Have you considered your methodology for which side of a line you stand on?
Over the past several months I’ve been dwelling regularly on a particular sentiment that has continuously been arising within my thoughts and feelings. While it’s still not fully articulated, I think it’s important to show the process that goes into refining the manner in which we think and consider our feelings. Feelings are helpful and healthy, when tempered by self-control, and should always be present within the thoughtfulness of our minds but subject to considered rule as well.
This particular topic is about discovering and considering where the lines in the sand are drawn. What is the actual teetering point of some of the most polarizing discussions we face today?
Oftentimes we seem to be under the impression that what we’re debating against is only the figure that we have constructed of an opposing position or the emotional ramifications we believe a particular position yield. While that makes sense, if and only if, the emotional results we are outraged by are properly tempered with self-controlled evaluation of the argument presented to us. To simply be outraged about the results with no comprehension of the means by which the result is reached, is an ignorant and meaningless conclusion.
The term “strawman” doesn’t really even do it justice. You aren’t even “straw-manning” the position (misrepresenting an argumentative position), but rather you are simply assuming some set of conclusions and being outraged by them. But if you don’t understand how and why that conclusion you’ve drawn is even accessible by your “opponent’s argument” because you don’t understand the argument, or “the battle lines” of the argument, your conclusion, and therefore issues with the argument, are vacuous.
It’s unfortunate that simpler arguments with less baggage aren’t good enough representations of this concept, but I’ve never been one to be highly concerned with people being unhappy with the truth. That’s sort of “par for the course”, in my opinion. The truth is oppressive to those that reject it. And to those that embrace it, there can be no greater freedom. We’re all oppressed by the reality that IS. That’s inescapable. Thankfully we all get to choose what “oppresses” us: reality or the fiction we construct and claim to be “reality”.
So the topic that has been highlighting this specific “battle line” is one that is both the beaten, dead horse, but also probably the greatest issue facing our modern society: abortion.
Now, if that made you roll your eyes, harden your heart, wish you were asleep, or some other negative emotion, please just hear me out. I’m NOT here to make a case for the concept one way or another. I’m only here to highlight the lines in the sand that are actually drawn in the debate, and to show a methodology to thinking about these kinds of issues when the lines are presented.
So, here is the pro-life’s fullest argument. To be fair, the term has baggage, but we need it to a degree. So let’s make it clear that this is the minimum acceptable position, and there are degrees with which this debate can become nuanced. But the following statement truly is the “battle line” in the debate.
Abortion is murder.
Let that sink in for just a second. Seriously.
Don’t follow some logical pathway to try to reach a conclusion right after reading it. Read it. Read it again. Read it again and again. The position is: abortion is murder.
Do not draw conclusions about the implications. Do not try to instantly defeat the argument. Just listen to the claim. Listen to the line drawn in the sand. Listen to the gauntlet that is thrown first so that you can listen and consider the discussion with wisdom and discernment. There are millions of people that believe there is good evidence to believe that the battle line is as powerful as declaring abortion is murder.
Wherever you land on the debate, remember that you are arguing that “it is NOT murder” when engaging with opposition. Not that it’s beneficial in certain circumstances. Not that it’s a right for women. Not that it’s a medical right. Not that it’s a woman’s choice. Not that it’s not a religious matter. Don’t let any of that baggage in. We all fundamentally know “it’s a woman’s right to murder her child” is not an argument that is valid. If you do any of that, you’re straw-manning the argument that you are competing against. The reality is, you are arguing against an accusation that it is murder, and by extension, the declaration that it is not murder.
Consider, deeply for a second, how you would like to approach these kinds of conversations and decisions. Please, I beg you to be serious when thinking about this. The “right”, as some would call it, to get an abortion is a declaration that “it’s a right, AND it’s not murder.” No one would say, “It’s a right to murder.” I don’t think many would take up that charge, although I know some would. But that is the reality you are confronting on the discussion. “I have the right to an abortion, and I do not believe it’s murder.”
When someone presents that to you, if you have one iota of doubt on the matter, is it not more reasonable to say, “if the line is ‘murder’, I should be conservative until absolutely positive”? I believe this is the pinnacle argument, and the most important moral dilemma of the time. We know at conception a new life has begun to form, we know it’s human, we know who the mother is and that a father was involved, and we know that barring the horrible reality of life that is death, disease, and imperfection, it will turn into a human being. A boy or girl, at minimum, made in the image of their parents, and will grow up to think, feel, talk, learn, love, hurt, and the whole gamut of experiences. Those are facts.
What does it mean to “cause to cease the life of a human being unjustly”? Murder. We all know this to be the case. We all can easily see that this is the battle line. It’s been made more than obvious over the years. But in the droning debate, it has lost some of its punch. We have gotten more comfortable debating the conclusions, religious connections, and impacts of the result of the argument rather than the actual means and facts that make the conclusion even possible.
Make no mistake: a position of pro-choice is a denial that it is murder (or careless acceptance despite the fact), and if you are not positive about the evidence on the issue, isn’t a conservative position the wiser to stand on?
What I think is so bizarre is that it is no longer commonplace to assume the conservative position on something, but rather to assume the position of…”freedom”? I struggle to use that word, but I know that’s more how people would view it.
Conservative values, history, social connections, family, “the ties that bind”, are all inherited. Not all of them are good, but we should absolutely and deeply consider what we are uprooting before we tear things away from our history and future. Be introspective, ask hard questions, but truly understand the nature of what you’re arguing against and evaluating before coming to a conclusion. Otherwise you may be uncertain about things like this, but deciding to hold the position of “not murder” despite being unsure seems very unwise. If you are wrong on this, or decide later you were wrong, 65 million babies were murdered since Roe V Wade, and there’s no taking it back. Their blood is on our hands. We are accountable for them. We must fight for their lives. We owe it to the land, our children, our society, and the future to defend the battle line.
Life is sacred because we are made in the image of The Living God. He ascribes to us our values, and has given us the blessing of being parents. When we scorn our gifts, resent our blessings, and view grace and mercy as oppression and evil, we create a seed within ourselves that will consume us wholly from the inside. When you lose the ability to even comprehend or defend life as your default position, not one ounce of your morality will be saved within you unless by the absolute grace of God. We are jars of clay, marring ourselves at every turn, storing within ourselves wrath unimaginable.
Evaluate the lines in the sand that you face.
Are you pro-choice? Evaluate what it means to reject “abortion is murder”, and the implications of error if you’re wrong.
Are you Protestant? Evaluate the claim of Catholicism. If we are truly in rebellion to the “true church” of Christ, we should look for absolute certainty to the best of our ability.
Are you Catholic? Ask yourself what it means to bow to a man claiming to sit on the throne of Christ on earth. To call a man father, to turn to Mary in the hour of death and entrust your soul to her.
Are you bearing fruit? Ask yourself if you are a tree bearing good fruit, or a tree simply biding its time before being tossed into the furnace.