There’s a bee in Perry Noble’s bonnet.
Yesterday he ranted about the effort to boycott the sale of Girl Scout cookies due to their relationship with Planned Parenthood over the latter’s propensity to kill an awful lot of human beings every year.
But what is Noble actually saying?
Some are actually arguing (as mentioned in the title) that if I buy a box of Girl Scout cookies then I am basically murdering unborn babies…because the Girl Scouts supposedly give money to Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice group.
The insanity of that argument is unreal!
But is this insane? Of course not. Noble addresses none of the pile of evidence of the cozy relationship between the GSUSA and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
I have mixed feelings about boycotts: sometimes they are appropriate and other times they are not. In this particular case, the moral severity of abortion–and funding it through an organization for young women that are then the available target audience for their…services…and then obscures the nature and scope of that relationship to the public, then yes, a boycott is most certainly warranted.
But to address Noble’s other point about the insanity of boycotting the Girl Scouts, let’s ask a question. If it is insane to forgo tasty cookies because they are used to fund an organization that is rather friendly with an abortion provider, what happens to the money when we do not forgo them? Planned Parenthood will get more funds. Noble seems to think that he’s making a good argument in suggesting that we’d have to make decisions about who makes everything. To which I say: What seems to be the problem? As has already been said, we already do this and it’s a good thing to do. But it doesn’t mean that we have to become the hermits Noble seems to think we’d have to become because not all causes are as clearly immoral as abortion. Some are a matter of tolerance. Noble makes no distinction in his ham-handed argument.
Noble then goes into theological territory and makes some terribly egregious mistakes. So why did I say in the title that Noble forgets the words of Jesus when he quotes Jesus?
Noble references John 3:17, but misquotes it to serve his argument. What did Jesus mean when he said he did not come into the world to condemn it?
Noble then goes on to lambaste pro-lifers for their treatment of women who have had abortions:
We don’t know each and every story that goes along with why a woman chose to have an abortion, but, I have spoken with several ladies in my church who have had to deal with the fact they chose to abort a child. They were all very scared at the time, fear consumed them and many of them were driven to the abortion clinic by their parents with no choice but to go through with the abortion.
Which makes me wonder. Has Perry Noble really spent a lot of time around pro-lifers? I have seen many pro-lifers who have stood patiently and quietly outside of abortion clinics to pray: are they guilty of the iniquity Noble accuses all pro-lifers of? What about the women–many post-abortive themselves–who plead with women going into clinics not to abort? Are they also guilty of Noble’s accusation of insensitivity?
Noble then launches into his piece de resistance:
It really is sad when Planned Parenthood and The Girl Scouts are actually acting more Christ like than many of the people who are taking aim at them through this boycott!
That’s why I said that Noble has forgotten the words of Jesus.
” Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”–John 7:24
What does it mean to be like Christ? Simply being nice? Being understanding? Listening? Are those the hallmarks of Christlikeness? Or rather:
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”–Matthew 7:9-11
It is to Noble’s grievous discredit that he mistakes the composure of those who kill the unborn for Christlikeness. Anyone can be nice if they think they’re doing the right thing in helping others through hard times, but that nicety is not evidence of Christlikeness. It is false virtue to appear loving in the commission of a grave moral evil. How did that fact escape Noble?
The difference is the understanding of love. Love is looking out for the best interests of another. Sometimes that means graciously telling an uncomfortable truth. Sometimes it means warning people of the evil committed at an abortion clinic. It is by no means loving to graciously commit evil. In this, Noble has failed to heed the rebuke of Jesus to make a right judgment, one not based on mere appearances. Are there really evil pro-life people out there? Yes, and they need to repent. Noble is right to criticize those who simply tell others they are murderers, but very few of even them would not be kind in face-to-face, one-on-one meetings with those who consider or who have had abortions. And Noble doesn’t seem to realize that most of what he terms “hate” may in fact have certain theological underpinnings in certain forms of Presuppositional apologetics. But he fails to realize that the pro-life movement is more diverse than what he seems to think it is.
On a more practical level, Noble can be answered by summarizing his own arguments. Where does he draw the “condemnation” line of what counts and what doesn’t? Is the statement “abortion is wrong” a bad thing for Christians to say? If the unborn are human, and this can be ascertained with science and philosophy apart from the Gospel, then why not seek to outlaw the destruction of the unborn for any reason? He speaks of ministering to those who have had abortions, but is this the only permissible way to deal with the issue? More troubling is that his arguments are not new; they are, in fact, common pro-abortion arguments. His line about how we don’t know the story of every woman who has an abortion is most often followed by the phrase “Therefore we should not judge them for having abortions.” How would Noble respond to such a common argument? What logically follows from the presence of unkind pro-lifers? I’ve seen them, and they do the movement much harm. But what follows? That we should not say that abortion should be outlawed? He says that he wishes we did not live in a world where so many abortions take place, but this too is common pro-choice rhetoric: safe, legal, and rare is the usual form it takes. What are we to make when the same line gets used by different sides? Moreover, how would he respond to Biblical arguments in favor of abortion made by those from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice? In his haste to hypocritically malign Christians, he parrots more than a few pro-choice arguments. Unfortunately he ends on a terrible note: by saying that adoption is a “far better” option than abortion, he blunts the moral force of his opposition to it. If abortion is the unjust taking of a human life, then it is not one option among many. Morally impermissible acts are not options when the choice is between a morally brave, even heroic, act and one that is evil. The entire crux of the pro-choice argument rests on abortion being worse than the other options, even much worse, but that it should be an option by virtue of the complex moral difficulty facing the women who have to choose.
To which I say: considering this wording, and the line about legislation having little impact (which is by no means the case), this is essentially a pro-choice argument with a few scattered, neutered, and ambiguously used pro-life platitudes.
He then careens across the philosophical divide to make a few very bad common pro-life arguments, namely that legislation won’t fix it and that it will take a conversion to change minds about the issue. But this too is sloppy: it is not a theological position that the unborn are unique human beings worthy of human rights. It can be concluded based on uncontroversial science and ethical conclusions that he himself appeals to in his own post! Ironically, Noble is using the exact same reasoning that he accuses pro-lifers of: some who use harsh words and means to demean those who have abortions also believe that only conversion can change the entire issue for good.
Noble then says most Christians treat abortion as a “sin category” (scare quotes included) and that they don’t understand how justification works. Of course abortion is not the unforgivable sin: and Christopher Kaczor makes this point eloquently in the beginning of his book The Ethics of Abortion. We need not condemn individual women for seeking to better their situations, but that does not mean that all solutions are morally equivalent, and the law needs to take that into account. But this is offered without a shred of supporting evidence and in fact parrots the typical slander against pro-lifers. Again: I would submit that had Noble spent a fair amount of time around pro-lifers, say the 40 Days for Life crowd, he would see that he has untruthfully slandered fellow believers. Thus he is actually quite guilty of the thoughtless judgment he accuses others of.
But suppose we visit another era, the Antebellum South. Let us suppose that there are a group of kind slave-owners who are being boycotted by a mix of kind and unkind abolitionists, replete with boycotts and protest signs.
Which of the two is Christ-like?
And that is the answer to Noble’s pronouncement.
And let us further suppose that there is another person who opposes slavery who says that legislation cannot help it, and that it will take a conversion of the heart for someone to realize that it’s wrong, and that there are far better options than slavery but there are many highly charged emotional factors that can go into the choice to keep slaves.
Compared to the above-mentioned abolitionists, which of the two is more Christ-like?
Let us further suppose that the abolitionists win and the slaves are freed. Let us ask these abolitionists, then, Noble’s question of “What did you win? You have not made a difference!”
And that is also the answer to Noble’s failed rhetorical flourish.
When the choice is between “eating cookies that fund the killing of unborn humans” and not, there is no dilemma.