The Smallest Minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities. - Ayn Rand
At 21 days, the baby is pumping it's own blood type through a closed circulatory system. This is about the time that most folks actually confirm that they are pregnant.
By the 42nd day (6 weeks), the baby has brain wave activity. The lack thereof is what we use at the other end of the cycle to determine clinical death.
Does anyone doubt that the headlines of every major newspaper in the world would say 'Life Discovered on _____!' (at the same typeface as Pearl Harbor or Man Lands on the Moon) if we found even ONE dividing cell on another planet?
BTW - 'fetus' is Latin for BABY.
As I said, I've chosen my arbitrary point. Others have chosen theirs. There is a difference between "life" and "human life."
I predict this comment thread will be very long.
I will say this:
I very much look forward to the time when we develop a functioning artificial womb in which a fertilized ovum (or an extracted fetus) can be carried to term outside the human body. (Though I have absolutely no doubt that its development will be vociferously opposed by the "Right to Life" movement.) Because once we do that, we can end abortion. Don't want the child? Put it in an artificial womb and put it up for adoption. There are always too few newborns available for adoption.
With what, then, is a woman pregnant?
The points that I have raised (and a slew of which I have not) are NOT arbitrary. They're concrete, measurable, reproducible medical facts.
With that, I relegate myself to the sidelines of this comment thread. It isn't up to me to change your (or anyone else's) mind.
One is free to stick one's head in the sand if one so chooses.
What then is a miscarriage, manslaughter, unintentional homicide?
Yep, another slippery slope. Until the woman gives birth the fetus is part of the woman's body. Yeah, I know you said that it has its own circulatory system, etc... However, it gets all of its nutrients and disposes of its waste in the body of the pregnant woman. The only other word for that type of being is, parasite. Either way I am dead set against legislating any of it in a 'free society'. There are plenty of less than free societies in the world. If you do not wish to live in a 'free society' and allow people to make their own mistakes, then please move to one of those less than free societies.
Yep, I'm an uber freak libertarian, and I strongly believe that legislating morality is a VERY BAD thing.
As both a devoted Christian and a freedom-lover, abortion is a sticky subject for me. I am personally opposed to abortion. However, politically, I have to compromise. In other words, I lean in the direction of what Kevin has stated. And while I agree that you can't legislate morality, I get a cold shiver down my spine whenever people start defending abortion using the word "parasite." One of the reasons I'm not a libertarian and will never vote for one.
By the way, Gregg, do you not see the flaw in your analogy? Abortion is deliberate, and consists of a conscious decision by one human to end a life followed by the act. If you have to analogize, you could liken it to murder, or perhaps justifiable homicide if the mother's life was in danger. Miscarriage is involuntary (and often undesired), an act of God or nature, so it would be more like someone having a tree fall on them.
Kudos to you, Kevin, for stating your position on this topic. I hope the comments don't get too hairy.
I've stated the barest minimum of my position on the topic. Perhaps this subject requires that I do another überpost.
But yes, I expect the comments to get hairy. This is as much a hot-button issue as gun control. Hotter, possibly, since religion is involved (and you know what those comment threads get to look like! ;))
The thing that disgusted me about the Amy Richards story was how she seemed to be whining about the results of her choices. She voluntarily went off birth control because it made her "moody", she and her boyfriend voluntarily choose not to use condoms as a substitute and instead decided to risk it before getting married, and then she was shocked with the results of her choices. Every choice was hers and now she wants me to feel sorry for her because she rolled the dice and didn't like the numbers she got. Man that's annoying.
While certain medical facts may be objectively verified, it is their _meaning_ that is subject to doubt.
The _meaning_ of those facts cannot be resolved without appeal to religion.
And now you know why this is the verbotten subject on my blog: it is divisive, and quite literally unresolveable by any objective, nonreligious means.
Such discussions usually degenerates rapidly into "the strictures of my belief system, as Given unto me by _my_ invisible friend is superior to yours (you heretic, you!), and therefore a sound base for public policy, whearas the false words of the apostates are not".
What we do know is this: definitions of human life that include the possibility of infanticide or homicide are like the number 5: they are right out.
Therefore, we all agree that human life, at the very latest, begins at birth, and at the very earliest, at conception.
I find it very telling, however, that our society and most religious traditions views the natural, nonviable termination of a pregnancy as distinct from stillbirth, and none sanctions funeral services for the aftermath.
What this tells me is that what is at issue is "the will of god" being usurped by "the will of human".
Well reasoned and well expressed as always, Geek.
"And now you know why this is the verbotten subject on my blog: it is divisive, and quite literally unresolveable by any objective, nonreligious means."
And this may very well be why I did not, in fact, put up a post on the Amy Richards incident when it first hit the blogosphere.
But I've put my foot in it now, haven't I?
I'd just like to point out that "you can't legislate morality" is hogwash.
Murder, theft, assault, fraud, purgery. All immoral acts. All illegal by legislation (natural law notwithstanding).
Will everyone abide by the law? No. But it's been legislated nonetheless.
Yes, and some Muslim cultures stone women to death for going out in public, unescorted with their faces uncovered - under color of law as well.
But your point is well taken.
You're right, Joel. What you can't legislate is virtue (though Islamists think you can).
The problem with any law is that if enough people are intent on breaking it, it's not only useless but creates extra problems (cf. the War on Drugs). The only reason some types of legislated morality -- e.g. laws against murder and theft -- are effective is because a majority of the people believe in and want those laws. It is not so for abortion. It seems we have surpassed the critical mass for the percentage of the U.S. population that is against banning abortion. I am personally horrified and very much against abortion, but I'm also pragmatic enough to know that an outright ban is politically unfeasible. Conservatives are going to have to give this one up.
Well, I suppose it's time for me to weigh in...and you all are going to be shocked. I think it would be no big deal if Roe v Wade was overturned. Why? Because then states would go back to deciding whether or not abortions should be legal and that's just the way it should be. Some would allow them. Some wouldn't.
The question all sides should be asking each other is do we want to reduce unwanted pregnancies? Yes, I think we all do. Now, how do we do that? Two ways.
1. The Religious Right gets off their high horse and starts talking about birth control. People like to have sex. Sorry, but it's true. We can still talk about abstinence for teenagers, up to 18 of course, but after that they should have the groundwork for birth control education. That starts and ends with parents and if the parents are wrapped in the "sex is the work of the devil religious nutball bullshit" then more unwanted pregnancies are going to happen. Actually, if the right just chilled the fuck out about sex issues in general, it would be a good thing (see: Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Ted Haggard etc)
2. The Militant Left needs to start talking about individual responsibility. Women like Amy Richards sicken me. I have known women who say they don't want to be on the pill because "it makes them fat." Or men who hate condoms because of the loss of sensation. Too fucking bad. Take some responsibility for your actions and make sure it doesn't happen.
Maybe if Roe V Wade was overturned then more people would behave in a more responsible fashion. Obviously there would be exceptions (rape, incest, mother's life threatened) but other than that maybe having it less available will force our infantile population to grow up.
Wow. Can't argue a single one of your points.
(Grumbles. Cognitive dissonance agreeing with 100% of a Markadelphia post.)
You have a somewhat stereotypical view of the religious right. Some are nitwits about it, yes, but we Christians all enjoy sex. A lot. But we believe that, as with all things, it has its proper place which is within the confines of marriage. This is for many reasons, not least of which is so that the product of sex -- children -- can be properly cared for.
You talk about responsibility, but whether you believe its God or nature, you have to acknowledge that sex was designed for a purpose: to produce offspring and perpetuate the species. Add to this the fact that no contraceptive is 100% effective and you are guaranteed to end up with some unintended pregnancies. The religious right understands this. You see it as a nutball sex-is-evil belief, whereas I see it as being realistic and couching it in terms that a certain segment of our population can relate to. Not everyone is as intellectually advanced as the people in the comments section of this blog.
Yes, here in Lake Minority, we're all above average... 8)
"Add to this the fact that no contraceptive is 100% effective and you are guaranteed to end up with some unintended pregnancies."
Don't forget about STD's, some of which aren't stopped even when condoms are intact, nevermind that "safe sex" is never 100% safe.
Aside from the distinction of being inside a woman's body, a fetus is no more a parasite than a baby, or a person severely handicapped by physical, or mental damage. They cannot provide themselves with nutrition, or dispose of their own waste. If you are going to declare a fetus non-human, then what about them?
My oppostition to abortion, as it exists in America today, is this: it is a law that treats some humans differently from others. A fetus that could survive outside its mother with assistance gets aborted - legal. Someone kills a premature baby in the intensive care ward - homicide. Abort a 3 month old fetus - legal. Kill a severely handicapped person with a similar level of brain activity - homicide.
And fetuses are human by the only defining test that is available to science that I know of: genetics.
So how can an "uber freak libertarian" to use your term, Gregg, countenance a law that treats humans differently for no reason of their own making? The fetus committed no crime, he or she was not even present at the event that is the prerequisite for an abortion to occur.
Biology is a bitch. It's absolutely jam-packed with confusing continuums- the more obscure ones, like whether a Portuguese Man-O-War is an organism or a colony, merely provide scientists with a vigorous argument. Then there's the nonexistent line that delineates a species, which biologists are still going at hammer and tongs with no end in sight, though there are plenty of laymen willing to give you a simple (and wrong) answer.
And then there's lines like "When does it go from a very mitotic collection of cells to, you know, a person?" And no matter where you draw that line, it carries with it some very uncomfortable moral implications- if it doesn't, the odds are you haven't thought it through very well.
Life begins at conception: A great many- some scientists think even most, though few argue it is high- conceptions are naturally aborted, mostly before the woman ever has a clue she is pregnant. Conception and development are complicated and dicey processes, and many embryos are badly flawed almost from the beginning. So, the woman's body rejects them and starts cleaning the uterus to try again. How do we treat these morally? Do we regard every woman's last period as having a chance of having also been the end of her child's life, and treat it with the appropriate gravity? Even a more developed embryo's miscarriage means something vastly different to a woman praying for a child, who was watching for pregnancy early on, and a woman who might not have even known she was pregnant.
Life begins at birth: Neonatal medicine revealed the problems with this cutoff line many decades ago. It used to be viability outside the womb was a relatively clear cutoff line, but now it's blurred beyond any distinction- especially when babies that clearly wouldn't be viable in any time so far in medical history are born and can move and cry and be held before they expire. I'd challenge people to try and tell the parents of these infants that it's okay because that wasn't really a child yet, but I'm not that cruel.
Recognition of the slipperiness of the issue is implicit in all but the most hardline of positions if only because of the fact that there's even a seperate area of debate over whether there should be special exemptions for the results of rape or incest. The circumstances of conception have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the personhood of the fetus; either it is or is not a person by whatever standards the law has agreed upon for that point of development. That debate is ALL about the woman's responsibility, which is an implicit admission that the personhood of the fetus is so grey an issue that we can even afford to have a discussion about whether or not the mother should be spared from having to carry it to term.
Ah, Sarah, you assume that I am not a Christian. I suppose given the fact that I am "liberal" would lead you to think that I am not a Christian.
Sex was designed for more than one purpose. And it is not purely for the confines of marriage, although I do think you enter into a sacred bond of monogamy when you do get married but that's because you love and respect your partner.
Making love brings us closer to a part of ourselves that is...well...god-like. It unlocks a power that too many people fear and thus relegate it to something that should be verboten. I find evangelicals/traditonalists to be very child like...retarded even...in how they view sex. This invariably leads to bizarre behavior like...say...trying to come onto a guy in a public men's toilet. By repressing that side of onesself, behavior changes and usually for the worse.
I would point to Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land as being quite indicative of how I feel about sex. Since I read it when I was 12, I would say it had a lot to do with my pubesence.It is a union of mind, body, and spirit. It is a wonderful expression of love that should NEVER be confined within the parameters of organized religion.
I believe that is what Christ intended.
Well, now that religion has entered the comment thread, I predict the count on this one will run well into three digits!
I fail to see what miscarriages have to do with abortion legalizing an act of homicide, usually against a human being who is not a threat. A miscarriage is not the conscious action or inaction of a human being, and thus is unlikely to fall under any homicide statute in the US. Abortions are deliberate and conscious actions, and are the only legal, for citiznes, form of homicide in the US outside of defense of life.
And it is homicide, unless we declare fetuses not human. Which is where I find the problem, since they are human by genetics. To declare a fetus not human until it reaches a certain degree of development leaves a sticky question: are humans outside the womb who fall back below that developmental threshold no longer human? If they do not, why?
Just because it is homicide, that does not make it criminal. However, millions of women in US appear to choose abortions in lieu of contraceptives (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3429402.html). Much like Amy Richards, they feel that an act of homicide is better than a daily, monthly, or situational hassle.
A woman decides to stop using the pill, since it makes her retain water. She does not require her skeezy boyfriend to use a condom, nor does he volunteer. A pregnancy results. She decides to abort the healthy fetus, which poses no risk to her life, merely her lifestyle. She committed homicide as an act of convience. The situation above happens at least a few thousand times a year in the US. And it is perfectly legal.
Yet in any other situation in America, if a person kills another human being to save themselves some hassle, jail time is a likely outcome. This is my point - abortion as it exists today is an aberration in the law. Without it, the law is clear - homicide is only justified in immediate defense of life. Abortion laws make it legal to kill some humans, period. They can be a threat to life, or maybe just a hassle.
Agreed Eric WS, and I think we have been doing a great disservice to young people in this country by allowing abortion to become a lifestyle convenience. Parents are extremly lazy, I know I deal with them everyday. They have to take the time-alot of time-to preach invidual repsonsibility.
And they have to live by it while also ejecting any anitquated notions of sex (i.e remove any giant poles they have up their asses) from the capsule.
Mark- my point had nothing to do with the legality of abortion, it was to illustrate that we tend to treat the personhood of the fetus with profound moral inconsistency even when we choose an apparently-clear line to draw. Indeed, my ENTIRE point is that the nebulous biology involved makes virtually any law absurd in some way- that's why it's such a tough issue.
If we are to truly regard an early-term fetus as just the same in personhood as an adult human, then the loss of their lives by natural means is as big a tragedy as any accidental death is. But even people who proclaim that life begins at conception don't treat it that way; the death of a baby by miscarriage (which is being somewhat technical with most early-term spontaneous abortions, as they don't even register on the woman's conscious radar) is only mourned if the mother was aware of it and wanted it. That's no more consistent than late-term abortion advocates acting as if only the mother's desire to keep it makes a baby a baby.
If the fetus is a person, it is homicide to abort. If it is not, then it's a cut-and-dried woman's health care issue. The problem with the abortion debate is that it has no clear point of becoming one or the other.
When pro-life groups start holding funerals for tampons I'll believe they are truly consistent.
D'OH. Not Mark, EricWS. Force of habit, I suppose. ;)
"I believe that is what Christ intended."
Maybe you should read what he actually said about the subject, starting with these two passages:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
(John 14:15 NAS95S)
In other words, if you're really a christian, following God's teachings is not optional.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:17-19 NAS95S)
Do you really need me to point out the verses where Jesus regarded sex outside of marriage as sin?
"When pro-life groups start holding funerals for tampons I'll believe they are truly consistent."
This strikes me as a completely ridiculous statement.
Somewhere in the world, someone just died. That was a vital part of many people's lives and was well loved. Yet neither of us is holding a funeral for that person. The reason is simple; we didn't know them.
Funerals are not for the dead, they are for the living who knew and loved that person. Without the knowledge that a person actually existed a funeral is meaningless. However, if a woman knew she was pregnant but miscarriages, a funeral, or even a simple wake, may very well be appropriate.
When you start holding funerals for every person who dies, even when you don't know them, then I will consider funerals for every tampon to be worth considering so we will be consistent.
Nuts! Editing mishaps strike again.
That person was a vital part...
Thank you, Ed. I couldn't figure out where in the Bible Jesus commented that sex outside of marriage was not only OK but beneficial.
Not only are you coming from the perspective of a man, but you seem to subscribe to the view that if it feels good it must be right. I can't comment on men (maybe someone else here can), but for women sex outside of marriage is not beneficial. You are absolutely right that, for humans, sex is about more than just propagation of the species. It bonds people and enhances a marriage like nothing else can. For women, sex instinctively bonds us very strongly to a man -- when the man does not have a lifelong commitment to the woman, it becomes a damaging situation. Dawn Eden has a post that explains this well.
And, yes, I did assume you are not Christian, not because you're liberal, but because of the coarse language you include in your comments and especially the way you regard your fellow Christians.
"Do you really need me to point out the verses where Jesus regarded sex outside of marriage as sin?"
Yeah, but a couple of "Hail Marys", one or two "Our Fathers" or perhaps an indulgence and you're golden! Or maybe you can just get reborn, and that'll fix it. I'd have to ask Jimmy Swaggert about that. Or Ted Haggard.
I'm fairly convinced that, given the strictures of the Bible, a lot of people erroneously believe they're Christians.
A WHOLE lot.
Kevin, you took the words right out of my mouth. Most people that I know that claim to be Christians are, in fact, not so that's why, Sarah, I have no respect for them or treat them coarsely.
The only thing that one needs to do to truly be a Christian is to accept the Holy Spirit inside of you--that Christ is your savior. Do you need me to point that verse out?
The rest of what we are talking about here is behavior related and has nothing to do with being a Chrisitan. Consider this, Sarah, why would God create us to be sexual beings and then tell us that it's wrong if it's done this way or with someone of the same sex. Ludicrious! God created us in his image, right? That means that on a level we perhaps can't comprehend, God is a sexual being.
Now, that does not mean that I advocate going out and screwing everyone you meet. You have to respect yourself and others. Romance, passion, and love-these are all God's gifts not vices or something to be placed in the rigid box of what man constitutes to be morality.
It it just me, or is the irony in here palpable? ;)
I'm going to let someone else respond to this one.
When you start holding funerals for every person who dies, even when you don't know them, then I will consider funerals for every tampon to be worth considering so we will be consistent.
All right, I'll be less flip and pick a different angle that doesn't result in pithy lines.
They may be people you don't know yet, but by the humanity-begins-at-conception frame they ARE the children of every fertile woman you know. If not having met them made their lives unimportant, then abortion would still not be the big issue that it is.
And yet I have almost never seen them mentioned outside of embryology and human development classes. They only register as children, it seems, when someone is proposing to deliberately terminate; when it comes to death by unpredictable (and not always detectable) natural causes, they don't even register. Name me one group of people where accidental deaths, heralded or un, simply aren't acknowledged at all. Even a quiet moment in Catholic services for all the children that will die without ever having come close to being born would convince me that they really count as full people in the minds and hearts of those who profess this conviction when the subject of abortion ISN'T under discussion.
"In other words, if you're really a christian, following God's teachings is not optional."
In that case, Sarah and Ed, please help me out with the following:
1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself? Should I call the police?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
7. Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear glasses and contact lenses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here? Do I need to plunk down the dough for lassic surgery?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die? Perhaps a boiling pit of sewage only with the rest of the homosexuals and fornicators.
9. I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
My point is this: the Bible was written, by man, thousands of years ago. Some of the edicts in the Bible are simply not realistic today. Our culture has changed immensely from Biblical times when there was no birth control and thus extra mouths to feed. Of course sex was made to be morally wrong unless you were married. It simply wasn't practical.
I don't know this for sure about you, Sarah and Ed, but it sounds to me like you have believe in beliefs. I believe in ideas and Christ had many good ones-in fact more than any other person in history.
You can change an idea but you can't change a belief.
I'm still reeling from your previous comments. I don't think I'm the right person to address them, because my response right now would be along the lines of "HORSESH*T!!"
As for the other stuff, would you like to pick something from the New Testament? You know, the book we Christians are supposed to pay the most attention to?
Well, which ones are you reeling from?
Well, there goes that feeling of uncomfortable agreement.
Uh, Mark? I'm not a Christian, never was, and I know why that Leviticus letter proves the theological glibness of the author rather than the silliness of Christian morals. As a believer, and presumably therefore a student, would you care to elaborate for the class?
THIS should be interesting....
Sorry Markadelphia, but:
From Mathew 15:
3Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’[b] 5But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6he is not to ‘honor his father[c]’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8″ ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.’[d]”
10Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ ”
Verse 9 sums up the idea, and verse 10 gives an example. There are of course many others.
All the "rules" in the old testament are thrown out the window by the New Testament, for Christians at least. Now if you still have a problem with the OT, then go bug some Jews.
But ben, what about the above quote then,
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
(John 14:15 NAS95S)
And if that's the case then homosexuality is not a sin, in your eyes?
LabRat, just to be clear before I answer, what exactly would you like me to elaborate on?
Christian theology vis-a-vis the elaborate laws of the Old Testament and modern obligation.
It's my understanding that John 14 is Christ speaking to his disciples to convince them that God is in him and to trust his words because they might as well be coming from God- if I'm right about that, then that would extend to backing up his claim in Matthew that there is no more "unclean" food. I speak with the authority of God, therefore I can contradict the old laws and you may trust that God approves.
That last line should be in quotes- whatever authority *I* speak with, it's not divine. :P
What I'm reeling from is the whole idea that one can pick and choose from amongst Christian doctrine whatever feels right and blithely skip the rest, because all that really matters is that you have felt the Holy Spirit. What are your beliefs worth if they don't cost you anything?
Also, the idea of God as a sexual being because he gave us sex, well, I find it quite silly and trivial. It is a pleasure invented for us by God, a gift, but it's just one component of our existence. What is God, really? He is a creator. That is what we humans do, as well. I think that is how we are made in His image.
Sarah, that's cool. I understand where you are coming from. I guess I feel like I don't blithely skip the rest. I just don't think you can compare sexuality in the first century to sexuality in the 21st century. To say that the same rules apply today...it just seems really unrealistic and ultimately, it is spritually devolving. Just for future reference, it's going to be very hard for me to debate/disagree/argue with you because of your name, which is a very very sacred name.
Lab, true. The old laws don't apply anymore, according to the passages you have stated so they do not need to be followed. Then where does sex fit in? Or abortion? Because the only reference I have ever found to abortion in the bible is Exodus
"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine."
So, since Christ has thrown out the old ways and is abortion now a sin?
My main beef with Christian conservatives is that they basically pass judgement on you because they feel that they are "closer" to God. Their arrogance in what they perceive as the ONLY interpretation of scripture more or less proves to me that they have completely missed the point about Jesus and have an insatiable need to be told what to do. Perhaps it's fear or insecurity...I don't know but I do know that all I have are bunch of ideas. I can change them whenever I want as I grow and the world grows around me.
And I could be wrong, of course, something that you will never EVER hear an evangelical admit.
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments"
The rules in the OT are not commandments. They are rules, nothing more. Christ ditched those. The 10 commandments still stand, of course.
"My main beef with Christian conservatives is that they basically pass judgement on you because they feel that they are "closer" to God. Their arrogance in what they perceive as the ONLY interpretation of scripture more or less proves to me that they have completely missed the point about Jesus and have an insatiable need to be told what to do."
I agree with that. Only God passes judgment. What really gets me is when supposed Christians persecute certain groups for their behavior, without examining their own. It's pathetic.
True and we are seeing that right with Larry Craig. I was actually quite sickened by the jokes being heaped on him by talk show hosts, the media etc....it shows how our society has been screwed up massively by the rigidity of organized religion.
Because he can't just "be gay" (if he is)...he has to hide it due to an antiquated belief system...so as a result his behavior becomes worse to the point of where he has to seek out what he needs in a men's room. What a sad thing....
Note, all references to agreeing with Mark were in reference to the first comment ONLY. I'm so thrown by the other portions of this thread that I don't know where to begin.
Well don't stop now! Yours was the 50th comment on this thread, and I'm betting we go three digits!
Hey, jetfxr69, remember this is just my view/theory/opinion. I could be wrong. Again, have you ever heard an evangelical say that they could be wrong?
(Part 1 of 4)
I know that you are an atheist. My purpose here is not to try to convince you or anyone else that you should accept the Bible as authoritative. That's a different discussion for a different time and is off topic for this thread. My purpose here is focus on the claim that the New Testament made sex outside of marriage acceptable.
Markadelphia: "Most people that I know that claim to be Christians are, in fact, not so that's why, Sarah, I have no respect for them or treat them coarsely."
The Bible: “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
(Mark 12:31 NAS95S)
Bible: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:35 NAS95S)
Bible: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
(James 3:17 NAS95S)
Bible: “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”
(1Peter 3:8-9 NAS95S)
Bible: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
(Galatians 6:1 NAS95S)
(Part 2 of 4)
Markadelphia: "The only thing that one needs to do to truly be a Christian is to accept the Holy Spirit inside of you--that Christ is your savior. Do you need me to point that verse out?"
Me: Here, let me help you with that.
Bible: “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? … Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
“… You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? … For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
(James 2:14, 17, 19-20, 26 NAS95S)
Bible: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. … Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.””
(2Timothy 2:15,19 NAS95S)
Bible: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
(1John 5:1-3 NAS95S)
(part 3 of 4)
Me: I see it's also necessary to point out where Jesus and other parts of the New Testament still show that sex outside of marriage is still sin. I already posted Matthew 5:17-19 where Jesus pointed out that he did not come to abolish the law and that attempting to annul a commandment is wrong. (BTW Mark, how do you justify the fact that you have annulled the commandment against adultery and are teaching that to others when Jesus himself clearly said not to do it?)
Jesus then went on to talk about murder and adultery. I'll pick it up in adultery:
Bible: “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
(Matthew 5:27-29 NAS95S)
Me: Not only did Jesus not overturn the commandment against adultery, he pushes us to avoid mental adultery too! That is clear affirmation of the Old Testament teachings against adultery and then some.
Of course you know this story:
Bible: “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” … And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
(John 8:3-4, 11 NAS95S)
Me:By telling her not to commit this sin any more, he confirmed that it is sin.
And one more directly from Jesus:
Bible: “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
(Matthew 15:18-20 NAS95S)
(Part 4 of 4)
Me: And from other parts of the New Testament:
Bible: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
(1Corinthians 6:9-10 NAS95S)
Bible: “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
(Hebrews 13:4 NAS95S)
Me: Here's something interesting that I just learned while researching this response. The Greek translated as "fornicators" is "pornos". Sound familiar? It should.
Fornication is defined as "voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other."
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament very clearly state numerous times that sex outside of marriage is a sin and is wrong. I just don't understand how you could possibly claim otherwise with a straight face.
See my 7:51AM comment and my 9:08AM one.
By all means, do carry on!
The tactic of pointing out Old Testament laws in Leviticus which Christians no longer go by as a justification for annulling anything and everything the Bible calls sin is one I see a lot. There is a legitimate Biblical explanation why modern Christians and Christian scholars hold that Christians are not bound by some Old Testament laws while there others which Christians are still expected to obey.
In Jeremiah 31:31, God says that he will provide a new covenant which will supersede the laws given to Israel when they left Egypt.
““Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-32 NAS95S)
"fathers … [brought] out of the land of Egypt" specifically refers to the nation of Israel. The laws in Leviticus, such as "unclean woman" provision, etc., are part of the laws given only to Israel. Christians operate the new covenant which was promised in Jeremiah and fulfilled by Jesus.
“And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.””
(Luke 22:20 NAS95S)
(Hebrews also discusses the new covenant and how it applies in detail.)
Therefore, laws which where part of the Mosaic covenant no longer bind those of us living under the new covenant, i.e., Christians. However, it is only the laws of the Mosaic covenant which no longer apply. General laws given in the Old Testament outside of the Mosaic covenant as well as commands and descriptions of sins given in the New Testament are still something we have to live by. For example:
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”
(Genesis 9:6 NAS95S)
This isn't part of the Mosaic covenant, it was given to all of humanity after Abel's murder.
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
(Mark 7:21-23 NAS95S)
Notice that Jesus calls this entire list of things "evil." This is a general statement of judgement which is far broader than the Mosaic laws. These things were evil for the Jews of the Old Testament, they were evil for the people who lived prior to Abraham, and they're still evil today.
So yes, we have a legitimate reason to toss some Mosaic laws. We also have equally legitimate reasons to recognize that there are thoughts and actions which God still considers to be evil/sinful. Furthermore, the Bible also clearly teaches that even though God is willing to forgive our sins due to Jesus' sacrifice, that still does not give us license to sin freely.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
(Romans 6:1-2 NAS95S)
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
(Romans 6:12-13 NAS95S)
Great stuff. This is what I was trying to get at, but you've explained much more thoroughly than I could have.
(41 to go... )
BTW, Kevin, I bet you weren't expecting the argument to go in this direction. So does it still count if we go over 100?
(40 to go... )
See my 8/29 7:07PM comment.
Couple of things to think about..
Why would lust be considered a sin by people in these times? Look at the historical context. Believers in God were surrounded by Romans who engaged in violent acts of orgistic sexual decadence. They (and me) were repulsed by this and wanted a more holy lifestyle. Jesus, in several of your quotes above, wanted people to focus more on the spiritual side of their lives, not the flesh.
In addition, I maintain, from a historical perspective, that sex outside of marriage was deemed sinful because of the lack of birth control. It is also fair to say that keeping track of whose babies were whose also played a part in this law.
Look at this quote realisitcally: do you really think Jesus wanted us to tear out our right eye if we look upon a women's beauty with lust? How many men throughout time would be missing their right eye? And what if it is more than lust? I have loved, very deeply, many of the women I have made love to...lust was not necessarily a factor most of the time.
What this is going to come down to in the end is whether or not you believe the Bible is the absolute word of God. I think it is the word of man, dicitating what they believed God wanted, at a time when people did not have the spiritual enlightenment that we do today, especially when it comes to sex.
I mean, Ed...Sarah...do you really want to live by rules set in the 1st century? Isn't that what we are fighting against from happening right now?
Now, that doesn't take away from wonder of Christ, to me anyway, and his wonderful set of ideas with which we should live our lives. Adultery is wrong, to me, because you are breaking your convenant with your beloved, not with God.
We are God's children, right? I have two children and I want them to grow up to be something better....more enlightened than I...don't you think that it's possible that God might want the same?
Something else, which may make you understand me a little more...
I approach spirituality with an open mind. I like ideas, not beliefs. The only thing I hold to be absolute is that it's possible, at any time, that I am wrong...that perhaps I have minsunderstood God. Easy, considering God is God and I am all too human.
When one decides to head down a spiritual path, one must consider that it is the journey that leads you to becoming a more enlightened soul. One must constantly question, wonder, and evolve...to do otherwise is to do a great disservice to yourself, Christ, and God.
In other words, there are no absolutes, Mark? I don't believe it. Some things are always wrong.
Kevin: It was inevitable that religion would enter the debate. I was just a bit surprised that we ended up arguing about fornication. And things have stayed pretty civil, too!
True, I think murder is always wrong. It is a disgusting thing because I think only God can give life and take life. Fornication, though? Eh...sometimes it is wrong, other times not.
But here is an absolute for you.
Romans Chapter 10
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
I believe these things to be absolutely true. There doesn't appear to be any wiggle room. I don't see an asterisk that says *unless you are a fornicator.
I think when you break a commandment you are breaking your fellowship with man. That is what Kevin was getting at before when he said
"Yeah, but a couple of "Hail Marys", one or two "Our Fathers" or perhaps an indulgence and you're golden"
I don't think that this means you should go on a three state killing spree-knowing full well you will be saved-but it does raise an interesting dichotomy.
Couple of questions...
Don't you think there is a reason why theft and murder are considered CRIMES and fornication really isn't anymore?
And, here is a real tricky one, is Kevin going to be saved? He is a self proclaimed athiest after all and yet I consider him, based on his writings, to be a highly moral person.
In my (admittedly light) perusal of scripture, Mark, I expect to be a member of the Lake of Fire swim team, assuming that most of you people who believe you're Christians are right.
There are other people who believe themselves Christians who just believe I will cease to exist, forever and always, upon my death.
You can imagine which alternative I prefer if, in fact, it turns out that there's a Creator who actually did all the stuff attributed to him in all those books.
The Bible clearly teaches that there is a hell. I can see why you wouldn't want to be a member of the Lake of Fire swim team. Maybe you should consider joining the River of Life swim team. The water is guaranteed to be fine. ;)
Yes, Ed, there is, in fact, hell.
We live on it.
"Maybe you should consider joining the River of Life swim team."
Ed. Been there done that.
"Yes, Ed, there is, in fact, hell.
"We live on it."
THAT explains a lot about you.
I'm no theologian, so take or leave what I'm about to say. I believe that the most important part of faith is obviously to believe in God. But God has given us some rules/guidelines to live by, and I think that if you truly love God you do your best to abide by His rules. One's commitment to this is to a large degree a reflection of one's desire to be godly.
Jesus said you judge a tree by its fruits, and whatever bears bad fruit is therefore a bad tree and will ultimately be thrown into the fire. You don't believe in God, true, but from what I know of you, you do a nontrivial amount of good works. In fact, you are about as close to being a true Christian without actually believing in Christ that I have ever seen. And I believe your goodness is innate as opposed to being born of petty impulses. I cannot believe that God would destroy something good that he created with purpose and love. C.S. Lewis' short novel The Great Divorce seems to say you'll get a second chance in the next life, or however many chances you need, to accept God. Incidentally, Lewis describes hell as a cold, gray, dreary, lonely place, not a firey, pitchforky kind of place. His description has the ring of truth to me. Read this book if you get a chance -- at least you'll understand one popular Christian conception of hell.
Unfortunately C.S. Lewis didn't pen the Bible! ;)
Neither you nor he get to pick and choose what you wish to believe, as I believe you've stated previously.
The word hell comes from the word hades which means "of the earth." Early Christians used the word to translate the word Sheol or pit. This is place beneath the earth, beyond gates, where both the bad and the good, slave and king, pious and wicked must go at the point of death. Sheol is the common destination of both the righteous and the unrighteous dead, as recounted in Ecclesiastes and Job.
So, that is why I say Earth is hell or hell is earth because that's, quite literally, where the word comes from. In thinking of the atrocities committed in WWII by the Nazis (or any horrible act throughout time), I find it hard pressed to imagine hell to be any other place. For the most part we are a still a violent group of neanderthals. It has always been my hope that Christ would deliver us from this but sadly it has not come to fruition.
No Lake of Fire swim team? ;)
The impression I had gathered from the Bible was that virtue isn't the absence of evil, it's the choice to be good when bad would be easier. Without the available choice there would be no point whatever to the whole "life on Earth" thing.
Or, from this atheist's point of view, to life. Even my dogs have small choices in being "bad" or "good" by my standards and the standards of canine pack life; the absence of choice due to a perfect nature would be to be less noble than a dog.
Hey, I should go into this theology thing. :P
Kevin, no Lake of Fire swimteam for you. Just the earth and no eternal reward.
To me, hell is a life devoid of spirituality. Some areas of Christian faith make the case that hell is a state of being-without Christ. I guess I tend to agree.
For someone who doesn't believe in God, you sure are a stickler for biblical literalism. :-) Lewis seems to have believed in Purgatory. I believe in something along those lines, as well. For your sake, I hope it's true.
Either the Bible is the Word of God or it isn't. I cannot believe it is, and if you believe you're a Christian, I don't think you get to choose that it, or parts of it anyway, isn't.
But I could be wrong on that. ;)
The human interpretation of the Word of God is limited and imperfect. For instance, you already know that my particular interest is the scientific interpretation of Genesis, a literal reading of which does not jibe with scientific knowledge. But a more nuanced (for lack of a better word) interpretation is in perfect accord with science. This is why religious types rely on commentators, who spend a lot of time and thought putting scripture into context.
It's a bit ironic that the most fundamentalist people when it comes to the Bible are often atheists. Heh. :-)
Well, I always found it interesting that the "official" Bible was selected by a group of people out of a whole bunch of separate texts, transcribed by who knows, but it's supposed to be the "revealed word of God."
Which makes Joseph Smith's "revelations" that much less loony-sounding in comparison.
As to Genesis agreeing with current scientific knowledge, which version of Genesis would that be? And isn't it a bit like saying current events match the predictions of Nostradamus?
I stayed up until 4 am watching back-to-back episodes of Rome so my brain is a bit addled. I'm not sure what you're asking. What do you mean by "which version"? and please elaborate on the Nostradamus thing.
OK, I'm awake now and I finally get the first question. I didn't mean a more nuanced translation, I meant a more nuanced reading of Genesis. Though the issue of translation from the original Hebrew does come into it for a couple of key words that have dual meanings.
I still don't get the Nostradamus thing, though.
Absolutely great comments here. Very intelligent and thoughtful stuff!!
"Well, I always found it interesting that the "official" Bible was selected by a group of people out of a whole bunch of separate texts, transcribed by who knows"
I completely agree. This is exactly why I have a problem with organized religion. I feel that part of the story is missing. Why? Why are the Gnostic texts considered heresy? Why is the Gospel of Judas not being recognized as part of canon?
And how about the Gospel of Mary?
My thought is that the men of the time wanted to use the story of Christ as a means to their own end-a method of control, if you will that has largely been succesful. While a believe that they got some of the story right, I think they missed a lot as well...possibly on purpose.
As far as Genesis goes, the thing that has always been interesting to me is how similar all creation myths are-from Summerian to Greek to Roman to Hebrew to Christianity. Why?
Why is the Gospel of Judas not being recognized as part of canon?
Oh, Lordy, there's a can of worms.
I don't know that all creation myths are similar. For example, the Babylonian creation story is quite different from that of Genesis, and pretty bizarre. The Hebrew and Christian creation stories are one and the same. In fact, all the Abrahamic faiths follow the Genesis account.
Can of worms? Hey, I thought we were trying to make it to 100 comments. In the spirit of that, here's a question for anyone who is still checking in...and I hope many people are...
Would Jesus, if he were alive today, own guns?
Wasn't there a passage somewhere about selling a cloak in order to buy a sword? ;)
Yes, and I am going to be writing a column about this.
Matthew 10:34 (King James Version)
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."
"Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
So, was he a warrior or a peace loving hippie?
Heh, if you want to break 100 posts, I'd better weigh in. (And if this doesn't do it, nothing will!)
Mark, I am emphatically not a Christian. But it seems strange for you to note that the Christian bible was compiled from several human traditions on the one hand, and then express mystification that there are inconsistancies on the other. One naturally flows from the other. If you call yourself a Christian, you should come to terms with this in some fashion or else give up the enterprise.
Also, in your "historicist" critique of the laws against adultery etc, you make the mistake of assuming that we humans are essentially different and more elevated than the humans in our past. Especially since the sociological evidence is accumulating prodigiously that adultery, illegitimacy, and single-parent households lead to elevated crime, lower education, and a host of health effects, this is a dangerous assumption indeed.
Someone upthread noted that you seem to be justifying sex out of wedlock because it is pleasurable. Well, of course it is. That proves nothing, though; if evil were unattractive, nobody would do it.
Re. the Leviticus quotes: it seems to be a uniquely American failing to assume that the Torah exists in a vaccum. It is the heart of an entire system of national laws and institutions which govern a people, in the real world.
Your little bit of sophistry is rather like saying that since the President of the United States may (according to the Constitution) pardon anyone he wishes without limit, therefore the whole document is flawed and we should govern by instinct instead. That seems to be what you are proposing.
I don't know if Mark will be replying any time soon. I have invited him to leave for a while. However, I have not banned him.
(part 1 of 6, Is your popcorn ready?)
I've finally made enough time to reply to more of your comments. (That's one of the problems with the truth; making sure you're being accurate can be quite time consuming. Yes, error can also be time consuming, but investing time is a requirement of being accurate.)
Mark: "Why would lust be considered a sin by people in these times? Look at the historical context. Believers in God were surrounded by Romans who engaged in violent acts of orgistic sexual decadence. They (and me) were repulsed by this and wanted a more holy lifestyle."
Me: Really? They were surrounded by the Romans even in the Old Testament? Get real! Let's go back to one of Jesus' quotes:
Bible: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
(Mark 7:21-23 NAS95S)
Me: Where is the allusion to the practices of the Romans in these verses? This is a simple statement where Jesus lists several types of evil with absolutely no qualifiers, meaning that they're evil all the time. Period.
In fact, you should take a look at the context where this verse appears. (I won't quote it here because it's too long. You need to go read it for yourself.) The entire event where this quote comes from is covered in Mark 7:1-23. The context is always important, so let's take a look at that context.
First of all, this was an argument entirely over Mosaic law. The Pharisees (legalists) had tried to beat up Jesus by pointing out that his disciples weren't washing their hands. Jesus' response was to point out that the Pharisees were placing far more emphasis on that command than it deserved. Furthermore, he pointed out their hypocrisy of trying to use the laws to control others when they used their own human traditions as an excuse to disobey the laws God explicitly gave them.
There are two lessons from this passage which apply here:
1) This event had absolutely nothing do with any culture surrounding the Jews. It was entirely an argument over right and wrong in rather broad strokes. Claiming that it had anything to do with a surrounding culture is clearly adding something to the passage which is Simply Not There.
2) The most dominant theme in the entire passage is that it is wrong to allow human reasoning and/or human traditions to override what God demands of us. This teaching is best exemplified by this section:
Bible: “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.””
(Mark 7:6-9 NAS95S)
Me: Mark, I have no authority over you. I cannot judge you or make you pay for any thought or action you take. On the other hand, you will stand before God and his judgement. Are you sure you want to be even the least bit casual about tossing aside God's commandments in favor of following your own human traditions and desires?
Even though this passage doesn't refer to Roman practices (even obliquely), there is a passage which does refer to Roman practices of the day. Let's take a look at it:
Bible: “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:39-42 NAS95S)
Me: At the time Jesus said this, the Romans had a law which allowed a Roman soldier to grab any Jew and force them to carry a burden for one, but only one, mile. Roman soldiers made use of this law to harass Jews on a regular basis. This practice was so common that the Jews had developed a standardized response to it. They would keep careful track of how far they had gone. The moment they reached one mile, they would promptly drop what they were carrying and declare "Not one step further."
In this passage Jesus was clearly teaching that we are to tolerate personal insults and harassment, and to even go one step further and demonstrate love to the persecutors. You claimed a standard that we a free to disregard teachings which were a response to Roman actions. Does that mean we are no longer bound by Jesus' teaching of tolerance, but that we are now free to fight back against harassment?
I've seen many, many liberals claim this passage as an excuse for absolute pacifism. (Note, this is overstating the teaching of this passage which is tolerate personal insults and harassment. It is not teaching that we are to be passive in the face of life threatening attacks.) I suspect, Mark, that you also consider this passage to still apply today.
You cannot have it both ways. Either Jesus' teaching about tolerating insults still holds in spite of the fact that he referred to abuses which are no longer happening and therefore far broader listing of evils given without cultural references are still evil OR if you claim that evil things are no longer evil because "times have changed" then you must also give up on more nuanced teachings which directly referred to practices which no longer occur today. If you choose the latter, then you're actually claiming that there is no longer any such thing as sin, not even murderwhich is frequently mentioned in the same breath as adulterybecause the same reasoning you used to explain away adultery as a sin can be used to explain away every single act the Bible calls sin. It also undermines every command given by God in the Bible, even loving our neighbor as ourselves.
(Note: A quick search on variations of adultery and murder in the same sentence produced 22 hits.)
(part 2 of 6)
Mark: "Jesus, in several of your quotes above, wanted people to focus more on the spiritual side of their lives, not the flesh."
Me: So if your mind is not involved your body can sin all it wants? Are you claiming that your brain was actually in a coma while you were making love to those various women you mentioned?
Jesus did not teach that we were to focus on the mental to the exclusion of the physical, he was teaching that we had to pay attention to the mental because that is where sin begins. James clarified the progression of sin like this:
Bible: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
(James 1:14-15 NAS95S)
Me: Notice the order here. First there is lust which is a mental desire to do something sinful. If it is allowed to continue it leads to actually acting (physically) on that desire which is where a sin actually occurs. Finally there is the natural consequence of sin which is death. The time to avoid sin is when it is still nothing more than a mental impulse, not after you've already acted on that impulse. That's why Jesus taught us to work on defeating sin within our minds; that's where is sin is most easily defeated.
Quite simply, there is absolutely nowhere where Jesus said that it's okay to sin physically as long as you don't sin mentally.
Mark: "Look at this quote realistically: do you really think Jesus wanted us to tear out our right eye if we look upon a women's beauty with lust? How many men throughout time would be missing their right eye?"
Me: Sure let's look at it realistically in context. Jesus opens the topic on obedience to the law with these words:
Bible: “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:20 NAS95S)
Me: The scribes and Pharisees of the day were the "superjews" when it came to dotting every "i" and crossing every "t" in the law. They were the spiritual equivalents of today's Olympic athletes, focusing all their efforts on "perfect" obedience to not only the Mosaic laws but also their own laws which they had piled on.
Everything which follows this statement (in the topic of obeying God's laws) is an explanation of how thoroughly we must obey the laws if we expect our obedience to the laws to provide our salvation. First he talks about the law against murder, followed by the law against adultery. (Notice that once again, this is a one, two punch of murder and adultery. It was not included in the list of these two topics appearing in the same sentence.)
Jesus' statement about plucking out an eye is a form of hyperbole to make his point. By comparing to the torment of hell to the obvious problems caused by losing an eye or a hand, Jesus makes it clear just how serious total obedience to God's commands are under the law. What makes it obvious that this is hyperbole and not an actual command is the obvious realization (to most people) that following through on such self mutilation would not actually put a stop to lusts nor pay for past adulterous lusts.
Again, I must ask you. How seriously are you taking God's condemnation of adultery? Are you treating it casually as if God is just going to give you a wink and a nod because you're somehow "special?" Or are you treating with the same weight that caused Jesus to use the verbal equivalent of a 2x4 applied liberally to the head and shoulders?
Before you decide, take time to read the last several chapters of Job. Specifically chapter 38 through 42:6. Then remember that more than once, the book of Job states that Job did not sin. It also states that God was proud of Job, proud enough that he actually boasted to Satan about how good Job was. Yet God still put Job in his place at the end. Does this sound like a God we can treat casually?
(part 3 of 6)
Mark: "What this is going to come down to in the end is whether or not you believe the Bible is the absolute word of God. I think it is the word of man,"
Me: In other words, you think Christianity is a made up religion and that you are free to pick and choose whatever parts of you like. The end result is a religion, cobbled together using parts created by other men, whose precepts and commands are decided by you. In short, you have created your own religion.
Furthermore, by condemning anyone who disagrees with your own personal religion, you have appointed yourself as judge and jury (though the executioner part eludes you) over everyone else in the world, even though you have no more authority to claim that role than anyone else. In short, you've tried to place yourself in the judgement seat of God. Are you sure you really want to do that? Last time I checked, God doesn't look too kindly on those who try to take over His judgement seat.
I know, I know. The typical reaction I've seen to statements like this is to claim that I'm being judgmental. Yes I am, up to a point. Just to be clear, here are the distinctions between our positions.
You have placed your own judgement above that of the Bible by claiming that you are free to disregard parts which you don't like. I have placed my own judgement under that of the Bible by accepting the entire thing as given by God and not open to disregarding any portion of it, not even the parts I don't like. (Believe me, there are restrictions it places on my behavior which I really wish were not there, but I'm stuck with them. In any argument between me and God, I always lose.)
It is my honest judgement that you are placing yourself in danger by wilfully choosing to disregard God's words. That judgement is reached by comparing your statements about your beliefs and actions to what the Bible says, often in clear, unequivocal statements about the difference between good and evil. It's no more difficult or authoritative than a teacher comparing a wrong answer to a math problem to an answer key. At that point the limits of my judgement and authority have been reached, just like in the case of a teacher. I can point out that the answer given is wrong. I can point out the consequences of continuing to give a wrong answer. But I cannot force you to choose the correct answer. Nor can I do a single thing, one way or the other, about the consequences of continuing to choose a wrong answer.
I do think that the entire Bible is actually the word of God. I don't think it's at all unreasonable to state that we need to either accept the entire Bible as God's word or none of it as authoritative. The reason is quite simple: Accurately getting something put into writing is one of the simplest acts any being can perform. It's so simple that even humans do it all the time, even when the human doing the actual writing is not the person responsible for the words being written. (It's called ghostwriting.) Any "god" incapable of accurately communicating anything would not even be as powerful as your average human being. In other words, if God can't get exactly what He means into writing, then you need to bend over and kiss your butt goodbye, 'cause he can't save that either. On the other hand, if He actually does have the power of life and death then He most certainly has the capability of making sure that what He wants written, gets written.
Mark: "I mean, Ed...Sarah...do you really want to live by rules set in the 1st century?"
Me: So sorry. I must have missed where the Bible gave a statute of limitations. How about pointing it out to me?
Mark: "Isn't that what we are fighting against from happening right now?"
Me: I'm not aware of any rules from the 1st century that we're fighting against. Correction, I'm aware of rules from the 1st century that you're fighting against, but none that I'm fighting against.
Or do you mean the fight against Islam and its 7th century rules? Let's compare the two, shall we?
1st Century Rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
7th Century Rule: "Kill the infidels."
IIIiii... think I'll stick with obeying the 1st century rule and continue fighting against the 7th century rule. Thankyouverymuch.
(part 4 of 6)
Mark: "I approach spirituality with an open mind. I like ideas, not beliefs. The only thing I hold to be absolute is that it's possible, at any time, that I am wrong...that perhaps I have minsunderstood God. Easy, considering God is God and I am all too human."
Me: Yeah, I think you do misunderstand God, but that's not because God cannot be understood at all. It's not possible for us to understand all of God. On the other hand, it is possible for us to understand some of God.
Bible: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
(1Corinthians 13:12 NAS95S)
Me: When you look at your reflection in a piece of polished stainless steel, you see a reflection of yourself which is not inaccurate, just incomplete. You can pick out your eyes, your nose, your mouth, etc., but you generally can't pick out all the subtle details. Even though you can't see those details, you still have an accurate general understanding of what your face looks like.
We can certainly understand God's general characteristics such as his goodness, mercy, love, holiness, righteousness, etc. We can also know things which He has told us about himself. Even though we don't have the whole picture, that does not make the partial picture wrong.
Let me put it this way. You probably know how to drive a car. Do you know how your car works? In general terms, probably. Do you know all the specifications of your car? You might know some, like the engine displacement, the average gas mileage, the grade of gas it uses. On the other hand, you probably don't know other specifications such as the length of the piston stroke, what metals of various grades are used for each engine part, etc. It's highly unlikely that you know things like who designed each part, what the decision process was for each step along the way, what the discarded designs were, etc. Finally, unless you are God, you don't know what the exact details of your car on the atomic level. Given what you don't know about your car, does that lack of knowledge prevent you from knowing how to drive the car? No way!
Just like the car, we can know some things about God with reasonable certainty, we just can't know everything about Him.
(part 5 of 6)
Mark: "But here is an absolute for you.
Romans Chapter 10
9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
I believe these things to be absolutely true. There doesn't appear to be any wiggle room. I don't see an asterisk that says *unless you are a fornicator."
Me: First of all, you need to examine the entire context of Paul's argument in chapter 10. He is arguing against the idea that we can somehow earn our way into God's favor based only on works. His point, quite simply, is that works will not save us, only our dependence on Christ's sacrifice can do so. Paul didn't use asterisks. He was a lawyer and his arguments were built point by point. You cannot get an accurate understanding of his meaning without examining his entire argument.
Second, how did you get to chapter 10 without going through chapter 6 where Paul had already discussed the concept of our beliefs driving our actions? Chapter 5 discusses how it was Jesus' act of sacrifice that paid for our sins and placed us under grace instead of condemnation.
Then in chapter 6, Paul goes on to discuss a common conclusion which can be drawn from the idea that the just punishment for our sins has been waived: that we're free to sin as much as we want. (Note: I can't post the entire chapter here. You should definitely go read the whole thing for yourself. In fact, I would recommend reading it at least three times to make sure you understand what he is saying.) He begins like this:
Bible: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
(Romans 6:1-2 NAS95S)
Me: In other words, even though punishment for our sins has been covered, sin is still sin and we're not to have anything to do with it.
The entire chapter discusses the point that when we become followers of Christ, we're not just saying a few words. Rather a true follower of Christ turns themselves over to him completely.
Bible: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
(Romans 6:12-14 NAS95S)
Me: Gee, that's funny. I seem to remember quoting this passage before. Do you think that Paul meant what he said in chapter 10, but not what he said in chapter 6?
Near the end of chapter 6, Paul points out that we have to make a choice about which side we are on. We are either with Christ, or we are not. There is no middle ground.
Bible: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”
(Romans 6:15-19 NAS95S)
Me: Notice that once again Paul repeats his forceful admonition against sinning freely.
There are a couple things which should be explained here. First, the word translated as slave here is also frequently translated as bondservant. It signifies a person who voluntarily places themselves under another's authority in much the same way that an involuntary slave is under the authority of his master. If the master of a bondservant tells him to do something, the bondservant is required to do so just as any other slave would.
Second, notice how Paul equates our bondservant status with Christ from early in the chapter with a bondservant status toward righteousness and sanctification. In other words, if we belong to Christ then we also belong to righteousness (right actions). Otherwise, we are bondservants of sin.
Sanctification is one of those hard words which means to be cleaned up for God's use. In other words, it's much like taking a spiritual and moral bath to get rid of the filth of sin.
(part 6 of 6)
In the process of making sure I accurately stated the meaning of sanctification, I discovered a fascinating verse which brings me right back to the main point of this argument:
Bible: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”
(1Thessalonians 4:3-8 NAS95S)
Me: Isn't it fascinating that the only aspect of sanctification mentioned here is avoiding sexual immorality, i.e., sex outside of marriage. And just to make it absolutely clear that this is about sanctification (becoming cleaned up for God's use) he repeats the word three times. Sexual immorality equals impurity. Sanctification is not equal to sexual immorality. Sanctification is what God desires.
So let's make it clear and bring this back on topic. The Bible clearly and unequivocally condemns sex outside of marriage. Always. Your attempts to say otherwise are pure sophistry. You are wrong on this. Period.
There are many other issues in these comments which need to be addressed, but this is already too long, so I'll just have to save them for another time.
Boy, you weren't kidding, were you?
How was your popcorn? :)
Free theology. I love the blogosphere.
Fascinating and edifying. Thank you for taking the time to post all of that.
>> Free theology. I love the blogosphere.
Theology is -always- free. It's not till you get to the fine print that you have to caugh up your treasure/soul/independent judgement/whatever.
Fine print? As far as I know, Christianity has always been up front about it:
“One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment.”
(Matthew 22:35-38 NAS95S)
That doesn't seem like fine print to me. ;)
There is much to respond to here and quite frankly I don't where to begin. Let's start with one simple point and go from there.
I agree that sex with someone else, other than your wife, is in fact a sin as said in the Bible. That is a commandment, no doubt, and crystal clear. That is an adulterer. Agreed? Now someone that has sex outside of marriage, according to the Bible, is a fornicator. Also bad, but not breaking a commandment. And if Jesus said "Keep my commandments", that is what I try to live by.
The biggest issue that I guess I have with what you wrote is that you have set yourself up as the official interpeter of the Bible. In your mind, there is no other interpretation but your own. This view is shared by many people around I'm sure. But what of the folks who don't share it? What of the millions of Christians around the world that completely disagree with you? And me, for that matter?
Oh, and by the way, is this thread still about abortion? And if so, are we trying to resolve it by appealing to religion?
If so, that's doomed to failure. As I said almost 100 posts ago:
Such discussions usually degenerates rapidly into "the strictures of my belief system, as Given unto me by _my_ invisible friend is superior to yours (you heretic, you!), and therefore a sound basis for public policy, whearas the false words of the apostates are not".
And if the thread has officially drifted such that it is no longer about abortion, then, uh...please. Carry on.
It seems to have evolved into a comment thread about sin, and just who and who is not, in fact, a Christian.
You know, standard fare.
Hence the gaggle of giggling atheists with popcorn, really.
Mark: "I agree that sex with someone else, other than your wife, is in fact a sin as said in the Bible. That is a commandment, no doubt, and crystal clear. That is an adulterer. Agreed? Now someone that has sex outside of marriage, according to the Bible, is a fornicator. Also bad, but not breaking a commandment. And if Jesus said "Keep my commandments", that is what I try to live by."
Me: In other words, there are numerous places where the Bible includes fornication in lists of things that are evil and therefore sinful, but because the Bible doesn't say, "Thou shalt not fornicate" in so many words, that somehow makes it okay to do it? I must say, your skills at torturing logic are truly impressive.
Mark: "The biggest issue that I guess I have with what you wrote is that you have set yourself up as the official interpeter of the Bible. In your mind, there is no other interpretation but your own. This view is shared by many people around I'm sure. But what of the folks who don't share it? What of the millions of Christians around the world that completely disagree with you? And me, for that matter?"
Me: My interpretation is not the one you have to worry about. It's the author that you have to answer to.
There is this basic concept involved in the written word. Quite simply, the author uses words which mean specific things, and orders those words using the rules of the language being used. Those standardized rules are what is required in order to be able to communicate at all. In other words, he has a specific concept in mind to be communicated, then he uses the standardized rules to communicate that concept so that it can be clearly understood by the reader.
It is the reader's job to apply those same standardized rules when reading the author's writings so that they can clearly understand the author's meaning.
Things go wrong when the author's intent is distorted. This can happen for several reasons. The author could have ignored the rules of the language and written something which can not be understood; or the reader failed to apply those same rules, losing the meaning in the process; or, worst of all, the reader could attempt to impose his own meaning on what was written.
The key to accurately understanding anythingwhether it's the Bible, a news article, a letter from a friend, or as in the case of this site, a portion of a legal document, such as the Constitutionis for the reader to avoid the above errors whenever possible.
As Kevin's arguments on this blog show, the number of people attempting to impose their own meaning on what they read is incredible. After all, the 2nd Amendment is a model of clarity, yet thousands of people "misread" it because the refuse to accept its obvious meaning. Are you saying that those people who point out that "shall not be infringed" means "shall not be infringed" have arrogantly set themselves up as the official interpreters of the 2A? If I'm remembering correctly, you used to think that way about the 2nd, but you've realized you were wrong.
You may have noticed (and been annoyed by) my frequent quoting of the relevant Bible verses. That is because I am confident that I have understood them correctly and I'm willing to offer up my conclusions about what the verses say right next to the actual verses so that you can check my accuracy for yourself. I also post the references and when necessary, direct you to larger passages where you can read larger blocks in their entirety.
If you think my understanding of those verses are wrong, then you are free to point out where I've misapplied the standard rules of language in my interpretation. Or if I've apparently imposed my own meanings on the passage, then you should use the standard rules of language to show where I'm wrong.
If I am wrong, I'll admit it. But, you must show how I've misread what the Bible says. My work and my sources are all right there for you to see. Simply asserting that I must be wrong because I disagree with you, or that I must be wrong because I think I'm correct simply won't get the job done because it's nothing more than a bald assertion with nothing to back it.
Kevin, geek, LabRat,
Actually, it went this direction because sexual activity is a driving force in abortion. Markadelphia made the claim (ridiculous claim IMHO) that the Bible does not condemn sex outside of marriage. And like usual, he's clinging tenaciously to that position.
What do you guys think? Is the Bible crystal clear on this point? Should I just write Mark off and move on? Are you being entertained by all this?
Ed: Oh, I understand why it went in the direction it did. I'm having a good time because:
a)I don't have a dog in the fight. The same reason I get more pure enjoyment watching political nonsense in England, Australia, and Canada: they're not my representatives and it's not my country they're screwing with (my own do that plenty), but I understand the language and the culture well enough to have a good enough understanding of what's going on for it to be interesting.
b)Watching people construct complex logical arguments that I never would because I don't share a basic premise or set of premises is interesting in and of itself. It tells me how people who often think differently than I do DO think, which means that if/when we do wind up arguing I don't waste time talking past someone because I don't even understand the structure of their thinking on a matter.
Or, said in fewer words, it's like watching a good game of tennis. For the record, I think you're correct based on the text, but since I don't share your premises (though I do share your values, for the most part), it doesn't really matter what I think about it.
In re: LabRat: Ditto.
In re: LabRat & Kevin Baker: Ditto.
Point of Order: though I've got popcorn, I'm not an athiest. I'm a Deist.
Ed, alright. I will concede this point: The Bible does condemn sex outside of marriage. Your quotes back this up.
But...something that your wrote above got me to thinking...it was your paragraphs on interpreting meaning and author's intent..I hope you don't mind if I don't copy them here. Here are my thoughts..
Questions for you:
1. The Bible, as we all know, was not written in English. And there are several versions of the Bible, right? Several translations throughout the years. So how much of what is in the Bible has been lost in translation?
2. You cite Paul as being a direct interpreter of God's word. Okay, maybe he is. But what if I told you that God spoke to me and told me that sexuality is a beautiful and wonderous creation. To place limits on it's natural biological wonder is a sin. Would you consider me deluded, sinful, or none of the above?
3. If the Bible is the direct word of God, then is it OK if I ignore the rules that I listed above? You may have already addressed this but I am asking your patience in answering again. If I can ignore the rule about selling people into slavery or burning a bull, can I ignore the one about men lying with other men? (I haven't btw...:))
4. Thou shalt not kill. Right? So, if I kill a terrorist who is about to blow up a nursery, have I sinned? The Bible is pretty clear about this and the Catholic Church has said that only God can give life and take life. So, what is it?
Hey! I can answer three out of four of those and one's already been answered upstream in the thread!
*angry flinging of popcorn*
Markadelphia: I'll reduce LabRat's workload by taking #4.
Catholicism has a fairly well worked out theory of self defense, for which they claim biblical consistency.
This is as good a ref as any on the topic:
Summary: In cases of unjust aggression, it's open season on the aggressor. This is subject to limitations of restraint for charity, or other reasons. In many circumstances, the defense of innocent life is considered a duty.
They're actually a bit more enlightened on the matter than our current civil law.
Workload? I was just bitching (tongue firmly in cheek) 'cause my free ice cream is going to be a flavor I've already had before. I had no intention of actually speaking for the real believers.
I'll expand on the point, though, and note that the answer to number four ties in with number one. The reason the commandment reads "thou shalt not kill" and the Bible goes on to describe certain acts of violence in praising tones- like David's victory over Goliath, or the outright commanding of capital punishment for certain offenses- because "kill" seems to have a narrower meaning in King James English, and has narrower counterparts in Greek and Hebrew. (Thou shalt not KILL versus David SLEW Goliath, for example.) If we were to pick a current English word, it would probably be "murder". That's what the Hebrew translates most directly to. (And, in fact, it is often written that way in diverse English texts and sects.) It's obvious from various forms of killing in warfare or criminal justice going praised or unremarked that there is no Biblical condemnation of ALL taking of human life, so is it more likely that a massive internal inconsistency in the material of a work that underpins three very old religions hasn't been spotted all that time, or that the problem is more one of shallow thinking?
So, if we look at Iraq, what do we define as killing and what do we define as murder?
Dropping a bomb on al Zarqawi and killing a woman and child who were also in the house: killing.
Raping a 14 year-old girl and slaughtering her and her family: murder.
The fundamental question about abortion is, what makes a being a person, who should be protected by law and social customs? I don't think it is human DNA. I shed thousands of cells with human DNA every day, and no one worries about them. OTOH, if a flying saucer lands in my back yard, I maintain that the crew are persons, even though almost certainly their DNA will be far further removed from human than the DNA of the cow who supplied my hamburger tonight. (Of course, they might strip themselves of the protection of law and custom by their own actions - just like I can rightfully shoot a human criminal in self-defense, or shoot an invading human soldier.)
It isn't brain wave activity alone. That cow had brain waves until they fired a bolt into its head.
To approach it from another angle, what would persuade me that it was wrong to kill and eat that cow? That would be if there was any possibility the cow could learn to say, "Please don't kill me", and understand what it was saying. (And by "say", I mean any method of communication, including using an artificial larynx, tapping out Morse code, making sign language with the ears, etc.) In other words, if there is anything that indicates a possibility of human-like self-awareness, then that being is off limits. (Having done a bit of beef farming, I am quite sure that anyone who thinks there's a possibility that old Bossy is self-aware is a silly sentimentalist with no idea about real cows.)
However, if some mad scientist were to modify a cow until it grew a big enough brain to be self-aware, that cow would be a person, but the other, unmodified cows would still be beef. They have to change from cows to something else to become self-aware.
To apply this to abortion, a first trimester fetus isn't as neurally developed as a cow. If nothing goes wrong, it will eventually change into a self-aware person, but for now it isn't. So, I see no justification for any regulation on 1st trimester abortions other than the usual safety-related regulations on all medical treatment. That can include requiring parental consent for a minor to get an abortion, just like other treatment requires parental consent - with a bypass procedure for a child with unreasonable parents to get a court to authorize the treatment. (There is also no justification for using tax money, taken from other people by the threat of force, to pay for 1st trimester abortions - or for any other medical procedure, but as long as I can't win politically on that point, I'm not going to fight distinguishing abortions from the things they do force me to pay for.) I will generally discourage people from having abortions at all, but I won't agree to use the force of law against 1st trimester abortions.
At some point after the first three months, the fetus does become self-aware. I'm not sure when that is, and any point that is distinct enough to be legally enforceable will be somewhat arbitrary. You could even make an argument that it's at six months or more after birth, but if we're going to err in setting the limit, I'd rather err rather earlier.
Birth itself as the point where the baby becomes legally a person has two things going for it: (1) It's a bright line rule, not requiring guessing as to when conception actually occurred. (2) As the first contact with the outside enviroment, it's likely to be the first possible point where the baby could be actually self-aware.
But I'm quite willing to compromise with those wanting to set an earlier limit, provided first trimester abortions are not restricted, and later abortions are allowed for severe threats to the health of the mother and for unborn babies so defective as to have no chance of being born viable.
Finally, I'll just note that any limit defined as "x" months or days after conception is subject to guesswork. My son was born 9-1/2 months after my wife and I got together after I graduated from boot camp, and we figured he might be two weeks late. (He was huge, like you'd expect if he hung on an extra two weeks.) However, much earlier the doctor had estimated the time of conception at two weeks before I graduated from boot camp. He's grown up too much like me (annoying smart ass and all) to be anything but my blood, and I lack close male relatives, so I know that doctor was mistaken by two to four weeks...
Markm, that pretty succinctly expresses my position on abortion as well. Well put.
markm -- well said. The "DNA is human" argument has always bugged me.
Regarding the "fetus as parasite" idea -- that's where I've got something to add, I think. Here's another way to look at the abortion issue from the "it's MY body" perspective:
Let's look at a hypothetical set of conjoined (or "siamese") twins, Sally and Joan. They were born joined at the chest, and share major organs. There is only one heart between them -- it is distinctly located in Sally's chest, and thus Joan's entire circulatory system is fed by Sally's heart.
Doctors familiar with their (nearly) unique physiology have categorically stated that it is impossible for the two to be separated without killing Joan. Sally would _probably_ survive such a procedure, but there is still a large risk, as it is MAJOR surgery.
The two sisters bicker a lot, and finally, at the age of 27, Sally decides that once and for all she is sick of Joan's crap and wants the surgery.
Does she have the right to demand it?
Situation 2: The two fall ill. Doctors say that together they will probably die. With separation, there's a decent chance of saving Sally. Joan categorically says "NO!" -- she is (understandably) willing to chance that they will survive... together. _Now_ does Sally have a right to the separation surgery?
Situation 3: Together, the two are effectively crippled. The positioning of their two bodies precludes an ability to easily walk, much less run, dance, or get much exercise at all. If separated, (still risky), Sally could expect almost all "normal" function. Joan, again (understandably) says "NO!". Again, does Sally have the right to demand the surgery?
The doctors determine at week 20 of the pregnancy that what they thought was one fetus is, in fact, siamese twins.
Should the mother be able to choose to abort them?
"My son was born 9-1/2 months after my wife and I got together after I graduated from boot camp, and we figured he might be two weeks late. (He was huge, like you'd expect if he hung on an extra two weeks.) However, much earlier the doctor had estimated the time of conception at two weeks before I graduated from boot camp. He's grown up too much like me (annoying smart ass and all) to be anything but my blood, and I lack close male relatives, so I know that doctor was mistaken by two to four weeks..."
Dude, you must be really... um... _fast_. Your seed exceeded the speed of light and went back in time!
(seed... exceed... yeah, I meant to do that.)