Trusting in Man: Behind Political Calculations Lie Theological Assumptions

Posted: Jan 26, 2011 12:01 AM
Trusting in Man: Behind Political Calculations Lie Theological Assumptions

In an article in The New Republic by Tiffany Stanley last month showed how skewed some liberal thinking is. She wrote about how Democrats had made inroads on the religious vote in 2008, only to face steep drop-offs in 2010. She asked, "How and why did this happen?"

Her answer: Democrats did not invest enough in their "religious outreach programs." The phones weren't ringing at Eleison, a consulting company that specializes in "Democratic faith outreach" and worked on 40 campaigns in 2008. Stanley's proposal: "To defend his record and contend with the right-wing grassroots, Obama would do well to articulate the moral-religious values that permeate his policies and initially energized his supporters."

Hmm, what "moral-religious values" are those, exactly? That even partial-birth abortion—which fellow Democrat Patrick Moynihan said was "too close to infanticide"—should be legal? That no new students should be allowed to enter the District of Columbia school vouchers program? That Obama is, to quote from one of his recent statements, "a stalwart ally of the LGBT community"?

All the "religious outreach programs" that money can buy won't inspire most evangelicals to support those positions. But here's a proposal that would work: The Democratic Party could pass what Hubert Humphrey called "the moral test of government"—how it acts toward those who are in the dawn of life, the twilight of life, and the shadows of life. To be more specific: What if Democrats moved to a pro-life position? They would lose some big funders and a radical feminist core, yet pick up so many votes that the House of Representatives would be theirs again in 2012 and thereafter.

The mystery is, why don't they? For 150 years our two-party system has been fluid, with parties sometimes changing as politics dictate: Two generations ago Republicans began moving from big-government positions to small-government ones. One generation ago Democrats abandoned their John F. Kennedy hawkishness. Why don't Democrats switch on abortion? Maybe the reason is that positions on abortion arise from something deeper: Is "In God We Trust" still the national motto, or do we trust in man?

The tendency to trust in man rather than God is everywhere apparent. Look at this Wall Street Journal headline from 2009: "A Baby, Please. Blond, Freckles—Hold the Colic. Laboratory techniques that screen for diseases in embryos are now being offered to create designer children." Or this headline from last month: "Assembling the Global Baby. With an international network of surrogate mothers and egg and sperm donors, a new industry is emerging to produce children on the cheap."

Trusting in man, we end up with chilling language such as this from last month's article: "Mike Aki and his husband, a Massachusetts couple . . . planned on having two children. But their two surrogate mothers in India each became pregnant with twins. At 12 weeks into the pregnancies, Mr. Aki and his husband decided to abort two of the fetuses, one from each woman. It was a very painful call to make, Mr. Aki says. 'You start thinking to yourself, Oh, my god, am I killing this child?' He didn't think of his decision as an abortion, but as a 'reduction.'"

Trusting in man's judgment, defenders of abortion still say it is needed, although most no longer happily equate abortion with liberation. The Japanese anticipated us here: a high abortion rate, but places to mourn the dead unborn, with aborting mothers putting out bottles of milk and baby toys. Is that the best we can do?

Trusting in man's rationality, one of last year's new books on abortion, The Fetal Position: A Rational Approach to the Abortion Issue, by Chris Meyers (Prometheus), audaciously claims to take "neither a pro-life nor a pro-choice stance." Meyers instead asserts that he is assessing both sides "from a position that is as unbiased as possible," yet his position is inherently biased because he shows no belief in God. Unsurprisingly, Meyers ends up arguing that " a virtuous person would see abortion as something unfortunate," but it should still be legal.

Trust in man, and we end up with both designer babies and abortions. Has any other civilization made life both so expensive and so cheap, so desired and so denigrated? Subjectivity rules. Jesus weeps.

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