Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Conservative Protestantism is the biggest threat to the Pro-Life cause.

I have become convinced that the central threat to the Pro-Life movement is none other than Protestantism itself. This is because what Protestantism considers "Pro-Life" is not what the term actually means. So when Protestants and Catholics "join forces" for Pro-Life causes, the Pro-Life cause is undermined from the very start. Let me explain.

As everyone knows, within Protestantism there is no official position on abortion. Indeed, there's no way for them to even say whether it's an essential or non-essential Christian doctrine, much less what the parameters are. A large percentage of major Protestant denominations allow divorce. While it is true that these pro-abortion Protestants don't engage in Pro-Life causes, the mere fact they operate under a "Christian" banner is a huge blow to the Pro-Life cause. But that's only half the picture.

The other half of the picture consists of the anti-abortion (Conservative) Protestant denominations who allow "exceptions" to the rule. For example, allowing abortion in the case of rape, incest, health of the mother, and birth defects. The great majority of Conservative Protestants embrace some form of the "except for" clause, and these are the ones often joining forces with Catholicism. But if murder is allowed for certain "exceptions," then one is not really opposing murder (itself) at all, but rather something else. At that point, it's virtually impossible to push for a coherent anti-abortion legislation, since it would amount to saying it is permissible to kill innocent life in one case but not another. So why do Conservative Protestants allow for "exceptions"? The reason is because Conservative Protestants are more focused on "taking responsibility" rather than a firmly established notion of "sanctity of life." They view the abortion problem as anyone who engages in sexual relations should "know the risks" and "take responsibility" if new life is conceived. On the other hand, this means that if a woman is raped or has mental/physical health risks she should "not have to take responsibility." This is why they use language in their statements such as forbidding abortion for matters of "personal convenience." That said, I don't believe this is due to any malice on the part of Conservative Protestants, but rather I believe it is because they lack the intellectual abilities that Catholicism is granted by the Holy Spirit in virtue of being the one true Church. That's not a boast, it's a humble statement of reality: such confusion on what it means to be Pro-Life is impossible when the Holy Spirit is guiding.

While there are Conservative Protestant denominations that don't allow "exceptions" at all, they are an extreme minority and are totally drowned out by the super-majority of pro-abortion and "except for" denominations. They are generally too small and disorganized to have any significant impact. 

If that was not bad enough, virtually all of Protestantism is even more guilty for the failure of the Pro-Life movement on two other counts: divorce and contraception. As virtually every Protestant denomination allows these two things, it can be properly said that Protestantism as a whole is the biggest problem. 

There is no need to go into all the details of the damage that divorce causes, so it's enough to say that divorce devastates families and destabilizes children. With half of all marriages ending in divorce, a huge percentage of young adults fear marriage commitment, and prefer the easier path of cohabitation and "shacking up." The result is a lot more young adult women who find themselves pregnant and not in a position to care for the child, so they figure abortion is the easiest way to deal with the dilemma. And I believe it can rightly be said that when a husband and wife wont stay together for the sake of their children, that in an equivalent sense is a form of aborting them, for they are just as unwanted. Protestants have led the charge in tearing down the family, particularly in the case of divorce. In fact it was iconic Conservatives like Ronald Reagan who proudly passed the nation's first no-fault divorce law.

The second point, contraception, is the most controversial of all, but it's also the root cause of abortion. No Pro-Life system can be built on a firm foundation if contraception is not addressed and firmly rejected. While Protestants see no connection between abortion and contraception, the Holy Spirit has made the connection abundantly clear to the Catholic Church. The basic logic is as follows: contraception has driven a permanent wedge between sexual relations and procreation; they are no longer united. This means that a child is strictly a choice independent of sexual relations, since contraception lets the couple choose when and if they want a child. The problem is, when contraception fails (as it often does) and pregnancy results, then what is conceived is an unwanted child, by definition. And once Plan-A (contraception) to avoid having a child fails, then this requires a Plan-B (abortion) to deal with the new "problem." But don't take my word for it, look at what the Supreme Court said in 1992 in a case against Planned Parenthood:
Abortion is customarily chosen as an unplanned response to the consequence of unplanned activity or to the failure of conventional birth control, and except on the assumption that no intercourse would have occurred but for Roe's holding, such behavior may appear to justify no reliance claim. … To eliminate the issue of reliance [on abortion] that easily, however, one would need to limit cognizable reliance to specific instances of sexual activity. But to do this [limit abortion by banning Roe v Wade] would be simply to refuse to face the fact that, for two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.
This is what the Catholic Church has been saying the whole time. Even these secular political minds see the link. Sadly, Protestantism still does not. From this it is clear that it doesn't matter how Pro-Life someone claims to be, if they don't address and oppose the issue of contraception then they are attacking the symptom and not the cause. One final point to make is to note that the Supreme Court was making a Conservative argument, appealing to tradition as the reason to keep the status quo. This exposes the fundamental problem with Conservatism, which is that of conserving traditions without any regard for the content of what is being conserved. This is why Conservatives today are perfectly accepting of divorce, contraception, exceptions for abortion, and similar moral errors. 


Anil Wang said...

There are two other issues that need to be added:

(1) IVF...even pro-life, anti-contraception, anti-divorce Protestants see IVF as okay, despite all the embryos that get aborted. The key reason is that Protestants have to invent a theology based on the Bible rather than rely on Tradition and Magisterium to research the issue. Given that such research involves multiple lifetimes, there will always be gaps such as these.

(2) the concept of consecration is completely absent in Protestantism, so any Protestant that wants to teach abstinence before marriage has to invent reasons for waiting. A Catholic doesn't need reasons since as children we are consecrated to God before we are can be consecrated to a spouse through a mutual vow of consecration in marriage. The concept of consecration can also help us explain why porn is bad. Protestants again have to make up arbitrary reasons for this ban. Mutual consecration to God in the marriage sacrament is also a reason to never other reasons need to be invented. With the Protestants view that marriage is a "contract" rather than a "covenant" (i.e. mutual consecration), its hard to justify why this contract shouldn't be broken as other contracts are.

All this being said, if we don't work with Protestants to reduce abortion, abortions will increase since the pro-abortion groups are united. And if we don't work together, Protestants will try to ram contraception and abortion down our throats as they are in the Philippines rather than fight will us for Catholic exceptions even if they will not use them themselves.

We will also lose an evangelization opportunity. There's an old saying in Protestantism...Catholics make the best converts since they already love God and believe the fundamentals...all they need is "the simple gospel". In this case, pro-life Protestants make the best Catholic converts since they are already fighting against the grain in Protestantism and they know the effects of the culture of death. All they need to be taught is the root of the culture of death and how "the simple gospel" of Humanae Vitae and consecration are the cure to these plagues.

Nick said...

That's a very valuable insight. I've never really thought about IVF, but I imagine it has to be a popular business considering the breakdown of traditional family life. But are you sure that anti-contraception Protestants see IVF as ok? That just seems odd, considering they got the other stuff right.

I agree that the reducing of marriage (especially Christian marriage) to the level of a contract makes it a lot less sacred. And the ability to break the contract has the overall message that nobody in society can be trusted, since even their vow means nothing. How can a society be built where there is no form of trust? And your consecration comments reminded me of an awesome article I read "The Palins and Chastity," here is what Randy says:

"The problem is the tie between sex and procreation has been cut. Protestants and many Catholics don't talk about being ready for sex as being ready to raise a child. They talk about waiting for marriage but they are unclear on what precisely happens on your wedding day. Marriage is not understood as a sacrament and divorce is seen as a fact of life. So what is marriage? It does not mean openness to life. So why wait with sex until marriage when it means so little?

The most concrete reason is children.

From a teen point of view marriage seems like easy sex for adults. Why should they be expected to exercise self control? They are less mature. Their hormone levels, at least for males, are higher. So why is chastity for teens while adults get this big out with marriage, divorce, and contraception?"

I think Randy stated this the best: in the Protestant view of marriage, the chastity talk is incoherent.

I don't think cutting ties entirely with Protestants is the answer, but only if the Catholic side is going to be vocal about the root problems. If all things are doing is staying on the level of "outlaw abortion," then the result can be more Catholics becoming weakened in their faith as religious indifferentism sets in.

Vocab Malone said...

Recently we hosted a pro-life event at our church (which is Reformed) with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. Many friendly Roman Catholics showed up and were warmly welcomed.

Good thing they did not read your post first - they might have opted to stay home.


Anonymous said...

As a confirmed Protestant, I completely agree with the basic point of view here. Religions and sects or schools of religions fundamentally disagree on the issue of "the life of a human being."

To me, having one's own life and being an individual human being depends utterly on not being biologically attached to or contained within the body of some individual human being with his/her own life. To me, until viability, an embryo/fetus does not even have the capacity to have such a life and individuality if removed from the body of the pregnant woman because, if she dies, such an embryo/fetus always dies. To me, this means the woman is in the process of constructing the body of the future child and has the right to stop doing so if she wants to.

Thus, I'm pro-choice in the sense that I think women should have the right to choose whether or not to terminate their own pregnancies and will never change. My God is pro-choice. Yet this is not a contradiction of "pro-life" for me at all.

I understand that you do not share that view because you do not share the same position on "the life of a human being." And I think you, too, have a right to your own view.

The only thing is, every individual person has the same right to freedom of religion in the US. Accordingly, if you want to continue to have the right to freedom of religion, you should stop trying to prevent other people from having it by trying to impose your views in the human legal system that protects that freedom and a host of others.

Nick said...

Hi Vocab,

I guess I would just ask, does your Reformed church allow "exceptions" for abortion? If the answer is "Yes", then I would be saddened and any Catholics who showed up should be saddened as well. Does your church even have an official statement of faith on the matter? This is not about being mean versus being friendly, it's about fighting abortion in a consistent manner.

I looked up the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and saw a lot of good stuff, including no exceptions for rape or deformities, but in the case of ectopic pregnancy (which they said was OK, even though it's not). Other than that, I did not see Contraception condemned, but there was a good article on how the Pill can cause an abortion if used after sexual relations (nothing was said about using the Pill beforehand).

Nick said...

Hello Anonymous,

There are a few things I would like to touch upon.

You said you were Protestant, so could you justify your view of abortion, especially when life begins, from the Scriptures? For example, what is your take on Luke 1 where when Elizabeth heard Mary's voice, and the Bible says the "baby in Elizabeth's womb lept for joy"?

As for your rational for why abortion should be allowed, logically speaking, you should be (not that you are) in favor of child abandonment, as well as believe the family and community have no duty to provide for the elderly, sick, and handicapped. That's because in each of those cases the "individual" cannot survive on their own and needs assistance. And surely you know that at a certain point well before the ninth month, an unborn baby can survive outside the womb (e.g. premature birth). That's a logical basis for why I would oppose your rational behind this.

Lastly, the idea that this should not be carried over into the legal system is not possible. Depending on one's views, be it pro-life or pro-abortion, this will necessarily determine whether it should be legal or not. Your own justification for keeping it legal is precisely because you don't believe life is at stake.

Vocab Malone said...

Nick -

Why are you so concerned about Protestants who allow for 'life of mother' exceptions when Rome's position on that issue is not entirely clear? (see John Connery's 'Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective, Loyola, 1977).

Besides, you act as if having the Pope telling you what to do guarantees unified thought and action among Roman Catholics. Does it really? I don't know, perhaps someone can ask Joe Biden next time his priest serves him the Mass ...

Nick said...

Hello Vocab,

All I asked was what the official position of your Reformed church is, if they even have one.

The reason why I've mentioned "life of the mother" is because it is a classic catch-all phrase the has been historically welcomed by the Pro-abortion side since they can interpret it quite broadly. When it comes to systematics, one must realize that one cannot do evil in order to bring about a good result, which in the health of the mother case entails murdering the innocent child to save the mother. Rome's position is clear and unchangable, especially as far as the main tenets go. The only time there is need for clarification is when very specific situations come up, such as ectopic pregnancy, but the answer is still the same: you cannot murder an innocent life to save another life.
Once that principle is violated, then one loses any coherent means of defending life in virtue of it being life.

The Pope telling us what to believe does guarantee unified thought for all faithful Catholics. The problem is that pro-abortion Protestantism has thoroughly corrupted and confused many Catholics to the point they cannot think properly and consistently. The idea a Christian can be pro-abortion or even allow "exceptions" is a thoroughly Protestant idea, totally foreign to Catholic thought and teaching.

Unknown said...

The moment you said
"A large percentage of major Protestant denominations allow divorce",
I stopped reading. Need it be said that the most laughable (and popular!) form of PERMISSIVE divorce occurs within Romanism--under the banner of an "annulment"....which is...(hello!), just another name for a divorce (!!!) --- so that when the records are looked at on paper, it will appear the RCC has a lower divorce rate because it is all hid behind that obnoxious word called an annulment!
Who in the world are you trying to kid?

Nick said...

An annulment is not a divorce, strictly and properly speaking. For example, because of the Protestant attitude of anyone can be a marriage official and marriage can take place anywhere, a lot of Catholics are getting married outside the Catholic Church, which is automatically an invalid marriage. So these pseudo-marriages are annulled (declared null and void) quite easily and routinely, since they never truly took place, even if to Protestant eyes are just divorce by another name.

Now there is also widespread abuse of the annulment process (e.g. finding bogus excuses for nullity), which is as scandalous as the divorce epidemic at large, but this is largely the fault of the Protestant allowing of divorce in the first place that has spilled over into the Catholic camp.

The main issue is this: a Catholic who is serious of their faith knows divorce is strictly forbidden, while a Protestant who is serious of their faith knows divorce is a very real option (under various conditions).

Vocab Malone said...


Nick said...

Did you understand what the article was saying? Most people don't. They think there was a sudden reversal of the Church's teaching.

In situations of rape they suggested that the pill could be taken as an "emergency contraceptive" to prevent conception IN THE FIRST PLACE. What is forbidden is to take it such that it would cause an abortion. The dispute/danger is that there isn't always a clear window of when this can be done without the danger of an abortion.

Unfortunately, the media presents such things in such a way that it comes off far more controversial than it really is.

Vocab Malone said...

Re-visit ... "Why the theology of Rome will never end abortion"

Nick said...


I've seen your work and you've put out good stuff, so I don't know how you found that link in any way a good argument. The logic of the author's argument was ridiculous, as he was confusing various issues.

While it is important to call abortion murder, which the Catholic Church does, that is a different question from culpability. That's the whole reason why our nation (and most nations throughout history) have laws recognizing 'degrees' of severity (e.g. first degree murder refers to premeditated murder).

The author completely missed the fact that abortion is a 'symptom' of a larger problem, and thus he framed the abortion problem simply about not calling it murder. A woman who finds herself with an 'unwanted pregnancy' is already in a moral and sociological bind before she even gets in the car to head to the abortion clinic. It's the 'unwanted pregnancy' that's the real issue, and contraception and divorce (both of which Conservative Protestants heavily support) are the principal causes of unwanted pregnancy.

Vocab Malone said...

Thank you, Nick, I appreciate that.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying that Protestants 'heavily support' divorce and contraception ... I would encourage you to view the work of Randy Alcorn on the contraception issue. He is Reformed, has written several books on this (including a free one on the pill) and was sued by PP. My kinda guy!


PS - have you ever heard of these folks?