The Bible and Culture

The Bible and Culture


Towards a Consistent Pro-Life Ethic

posted by Ben Witherington

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I was riding from Manhattan Kansas to Lincoln Nebraska and interestingly enough, almost the only signs posted there on the farms in the Heartland were anti-abortion signs.  The best of the lot said– “All those who are pro-abortion rights have already been born”.  It’s a good point.  The unborn have no voice and no vote on the matter.   What I would like to accomplish in this post is to push the discussion along towards consistency when it comes to a life ethic.  Though the issues of war and capital punishment are not identical life issues as the issue of abortion, there is more than enough overlap so that we ought to think through these issues as a series of related matters.    One of the things that has happened in the Conservative Christian discussion of abortion, is that abortion has been treated as if it were an isolated issue on several grounds. In this post I simply want to point out that these supposed grounds are specious.

Argument One for Isolating the Abortion debate—

Abortion, unlike capital punishment or war, involves the taking of innocent life.  Actually we could debate the issue of the use of the term innocent here, because from a Christian point of view, all human beings are fallen creatures. The psalmist is pretty clear on this issue—  Ps. 51.5 says “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. ”   In short, we are born with an inclination towards self-centeredness, narcissism, the most primal of all sins– the heart turned in upon itself. Indeed in some ways an infant is about the most self-centered creature imaginable.  But perhaps what people mean by saying abortion destroys innocent life, is that abortion destroys a life that has given us no direct reason to take it away.  This is supposedly different than in the case of war or capital punishment.  

This sort of reasoning however totally forgets that: 1) ‘innocent’ civilians are almost as likely to be killed in war, as combatants  (consider the thousands of innocent civilians killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, quite needlessly as it turns out); and 2) the thousands of cases of persons executed by capital punishment who were innocent of the crime they were accused of (and I might add the deterrent argument doesn’t work really, as hardened criminals are seldom deterred from killing by the mere existence of the possibility of capital punishment). I would urge anyone who thinks capital punishment is a good idea to read John Grisham’s non-fiction book  An Innocent Man.  Four of the better arguments against capital punishment  are : 1) judges and juries are far from omnisicient– they make lots of mistakes; 2) the Bible says that God says “vengeance is mine, I will repay”. When it is an issue of life and death it should be left in God’s hands and 3) the recent spate of DNA evidence producing releases of persons who were on death row is telling and 4) finally if you execute a lost person, you send them into an unsaved eternity! 

Argument Two for Isolating the Abortion Debate–  The unborn child has no choice about what happens to them when it comes to abortion. It’s inherently unfair.   Even a moments reflection will show that this point does not in anyway isolate the abortion debate from the debate about other life issues.  The victims at Horoshima had no say, no choice in what happened to them.  Furthermore, the innocent victims on death row have no final say as to what happens to them either, barring a last minute DNA evidence miracle.  

So the innocence and the lack of choice arguments do not distinguish the issue of abortion from the issue of capital punishment and war.   One suspects that the reason why the abortion issue is so much more emotional is because it involves infants of course.  Capital punishment doesn’t involve infants. War on the other hand very often does.  It is indiscrimant, and the discussion is not helped by the foolish use of terms like ‘collateral damage’ as if sacred human lives can be justifiably taken just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Argument Three— Abortion is a gruesome and cruel proceedure which inflicts pain. Even a minute’s reflection will show that the same is true of capital punishment in most any form it is administered and war of course inflicts lots of pain and suffering on non-combatants.

At the end of the day, I can see no good reason why these essential life issues should not, for the most part, be discussed in the same terms, and using the same arguments.  Yes, there are some differences between these issues that require moral distinctions, but they are not so significant that it should justify the isolation of the abortion debate.  If you apply the basic same logic to capital punishment and war as you do to abortion, you will be more consistent in your life ethic, and come to the same conclusions on all three issues—  the taking of human life is not something Christians should be involved in, if they take seriously following the Sermon on the Mount and texts like Romans 12.

Think about these things. 
 



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Daniel Hewitt

posted October 21, 2009 at 11:31 am


Well said Dr. Witherington.
Abortion – how can we consider ourselves a civil society (secular or religious) when we fail to protect the basic right to exist of any member, born or unborn?
Capital punishment – the Innocent Man is what changed my view on capital punishment. Surprisingly, the person who best articulates my new view is President Obama (against it in principle, but very rare exceptions can be made if the case is strong enough).
War – I understand the rationale for state-sanctioned war being “just”. However, I don’t think it applies when we consider the state to be a force of evil, and feel that it is our duty as Christians to resist.



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Ben Witherington

posted October 21, 2009 at 11:48 am


These are good reflections Daniel. I would simply add that I don’t think there is such a thing as a just war. Perhaps at most we can talk about a lesser of two evils decision where there is a justifiable war. And while we are on that subject, I do realize there are lesser of two evils decisions to be made about human life, including when the life of a mother really is forfeit unless there is an abortion (I am thinking of a particular case of an ectopic sort of pregnancy). My point in insisting on a consistent pro-life ethic is that you don’t establish an ethic on the basis of a few necessary exceptions to the ethic. One can reasonably argue that there are lesser of two evils exceptions when taking life a particular is less of a sin or crime than the alternative. I do not deny it. But the exceptions in such cases must be genuine exceptions, exceptions that are seen as sin, not glorified, and repented of afterwards, because in a fallen world there are times when lesser of two evils choices must be made. You don’t make an entire ethic out of the exception, as so many have done in our age.
BW3



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Your Name

posted October 21, 2009 at 12:40 pm


Agreed, if there were a lesser of two evils type scenario, then I might be on board with considering a war to be just (or justifiable). However, looking back at all the wars we’ve waged this century, nothing comes to mind! I think our State resembles a Revelation 13 type state more than a Romans 13 type state. This is the rationale I use to justify being anti-war, anyways.
If I were pro-abortion, I would not want the debate to be about protecting the basic right to life. Instead I would want to reframe the debate (using an exception like you mentioned, reclassifying an unborn human as not human, etc), ie. attack around the edges instead of straight on. So I can understand why these tactics are used against us pro-lifers, as much as I disagree with their premise.



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budcath

posted October 21, 2009 at 12:41 pm


Ben..I like you. I’ve felt this way all my life, but people (many Christians) don’t get it. Many see capital punishment as vengeance and punishment. And war is about killing the bad guys. There is no reasoning involved. As Christians we have to be consistent about life issues. Thank you for the post.



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Brett

posted October 21, 2009 at 1:35 pm


Dr. Witherington,
Are you arguing that pacifism is the only consistent moral?



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Your Name

posted October 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm


The problem with trying to treat all of these as equivalent issues is that the death penalty and war (By the way, I do like your framing of the issue as “justifiable war” rather than “just war”. I’ve never been comfortable with that term.) both have basis within scripture. Now, we can argue about the ramifications, what bearing the OT has on modern Christian ethics, etc, but the bottom line remains. The Bible obviously demonstrates that there are circumstances in which capitol punishment and war are allowable. No such license exists for abortion.
As for your statement about the “thousands of cases of persons executed by capital punishment who were innocent of the crime they were accused of”, they just don’t exist in America. I’m not naive enough to think that our system of justice never executes an innocent person, but to my knowledge, the recent case in Texas is the only example where it has ever been demonstrated that a person executed through the legal system was very likely innocent. Many have been exhonerated while on death row, but that is another matter entirely. While its possible that you may be right about “thousands” wrongly executed, it is patently untrue to assert it as some kind of uncontrovertable fact.



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Steve S

posted October 21, 2009 at 1:39 pm


The determining factor for me on the capital punishment debate has been the simple fact that almost every single person executed in the US has had a public defender…
…ouch!
Another issue that, perhaps, has less overlap than capital punishment and national defense is our approach to poverty. It certainly has some overlap!



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Josh

posted October 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm


Oops. The last “Your name” comment from 1:38 should be signed “Josh”.



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Brian B.

posted October 21, 2009 at 1:51 pm


Dr. Witherington,
These are certainly things to take into consideration. However, I must take exception with one statement: “Furthermore, the innocent victims on death row have no final say as to what happens to them either, barring a last minute DNA evidence miracle.”
This is an inaccurate statement. Every convicted felon had both a trial and a sentencing hearing prior to being placed on death row. At both the trial and the sentencing hearing, the individual had a constitutional right to raise defenses, offer up evidence to create a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury and offer mitigating circumstances regarding punishment.
In fact, your statement rephrased what you put forward as the argument. Look again at what you stated: “Argument Two for Isolating the Abortion Debate– The unborn child has no choice about what happens to them when it comes to abortion.” When referring to the innocent man, you said the individual does not have “final say.” The argument as you stated it was not dependent on the final decision, but was premised on having absolutely no input into the decision. The convicted felon had ample opportunity to have input into the decision.
Also regarding punishment, the problem of the wrongly convicted does not address the issue of whether it is moral to kill someone guilty of certain offenses. It addresses the issue of the administration of the system of capital punishment. I would agree with anyone that it is not right to kill someone who is innocent of the crime of which they are accused. However, that does not answer the question of whether it is moral to carry out capital punishment on one who is actually guilty.
Please answer these questions. Does God’s nature change? Is the God who said “Vengeance is mine” the same God who allowed capital punishment for certain offenses under the Mosaic law? Is the God who said “Vengeance is mine” the same God who ordered the Israelites to completely wipe out cities and nations including men, women children and animals.
One final question, If it was so obvious to those in the first century that Christ was opposed to warfare, why was Cornelius not immediately instructed to give up his position as a Roman Centurion? Why did Jesus tell the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more, yet when he encountered Roman soldiers, he did not instruct them to go and leave their life of warfare.
Thank you,
Brian B.



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toddh

posted October 21, 2009 at 2:25 pm


Good post.
The Left sanctions killing the unborn and those who are old or sick and wish to die.
The Right sanctions killing those who live in other countries and who could be considered our enemies, as well as those who have committed heinous crimes and “deserve” to die.
As Christians we have an opportunity to live by a different ethic that defies the conservative and liberal choices we have been given, and that announces a new kingdom where all life is valued.



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Ben Witherington

posted October 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm


Brian you are missing the point. The fact that the convicted person in a capital case had an opportunity to defend himself before the sentence is quite beyond the point altogether. The point is that after the WRONG VERDICT AND THE DENIAL OF APPEALS OF THE WRONG VERDICT, the innocent person is left without recourse. So the analogy still works at the end of the capital punishment case.
As for the claim of ‘Your Name’ that there are almost know cases of innocents executed by capital punishment, you could not be more wrong, plus there are many near misses. Read Grisham’s book!
BW3



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Richard

posted October 21, 2009 at 4:07 pm


@ BrianB
Even though Jesus didn’t command the Roman soldiers he encountered to leave their profession, the teachings of the sermon on the mount of turning the other cheek and of John the Baptist’s instructions to not exploit would certainly be difficult to follow for a Roman soldier expected to exploit and utilize oppression to maintain order. Perhaps that’s why the early church didn’t expect any believers to be serving as soldiers or judges that might have to execute someone…
It’s interesting that you bring up the woman caught in adultery because Jesus takes the wind out of the sails of a mob looking to execute her under the OT law of Moses and capital punishment. Kenneth Bailey has some wonderful reflections on this.
Ben, great post, wish more theologians and pastors would speak up about the Christian tradition of nonviolence. It’s a shame that it’s been so sidelined in many denominational traditions.
Looking forward to your visit in Huntington, IN.
Richard



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Daniel Hewitt

posted October 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm


I’m the owner of “Your Name” on October 21, 2009 12:40 PM
Sorry. Honest mistake.



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Mat

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm


@ BrianB – Wouldn’t the the sermon on the mount implications be considered the ‘instruction’ for all people, including the soldiers? I also don’t recall from memory Jesus specifically telling someone to stop being a tax-collecter or prostitute, but it was/is implied from other data.
Dr Ben, I really enjoy these types of blog posts. Do you have any recommended books on the topic of Christian non-violence (I am currently reading John H Yoder)?



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Brian Kiley

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm


Thank you, Dr. Witherington, for this excellent post.
Abortion is obviously an important issue, but we are fools if we attempt to address that issue in isolation without addressing other forms of taking human life. It has long baffled me that one could be anti-abortion and pro-war or pro-capital punishment and still consider themselves pro-life. It just doesn’t make sense. Abortion, war, and capital punishment are not the same, but, as you say, that are related- far more related than I think many of us would like to admit. I hope and pray that as Christians we may become as appalled by war and capital punishment as we are by abortion.



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Jay

posted October 21, 2009 at 6:58 pm


Thanks for this pro-life post. It is surprising how rare this position is especially in the USA.



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Ben Witherington

posted October 21, 2009 at 8:00 pm


Hi Matt:
The Sermon on the Mount is directed to the disciples. The crowds are present but it is directed to the disciples—read Mt. 5.1– When Jesus saw the crowds, he withdrew up the mountain, his disciples came to him and he began to teach THEM… Compare Luke 6.20. This is not an ethic for those who have not become his disciples.
BW3



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Mat

posted October 21, 2009 at 8:59 pm


So it would flow that the ethic is for those disciples/Christians coming from a military background as well (of course). Thanks for correction and take care. :)



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Bart

posted October 21, 2009 at 10:17 pm


This is tangential to the discussion on abortion, but I would like to quibble with your assertion that the civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki “died needlessly.”
By all accounts the war-time decision to use nuclear weapons on the Japanese civilian population was a complex and difficult decision. When you say that the civilians died needlessly, you imply that there was a strategically equivalent alternative that would not have involved a large civilian death toll. You might even believe that the war would have soon ended without aggressive action on the mainland. But it is certain that in the summer of 1945 the U.S. military had no strategy for soon ending the war and achieving the unconditional surrender by the remnants of the Imperial Japanese Army without massive American and Japanese casualties, and President Truman was faced with a Congress and citizenry that was weary of war and wartime hardships. Furthermore, there was no credible intelligence on anti-war opposition in Japan for U.S. strategists to exploit. As a matter of fact, the awful firebombing of Tokyo – a tactic that produced suffering far greater than that in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined – had not coerced the Imperial command to bargain for peace and stave off an invasion by U.S. forces.
The enormous loss of life in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was tragic, indeed, but it was the sure product of war. The lesson we learned is that the possibility exists that each nation or entity with nuclear arms is capable of using nuclear weapons to further its interests. When a country enters into war, it is impossible to predict the ultimate scope of the engagement or the outcome. Therefore, we must work vigilantly with all our might to prevent the occurrence of war.



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bw

posted October 22, 2009 at 3:17 am


i’m surprised that no one has commented on the uneven application of the death penalty as a key reason to oppose it. the fact that a non-white person is far more likely than a white person to get the death penalty for an essentially equivalent crime makes capital punishment (as currently practiced) part of an unjust system that should be challenged. the comment from steve s about how the poor are more vulnerable to the death penalty (because of less robust legal representation) reinforces this idea, though his claim is really an indictment of our entire legal system, in which some are more equal than others.
fwiw, i actually don’t oppose the death penalty in theory; it’s the practice of it that makes it problematic for me. i do think that it’s fundamentally different than abortion. you took the case of an innocent person facing capital punishment, and that’s obviously a lot closer. but what about the situation where the person is guilty (e.g. having been caught in the act)? and as for the guilt of the in utero baby, surely we aren’t arguing that there no moral distinction between their culpability due to original sin (which is a matter for God’s judgment alone) and the culpability of the man who kidnaps, rapes, then murders a child (which is both a matter of God’s judgment and the judgment of society)?
finally, are we responsible for the eternal destiny of an unrepentant person who is found guilty of a capital crime and executed? i don’t think so. don’t they still have a chance to turn to God? and if they refuse, whose responsibility is that?
thank you for the thought-provoking (and discussion-engendering) post.



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Dudley Sharp

posted October 22, 2009 at 4:54 am


A rebuttal to Ben:
1) you write: 1) judges and juries are far from omnisicient– they make lots of mistakes;
“The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents”
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx
The 130 (now 135) death row “innocents” scam
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/03/04/fact-checking-issues-on-innocence-and-the-death-penalty.aspx
2) you write: 2)the Bible says that God says “vengeance is mine, I will repay”. When it is an issue of life and death it should be left in God’s hands.
I find this, exraordinarily misleading, in light of the biblical and theological reviews of the death penalty.
Here are many of them. “Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars”
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/07/death-penalty-support-modern-catholic.html
3) Covered in 1, above.
4) you write: 4) finally if you execute a lost person, you send them into an unsaved eternity!
REPLY: All of our sins have us die “early”. Is there a case, whereby God has erased the possibility of our redemption, solely because of our earthly and “early” deaths? I suggest that such an interpretation is, in context, flatly, against God’s message and cannot stand.
The universal blessing that God gives us is that we all have the same opportunity of redeeming ourselves “before we die”. The death penalty does not take that away anymore than does a car wreck, cancer, old age or any other “early” death, meaning all deaths, because of our sins. In God’s perfection, we all suffer “early deaths” because of our sins.
Do all “early” deaths negate the possibility of our redemption? Of course not. None of them do.
Furthermore, a unique benefit of the death penalty is that the offender knows the day of their death and therefore has a huge advantage over the rest of us and, most certainly over the innocent murder victim.
“. . . a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. For capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime . . . the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy.” Carey agrees with Saints Augustine and Aquinas, that executions represent mercy to the wrongdoer: (p. 116). Quaker biblical scholar Dr. Gervas A. Carey. A Professor of Bible and past President of George Fox College, Essays on the Death Penalty, T. Robert Ingram, ed., St. Thomas Press, Houston, 1963, 1992
St. Thomas Aquinas: “The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgement that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.” Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III, 146.



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Casey Taylor

posted October 22, 2009 at 7:40 am


On the issue of people “dying needlessly.”
Stanley Hauerwas, Christian ethics professor at Duke Divinity School, has often said that being committed to Christian non-violence may NOT make the world a safer place. In fact, more people may die because Christians refuse to take up arms. His position, stemming from John Howard Yoder, is christological, not practical.
On a sidenote, perhaps of more interest to Ben, United Methodists are “officially” against the death penalty, but few seem to be against it in principal.
Just food for thought.



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Brad

posted October 22, 2009 at 11:16 am


As a practical matter, had the U.S. chosen to engage in WWII earlier, might the lives of many of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis have been saved? This is a “lesser of two evils” case as mentioned earlier, but most decisions regarding war are regarding the lesser of two evils. Or at the very least what someone in power regards as the lesser of two evils.
Being utterly opposed to war under any circumstances seems to me to be a naive position. That position would seem to prohibit many of the activities in which our police forces necessarily engage as well. And as several have pointed out, the position of war being wrong in all circumstances doesn’t appear to be well supported in the New Testament. Anarchy is not a Christian principle.
As for the death penalty, I am generally opposed to it, even though this was not always the case for me. As with war, it’s more of a practical matter than a theoretical or philosophical or religious one. The inequality of application, the errors, the expense, and questionable deterrence are all good reasons to oppose the death penalty.



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Scott M.

posted October 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm


But a pragmatic ethic is hardly Chritological. Just because it renders the quickest results doesn’t make it Christian. How soon should we start shooting at anyone who resembles the Nazis?
Couldn’t we convert the masses more efficiently and the edge of a blade and fuse of a bomb? And if making disciples of Jesus is our highest aim, then why not allow such violence to be used only for invading armies and obstinate enemies?
Just because living the kingdom of God may be perceived by the inhabitants of this world to be “naive” doesn’t make it so. Knowing in the pit of your stomach that my will (even for good as much as evil) could be accomplished by a shorter route (violence and coercion) instead of the ethic of our King (love and mercy) is often a knowledge that haunts rather than letting one to live in blissful ignorance. This is the ethic that we accept when we bend low to bow before Jesus Christ. To ignore His way of life while accepting His sacrifice is to cling to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Why does the church wait so long to engage a conflict when nothing else has worked and we are left to devolve into bayonets and guns?



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Scott M.

posted October 22, 2009 at 12:29 pm


oops, I mean “And if making disciples of Jesus is our highest aim, then why allow such violence to be used only for invading armies and obstinate enemies?”



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Josh

posted October 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm


Ben, please go back and re-read my post. I never said that there were almost no cases of innocents being executed. In fact, I acknowledged that you may very well be correct. However, you can’t just assert it as fact without actually having thousands of proven cases, which simply don’t exist. And arguing about all of the near-misses may not be as conclusive as you seem to think either, since they prove that the system is getting more accurate and better at determining real guilt by catching previous mistakes. After all, we’re talking about ending the death penalty as it stands in 2009, not as it stood in 1979.
bw, the idea that minorites are executed in disproportionate numbers is not true. They commit more murders, which is why more of them are executed, but if you compare the percentage of convicted murderers to the percentages getting the death penalty among various racial groups, whites are actually executed in higher percentages relative to their proportion of the overall population of murderers. The real inequity is among the victims. Killers of white victims are more likely to see the death penalty than killers of other races. That is a true injustice that needs to be dealt with.



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Holly

posted October 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm


Dr. Witherington,
I really am just a nobody, a homeschooling mama of several children. I recognize that I do not have your level of education nor your experience. I’ve read your blog for many months now, and just really like you and look up to you and do think about what you write. I tell you these things in order to differentiate myself from a “drive-by” commenter who just wants to pick you apart. :) I like ya, Ben.
However….
I do disagree with you on this topic in two instances: 1) The American military has worked very hard over the last few decades to develop precision weapons – the reason for that is to minimize loss of civilian and innocent life. While I think that we must do our best to avoid war, in those times when we must gravely enter conflict we (as a nation) have worked to minimize casualties. There is also the matter that many of our “enemies” tend to house their headquarters and mastermind operations in the very same buildings as day care centers, schools and hospitals. In a very real sense, it can be said that they do not care about their own people. They view them as collateral damage. Generally speaking, I do not think that we do, or we wouldn’t care about developing weapons that cause less and less damage. (In the end, though, I agree with you that Jesus followers should support peace.)
2.) An individual who is on death row has had at least 18 years to respond to the Gospel and to make choices. That can not be equated with a pre-born infant. I, too, think that Christians should oppose the dealth penalty unless the person has confessed. I, too, think that our default position should always to extend mercy and to give the individual more time to choose Christ, BUT, I do not see the direct equivalency of a child who never had opportunity to form a relationship with God. Under Wesleyan Arminian theology, don’t we agree to an age of accountability? (Perhaps I have forgotten my childhood theology lessons, so correct me if I am mistaken.) To view the status of the child in the womb as eventually condemned because of original sin, and thus not innocent, and thus on par with a person on death row seems to be scrambling the order of things.
And 3., kind sir, I very reluctantly say this, and hope that you can correct my perception – but I am not able to ascertain your level of compassion for the unborn child through this post. It is one thing to say that Christians need to include the death penalty and war support in our pro-life triumverate, but is another thing to downplay the compassion needed when it comes to the millions of children lost to abortion. I feel that “we” evangelicals have badly messed up many of the practical aspects of following Jesus, and sometimes that makes me want to behaviorally swing the pendulum in a completely different position. It is important to me that in doing so I don’t lose balance or center. I don’t want to abandon the child in the womb, nor the mother in crisis, in favor of pacivism or in support of eradicating the death penalty. With Jesus’ help, we don’t have to abandon anyone.
God bless – wish you well! :)



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Holly

posted October 22, 2009 at 3:18 pm


Make that three instances. Obviously, I can’t count. :)



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Ben Witherington

posted October 22, 2009 at 3:45 pm


Hi Holly:
Thanks for your passionate post. If you knew me, you would know I am indeed a fervent pro-lifer when it comes to the unborn, but I will just say that this post is about pro-life consistency across the board when it comes to related issues. I believe all persons whether born or unborn are persons of sacred worth, all created in the image of God. What very few seem to understand is that an attack on the image of God is an attack on God, indirectly– a very serious sin. What was it that Jesus asked Saul, on the road to Damascus– “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?”. And what did Jesus say in Mt. 25— inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these….you have done it to ME.”
If that doesn’t make a person rethink their position on capital punishment and war as well as abortion, then probably nothing will.
Blessings
Ben W.



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Holly

posted October 22, 2009 at 5:47 pm


Thank you, Dr. Witherington. I hear you, and I appreciate your words. It is sometimes difficult to determine an individual’s tone through the quick blogpost. This I know – that I have a lot of things to learn and many places in need of growth, and I always appreciate the opportunities for both.
Today, I finished a book by Francis Collins, called The Language of God. (For those who do not know, he was the director of the Human Genome Project. He is also a Christian.) This book brought to my mind many new considerations of what it means that humanity is created in the image of God. What about Biologos, or Theistic evolution? What does this mean to our comprehension of a timetable for a transmission of God’s image? What about stem-cells, or excess embryos created for IVF (with the excess “image of God” placed into an eternal freezer?) Lots to think about, lots to consider, lots to seek God’s heart about and then do our best to “live it out.”
Thanks again -
Holly



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Daniel Hewitt

posted October 22, 2009 at 7:08 pm


Hello Holly. I know this post is starting to get old, but if you’re still around I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on Collins’ book. I am in the queue for it at my local library (not sure when I’ll get my turn) but I am interested to hear from someone who has read it. Thanks.



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Holly

posted October 22, 2009 at 9:56 pm


Daniel, I thought it was Phe. Nom. E. Nal. :) I had a hard time putting it down. (Good thing I was stuck in a hospital waiting room allllll day while my 11 year old had a minor procedure….the hours raced by!)
Very clear for the lay reader, well put together, very reasoned, up-to-date scientifically (it was published in 2006,) and also very firmly Christian.
If you already ride the razor’s edge of science, it probably won’t be as thought-provoking; but for someone like me, who has needed to step outside of the comfortable box, it was enlightening.



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Holly

posted October 22, 2009 at 9:57 pm


Daniel, I thought it was Phe. Nom. E. Nal. :) I had a hard time putting it down. (Good thing I was stuck in a hospital waiting room allllll day while my 11 year old had a minor procedure….the hours raced by!)
Very clear for the lay reader, well put together, very reasoned, up-to-date scientifically (it was published in 2006,) and also very firmly Christian.
If you already ride the razor’s edge of science, it probably won’t be as thought-provoking; but for someone like me, who has needed to step outside of the comfortable box, it was enlightening.



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Holly

posted October 22, 2009 at 9:58 pm


Now, how did that double post happen? Grrrr. Foiled again by the comment box.



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Daniel Hewitt

posted October 23, 2009 at 9:44 am


Biology is definitely not my forte, so I’m relieved to hear that its understandable for the lay reader. I’ve always thought Theistic evolution to be somewhat silly (if God could create everything else, then why not fully developed humans?) but I always try to keep an open mind. Thanks for your reply.



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Holly

posted October 23, 2009 at 10:31 pm


Absolutely, Daniel. Me too. God could do anything. I never thought He really needed 6 full 24 hour days. He’s God! If He wanted it to be instantaneous, why not?
I guess the question is, though, what DID He do, not what COULD He do?
It’s all new to me. I’m really just on a quest to learn, not trying to convince anyone of a certain point of view. I felt though, that I should read several well-educated sides of the argument, and it’s harder to get more educated than Frances Collins is regarding DNA. Science and scientific evidence has really changed in the last 20 years. The mapping of the human genome unlocked so many closed doors, has revealed so many things about how God did create.
God bless you -



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H. (Bart) Vincelette

posted November 4, 2009 at 2:26 am


There are too few left around to make this an issue. Those who could make a much more articulate case than I ; are dead.Bear with me. The reality is : in a real world of liberty and justice ; religious conservatives forfeited their right to claim to represent the stand that all life is sacred.As a resident of San Diego during the early years of the AIDS epidemic ; I remember well ; the fierce and successful opposition of the religious right to the use of public funds for HIV research. The subsequent delay in acquiring effective treatment options denied thousands even a fighting chance at survival.Conservative Christians did not take an interest in involvement with the victims of HIV/AIDS until heterosexual Africa became decimated. The hypocrisy is simply breathtaking.



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