Zen question of the day: What is the sound of a narrative only telling half the story?
That’s the conclusion I came to after leaving a comment on the Faith Aloud blog and watching it never get approved. That blog post, entitled “The Bible Says So,” was written and touted as a distinctly Biblical response to the backlash against Faith Aloud’s prayer campaign.
Now I have no problem with moderating comments–my own comments are moderated, and I think there are good reasons to do so. It is also their prerogative to approve whatever posts they want. But when approving or disallowing comments is a tool to only tell one side of the story, well, that’s just tacky no matter who does it.
The central claim of the blog is this:
Considering these developments, it probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that when Faith Aloud’s 40 Days of Prayer—a campaign of prayers meant to lift up the voices, hearts, and spirits of all people through peaceful prayers acknowledging God’s love for women, men, their families, and their choices—caught the attention of the anti-choice community, the shaming would begin once more. This time though, women were being shamed and judged for praying. Irrelevant, apparently, is the fact that prayer is what some clergy call a biblical promise from God.
Now…what could possibly raise the ire of those who do not support abortion? Is it the mere act of prayer?
Or could it be something else? Nowhere in the post is the possibility raised that the content of the prayer is what is problematic; it is always presented–as it has been thus far–that “anti-choicers” want to “shame women” (whatever that means) because they prayed.
I regret not having saved the text of my post: lesson learned. Nevertheless it should be easy enough to reconstruct. And if I can’t comment there, I can sure comment here.
The blog post, for all it was worth, was an exercise in the art of begging the question. Why were the prayers reacted against so strongly? Were all of the prayers even that bad? What is the motivation of those who thought the prayers were wrong? We don’t know; instead we’re just told that it’s just to shame women and stuff.
Could it possibly be that the content of the prayers is the problem? Is it really moral, or appropriate, to petition God for the purpose of an immoral act? If abortion is not morally equivalent to its alternatives–birth and/or adoption–then praying for something immoral is a sacrilege, akin to praying for ease of access to pornography or the death of Muslims simply because they are Muslim.
Or praying for violence against those who provide abortion. Praying for abortion is no less irreverent.
The definition of morality is a collection of principles offering distinction between good and bad behavior. Is it immoral to pray for the future of my family, or the safety of my countless health caregiver colleagues, or the strength of my friends faced with choosing what’s best for themselves and their families? No, simply stated, it is not. Not in my eyes and not in the eyes of my God.
Again, these are good things–against these particular things there is no law. But it is immoral to use abortion to get to those good moral things.
Question: is it immoral to pray for the end of abortion? Why or why not?
If Faith Aloud wants to be taken seriously, they’re going to have to admit that those who disagree with them might have moral qualms with some of their prayers, specifically, those that dealt directly with abortion. To be fair, the prayers themselves were generally presented as being mostly about abortion, but this is not the case: as I showed in my examination of those prayers, many of them are prayers for legitimate and moral virtues: wisdom, courage, strength, things like that. But those things can be achieved without abortion. And that raises another important point: the effects of abortion on demand are touted as good things–wanted children, happy, manageable families, an end of poverty, etc.,–but the act of abortion, since it takes the life of an innocent human being, cannot itself help someone be good. If those who oppose abortion are right–that the unborn is a human being from the very first cell–then it stands to reason that all of the many virtues the Faith Aloud crowd is touting can be reached without doing violence to the unborn.
I mentioned something else in a sort of interlude in my comment that the language of “anti-choice” is inaccurate. It is inaccurate precisely because the moral validity and equivalence of abortion is the very thing that is being contested. I am all for women making moral choices: the choice of husbands, where to shop, what to wear, and any number of myriad choices, when the alternatives are morally equivalent. Abortion, by virtue of destroying a human life at the earliest stage of development, cannot possibly be morally equivalent to allowing that human life to flourish. Therefore, it is not morally equivalent to its alternatives, which renders the language of ‘choice’ irrelevant and wrong.
In the blog post, the language of “threat” and “fear” are used: that the “anti-choice” crowd feels ‘threatened’ by women praying for wisdom. Again, this misses the entire point: I don’t know a single pro-lifer who doesn’t want women (and men! but we never hear about them…it’s like we’re invisible or something) praying to God for guidance. Again, the contention is that abortion, which will never be a morally legitimate option, is not wise guidance and that praying for it is tantamount to sacrilege.
All of this leads me to another conclusion: that the pro-abortion position is ultimately a religious one. Long has it been claimed that pro-life is a religious position (in stark contrast to the philosophy and science marshalled by the pro-life cause); but since not a shred of scientific evidence or philosophical reasoning is offered by the Faith Aloud crowd, it seems that they want us to simply accept their case on faith. “Moral and Ethical Voice?” Hardly. Good luck finding any moral or ethical reasoning in the content of their website. The closest they came was in the Focus on the Family interview in saying that abortion was moral based on the development of the unborn, which was itself an unsubstantiated assertion.
Ironically, they’d pretty much have to accuse God of being threatened by their prayers, considering the prophecy of Isaiah:
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause. –Isaiah 1:15-17
This is exactly what Faith Aloud is doing in defending abortion. It is very much possible to pray for the wrong thing. And I contend that that is exactly what is being done in praying for abortion access.
Please repent, Faith Aloud. Take a hard look at the case for life. It is high time to turn from this irreverent piety. It’s not about threat, it’s not about fear, it’s about whether or not the unborn are human, and if they are, abortion on demand is sin.