Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Do's and Don'ts

An excellent Blog has come to my attention by merit of the Blogger's comments here. I commend to you The Chairman's Corner. Thanks for the Memory to the Chairman for sharing an excellent editorial written by Charles Colson for Breakpoint, Moral Equivalency: The Religious Left Gets It Wrong.

Colson addresses the Sanctity of Life Vs. Social Justice argument. To explain this argument, Colson makes reference to Jim Wallis, editor of the left-leaning Christian magazine Sojourners:

Wallis’s favorite argument, as reported in the Times and elsewhere, is that the Bible makes more than three thousand references to poverty—far more than abortion or homosexuality—and yet religious conservatives, in his opinion, are obsessed with the abortion issue. So, says Wallis, the religious left is more in tune with the Bible than are conservatives.

Colson's counter-argument is that the issue of abortion has a higher moral priority, and that furthermore, from a Christian viewpoint, support of abortion removes the moral authority from which to speak concerning the poor. It's a well-made and compelling argument, and one with which I am inclined to agree. However, I must admit it is a point I had previously failed to note in my own rationale for becoming a political conservative.

Interesting note: Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, at the time in my life when I was the most active in religious pursuits (I was aspiring to become a missionary, in fact), I was also the furthest to the left politically I've ever been -- for much the same reason as Wallis. I remember marching in an anti-abortion rally in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1987, piously holding up a sign which read "Totally Pro-Life", proclaiming that I opposed abortion, war, the death penalty, nuclear proliferation, and eating grapes picked by oppressed migrant workers. I read Sojourners and the Door and World Christian, attended Ubana in 1987, and even wrote in Tony Campolo for president in 1992.

So what changed my mind? What led me to the "Dark Side", to reject the liberal emphasis on social programs while still opposing abortion? Unlike Colson, I never thought through the issue of varying degrees of morality between the issues. For me, it had to do with the difference between making people do the right thing and preventing them from doing the wrong thing. I fully believe in helping the poor, and do so actively, to the degree that I am able. But I don't believe it's proper for the government to decide who is or isn't poor enough to merit my help, and I am skeptical regarding the efficacy of their methods of providing that help. That's what I mean by making others do right -- the essence of Socialism. On the other hand, abortion is an active wrong -- one living being killing another living being. I am not making someone extend themselves to do good, I am preventing them from doing bad.

Men's hearts may be dark, and that is their own business. When it becomes my business, nay, our business, is when they try to snuff out another's light.

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