Quote of Note #123: Christianity & Coercion


Photo by GAC

“Christian civility takes human freedom seriously. I may want people to believe as I do about some basic matters–but what I want is for them to choose to see things that way. This means that I must rely on testimony and persuasion in presenting my views to them. Civil Christians will be very reluctant to endorse moral and religious programs that rely on coercion.”

Richard Mouw, Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010, page 157.

2 thoughts on “Quote of Note #123: Christianity & Coercion

  1. Gary, how do you think this applies to abortion? Should we be focused on persuasion rather than criminalization?

    Bob

    On Wed, Nov 10, 2021, 12:06 PM Gary Chorpenning’s Notebooks wrote:

    > gachorpenning posted: ” Photo by GAC “Christian civility takes human > freedom seriously. I may want people to believe as I do about some basic > matters–but what I want is for them to choose to see things that way. This > means that I must rely on testimony and persuasion in p” >

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    1. This is an interesting and, I think, complicated question. I don’t have an easy or comfortable answer. But here are some of the issues that I think we have to sort through with it. First, we have to recognize that all of the surveys that I’ve consulted indicate that somewhere around 2/3s of Americans what abortion to be legal in some form beyond simply saving the life of the mother. Also, they show that a majority of Americans do not want to see Roe overturned. Now, I am not suggesting that morality is a matter of majority vote. But we do live in a democratic republic. So, the only way to criminalize abortion on a national level would be through some sort of coercive imposition against the will of the people. That is not typically how we do things in our democratic republic, but if we want to accomplish a national criminalization of abortion, we will either have to do it that way, or we will need to try to persuade enough people to change their minds.

      Criminalization is tricky also on at least two points. First, in practical terms, overturning Roe will not make abortion illegal in America. It will simply make it permissible for states legislatures with their governors to make it illegal in their particular states. The latest estimates I’ve seen on this point are that somewhere a little under half of the states would ban or severely restrict abortion. Abortion will still likely be legal in the majority of states. In other words, abortion will always be legally available in the United States for as far as we can see into the future.

      Second with regard to criminalization, abortion is not a simple act of criminality like robbery or fraud. It is a more complex problem like substance abuse. We have learned, I think, that we cannot solve the drug problem in America simply by making drugs illegal. I think we will not be able to solve the problem of abortion simply by making abortion illegal.

      For me, I think the real question we have to ask ourselves is this: do we want to save the lives of unborn babies? or do we simply want to make abortion illegal? Those are not the same question. I do not believe we can save the lives of many unborn babies merely by making abortion illegal.

      Like

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