Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On being a single-issue voter

John Piper says,

Being a single-issue [voter] does not mean that only one issue matters. It means that some issues may matter enough to [disqualify someone].
For him, being a one issue voter is not an issue. And so it is in my political views. As we watch returns come in on this election eve, I thought it was worth reflecting on my own political viewpoints.

There is no doubt that one issue is by far most important to me when it comes to my personal political position. Abortion. Since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade was decided in our country, 47,282,923 abortions have occurred. Currently, approximately 1.3 million lives are ended via abortion each year in our country. Any issue that costs lives is extremely important. However, when it's an issue that literally is costing millions and millions of lives, it is of utmost vital importance. Can you imagine our country with almost 50 million more children over the last three decades filled with the potential to do great things?

Globally, it is estimated that 1,225,000 abortions occur each month. In about the last 75 years, it is estimated that 945,000,000 total abortions have occurred globally. So in less than four years, we will have reached the point when more than a BILLION babies have been killed on our planet. No other issue comes even close to affecting the same number of lives. It is the genocide of our age, and ending it is the single most important issue facing us today.

With that understood, it is difficult to cast a ballot for any candidate who does not endorse ending this travesty in our country no matter the other issues. This one issue is my litmus test. That being said, I am not beholden to any one party or ignoring other issues. If good candidates who are pro-life run, I will seriously consider their credentials. I cannot in good faith consider pro-abortion candidates in the same way.

It is, therefore, pretty straightforward for me. I, being pro-life, look at the candidates before me and vote for the pro-life candidate. If they both are pro-life, other very important issues such as global poverty and hunger, fair wages, Third World corruption, Darfur, earthly stewardship, and fiscal responsibility must be examined. But for this era, so long as pro-abortion policies continue, I will remain a single-issue voter.


Anonymous said...

I highly reccommend a book by Jim Wallis (of Sojourners fame) called God's Politics: Why the right gets it wrong and the left doesn't get it that addresses your point and many others. In terms of single-issue voting on abortion, it might be stronger to look not strictly at pro-choice/pro-life in terms of whether abortion is legal but rather to look at what politicians are doing or want to do to lower current abortion rates. Regardless of whether or not abortion is legal, there is still a greater problem of pregnant women (a high percentage of them teenagers from low income backgrounds) unable and/or unwilling to support children. Although my votes tend to gravitate towards pro-life candidates, I think I would support a pro-choice politician with a platform of supporting and educating teenage mothers and low income families.

Oneway said...

Jim Wallis is a charlatan. He rejected the label of "evangelical" for years upon end until recently, when it has become politically expedient for him to don the role of "Super Evangelical Left Man". He tries to appear as taking both sides to task, but cannot he keep up the charade and ends up being a mouthpiece for marxist liberation theology, firmly entrenched on the left.

His argument that Christians should support the left fails across the board: 1. It is foolish to oppose abortion but not support making abortion illegal. 2. Even if you foolishly believed abortion should be a choice, but that the government should end poverty, it takes basic economic knowledge to understand that higher taxes create poverty, which mean more abortions, supposedly.

I thank God for your view of your political responsibility, Westy, although you love big government, you are correct on this issue.

Westy said...

I like some of what Jim Wallis has to say (I thought, for instance, his response to the Ted Haggard situation was wonderfully written) but I do wish he'd come out stronger against abortion.

His big thing is that Christians shouldn't only concern themselves with two issues (abortion and homosexuality), but caring about other issues doesn't mean you ignore those two.

Anonymous said...

Westy - so does this mean that you won't support the platform of genetic selection and euthanasia that I'm planning on using for "Roland 2016?"

In all seriousness, doesn't the issue of abortion seem to address symptoms, rather than cuases? I honestly don't get the reason for the emphasis on this issue, in the grand scheme of things.

Even without going down the Freakonomics argument, I have questions about the whole abortion thing.

Assuming you find a foolproof way to end abortions, how does it improve how people live, what they believe, where their lives go? Globally, I would guess that abortions often happen because the poorest of the poor can't afford to have children. In the US my guess is that it's often about convenience. Would a similar intervention have the same consequences globally? If you're making it a case where this is the Word of God, and Christians must follow, then a global perspective should be incorporated, right? Or can we use U.S. specific perspectives to create Kingdom-level perspectives?

I see the ultimate issue as being more about character building, based on godly principles. Of course, those are more difficult to discern and probably not sexy campaign platforms.

Of course, I'm not into the whole voting things in a formal sense. I prefer to vote with my pocketbook and my schedule. And of course, I always end up winning the election.


Westy said...

CG, this is an issue I think should be pursued globally. In a country like Russia where population is plummeting precipitously, to the extent they may not be able to maintain their country's economy, abortion continues to be alarmingly high.

Assuming you find a foolproof way to end abortions, how does it improve how people live, what they believe, where their lives go?
There is no doubt these are concerns as well. I have to think, though, we will have a much easier time attempting to meet people's needs if they're here in the first place. Nevertheless, we should also be about improving the quality of people's lives if we're blessed enough to have the ability to do so.

Oneway said...

Does anyone believe that the answer to white collar crime does not involve prosecution, but only changing the consumerist culture that inflames greed and combating the secular humanism that erodes morality? So, how can anyone reason against making abortion illegal?

In addition, poor=abortions doesn't make sense. Most poor people rightly view producing children as an economic gain, it's the bored liberal elites that can't bother to have their vacation plans postponed for a pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

Oneway - are you suggesting that abortion happens purely because of convenience? If not, what would you suggest is the cause of abortion at a broad level (and not a U.S.-centered view, which we seem to agree is convenience, whether physical or emotional)?

Perhaps the differences here stem from a belief in how interventions should be made. Most of my perspectives come up from an individual or small group psychology, rather than a large group sociology. The same issue ends up with many different answers based on how you develop your theory.

As far as the need for laws - criminal acts have a direct negative effect on the greater good, so you need to have punishment to make sure that order is maintained. You need an appropriate intervention to prevent chaos that occurs if something like, all of a sudden stealing were legalized. I would assume that someone who is for minimizing government would push for another law-based intervention, rather than a church-based intervention, whenever feasible. Perhaps the question of the feasiblility of a church-based intervention is the real question here?

I suppose that my bias here is that I think that case that abortion has a negative effect on the population is up in the air. My fairly blunt view goes something like this:

I assume that just God would not damn souls that have not had an opportunity to choose Christ to an eternity of Hell. So, aborted fetuses, assuming that they have souls, end up in heaven. If they don't don't souls, the argument is irrelevant, and they're just protein anyway. So any aborted fetus with a soul automatically gets into Heaven. Okay. So, from an eternal perspective, no net loss from abortion. And maybe you make the case that more souls enter Heaven, since some of the souls would have been inside of eventual non-believers.

Instead, social justice addresses the basic needs of those who are already in the world, and may or may not end up in Heaven. The time and effort that is spent on fighting abortion is done so at a cost of ministering to these people. Why would you not have these folks get the first priority?

Of course, I also believe that this is the role of the individuals within the church, rather than government.


pepperdeaf said...

i have enjoyed watching this unfold.

"Jim Wallis"

like him, don't always agree with him.

"marxist liberation theology"

like it, don't always agree with it. i like about anything that gets me away from theology written by white men these days.

"it takes basic economic knowledge to understand that higher taxes create poverty"


"Most poor people rightly view producing children as an economic gain"


"feasiblility of a church-based intervention is the real question here?"

very true, but rarely tried. it is much easier to throw money at the religious right and conservative politicians than to set up crisis pregnancy centers, etc.

"The time and effort that is spent on fighting abortion is done so at a cost of ministering to these people."

amen, amen and amen.

now for my thoughts. i find it ironic that relgious/political conservatives are absolutely against abortion (need the government to make it illegal) and absolutely for guns (government should not make them illegal). both guns and abortions are tools used to kill. for guns, folk say that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." cute. why not say "abortions don't kill people, people kill people." bring on big government. . . make 'em both illegal.

but the question is, should we be a single issue voter. i don't think so and i think the general has outlined sufficiently some of the best reasons. i would add that many times. . .abortion only voters vote based on abortion stances for positions that have absolutely no power to change those laws. it is ridiculous to vote for a candidate for mayor because they are pro-life. plus we must consider what it means to vote for a candidate that is pro-life, but systematically supports social and economic policies that lead women to think that they need an abortion.

Oneway said...

Pep, I don't like my views being called silly.

This a link to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute's webpage that features a presentation called "An Overview of Abortion in the United States. I have gleaned this quotation from the notes from slide 26: "Even though they are less likely than high-income women to end an unintended pregnancy by abortion, low-income women..." I'm happy to burst your bubble. I'll save basic economics for later.

"i like about anything that gets me away from theology written by white men these days."

Liberals do love to racially discriminate.

"why not say "abortions don't kill people, people kill people.""

Maybe because that would be stupid to say. Can an abortion be performed without killing? No. Can guns be used without killing? Yes.

Chairman, the absolute cause of abortion at a broad level is sin against Jesus. In the West, abortion rates climb while birth rates dip, because the Enlightement placed Man on the throne, and if Man makes the rules, then he wants sex without consequences.

Therefore, you are correct to bring up the Church, in which the only hope for good rests. However, if you are against abortion, you realize it is murder. Unless you wish to argue that murder should be policed privately, outside of government, there is no reason abortion should be legal.

I appreciate your blunt reasoning on abortion and heaven. The toll of abortion is not on the millions dead. It is on we who are still alive. You have created a false dilemma between opposing abortion and serving the needy. I could take it further, saying the poor in the U.S. are rich compared to the poor in Brazil, why waste time with Chicago's homeless? The Christian will have to trust the Spirit, and use what little time he has where Jesus leads.

pepperdeaf said...

"Pep, I don't like my views being called silly."

i am sorry. i am generally capable of detaching my comments from emotional reactions, but did an unsatisfactory job in this case. i will speak with more love in the future.

"poor=abortions doesn't make sense. Most poor people rightly view producing children as an economic gain"

i still do not understand this comment or how your link supports it. your link indicates that the poor "are overrepresented among abortion patients." and i have no idea how you know the motivations of low-income women.

"I'll save basic economics for later."

**highest taxes for high income earners in the world**(lowest child poverty rates): sweden**56.1%**(4.2%), denmark**63.1%**(2.4%), belgium**59.6%**(7.7%) . . . and the USA tax rate=36.1%, child poverty rate=21.9%

"that would be stupid"

"he wants sex without consequences"

does that mean that you are opposed to birth control? birth control seems the clearest form of sex without consequences.

"The toll of abortion is not on the millions dead. It is on we who are still alive."

this brings up an interesting right to life issue. if we think it is wrong to kill the unborn even if we presume they will go to heaven. . . why would we think it was right to kill criminals when they are likely not going to heaven?

Anonymous said...

Racial discrimination is not always created equal, Oneway. A basic assumption that is implied in many conservative views is that all people are equal at this point in time. Therefore, there is no need to examine race. Things like affirmative action are assumed to be obselete. However, after centuries of colonial influence, can we really say that colored peoples are on the same footing? The church has similar characteristics. Much of church doctrine has been established by people who tend to be white, male, and rich. Does this doctrine truly understand those who don't fall into those categories? I don't know. But one way to balance out the thoughts on what could be true is to read from those who write from different perspectives. Is this "racial discrimination?" In a de facto definition? Sure. In practice? I'm not so sure.

As far as addressing the differences in abortion among high and low income, while it is compelling to simply look at abortion rates in different income brackets, that is relatively un-diagnostic information. There are many factors that differ greatly between the populations - race, education, family structure, etc. that should be examined more closely. Access to the raw numbers that generated the stats in the document that you mentioned would allow for a very easy analysis of many factors that are more useful. However, this doesn't not seem to have been done, or is not used in this document.

People who use argue for causes (even academicians are guilty of this) will often portray numbers and facts in a less than accurate way (though I would offer that this could easily be an unconscious way). Taking a single statement out of the entire document is risky. Back on slide 13, you see that 73% of the people give "can't afford a baby now" as the most important reason for having an abortion. Do I trust this line? Nope. Especially since the question is the "Most important reason," and the sums of the answers add up to way more than 100%. Would I trust how this slideshow represents objective numbers? Nope.

Changing gears, I don't believe that opportunity cost is a false dilemma. If a person spends resources to oppose abortion on faith-based grounds, then it is pretty likely that they could have been using those resources for a different faith-based cause. I merely bring up the idea of ministering to those who are on the fence between choosing God and not-God as the most basic call that Christians are given in existing in the physical world.

Local vs. Global. I think that both need to be addressed. If I had to choose one over the other, I personally would prefer to minister to those locally. However, that's largely a reflection of where I think that my giftings lie. Some are gifted in the ability to immerse themselves in a different culture, learn the language and native beliefs, and to be influential. I'm not suggesting that one is better than the other. In fact, I think that because they are not as poor financially than most people globally, the American poor are often overlooked by the churches with the most resources.

Regardless, fascinating conversation. I hope that it leads somewhere tangible.


Oneway said...

"Racial discrimination is not always created equal"

This statement is haunted by Orwell's "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others".

"...all people are equal at this point in time"

How is this implied? "Equality" has become a fool's errand. Equal legal standing for citizens is a fine goal for a society, but even that is marred by the litigation machine. Beyond that, no one in their right mind would claim all people are equal, nor would that be a good goal.

"...church doctrine has been established by people who tend to be white, male, and rich"

Come on, now. The reality is that God blessed mankind through different cultures all along. The Asian and African continents were prominent for thousands of years, then came Europe, and also North America of late, historically speaking.

The "white, male, and rich" label is a sign of the times, a vacuous and misleading slur. Rich? Permit to point out the abounding irony here. Because of the Reformation, led by the white men Martin Luther and John Calvin, the skill of literacy was transformed from the aristocrat's luxury to every man's right. Why? So every family could study the Bible.

When Calvin studied Aquinas and Augustine, he didn't flagellate himself due to these authors' wealth. Why? Because for most of history, wealth and education were inextricably linked.

Fast forward to modernity, where we find out generation's ungrateful response. We find the Chairman echoing the current university logic, assailing the wealth of these scholars, the same men whose labor smashed the bond between wealth and education!

It is a fantastic spectacle: A young man today, enjoying the fruits of a society where literacy is normal, turns and lambasts theologians of days past, with the very criteria that THEY BROUGHT ABOUT.

What else to say? We bite the hand that feed us.

I am grateful for this dialogue, dudes. I've been writing more here than on my own blog. Peace.

Anonymous said...

To assert that the bond between wealth and education has been smashed seems to be a bit of an overstatement, does it not? I would venture a guess that you would still find an awfully high correlation between the two, and from what I've seen, the numbers seem to bear this out. I wonder if this carries over to churches.

As far as how to incorporate thoughts goes, one example that comes to mind is "the strength of weak ties." In organizational research, one of the ways that networks are analyzed are through the strength of the links between parties. One of the findings is that when you have a network where you have too many strong ties is that there is a lack of innovation, a lack of evolution, and progress. Strangely, networks that have a number of weak ties are much stronger in these areas.

My view is that under-utilization of different perspectives (such as the various left-winged theorists that are out there, including critical race theory, queer theory, feminist theory, and whatever else is floating around) will leave you behind. Is there Truth captured in these different views? Beats me. But at the very least, to reach the individuals in the world, you need to know from where their thoughts come from.

Oneway - you seem to be very Adam Smith / Milton Friedman in your economic views. How have you (if you have, at all) linked your views on economics with you believe about God? Do you believe that the end result of the free market is linked with God?
One thing that I am currently pondering is the question of the appropriateness of the free market for social issues, and I'm wondering how you've resolved that.


Oneway said...

I may have gotten carried away, but I think it is fair to say that in the West, the bond between wealth and education is smashed. Remember, I am referring to education as literacy, not the ignorance that drowns the soul on campus these days.

"the strength of weak ties."

Interesting. But this theory must be reconciled with the biblical admonition to avoid foolishness.

I am glad you asked about my economic views. The short answer: My understanding of theology and economics come from a similar starting point--we all deserve Hell. Your theory that all aborted babies go to heaven isn't biblically accurate, because we don't gain Jesus by anything we do.

Similarly, we all deserve poverty. It is an aberration to enjoy life in the U.S. I try to thank God every morning that my car starts because that is grace.

I believe in the free market because I believe in the Church. I've tangled with quite a few big government proponents, and they usually come back to one thing: Who's going to help? People unfamiliar with the warm embrace found in the Body of Christ put their hope in the cold grip of government aid.

Poverty exists so that the poor will humbly ask for help and the rich will compassionately give. Both results are eliminated when income taxes are levied and food stamps are mailed out. Post-moderns want experience, right? The experience of face-to-face, volitional charity is a gift from God, transforming the needy and the giver.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Westy - I'm actually coming around to your position of being a single-issue voter. Spurred on by TMQ, I think that from now on, I'm casting my vote for anyone who will help me get NFL Sunday Ticket so that I can watch any football game on a given Sunday. That is, if I were the voting sort.