I’m going to hope that, unless you grew up in my hometown,* you never had to deal with the frustrating experience of having scripture quoted back at you in response to everything you said. I know I have probably seemed in previous posts as though I hate religion, but I think The Bible has its place. It’s remarkable, really, that such ancient scripture would survive. I just don’t think it’s place is to be offered as “proof” of much of anything.
One of the most frequently quoted pieces comes from Jeremiah 1:5:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
You can probably guess that this quote — also a bumper stick and a t-shirt — is brought up in response to anything regarding abortion. You and I can sit here and figure out that the Lord is talking to Jeremiah, that Jeremiah is destined to be a prophet, but that doesn’t stop people from saying God knows every fetus, offering it as proof that abortion is murder.
I bring this up because I think it’s important to understand this in the context of the abortion debate. Poor William Saletan, the often frustrating but sometimes sensible columnist for Slate, keeps writing about a bill that seeks to prevent abortion not by outlawing it, but by promoting the kinds of tools that may enable men and women to prevent unwanted pregnancies.**
I’m not surprised, but hardline anti-abortion advocates are against this, too. I can see why Saletan is atwitter. It seems like those who would want to prevent abortion would want to prevent the kinds of situations in which people seek abortions. But growing up in Arkansas, I realized this hypocrisy early on. Religious conservatives disproved of abortion, but also disproved of contraception, sex education, and adoption. Because God forms babies in wombs.
If God goes around forming babies in wombs, or if you believe so, you can’t go around preventing it. Actually, you don’t have a lot of control over your life at all. Life is pretty well set for you. We had serious debates while I grew up about whether you had any affect on your life at all, or whether it was all laid out in advance. You either subscribed to the theory that you walked down a road in life that had already been lain, or that God deal you a deck of cards from which you chose, but the idea that God had nothing to do with determining your fate was pretty foreign. That’s a pretty hard case in which to argue for much agency at all.
So, some people aren’t looking for compromise. I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again: some people just don’t belong in the conversation.
*In which case I probably know you, so hi.
** One of those involved works with a group called the Third Way. Maybe they read “Nudge” too.