I have observed for decades how people will tend to maintain a position because it is the group’s position or it has been held for a long time, irrespective of rational arguments or being presented with the truth. As I observe others, I need to also observe myself. Even as I acknowledge that my failings are legion, I find it instructive to more fully examine one at a time with the expectation that each of these failings will succumb to the power of the truth.
Let’s examine my early position on partial birth abortion, and how my position changed. Then we can look again at how truth must supersede my opinion.
My Error on Partial Birth Abortion
In the United States it is the states that outlaw the murder of another person, not the federal government. Clearly a state that did not outlaw murder would have a limited population. Laws of this nature are not part of the original design for the federal government, but were to be left to the states.
The 1973 Row v. Wade decision shifted some of the state laws to the federal level. Much of the pro-life community started to seek federal protection for life, at least the life of the unborn. However, the question of what time of life this protection should start kept the pro-life community divided.
The “Dilation and Evacuation” procedure for late-term abortion had gained popularity in the 1990s as a method that was simpler to perform and safer for the mother than other techniques such as saline. However, when the term “Partial Birth Abortion” became the popular name for the procedure, a tremendous following formed on both sides of the issue.
The procedure was portrayed as gruesome by proponents of a federal law to ban the procedure. It became a great fund-raising tool for the pro-life community as well as the pro-choice community.
The pro-life community gained support of those who would otherwise not back limitations on early-term abortions. A procedure, not a time of life, became the rallying point to bring federal protection.
The pro-choice community saw an encroachment on abortion freedoms that they had to stop before it got worse.
The result of the federal ban is that much of the pro-life community has patted themselves on the back with a “job well done” mentality and stopped further activity and funding. The late-term abortionist has simply adjusted procedures and continued. The federal government has a new set of laws that can be adjusted and expanded to grant itself power in ways not intended or foreseen by the pro-life advocates.
Recanting My Position and Confirming My Fundamental Stand
In my published positions for my 1998 run for a seat in the US House I stated my position to “Outlaw partial-birth abortion”. I was wrong on this stand and have long since recanted this position.
The problem with the position is two-fold. First, the protection of life is a state issue, not a federal one. We must seek to remove federal encroachment on the states, rather than make federal law abide to our desires. History shows that the gain in centralized power will bring abuse and that powerful governments inflict more death on their own population then on foreigners.
Secondly, laws must regulate results, not desires or procedures. A law that prohibits going in the front door of someone’s house to steal will result in a thief simply using the backdoor. This is exactly what has happened with late-term abortions.
Some may say that this shows a weakening in my pro-life position. However, my stand found at is anything but weak.
In the position paper I described my desire to have birth control products labeled as to when they took effect. I remain convinced that doing this will radically change the perception of the users of these products, but earnestly seek arguments on how much of this should be by regulation and how much through market forces.
Otherwise, my position in 1998 remains the same in 2009. I now claim nine children, rather than four, which partially comes from the process of practicing what you preach.
Conclusion on Seeking the Truth
I discussed partial birth abortion as an example of how I have refined my position as my understanding of the issue increased. Although the issue will inflame many readers, let’s step back and look again at the point of this article.
We can be stubborn and inflexible when it comes to our favorite sports team, food style, or music preferences. These are subjective issues. However, when the issues are objective and a single truth exists, we must yield to the truth, rather than our presuppositions.
I teach my children to seek the truth first. If they find that what I have advocated is wrong, follow the truth rather than me. This includes all things, including my embrace of Christianity. I have tested Christianity enough in areas that I can understand and verify. This gives me a reasoned faith to trust in areas that I do not fully understand or can verify. This includes trusting my children to the truth (i.e. Christ).
This reasoned faith allows me the freedom to advocate testing everything, including the Bible. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” This is not a command to test things outside of the Bible only, but to test the Bible itself, which also means testing the ultimate Author. If He is false, then He should be abandoned. I will stand with the fact that the Author, the Lord, is true.
When we step back from Christianity itself and look to a denomination we can easily see that there are logical conflicts. In my examination, I have found no denomination that seems to be fully in line with the teaching of Christ, including the denomination of which I am a member. This does not mean I abandon the denomination, but seek to refine it, or correct my understanding.
When it comes to politics, we must not yield to what is promoted by a party or organization, but again yield to the truth. Is there an objective difference between freedom and communism? Clearly there is, and I would contend that the truth points to freedom as superior.
When the truth is made manifest before you, do you ignore it and stand your ground, or do you embrace it? I suggest truth is supreme. John 8:32 “… and the truth will set you free.”