Saturday, October 27, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 173: Playing politics with innocent life, through gotcha journalism on rape and the possible consequence of conception . . .

It has been said that when Americans sneeze, we in the Caribbean catch cold, with pneumonia a likely complication.

That tendency becomes multiplied during US election cycles in an age of Satellite-Cable TV and the Internet. For, our region's education systems historically have not equipped and currently do not adequately equip us to think through serious moral and theological issues that impinge on the sort of gotcha debate talking points and irresponsible journalism and propaganda agendas that more and more seem to characterise US elections.

That is why it is necessary to take up the recent incident of a snippet from a debate that was pounced on and trumpeted in our region inter alia by the once great BBC: the "controversial" idea that a child -- even if conceived through rape (as, IIRC, apparently was the famous African American scientist, George Washington Carver) -- is still a child of God and a fellow human being created in the image of God with rights that should be respected. From conception all the way through to natural death.

Earlier on, of course, there was another trumpeted US and global media firestorm over a suggestion by another politician that quite often, because of the emotional intensity of what has happened, a woman's body rejects such a conception, leading to an early miscarriage.

Whether or not this last is so -- and it is debatable, we do need to face the issues of the value of human life; which is undermined by abortion. 

Also, we need to look hard at the radical secularisation and de-Christianisation of our culture, and what it is doing to fundamental values such as respect for the right to life, to our response to the duty of care to seek and serve the truth and the right, and to the way many seem to think it justified to manipulate and polarise people in contexts where serious concerns are at stake.

Even, when life itself is in the stakes.

US Columnist Mona Charen has aptly commented:

Mona Charen (cf sample podcast)
. . . people, and particularly politicians, can get into trouble by attempting to speak for God. But that's not the moral of the story regarding Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.

Responding to a question about abortion, Mourdock offered a grieved response -- his voice breaking a bit -- on the matter of which exceptions he favored. His Democratic opponent, Joe Donnelly, also pro-life, said that he would permit abortions in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Mourdock said he had "struggled with it . . . for a long time," but had come to the conclusion that "life is a gift from God."
Unfortunately, he didn't stop there. He added that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

That was sufficient for the Democrats and their eager Dobermans in the press to salivate and pounce . . . 
Now of course, the basic point Mr Mourdock was trying to say, was that we must respect innocent life from its very beginnings as a gift from God, even when it is in the midst of a painful, emotionally charged issue that is itself the result of evil. In short, his attempted point was, that one great evil -- rape, cannot reasonably justify another -- the taking of innocent life. (Yes, the community and family perhaps will need to go through a process of support for the one forced into motherhood under such circumstances, and there should be provision for adoption etc. But the point still stands, life is not a commodity we can buy or sell, choose or refuse; it is a sacred gift.)

As Charen records, the next day, Mr Mourdock tried to clarify:
Mourdock clarified a day later, saying "God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that he does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick."
 This was of course roundly ignored, in the media's eagerness to pounce on a gotcha talking point that would move the vote the way they wanted -- itself a telling fact on how impoverished our ability to think clearly on moral issues and matters of grave responsibility has become. 

A gotcha talking point that was literally trumpeted all around the world, undermining respect for innocent life and for the duty of care to be fair and to seek the right.

Ms Charen goes on to comment soberingly (it is well worth the effort to read the whole article):
Mr. Mourdock chose his words poorly while attempting something dangerous -- to grapple with a serious moral question in a political debate. People wonder why politicians are so guarded and rehearsed. Well, this is why. One stray word and you become fodder for the demagoguery machine.
The very fact that a couple of ill-chosen words by pro-life candidates have become lightning rods this election season betrays the overwhelming bias of the press . . . . 

Abortions that are the result of rape amount to fewer than 1 percent of all abortions. Yet the press treats these rare exceptions as central . . . . 

It's obviously a ghastly thing for a woman to be raped and to find herself pregnant as a consequence. What Mourdock was saying, if inartfully, was that the child so conceived is innocent, and doesn't deserve to die because of the crime of his or her father. He understands that this is a tough issue. It makes everyone horribly uncomfortable. But the liberal answer -- abort the child or else be accused of approving of rape -- is a slimy abuse of tragedy and a disgrace to civil discourse.
 So, too, we need to think about how we are being manipulated on many, many public policy matters with a moral tinge. 

For, if those who support a patently legitimate Judaeo-Christian values anchored view -- Ms Charen, BTW is Jewish -- are so subject to being unjustly savaged in the media, then it is likely that our views on a wide range of issues put before us by the media are being warped and manipulated by those who will happily resort to any and all handy spin and agit-prop tactics to advance their agendas.

Let me pause to cite a source that is often hostile to the Judaeo-Christian view, Wikipedia, as it defines lying in more detail than we usually think of it:
 To lie is to state something with disregard to the truth with the intention that people will accept the statement as truth . . . . even a true statement can be used to deceive. In this situation, it is the intent of being overall untruthful rather than the truthfulness of any individual statement that is considered the lie . . . . One can state part of the truth out of context, knowing that without complete information, it gives a false impression. Likewise, one can actually state accurate facts, yet deceive with them . . . . One lies by omission when omitting an important fact, deliberately leaving another person with a misconception. Lying by omission includes failures to correct pre-existing misconceptions. Also known as a continuing misrepresentation . . . . A misleading statement is one where there is no outright lie, but still retains the purpose of getting someone to believe in an untruth . . .

(And, willful, snide objectors, in case you think this is a time to pull the turnabout false accusation/you hypocrite gotcha card, kindly see here on.)

And so, I am led back to the sobering warning in Deuteronomy 8, a warning given to Israel by Moses in his farewell speech to Israel on the eve of entering the promised land (in part as the result of God's closing the books on a Canaanite culture that had filled up the cup of its iniquities -- like it or lump it, we are God's tenants, and he has standards . . . as does the very land that may vomit us forth in disgust . . . ). This is a warning that our prosperity-besotted civilisation would do well to heed now, before it is too late:
Deut 8: Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord . . . . 

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery . . . 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. 19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. [NIV, '84]
It is not melodramatic to say that the blood of 53 million victims of America's abortion holocaust cry out from the ground to God.  It is not melodramatic to say that already, the rapidly advancing moral dullness of that once great nation, is a sign of the judgement of consequences of willful, defiant rebellion against God. 

(I am personally astonished and deeply concerned that in our own region, ever so many are apparently unable to recognise that Mr Obama has endorsed the homosexualisation of marriage and that this has now been embedded in the positions of civil rights organisations such as the NAACP as well as his own party's platform. The very same party that at its 2012 convention, mocked and booed the attempt to restore even a token reference to the God before whom we will all account for our deeds. We don't seem to realise that among other things, such a position is tantamount to slanderously declaring serious Bible-believing Christian faith that takes morality seriously -- as in holiness, without which no man will see God -- as bigotry driven by hate, to be criminalised. And we already know of legal trends and media campaigns such as that against Chick-Fil-A that point that way.)

Such speaks to a serious failure of the church in our civilisation and region, for Paul speaking by the Spirit aptly teaches us:
Eph 4:(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10 He [--> Christ] who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ . . . . 

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. [NIV '84. It is well worth reading Eph 4:9 - 5:21 as a bloc.]
 In short, our very vulnerability to manipulation tells us that there has been a serious failure to educate and soundly equip the people of God. Similarly, it warns by implication of how hardening our hearts and benumbing our consciences leads to en-darkenment, so that we become progressively more foolish, evil in thoughts, words and deeds, and numb to or even hostile, resentful and resistant to the truth and the right.

Instead, we are to turn away and seek renewal of our minds, consciences, hearts and lives through that which is sound truth in Christ. That way, we reject corrupt and deceitful desires, and we grow in the truth and the right, all in that love poured out in our hearts by the Spirit who comes to live in us once we receive Jesus through penitent faith in response to the gospel.  

Which is the pillar, touchstone and ground of godly truth.
So, we have a duty to turn from the conscience benumbing, deceitful, en-darkening trends and fashionable notions in our fast-fading civilisation, and instead become beacons of the truth lived out in love and right. 

I would be less than honest if I did not say , in closing, that I foresee a dark, tough, terrible time of evil -- and frankly, often bloody -- days ahead. One in which evil will often seem to be triumphant and rampant. As has happened ever so often across the long reach of history.

For that, we must prepare ourselves, and we must be resolute to be true and faithful. 

But, we know Whom we have believed and we are persuaded that He is able to keep that which we have committed unto Him against that Day. END