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What does the Bible say about abortion

Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby Tin Man » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:37 am

Because the central, most important claim of Christianity revolves around sacrifice, which is inherently utilitarian. It was surprising to me to see a Christian arguing against a utilitarian approach when the climax of the human life of the ultimate example in how to live one's life was 100% utilitarian in nature.
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:43 am

Thanks. With that explanation and clarification, I can try to make some comments. While it's true that Christ's sacrifice is one of the central claims of Christianity (I would claim resurrection and life are several others among a field of others, including love, holiness, righteousness, et al.), I don't think everything can be reduced down to being about sacrifice. As Christians, we make distinctions about many things: very little in life and in Christianity is just straight-forward, monolithic, and uniplanar. There are always nuances, distinctions, conditions and contexts. So I will certain argue against a simple utilitarian approach to human life, as if ignoring all the complexities and subtleties of biblical teaching.
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby Handsome » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:20 am

I don't disagree with your definitions of justice and fairness. I would also add that fairness should mean we are all held to the same standard once we are judged. Dying young is like bypassing the courthouse completely - no judgment can be rendered. It's an express lane to Disneyland, while we all sit in traffic.
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:20 am

There are different facets of justice under consideration—the nature of true justice. In other words, it's not so simple.

There is distributive justice, where true justice, spread across the population, distributes equally. The rich don't get privileges (Brian Epstein), the powerful don't get a free pass (Donald Trump), and the poor don't get mistreated. It doesn't mean everyone gets treated the same, however, but it does mean everyone gets treated fairly. Some people may warrant different treatment, for instance, in the distribution of resources. A family of 5 would get more food than a family of 2. Someone who is sick may get more medicine than someone who isn't. Someone who works harder may deserve a higher distribution that someone who doesn't work. It depends, and a good judge knows how to make the necessary adjustments so there is fair distribution. Distributive justice isn’t communism, however, where all get the same treatment, regardless of any other factors. A judge is just when he or she treats all people fairly according to their situations and in view of the larger picture.

Secondly, there is retributive justice: we treat people according to what they deserve. The bad person should get punished, and the good person should get rewarded. The criminal gets exactly what he deserves. The punishment fits the crime—no more, no less; that’s what is retributively just.

Thirdly, a good judge takes into account various pertinent conditional factors such as motive, intent, mental state, and the presenting situation. True justice, therefore, must allow for nuance, mercy, harsher sentences, suspended sentences, etc.

In the Biblical view, justice is not about equalizing, unifying and leveling all things so that distinctions and hierarchies are destroyed to bring about a social or, for some, metaphysical oneness in which even the fundamental distinctions disappear as mere illusions of social constructions to be overcome and resolved by an amorphous ideal. Rather, justice is giving to each his or her due in accordance with their nature and situation.

I agree with you, in a sense, that fairness means we are all held to the same standard. That exists in this situation: humans are all separated from God. God loves all people and has died to redeem every single one of them. Jesus is the core piece of the strategy. We are all judged according to our relationship with Jesus. All will be treated completely fairly. These are the constants and the standards. Amid those, however, are a host of conditions and negotiables: How old was this person? What was their upbringing? How much information did they have? Were there other mitigating circumstances? Etc. ad infinitum. This is why we need an omniscient, unbiased judge.

You say that dying young is like by passing the courthouse completely, and yet that's never a point that the Bible makes. It affirms that all will be treated fairly, yet it doesn't tell us what the criteria will be for those who die young, if any at all. We're just not told, so we are best not to assume something incorrect.
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby Shazzam » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:23 am

> What we're told about God's judgment is that it will be perfectly fair.

So if a mass murderer killed 100 children where would those children go?
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:28 am

If you want the most frank and honest answer, we're not specifically told. I think there are hints in the Bible that those children would go to heaven, but they're only hints and not certainties. The certainty we *are* given is that God will be perfectly fair and do what is just with those 100 children, so I don't need to be worried that God is some kind of malevolent or uncaring jerk who will execute some travesty of justice. That's completely impossible. While I could sit here and manufacture a list of what I think are some of the reasonable possibilities of what will happen to those children, such an exercise is really not worth much. There's reason to believe they will be ushered to heaven, but we can't be sure so we better not assume. What we should assume is that God isn't going to make a mistake with their eternal destiny.
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby Silo Door » Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:24 pm

> It has been correctly objected that principles of this sort can yield absolutely awful results. Suppose the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people can be achieved by enslaving or killing the rest? Many illustrations of this sort are fatal to your proposal. This is not a moral principle, but rather than abandonment of morality. You put so-called morality in the hands of the powerful to define a supposed "good outcome," and in the process possibly justifying the most horrendous means at hand.
> Instead, Christians would take a deontologist viewpoint: the rightness or wrongness of an act derives from the action itself and not from solely the consequence of the act. If a person is ethical and seeking a justifiably ethical end, then he should be ethical at all times without exception. The means are just as important as the ends. It is self-contradictory for some who claims to have high moral standards and a moral goal to engage in morally dubious behavior to achieve a moral end.

What strikes me about this is, it seems to me that the God of the Bible takes part in what you have called morally dubious behavior within the Bible frequently to achieve his means.

When God kills humans en masse, is that not morally dubious behavior? When God deceives (such as in verses like 1 Kings 22:20-23, Ezekiel 14:9-10 where God is said to be speaking and proclaims "I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet", Jeremiah 20:7, and 2 Thessalonians 2 2:9-12) is that not morally dubious behavior? When God makes bets with Satan that causes his faithful follower(s) to suffer (the book of Job) is that not morally dubious behavior?

Now I suspect you or someone else might respond with something like, "It's not morally dubious when God does it." However, in any other instance, we would all agree in calling these acts, if not horrific and terrible, at least morally dubious, right? It seems like special pleading to say that acts such as mass killing and deception aren't morally dubious behavior.
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:47 pm

Good to talk to you again.

> it seems to me that the God of the Bible takes part in what you have called morally dubious behavior within the Bible frequently to achieve his means.

I guess it depends how you define morality, how the standard of morality is derived, and whether or not morals are ever compromised to achieve a particular end. From the looks of your statement, you have made yourself the arbiter of morality based on your own sensibilities and standards, and judged God without all the information. But let's examine your toss-out verses.

> When God kills humans en masse, is that not morally dubious behavior?

Not necessarily at all. When the Allies killed soldiers for the Third Reich en masse, was that morally dubious behavior?

On another front and from another angle, when millions of doctors and mothers kill their unborn children en masse (close to 900,000 in the US in 2017), as has now been made broader by California, NY, IL, et al., is that morally dubious behavior?

> 1 Ki. 22.20-23

The kingdom of Israel (the northern 10 tribes), has been disobedient to God from the beginning. It's been 150 years, and they still have godless kings and false prophets, no matter how many true prophets God has sent them. They have persisted in wallowing in their godlessness and ignoring true messages from God. To get advice for battle, the king assembles 400 false prophets: agents of magic who were the king's yes-men, using magic to give false predictions to the king. Jehoshaphat knows right away that Ahab is consulting liars (22.7) and suggests they consult a real prophet. Ahab doesn't want to ask the real prophet, because the real prophet tells the truth (v. 8). Reluctantly he summons the real prophet. While they're waiting, the false prophets give a false message (vv. 9-10). Then they try to strong-arm the real prophet into agreeing with the liars (v. 13). Of course, he refuses (14). Micaiah, the true prophet, then mocks the false prophets, mimicking their flatterable lies (15). The king is not amused (16). Micaiah then gives the true prophecy: You face disastrous defeat (17). The king is angry about hearing the truth (18). Seriously??

Therefore Micaiah speaks a word of judgment: If all you want to hear are lies, then lies are what you'll get (vv. 20-22). And Micaiah gets slapped and insulted for daring to speak truth (24) and thrown into prison (27).

Do you see what's going on here? God is not deceiving the king. God is not lying to anyone. God has not "put a lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets." The king just wants to hear lies, and the false prophets are glad to accommodate him. The writer uses the language of irony and satire to show rebuke to the king's rejection of God and truth.

> Ezekiel 14.9-10

Verse 2 talks about not physical idols, but walls they have erected in their hearts against God—that they refuse to budge on (3). With hearts of stone, should Ezekiel even bother to tell them the truth from God (3)? They aren't going to listen, and they're just going to stubbornly wallow in their distortions and misunderstandings, refusing to be convinced by truth.

Therefore (and verse 5 is VERY important): "When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry." In other words, just as I've been saying with the other texts, if someone is determined to believe a lie, after trying oh-so-many times to convince them out of it, God will just release them to wallow in their lie. He will do this to try to motivate anyone who *isn't* determined to believe the lie to repent and come to a truthful understanding (v. 5).
Therefore God urges them to repent (v. 6).

But people will still refuse to see the truth, and they will set up idols in their hearts, simply refusing to see the truth (v. 7). And in that condition they will go to a prophet to get "a word from the Lord" (7). Well, they won't get one. God will not cater to their hypocrisy or their dark minds (8). He will desert them to their lies (9), and they bear the guilt of what they have done (9). The false prophet will be just as culpable as the close-minded people who sought him out (10).

The flow shows you that it's the deceit of the heart, the deceits of hypocritical people, and the deceits of false prophets that are the problem here. God isn't lying to anyone. God isn't making them lie or putting lies in their mouths. The whole chapter is about them being liars all along.

> Jer. 20.7

Paraphrase: "I am in this mess because of You, God, and because You are stronger than I." Jeremiah could have followed the culture and lived a life of ease, doing whatever he wanted, and lived like most people. But instead his has been a life of suffering. He is complaining to God about how miserable it is to be a prophet for the Lord when people are so nasty in response to the truth. The verb used for "deceit" can't possibly mean deceit, since God did nothing deceptive in calling Jeremiah into His service. What God did was heavy-handed, but not deceitful.

> 2 Thes. 2.9-12

We let Paul interpret Paul. He is not of the position that God sends lies. In Paul's own writings...

* God gives them over to their own desires (Rom. 1.24), and that's where they exchange the truth for a lie (Rom. 1.25)
* God gives them over to their own lusts (Rom. 1.26), and that's where they bring the penalty for their own perversion upon themselves (Rom. 1.27).
* Since they themselves did not consider it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God (Rom. 1.28), God gives them over to a depraved mind, and they do what they have been dedicated to do (Rom. 1.28-31).
* Though they know the truth and what is right, they choose in themselves to do things that deserve death (Rom. 1.32).
* This is consistent with what is written in Psalm 81.11-12: "But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices."

The only sense in which God is "sending a powerful delusion" is in that He won't interfere with their free will. Those who close their minds to the truth become the victims of delusions. They fail because they refused to heed the truth (2 Thes. 2.5). This agent of deceit has always been at work in the world, but God restrained it (2 Thes. 2.7). In the end times God will stop holding it back; his deceit will be in full swing (2 Thes. 2.9-10), and then Jesus Himself will destroy all such deceit (2 Thes. 2.8). God is the one who holds back deceit (2.7) and who destroys it (2.8). The only sense in which God sends it, according to the text itself, is in removing his hand of restraint and protection. And even in that case, those who know the truth and pursue the truth will still know it and find it (2 Thes. 2.13). Only those who refused to acknowledge the truth anyway will succumb to it (2 Thes. 2.12).

So the answer is, "No, God is not doing anything morally dubious." Some simple study of the words, texts, and contexts makes them easy to understand.

> When God makes bets with Satan that causes his faithful follower(s) to suffer (the book of Job) is that not morally dubious behavior?

First of all, the book of Job is not about a bet. It's a court case. Secondly, the book of Job is not historical, but a theological treatise about the retribution principle and the character of God.

> Now I suspect you or someone else might respond with something like, "It's not morally dubious when God does it."

Nah, that's neither the right answer, nor anything I would say.

> However, in any other instance, we would all agree in calling these acts, if not horrific and terrible, at least morally dubious, right?

No, you don't seem to have taken the time to do any study of the texts you list. As they say in Inside Edition: "There's always more to the story."
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby Shazzam » Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:01 pm

> If you want the most frank and honest answer, we're not specifically told. I think there are hints in the Bible that those children would go to heaven, but they're only hints and not certainties.

What do you think the other options are? Hell? Non-existence?

> The certainty we are given is that God will be perfectly fair and do what is just with those 100 children.

We are talking about the same God that gave commandments about stoning children? The same God that commanded genocide? The same God who killed every first born of an entire nation? The same God that flooded the entire planet bar one family? The same God who sits there watching children get raped? You are certain this God will be perfectly fair with children?
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Re: Dying Young or unborn is a loophole

Postby jimwalton » Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:01 pm

> What do you think the other options are? Hell? Non-existence?

It doesn't matter what I think might be other possibilities. The only thing that matters is what the truth is, and this issue is something we are not told. What we are told is that God will be perfectly fair. That's the only option here.

> We are talking about the same God that gave commandments about stoning children?

God never did any such thing.

> The same God that commanded genocide?

You need to do more study before you accuse God falsely. God never did any such thing. What sounds like commands to genocide are ancient warfare rhetoric for "win a decisive victory," like our sports rhetoric for "win a decisive victory" is "kill, kill, kill." This is well documented in history. Nor was there any genocide by the ancient Israelites. The only cities destroyed in the conquest were Jericho, Ai, and Hazor, and the capital of the Amalekites was destroyed at a separate time. There was never any command to genocide, nor did genocide ever happen.

> The same God who killed every first born of an entire nation?

You need to do more study before you accuse God falsely. The language of the plagues was hyperbole. It says in one that all the cattle were killed, and then in the next one it tells us about the cattle. Then in the next one "all" the cattle are again killed, and then following that we learn more about the cattle. "All" the firstborn of the entire nation were not killed.

> The same God that flooded the entire planet bar one family?

More hyperbole. It wasn't a global flood, but a large regional one.

> The same God who sits there watching children get raped?

The problem of evil and suffering in the world is a long and complex discussion, not a cheap toss-off.

> You are certain this God will be perfectly fair with children?

Oh, yes. Absolutely. I've done the homework and I know God.
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