f The Wittenberg Door: Moral Confusion—Slavery vs. Abortion

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Moral Confusion—Slavery vs. Abortion

Most people’s moral reasoning has been crippled by Relativism. Because of this, it can be very difficult to get people to think deeply about any issue—and it’s almost impossible to get them to reflect seriously upon the most important moral issue of our day—abortion.

When discussing this matter, it helps get people thinking when you replace abortion with an already-settled moral issue. Here’s an example using Rudy Giuliani’s remarks during the 2008 Republican presidential debates. But, in order to make the analogy more clear, we’ll move the debate back to the year 1860, and swap Giuliani for Lincoln.

Moderator: Let me ask Mr. Lincoln, do you want to respond to this? Because it seems like across the room here, this strong, unrelenting anti-slavery position. You seem to have a nuanced position on this. Many people think you're pro-slavery. Could you define it in a couple of seconds?

Abraham Lincoln: Sure. This is a very, very difficult issue of conscience for many, many people. In my case, I hate slavery. I would encourage someone to not take that option and enslave Africans. When I was a member of the House of Representatives, I encouraged emancipations.

But ultimately, since it is an issue of conscience, I would respect a slaveholder’s or slave-trader’s right to make a different choice.

But ultimately, I think when you come down to that choice, you have to respect a slaveholder’s or slave-trader’s right to make that choice differently than my conscience.

We cannot even conceive of Abraham Lincoln being this morally confused. When it came to the issue of slavery, the greatest moral issue of his time, Lincoln understood that there was only one question that needed to be answered: Are black folks human beings?

And when this new principle [that African Americans were not covered by the phrase "all men are created equal"] -- this new proposition that no human being ever thought of three years ago, -- is brought forward, I combat it as having an evil tendency, if not an evil design; I combat it as having a tendency to dehumanize the negro -- to take away from him the right of ever striving to be a man. I combat it as being one of the thousand things constantly done in these days to prepare the public mind to make property, and nothing but property of the negro in all the States of the Union.

From Abraham Lincoln’s last debate with Stephen Douglas, 1858

What makes the analogy work is the question of humanity: for Lincoln, as mentioned, Are blacks human beings? If so, then there is no justification for their enslavement. If not, then do with them what you will—no justification needed.

For us, Are the unborn human beings? If so, then there is no justification for abortion. If not, then do with them what you will. This is the question with which we must press those in favor of abortion. All others are secondary.

--The Catechizer

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