Gay babies, sheep, and other inconvenient creatures

Absolutists are funny. They abhor abortion for any reason, including profound deformities of the sort that preclude anything approaching a normal life – because, after all, who are we to play God and declare any life to be of less value than any other? Why God creates babies who only live for a few days or a few hours is not for us to know. If a child is born with such severe physical or mental defects that she requires full time care throughout her life, the choice to bear this child is not to be questioned. She is understood to be a precious gift from God as is any other child, and part of God’s plan in some way that we don’t understand.

But wait! Infertility, for some reason, can’t be part of God’s plan, and requires human intervention in the reproductive process. Then, if fertility treatments result in five or six or eight babies, it’s a MIRACLE. (Actually, it’s hyper-stimulated ovaries, but never mind.) If the eight babies have medical problems (because, let’s face it, that’s just too many babies for one body to gestate properly), or if some doctor suggests that a few healthy babies would be a better option than a whole litter of sick ones, then suddenly we arrive seamlessly back at the “each baby is part of God’s plan” argument, even though these particular babies exist in the first place only because of human mucking around with massive doses of hormones and extraordinary medical intervention. Still with me?

Even acknowledging that such contradictions exist is commendable. Attempts to explain them away represent the implicit recognition that there is an objective reality, one that beliefs, however strongly held, can’t eliminate entirely.

So it goes with the reality of sexual orientation. Harold Meyerson points out today, with characteristic understatement, that “science is stealing up on America’s religious fundamentalists, causing much alarm.” As the medical consensus that sexual orientation is an intrinsic human characteristic becomes impossible to deny without sounding like a complete doofus, the anti-gay industry finds itself in a difficult position. It must find a way to reconcile the belief that we shouldn’t exist with the fact that we do exist.

Thus, the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has taken a crack at it. In a controversial essay on his blog, Mohler said:

Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation…The general trend of the research points to at least some biological factors behind sexual attraction, gender identity and sexual orientation.

It’s because of the gay sheep. At the same time, Mohler insists that “no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior” and that the discovery of such biological factors is merely evidence of “the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God’s judgment.” Translation: The state of being gay is a disease, an example of degeneration of “the human genetic structure.” (So why are the sheep gay? What’d they do? Never mind.) Faced with the prospect of a hypothetical prenatal test that could reveal sexual orientation, Mohler would oppose “the idea of aborting fetuses or human embryos identified as homosexual in orientation” – but would support a hypothetical “treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual.”

For making this not particularly earthshaking statement, Mohler got it from all sides. Of course he received angry missives from GLBT people. Describing our existence as a disease and suggesting that we need to be “cured” is nothing new, and we’re frankly sick and tired of it. What is more interesting is the response from the those in the fundamentalist camp unwilling to release their death grip on a belief that seems to be foundational to their being.

In a second essay on the topic, Mohler allows as how he has received “mail that can only be described as hateful” from people who “identified themselves as Christians.” These fellow Christians castigated him for questioning one of their core beliefs: That there is no such thing as sexual orientation.

“Some have written me to say that there is no such reality as a homosexual, only those who perform homosexual acts,” an insistence by which Mohler seems puzzled. It would perhaps be helpful for him to explore the origins of the strong need for this belief. Maybe that would help to open his eyes about why even asking these questions causes some individuals to be “shaken to their foundations.” They are the ones in dire need of pastoral care. They are the ones who end up as the Ted Haggards, and in the endless parade of ex-“ex-gays” who are never spoken of again by the “reparative therapy” industry.

As for Mohler’s assumption that “if a biological marker (real or not) is ever claimed to mark homosexuality in prenatal testing, widespread abortion of such babies might well follow,” the responsibility for that prospect rests entirely on him and his fellow trumpeters of “biblical inerrancy.” It is their incessant focus on, at most, six misinterpreted biblical passages that has led to the current level of virulent anti-gay prejudice among some people who consider themselves to be Christians. Mohler attempts to address this dilemma by appealing to the “love the sinner, hate the sin” meme. He appears here to be genuinely speaking from the heart, but the damage has been done. His words of concern fall far short of the generous, loving and inclusive Christianity he tries to invoke.

Let’s be clear. The gay or transgender or intersex child is not the broken thing that needs to be fixed. These are natural variations of being human. The thing that needs to be fixed, the thing that causes disruption and harm, is an old and misguided prejudice. Those afflicted with this prejudice are so arrogant as to think that part of God’s creation is a mistake, and that we (infallible humans that we are) know better. To make matters worse, we have seen this movie before. Meyerson again:

But once you recognize homosexuality as a genetic reality, it does create a theological dilemma for the Mohlers among us, for it means that God is making people who, in the midst of what may otherwise be morally exemplary lives, have a special and inherent predisposition to sin. Mohler’s response is that since Adam’s fall, sin is the condition of all humankind. That sidesteps, however, the conundrum that a gay person may follow the same God-given instincts as a straight person — let’s assume fidelity and the desire for church sanctification in both cases — and end up damned while the straight person ends up saved. Indeed, it means that a gay person’s duty is to suppress his God-given instincts while a straight person’s duty is to fulfill his.

Mohler’s deity, in short, is the God of Double Standards: a God who enforces the norms and fears of a world before science, a God profoundly ignorant of or resistant to the arc of American history, which is the struggle to expand the scope of the word “men” in our founding declaration that “all men are created equal.” This is a God who in earlier times was invoked to defend segregation and, before that, slavery.

How blind can a person be? In an interview with the Washington Post on Friday,

Mohler said that Christian couples “should be open” to the prospect of changing the course of nature — if a biological marker for homosexuality were to be found. He would not support gene therapy but might back other treatments, such as a hormonal patch.

“I think any Christian couple would want their child to be whole and healthy,” he said.

And here we arrive at the heart of the matter: The belief that by “changing the course of nature,” what can only be called playing God, “Christian couples” would be making the world the way it should be. In this universe, “the course of nature” is wrong, and a child is made “whole and healthy” only through human intervention. How Mohler manages to avoid seeing the irony in his words is a mystery.

One thing that the Rev. Mohler and I agree on completely is this: “Careless thinking will not serve the church well.” Meyerson concludes:

A mysterious God may be well and good, but a capricious or contradictory God can inspire so much doubt that He threatens the credibility of the entire religious enterprise. After all, there are few American believers who don’t profess at least some faith as well in the verities of proven science and the rightness of our national credo’s commitment to human equality. By effectively insisting that God is a spiteful homo-hater, his followers saddle him with ancient phobias and condemn him to the backwaters of American moral life.

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41 Responses to Gay babies, sheep, and other inconvenient creatures

  1. Martha Baine says:

    I’ve always wondered why people start talking about playing God when they talk about dying and killing and never when they go to the doctor in the first place. You’d think they’d all be refusing to vaccinate their children or take the least aspirin and that they’d be boycotting drug companies and demonstrating against federal support for drug research of any kind. If it’s God’s will. . .

    In fact why do we drive cars, mine minerals, eat cooked food, heat our water and do anything at all to change our environment?. God gave us this miraculous earth; who are we to be fussing with it? If God had wanted us to shoot each other with bullets, he would have made them grow on trees. We should be content with bashing each other over the head with rocks.

  2. David says:

    How ironic that we are talking about playing God – this guy has taken it to a whole other level of arrogant delusion.

    Check the comments, where he says that he would only trust his own judgment. As they say, “..must see to appreciate!”

  3. Russell says:

    I do live like everyone else, actually Jason, I live like I live. What would living like everyone else look like? Then again, why would I want to live like everyone else? How boring. Plus, I wouldn’t be strong enough to sit in front of the tv for hours on end, get fat with each passing year from eating too much junk food, get fatter still from no exercise because I sit on the couch for hours on end watching tv, talk behind peoples back and smile to their face, be rude and inconsiderate, neglect and ignore my children in public, wear clothes that don’t fit, worship the mall and living on credit and People magazine, complain about everything I have no control over, complain that it is always someone elses fault, complain that I never have sex yet that is why I am married and then get addicted to internet porn so that the other half of the day that I am not sitting in front of the tv – I am sitting in front of the computer, lie to some-ones face, drive like I am the only one on the road, NEVER use my turn signal, prevent my children from learning about the real world, oh, and then, make myself feel better by going to church on Sunday because no matter what I do – Jesus loves me and I have a bumper sticker to prove it next to the confederate flag and mean people suck ones, and besides, my preacher says everything is ok and there is nothing wrong with me, it is just the gays that are ruining it all because they want to be just like everyone else.

    Whew … I had to force myself to stop. Now I know what Stephen King must feel like when he is writing those horror books.

  4. Roci says:

    Thanks for noticing. You are of course welcome to refute my ideas or you can just call me names. Whichever is easiest for you.

    How do you define “playing God”?

    Is it just choosing to kill or does is also include choosing to create?

    Mankind throughout human history, including our own current society, has rules and customs for making these choices. The arguments I laid out conform to those customs but in a different way. Are your own choices as consistent?

    If you are going to even use the word “God” shouldn’t you define which one you mean? Of course, if you are an atheist, Playing God would be like playing fairy princess. Why would you object to that?

    You are welcome to leave comments at my site even if deep thinking is too hard for you.

  5. David says:


    I have elected not to intrude on your blog and engage in a debate I don’t consider worthy of my effort, but since you have visited here I will briefly point out what I think is your vast blind spot. You are willing to trust your own, and only your own, judgment with regard to taking another person’s life. You are, however, contemptuous when it comes to the agency of others in trusting their own judgment with regard to their own bodies and what they choose to do with them. I find that remarkable.

    My point here was not, obviously, to claim that bad people “play God” and good people don’t. We all make decisions that could be defined as such. This post concerns a particular contradiction that is currently being forced into the open.

  6. Roci says:

    I trust my own judgement exclusively because I understand the commenter’s remark that it would be difficult to trust anyone with that level of authority. By default, the most limited form of authority is when it is exercised by a single person.

    I made no statements in that post regarding any other choices people might like to make. In case you are confused, let me elaborate. I have no interest at all in what you choose to do with your body or whith whome. I like freedom. I think everyone should have some. If you use your freedom for self mutilation or suicide, I will use my freedom to denounce your choice as a sign of mental illness. If you use your choice to injure other people, I will denounce your choice as violent.

    If you use your choice to lead a lifestyle that ncompatible with peaceful society to the point where you are a threat to the lives of the people around you, I will feel a moral obligation to my neighbors to stop you.

    While I don’t entirely trust your judgement, I would argue that you also have a moral obligation to confront and thwart the violent people in your own sphere of influence.

    I hope this clears things up.

  7. Russell says:

    “By default, the most limited form of authority is when it is exercised by a single person.”

    I would have to disagree with you here Roci. There are countless examples of “authoritativeness” that individuals choose to violate on a dialy basis. So I would say that single person authority is limitless as compared a sense of societal authority due to the fact that authority only exists when it is enforced.

    I do find your sense of reference somewhat confusing. At some point I find an individualist approach, and then, at another, I find it coming from a pluralist nature.

    Which is your philospohy based?

    Also, I am just curious on your thoughts on a subject, only because of the statement you have made here – “If you use your choice to lead a lifestyle that ncompatible with peaceful society to the point where you are a threat to the lives of the people around you, I will feel a moral obligation to my neighbors to stop you.” Where do you stand on immoral wars and what are you and your neighbors doing to stop them? Where do you stand on genocide and what are you and your neighbors doing to stop it? Where do you stand on prejudice and what are you and your neighbors doing to stop it? Where do you stand on the rape of the environement and what are you and your neighbors doing to stop it? Surely these actions, and many others similar, are incompatible with a peaceful society and can arguably be construed as part of a persons “lifestyle”.

    I am also somewhat interested in the threats that my family present to my neighbors on the left and right of our house, also to the ones across the street? Please explain.

  8. David says:


    Thank you. Your freedom does indeed include the freedom to be ignorant of and derisive toward the experiences of other people.

  9. Roci says:

    Glad you asked.

    Where do you stand on immoral wars..

    Obviously, I am against immoral wars and completely for moral ones. And seeing no immoral wars in my neighborhood, I see no need to stop any.

    Where do you stand on genocide…

    I am against genocide in general. Just one of the reasons I oppose abortion. Of course I have no influence over genocide on other countries. Sucks to be them. But if you start a genocide in Spotsylvania, you will see some rightous indignation.

    Where do you stand on prejudice…

    I am all for prejudice. I have nothing but contempt for people who cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. I would not dream of stopping it.

    Where do you stand on the rape of the environement …

    I do not believe the environment can be “raped”. It can be used, abused, exploited, or polluted but not raped. Words actually mean something. Get a dictionary. Assuming the envoronment could be raped, I would be in favor of it since it would lead to procreation of the environment which would be a good thing. See how stupid false metaphores are?

    I am also somewhat interested in the threats that my family present to my neighbors …

    I am unaware of any threat you pose to your neighbors or anyone else for that matter. Unless you wish to confess to something, I don’t see your point.

  10. Roci says:

    Your freedom does indeed include the freedom to be ignorant of and derisive toward the experiences of other people.

    Thanks dave,
    But I don’t see what your comment has to do with my original post or your responses.

    There are very few people on the Earth today who are not ignorant of other people’s experiences. You, for example, are ignorant of mine, yet I make no condemnation of you for it. It is what I would call “normal”. I don’t expect you to know my experiences. Nor do I care if you are derisive of them. I don’t live for your approval and I have no expectation that you are awaiting mine.

  11. Jack says:

    Perhaps I should put this on Roci’s blog, but I’m here. Since we have the capacity to go to the courts and have family members unwillingly committed for psycholocical reasons, there is no cause to kill them.

    As for the rest of the discussion, I don’t really see the relevance of a genetic cause for homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a sin. Homosexual ACTS are. So there are gay sheep. What relevance does that have for us? Dogs will have sex with a sibling that is in heat. So is incest not still a sin?

    As I have said before, David, I think your burden is far greater than mine. If you choose to bear that burden for His sake, your reward will be greater, too.

  12. Jonathan says:


    If you deprive the environment of it’s progeny and replace it with yours, that’ rape.

  13. Roci says:

    No it isn’t.

    Prove the environment is not consenting.

    Like I said, it is a stupid metaphore. It adds no enlightenment to the discussion

    Instead of saying “how do you feel about raping the environment” you were to say, “how do you feel about living in a house, having indoor plumbing, an unlimited cheap food supply, using electricity and having the ability to travel great distances in minutes”, then you will more accurately capture the discussion. Since I suspect you are not living in a cave in a national forest having sticks and rocks for breakfast, I already know how you feel about those things. Even your use of the internet to answer me shows you care less for the “rape of the environment” than you do for arguing with someone you don’t even know.

  14. Jonathan says:

    Funny Roci, you seem to be enjoying “arguing with someone you don’t even know”. Maybe this “argument” is consensual. Not sure if it’s safe and sane. I hope you’re having fun. :-(]

  15. Jack says:

    I see no evidence of sanity in this conversation.

  16. David says:

    Perhaps this will help. As I have said before, I do not feel burdened in the least by who I am, in fact, I consider it to be a gift. My reward is here and now: I know that God loves me just the way I am, as a whole and authentic person in relationship to others. Can you say the same? I hope so, but I wonder, because you seem so caught up in the idea of carrying a burden. Maybe you are carrying something that is not yours?

  17. Loudoun Conservative says:


    You say, “If a child is born with such severe physical or mental defects that she requires full time care throughout her life, the choice to bear this child is not to be questioned. She is understood to be a precious gift from God as is any other child, and part of God’s plan in some way that we don’t understand.”

    I understand that you are trying to make a point about an inconsistency that you perceive to be in Dr. Mohler’s comments, but I have a question for you. Does your statement imply that you would question a woman’s choice to bear a child with severe physical or mental defects? I understand from your prior statements that you favor an abortion-on-demand policy. Is there someone other than the woman whom you would wish to make a decision about whether she should give birth to this child?

    Also, your statements make it clear that you do not understand or at least do not accurately state the position held by confessing Christians whom you consider to be “absolutists” regarding IVF and fertility treatments. Catholics, of course, oppose almost all types of artificial intervention in reproductive processes, whether to interfere with conception and birth or to cause it. Most confessing evangelicals and many who are Orthodox are likewise skeptical of IVF / ART, but can conceive (pun intended) of it as ethical IF a woman / couple only chooses to fertilize as many eggs as babies she is willing to carry. Such ethical IVF / ART does not result in discarded embryos and should be relatively safe for the mother.

    Is it a miracle for someone to have 6 or 7 babies? I think so, but not because I am unaware of the medical technology that goes into such an event. It is not a miracle on the order of the immaculate conception. But I must greatly respect the faith of the woman who chooses to endure much physical suffering rather than kill some of her children and it is a miracle that God would sustain the lives of so many in one uterus when such births are quite rare.

  18. Jonathan says:

    Loudoun Conservative,

    I think you are confusing the immaculate conception with the virgin birth.

    The Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic dogma that asserts that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was preserved by God from the stain of original sin at the time of her own conception. Specifically, the dogma says she was not afflicted by the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, but was instead filled with grace by God, and furthermore lived a life completely free from sin. It is commonly confused with the doctrine of the incarnation and virgin birth, though the two deal with separate subjects.

  19. Jack says:

    It cannot be a burden, David, if you refuse to bear it.

  20. David says:


    To answer your first question, no. While I might personally think it is an irresponsible or ill-advised choice depending on the circumstances, I would never question a woman’s right to make the decision.

    “Abortion on demand” seems to me to be one of those memes created by those who oppose abortion under any circumstances, and doesn’t accurately reflect the position of those who disagree with them. It carries implications of a cavalier attitude toward abortion as a kind of ‘convenience’ that I have never encountered in an actual woman contemplating an actual abortion.

    This is my moral position on the use of other people’s bodies: Nobody has that inherent right. Nobody has the right to violate another’s bodily integrity, even to save their own life. If I need your kidney, and I will die without it, do I have the right to compel you to give me your kidney? I don’t think so. You can consensually offer me the use of your body to save my life, but I don’t have the right to compel you. I don’t think that women are a different class of people who have a different set of rights by virtue of their biological role in reproduction. Sorry, I just don’t.

    Unintended pregnancy is not a simple issue; it involves education, socio-economic class, access to contraception, gender role socialization, power relationships, and a whole host of other socio-political-cultural factors. I don’t think that there’s anyone who doesn’t oppose abortion in the sense of wanting it to happen less, and ideally, not at all, but that’s a very complicated enterprise.

    Your point about Orthodoxy and absolutism on the IVF question is well taken. It is not technically the same people who are making the contradictory arguments I discuss here – I am well aware of the Catholic position – and it was perhaps unfair of me to present it the way I did. In my defense, I think that in the popular imagination the arguments run together. The people who go all googly over the 6 or 7 babies don’t stop and think about the implications of long term health deficits that result from what is really an unnatural event (life is one thing, health is something else). The same people who would think that the consensual body modifications that are freely chosen by transsexual people are “unnatural” would generally not think the same of subjecting their own intersex child to cosmetic genital mutilation, which would obviously be without that child’s informed consent. These contradictions in thinking are everywhere – on both the left and right – and I respect anyone who is authentically engaged in questioning and clarifying their own moral and logical consistency. I appreciate your comments.

  21. Jack says:


    Reading your third paragraph, it sounds like you do not support abortion, even to save the life of the mother.

  22. David says:

    Hmm. How do you figure that? What I am saying is that, even if you believe that an embryo is in fact a person at the moment of fertilization, at implantation, or at some other point (this has varied considerably over time) that person has no inherent “right” to the use of another person’s body as an incubator without their consent. Any other reading of that paragraph would be questioning the personhood of the woman, it seems to me.

    As I understand it, there is an Orthodox Catholic dogma that considers the woman and the embryo to be equals in terms of their inherent right to life, and places the decision making power, in the event that one of them must die to save the other, in the hands of the husband/presumptive father. Is that right?

  23. Jack says:

    “Nobody has the right to violate another’s bodily integrity, even to save their own life.”

    Is not an abortion violating another’s bodily integrity?

    “That person has no inherent “right” to the use of another person’s body as an incubator without their consent.”

    That’s why some people favor allowing abortion in the case of rape. Since pregnancy is a natural (though not guaranteed) result of sex, then consenting to sex is consenting to be an incubator.

  24. David says:

    You know, it’s funny you should say that, because just yesterday I read this on another blog about a recent speech by Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly:

    At one point, Schlafly also contended that married women cannot be sexually assaulted by their husbands.

    “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape,” she said.

    So let me see if I have this straight, so to speak. In order to have sex, a person must be married. For a woman, being married means she has consented to sex at any time. By having sex, she has consented to being an incubator for any pregnancy that may result. Am I getting it right so far?

  25. Jack says:

    No, you are avoiding it. I am not Schlafly. Sex is obviously possible outside of marriage, if immoral and inadvisable.

    However, you do get the final point: By consenting to sex, the woman has consented to the possibility of getting pregnant. As such, she has a responsibility to the baby.

  26. Loudoun Conservative says:

    Jonathan, you are right — I should have said Virgin Birth.

    David, although Schafley and I agree on many things, we do not agree on the matter you have just quoted her on. This would not be the first time I have heard another conservative claim that there is no such thing as marital rape. But the fact that marriage is intended to be the giving of oneself to another person in a selfLESS act of love, does not imply that either partner has legal or moral permission to abuse the other. To eny the existence of marital rape is to say that within marriage, sex can happen anytime, anyway and anywhere one person wants it to. And, due to normative gender differences, that one person is generally male. To force sex on someone is an essential SELFISH and therefore loveless act. If Schafely had said that it is wrong for either partner to withhold sex in order to punish the other person or to withold it for a long period of time, I would agree. But that does not give the aggrieved party the right to force sex – to use it as a weapon against the other spouse.

    Like Jack, though, I would say that consenting to sex, in a moral universe, requires consenting to the consequences of sex. For a woman, that is pregnancy. For both man and woman, it is a responsibility to care for their offspring. In ideal situations, the man can bear some of the burdens of pregnancy by helping the woman during pregnancy in special ways that she might not need at other times. Pregnancy can strengthen a union. Unfortunately, our choices lead to situations that are not ideal and the “complexities” referenced above.

    thanks for the dialogue…

  27. David says:

    Thanks, LC. We are certainly in agreement on the nature of marriage, if not the specifics.

    I think that, if a woman believes that life begins at conception, meaning she believes that an embryo inside her possesses a personhood equal to her own, it makes perfect sense for her to see an unplanned pregnancy as a natural consequence of the decision to have reproductive sex, even if she was using contraception and it failed. Carrying the baby to term would in that case be taking appropriate responsibility on the basis of her beliefs.

    Here’s where it seems to me that the moral coherence falls apart: If one believes that life begins at conception, that’s true whether the woman consented to sex or not. It’s not the embryo’s fault if it was created as the result of rape. It either has a right to live or it doesn’t. So where does that leave the argument about the consequences of consenting to sex?

    If you are relying on the consequences argument, then do you believe it’s acceptable for a rape victim to choose abortion? If that’s ok, where does that leave the personhood at conception argument? If that’s not ok, what is it other than a double violation of the woman’s bodily integrity, first through sex without her consent, then by requiring her to be an incubator without her consent?

    The issue for me keeps coming back to the idea that women must be inherently second class citizens by virtue of the role they play in reproductive biology, and there’s just no way I can see that as moral.

  28. Jack says:


    You bring up the rape issue, and the reason why some people think that one should be allowed to have an abortion in the case of rape. (I do not hold this view, so you must pardon me if I do not explain it well.) It goes back to the consent issue. The woman did not consent to be a mother. The fetus, as you said, “has no inherent “right” to the use of another person’s body as an incubator without their [sic] consent.”

    That is not to say that these people think that such abortions are “OK,” but that allowing raped women to have that option is the least of the evils.

    “The issue for me keeps coming back to the idea that women must be inherently second class citizens by virtue of the role they play in reproductive biology, and there’s just no way I can see that as moral.”

    Why is that? On what basis do you make that statement?

  29. David says:

    Why that’s the issue, or why I think it’s immoral?

  30. Jack says:

    Why is it that “there’s just no way [you] can see that as moral”?

  31. David says:

    I think that is self-evident, Jack. What you are saying is that a woman, by definition, has no right to bodily integrity – that her body does not belong to her. Again, I will die unless you give me one of your kidneys. You can choose to give me life by donating a kidney, but I have no right to forcibly take it from you.

  32. Jack says:

    Here’s what you said, David: “women must be inherently second class citizens by virtue of the role they play in reproductive biology, and there’s just no way I can see that as moral.”

    I cannot see into your mind, so your reasoning cannot be “self-evident.” Please try to explain YOUR statement, not mine.

    (BTW, are we now agreed that a woman who consented to sex has an obligation to the child?)

    Now, to discuss your attempt to explain my position:

    Of course a woman has a right to “bodily integrity.” So does everyone else, but NOT at others’ expense. Stealing to feed your family is still stealing, and killing an innocent person to preserve one’s “bodily integrity” is still murder.

    No, you do not have the right to my kidney, but you (liberals in general, perhaps not you personally) demand to take my money to pay for the operation. You demand the fruits of my labor, for which I used both my body and my mind, to pay to preserve your life.

    Your kidney analogy has two other flaws. First, after a woman has given birth, she is as whole (“integrity”) as she was before she became pregnant. Second, a kidney transplant does not happen without unnatural interference. In contrast, birth happens without such unnatural interference.

  33. Russell says:


    Does that mean a cesarean section is natural?

    I am curious, since you brought it up, if “conservatives in general, perhaps not you personally”, are in need of a life saving operation that they can not pay for, are you saying that a conservative would rather die than benefit from the fruits of another’s labor to pay to for an operation to preserve a life, or are you saying that they just would not demand to take someone else’s money to pay for it, but benefit from it none-the-less if it is available for them to use?

  34. Jack says:

    A c-section is not birth, it is extraction. Are you saying that, if a c-section is deemed to be necessary, THEN an abortion is OK? Even with a c-section (which SHE chooses), is the mother lacking anything that she had before she became pregnant? Did the child (as in a Greaseman radio skit) take a kidney with him to sell on the black market when he got out?

    While not a life-threatening situation, my daughter was born without insurance. Rather than making someone else pay for it (we were eligible), we went into debt. Several years later, the debt was repaid.

    My grandmother, on the other hand, DID forego potentially life-saving treatment for her cancer.

  35. Russell says:


    Well, I’m puzzled as to how you equated my question about a c-section with abortion since, to me anyway, a c-section seems like a birth. Actually, extraction is used as a noun in the definition of birth ““ the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring.

    Anyway, since you brought it up, in the black and white of things, I do not think abortion is ok and if someone came to me in need of advice, I would have to say I would advise against it. So, Jack, we have something in common there.

    However, in the prism of life, one could make the case, as Roci when mentioning immoral and moral wars, about immoral and moral abortion. If murder is used as a litmus test, it becomes quite an interesting conversation because murder has both lawful and unlawful characteristics; by the definition society has placed on it. Then there is that “Thou shall not murder” thing in the Ten Commandments. Based upon common definitions or murder, it would then seem that you can have your cake and eat it too, since murder is not murder if it is lawful by definition. So, if a murder is lawful, then a violation of the 6th Commandment (or 5th depending on which biblical version interpretation you use) does not occur. It is interesting to me that the word “murder” is used instead of ‘kill’ in the Commandment, which is much less interpretive in that black and white versus prism of life sort of thing.

    David has many points and opinions, as do you, I, and others, in the context of each of our own personal values. They can be the values of many, or the values of few; popular or unpopular; rational or irrational; whatever. Is one really right or wrong? I think that is a fickle criterion. From an individual perspective I would say, and from mine I respect yours and David’s, as well as Roci’s opinions about things ““ each as equally interesting as the next in their own right, as well as in the degree of agreeability and disagreeability ““ which may be more of a solid criteria.

    Let me recognize that in forgoing assistance for your daughter’s birth, even though you were eligible to receive it as you say, nonetheless was a personal choice I am sure you made in consideration of many things in relation to whatever circumstances and opinions were present at that time in your life, and maybe still exist. I do not recognize, however, that if a person does not make that same choice as you and takes advantage of public assistance, that it is of any less or greater concern – conservative or liberal, and all points in between. I do however, have issue with abuse of a support system that was implemented to “help people to get themselves back on their feet or when they need a little extra help”. Support systems abound for a specific purpose ““ to help people ““ and I would have had no problem with you tapping into that support system if you were willing to use it.

    I do not know the motives of your grandmother in forgoing treatment for her cancer, and assuming she has passed, I am sorry for your loss, or as to why your daughter was born with no insurance. My mother, who had her own motives, recently passed last December and my sister and I did indeed choose to use the help of Social Security, and we were grateful for that help being there in our time of need for many reasons that I would not be able to accurately describe or do justice here. The experience affected both of us in a very deep way. So I do not know what that would mean in your eyes, if our choice was in some how ““ “less noble” – than yours and that your choice is deemed more congratulatory, or that there is some validation needed that yours was the proper choice, but the bottom line is that we both do what we do that is best for our family and, of course, make different choices in regard to that. And if those things are similar, great, we have something more in common. And if those things are not similar, great, we don’t have something in common. I find the former is mostly true, and inside we are all brothers and sisters.

    Thanks for the conversation. As much as it can be one on-line.

  36. Jack says:


    Yes, I do equate abortion to murder. The prohibition against murder is God’s law. It exists with or without government. I am interested to see how you would create a definition of murder that does not include abortion.

    I made the decision not to accept public assistance because of my own personal convictions. Others believe that it is right to take from others for one’s own benefit. I do not.

    Social Security is a different beast from Medicaid and Medicare, in that payments must be made to the system before one can receive benefits. It is, to some extant, an insurance program.

    You say that “we both do what we do that is best for our family.” If everyone did that, we would still be subject to the Crown of England. Many people in our revolution did things that were not best for their families, but which were best for America. Our soldiers do not volunteer because it is best for their families to be without a father for months at a time.

  37. David says:

    You win, Jack. I don’t think I can explain why it’s immoral to define half of humanity as second-class citizens whose bodies don’t belong to them. It is self-evident.

    It’s not insignificant that you made the decision to not accept public assistance for medical care of a woman’s body in childbirth. Since as far as you’re concerned her body doesn’t belong to her, that decision wouldn’t be hers to make, either.

    No analogy is perfect, but your criticism of mine is wildly off the mark. Childbirth may be “natural,” but it is hardly without risk. In places lacking adequate sanitation and basic medical care women die in childbirth quite regularly. It is the “unnatural interference” of procedures like C-sections that can save many of these lives. Your statement “after a woman has given birth, she is as whole (“integrity”) as she was before she became pregnant” is simply and stunningly untrue. There is a price to pay for the evolution of our large cerebrums, and it is paid by women.

    There are few things more disgusting to me then a group of men sitting around pontificating about the right of women to control their own bodies, so I’m quitting now.

  38. Jack says:

    A woman has as much right to her own body as a child does to his. Does a woman have a right to kill someone else for her convenience? The risk in childbirth to the mother is insignificant compared to the risk in abortion to the child.

    You apparently do not read very well, David. I said WE went into debt. My wife and I make decisions together. In any event, the decision was about how to pay for the care, not what care to get.

    If a place lacks such basic medical care, abortion will not be without risk, too. C-sections would also be very hazardous in such places. There is even evidence that indicates that abortion is a greater risk than childbirth:

    You did not say what a woman lacks after childhood that she had before she became pregnant. What is she lacking?

    As I have stated, a woman DOES have the right to control her own body. She has the right to consent to or refuse sex, even with her husband. However, she does not have the right to control (kill) another’s body, that of her child, for her own convenience.

  39. Russell says:


    I’m not going to even try and create a definition of murder that does not include abortion because I am confused about whether you respect the laws of government and a society, or God’s law, or a combination of the two. I think that we both agree that abortion is not ok, but prohibition of murder against God’s law? The Bible is rife with justification for murder, and I think passages in the Bible even define what is appropriate even though there is a Commandment against it. Joshua comes to mind maybe. I guess we have different perspectives on what we read from it, and since I am not a Christian, I’m a little less qualified to comment. Although, even for Christians, I think there are differences of interpretations. Now, if we were talking about the taking of life, killing, then we would be in complete agreement, although, from what I think I may know about you from this blog, we might be in disagreement if that included war. It seems contradictory to me when some people profess that the United States is a “Christian nation” and our laws of government are based upon “divine intention”, and then talk about God’s law and disavow the law of government, by the people, as irrelevant. You may have to help me understand that.

    I see it that people fought the revolution because they wanted their family to be free and not subjects of the crown, and where more than a little tired of taxation .. hmmm .. like today, only we now have a president and congress. We should be thankful for the revolutionaries. Military personnel volunteer for many reasons, one of which is that they want their families to remain free, protected, and serve their country. I was one of them and served my country, proudly. We should be thankful to those who still serve since we still need a military at this time in history. I think we actually are saying just about the same thing, only from a different perspective.

    I do agree with you that some think it ok to take from others, that is why people still steal unfortunately. I don’t see using public assistance as “taking” from others for your own benefit when using the system appropriately, when needed for its purpose, and have contributed to it, but I understand your personal convictions about it and can honor that. I totally can understand your position if a person chooses not to contribute to that system. If public assistance is used without needing it, then I would see that as “taking” and, yes, would have a problem with that. It interests me somewhat that you may feel that people are “not what they should be” if their personal convictions do not match your own. That is the impression I get from our conversation. Would that be true when their personal convictions do not match yours?

    Insurance, well, that is a whole other story “¦. maybe for later. Social Security is a mess anyway. Where money is involved I am sure you will not find an honest politician.

  40. Jack says:


    You will have to be a little more specific in your Bible passages. There is no justification for murder. If a killing is justified, it is not murder. The Bible prescribes death as punishment for certain offenses. Those are justified killings. God sent the Hebrews into war, too.

    I don’t think anyone claims that our laws are based on “devine intention.” Our original Constitution, perhaps, but not our laws. When man’s laws are in conflict with God’s, which do we follow? Perhaps you should ask Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which laws he followed.

    When there are ten people in a group, and nine say, “Let us take from the tenth, so that we may eat,” is that theft, or democracy?

    I do not understand your question about “personal convictions.” No-one should take another’s property without asking, even if his need is dire. There is nothing in our Constitution that permits the government to take from one person and give to another.

    Social Security IS a mess. There is a simple thought-experiment to prove it: What would happen to the leaders of a corporation that set up a retirement system exactly like social security?