From VeggieTales to Situational Ethics

The creator of Veggie Tales now has a ministry that claims it's useless to fight for some biblical causes.

 

You may know Phil Visher by reputation even if not by name. He is the talented animator who created the Veggie Tales Bible cartoon.

Visher now does video discussions about political issues from a "Christian" viewpoint.

The video discussed in this article was specifically designed to influence voters in the 2020 Presidential election.

My purpose is to examine Visher's reasoning and conclusions from a biblical perspective. I pray it will help Christians think biblically about political issues that have a moral/biblical basis.

The philosophy presented in this video didn't originate with Visher. It's a type of reasoning called "situational ethics," which means our moral values change to accommodate the situation. But Visher has a slightly different take on it: he claims that we can continue to hold certain moral values, but we need not support those values politically.

There are several "approved" examples of situational ethics in Scripture. In each example, someone lies to save a life. Rahab is the most well-known of these examples when she lied to save the lives of the spies (Joshua 2). But perhaps the most relevant example is when the midwives lied so Israeli babies would not be killed (Hebrews 1:15-21).

But Visher applies situational ethics for an opposite purpose, to free us from responsibilities related to saving the lives of unborn babies.

The video features Visher and a Pastor named Skye Jethani and this is their bottom line claim:

Voting pro-life will have little effect on abortion. Therefore, Christians should feel completely comfortable voting for Presidential candidates who will fight politically for the unrestricted killing of unborn babies.

1. Do Presidents affect abortion laws?

Jethani says Presidents don't affect abortion because abortions have sometimes declined during the tenure of pro-abortion Presidents and increased during the tenure of pro-life Presidents.

Examining that claim

Even though PolitiFact tends to lean left, they wrote a fact-check refuting this association between Presidents and abortion statistics because there are too many factors involved and some states do not report their stats to the CDC. One authority explained that "it is an oversimplification to say there is an association between the abortion rate and the political party occupying the White House." (source)

See also Abortions have not gone down? which refutes a claim Obama made about increased abortions during the Bush presidency.

In addition, when you vote for a President, you are not simply voting for a person. You are voting for a platform based on policies that the candidate and his party will seek to implement when elected.

To claim a President has no effect on abortion means the President, his platform, and his political party will have no effect on abortion. That is not a tenable claim.

Christians should vote for the platform that closest resembles biblical principles, placing things in the same priority God places them (i.e. saving lives is a higher priority than other social and political benefits). 

People like to discredit pro-life voters as being "single-issue" voters. But that's not true. We aren't single-issue, we're "priority-issue" voters. Let me explain this way: You come up to a street corner where a homeless woman is asking for help and next to her, a man is ready to stab a child. Are you "single-issue" if you rescue the child before helping the woman? No, you are simply prioritizing your choice.

2. Do Presidential appointments to the Supreme Court affect  abortion laws? 

Besides claiming that Presidents don't affect abortion policies, Jethani also claims that Supreme Courts don't affect abortion. He cites examples of judges appointed by conservatives who did not defend abortion. Therefore, he believes it's fine to vote for a pro-abortion President who will appoint liberal judges.

It's true that some past appointees have voted in ways that surprised pro-lifers, and for that reason, special care is being taken by both parties to make sure justice appointees reflect party beliefs. But Jethani believes that this handful of inconsistent judges proves Presidential appointees have no bearing on abortion.

Neither facts nor logic support such a claim. The Supreme Court has had a tremendous effect on abortion, Roe v. Wade being just one example. But Jethani tries to support his claim with fantastic statistics. Read on...

5. Has abortion been a popular method of birth control for all of modern history?

According to Jethani, Roe v. Wade had no real effect on abortion. Instead, he claims that abortion has been a popular and accepted method of birth control for almost a century in America, both before and after Roe.

According to Planned Parenthood, he's wrong: "At the time the [Roe v. Wade] decision was handed down, nearly all states outlawed abortion except to save a woman’s life or for limited reasons such as preserving the woman’s health, or instances of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly." 

But Jethani doesn't buy this. He estimates that there were 800,000 abortions done in 1930 which is comparable to today's statistics.

“Estimates” are not facts, but honest estimates are at least based on substantial evidence. When I researched this 800,000 estimate, I found it cited several places online but there was never any actual evidence to substantiate it.

I also found estimates that contradicted this number. For example, the Historical Abortion Statistics said there were 40 recorded abortions in 1930 (source). See also Abortion Distortions - Fact Check.  

In 1930 the population of the U.S. was 123.1 million, which is 38% of the current population of 328.2 million. Therefore, if this estimate were accurate, it would mean that the percentage of abortions done in 1930 was 3 times higher than our current percentage. That means in less than 2 years, women would have aborted more babies than the entire population of the United States at that time. 

In addition, in 1930 there was less medical knowledge for performing abortions, large families were normal and accepted, premarital sex was strongly forbidden, and abortion was considered sinful by far more people than it is today. 

I believe this estimate is indefensible. 

3. Are pro-lifers illogically focused on Roe v. Wade?

Jethani claims that all pro-lifers talk about is overturning Roe v. Wade, which, as stated above, he finds a waste of time.

This biased view of pro-lifers reflects a lack of research. If either Visher or Jethani were involved in pro-life groups, they'd know that pro-lifers are interested in any legislation that decreases the number of abortions. They fight against laws allowing late term and partial birth abortions which kill babies who would be viable outside the womb. They also want women to be given full understanding of the status of their unborn child so they can make informed choices. 

Pro-abortion groups, on the other hand, while calling themselves "pro-choice," fight laws requiring informed choices. The current pro-abortion President and pro-abortion political party have clearly stated that they want all restrictions on abortion removed. While claiming they are not in favor of gender-selection abortions, they insist that making them illegal is an infringement on women's and doctor's rights.

Another contrast between pro-abortion and pro-life groups which Visher and Jethani seem to overlook is the fact that pro-life groups (besides being interested in legislation) are also actively involved in assisting women with problem pregnancies as well as providing post-abortion counseling for the many women who carry life-long regret and suffer emotional problems due to their abortions. Pro-abortion groups and Pro-abortion Presidents claim to care about women's rights, but their main interest is helping women kill their unborn children, not helping them find alternatives. 

4. What about Roe v. Wade?

Overturning Roe would keep the Federal government from interfering with state laws that restrict or disallow abortion, but Jethani says this will have little effect because women will simply get their abortions in states where it is unrestricted.

He admits that overturning Roe would probably reduce abortions by 12% saving 160,000 babies each year, but he says we could be more effective by working to restrict abortions at the state level. He refers to Texas state laws that successfully lowered the number of abortions.

Wait a minute...did you hear Jethani's contradiction?

He suggests we focus on changing state laws to lower abortions. But he just said that allowing states to restrict abortion was meaningless since women will just travel to less restrictive states to get their abortions. In addition, the political party he's promoting has vowed to make it illegal for state laws to restrict abortion in any way. They want abortion to be unrestricted and legal nationwide.

5. Are any of these arguments biblical?

Even if Visher's and Jethani's arguments were reasonable (which they aren't), none of them are relevant to Christians. As I stated in the introduction, they are situational. Rahab committed a lesser sin, a lie, to prevent a greater sin, the murder of the spies. Visher would have us commit a greater sin, voting for platforms which favor indiscriminate killing of babies, so we can enjoy some other programs in their platform. 

The creator of Veggie Tales now has a ministry that claims it's useless to fight for some biblical causes.
Is better health care or payment of our student loans a greater good than saving unborn human beings from torturous death? See Pain of the Unborn.

It's a complete lie to say that pro-abortion groups care more about women than pro-lifers. As I've already explained, pro-life groups are actively involved in giving women full knowledge of their choices, helping women who have problem pregnancies, and counseling women who have been encouraged to get abortions they later regretted. If you think helping women kill their babies is more loving than these things, you are not getting your values from Scripture.

And please don't fall for the line that pro-life groups want doctors to let women die if carrying their child would kill them. Protecting the life of the mother has been a legal reason for abortion for hundreds of years.

"The 'Comstock Law' passed in 1873 included abortion and birth control in federal antiobscenity legislation; states and municipalities passed similar ordinances. The antiabortion laws made one exception: physicians could perform therapeutic abortions if pregnancy and childbirth threatened the woman's life." (source)

In addition, with advanced medical technology, this choice is rarely, if ever, necessary. Honest doctors will admit to this fact.

Conclusion:

Scripture teaches Christians to do what is right no matter how difficult, no matter how unpopular, and no matter what they have to give up to do it. In addition, our obedience is not based on results.

We vote for what's right and stand up for what's right even if our vote and our voice have no effect on the outcome. God doesn't hold us responsible for results. He holds us responsible for our choices. 

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? Proverbs 24:11-12

Visher's situational ethics are the same type of arguments that kept slavery legal for so many years in America. If you buy into these twisted truths, you can be confident you would have voted for pro-slavery platforms if you'd lived during the days of slavery. It's easy to look back on history and accuse people of compromise while overlooking our present areas of compromise.

3 comments:

  1. Impressed with your research and ability to articulate it in balance with The Word of Truth. So needed. You are so gifted.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Pansy. I pray that hearts will be changed and minds renewed.

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  2. Wonderful devotion...clearly informative, based on fact, based on God's word, and not on the word of man. Thank you...sharing with as many friends as possible.

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