Thursday, January 22, 2009

International Aid?

Well, it's happened. THE inauguration has come and gone. The crowds and the mass hysteria have reached decrescendo stage. President elect-no-longer Obama is furiously signing bills and finding just what a difficult job "President of the United States" is.

However, amidst this flurry of signed policies and rapid reversals of 43's agenda, President Obama has lifted the ban on giving US money (internationally) to groups who either provide abortion services themselves or provide information to direct people to abortion clinics. The ban has been called "The Mexico City Policy."

Here's Obama's words on it:

"For too long, international family planning assistance has been used as a political wedge issue, the subject of a back and forth debate that has served only to divide us. I have no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate. In the coming weeks, my administration will initiate a fresh conversation on family planning, working to find areas of common ground to best meet the needs of women and families at home and around the world."

Now, at least we can say he's consistent on honest on this issue. He does have a voting history replete with bills against allowing babies to live. He has made several promises to pro-choice-for-abortion groups that he would, for example, sign the "Freedom of Choice Act," a grotesquely misnamed bill that would pare back almost every limitation put on Roe vs. Wade since 1973.

Even so, I'm astounded at his words. His contention seems to be that those who don't side with him are dragging out a long-dead issue, dividing American into pieces in the process. His "fresh conversation" will only occur on his terms, where the fact of abortion is assumed and thus no longer up for debate as to its morality.

It's like a husband who has stopped questioning whether it's wrong to beat his wife, and only asks himself now how large a stick is fair to use.

Backing the President are two other statements that I find equally appalling. They are, respectively, made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator John Kerry:

"[the ban] will help save lives and empower the poorest women and families to improve their quality of life and their future."

"Today's announcement is a very powerful signal to our neighbors around the world that the United States is once again back in the business of good public policy and ideology no longer blunts our ability to save lives around the globe."

I understand that what they are saying, is, in a sense, true. Some women's lives will be saved because of this act. But to say broadly, without qualification, that reversing the Mexico City ban will "save lives" is an atrocious lie.

The reversal of the ban will have the net effect of ending many thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of lives (perhaps more). Contrary to what our leaders are telling us, this public policy decision actually enables us to kill more people, not save them.

This, sadly, is not where it ends. The ban was on using public money to fund these groups. Now, our tax dollars will be used to perform abortions all over the world.

I do not think that this is a situation that deserves pretty words and cordial eloquence. As per previous posts, I still believe that the above-mentioned people have deliberately violated human rights. They are oppressing a minority group; a group with no voice to represent itself whatsoever. By the stroke of a pen, by the implementation of an insidious policy, they are choosing to end the lives of countless people.

(quotes can be found here)


Ryan said...

You should definitely include this quote by Obama:

"On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters"

His argument that abortion is a private family matter is weak but has effectively swayed many individuals toward the support of abortion rights. Unfortunately people don't see the massive hole in this argument. How many children (post natal), women, and men would be in imminent danger if the law was unable to protect them in private family matters. How many children would not be protected, at least under the law, from child abuse? Wouldn't the discipline of my own children, regardless of my method or degree, be considered a private family matter? I wish people would see this.

Chuck Wade said...

I wonder if Christians should stop paying taxes? I don't understand why any of these people who say they stand up for the rights of the individual think it's right to use their money for what is so clearly a divisive and morally important question. If I were a pastor my private and secret recommendation to my flock would be to protest this extreme use of government by peacefully not paying taxes.

Also, there's another issue here that is tertiary but still interesting, Obama has told us time and time again that our economic situation is so utterly terrible that he needs almost a trillion dollar to help "stimulate" us out of it. And yet we're still talking about sending foreign aid to others? I'm just wondering if this jerk can get up in the morning without thinking up another lie he can tell us to more quickly pass his radical liberal agenda.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Wade,

Not pay taxes? Sorry, but I'll have to disagree with you there. Paying taxes is the only absolutely clear thing that Christians are commanded to do with respect to the government in the New Testament. They are not commanded to vote, try to attain positions of power, or lobby to change the policies of their nations. They are, however, commanded to pay taxes (Rom 13:1-7). And it isn't like the Roman government was using the tax money for things in line with Christian values. In light of the real situation in which Paul was giving this command to the early Christians, I think that it would be a difficult case to prove that now because of this new abortion policy we ought to boycott taxes. And really, plenty of abortions were being funded under the Bush administration as well, but I didn't see many Christians calling for a moratorium on tax-paying during his tenure. Why only not pay taxes now? Is abortion more evil when a Democrat is in office? Also, if you believed the war in Iraq was wrong, would you have suggested Christians not pay taxes for the past few years? In what other situations ought one not to pay taxes? Your suggestion raises far too many unaddressed questions. If you want it to be compelling, it will take a lot more reasoning than you have provided here.

Chuck Wade said...

"your suggestion raises far too many unaddressed questions"

no it doesn't, you're just being argumentative. And I don't think unaddressed is a word.

I think you're rejoinder actually raises far more questions. Like for instance, under what Bush policy were abortions federally funded? You ask when else Christians should refuse to pay taxes, well I would say that if you feel that tax money is being used for something which you cannot support, then you should also feel freedom to have a peaceful protest. "your suggestion raises far too many unaddressed questions"

no it doesn't, you're just being argumentative. And I don't think unaddressed is a word.

I think you're rejoinder actually raises far more questions. Like for instance, under what Bush policy were abortions federally funded? You ask when else Christians should refuse to pay taxes, well I would say that if you feel that tax money is being used for something that you cannot support, then you should also feel freedom to have a peaceful protest.

It’s interesting that you bring up Romans 13 in order to support your point because in that same chapter Paul says, “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God.” Now if I read this passage in the same way that you read the other then I am very confused as to why Paul was beheaded by his government for insubordination.

From the very beginning Christians have seen it as an axiom of faith that they are to follow God and not men (or government) and when the two don’t conflict then you should submit to your government, but once they do God is the ruling sovereign (cf. Acts 4:20ff).

Finally (sorry taking up so much space Jared), Christians should always be the first ones standing up against any form of injustice against the weak or oppressed in radical in obvious ways. If our government funded the systematic genocidal slaughter of adults would you feel the same way about taxation? It seems like kind of a minimal and silly point when you consider abortion to be something other than a political talking point… in my opinion.So yes, perhaps not paying taxes should be an option when they are used to kill babies.

Jared James said...

Hmmm... thanks for all three of your comments.

Great addition to the conversation, Ryan. That quote is almost exactly like the others I posed in its insidious twisting of reality. In it, is Obama trying to appeal to Conservatives' distrust of big government by telling them that government has no right to ban abortions? Sure seems that way.

That's just low down and dirty, Mr. President.

Honestly I agree with both of you (Chuck and Anon.) in some respects. I don't know where to draw the line, exactly. It's incredibly difficult to remain consistent on either side.

But then, can anyone stay intellectually consistent?

Anonymous, I wish that you would at least use a pseudonym, so that we could know if you are the same Anonymous or a different Anonymous that we've already been talking to.

Then, you would be following in the time-honored tradition of literary elites who protested the Establishment through their literature, but to avoid danger used a pen-name.

Thus, insofar as What Blogs May Come is the Establishment (it is not) you can be our George Orwell!

Anonymous said...

Chuck Wade, whether or not "unaddressed" was a word before I used it or not, it is certainly intelligible, and thus would be an unobjectionable neologism if I were the first to use it.

Unfortunately, that is not my only point of disagreement with your response. However, first, in answer to your question "under what Bush policy were abortions federally funded?" I would have to say that it wasn't a "Bush policy" in particular, but rather the ongoing policy of the American government to fund abortions to which I was referring. This policy was not suspended under the Bush administration, and thus your tax dollars were going to support abortions at that time. Thus, my question: why only be so outraged now? Obama's policy is only a small expansion of what our government has already been doing for some time. (See

Second, on your suggestion, "I would say that if you feel that tax money is being used for something which you cannot support, then you should also feel freedom to have a peaceful protest," I have to ask, is the government ever not spending money on things that you cannot support? That certainly is true for me (see, for starters, the link above regarding abortion funding). Honestly, this statement makes me want to ask, why have you ever paid taxes? Did you really support everything the government did when Bush was in office?

Third, "Now if I read this passage in the same way that you read the other then I am very confused as to why Paul was beheaded by his government for insubordination." What "other" passage are you talking about? And how do you know the reason that Paul was beheaded? (Acts leaves him in prison in Rome, and the pastoral epistles seem to indicate that he was released. If he was truly "insubordinate," why did he get out, and why did Agrippa think that there was no reason to keep him in prison [Acts 26:22]?)

Your comments about applying the maxim of obeying God rather than men seem to indicate that I was insufficiently clear in my earlier post. What I was trying to say was that the government to which Paul was urging the Christians to pay taxes was using that money to do plenty of objectionable things. For instance, taxes funded Herod, who killed James and imprisoned Peter. The injustice of numerous other government officials is detailed in Acts, as well as the other historical sources. They accept bribes, lock up personal enemies, and overall are engaged in countless activities that a Christian could not support. It was in the context of this terribly corrupt and unjust government that Paul commanded the Christians at Rome to pay their taxes. Given that Paul thought that the corrupt Roman government should be paid, I think that you would be hard-pressed to demonstrate that now the American government should not be paid because they have slightly expanded their ongoing policy of funding abortions.

I agree with you that Christians should stand against injustice, and that they should be the first and the most persistent in doing so. I don't think, however, that refusing to pay taxes is a very biblical means of resistance. I'm not claiming that it would never be appropriate in any circumstances, but I still don't think that you have addressed a number of the major questions that your suggestion raises in a satisfactory way. "If you feel that tax money is being used for something which you cannot support" is far too vague and inclusive of a criteria for tax-resistance. You need to formulate a clearer consistent principle for with-holding taxes, and then demonstrate how it has biblical warrant. Until you have done so, I don't think many people will find your arguments compelling.

Finally, I'm not trying to be "argumentative;" I'm just trying to be biblical. There is no need to assume motives and call names. I just have some serious questions about your proposal. If you have satisfactory answers, I'm more than willing to be persuaded.

Jared James, I don't really think your blog is "the Establishment," but from now on I will happily comply with your request for the clarification/continuity it provides.


Jared James said...

Orwell, I am curious to know your position on how the three people quoted (Obama, Kerry, and Pelosi) portrayed this new bill.

I personally feel that they were tremendously deceptive, insofar as these quotes represent their views.

As to whether this deception is malicious, or whether they actually don't see the grotesque double standards their statements betray, who can tell?

Thanks for providing us with the consistency of at least knowing you are the same person we don't know (or maybe we do?).

Anonymous said...

Jared James,

I think that your assessments (minus a few of the comments in the last paragraph) are pretty accurate. Obama is pretending like opposition to abortion is "stale and fruitless," Pelosi fails to mention all the lives of women and men that this bill will help to end, and Kerry follows suit. These ways of portraying the bill are sad and (I would guess*) indicative of the gross misunderstandings within which each of them thinks. Overall, I am very displeased by their remarks.


*Although one must hold open the option that they are intentionally representing the world wrongly, I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt, as I try to do with all people.

Chuck Wade said...

wow, could you separate your comment into chapters next time. To be honest with you, I didn't read the whole thing, it's too long. But I think you accused me of calling you a name, I don't think I did. And, of course your being argumentative, it seems to be one of the only consistent things in all of your comments.

Chuck Wade said...

By the way, I'm not calling you Orwell.

Chuck Wade said...

Ok, sorry to make three comments in a row, but I feel certain that this will be my last comment under this post (you should write more).

First, I assumed it was just a well known piece of accepted Christian history that the apostle Paul was beheaded in AD 66, but perhaps not. Here I will quote from Foxe's book of Christian Martyrs to support my statement: "During [the persecution that broke out after Nero blamed the Christians for burning Rome] Paul was arrested and put back into prison in Rome... Not long after, he was judged guilty of crimes against the Emperor and condemned to death. he was taken to the execution block and beheaded." (p 8)

I actually don't pay taxes now, legally. I don't make enough. So my tax money has never supported abortion. However, your argument seems to be (and again, I didn't read the whole thing so maybe you said something different in the middle there) that you paid them under Bush so why stop now? I'm not saying that abortion is worse now than when Reps were in charge, I'm saying that the Dems make their support of abortion flamboyant and public, and Obama promises more federal funding for it. I'm saying that perhaps something more needs to be done than blogs.

Ok, that does it for my third comment, enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Wade,

On the death of Paul, I didn't say he wasn't killed, I asked how you knew the specific reason (you said "insubordination") that he was executed. I'm just not sure that we have a reliable source on that (the Book of Martyrs was, after all, written in the 16th century), and that was the point that was crucial to your argument.

On the length of my comment, I must confess that you are a hard blogger to please. You ridicule most people who disagree with you as uninformed and ignorant, and when someone takes the time to respond and includes information, you ridicule them for writing a book on a blog. Words about rocks and hard places spring to mind.

The fact that you did not read my entire comment speaks for itself. The short version is that you haven't satisfactorily answered my questions. I tried to explain them in more detail, but I guess you are not interested.

On calling me a name, I took "argumentative" that way. Perhaps we are working with different definitions. I don't like being called argumentative because to me it carries overtones of being nit-picky, close-minded, and just trying to provoke people rather than engage in actual dialogue. But, there is only one of us that actually doesn't read the other's comments.

On calling me Orwell, you certainly don't have to; I'm just trying to be as accommodating to Jared as possible. That way people won't assume that they know what I have and have not written (as you seem to do).

Nevertheless, if you would like to read my comment and attempt to answer my questions, I'd be more than happy to hear you out.

Okay, that's all for now.


Chuck Wade said...

I'll go ahead and apologize for breaking my promise not to comment anymore... sorry.

I don't recall ever calling you either ignorant or uninformed I called you argumentative which is how I read your comments. Now if you read this as me saying something other than you are being argumentative then I apologize.

Here is my answer to your objection (which I gave earlier but I will try my hardest to give again in a way that can't be interpreted as condescending) This post is about using public funding (federal money) to not only support American abortions but to increase the number of victims by making it world-wide. My answer to this horrible order from our president is suggesting that Christians stop giving money until this order is rescinded, as a form of protest. Your rejoinder to me was, basically: "read Romans 13:7, Christians have to pay taxes Paul told us to." A valid point which deserves an answer, so I gave one. If you read Romans 13:1 Paul says that everyone must submit to their governing authorities because those authorities are given by God. Now putting Paul's beheading aside (by the way, why else do you suppose they would take his head off other than insubordination? That suggestion, to me, just seems argumentative), by your own suggestion Christians should have some other form of protest other than not paying taxes. Let's say the protest is a peaceful sit-in, the cops come and ask you to disperse, if I read Romans 13:1 like you read 13:7 then I immediately leave... nothing is accomplished. However, the point of a peaceful protest (I think) is to non-violently show insubordination to a command given by government which one feels is unjust or an overstepping of duty. Now perhaps your are correct about v. 7, I'm willing to admit that, but if you are then we are both incorrect about their being any place for protest of any kind (because of v. 1) so then our only recourse is to watch helplessly because our government is doing something wretched and we have to submit to them.

Ok, so now I'll answer each of your questions in the long comment made earlier.

1. Why so outraged now? Because I did not know that public money was being used to fund abortions when Bush was in office. Why would you assume it was just because I love Bush and hate Obama, that doesn't seem like your giving the benefit of the doubt to me.

2. I believe that I answered, as best I can, your second objection about taxes in the earlier part of this comment. If I did not then I don't know what else to say and will have to concede defeat.

3. "You need to formulate a clearer consistent principle for with-holding taxes, and then demonstrate how it has biblical warrant. Until you have done so, I don't think many people will find your arguments compelling."
a. Are you telling me that this doesn't sound condescending and set the tone for the very same rejoinders that I have been giving? If that is the case then I apologize but it seems that you are here doing the very same thing that you accuse me of.
b. But on to what I believe is the meat of your suggestion. You allow me the idea paying taxes might be acceptable at some point (strange considering your reading of Romans 13:7, but you already allowed it so you can't take it back) and now you ask me to give you a formula for when that would be ok. I'm not sure I feel any more comfortable doing that than I would giving you a formula on how to obey Jesus more effectively. However, I may be comfortable saying that when there is an issue on which virtually every Christian agrees that then would be an acceptable time for action.

In conclusion I will say that I am personally of the opinion that you have set the tone for the debate, then when I answer back in kind you seem to suddenly become above the fray, looking down on us poor pigs wallowing the mud. I freely admit that perhaps I am misreading your comments but in my opinion you have been argumentative from the beginning, you have been condescending at time and even your refusal to give your name after we have very politely asked seems to betray a sense of condescension. I felt that I was answering in kind and if I became more rude than was warranted then I apologize to all who were offended.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Wade,

Thanks for your responses. I appreciate you taking the time to read and give some thought to my comments. Here are my responses:

1. I didn't say that you called me "ignorant and uninformed." I was trying to imply that this is generally how you paint people who disagree with you (is it not?). This is a general impression that I have gotten from reading other things that you have written. I (and some others), on the other hand, get mocked for writing comments that are too long. I just don't know how to express myself sufficiently not to fall into your former category in a shorter space.

2. I was unaware that you did not know that abortions were funded under the Bush administration. In my mind, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that you knew this. I just assumed that you did because you like to talk about politics so much and abortion seems so important to you. Now knowing that you didn't know, I understand a lot better (and feel more sympathetic toward) why you were so outraged to hear that Obama was trying to use tax-payers' money to fund them.

3. Perhaps I just don't understand what condescension is, but I don't think that my suggestion of formulating a clear and consistent principle was condescending. It was a specific response to your earlier proposal that Christians resist taxes whenever the government is doing something that they can't support. I tried to explain how I felt like this suggestion was too vague and inclusive, and thus a more clear and consistent principle seemed the natural thing for which to call. (Oh, and I don't think I called you condescending, as you seem to imply. I just said that you are hard to please. But I'm more than willing to change my opinion of you if you will continue the about-face in your latest post of interacting with my thoughts instead of making fun of me for offering them.)

4. It seems like you have attributed to me a reading of Romans 13:7 to which I do not ascribe (and isn't 13:6 actually the most relevant verse?). I never said that there is no circumstance in which taxes should not paid, not even in my first comment. There, I simply implied (as I have tried to state later) that if you want to suggest non-payment of taxes, it will require some very careful Scriptural reasoning to demonstrate that this course of action is acceptable. This is all the more necessary when one recognizes the corrupt nature of the government to which Paul was urging taxes to be paid. Thus, my argument was not "go read Romans 13:7;" but rather, in light of the terrible government to which Paul commands Christians to pay taxes, what is it about this one policy (which is an expansion of an existing policy) that makes you feel like you now have biblical warrant not to pay taxes in America?

5. I understand that giving a formula for such exceptions is impossible; the contingencies of real life politics are simply too great. However, I feel like one should be able to explain what features of a situation would call for this contravening of a biblical command. I think that "Christians can't support it" is too vague and inclusive. If you don't think so, I'm more than willing to listen to your reasons. Your newest formulation, "when there is an issue on which virtually every Christian agrees," I must confess I don't understand. What do you mean by "agrees?" Agrees it is wrong? Agrees that it warrants non-payment of taxes? I just don't know what you mean, and so will withhold responses until you have had a chance to clarify.

6. I'm really not trying to be argumentative, I'm just trying to follow your logic and reason with you about whether it is biblically justifiable or not. At present, I don't feel like you have given good reasons for why this situation calls for contravening the biblical command, but I'm open to being persuaded. If, however, the main substance of your reasoning on this has already been expressed above, I have to say that I find it unpersuasive. (And that's not something that I'm saying to myself in an "I win!" tone; it is simply my judgment about how persuasive I find your present argument. Others are welcome to render their own judgments.)

7. I think I'm much more open to the charge that my refusal to name myself is a matter of cowardice than condescension. But when did you ask for my name? Are you sure you aren't confusing me with someone else? Well, I guess it doesn't really matter. From now on, I am