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Introduction and Contents
My dissatisfaction with American political options persists. As I continue to reflect on what matters most to me in the political realm, I find I must make adjustments to my affiliations and entertain solutions to problems that I would not previously have considered.
To those ends, here is what you’ll find in this post:
- A look back at a praiseworthy, though ultimately unsuccessful, effort by some godly California Christians to abolish abortion in this most wicked of American states
- A prefatory reflection on how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah but has chosen not to destroy California
- The promised look back at the effort of some Christian role models to do the humanly impossible in what must be Satan’s favorite state
- Some news on my political affiliation and a thought experiment one might deem socialistic
- Description of my departure from one unsatisfactory political party to join another, also unsatisfactory
- A thought experiment applying the pre-Civil-War Southern idea of compensated emancipation to the abolition of abortion
- Some final thoughts
Abolish Abortion California: In Praise of a Godly but Failed 2018 Ballot Initiative Drive ^
While searching for abortion abolitionist broadcasters on YouTube, I discovered the Abolish Abortion California Initiative channel. It turns out that back in 2018, some courageous Christians in my state actually attempted to get a proposition on the ballot to abolish abortion. Surely this indicates a faithfulness in God’s ability to work miracles at which those of us less advanced in our pursuit of piety can only marvel.
Our Age of Grace: California Spared Though Sodom Destroyed ^
After all, trying to get such a proposition on the ballot in this state — where in 2022 a large majority of the depraved citizenry voted to declare abortion a legal right for every mother up to the moment of birth — seems a bit like trying to pass a law against sodomy in Sodom and Gomorrah just before the following happened:
 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;  And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. (Genesis 19:24–25)
This passage tells us how God once executed an especially extreme judgment against people guilty of sins that, for all their abominable defiance of God’s design for human sexuality, do not involve murder — at least not so far as the Bible mentions in the immediate context. This tells us how profoundly merciful God is now being as he refrains from annihilating the State of California and the majority of its voters who in November 2022 made themselves accomplices to murder.
In our corrupt age, even most Christians never read Matthew Henry’s commentary, even though it is in the public domain and readily available free of charge from multiple sources. Matthew Henry’s remarks on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are worth considering.
It was a punishment that answered to their sin. Burning lusts against nature were justly punished with this preternatural burning. Those that went after strange flesh were destroyed by strange fire, Jude 7. They persecuted the angels with their rabble, and made Lot afraid; and now God persecuted them with his tempest, and made them afraid with his storm, [Psalm 83:15]. 5. It was designed for a standing revelation of the wrath of God against sin and sinners in all ages. It is, accordingly, often referred to in the scripture, and made a pattern of the ruin of Israel [Deuteronomy 29:23], of Babylon [Isaiah 13:19], of Edom [Jeremiah 49:18], of Moab and Ammon, [Zephaniah 2:9]. Nay, it was typical of the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7), and the ruin of all that live ungodly [2 Peter 2:6], especially that despise the gospel, [Matthew 10:15]. It is in allusion to this destruction that the place of the damned is often represented by a lake that burns, as Sodom did, with fire and brimstone. Let us learn from it, (1.) The evil of sin, and the hurtful nature of it. Iniquity tends to ruin. (2.) The terrors of the Lord. See what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God!
What kind of punishment would best fit the sin of making laws that support and encourage the murder of human individuals at the point in life when they are most defenseless? This is a question the majority of voters in California’s 2022 election should think about.
Godly Christian Role Models Show a Better Way ^
In 2018, as already noted, some faithful Christians tried to offer California voters a better way. Though this effort failed, and though it received so little public notice that I heard nothing of it at the time (as of this writing, the videos explaining the initiative still have low view counts), the effort deserves some words of appreciation. Though the URL provided in presentation graphics, AbolishAbortionCA.com, brought up an empty directory page when I checked on 27 November 2022, interested readers may review an archived copy here.
I thank the Lord that there are, or at least once were, such godly Christian role models in my ungodly state. Sadly, I was unprepared to appreciate their efforts back in 2018. At that time, I knew nothing about abortion abolitionism and did not follow any abolitionist broadcasters or frequent any abolitionist Web sites. As a result, I never heard of the initiative drive. And I was never asked to sign a petition related to it. I don’t even know if I would have signed the petition had I been given the opportunity, since I had not long been convinced that a “life of the mother” exception might not be needed in an abortion ban. That exception long seemed to me necessary to protect the right of mothers to self-defense should a crisis pregnancy threaten their lives. I now realize, of course, that what you actually need in an abortion ban is language explaining why, for instance, removing the child in an ectopic pregnancy in order to save a mother’s life is not an abortion: it is not the active and intentional killing of the child, just an act to save the mother’s life where current technology does not allow the child to also be saved.
By the way, this will not always be the state of medical technology. As I learned from a video posted to Rumble by Abolish Abortion Florida, efforts to make embryonic transfer feasible are underway. In addition to allowing both mothers’ and children’s lives to be saved in ectopic pregnancies, embryonic transfer will allow mothers with unintended pregnancies to give up children for adoption well before birth, eliminating one factor that makes some support legal abortion.
While there was no possibility short of a divine miracle that a statewide abortion ban would pass in California, having an abolitionist initiative make it onto the ballot would have been an excellent presentation of God’s moral perspective to this state’s voters. Doubtless it would have been for most of those voters a damning “savour of death unto death” as they persisted in their rebellion, but perhaps for a few it would have been a saving “savour of life unto life” (2 Corinthians 2:16) as this testimony drew them to repentance.
Let us hope that the failure of this 2018 effort has not demoralized those involved in it. This state needs such people. In fact, it needs many more of them than it currently has.
Personal News and a Thought Experiment ^
Although many libertarians do identify themselves as “pro-life” or, more often, as “mostly [or tending, or largely, or generally] pro-life,“ most who claim these labels show themselves exceedingly reluctant to have government do much if anything to stop abortion. If the sole purpose for which governments are established is to protect individual rights, which is what libertarians who are not anarchists believe, why would a libertarian resist empowering government to protect the most fundamental right of all, the right to life? What use is a rights-centered political philosophy if it fails to defend the most basic right, the right upon which all other rights depend? Of what value is a rights-based legal system that fails to defend the right to life?
I had this failure-to-defend-life aspect of “pro-life” libertarianism driven home for me recently when a “Libertarian Christian” group chose as its podcast guest prominent Libertarian Party (LP) member, and last election’s Vice Presidential candidate, Spike Cohen. The Christian host began the podcast by praising Cohen for providing so much great content. I stopped watching the podcast video at that point to see what sort of content Mr. Cohen was putting out.
I was not impressed. I have in mind his commentary on the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which begins with Cohen claiming to be “mostly” in the pro-life camp. From this commentary, I learned that Cohen:
- (1) thinks one can coherently set the beginning of individual legal personhood at some point between conception, when human individuals objectively originate, and birth, and
- (2) sees nothing but problems and violations of liberty resulting from any attempt to have government, whose sole legitimate purpose is to defend rights, do its job when it comes to unborn human individuals.
I confess I have not yet gone back to endure through to the end of this terrible video, but the half I did endure was damning. This “Abortion may be wrong, but getting government involved would just make things worse” line of reasoning seems very common among libertarians who claim the “pro-life” label. As far as I’m concerned, though, any philosophy of government that doesn’t let government perform the one function it should perform — protecting the rights of every human individual — belongs in the rubbish heap.
For Now, the (Libertarian) Party’s Over ^
The sad reality, I’ve had to admit, is that the anarchist impulse dominating the Libertarian Party makes it the wrong place for lovers of liberty who believe that limited government is both legitimate and necessary to ensure individual rights. I also have to accept that most libertarians who are professing Christians are libertarians first and Christians second. By that I mean that their first allegiance is to their libertarian beliefs, which typically favor anarchism rather than constitutionally limited government grounded in the God-given (“natural”) rights of all human individuals. When those beliefs and Scripture come into tension, they will more often modify their reading of Scripture than modify their libertarianism.
When I say this, I’m probably being unfair to many true Christians who also consider themselves libertarians. In that case, please accept my apology for overgeneralizing from a very limited sampling of the views of libertarians who profess to be Christians. I often over generalize when I’m upset. It’s just one of my many character flaws. The piety of the Pious Eye is much more aspirational than realized.
My unrealized piety aside, back to politics. My own hierarchy of values differs from that of the libertarian Christians I’ve caricatured. My self-identification as a Christian nationalist libertarian lists my personal allegiances in the order I hold them. My allegiance to scriptural authority and my Christian faith comes first; my allegiance to the American nation — in particular to its founding philosophy set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the writings of various founders and the heirs to their philosophy — comes second; and my allegiance to small-government (not anarchistic) libertarianism comes third. When expressing libertarian views, such as in online comments, I often point out that I will change these views if I become convinced that Scripture requires me to do so.
And so, given that the Constitution Party is still not ballot-qualified in my state, and given that its endorsement of protectionism runs contrary to my convictions anyway,* I have changed my voter registration to Republican. [* To quote page 27 of their platform, “Tariffs are not only a constitutional source of revenue, but, wisely administered, are an aid to preservation of the national economy.” This is an endorsement of central planning, which never ends well.]
My Sad Farewell to Plans To Join the Republican Liberty Caucus
My initial plan when doing this was to then join the Republican Liberty Caucus to make clear my dedication to liberty. Alas, that group in 2021 amended its statement of principles to include the following:
We oppose any allocation of government funds or resources to facilitate abortions, advocate in the public discussion, or to jeopardize the right of any woman to defend her own life and health.
As you might guess, the part I have trouble with is “or to jeopardize the right of any woman to defend her own life and health.” I also have trouble with the broken parallelism, of course. Since ”to” is included in the first and last clauses of the list, it should also be included in the middle clause: ”[to] advocate in the public discussion.” But that’s a minor matter. The idea that some “allocation of government funds or resources” related to abortion might “jeopardize the right of any woman to defend her own life and health” is not minor, since it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the issues involved in the abortion debate.
As noted earlier, a proper understanding of which medical procedures should and should not be called “abortion” rules out the possibility that abortion will ever be necessary to save a mother’s life. Attempting to save a mother’s life never requires intentionally murdering an unborn child. It may require attempting a delivery too premature for a baby to survive with today’s technology. Or it may require attempting an experimental procedure with a low chance of success, such as an embryonic transfer (whenever doctors begin trying to make that procedure work with humans). Or it may simply require removing an unborn child that has already died, which is what actually happens in many of these cases. But dismembering an unborn child while still alive, or engaging in other murderous acts characteristic of abortion, is never required.
If Only They Hadn’t Added “Health”!
Despite all this, I might have gone ahead and joined the organization if it ended the sentence after “own life.” Endorsing the right to self-defense is not problematic. It doesn’t rightly apply to abortion because abortion is never the only way for a mother to defend her life. But if, speaking hypothetically and counterfactually, it ever were the only way for a mother to keep herself from dying, abortion would be a legitimate act of self-defense, particularly in hard cases where where either (1) the child alone will die, or (2) the mother and child will die. And, if there were ever a case where saving a child could kill a mother, and where the only way for a mother to save herself was to get an abortion, abortion would be a permissible act of self-preservation. There are no such cases in reality, but if there were, a mother could choose her own life over the life of her child without being guilty of a crime. If the only way a driver can avoid going over a cliff and plunging to his death is to swerve off the road and hit a pedestrian, the driver may save himself and not get convicted for murdering the pedestrian (assuming the driver did not get into this situation through negligence or by design).
Alas, though, the caucus chose to also add “and health.” What does this include, exactly? Pregnancy usually causes weight gain, and weight gain is unhealthy. So, abort to prevent unhealthy weight gain. Depression is common in new mothers for hormonal reasons, and depression means poor mental health. So, abort to avoid postpartum depression. What about financial health? Having a poor income has been shown to correlate with poorer health overall and a shorter lifespan. And having a baby you weren’t prepared for could prevent you from, say, completing the education you need to get the high-paying job you want. So, abort to ensure your long-term financial health. The excuses for murdering your child to protect your “health” are endless.
My Happy “Welcome Back” to #NeverTrump Primary Voting
In truth, I would probably have changed my registration so I could vote against Trump — and vote for Rand Paul, if he runs — anyway. Though the anarchists dominating the LP condemn “beltway libertarians” like Rand Paul as too impure in their libertarianism to deserve support, I have to admit I like beltway libertarians like Rand Paul and Thomas Massie (and, yes, even Justin Amash) considerably more than “real” libertarians like Spike Cohen and “Libertarian Christians” who praise him.
A Thought Experiment: Compensated Emancipation from Abortion ^
So, I’ve realized that abortion abolitionism matters a lot more to me than any of the causes LP leaders emphasize. The right to life is the foundation of everything else. If you don’t defend that, your opposition to foreign interventionism, unbacked paper currency, and all the rest amounts to nothing. To misquote Solomon Burke, none of us are free if one of us is being cut up and vacuum-suctioned out of the womb to be thrown in a medical waste receptacle.
Now, abortion abolitionists have intentionally adopted terminology related to the abolitionist movement that worked to end slavery prior to the Civil War. While one prominent abolitionist organization points to William Lloyd Garrison as a model, even naming its podcast after Garrison’s newspaper, The Liberator, I prefer the Constitution-friendly model provided by Frederick Douglass. Whatever model one chooses, however, one will not meet with the approval of today’s advocates of the Southern tradition, such as the Abbeville Institute.
The problem people like those at the Abbeville Institute have with (slavery) abolitionists is that they insisted on immediate freeing of the slaves without compensation. Since slavery was an immoral institution that violated the natural rights philosophy foundational to this nation, a modern (abortion) abolitionist like myself isn’t inclined to think pre-Civil-War slaveholders had any just claim to compensation for freeing their slaves. Simply put, they had no property rights to their slaves because you can’t own a person, period.
Pragmatic Insights From a Disagreeable Tradition
Advocates of the Southern tradition, of course, reject this way of thinking. Brion McClanahan, in fact, goes so far as to reject the idea that the term “natural rights” is anything but code for our founders’ belief in “the rights of Englishmen.” As Africans and their children were not Englishmen, Southern heroes like John C. Calhoun can still be lifted up as role models in spite of their support for slavery. (The “As Africans and their children were not Englishmen” part is an inference from the “rights of Englishmen” claim, not something I’ve yet heard McClanahan or a supporter assert. I doubt McClanahan would endorse the argument.)
McClanahan also rejects the idea that America is a “nation” at all, by the way. From his perspective, a federal republic is not a type of nation but something other than (and contrary to) a nation. And, to McClanahan’s way of thinking, “nationalism” is a synonym for “centralization of power in the federal [national] government.” I don’t endorse the Southern tradition or this way of thinking, but it does highlight the presuppositional insight that people in different thought traditions often don’t even use the most basic terms in the same way.
While I can’t take the Southern viewpoint seriously on these matters, I do grant that it has some useful insights from a pragmatic perspective. When I say this, I have most in mind a two-lecture series posted by the Abbeville Institute not too long ago:
The main thing that interests me in this series of lectures is the idea that providing compensation when emancipating slaves could have allowed slavery to be eliminated without the social upheaval and violence this nation actually experienced. Of course, forcing taxpayers who’d never owned slaves to pay slaveholders for freeing slaves that they never had any right to claim to own does seem morally suspect. (Of course, the tariffs and excise taxes of that time were far less onerous than today’s income and other taxes. Even so, there’s still something morally awry in using this money to pay off slaveholders.) But bear with me. Since slavery is a settled question, I propose to extend the pragmatic thinking behind the Southern proposal to the still at-issue form of abolitionism, abortion abolitionism.
The Thought Experiment and Its Foundational Axiom
What follows, I want to emphasize, is purely a thought experiment. I am not endorsing it as a practical, real-world policy. This experiment begins with the following assertion: theft is a lesser crime and moral offense than murder. To me, this seems self-evidently true, so I offer it as a starting axiom and will not try to prove it.
Based on this moral principle, a case can be made that, if you could prevent a murder by committing theft, you would be morally justified doing so. Now, libertarians typically hold that taxation is theft and that social welfare programs are, as a result, ultimately a form of theft. If a social welfare program could prevent murder, it would appear to be morally justifiable even on libertarian grounds.
Enter the parallel between today’s calls to abolish abortion and pre-Civil-War calls to abolish slavery. As you’ve just learned, the Southern perspective on the abolition of slavery is that the proper and peaceful solution to the problem would have been compensated emancipation. That is, pay the slave owners a fair price in exchange for freeing their slaves. Southern thinkers also commonly argue that some sort of program to integrate the freed slaves into society as productive, self-sufficient members of the community would also have been required — a social welfare program, in other words, though a temporary and transitional one.
The Thought Experiment Practically Applied
I believe this same sort of reasoning could be applied to abortion. Although the financial responsibility for supporting the mother and child at least until the mother can give the child up for adoption should belong to the father, we could set up a social welfare program that would free women from the burden of having to take legal action against deadbeat fathers. Public funds would be made available to support unwed mothers throughout pregnancy. Those administering this program would take legal action against fathers to recover at least some of the funds, but mothers would not need to involve themselves at all in this process.
Granted, even such a program will not satisfy mothers who don’t want to take nine months off from their lives to avoid murdering their own children. That is too bad. Murder cannot be countenanced and must be outlawed. Unborn children must receive equal protection under the law, meaning no one may murder them without facing arrest, trial, and potential conviction. All that said, however, we may not want to insist that every unwed, unintentional mother (who, granted, has taken an unwise sexual risk) should suffer the additional burden of taking on financial responsibility that would rightly fall on the father of her child. (Since a mother bears the burden of carrying the child to term, it seems only just to require that the father rather than the mother be held responsible for the financial burden of pregnancy.)
After birth, mothers who chose to keep their children would take on the responsibility to care for them. They would have the same legal rights as anyone to pursue child support in the courts or take advantage of any public welfare programs still in existence. They could also opt to give their children up for adoption. Children who could not be adopted out would continue to be wards of the state, meaning we would need something like publicly funded orphanages to raise, educate, and prepare these children to be productive, self-sufficient members of society.
Final Thoughts ^
No, my abortion abolitionism has not turned me into a Christian socialist like Charles Dickens. I’m just doing some thinking out loud. What government does in the thought experiment could, in all likelihood, be done better by one or more private charitable organizations. Theoretically, compensated emancipation from abortion could be made a reality without a government program. What government must do, however, is provide equal protection under the law to all human individuals, born and unborn. If the only way to make that palatable to American voters is a social welfare program such as I’ve outlined, perhaps it is worth considering.
In California, at least, the failure of godly Christians in 2018 to get anywhere with their ballot initiative suggests that emancipation from abortion without compensation may not be something American voters can be made to find palatable. If we prefer to avoid the kind of violence and social upheaval that attended the emancipation of American slaves, perhaps there’s something to be gained from applying the Southern perspective on a settled question to this still unsettled issue.