane and secular efforts to effect law should be ignored—so much for those who say I am antinomian. It’s just that there is a difference between looking to those efforts to effect a “heaven-on-earth” cultural utopia and soberly ordering society, a work in which one ought to be prepared for his own viewpoints to potentially lose the day and not be tempted to threaten his fellow citizens with divine sanction. Even so, Irons seems to at least grasp the principles of relevancy. Statements that “abortion is irrelevant” show the ability to be discerning enough to know that certain issues just aren’t a priority, even amongst those whose cultural and political conclusions have a vested interest in perpetuating an outdated and activist approach to voting.

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11 Responses to He Said It…Well, So Do I…

  1. greenbaggins says:

    I like your blog, and have linked to it from mine. Got here from R. Scott Clark’s Heidelblog. Always looking for more Reformed, confessional blogs. 🙂

  2. Rick says:

    Now the hits will be coming. A link from the HB to the Outhouse.

    Um, new folks, this is a team blog – even though Zrim has done most of the posting lately.

  3. Echo_ohcE says:

    Well you others must keep up.

  4. Rick says:

    We’re too busy commenting on Zrim’s posts – and I just have to post again before my last one gets pushed off the homepage.

  5. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    I couldn’t resist.

    You said: “Irons seems to at least grasp the principles of relevancy. Statements that “abortion is irrelevant” show the ability to be discerning enough to know that certain issues just aren’t a priority, even amongst those whose cultural and political conclusions have a vested interest in perpetuating an outdated and activist approach to voting.”

    I interpret: I think what you’re saying here is that abortion is a low priority, or rather should be seen as a low priority, or as irrelevant. I think that this is what Irons is saying, and you are applauding that. Irons is also saying that other issues, like nuclear proliferation and the war in Iraq are more important because overturning Roe vs. Wade wouldn’t really make a big difference in how many abortions would be performed, because individual states would be given the right to make this law for themselves, so blue states would make it legal, red states illegal. Women would go to a blue state to have an abortion, so it’s all quite pointless. I take it that you are applauding with reservations, including that personal evangelism is not the way to affect change. Nonetheless, you seem to agree whole heartedly on his analysis of the irrelevance of abortion.

    I respond: But wait a minute. Let’s say that Abortion is an issue of natural law. For Christians, of course, natural law is part of the law of God, to which we strive to be in conformity to, so our obedience is part of our religion. Nonetheless, you don’t need to be religious in order to recognize that abortion is murder, and that murder is morally wrong, and therefore should be illegal, as it tramples over the rights of the unborn babies, who are people too.

    All that to say, to make abortion illegal is not an act of worship, so voting for someone who is anti-abortion is not an act of cultic worship. However, we are called to pursue justice in the cultural sphere, aren’t we?

    According to natural law, shouldn’t it be a matter of course that we vote for the candidate who is the most…pro-justice?

    If a man was running for President, let’s say, and said that he doesn’t believe black people should have the same rights as white people – say they should be taxed more heavily or something – then we would not vote for such a man, even if we don’t really care if blacks pay more taxes. This is because the man has demonstrated that he has no understanding of justice, or that if he does understand justice, he’s not interested in pursuing it. If there were a heavier tax for black people, that would be a grave injustice. And whether we care about the individual black man’s wallet, we still care about justice in principle. So even the coldest and most callus among us should be able to say that a vote for such a man is foolish at best, anti-justice and thus anarchist at worst. (I’m not saying that black people should be taxed more, or that I wouldn’t care if they were. I would care. I’m just making an example that surely everyone but the most foolish can agree with.)

    Justice is simply upholding natural law. While all men may not actually be created equal (some of us, like me, are less intelligent than others, for example), nonetheless, all of us should be treated equally by the state. That’s justice. Justice for all.

    Note: what I’m not saying here is that everyone should get an equal pay or something like that. No, I’m a firm believer in capitalism, thank you very much, and I say that the state should treat everyone equally, giving them the same opportunities, treating them justly, consistently. They’re not out to make everyone’s quality of life the same, but to uphold peoples’ rights, like the right to life and property, freedom of speech and religion, etc.

    So I would ask you, what is the greatest injustice taking place in our country right now?

    Isn’t it abortion? Once upon a time, when I was in high school, I did a report on abortion. I have no idea what the statistics are like now, but at that time, over a million babies a year were being deprived of their lives.

    We think stealing is bad. That’s natural law. Common sense even. If someone breaks into my house and steals my stuff, I’ll call the police and they’ll try to catch him and punish him, as a deterrent to others who might be planning on doing some stealing themselves.

    If a candidate said that stealing was ok and not to be prosecuted, wouldn’t you question if the man or woman had any inkling as to what justice was? Wouldn’t you conclude that no one in their right mind would vote for such a person, since they have no interest in pursuing justice for all? Wouldn’t you think that a vote for this person would be a vote for anarchy and injustice?

    But which is the greater injustice, my TV being stolen, or some baby being robbed of his very life?

    Assuming the answer that anyone must give to this question is that the greater injustice is done to the child, how can we say on the one hand that we are all for pursuing justice in the civil/cultural realm, but on the other say that abortion is irrelevant?

    Whether a candidate can do anything about abortion (say he’s running for Mayor in your local town) is what is irrelevant. If someone is pro-abortion, they just don’t understand justice. How COULD it be just to rob people of their very lives while still in the womb?

    This is why when Irons says, somewhat like Eeyore on Winnie the Pooh, that even if Roe vs. Wade was overturned, states would be able to make laws about it, and half our states would legalize it, and the other half wouldn’t. And women who lived in the red states that prohibited it would simply travel to the next blue state to have an abortion done. It wouldn’t really affect the number of abortions.

    I’m sorry, but this is a really irresponsible thing to say, and it’s downright wrong. First, women wouldn’t travel as much as he supposes. These people don’t all have cars. Many are young women trying to hide a pregnancy from their parents. Sure some would travel, but most wouldn’t.

    Second, if it is true that half the states would still legalize it, then the thing to do is for the people in those states to overturn those laws. But at least SOME of the states were able to make it legal, and that will save babies’ LIVES!!! Surely it will save SOME lives? Won’t it? Do we SERIOUSLY not care about this?

    Abortion is MURDER. And anyone running for political office that doesn’t understand that or doesn’t care isn’t fit to administer justice, period.

    Now, someone may argue that many people don’t see abortion as murder. Of course they’re wrong, but given that they are wrong in this way, they’re not undermining justice, because they don’t think they are.

    Just in case this was anyone’s objection, I thought I’d raise it. This objection simply won’t work. My response is: such people have no business holding public office, because they are either very wicked people (with respect to NATURAL law) or very stupid or both.

    Think about it. Here’s who I don’t want in office administering justice: either the man who is too stupid to discern when a murder has taken place, or the man who is too wicked to disapprove of murder. Everyone who is pro-abortion falls into one of these camps. They aren’t fit to administer justice.

    Furthermore, what justice is, is not a matter of opinion. Justice is objective and solid. It is written on our hearts and is revealed in the creation, in general revelation. And yes, it’s also recorded in the Bible as well. Hammurabi also records it fairly nicely.

    Anyway, I don’t think anyone on this planet really believes that abortion isn’t taking away someone’s life from them. It’s quite simple. Abortion is a procedure. If the procedure is performed, the child will NOT have a life. If the procedure is not performed, the child WILL have a life. Therefore, the procedure takes away the life of the child in question, a life he has a right to. This is just simple logic. I don’t think any but the most irrational, even in the pro-abortion camp, could deny this.

    What’s incredibly troubling about the abortion issue is not that people don’t see this, but that they DO see it, and still contend that mothers have this right over their children! That’s the really appalling thing!

    And if people are deceived into no longer being consciously aware of this fact, that doesn’t excuse them. They are still condoning murder, and thus it is a grave injustice. “Justice is raped,” says Metallica.

    Abortion is therefore relevant to those of us who think that the role of the state is to provide for justice within that state. (Ahem, not in other states. Ahem.) These babies are being robbed of their very lives. What COULD be more unjust?

    A vote for a pro-abortion candidate is not a vote against Christianity, it’s a vote for anarchy. Well, come to think of it, that is a vote against Christianity, because anarchy is anti-Christian. Hmmm…

    But anyway, a vote for a pro-abortion candidate is a vote for injustice, for a candidate that is willing to cast justice aside for the sake of garnering votes, for the sake of gaining power, for the sake of being popular, for the sake of…

    Justice is raped every day in our country. Think about how you feel about what I just said. The image of rape probably puts the hairs on the back of your neck on end. It probably creeps you out. Just thinking about a woman being raped makes us uncomfortable. She is being robbed of her right to consent to sex, being forced to have sex with a man who is not her husband. Horrible, scary stuff.

    And yet when I talk about abortion, no one cares. It’s irrelevant. It doesn’t belong in the political arena – even though it’s “not a religious issue”, and therefore doesn’t belong in church. Where DOES it belong? Are we allowed to be anti-abortion anymore, or should we, in reaction to fundamentalist nonsense, declare that the new piety is to be apathetic to the legalized murder of babies for the sake of the convenience of not having to raise a child?

    According to what law, exactly, should we stop caring about abortion? According to natural law? According to the law of the church, our confession, our by-laws, our book of order, what? Where in natural law does it say that Christians should not care about murder? Where does it say that? That we should not confuse church and state does not mean to be apathetic about injustice!

    Should I just say, oh well, a couple thousand babies a day are being murdered because nobody cares anymore? And should I therefore say, oh well, I shouldn’t care either? Or maybe I should say that since fundamentalists and the Pope care about abortion, therefore I shouldn’t, lest I look like them? Or maybe I should just say that I don’t care what the state does at all? Am I not allowed to participate in the state anymore now that I’m a Christian? This is a tragedy that Irons would say this. A tragedy.

    If abortion isn’t a priority, what is? My pay stubs? Should my priority be who is going to end the war in Iraq? Should my priority be who is going to lower taxes? Or who will build up our defense budget, or who will save us from Al-Qaida, bringing us Osama Bin Ladin’s head on a silver platter? Or maybe I should care that nuclear technology is spreading to the world, and that someday some madman might be tempted to use nuclear weapons to blow up half the planet? Should I be more concerned about possibilities that might happen in the future rather than the reality that’s right under my nose?!

    Should my priority be more and better expressways, or gay marriage, or something else that’s more important than the fact that thousands of babies are being murdered everyday because young women are irresponsibly getting pregnant and they just don’t want to have the child? Since when is laziness a just excuse for murder? Who on earth could condone such a thing or stop caring about it?

    Should I care more about the war? No. More babies die from abortion in a week than died in Iraq last year. Think about that.

    Should I care more about taxes? Are you serious?

    Should I care more about Osama Bin Ladin? Yeah, that attack on the World Trade Center really did a number on our economy, and oh yeah, some people died, right? That’s the typical American understanding, isn’t it?

    But even if we have the proper perspective, and we care about the people who died, it’s about the same as ONE DAY’S worth of abortions in our country alone, not to mention the rest of the world. At least that was true 10 years ago, when almost 4,000 babies were being killed EVERY DAY. I don’t know what the statistics are today. But it can’t have decreased that much!

    And I refuse to put the budget of our country on a higher priority than the murder of babies – for the sake of convenience no less!

    Nothing actually comes even close on our priority list as upholders of justice. There is no other injustice that even compares. Abortion is like a big gaping chest wound in lady justice. She is mortally wounded in our country. She has been stabbed and raped, and no one cares.

    You know, I understand that this “abortion is irrelevant” business is reacting against the fundamentalists who think that if abortion is allowed to continue that God’s going to bring wildfires in Southern California, Earthquakes in the rest of the West Coast, Hurricanes on the East Coast, tornadoes in the MidWest, snow storms in the rockies, and war with Canada, who will take over and put Christians into concentration camps – I get that – but while they are misguided, they are right to recognize abortion as an important injustice taking place everyday.

    Pardon the pun, but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    Aren’t we, when we read about the Israelites sacrificing their children in the fire, deplored, disgusted, appalled, and need to turn away?

    What if there was some crazy cult group in Montana somewhere who had a big oven and were constantly throwing their children in the fires as some act of worship to some strange pagan deity? Wouldn’t we be sick? Wouldn’t we mourn, saying, how can this happen in this day and age and in this country? Wouldn’t we watch transfixed as the FBI stormed the compound on live TV, and wouldn’t we cheer like our team had scored a touchdown when they shot one of these crazy people, saving a child from being cast into the fire? Wouldn’t we pop popcorn and watch the siege and invite our friends over to watch and make a night out of it? And wouldn’t it be a topic of conversation at the water cooler at work for the next several weeks? And sitting in our lazy-boys, remote in hand, eyes wide and unblinking, wouldn’t we, gulp, CARE?

    Wouldn’t our hearts break as they showed pictures of the burned bodies of children, conveniently on the nightly news during the dinner hour in order to have the maximum impact? Wouldn’t we rage at the maniacal cult leader who claimed to be divine and consequently demanded the payment of the lives of these children? Wouldn’t people be calling for him to receive the death penalty, and wouldn’t we all secretly wish we had live hangings on TV so we could watch, popping popcorn and inviting friends over, drinking wine and ooh’ing and aah’ing over the whole spectacle, pretending to be deplored but secretly loving every minute of it?

    And yet this happens thousands of times a day at our local abortion clinic, and no one cares. It’s irrelevant they say.

    Would you like to know how justice is served? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

    Abortion should be a capital crime.

    Yes, you read that right, it’s not a typo. People who kill their children ought to be put to death. They ought to be executed.

    A life for a life.

    That’s Code of Hammurabi stuff. Oh sure, it’s in the Bible too.

    Gen. 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”

    And notice, that’s the common grace covenant with all mankind. That’s the mandate for the state in clear, stark brilliance. If you want to know the purpose for the state, there it is. (Yes, I’ve read Kingdom Prologue, and I know that this same mandate is found in abbreviated form in Gen 4.)

    Capital punishment is good. It is NATURAL law. This is only restated here in Gen 9. It was nothing new. This is common grace stuff. Capital punishment is one of the vehicles of common grace. Capital punishment is a means of common grace. It helps restrain outward evil behavior. God instituted the state to administer justice, just as he instituted the church to administer the gospel, the Word, the sacraments.

    When the state is no longer interested in upholding justice – IT CEASES TO BE A LEGITIMATE STATE.

    Just like when a church stops preaching the Word and administering the sacraments.

    How on earth can abortion be irrelevant? Is legal murder really irrelevant when we vote? Is it irrelevant whether or not a church preaches the Word? Of course not, that’s what makes a church a church. Punishing murder is what makes a state a state. It is fundamentally what a state IS.

    Natural Law demands justice. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Natural Law demands that murder be outlawed, and that violators are put to death by the state. That’s why states EXIST.

    Lady Justice is before you, naked and bleeding and dying. She has been raped and is in shock.

    Do you care?

    Oh look, I found a website with some abortion statistics on it, which says that world wide, 46 million babies are being killed a year. That’s more than were killed in WORLD WAR II. And people still think that was important to this day. 3,700 babies killed A DAY in our country alone.

    Are you SERIOUS? This doesn’t matter?

    http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html

  6. Echo_ohcE says:

    Here is a summary of what I said above:

    Abortion is murder, 3,700 a day in our country alone, 46 million a year world wide. The mandate of the state, according to natural law is that murderers should be put to death. The state that fails to uphold justice in this way ceases to be a legitimate state. To legalize murder is downright outrageous, and to legalize it for the convenience of women who aren’t ready to be mothers – well, that’s a downright abomination.

    To say that this is irrelevant is deplorable. Sorry fellas. I can’t compromise on this.

    To say I ought to be more concerned about Iraq or taxes or some other issue is a joke.

    This is an overreaction to fundamentalist nonsense, which I agree is nonsense and should be reacted to. But to declare abortion irrelevant…

    Well, it’s quite literally throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

  7. Zrim says:

    All,

    I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but just one qualification on St. Clark’s note on the HB about my MR Diary: it was actually in the July/August edition…don’t know why they didn’t link it there and instead put it in the general cache. Oh well.

    Echo,

    I don’t have much time at the moment. Though you have, in usual form, way overstated your views, sounds like you simply disagree. But your rhetoric is exactly what I find so bothersome. (I think before you have made reference to those women who take advantange of their reproductive rights are setting themselves up to be gods. Again…yeow.) It is this sort of thing that makes the public square as insane as it is, edging more sober discussions quite out.

    As one who has a conventionally conservative morality and politics (are you listening, John Kerry?) and considers his politics even more conservative than the current Administration, I would answer your question, “Do you care?” by saying, no. That’s the point of the post. But consider that a piece of figurative language, a turn of phrase, meant to make a point, so don’t take me literally. (It’s sort of like when I say, “I love NYC and wouldn’t change a thing” to Keller’s entreat to transform it.) I “don’t care.” That is what is meant when someone deems something irrelevant. While I care on some level, I don’t care at another. But I place more of a stake in state’s rights conversations, not the sexier micro-conversation of “may she or mayn’t she?” But, not many people are interested in that stodgy, boring conversation.

    I think in another comment you told me that as a Xian I “have to be against abortion.” Again, if we are caught up in the usual bad conversation that happens 98.6% of the time this issue comes up, etc., I am. But I don’t understand why I “have to be” simply because I am of faith. I mean, I had these views pre-conversion. And I don’t demand that other believers have my cultural views. Outhouse St. Stellman once said he thought our views “are obvious.” But what is so “obvious” if a large majority don’t have our cultural conclusions? What’s with the need to make such a broad claim on me on your part? What’s with the need to so denigrade the other side of the table on disputable matters, denying them the right to even exist? How can conversations progress when everyone is busy bullying each other in fear that their side just might lose the day?

    Again, much as it may sting to say it, I don’t think you have shaken off all of your Evangelicalism. Your need to make me like you (even though…it sounds like we share certain views when you get to certain specifics) by invoking the faith is what I deem Evangelical. I consider it spiritual bullying. I’d rather you demand that I have an intolerant Presbyterianism that dogged holds to cultic truth as expressed by the superior forms in Presbyterian and Reformed forms, etc.

    Zrim

  8. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    From your post you would think I didn’t appeal to natural law.

    E

  9. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    As in many forms of Evangelicalism, you exhibit a mixed stew of appeal to natural law as well as appealing to revelation. I see plenty of appeal to natural law in your post. Why you can’t stay there when taking up an issue in the public square is what bothers.

  10. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    I’m sorry what I said was over your head and therefore bothered you. Perhaps if you read it again that would help? Perhaps you would like to ask some questions about what I said? You clearly didn’t understand it, but I don’t know how to help you understand it.

    So I’m happy to take your questions to help you understand what I said. Ask away.

    E

  11. Pingback: More Than a Sum of Parts « The Confessional Outhouse

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