Christian doctrine and tradition from the earliest writings, e.g., the Didache and Barnabas all speak against abortion. However, even as Christian teaching and tradition all speak strongly against abortion … it’s not as clear that the consequence should be that we should seek to make abortion illegal or for that matter invalidate Roe vs Wade (although I think that should be done for other political reasons completely unrelated to whether it’s “good law” or not).
In this not-so-little book, Saint Silouan, the Athonite,there is a section in which monastic order is described. It is told that St. Silouan and others leaders in the monastic community might have occasion to give a command to another monk. If that command was not obeyed, there was no censure, no rebuke or correction. Making abortion illegal, when we’ve “made it clear” that it’s immoral (and on that most but not all of the abortion proponents actually agree, e.g., the “safe, legal, rare” crowd implicitly agree that it is wrong by adding “rare” to the list) might be all we should rightly do. If I recall rightly, I think the monastic logic goes something like this:

  • God will judge us for our actions and deeds at the eschaton.
  • God gave us all free will.
  • Any action is judged once.
  • Thus if I command you to do a thing, and you do it (out of righteous obedience) … only one of us will be judged and that will be the one who commanded. That is, I will be judged not you.
  • And if you do not follow that command, you will be judged and furthermore (and more importantly),
  • Finally, because God gave us free will how can I do different and I should therefore allow you to do what you wish without censure or restriction.

So the question is this: In a Christian ethical view, keeping in mind God’s judgement and free will, besides explaining that abortion is wrong and immoral what other action is righteous in God’s eyes? It is likely the answer is … none.

Now I realized that lack of censure does not apply to child-rearing and that a government’s laws and institutions form a crucial part of the tripartite effort to keep us civil (state, church, and academe, being the three). My point is that it seems that Christian teaching would indicate that we shouldn’t make abortion illegal.

Mr Spizer is the latest public official in the new. Hypocrite is a common charge. Now there may be many reasons to condemn Mr Spitzer, but hypocrisy is a tricky charge to make if one lacks mind reading skills or omniscience. It seems that there is only one circumstance one can press the charge of hypocrisy correctly. That is the case in which one does, as Congress often does, passes laws which apply to others but not oneself. If Mr Spitzer had gone after “johns” in the sex trade industry but had pushed for or added a loophole excluding gentlemen named “Spitzer” that would be hypocritical. However just because I say a thing is wrong and do it, that in itself does not make me a hypocrite. As St. Paul famously remarked the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” I can think a thing wrong, do it and still think that it is wrong. The only way I’d be a hypocrite is if I say it is wrong (by lying), do it myself, and for myself yet believe when I do it it is not wrong. The only way someone else can know I’ve that is if they can read into my heart and know truly if I believe a thing is wrong and fell to temptation or am dishonest.


It is a common conceit of the libertarian (and “liberal”) crowd, that prostitution as a “victimless” crime should be legalized. There is however, this (quoting another column):

I changed my mind [on legalization] after looking at the experiences of other countries. The Netherlands formally adopted the legalization model in 2000, and there were modest public health benefits for the licensed prostitutes. But legalization nurtured a large sex industry and criminal gangs that trafficked underage girls, and so trafficking, violence and child prostitution flourished rather than dying out.

and the associated discussion. Mr Cowen’s remark, “I see the costs and benefits of legalization as murky.” I think is spot on. I think both sides of that debate would be better served if they first admitted “murky” as a correct assessment on the costs and benefits.

Filed under: CultureEthics & MoralityMark O.

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