It’s Thursday, August 3, 2017. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Safe, legal, and rare no longer: Oregon legislators adopt aggressive new abortion law
The great worldview crisis of our age comes down to several issues over and over again. They are enduring issues that will not go away because of the importance not only of the issue but what it tells us about how Americans are divided at the most basic level of our thinking. The most important of those issues is the sanctity of human life, and the issue of abortion is at the center that issue. Thus, we need to pay attention to the fact that in the last several weeks one of the most atrocious abortion laws in the history the United States has been adopted in the state of Oregon. Oregon legislators earlier in the summer adopted legislation that will now create not only the state that has the most liberal abortion laws in the nation, but it’s now also the state that will compel all of its citizens to pay for abortion. We now not only have abortion on demand but abortion at taxpayers’ expense within the state of Oregon.
As the editors of the National Review commented,Show Full Transcript
“Once upon a time, Democrats wanted abortion to be ‘safe, legal, and rare.’ Today, that mantra is ‘unregulated, on demand, and’ — in the state of Oregon — ‘free.’”
The editors went on to describe Oregon’s “radical” and “grizzly.” Two words that do immediately come to mind, and what we’re looking at here is something that goes beyond even where most supposedly pro-choice or pro-abortion politicians admit that they want to go. One thing to keep in mind here is that the great worldview divide in this country is now also increasingly a predictably political divide. One of the things that most separates Democrats and Republicans at the national level is the issue of abortion.
By the way, another key indicator comes down to church attendance; those who attend church, not just evangelical churches but any church, are far less likely to support abortion rights than those who do not. It’s one of the signs of the linkage between a modern secular humanistic worldview and the Christian worldview. If not at a level of doctrine, than at the even more basic level of theological instinct. Attending church, perhaps even just being reminded of the reality of a God who created human beings in his image and will judge, the God who gives life, that might be in itself sufficient to put a stop on the impulse towards a pro-abortion sentiment.
Anyway when you’re looking at the United States, you are looking at a political divide that as we know is far deeper than that, and abortion is the issue that now over 40 years after Roe v. Wade simply will not go away. In the state of Oregon we now have a state that is going to make every single citizen by compulsion complicit in abortion. ABC News by the way indicated just how radical this law is in its report on the law when adopted by the legislature in Oregon. ABC News reported, and I quote,
“The Oregon bill is unique, however, in that patients would have access to the procedure for virtually any reason, at any time, including sex-selective and late-term abortions.”
Now one of the things to note there is that we’re not talking about a conservative website or a conservative politician or theological figure making that remark. We’re looking at ABC News noting that the radical nature of this law comes down to the fact that taxpayers in Oregon are now going to be by this legislative decree not only complicit in abortion, but complicit in abortion for any reason. One of the interesting things by the way to note is that modern abortion on demand in the United States means the accessibility of abortion for any reason or for no reason. A woman actually doesn’t even have to claim a reason in terms of access to abortion in what’s identified as the first trimester.
Pro-lifers welcome? Not so fast, says far-left members of the Democratic party
But as we are looking at the issue of abortion and at that level of worldview, one of the things we need to look at is a controversy that’s been playing out in the mainstream media over the last 48 to 72 hours. This has to do with something taking place within the Democratic Party. The issue here by my concern is not partisan, but rather to look at the worldview of the secular left and understand that one of its most central doctrines, its most cherished doctrines, is abortion on demand. I refer now to a report that appeared last week in National Review magazine. Alexandra Desanctis tells us,
“Democratic congressman announced Monday morning that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is willing to fund pro-life candidates in the 2018 congressional elections, touching off the latest flashpoint in the party’s civil war over abortion.”
Representative Ben Ray Lujan, a democratic congressman from New Mexico, who is chairman of the DCCC, said,
“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates.”
He went on also to explain,
“To pick up 24 [seats] and get to 218,” that’s majority in the House of Representatives. That he said “is the job. We’ll need a broad coalition to get that done. We are going to need all of that, we have to be a big family in order to win the House back.”
This according to the interview that Representative Lujan gave to The Hill. Responding to Representative Lujan in the pages of the New York Times was Lindy West identified as the author of the books Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman also identified as a contributing opinion writer to the New York Times. She said that abortion,
“Abortion is not valid fodder for such compromise, nor is racism, nor is L.G.B.T.Q. equality, nor is any issue that puts people’s fundamental humanity up for debate. Abortion is not a fringe issue. Abortion is liberty.”
From time to time you see a quote that crystallizes what we’re really facing here in terms of this massive unavoidable clash of worldviews. The last words I read from this writer are these,
“Abortion is liberty.”
Now let’s just backtrack for a moment. One of the things to keep in mind as you’re looking at this kind of statement is that it is meant in all of its simplicity to drive home a basic point, a point that this opinion writer believes to be irrefutable and beyond debate. She goes on to say,
“Abortion is normal. Abortion is common, necessary and happening every day across party lines, economic lines and religious lines. Abortion is also legal and, contrary to what the pundit economy would have you believe, not particularly controversial.”
Now let’s just pause for a moment to consider what we’re looking at here. We’re looking at a claim that abortion, first of all, isn’t really all that controversial. Is that true or is that false? Well it depends upon where you were asking the question and of whom. Amongst many people in the secular left it is profoundly not controversial. This is one of the reasons why so many people across the worldview divide can’t believe that anyone actually holds to a contrary position.
Now the other thing we have here very clearly is the statement being made by this woman that abortion is a fundamental human right. It is a right that defines what it means to be human. Now we could just step back for a moment, even without the Christian worldview, and say just from the worldview of an historical perspective that’s absolutely ludicrous. There is no definition of a fundamental human right that includes abortion until extremely recently and that claim traceable once again to ideological foundations.
But it also tells you that here you have a straightforward argument that is meant to be taken as just that. This is a statement of what this writer believes to be morally obvious, and that tells us that across this worldview there are two different morally obvious conclusions. One of them operates from the basis of a secular worldview. And in that worldview it is simply obvious that a woman should have the right to abort the unborn child in her womb. From a Christian biblical worldview, it is exactly the opposite conclusion. From that worldview, there is no conception or validity to the idea of a fundamental right of abortion or any right of abortion at all.
Furthermore, the definition of humanity here is so interesting. Who is absent from this op-ed piece? It is the unborn child. The unborn child is not even on the horizon of meaning. Humanity here is limited to those who are counted by the secular left as among the living and thus deserving of those rights. And by living they mean those who are outside the womb. But of course recent arguments let us know that that argument is not always now even going to hold on the secular left. The increasing attention to and justification for infanticide tells us that even being outside the womb amongst many who operate from this worldview will not be a position that would be safe.
Germany and Australia embrace same-sex marriage under corporate and international pressure
Next we shift to the issue of same-sex marriage developments in Germany and Australia just at the end of June. The German government rather swiftly moved to legalize same-sex marriage. Now the interesting thing upon reflection there is to know that Germany had not already legalized same-sex marriage following the lead of so many other European countries. Germany is moving in an increasingly secular direction. It’s generally liberal, and at least in terms of its major urban areas especially in the north, it has been famously gay friendly for some time. Why then has Germany just now legalized same-sex marriage? And why now?
Well the answer to the first question has to do with the fact that even though Germany is basically secular in terms of its worldview, generally liberal in terms of its moral perspective. The reality is that Germany like the United States is not a unitary state in terms of the fact that everywhere in Germany you would find the same perspective. For example, there has been enormous resistance to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the southern region of Germany known as Bavaria, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic in terms of religious identification. Bavaria has been resistant to same-sex marriage. Also several of the areas in the east of Germany have been more resistant than those in the west closer to more liberal European nations on questions such as homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
Interestingly to follow the German development, one of the things we need to note is that the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, herself voted no in terms of legalizing same-sex marriage. Now that may appear to mean more than it actually does mean because Chancellor Merkel had to allow the same-sex marriage question to reach the floor otherwise there could not have been a vote, but the interesting thing is that she voted against it. Why? Because her own base constituency would oppose same-sex marriage. So interesting developments there in Germany. Germany now joins most of the other liberal European nations in legalizing same-sex marriage, which brings us to Australia,
Australia is now apparently on the verge of doing the same. Tacey Rychter reporting for the French Press Agency says,
“Unlike the United States, Canada and New Zealand, Australia stands out as a developed, English-speaking country that has not legalized same-sex marriage.”
Now ponder those words for a moment. One of the things you learn from a lead like that in an article is that this reporter finds it remarkable that Australia is out of step with those other nations mentioned you’ll recall there the United States, Canada and New Zealand, and the argument implicit in the background of that leads is that Australia needs to get with the program and legalize same-sex marriage. That’s a form of editorializing in what’s supposed to be a news report. But Rychter goes on to tell us,
“But a new survey shows Australian attitudes on the issue are rapidly changing, suggesting it is Parliament that is falling behind international peers in recognizing gay marriage.”
Now what’s interesting, especially here in the case of Australia, is that the years 2005 to 2015 appear to be extremely important. It was during that time period, you’re looking there at just 10 years, that there is now documented an enormous shift on the part of the Australian public on the question of same-sex marriage. Why is that so interesting? Because that is exactly the same decade in which the same moral movement occurred in the United States of America.
Going back just to the year 2007, the vast majority of Americans indicated over and over again in polling that they were opposed to the legalization of same-sex marriage. By the year 2015, those numbers had flipped just in a period of about eight years. The very same decade we’re talking about here. Americans indicated in terms of response to pollsters that they had changed their minds on the question of same-sex marriage, a clear majority supposedly supporting same-sex marriage by the year 2015. Now what does that tell us? Does it tell us that the minds of Americans on the question were radically changed? No, what we need to note is that that tells us that Americans believed they should tell pollsters that their minds had changed. There is still evidence that the majority of Americans aren’t so pleased with the idea same-sex marriage, but they believed that they should tell pollsters or surveyors that they supported same-sex marriage.
This is a very interesting development. But that’s morally significant too. It’s not only important to know what people believe about a question. It’s important to know how peer pressure works and how they now believe they are supposed to answer a question. Will Australia now legalize same-sex marriage? The indications are that it indeed will and probably just in the next several weeks. One of the things we’re looking at in this equation is the collapse of conservative opposition to same-sex marriage in Parliament. Why? Well as we’ve seen in the United States in so many cases at least a large part is corporate and political opposition. Major corporations in Australia simply decided to join the moral revolution, and they are demanding that parliament do the same.
And of course there is international pressure. Just think of the list of nations at the very beginning of this particular article in which Australia is singled out as the English-speaking modern advanced industrial nation that simply hasn’t gotten with the program and legalized same-sex marriage. That’s how moral change happens. It happens at an individual level. It happens at the level of a neighborhood or a school, a campus. And it happens here even at the international level. It happens for many reasons. But it all comes down to the fact that eventually it’s not just a persuasive argument that matters.
In many cases, there never is a persuasive argument. It is instead compulsive pressure, and that pressure is absolutely massive. The pressure built to the breaking point in the month of June in Germany, and now it appears to be reaching the breaking point in Australia as well. And as to which direction this story will break, well I think most of you can anticipate where this story is going to go. And it’s because we’ve heard this story before.