Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Third time a charm with Pastor Boyd?

Pastor Boyd has again been kind enough to respond to my e-mail. The previous posts regarding our discussion on abortion are here and here. Pastor Boyd's third e-mail to me is below in blue. My response to him will follow in plain text.

You asked why I abhor abortion. Revulsion results when something you value is devalued. Since I place incredible value on the unborn, I abhor abortion. Whether it would be effective or not, my proposal for a political compromise was meant to minimize violence to the unborn.

I appreciate the time you've taken to thoughtfully respond to my e-mails. I know you probably won't have the time to respond but I have a few questions I would like to just throw out there. Why do you place incredible value on the unborn? I place incredible value on the unborn because I recognize that they are living human beings and I don't think it should be legal to intentionally kill innocent human beings regardless of their stage of development. Since you place incredible value on the unborn, why do you think it should be legal to kill them in the first trimester? I think I understand that you feel a compromise is the only and/or best way to move forward in the politically-charged abortion debate but in your heart do you think that first trimester abortions should be legal (regardless of whether that is feasible at the present time)?

If there's a more effective way to minimize abortions, I'm all for it. But the present stance of simply shouting our opinions as the other side shouts back doesn't seem to be working. (Abortions are up over the last three years after declining for a decade). One strategy -- the one that I think has most promise -- is to find some common ground between the two sides and build on it. You may disagree and feel that other strategies have more potential, which is fine. Honestly though, as much as I love this country, I don't have a lot of optimism for a political solution to this problem. I would rather that we as Christians spend our time and energy trying to support women with unwanted pregnancies and their unborn children on a personal level. Votes and laws are important, but they don't change hearts.

I agree that shouting opinions doesn't usually work. However, I think amiable dialogues (like the one we've been having) can go a long way in changing hearts and minds. I don't know if you've ever heard of an organization called Feminists for Life (www.feministsforlife.org) but I think you might like how they focus their energy on the abortion debate. Based on their focus, the state of Michigan has recently passed this legislation to help set up offices at colleges that help women (who want to keep their child and continue their education) find the available resources to choose life.

No one knows how many abortions have been performed in the last three years. My guess is that you've read a widely disseminated piece by Prof. Glen Stassen regarding abortion statistics. Professor Stassen used faulty statistics in a faulty way to come to his conclusion. National Right to Life has posted a lengthy response to Stassen original piece and Stassen's response to this rebuttal here. Stassen's response can be found here.

I also responded to Stassen's original piece with this post.

Laws may not change hearts right away but I think they can in the long run. Segregation is one issue where hearts have been changed over time thru law (a Supreme Court ruling). I personally think Christians can spend time both supporting women in unplanned pregnancies and working for laws that defend the unborn. Can't we do both?

I would like to thank you for the critical feedback on my proposal, especially the article you referenced. As I mentioned in my original essay, I'm very open to learning about whatever research is available. But again, the principle behind my proposal is simply that we might be able to move beyond the impasse we are presently in as a society and minimize abortions if we can somehow stretch our present agreement about "the end of life/personhood" (however it's defined by the medical community) and in some way apply it to "the beginning of life/personhood."

You are welcome and I appreciate the time you've taken to read what I've provided.

I hope I've adequately distinguished between my own personal opinions about politics and my moral convictions about our role as Christians. I've said it before in other contexts and I will again: I wish my personal opinions about politics had never gotten mixed into this discussion. What's most important is what we can do as Christians on a personal level (apart from the political system) to impact the lives of those around us who are hurting -- in this case pregnant women and their unborn children. And while I truly appreciate your efforts in this arena, unfortunately our dialogue has taken more of my time than I intended, so I'd like to bow out of the discussion. I hope and pray (as I believe you do) that some day we won't have abortions to worry about at all!


Greg Boyd

P.S: Someone drew my attention to your blog. I had no idea our conversation had become public! :) I would like to ask you to post this note in its totality as you have with the others. In the future, I'd also ask that you request my permission before publicly posting my e-mails -- I write them with the assumption that they are part of a confidential discussion. Thanks!

I apologize if I've offended you in any way by posting your previous e-mails on my blog and recognize that I probably should have asked/informed you before posting. I view my blog as more of a form of thought release than anything else. My blog usually doesn't get much traffic but my post did catch the attention of bloggers who are more widely read.

I've enjoyed our discussion and I hope you have as well. I will pray with you that abortion soon becomes something that our world doesn't need to worry about.

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