Thinking about life, faith and the world.

Archive for the tag “Abortion”

What I Learned From a Troll

A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends. – Proverbs 16:28

As an evolving center-right kind of political creature, I respect my friends who sit a bit farther to the right than I do. They are, to some degree, my people. But I have this lament: Some of them wouldn’t recognize a troll if it clubbed them over the head and dragged them under the bridge.

I speak, of course, of the Internet troll, and some people badly need to be trained in troll-spotting. If you secretly wonder sometimes what this trolling thing even is, I’m talking to you. A fine recent example, though I can’t prove it, is a blog post purporting to be from a radical feminist who aborted her male child to avoid bringing another monster into the world.

If this is true, there are hardly words for how reprehensible it is. In a world that contains ISIS, such a person certainly could walk the Earth. But I doubt that this one does. Some things are so perfectly heinous that…well, there’s your first clue that you just might be getting trolled.

Trolling is not a new concept. Before the Internet, we would have called it yanking someone’s chain – saying something outrageous just to see the reaction. The anonymous online world has allowed this perverse craft to reach new heights of artistry and new depths of virulence. Sometimes it’s still just someone’s sophomoric fun, but much of it has taken on a sharp edge of agenda-driven deceit. It’s hard to even guess the motives anymore.

In the case of the allegedly aborted boy child, you may ask, “How could she?” A more interesting question might be, “Who is trolling us and why?” There are multiple possibilities. It could be an anti-feminist trying to make feminists look bad. It could be a feminist trying to provoke outrage from anti-feminists and make them look foolish for believing such a whopper. Or it could be the aforementioned juvenile someone with no particular agenda, stoking the fire just to soak up the heat.

The most interesting question, though, is why people fall for this kind of trolling. Never mind what it says about the troll. What does it say about us? Some people no doubt are just gullible. But in others I see an undercurrent of fear and/or hate, which are closely related. It’s the same kind of thing that I believe drives some conspiracy theorists. These people so despise those who are different from them, that they are willing to believe the “others” capable of just about any evil. Why so much hate? Behind hate there is almost always an element of feat.

As a Christian, I know better than to let fear control me, even if I don’t always practice what I know. We are taught to fear God, which means to hold Him in awestruck respect, but also to know that yes, He can deliver a righteous, loving smackdown if we have it coming. But fear of anything else in creation is not from God. If you find yourself a sucker for every scurrilous claim about someone you disagree with, maybe it’s time to ask God to root out the hate in your heart, and the fear that may be feeding it.


Premature Judgment – Part 3

The Judgment of Solomon

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Passing judgment before the proper time can make faith look like fanaticism, or extinguish a life, or lead to gross injustice. Parts 1 and 2 in this series of posts looked at these themes in very different ways: first, the polarizing and often fruitless “culture wars” that drive well-meaning people to face the world with mean-spirited condemnation; and second, the hasty assumptions that can drive two young men into a confrontation that leaves one dead.

Now I’m veering back to the subject that I first intended to be Part 2. As I venture into a 40-year-old debate, I hope by this one issue to shed light on judgment that’s destructive, and on judgment that is just. Not to dance around the point, I’m talking about unborn human life.

Here, actual lives hang in the balance. I will plead for them first of all as a Christian, but also with any moral appeal that may possibly resonate. I will voice judgment on this issue and not apologize.

Speaking of judgment, ponder this: An old chestnut of Planned Parenthood is the slogan, “Every child a wanted child.” The idea sounds both practical and compassionate until you start to unpack it. It’s hard to find fault with preventing unwanted pregnancy. But we know that in practice the Planned Parenthood mantra also involves the liberal use of one very draconian judgment.

Every abortion on some level is a judgment of the unborn child’s worth by some external measure. The prospects for its home environment are too bleak. Its defects are too severe. It will cost too much – financially, emotionally or in terms of the mother’s life or health.

Those latter situations, and cases such as rape or incest, introduce some shades of gray. Such instances call for the wisdom of Solomon, and he’s not available. But by and large, the judgment of death to the child is made on grounds that while serious, are far less drastic than the exchange of one life for another.

In any event, the decision to abort is a judgment made not on any merit of the child, but on factors completely apart from him or her. And it’s a judgment in which the child has no say.

Time has a finger on the scale as this judgment is made. Abortion immediately lifts the responsibility for another life, grants financial relief and removes a physical burden. If you don’t find that a little chilling, consider how the same ethic could be applied to other people whose quality of life doesn’t meet some arbitrary standard, or who might be judged more of a drain than a contributor – in terms of time, energy or resources.

Unlike abortion’s “upsides,” the rewards of parenthood are slow-ripening fruit. Especially to a young, single woman, the judgment becomes easy when that fruit appears distant, and she has a flawed moral conviction – or none at all – about the object of that judgment.

If a person were brought forth who had somehow lived in a moral vacuum, with no opportunity to knowingly do good or evil, wouldn’t it be unjust to issue a death sentence based on other people’s subjective judgments of the person’s worth or prospects? Yet that is done with every abortion. And a life ends.

Some will ask, is it really a life? A fair question, which I’ll answer with another. Suppose there is an extremely premature infant in a neonatal ward – premature enough to have been aborted via a late-term procedure, had it not been born. This kind of overlap is not some future fantasy – it exists today. Now, supposed a deranged person breaks into the ward and kills that infant. Wouldn’t it be murder? And yet, had the mother judged it impossible to let that baby live, she could have had it aborted, legally.

The point is, we can try to compromise by setting some arbitrary, legal threshold of viability outside the womb, and drawing the line on abortion there. And as surely as the sun will rise, medical science will push that threshold back.

The pressures, subtle and overt, that drive the choice to abort make it important to withhold our judgment of the people involved. As with anything else, it’s for God to judge people, and for His servants to extend compassion, speak truth and seek justice.

In most of my posts, I leave plenty of space for the possibility that I’m wrong. On this issue, I can only leave a very small space. If there is any point at which a fetus is not a human being (I don’t think so), we are not wise enough to find that boundary. The safest moral ground is to treat every fetus as a person, too young to judge unworthy of life. With a few very narrow exceptions, to kill that child intentionally is a terrible injustice.

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