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APPROACHING THE ABORTION ISSUE BY MATTHEW DEIHL A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Douglas Langston Sarasota, FL May, 2010
ii Dedicated to my loving and supportive family And in loving memory of Grandma Deihl
iii Acknowledgments I would like to thank the members of my thesis committee (Dr. Douglas especially grateful to my thesis sponsor (Dr. Douglas Langston) for patiently guiding me through the thesis process and being there for me even when he had other important responsibilities (interim dean of the library and research leave). I would also like to thank Caroline Reed, Gail Novak, Nancy Spaid, Brian Doherty, and other library employees for pr oviding a wonderful opportunity for me to get some terrific library work experience. Finally, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my family especially my parents, for lovingly supporting me in everything I do.
iv Table of Contents Title page i Dedication ii Acknowle dgements iii Table of Con tents iv Abstract v Introdu ction 1 4 Chapter 2: Presentation and C ritici 2 2 Chapter 3: My Position, Using Meilaender and Hauerwas 45 Chapter 4: Defense Against Possible Criticisms 63 Conclusion 80 Work Cited 84
v APPROACHING THE ABORTION ISSUE Matthew Deihl ABSTRACT This thesis focuses on a traditional Christian approach to the abortion issue, and how Christians may overcome the obstacles they face trying to promote their position in a secular, pluralistic society. Stanley Hauerwas claims that abortion is a religious issue that Christians address by living alternatively to the rest of society and by welcoming children borders on sectarianism, but I disagree. Stout rig htly points out that Christians must live in the world and participate in discussions with wider so ciety, but he is wrong to suggest pragmatic democracy allows Christians to do this. Stanley Hauerwas more accurately claims that Christians participate in t he public arena without compromising their faith by living according to a tradition that allows them to welcome strangers and their (unborn) children, but he does not provide motivation for non Christians to accept Christian hospitality. I use Gilbert Mei a way of enduring suffering to provide that motivation. I claim that Christians can fight the demand for abortions in the United States by actively sympa thizing with reluctant mothers and providi ng solutions to those problems that cause women to consider abortion as t he i r only choice Dr. Douglas Langston Humanities Division
1 Introduction well as (2) how Christians ought to go about encouraging a non Christian unwilling mother to choose giving birth over having an abortion. I will approach the topic of the Stanley Hauerwas and Jeffrey Stout concerning the relationship between Chri stian tradition and liberal democracy in American, pluralistic society. I will also discuss how encouraging a non Christian unwilling mother to choose giving birth over having an abortion. In chapter one, I will discuss account of the narrative driven Christian tradition as well as his argument for why Christians do and should oppose abortion. I d constitute a Christian ethic, and I have come to the concl usion that narrative, theological ethic (which he lays out in A Community of Character and The Peaceable Kingdom ) provides Christians with the most compelling example of what a Christian ethic ought to look like. use of Christian tradition as he interprets it from the Christian narrative explains effectively why Christians hold certain convictions on eth ical issues; for example, why Christians do and should oppose abortion. account of the Christian approach to the abortion issue (found in A Community of Character and T he Hauerwas Reader ) sufficiently represents what Christian ethics ought to look like in practice f or two reasons. He addresses the Christian
2 moral agent within the context of a history developing out of the Christian narrative (creatures of a so vereign, yet graci ous God). Overall, I accept claim that the Christian narrative forms a community that has the responsibility of welcoming children into the world, but hi s suggestions for how to go about welcoming t children are weaker than they should be. greatest complaint against his traditionalist position is that it leads too easily to sectarianism, pitting tradition against tradition and Christians against Demo cracy and Tradition enthusiastically exemplifies this sort of criticism. I agree with Stout that arguing from religious premises in a pluralistic as his claim that democracy is a tradition that sustains fair and equal participation in public discussion. Chapter two will fulfill one of the goals of my thesis, which is to defend I will defend Hauerwas from traditionalism is sectarian and that Hauerwas criticizes at pragmatic democracy is a tradition that promotes fair and equal participation in public discussion. In this way, I Christians to participate in a secular, plurali stic society without compromising their religion is not convincing. In chapter three, I will propose how Christians may ethically encourage the non Christian, unwilling mother to choose to give birth rather than have an abortion. I agree with Hauerwas t be a community that remembers and lives out the Gospel story, and I also agree with his
3 argument for why the Christian community should be the type of people who welcomes childre n into the world. However, his discussion of how Christians ought to go about encouraging abortion seeking mothers to give birth lacks substance. The main body of my thesis will combine notion of welcoming the stranger with Gilbert s no tion of sympathizing with the sufferer found in the chapter entitled the The Freedom of a Christian I will argue that combining argument that Christians have a traditional responsibility to show hospi enduring suffering provides Christians with a more effective way of talking non Christian women out of having abortions than merely preaching against abortion and protesting outside of abortion clinics I am not replacing argument, but rather I am providing narrative ethic with more substance by showing how and why the Christian narrative makes sympathy for the sufferer a Christian virtue and how Christians can exercise the virtue of sympathy in the abortion issue. In chapter four, I will defend myself against possible criticisms.
4 Chapter 1: Christian Tradition and Its Vie ws about Abortion This chapter (chapter 1) will present and critique Stanley conception of Christian ethics, his account of Christian attitudes toward abortion, as well as his proposal for how Christians ought to remedy the abortion issue. Hauerwas is a Christian s and convictions Hauerwas claims that Christian tradition is a narrative tradition; it develops out of the Christian historical narrative. Thus, the Christian community perceives the world and its social, ethical narrative, the Gospel. According to Hauerwas, Christians welc ome children that the world does not want because Christians remember an historical narrative that considers life to be a gift from God. He claims that this Christians. 1 In A Community of Character Hauerwas claim 2 as it is a way of life for Christians to live as he believes Scripture calls on people to live. He claims that the Christian 1 Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character: Toward A Constructive Christian Social Ethic (University of Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame, 1981) p. 222 2 Ethic s stress principles and values. Hauerwas is more worried about what kind of people human beings, specifically Christians, ought to be. He claims that Christians learn what kind of people they ought to be by living within a community governed by the theolo gy of the Christian historical narrative.
5 fulfills its purpose by separating its elf from wider society because wider society falls into secular and democratic theory that challenges and undermines Christian convictions. He insists that the Christian community should separate itself from the surrounding society in order to live as an example, to demonstrate to wider society what a community ought to look like when it lives faithfully to the Christian historical narrative. 3 He rejects the notion that separation from the world requires withdrawal from the world. Rather, to live separat ely from the world requires that Christians live in the world without compromising 4 Hauerwas claims that Christians should live as exemplary members of a community united by the Christian narrative that fuels their faith in a itself that is, a people who have been formed by a story that provides them with the skills for negotiating the danger of this 5 Tho se skills manifest over time as one adopts and develops Christian virtues. H auerwas most strongly stresses the virtues of patience, courage, hope, and cha 6 He claims that Christians cultivate their character by faithfully practicing th o se virtues within their historical narrative context, as virtues that Christ so perfectly exemplified in his life. In this t of Christ. For 3 the history of the Christian tradition That narrative includes, but is not limited to, an account of creation (Genesis), and the book of Revelation. 4 Hauerwas, Community 68 5 Hauerwas, Community 10 6 Hauerwas, Community 68
6 Hauer criticizing the terms of argument that have dominated public debate over abortion. As the title of the chapter suggests, he reminds Christians of their religious as well as their theol social order by accepting too easily the terms of argument concerning abortion offered by 7 He claims that Christians too often forget the narrati ve context of their convictions when discussing their opposition to abortion with wider society, allowing secular theory to define the terms of argument in the abortion debate. He themselves and secular society as a means of protecting Christian convictions from the influence of secular Christians to view and address ethical issues as Christians rather than as s ecular society presents the issues. Christians most often acquiesce to the secular idea that the abortion Christians should reject the life versus choice dichotomy that tends to dominate ethical discussion of abortion and replace it with the traditional context that the Christian historical narrative (Gospel) provides for the Christian community to address such issues. Hauerwas refers to the Christian historical narrativ e context in order to remind Christians of their theological beliefs concerning a gracious God who gives human beings life, what kind of relationship to the world they have as Christians, what it means to be Christian, of 7 Hauerwas, Community 223
7 their relationship to the church and of their loyalty to the Christian faith and how these fundamental characteristics of a Christian ought to influence their views on abortion. More simply, he articulates how Christians ought to conceive of the abortion issue in a traditional Christian narrative context rather than as the secularized wider society considers the issue. claim that abortion is a religious issue replaces the secularized arguments with a Christian story, which serves his intention to teach Christians why Christia ns should reject abortion, even if it does not speak to a wider pluralistic audience as someone like Jeffrey Stout wishes it would. By calling abortion a religious issue he does not mean that there exists no non religious reasons to oppose abortion, but rather he argues that a religious context (specifically, Christian tradition ) provides the ultimate reason for opposing abortion: the Christian historical narrative arouses certain convictions that make abortion unthinkable. According to Hauerwas, there are two important influences that secular theory has had on abortion. One is the use of rights language in discussions about abortion, the debate over when life begins. n, Theological T he Hauerwas Reader
8 8 Rights language can lead one in accept the pro abortion argument that women have a right to do whatever they want with their own bodies. According to Hauerwa s, Christians believe that no one has a right to do what you can and cannot do with your genitals. They are not your own. They are not 9 Despite its relevance Hauerwas fails to mention who (or what) authorizes the Christian community to tell its members what they can and cannot do with their genitals. For Christians, the Chris God, 10 authorizes them to do t hat According to the Christian narrative, God forbids adultery; therefore, the Christian community has the right to shun the practice of adultery. Christians can tell other Christians what God and Scripture tell them that they can and cannot do with the ir genitals. Christians believe that they must ultimately answer to God, not to other Christians. Thus, Christians tell each other what they can and cannot do with ap propriate sexual behavior. Hauerwas claims correctly that Christians believe that their bodies are not their own; however his reason for why Christians believe that is not entirely accurate, or at least it is a right to our bodies because when we are baptized we become members of one another; then we can tell one another what it is that we should and should not do with our 8 Stanley Hauerwas, The Hauerwas Reader (Duke University Press: 2001) p. 608 9 Hauerwas, Reader 609 10 Or inspired by God
9 11 way of putting it makes it sound as though Christians believe that their bodies belong to one another or to the Christian community. But Paul writes to the Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought 12 Christians do not believe that they have a right to do whatever they want with their bodies because they are convinced that their bodies belong to God. As members of a community that fosters that s accountable to it According to Chri appropriately so. Therefore, Christians cannot accept the claim that a woman has a right to control her body as a justification for abortion. According to Christians, if God has blessed her with conception, then she has a responsibility to carry His gift until its birth. This perception of the abortion issue. According to Hauerwas, secular theory unnecessarily complicates discussions about abortion with the ambiguous question of when life begins. Christians typically claim that life begins at conception, while secular society, which includes the U.S. legal and medical professions, has no definitive consensus o n the matter, providing mere speculations. 13 According to Hauerwas, Christians do not 11 Hauerwas, Reader 609 12 1 Corinthians 6:19 20 NRSV 13 Though few definitions mention the life or health of the fetus, many refer to its with out further attempt to define the term. These definitions are objective in that specific time parameters are set, outside of which an abortion cannot legally be done, absent exigent circumstances. After viability has been established, most states gi ve additional instances when abortion may be legal: to save the life of the mother or if there
10 people that hope life has started, because we are ready to believe that this ne w life will 14 For Christians, children are a sign of hope in an otherwise difficult world to live in. 15 question of when life begins, Hauerwas poses a co uple of compelling questions that he deems necessary for Christians to address adequately the abortion issue as Christians. Firstly, Hauerwas claims that in order to account for Christian opposition to abortion f people should we be to welcome children 16 Correspondingly, Hauerwas claims Christians must also ask e toward the having of children ? 17 The answer to the second question will develop out of the answer to the first. First, I will present notion of the kind of people Christian must be to attitude toward abortion is but an aspect of their conviction that they must be people who are ever ready to welcome children into the world. To be have a way of being born when we for extent that new life is excluded from National Survey of State Laws 12 April 2010 ). esp. outside lack's L aw D ictionary 1559); but each state independently establishes at what point of development a fetus is viable. 14 Hauerwas, Reader 615 15 Hauerwas, Community 209 16 Hauerwas, Community 198 17 Hauerwas, Community 207
11 their world is an indication that we are in fact controlled by powers other than the God we know as the mover of the sun and the stars. 18 take or to prevent. This conviction holds a place of primary importance in Christian ethics because, God may exercise certain powers that human beings have no right to exercise. One such power is the power to decide whether or not a fetus may develop into a living human assumption of the inherent value of life, but rather from the u 19 Human beings are not in a sovereignty over life by welcoming whatever human life He c reates. They believe that inspiring creation. The newborn child reminds Christians that God has creative control over human life. According to their tradition, God creates and nurtures life for purposes that are ultimately good. Therefore, from a Christian sovereignty. For Christians, to accept abortion wo uld be to forget that, according to their tradition, God rightfully retains sovereignty over all of His creation. Since Christians are be of the attitude that having children, no matter what the circumstances of their birth, blesses the Christian community. 18 Hauerwas, Community 210 19 Hauerwas, Community 225
12 rson one has become. Since Christians are a people who accept life as a gift from God, they have the attitude that having children is a good thing that should be welcomed, even under less than desirable circumstances. They believe that having children ex presses hope for the future. Children born under less than desirable circumstances pose a new challenge that Christians can accept because they have faith that God would not give them more represent a 20 So, Christians see the act of having children children into the world because they trust the goodness of the God who created them. They have faith that God will not give them a challenge they cannot endure. Sometimes life delivers unexpected pregnancies. Hauerwas claims that Christian tradition co ourselves that the traditional limitation of sexual intercourse to marriage was an attempt to mark off institutionally those contexts for sexual intercourse so that if 21 If human beings restrict sex to the intimate union of two people who are married to one another, then, accordi ng to Hauerwas, any child conceived ought to find a welcome home. This contention 20 Hauerwas, Community 209 21 Hauerwas, Community 207
13 to turn primarily on the quality of the relationship (or lack of relationship) betwee n the 22 Hauerwas is not ignorant of the fact that not all marriages are of favorable quality; not every marriage (Christian or non Christian) will provide a welcome home to children. However, for Christians the quality of a marriage is held to a standard set in Scripture. Within the context of biblical marriage, confining sex to marriage creates a more favorable context for welcoming children into the world than pregnancy outside of marriage. secular theory in public discussions in order to preserve its religious pluralism. Secular theory does not view a fetus as a gift from God because not everyone believes in God and 23 agrees tha t unexpected children must be Christian convictions, but a Christian may be able to convince a non believer to entrust her unborn child into the care of the Christian community. Hauerwas claims that in a law against abortion, but by welcoming the children th at the wider society does not 24 He does not sufficiently address the kinds of obstacles Christians must overcome in order to do that. For example, they will inevitably have to appeal to people who do not share Christian convictions, people whom I w Christian, 22 Hauerwas, Community 199 23 Or divine being, or spirit, etc. 24 Hauerwas, Reader 620
14 Now that I have presented account of Christian ethics and his approach to the abortion issue, there are three major points to keep in mind in order to understand conception of Christian ethics. (1) definition of (2) When Hauerwas makes ethical claims concerning Christian tradition, he refers to his own versio n of a Christian tradition that interprets Scripture. (3) Hauerwas appears to write solely to a Christian audience, using religious language that non Christians cannot understand and thus limiting the influence Christians can have in the public arena. The first of my three major points concerns definition of community. 25 Thi s definition weakens conception of a Christian community because it does not account for the fact that several groups within Christianity interpret Christian history differently, the difference between Catholic and Protestant interpretations being churches spread through out the United States, as well as the rest of the world, that remains dedicated to keeping the Gospel story alive, even if disagreement within the community exists. Christians keep the Gospel alive and present by telling the story honestly to a world of n on believers and by interacting with the world as representatives of the Kingdom of God, but telling the story honestly does not necessarily mean that all the details are accurate. The mystery concerning what is true in the Gospel story may account for so me of the variations in interpretation. 25 Hauerwas, Community 60
15 This brings me to my second major point concerning conception of memory of the Christian historical narrative. He cla ims that the multiple versions and interpretations of the Gospel and Scripture account for the variety of tradition that one finds in Christianity. 26 When Hauerwas makes certain ethical claims concerning Christian tradition, he is referring to one out of a multitude of interpretations of the Christian story. 27 But how and to what extent obedience is expressed differs variously among different areas of the Christian community. Various churches, denominations of Christianity, as well as individual Christians express obedience differently and to greater or lesser extents. Some Christians express obedience by serving the public. Other Christians express obedience through private prayer. Still social practices vary throughout history. Various events throughout American history, from slavery to ab olitionism and from the Salem Witch Trials to the Great Awakening, have claimed the Christian God as their authority. Furthermore, not all Christians hold the same personal beliefs. Various Christians have different ethical, political, and theological pe rspectives. Christian traditions as well as Christian beliefs, convictions, and practices vary noticeably across all denominations of Christianity. Different Christians hold different ethical, political, and theological perspectives. Fundamentalist Chri stians believe that the Bible is infallible, while some more liberally minded 26 Hauerwas, Community 52 27 Hauerwas, Community 49
16 Christians believe otherwise. Some Christians follow leftist ideologies, while others belong to the conservative right. Some Christians accept abortion, while most other Christ nearly every side of any issue, but they may not be found there as Christians. Theologically the question is not what Christians do think, but what they ought to think given the 28 Individuals who identify with Christianity do not necessarily think what they ought to think. No perfect Christian exists. For Christians, even the saints and other exemplars, with the exception of Jesus, imperfectly exemplify th e kind of people Christians ought to be. Hauerwas would not define a Christian by his or her stance on abortion because Christians are still fallible creatures, but he argues satisfactorily that the correct stance, given basic Christian convictions, is t o oppose abortion. My third major point concerning Christian ethic is that he uses religious language that a non Christian audience would not understand, thus limiting the influence Christians can have in the public arena. According to Hauer was, the intelligibility of Christian ethics depends greatly upon faith in a sovereign creator God and a savior Christ, as well as adherence to the lifestyle that Christian tradition claims the Christian Bible prescribes. Consequently, Christian ethical c laims (or at least the reasoning behind them) will never be entirely convincing to non believers. His writings concerning abortion appear to be educational instructions intended to motivate Christians to address actively the abortion issue as Christians. a community that shares the same convictions, a language that appears foreign to people 28 Hauerwas, Community 108
17 outside of the Christian community. That does not prove that the Christian ethical language speaks no truth, but that The fact that only Christians will genuinely understand why Christians oppose abortion does not mean that their belief is wrong. For Christians the claims made by Scripture concerning what kind of life people ought to live apply to all human beings, not just Christians. Christian tradition calls on Christians to witness to wider society because the Gospel was intended for all of humanity. Chr istians believe that God created every human being and therefore claims sovereignty over all of humanity. From a uerwas gives all people reason to reject abortion by laying down the reasons why Christians reject abortion. However, since only believers can understand and accept that historical narrative context, Christians cannot reasonably hold non Christians accoun table to the convictions of an historical narrative that they do not accept as their own. To do so would constitute coercion, which Hauerwas opposes. 29 I consider that third point concerning Christian ethic to be a weakness in presen tation of a Christian approach to the abortion issue because it fails to provide a way for Christians to effectively engage non Christians in such an important ethical issue as abortion. 29 that reveals the insufficiency of all politics based on coercion and falsehood and finds the true source of power in servanthood rather than dominion gun; and we must be suspicious of that justice that relies on manipulation of our less than worthy motives, for G od does not rule creation through coercion (Peaceable 104, my emphasis).
18 rtion prevention 30 which is a peculiar way of answering the question to a reader who has just read his argument for welcoming strangers. One would expect H a u erwas to clai m that, as a people dedicated to welcoming strangers, Christians have a responsibility to open their doors to children who have narrowly escaped abortion, children who may very likely (though not exclusively) come from outside of the Christian community. Hauerwas provides no formal argument on that topic, but rather suggests that if Christians intend to rescue children from abortion one of the things that I [Hauerwas] think we ought to be ready to say to a home and live with me think that that kind of witness would make a very powerful statement. I think that Christians should be the kind of people who can open our homes to a mother and her child. 31 He does not connect these claims to his account of Christian ethics. Yet his broader Christians should open their doors to reluctant mothers and their children. This idea that Christians should be the kind of people who open their homes to mothers and children follows from claim that Christians are the kind of people who welcome strangers, but here Hauerwas presents it as little mo re than his own opinion. 30 Hauerwas, Reader 620 31 Hauerwas, Reader 620 621
19 I see a couple weaknesses in approach to the abortion issue. (1) Hauerwas does not connect his Christian approach to remedying the abortion issue with his notion that Christians are a people who learn to live virtuou sly by imitating Jesus. (2) proposal for how Christians ought to approach reluctant mothers does not provide motivation for non Christian, unwilling mothers to accept help from Christian s 32 Hauerwas could have claimed more strongly that, as a people convinced that they have a God given responsibility to welcome the stranger, Christians also have a responsibility to open their doors to mothers and children. Or even better, since Hauerwas claims that Christian ethics co nsists of the cultivation of a virtuous character, achieved by imitating exemplars such as Jesus, one would expect that he would mention Christ like virtues in his account of the Christian attitude toward abortion. In his approach to the abortion issue Ha uerwas describes Christians as creatures of a gracious God, but Hauerwas does not explain how Christians emulate Jesus in their approach to encourage a reluctant mother to choose birth over abortion. He claims that Christians 32 A Community of Character The H auerwas Reader with the intent to present Christians with a clear agenda to fight abortion. He claims that his reas on for writing on the topic of abortion i s to remind Christians of the religious reasons why Christians do and should oppose abortion. However, he does begin suggestions to elaborate on what I think a Christian approach to the abortion issue ought to look like. I th ink that it is worthwhile to connect clearly concept of a virtue ethic with his account of a Christian approach to abortion so as to illustrate how a virtuous Christian character might approach an important ethical issue such as abortion. If, a s Hauerwas insists, Christians learn how they ought to live by following examples, then explaining a virtue that Jesus possessed that could improve the Christian approach to abortion will provide an example to teach Christians a more effective way to encou rage reluctant mothers to choose birth over abortion.
20 should welcome unwanted child ren into the world; he even suggests how Christians sets the example for how to approach the unwilling mother. 33 He explains, therefore, 34 Following this notion, Hauerwas could have strengthened th e connection between his claim that Christians imitate Christ and his clam that Christians welcome children by claiming that Christians need not search beyond the context of a Jesus following, Kingdom seeking tradition in order to know where they stand on the issue of abortion. Now, in regard to my second point concerning approach to the abortion issue I would simply like to ask a couple questions that Hauerwas does not answer in his wr itings on abortion. How can a Christian motivate a non Christian unwilling mother to choose to give birth and to entrust Christians with her child? How does the Christian narrative contextualize the relationship between Christians and non Christians? 33 Hauerwas, Reader 605 34 Hauerwas, Reader 605
21 Th e weaknesses that I have pointed out here in traditionalism do not take away from the fact that Hauerwas still presents a note worthy account of Christian ethics. What does Hauerwas offer that is worth keeping? F or one thing, his idea that Chr istians learn what kind of people they ought to be by locating themselves within the Christian historical narrative and by imitating Jesus as an exemplar is a compelling claim that I will make use of in chapter 3 when I introduce Gilbert Meilaender. His c laim that from God, follows from a common Christian understanding of faith and Scripture. His suggestion that Christians open their doors to mothers and their chil dren as a way of discouraging abortion sets up discussion in chapter 3 as well. But before I add to because the debate between these two thinkers nicely illustrates th e dilemma in which Christians find themselves when addressing ethical issues in a secular, pluralist ic society. Christians live in a society that they ought to participate in. But how should they participate?
22 Chapter 2: Presentation and C The debate between Jeffrey Stout and Stanley Hauerwas nicely illustrates the difficulty Christians face in their public intera ctions with a pluralist ic society: How can Christians live in a pluralistic society and interact with non Christians without submitting thei r convictions to secular theory? Stout claims that, as citizens of wider society, Christians have civic responsibilities that require them to adopt a democratic tradition. In his book Democracy and Tradition Stout defends democracy against those traditionalists such as Stanley Hauerwas 35 who consider democracy to be a bane to tradition and a menace to society. Stout challenges accusations that democracy lacks tradition and slights any sense of authority. He contends that democracy exists as a tradition of normative social practices regulated by public discourse. When Stout calls democracy a tradition, he means that democracy is a social, discursive practice that has endured over time and that involves re lative deference to authority, tempered with tradition. 36 im, 37 but will grant that it is true in order to address more 35 Stout also defends democracy from the traditionalist Alasdair MacIntyre, criticizing mistrust of democracy. 36 Jeffrey Stout, Democracy and Tradition (Princeton University Press: Pr inceton, NJ 2004): pp. 203 204 37 Stout uses a different definition of tradition than Hauerwas without justifying his de definition. Consequently, his defense of tradition against criticism is not convinci ng. Stout defines tradition as a social norm with contingent authority, while Hauerwas defines tradition as more than that. Hauerwas argues that Christian tradition is the act of a community remembering the story that unites its members in a meaningful j ourney through history to the Kingdom of God. The historical narrative inspires certain convictions, and the truthfulness of the Christian story grants authority to Christian convictions. According to Hauerwas,
23 participate effectively as Christians in wider society. Stout is a pragmatist as well as a champion for demo cracy. He takes a minimalist modest pragmatism. 38 39 What does that mean for democracy? For Stout, the democratic p rocess is the test of everyday life. For a claim or practice to become justified it must pass the democratic process of reason exchange and immanent criticism, a process he claims citizens already practice in their day to day social interactions. In this practice is practical, it will endure. Stout expects that pragmatic justification process to reduce impractical socia l behavior in the public arena. Stout assures Christians that, when ethical and political discussions call for it, pragmatic democracy will give them the opportunity to justify their religious claims to wider society. Stout insists that American Christi ans are citizens of a democratic society tradition holds a community together, and a cannot account for the kind of authority that Hauerwas believes Christian tradition possesses (that Hauerwas gives Christian conv the Christian community pursues the Kingdom of God. In contrast, Stout claims that individual claims may be denied and social norms may be defied; therefore, claims and social norms can have no authority over the kind of people humans ought to be. Consequently, claims and social norms can not sufficiently address important ethical issues in an authoritative way. definition of tradition more adequately 38 Stout, Democracy 251 39 Stout, Democracy 251
24 and therefore must participate in open discussion with fellow citizens. According to on of society and, in particular, for the political 40 Citizens act on that responsibility through democratic practice of reason giving and of immanent criticism. According to Stout, each individual has an equal voice tha t he or she is free to utilize in discussion with other citizens. In these discussions, citizens make claims about ethical, political, social, religious, etc. issues; give reasons for their claims; ask others for the ir reasons; and also respectfully criti People participate in public discussion with the intention of reaching some understanding of what all citizens can agree on, where they disagree, and whether one can convin ce the other to agree where there is currently disagreement on issues of public and political forcibly that, as a majority in a wealthy world power with a democratic const itution, they constantly display the character of their community in part by discharging their 41 Thus, he insists that Christians must participate in democratic practices as members of a civic nation, giving th Stout recognizes that the use of religious premises in political debate may cause a practical problem for public discussion, pointing out that discussion oft en stops when 42 He 40 Stout, Democra cy 5 41 Stout, Democracy 296 42 Stout, Democracy 86
25 explains that discussion stops because, as a member of a religiously pluralist ic society, one cannot justify faith claims to someone who does not share the same religious views. that dilemma is to quit arguing and simply hold a conversation in which all participating parties give their personal reasons for making the faith claims that they do. 43 In such a conversation he encourages people to ho nestly state their personal beliefs one cannot justify them. In conversation unlike in an argument, one According by participat ing in a conversation in which interlocutors express their perspective and motivation for his or her claims, Stout claims that the one can talk to the other individuall y and hope that his or her arguments persuade the other. 44 Despite all that Stout does not provide Christians with an effective means of participating in democratic tradition without compromising their religious integrity. contains some practical provisions that ask Christians to restrain themselves when using religious premises in political and ethical discussions. They can express their religious views in personal conversation, but they cannot make a strong argument from their religious premises. For Stout, religious expression properly belongs in the realm of personal conversations that have no strong political influence, and his democratic tradition requires citizens to remain practical in their public behavior. 43 Stout, Democracy 90 44 Stout, Democracy 90
26 Conseq uently, Stout makes it difficult for Christians to effectively participate as Christians in public deliberations on important ethical and political issues. Should traditi on? No, they should not, because Christians should participate as Christians in the public arena, and pragmatic democracy does not allow them to do that. In support of this democracy a nd its relationship with the Christian community: (1) Pragmatic democracy creates a divide within the Christian individual between his or her Christian identity (as a person of Christian faith) and his or her identity as a citizen of a secular society. (2 ) tradition calls Christians to do is practical. Christian tradition calls Christians to do things in faith that may seem impractical; for instance, welcoming strangers and their children. (4) Democracy does not provide everyone with an equal voice. Let me turn to the first of four points that I will raise against Stout: pragmatic democracy creates a divide within a Christian between his or her Christian identity (as a b eliever in the Christian faith) and his or her civic identity (as a citizen of a secular society). That happens because Stout expects Christians to distinguish between the two identities and to put a way the former if it ever conflicts with the lat t er. Wh en he claims that Christians should participate in a democratic tradition with the larger community that exists outside of their church, he insists that their faith will be welcome in the public arena. He encourages them to express their religious reasons for the claims that they make in public discussion. But their faith receives a limited welcome. Stout asks them to forgo their religious arguments when they create conflict or obstruct progress towards
27 agreement in political deliberations. At those times that matter most, during controversial political deliberations, he asks Christians to refrain from religious expression. This goes to show that religious perspectives are still of little importance to democracy. Christians make no distinction between their Christian identity and their civic identity, and their convictions do not allow them to yield the former to the latter as Stout wants them to. how the Christian community participates in civil society says something about its character. 45 This shows that Stout misunderstands claim that Christians should separate themselves from wider society. He mistakenly a ssumes that by asking Christians to separate themselves from society that Hauerwas has prohibited Christians from participating in civil society and fulfilli ng their civic responsibilities Hauerwas does not discourage Christians from tending to wider soc iety; in fact, he encourages it. For example, he encourages Christians to assume responsibilities within wider society that involve welcoming as well as showing hospitality to strangers. By telling Christians to separate themselves from society, he means ways of the world. According to Christian tradition, Jesus lived in the world and cared for the people in it, even as he lived as someone f rom this world. 46 Following that In this way, Christians fulfill their civic 45 Stout, Democracy 296 46 this world. If my kingdom were from that world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from NRSV).
28 responsibilities by serv ing the community through the church, not through democratic politics. Stout, on the other hand, expects Christians to participate in social change outside of the church, in a civic nation. In a civic nation, citizens exchange ideas and reasons and change is practical. However, the civic nation that Stout talks about is the liberal democratic society that Hauerwas warns Christians to separate themselves from. Stout c laims to promote the free expression of religious ideas, but he also makes the expression of such ideas sound foolish and futile in a political environment. 47 requires participants to adapt their arguments to secular theory. 48 Thus, St out and Hauerwas agree that Christians should actively participate in the world outside of the Christian community, yet they differ on how Christians ought to participate. Stout expects Christians to separate their Christian identity from their civic identity and participate in public deliberations as democratic citizens, not as Christians. Hauerwas, on the other hand, claims correctly tha t Christians should participate as Christians. Stout distinguishes between two types of commitments: religious commitm ents on the one hand and civic/ political commitments on the other. He expects religious 47 I am not the only one to point that out. C.C. Pecknold points that out as well in his article entitle d Democracy and the Politics of the World: Stout and Hauerwas on Democracy and Scripture Scottish Journal of Theology 2006). On page 203 of his contrary, I suspect that he has not entirely overcome those dangers of Rawlsian liberalism 48 at public discussion can and should remain religiously neutral for the sake of objectivity and the preservation of pluralism/ religious tolerance
29 commitments to yield to political commitme nts when they get in the way of progress in political discussion. Christians cannot go along with that Any comprehensible wholeness of the Christian. Christians canno t separate their faith from the ways in which they perceive the world as Stout expects them to. When faced with a political issue such as the death penalty, sex education in schools or even seemingly nonreligious issues such as city maintenance, Christians cannot confront the issue as religiously neutral citizens. Consider the seemingly neutral, practical example of highway expansion. If a city wants to expand a highway, Christians must consider the consequences that highway expansion and the traffic incr ease that goes with it have on the environment that they believe God responsibilities do human beings have to the land? They must also consider those households that may be for ced to relocate; for Christian tradition calls on Christians to Consequently, they mu st participate in civil society; but, as Hauerwas argues, Christians must serve the society around them as followers of Christ. Christians are not citizens who wear a Christian hat that they can put on and take off as the occasion permits. According to H auerwas, Christians are fir st and foremost followers of Christ, Jesus. If a democratic tradition does not acknowledge the wholeness of Christians then it does not allow them to participate in a fully Christian manner. c reasoning is secularized, but not in a sense that rules out the expression of religious premises or the entitlement of individuals to accept
30 49 modern democracies is s ecularized only in the sense that it does not take for granted a set of agreed upon assumptions about the nature and existence of God. It means that no one can take for granted, when addressing a religiously plural audience, that religious com mitments have default authority in this context 50 Stout underestimates the implications that secularization has on Christian participation in public discussion. Democracy in a pluralist ic society traditionally secularizes the terms of public discussion so as to preserve religious pluralism. The secularization of liberal democracy weakens the public expression of religion and makes it difficult for Christians to participate as Christians in a democratic society. As Hauerwas points out, Christians often accept secular theory to the detriment of their faith. Christians are often torn between their faith and their civic life that personal divide within Christians between loyalty to their faith and participation in secular society. In A Peaceable Kingdom Hauerwas claims that democracy requires a civil religion made up of any particularistic religious beliefs, since that would offend 51 Stout does not openly suggest or endorse a civil religion. The idea of a civil religion developing out of a democratic tradition would not follow from his claim that a pragmatic democratic tradition allows citizens to keep their respective religions. 52 preserve pluralism within public discussion. Stout provides a warning for cit izens considering using religious premises in p olitical discussion. He claims: 49 Stout, Democracy 11 50 Stout, Democracy 99 51 Hauerwas, Peaceable 13 52 Stout, Democracy 64
31 In a religiously plural society, it will often be rhetorically ineffective to argue from religious premises to political conclusions. When citizens are deeply divided over th e relevant religious questions, arguing in this way is rarely likely to to win support, but also causes offence. Reasoning from religious premises to political conclusions ca n imply disrespect for those who do not accept those premises. For example, such reasoning can be calculated to convey the undemocratic message that one must accept a particular set of religious premises to participate in political debate at all. Ther efore, there are moral as well as strategic reasons for self restraint. Fairness and respectful treatment of others are central moral concerns. 53 Stout may be right about the strategic reasons for self restraint. A rguing from religious premises when citi divided over the relevant relig will This demonstrates one of the major problems that Christians face in their attempts to participate in a pluralistic society. As Hauerwas claims, Christians live in a society that does not accept the traditions problem. Instead, he claims that Christians have moral reasons to restrain their religious commitments in the political arena. I challenge his claim that Christians have moral reasons for self claim that Christians have moral reasons to restrain their use of religious premises in political discussion suggest s that Christians are responsible to a secular ethical system. 53 Stout, Democracy 65
32 Hauerwas would obviously disagree and say that the only ethical system that holds Christians responsible is the one that develops out of the Christian tradition. Following Hauerwas, Christian s must refrain from adopting secular theory for the sake of getting along in a pluralistic society, even if it means causing some waves. Hauerwas advises Christians to separate themselves from the surrounding society so that they may protect their Christi an faith from being compromised by the influence of secular theory. Pragmatic d emocracy renders expression of religious premises ineffective and seemingly futile. Hauerwas rightly warns Christians to be wary of such secularization and to stay true to th eir convictions. Christians cannot participate in democratic debate as Christians. Stout claims that the use of religious premises in political debate marginalizes opposing religious perspectives and non religious people from the debate. Therefore, inte rlocutors are only allowed to express their faith in a public debate under the condition that it offends no one. Put another way, he wants Christians to deny that their faith has any real relevance to social and political issues if it is not well received in the public arena. This theory mainly at those points where someone asserts that the truth claiming function of ethics depends, for its objectivity on positing a transcendent and perfect being. Metaphysics asserts the need and then posits the divine explainer to satisfy it. Pragmatism questions the need and then doubts the coherence 54 This 54 Stout, Democracy 268
33 resemblance to agnosticism. Pragmatism tries to account for the objectivity of the truth claiming function of ethics without begging the question for the existence of a higher power that imparts truth to ethical claims. Christians cannot accept that because, unlike pragmatism, they view the world as the creation of a sovereign God. Hauerwas does not assume the existence of a transcendent and perfect being in order to satisfy a perceived need for such a being to account for the objectivity of the truth truth claiming function of ethics. Rather, Hauerwas asserts the pres ence of God first and then claims that God accounts for the objectivity of the truth claiming function of ethics. not only how people ought to live but also what kind of people they ought to be. Christians believe that they live truthfully by remaining faithful to the God who created them, and according to Hauerwas, they remain faithful to God by believing in Him and living according to the narrative he has given them. Thus, for Hauerwas and for Christians like him, to say that ethical truths do not depend on the existence of a sovereign God is agnosticism. Contrary to Christian tradition, pragmatic democracy assumes that human beings are capable of living virtuously wit hout divine guidance. Stout claims that democratic tradition fosters such virtues as piety, hope, love, courage and generosity. But, unlike Hauerwas, he does not ground these virtues in the story of a God for whose glory these virtues matter. He claims praising as a virtue is that which concerns itself with just or fitting acknowledgment of
34 the sources of our existence and progress through life 55 The fact that he does not name what exactly democracy sees fit to acknowledge. Various groups of people have their own ideas about the source of their existence and definition of piety comes across as a secularization of piety to accommodate pluralism in democratic society. Christians surely cannot remain agnostic about the source of their existence and progress through life, and they cannot praise secular piety. According to Hauerwas, piety affirms that God [the God of the Israelites and of the Gospels] is 56 claims, requires living truthful ly according to the Gospel. Christian tradition portrays humanity as a people enslaved by sin (the opposite of this way, Christians view humanity as not fit to govern itself justly and look to God, not humanity, for justice and fairness because, for them, only God is truly just and truly gracious. They believe that only God possesses infinite wisdom and incorruptible sovereignty, thus they believe t hat only God knows what is truly best for humanity. For Christians acquiring wisdom and living purposefully are not normative social practices that one can accomplish by living democratically or pragmatically. wisdom and living purposefully requires Scriptural training and living as followers of Christ in a community that remembers the Gospel. Pragmatism claims that people can create their own wisdom through mundane 55 Stout, Democracy 30 56 Hauerwas, Peaceable 84
35 experience, but Christians believe that true wisdom comes from having a relationship with a transcendent and perfect God. For Christians, pragmatic democracy remains antithetical to human fulfillment seems to s uggest that only practical issues truly matter in public debate, an assumption transcend the mundane and the practical. In order to know how they ought to live, Chr istians believe that they must look beyond mundane experiences and social norms to live without faith, which is something that Christians do not do. This brings me to my third point against Stout, not everything that Christian tradition calls Christians to do is practical. That which Christians do in faith may more often than not seem impractical. Christians act in faith at those times when they do not know the out come or the cons equences of their actions. Welcoming strangers may very often seem imp ractical, yet, as Hauerwas claims, it is important to living as Christ lived in the responsi Ralph Waldo Emerson Walt Whitman, and John Dewey 57 who live by their own intuitions, but pragmatically. Christians do not live by their own intuitions alone. Rather they live by their faith in the sovereignty of a gracious and loving God who makes Himself available to those who seek a relationship with Him. Whatever practical knowledge they learn in 57 Stout claims that these three pragmatists were influential for his account of pragmatic democracy.
36 their everyday social interactions cannot prepare them for the ultimate destination that they seek, namely t he Kingdo m of God. Following H a u erwas, only the Christian tradition, community, and the Gospel story which it remembers and proclaims can prepare them for the Kingdom of God. Christians believe that only faith can assure them that the historical narrative con text and the convictions by which they live are true, and therefore only faith can give their lives true meaning. Pragmatic democracy hurts faith by asking Christians to doubt their convictions, consequently making life virtually meaningless to them. For Christians, faith in God not only gives life meaning but also, according to Hauerwas, forges a people capable of love and peace, of fellowship and community. By their faith Christians believe that Jesus Christ demonstrated perfectly the kind of people hu man being s ought to be, and they strive to imitate His life ac t is through such love [selfless love, as is found in Luke 6:35 36] 58 that Christians learn that they are to serve as he served Such service is not an end in itse lf, but reflects the Kingdom into which Christians have been drawn. This means that Christians insist on 59 Hauerwas does not tell Christians they should welcome strangers because doing so is practical; r ather he tells them they should welcome strangers because the story by which they live their lives provides them with faith that God imparts blessings in the form of strangers. Stout claims, ng them 58 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36 NRSV ). 59 Hauerwas, Community 49
37 60 But Christians fault with people as the y are but identifying oneself with that people all the while one aims to forge a people capable loving its neighbors and caring Such things will often seem impractical. According to Hauerwas, only a Christian tradition can teach people to love claims, democracy does not traditionally lend itself to the fair and equal participation of all citizens. Not all people actually have an equal voice in public discussions no matter how free of external, artificial restraints the discussion may be. Stout imagines citizen s sitting around a public round table, talking freely amongst themselves and welcoming anyone and everyone to speak up and be heard. He claims, who bullies other people into exclusion or into submission is someone we tend to blame. The ideal of equal voice implicit in these aspects of democratic culture is itself, of course, something one can justify, if need be, in the discussion 61 What Sto ut fails to realize, or at least fails to acknowledge, is that the people who most effectively force others into exclusion or into submission will not directly come across as obvious bullies. Rather, aggressively competitive people with sharp rhetorical s kills tend to dominate discussions. These people often dazzle or intimidate others into agreement with their own agenda. They claim to have our best interests at heart, and we tend to fall for their charm and ambition. Democratic theory naively trusts h 60 Stout, Democracy 59 61 Stout, Democracy 208
38 govern itself in a just and fair manner, but in practice d emocracy leaves the weak at the mercy of the strong. Stout places hope for the weak in the assumption that the majority will listen to their cries. Stout provides no story or example to show that pragmatic Socially weak and inarticulate people tend not to be heard in the public arena, even if we do invite them to participate in the discussion as Stout prescribes. In public Democracy and the Politics of the World: Stout and Hauerwas on Democracy an d Scripture elite would require Stout to point to more actual (and non elite) social practices in order to strengthen and maybe also complicat 62 Stout fails to consider the fact that public discussion often takes the form of media, propaganda, slogans, headlines, sound bites, speeches, meetings, etc. Who participates in public discussions? Politicians, CEOs, scholars, professionals the media, and other important leaders and public figures tend to make up the most influential participants. Common folk tend not to participate, at least not beyond the realm of their local communities. But, according to Hauerwas, change should start at the local level. Following Hauerwas, if the weak do not have a voice in the church, then the church has abandoned its God given purpose. of exclusion or dominatio n, to stand up and speak in a way that can be clearly 62 Scottish Journal of Theology 59.2 (2006) : p. 203
39 63 unfortunate position of the silent minority in democratic society. In a democracy, the voice of the majority tends to drown out the voice of the minority, unless the minority possesses some means of either coerc ing or persuading the majority. Of course the weak doubtful that the majority wil l give them much serious attention. It takes a genuinely sympathetic heart to truly listen to the suffering of others. Whether or not the majority pays attention to the pleading of a suffering minority will depend on the kind of character that prevails i n the majority. Hauerwas claims that adherence to Christian tradition fosters character that makes Christians the type of people who welcome the stranger. Stout claims that Christians make up a majority in the United States, but do the majority of U.S. c itizens go out of their way to listen to the concerns of the least among us? The kind of Christian character that Hauerwas talks about does not permeate the U.S., and Stout does not address the kind of character necessary for citizens to lend a sympatheti c ear to the sufferings of a minority. Stout does claim minded representing various 64 Within the context of pragmatic democracy, if we practice listening for the voice of the weak and if that practice endures, then over time we might cultivate a social norm for listen ing to the weak. Such a norm has not yet swept the nation. 63 Stout, Democracy 2 0 8 64 Stout, Democracy 90
40 More importantly, pragmatic democracy does not give us a narrative context by which to cultivate the kind of character necessary to listening to the weak whose point of view otherwise goes unhea rd. Consequently, democracy places (whom Jesus orders his disciples to serve) at the mercy of fellow citizens who typically do not have their interests in mind. Hauerwas claims correctly that the church, if it is to honor its religio us commitments, should distinguish itself from such a society and welcome those who society ignores. From a Christian perspective, democratic tradition, if it is a tradition at all, does not have what it takes to combat the evils of a fallen world. It ha s neither the right story nor the right author. For Christians, the right story is the democracy is agnostic toward the Christian God. Given these points against him, why would Stout believe that pragmatic democracy would work in a pluralistic society? He believes we all share a common morality. To illustrate his point he uses this analogy of public morality being like sandlot baseball or street soccer. He assumes that we all know what game we are playing and that we are all playing the same game, but really we do not know what game we are playing. He claims, t all of the moralities are ways of thinking and talking is itself something they have in common, something that guarantees formal and functional similarities of various sorts. The fact that all moralities are about roughly the same kind of topic is also something they have in common, such that the substantive moral
41 commitments of any two groups can be expected to resemble each other in some degree. 65 moralities are simil ar enough that we can all come to some sort of fair and moral agreement on important public and political issues. Stout refers to the democratic maintenance and political mana gement as a civic nation. He makes his argument through baseball can be played on the sandlots and soccer can be played in the streets, ethical discourse can retai n an objective dimension without there being a single authority on questions of truth and falsity. In ethics, as in most other forms of objective discourse, we 66 The problem with his analogy is that sandlot baseball still uses the rules of baseball and street soccer still uses the rules of soccer, more or less. But in public morality not all citizens agree on what game they are playing, so they do not know how to play. The point of sandlot baseball, just like baseball, is for the offense to score runs and the defense to prevent the offense from scoring runs. In numerous ethical issues, good thing or whether or not we ought to prevent people from scoring a run. If sandlot baseball faced the kinds of problems and disputes that ethical discourse experiences, then no one would play sandlot ba seball since everyone would dis agree on how they ough t to play with the ball; or everyone would play their own brand of baseball so that we could 65 Stout, Democracy 228 66 Stout, Democracy 272
42 not speak of baseball in a common sense that everyone can recognize. I fail to see how the abortion issue with all of the disputes and ethical complications that go into it is in any way analogous to sandlot baseball. With the abortion issue we (to reuse the sports analogy) do not know if we ar e playing baseball or soccer. We do not know what to do with the ball, or, in that case, the fetus. Games with establi shed rules that most everyone can agree on such as sandlot baseball and street soccer cannot be analogized to those critical ethical issues that matter to us most. The abortion issue, in all of its mysteries, is analogous to neither sandlot baseball nor s treet soccer. As Hauerwas would say, you have to know the game and be taught how to play it before you can actually play the game. 67 Christians who hope to make significant progress addressing controversial issues such as the topic of abortion in wider s ociety will not find the answers they need in come in handy in church meetings or one on one conversations with non Christians. Christians (even traditionalists like Haue rwas) may find discursive practices such as reason giving and immanent criticism to work effectively in their church discussions where everyone shares the same historical narrative context by which they may evaluate aforementioned discursive practices and use of personal conversations give Christians the opportunity to inform non Christians of where the Christians are coming from and they give non Christians the opportunity to inform Christians of where the non Christ 67 111) in his book After Christendom More sp 107).
43 claims are no less ambiguous than any other set of faith claims made by various other religious traditions in a pluralistic society. Stout suggests restraining the use of religious premises in public argument, thereby unwittingly promoting the secularization of democratic debate which Hauerwas rightly warns Christians to guar d themselves against. a means of addressing important ethical issues because Stout sks them to feign agnosticism, which is something Christians cannot do. For Christians, to ignore the God that they believe created everything and showed them mercy when they rebelled in sin would be to forsake their identity as Christians. not allow Christians to participate effectively as Christians in a secular, pluralistic society. He fails to provide Christians with an effective means of participating in a secular, pluralistic society without compromis ing their Christian faith. This leaves Christians sitting on the sidelines of important ethical debates. pragmatic democracy, I propose taking Christians off of the sidelines of important public discussions and into the lives of pe ople who need their active sympathy. Christians cannot approach important ethical issues in the manner that Stout suggests they should. They cannot honestly approach ethical issues such as abortion from the citizen perspective. Christians must approach the issue of abortion as Christians in order to remain faithful to their convictions. As Hauerwas argues, Christians are a people who cannot separate their religion
44 to make their moral and political convictions concerning abortion intelligible we must show how the meaning and prohibition of abortion is correlative to the stories of God and his people that form our basic conviction. We must indicate why it is that the Christian way of life forms peopl 68 Christians do not approach the issue of abortion as citizens of a secular society who exchange their reasons for opposing abortion. Following Hauerwas, Christians effectively approach the abortion issue as Christians who make themselves personally available to the reluctant mother and her potential child because they belong to a tradition that remembers the Christian historical narrative that tells them that all children (even those of strangers) are a gift that Christians need to serve their God and thus does not benefit Christians in a secular, pluralist ic society. Thus Hauerwas is right to reject democracy because it does not ef fectively help Christians to participate in secular society in such a way that represents their tradition. But Christians must be able to participate in secular society without adopting secular theory. How can Christians participate in a pluralistic soci ety without either adopting secular theory or withdrawing completely from that society? How can Christians effectively represent the Christian faith in their dealings with wider society on important ethical issues such as abortion? 68 Hauerwas, Community 222
45 Chapter 3 : A Comb ined View Using Meilaender and Hauerwas traditionalism criticism of democracy. I then criticized Stout and def ended traditionalism. Chapter 2 participation in democratic discussions in a pluralistic society. 69 Stout claims that Christians make up a powerful majority in the U.S., yet I agree with Hauerwas that Christians have allowed secular theory to dominate public discussions, consequently compromising the influence of their faith in their interactions with wider society. As Hauerwas argues, Christian tradition does not allow Christians to separate their religion from their ethics. Rather than suggest that Christians withdraw themselves from wider society, Hauerwas advises Christians to interact with wider society as honest representatives of the Christian faith and to guard themselves from the influence of secular theory. So, how can Christians in a pluralistic society such as the U.S. effectively influence important ethical issues such as abortion while remaining faithful to Christian convictions? claims, participation in public discussion is not the only way to do ethics. Christians can and sometimes should take advanta ge of public discussions as a means of interacting with 69 and consequently does not allow Christians to participate as Christians in a pluralistic democratic society. Stout is also nave about the equality of voice in a democracy Loud voices, political influence, and popular opinion dominate public discussions of important ethical and political issues, thus overpowering and consequently subverting the needs of the meek for whom Christian tradition makes Christians responsible.
46 wider society if it allows the Christian story to be heard outside of the church. But, as Hauerwas points out, secular theory mediates discussion between various traditions in a pluralistic democrati Christians require a means of participating effectively in the public arena without compromising their tradition. A promising way for Christians to participate as Christians in the issues of wid er society develops out of Gilbert presentation of the Christian capacity for sympathy. t merely a feeling of sorrow for the suffering of another. His concept of sympathy is also a willingness to share the experience that causes such sorrow, so as to make the suffering more endurable. If a sympathetic Christian witnesses someone suffering, he or she not only feels sorrow experience, so as to comfort the sufferer. Christians can effectively influence important ethical issues, such as abortion, in wider society b y embracing the Christian capacity for sympathy towards the suffering of strangers. Christians can demonstrate a willingness to share the sufferings of a reluctant mother faced with the decision to give birth or have an abortion, as a means of welcoming h er unborn child. Allow me to explain what I mean women in the United States suffer from unintended pregnancies, pregnancies that they either are not prepared for or simply do not have the desire to endur e. The situation varies according to the individual and her circumstance s choosing to have an abortion can be anything from not feeling adequately prepared to
47 take care of the child to simply not wanting to go through the pains of childbirth. Or maybe she cannot take maternity leave from work because to do so would cause her to lose her job. Or maybe she is not emotionally prepared either for the responsibilities of parenthood or for the pregnancy itself. Or maybe she cannot affo rd another child. am referring is the decision whether to support or oppose the use of abortion as a means of terminating an unwanted pregnancy. 70 Secular theory co ncerning abortion tells reluctant mothers 71 that they have a right to choose whether to give birth or have an abortion, and that their decision is justified regardless of which of the two options they choose because they have the right to choose. Christian s, on the other hand, believe that women do not have a right to have an abortion. Hauerwas claims that Christians oppose abortion for religious reasons. 72 Christians believe that children are a gift from God and therefore they should be welcomed into the world, not aborted. But Stout rightly points out that religious claims do not fare well in a pluralistic society. Not everyone believes that children are a gift from God that human beings have a responsibility to welcome in the world. Consequently, the abortion issue 70 between the life of the mother and the life of her child. I am not referring to pregnancies as the result of rape, for I do not wish to judge whether God would obligat e a rape victim to give birth. However, I do think that Christians could still serve her by offering to take care of her and her baby. 71 to have an abortion demonstrates a reluctance or unwillingness to mother her unborn child. That does not necessarily mean that she would oppose having children under more desirable conditions, but in her present condition, whatever her condition may be, s he is unwilling to mother her unborn child. 72 For Hauerwas, abortion is a religious issue (Community 196 211)
48 challenges Christians to find a way that they can appeal to non Christians on the topic of abortion in a pluralistic society without forfeiting Christian faith to secular theory. Christians cannot approach non Christian unwilling mothers in the same manner that they would approach a Christian unwilling mother. They cannot hold a non Christian unwilling mother accountable 73 to Christian convictions, and that creates another challenge for Christians in the abortion issue. A Christian canno t reasonably hold a non Christian accountable to Christian convictions because a non Christian does not acknowledge the Christian historical narrative as the context of his or her life. The non Christian does not hold convictions that develop out of the G ospel story; therefore, the non Christian is not in a position to justify his or her actions on the basis of Christian convictions. The Christian may theoretically hold the non Christian accountable to his or her own convictions, as Stout would suggest, b ut to do so would not teach the non Christian to reject abortion for the same reason s that Christians do so. How can Christians represent their faith and effectively encourage non Christian women to give birth rather than have an abortion? 73 holding someone accountable I suggest asking the person being held accountable to justify his or her actions and claims according to his or her convictions. Holding someone accountable to their convictions means encouraging them to behave in a manner that is consistent with their convictions. In the case of a Chr istian woman seeking an abortion, a fellow Christian would hold her accountable by first reminding her of the convictions of her faith. According to the Christian faith, a child is a gift from God and, as a fellow child of God herself, she is not in a pos Christian would fulfill his or her responsibility to hold the Christian unwilling mother accountable by encouraging her to act in accordance to her convictions, that is, to welcome her unborn child into the world and t hus give birth. For a Christian woman to have an abortion would be to act contrary to the convictions of her faith; but the same cannot be said of a non Christian unwilling mother.
49 I will begin to address this question by first reviewing approach to the abortion issue. context in which he talks about the Christian approach to the abortion issue. Hauer was Christians to regain an appropriate sense of separateness from that society. I [Hauerwas] more nor less than 74 Thus, Hauerwas claims that the church must necessarily exist as an alternat ive to a world that largely distrusts strangers. There are certain (unofficial) social norms that regulate what one can and cannot do with a strange r ; f or example, children are often taught (by their parents, teachers, relatives, etc.) never to talk to s trangers. That rule loosens as one gets older, but even Therefore, avoiding social contact with strangers has become a norm in wider society. Yet Hauerwas claims that the church welcomes strangers, so as to witness to the world the kind of community that develops out of the Christian historical narrative. According to the Gospe and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the 75 As Hauerwas claims, the church lives alternatively to the world by welcoming 74 Hauerwas, Community 2 75 Matthew 5:47 NRSV
50 strangers. He claims further that the Christian responsibility to welcome the stranger extends to unborn children. alternative position to a secular society that sees some unborn children as not worth welcoming. This is not to say that Christians welcome unborn children because secular society does not. Rather, Hauerwas claims that the Christian responsibility to welcome unborn children devel ops out of the Christian narrative that sets the church apart from secular society. Hauerwas has the right remedy to the abortion issue. Christians should encourage unwilling mothers to give birth to their unexpected children. Hauerwas claims, Christians must be concerned to develop forms of care and support, the absence of which seem to make abortion such a necessity in our society. In particular Christians should, in their communities, make clear that the role of parent is one we all share. Thus the woman who is pregnant and carrying the child need not be the one to raise it. We must be a people who stand ready to receive and care for any child, not just as if it were one of ours, but in fact because each is one of ours. 76 Thus, Hauerwas claims that Christians ought to open their doors to reluctant mothers and their children, but he does not present the story that Christian tradition provides to explain how Christians can relate to non Christian unwilling mothers in such a way that both represents the Christian faith and convinces them to accept the invitation. Why would a non Christian unwilling mother accept the offer when she could have an 76 Hauerwas, Community 229
51 abortion and avoid the trouble of an unwanted pregnancy ? What kind of care and support would m ake her reconsider (change her mind about) having an abortion? In what way can Christians encourage the unwilling mother to give birth that both honestly represents the Christian faith and effectively convinces her not to have an abortion? It appears th at concept of welcoming strangers and his approach to the abortion issue have a few weaknesses. (1) Hauerwas does not connect his broad claim that Christians are a people who welcome strangers with his ethical concept that Christians cultivate the right character by emulating that of Jesus. (2) More specifically to the abortion issue, Hauerwas does not contextualize the relationship between Christians and non Christian unwilling mothers within Christian tradition. (3) More importantly, he pro vides no motivation for a non Christian unwilling mother to accept a suffering seems to offer a way to overcome these weaknesses in position. In Freedom of a Christian Gilbert Meilaender claims that Christians are a people who understand that sympathy this real but not 77 He claims that Christians are a people who believe that sometimes suffering is to be who hold a place between the beasts and God], we accept the fact that there may be suffering which could be reli e ved but ought not. Ought not because there is no right way, 77 Gilbert Meilaender, The Freedom of a Christian: Grace, Vocation, and the Meaning of Our Humanity ( Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006) p. 132
52 78 In the abortion issue, an unwanted pregnancy would be an example of suffering that is to be endured. Meilaender agrees with Hauerwas that every child is a gift that human being s are not in a position to reject. 79 As a people who believe that some suffering is not to be avoided, Christians understand the necessity of sympathy in order to endure suffering that they could possibly avoid. Meilaender claims that human being s live w ith a God who is sympathetic to their suffering. According to Meilaender, Christians find the courage to endure suffering in alone, we do not, since God has taken th 80 claim that Christians understand the importance of sympathy to endure suffering because they believe in a God who sympathizes with their suffering provides the Christian narrative context needed to support Ha suggestion that Christians ought to open their homes to the unwanted children of wider society. Christian in three ways: (1) it gives Christians a means of welcomin g the stranger that traditional Christian context for the relationship between Christian s and non Christian unwilling mother s [suffering in a fallen world] and (3) it provide s Christians with an effective way of motivating reluctant mothers to accept Christian hospitality and give birth to an unexpected child. 78 Meilaender, Freedom 131 79 Meilaender, Freedom 124 125 80 Gilbert Meilaender, Bioethics: A Primer for Christian s (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996) p. 38
53 gives Christians a means o Christian tradition remembers him. What are Christians doing conceptually when they willingness to provide hospitali 81 which gives the impression that Christians welcome strangers by inviting them into the home and treating them nicely. But if Christians are, as Hauerwas claims, a people who emulat e then one must ask if hospitality accurately describes the character of Jesus as the Christian tradition remembers him. According to the Gospel tradition, Jesus socialized with humanity. Accordin g to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath at the risk of persecution. 82 To say that the Gospel tradition remembers Jesus as a hospitable it is not too strong to say that God dies outside the walls of the city 83 sharing the mortality that marks human life. It is of the dead man on the this This God does not live free o f sorrows. 81 Hauerwas, Community 2 82 Mark 3:1 6 NRSV 83 His reference to God dying outside the city walls Iliad suffered with His people.
54 84 and is therefore also one of us. 85 refers. Thus, Christians emulate Jesus in their welcome t o strangers by sympathizing with their suffering as Christian tradition remembers Jesus doing for humanity. With what character ought Christians to welcome strangers? The answer to this question will connect broad claim that Christians are a people who welcome strangers with his ethical concept that Christians cultivate the right character by emulating that of Jesus. Following Meilaender, Christians welcome strangers with a sympathetic character, a character willing to share their struggles s o that they may endure. How do Christians cultivate a sympathetic character? They do it by remembering the sympathy that Christian tradition claims Christ demonstrated on the Cross and by following his example as someone who sympathizes with human suffe ring. character. and suffering contextualizes the relationship between Christians and non Christian sympathy towards suffering, Christian tradition can contextualize the relationship between Christians and non Christians as a relationship of shared suffering. E ven if they 84 being s hold a status above the beasts and below God. In that quote, Meilaender ass umes that the reader 85 Meilaender, Freedom 134
55 do not accept the Christian narrative as their own, non Christians can agree with Christians that life inevitably provides some degree of suffering. Some people tend to experience more suffering than others. Some people may experience sufferi ng their whole life, their life being defined by suffering. Nevertheless, one important experience that all human beings have in common, Christians and non Christians alike, is their susceptibility to suffering. Suffering has numerous causes and comes i n various forms. So, what kind of sufferin g am I talking about ? I am talking about the kind of suffering that people experience when they are faced with the decision of whether or not to have an abortion. The stress of having to choose can cause suffering. Someone faced with the decision to give birth or to have a n abortion may feel isolated, stressed, helpless, and confused about what choice she should make. If she chooses to have the abortion, any question or doubt whether she did the right thing can cause suffering. She may experience regret, remorse, disappoi ntment, etc. Fear of and experience of ostracism causes suffering as well. Of these possible causes for suffering, the feeling that one has made the wrong decision in having an abortion may cause the most suffering. A woman who chooses to give birth rat her than have an abortion, even though she has neither the time nor the means to care for a child, can experience stress, anxiety, worry, a feeling of helplessness. Thus the unwilling mother is susceptible to the experience of suffering if she gives birth to a baby that she does not want nor has a means of taking care of. But regardless of her decision whether or not to have an abortion, an unexpected and ill prepared pregnancy can cause great suffering. Within the context of Christian tradition, the Chr
56 non Christian unwilling mother is that of a sympathetic servant to a woman experiencing suffering. The Christian relates to her by sharing her burden. Christians are a people who understand that human beings need sympathy as an essential means of enduring suffering. It follows from the Christian narrative because the Gospel depicts Jesus as a sympathetic character who called on his disciples to show sym pathy toward others, and it fits conception of the Christian community as a community that takes care of strangers. But it is not enough for Christians to be hospitable. They must also provide motivation for non Christian unwilling mothers to accept their hospitality and give birth to her unexpected child. the sufferer provides Christians with an effective way of encouraging reluctant mothers to give birth. Sy mpathy lets a reluctant mother know that, regardless of what struggles she experiences, she does not suffer alone. According to Meilaender, to know that they do not suffer alone helps human beings to endure suffering. readi 86 Too often people feel isolated in their suffering, as though no one knows nor understands their pain. People either try to escape their suffering or look for someone who can relate to their struggle s. Shared suffering creates a bond between people Soldiers bond strongly with other soldiers whom they fight alongside in battle. That bond between soldiers gives them enough courage to fight a war. Likewise, a bond between a Christian and a reluctant mother ought to give her the courage to give birth to a child that she feels unprepared to 86 Meilaender, Freedom 132
57 welcome. People more willingly endure suffering that they would otherwise avoid if they ngside them gives them the courage to face obstacles that they would otherwise avoid. Christians can be those people who relate to strangers in their suffering, volunteering to be a sympathetic ear and someone whom people can count on when life gets rough Christian tradition forms a people who can open their doors with a heart willing to share a reluctant mother facing the decision whether or not to have an abortion in or der to means of enduring suffering, non Christian unwilling mothers will be more likely to choose birth over abortion if they know that Christians will actively share the struggles of raising their baby. In order to understand how sympathetic action effectively motivates reluctant mothers to choose bir th over abortion, one must consider the reasons why women have abortions. Hauerwas claims that the decision to have an abortion tends to develop out of the relationship between the couple who conceived. 87 Couples whose relationships provide less than desi rable circumstances for parenting tend to choose abortion, but that does not completely represent the most prominent reasons why reluctant mothers choose to have abortions. According to statistics published by the Guttmacher Institute of New York, for the having a or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (73%); and that she did not want to be a 87 Hauerwas, Community 199
58 single moth 88 Asking someone to give birth to a baby that she has neither the time nor the resources nor the support nor the inclination to take care of, a child that she would most likely have to give up for adoption, is asking her to endure suffering that she could otherwise avoid. Christians can motivate her to accept that challenge by taking certain actions to share her burden. B enter into the dark world Meilaender means : actively Sympathy entails service, taking substantive action to meet the needs of those who are suffering. Without ar to the traditional Christian belief that one who knows that he or she is saved by grace cannot help but perform good works, someone who authentically sympathizes with suffering cannot help but serve the sufferer. When one sympathizes with another perso n, one feels his or her pain because one shares the experience of his or her struggles. In the case of the relationship between Christians and mothers, service could mean taking mothers to the doctor or hospital, buying her groceries, and, after the baby is born, babysitting and taking the baby to the doctor. That is what Hauerwas means when he claims that all children. Christians can do the things that Hauerwas suggests: welcome mothers and children into their homes, run a daycare, foster children, etc; but now they can motivate the non Christian unwilling mother with that story of sympathy. A non Christian unwilling mother will more willingly endure the struggles of an u nexpected pregnancy if 88 Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2005, 37(3): p. 110 < http://www.guttmacher .org/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf>
59 she knows that Christians are willing to share the experience. In this concept of a Christian capacity for sympathy provides Christians with an approach to the reluctant mother that not only honestly represents the Christian faith but is also effective. Teaching the importance of welcoming children: However, Christians should not only concern themselves with encouraging birth over abortion and providing a home for unwanted children. The abortion issue is, as Ha about the struggles of an unexpected pregnancy. abortion issue is largely an issue of responsibility. The top two reasons (interfere nce with show us that women who have abortions have neither the time nor the resources to take responsibility for the children they abort. The decision whether or not to have an priorities Having a dependants. How can Christians make welcoming unexpected newborns a priority for non Christian reluctant mothers? Abortion is an issue in America because different traditions in this pluralistic society are divided over whether mothers have a moral responsibility to give birth to children conceived under undesirable circumstances. Therefore, in order to significantly influence the abortion issue, Christians should also concern themselves with inf luencing human life. Christian tradition makes all people members of the same hist orical narrative
60 died. Christians ought to encourage people to oppose abortion for the same reasons that Christians do, but how can Christians honestly go about influ toward having children? Hauerwas claims that according to Christian tradition no person is in a position to reject a new life. Simply taking in the unwanted children of the world would not effectively testify to the world that, according to Christian convictions, no person is in a position to reject new life. Simply taking in unwanted children would not effectively teach reluctant parents that, according to Christian tradition, God has given them a gift that they ought to receiv e. By offering to share the responsibility of raising children, as opposed to offering to assume full parental responsibility, Christians demonstrate to the unwilling mother that her participation in welcoming children is important. Christians believe t hat, as creatures of God, all human beings should welcome the life that God gives. Removing the child from her life would give her the impression that she has no responsibilities toward her child. Removing completely the child from her life would fail to teach her the story that says that all human beings have a responsibility to welcome children. By keeping her connected to her child Christians teach her how to live that story. If Christians could successfully integrate a reluctant mother into the Ch ristian community, then they could even more effectively teach her how Christian tradition makes human beings responsible for welcoming new human life. Christians can
61 welcome the unwilling mother into the Christian community by developing a relationship w ith her out of a shared experience of suffering. 89 The Importance of Forgiveness: mother has one. It would not be presumptuous to say that having an abortion puts the mother through some measure of suffering, which is all the more reason for the Christian the Christian has a responsibility to make his self or herself available. Sympathizing with th e woman who has had an abortion requires some degree of forgiveness, and Christians can sympathize with her because they belong to a tradition that allows them to forgive her. That is not to say that women who have an abortion owe Christians an apology. Following the Christian perspective that new life comes from God, a Christian might make the claim that only God deserves an apology for destroying His creation. Nonetheless, Christians might harbor some frustrations towards the woman who has an abortion, especially if they have tried to talk her out of it. It cannot be easy her child. One could imagine that Christians might feel helpless to know that a reluctant mother would abort the child that they are so willing to welcome and love and care for. That feeling of helplessness may cause Christians to experience some degree of sorrow even though the unwilling mother may have no idea what effect her decision may ha ve on others, which is why Christians must have a heart ready to forgive the unwilling 89 That is not to say that a non Christian can become a member of the Christian community by associating with Christians. Rather, Christians can reach out to non Christians to get them to interact with the Christian community, exposing them to a community th at lives by the Christian narrative.
62 mother who chooses to have an abortion. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told his followers, will also forgive you; but if you do not for give others, neither will your F ather forgive your 90 Christians recognize that they are not in a position to withhold forgiveness because, according to the Christian narrative, everyone is a sinner wh o owes his or her salvation to the grace of God. Christians can forgive others because they believe that God has forgiven them. Therefore, Christians can continue to sympathize with a reluctant mother who goes through with an abortion despite Christian e fforts to encourage her to give birth. To conclude this chapter the Christian capacity for sympathy that develops out of the Christian narrative allows Christians to interact with a secular/ pluralistic society and retain their faith, i.e., stay true to their convictions. Answering the broad concern of that paper, Christians interact with wider society by being a people who take certain actions to suffer with strangers. stian capacity for sympathy not only serves as an effective approach to unwilling mothers, but it also fits Christian tradition. In the next chapter (chapter 4) I will defend the claims I have made thus far in my thesis from the possibl e critic ism of Stout, Hauerwas, and others. I will also use chapter four to address what approach Christians ought to take if sympathy does not work to discourage a reluctant mother from having an abortion. The concept of sharing the sufferings of an unwanted pr egnancy may not appeal to some reluctant mothers, so what else do Christians have to offer her? 90 Matthew 6:14 15 NRSV
63 Chapter 4: Defense Against Possible Criticisms This chapter (chapter 4) will address several possible criticisms that could be made against claims I have made in the first three chapters. I will start with possible objections Stout may have against claims made in chapter 2. Then I will move to defending Hauerwas from further possible criticisms, followed by defending myself from possible criticism s of my thesis. I will end this chapter by defending myself from further possible criticisms the reader might have concerning claims I have made in my thesis. Defending myself from Stout: Stout: advocating pragmatism? Answer: Yes, they can, but not without difficulty. As you have also pointed out, religious premises are often ineffective and considered offensive in a pluralistic political democracy. So, even if Christians do participate in democratic practices, they would do so alternatively to the rest of society, just as Hauerwas has claimed. Stout: Christian unwilling mother contrary to your claims, participate as Christians in the democratic practice of reason exchange? Answer: Even if Christians do participate in democratic reason exchange they cannot participate as you suggest they should. They do not participate as fellow advocates of democracy. Instead, they participate in public discussion as Hauerwas claims they should, as a community separated from the rest of society by its particular traditio n.
64 Stout: When I discourage arguments made from religious premises to political t that a Answer: That may be the case; but, for Christians, the only premises that truly justify their opposition to abortion are religious premises. According to Hauerwas, Chris tians can neither accept nor support the legalization of abortion without contradicting their faith. They must oppose abortion, and Hauerwas claims that they must oppose it for religious reasons. According to you Christians should participate in politi cs without letting their faith get in the way. But Christians cannot just put their faith on hold. Since Christians cannot ignore their faith and faith apparently has no place in public politics, then Christians have no choice but to separate their selve s from public politics. Stout: Why have you put so much effort into defending A Community of Character when I have a bigger problem with The Peaceable Kingdom defense of Hauerwas from my criticism by not defending position in The Peaceable Kingdom ? Answer: I limited my discussion to A Community of Character rather than including The Peaceable Kingdom because the former contains approach to abortion and the latter does not. I wanted to defend s position where it is most relevant to the abortion issue. The Peaceable Kingdom mainly discusses why and how Christians should live peaceably in a violent world. You claim that Hauerwas uses stronger antiliberal rhetoric in Peaceable which is why y ou are more critical of that book than Community But even
65 position in Community is at odds with your pragmatic democracy. Following position in Community pragmatic democracy is wrong to make citizens think humanity can create its narrative, therefore, which helps them know the truth about existence and fight the constant temptation to self 91 Your pragmatic democracy provides no such narrative. You claim that i with one another, but such discursive practices do not declare a single truth that unites the community as Hauerwas claims the Christian narrative does. Stout: Does the fact that fallible interpretation of Scripture make his approach any less relevant or justified? Answer: It is still a compelling interpretation. It may be liable to error, but what nicely represents conventional Christian sentiments toward abortion. Christians do typically believe that children are gifts from God. As Hauerwas into the world. Therefore, interpretation of Scripture with regard to abortion is very relevant. Stout: Is Hauerwas nave about the accuracy and coherency of Scripture? Answer: Hauerwas is confident that the story (message) has remained intact throughout th e ages, and he does not concern himself with the details. Hauerwas claims that That story claims that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of Israel as well as the Son of God 91 Hauerwas, Community 18
66 and only source of Salvation. A community has formed around that Christ figure 92 dedicated to his memory. That community of believers and Christ followers has endured over the years by keeping the Gospel story alive. The fact that we can speak o f a tradition that declares Jesus as the Messiah to that day shows that his memory continues to live on. According to Hauerwas, one cannot verify the accuracy or truth of that then one sees how life falls into place around that Stout: traditions in moral discussions? Answer: yo u do for several reasons. Hauerwas claims that moral commitments mean nothing to a moral character to live up to those commitments. Narrative context can differ greatly f rom one community to the next; therefore, different communities foster different characters. According to Hauerwas, interlocutors must follow the same historical narrative and aspire to the same sort of character in order to effectively discuss important ethical issues without falling into futile debate. Historical narratives that disagree on what kind of people human beings ought to be can stop a conversation just as easily as faith claims, especially for Christians because they believe that their histor ical narrative supports their faith claims. For these reasons, Hauerwas discre dits the utility that you see in democratic 92 (Community 42 keep my thesis n eutral for academic purposes
67 Stout: religious dissent in order to reap the rewards of expressive freedom and spiritual excellence they [traditionalists] take to be possible only within a religiously unified 93 ? Answer: behavior. He claims that Christians are a people who should resist using coercion and instead live peaceably in order to avoid contributing violence to an already violent world. Hauerwas would say that for the sake of a unified and intelligible tradition, there should be some practical, though not severe, restrictions on what kind of behavior that tradition can permit. A Christian could not be justified in making claims that conflict with convictions that define membership in the Christian community. For instance, someon e cannot deny that Jesus is Christ and still consider him or herself to be a member of the Christian community because, Hauerwas would claim, such a restriction is necessary for the preservation of an honest definition of what it means to be a member of a community that affirms that Jesus is Christ. But Hauerwas does not propose projecting those same restrictions onto wider society. Hauerwas does not want to change wider society by imposing Christian convictions on to non believers. Hauerwas wants to c hange wider society by witnessing and by encouraging other Christians to witness the Gospel to wider society. According to Hauerwas, Christians need only to set the example of how God wants his people to live. 93 Stout, Democracy 83
68 The idea is that if Christians honestly and faithfully represent a virtuous Christian character, then non Christians will see that example and God will soften their hearts and they will (hopefully) convert to Christianity. Defending myself from Hauerwas: Hauerwas: What is the difference between my position and that of Meilaender? How do Answer: Meilaender expresses a similar attitude toward s the abortion issue as you. You both agree that life is a gift from God. You both agree that Christians may help reluctant mothers take care of their children. However, Meilaender provides a word to describe the relationship that you claim Christians should have with the stranger, and that word is Christian tradition is the no tion that Christians have a capacity for sympathy that other traditions do not necessarily have. Emulation of others, and sympathy entails service. Hauerwas: What does Meilaender do for my approach to abortion? Answer: suffering provides a more practical and proactive answer for why and how Christians must welcome strangers and their children. Following Meilaender, Christians not only welcome strangers into their homes, but they also enter the life of the stranger. Christians do not just make themselves available. They do not just receive strangers. Christians who possess a sympathetic chara cter actively pursue unwilling mothers, offering their services, in a non threatening manner.
69 suffering provides motivation for non Christians to accept Christian hospitality. Ch ristians are not asking reluctant mothers to do anything that they will not share the consequences of. Christians relate to strangers as fellow sufferers, sharing the struggles of everyday life as well as out of the ordinary struggles. According to Chris tian tradition, God intended human beings to be social people, to create community with one another, to fellowship with one another, and to take care of one another. In the Christian tradition, strangers become neighbors, and neighbors become brothers and sisters. Hauerwas: Answer: tradition. You understand that some of what God commands may cause suffering, yet also a people who refuse to abandon those whose lives have been disrupted by that 94 You also recognize that some su that such a sharing of our sufferings as well as our joys is necessary cannot be 95 Thus, you would agree that Christians can use sympathy as an effective approach to encourage others to endure the suffering that develops out of following Christian convictions in a world where it is easier not to. 94 Hauerwas, Peaceable 145 146 95 Hauerwas, Reader 576
70 Defending myself from further possible criticisms: Possible reader: you avoided the more s ignificant issues concerning abortion? Is addressing abortion as contraception too easy? Answer: I chose to focus on abortion as contraception rather than victims of rape and incest seeking abortion or situations in which having an abortion will save the life, because the point of that thesis is not to address the conundrums of abortion. Rather, the p oint is to demonstrate what Christian tradition offers to help Christians to overcome the obstacles that they face trying to approach the abortion issue in a pluralistic democratic society in such a way that is both effective and, most importantly, faithful to their convictions are related to the more difficult situations such as rape, incest, child pregnancy, danger to the personal obstacles that having an unexpected child create for the pregnant woman, such as financial difficulties and jeopardizing her education and career op portunities. By addressing th e more prevalent issues Christians can hopefully decrease the de mand for abortion most effectively. Possible reader: According to Hauerwas and Meilaender, how should Christians approach women whose life might be at stake? Answer: I have not found anything written by Hauerwas addressing that issue. Meilaender or her child must die, we cannot require her to build the human race by destroying
71 he rself. If she cannot take up that cross, we are entitled to give her life priority, 96 He claims that in these rare situations life conflicts with equal life. 97 But if the conflict is between tw o equal lives, then how does one choose? Meilaender justifies his position by pointing to the fact that the fetus depends on the mother for life support, implying that allowing the mother to die would kill the fetus anyway; so it is better to save the mot That makes sens e. Maybe it is better to save one life than to lose two. But what about those situations in which the doctors have a chance to save the From a Christian perspective, should the mother sacrifice herself to save her child? A Christian might be able to sacrifice herself for her child, knowing that the ch urch will take good care of her child. But can she be expected to make such a sacrifice? Meilaender does not think so and Hauerwas does not address the issue. Possible Reader: According to Hauerwas and Meilaender, how should Christians approach victims of rape and incest? Answer: Hauerwas and Meilaender can both agree that Christians can sympathize with victims of rape or incest. They may not be able to feel her personal pain that she experiences as a victim, unless they have been in the same or a si milar experience, but Christians can feel sorrow for her and assist her to the best of their abilities. They can still encourage her to have faith that good will come out of her pregnancy even if it was 96 Meilaender, Bioethics 35 97 Meilaender, Bioethics 36
72 conceived in such dreadful circumstances. They can still offer to take care of her and her child. Hauerwas does not provide a satisfactory answer for the following question that 98 He ant to entertain lesser of two evils arguments. 99 He 100 He fails to answer his initial question about what the church ought to do to h elp victims of rape. From the previous quotes, it sounds like Hauerwas does not want to tell rape victims what to do if they get pregnant, but he hopes that they will choose to give birth. I think that he could give a better response than that, given his account of Christian tradition. Following Hauerwas, Christians are a people who can trust that God knows what he is doing. They believe that even if a woman conceives as a result of rape or incest, God has a purpose for the child conceived. Therefore, Christians must even more carefully and active ly (personally) show such a woma n love and sympathy, approaching to welcome children does not exclude children conceived as the resul t of rape or incest or drunken sex or teen sex. In the case of pregnancies attained by rape or incest, Meilaender claims, 98 Hauerwas, Reader 621 99 Hauerwas, Reader 621 100 Hauerwas, Reader 621
73 threatened by such a pregnancy; yet the case bears important analogies to that where lives conflict. For in that instance, even though the fetus is, of course, formally innocent, its contin ued existence within the woman may constitute for her an embodiment of the original attack upon her person. Formally innocent as the fetus itself is, it continues to represent in vivid form the attack the woman has suffered. Here again, of course, she ma y find the courage and strength to love and let live even the one whose presence embodies the attack of her enemy. But, again, we cannot claim that such a decision would be the only way to follow Christ. 101 this as suffering that must be endured because there is no fittingly human way to alleviate it? If the child conceived in rape is truly equal in in order to comfort its mother? Meilaender is not clear about these kinds of questions. N either theologian wants to claim that Christians must necessarily reject abortions sought as a result of rape or incest. However, Hauerwas and Meilaender can agree that a child is a gift from God no matter how it is conceived, and they can also agree that Christian tradition gives Christians a responsibility to witness to the victim the power of Neither Hauerwas nor Meilaender would claim that Christians can or should coerce a victim of rape to give birth. T hey do not circumstances, but they do believe that Christians can gently encourage victims of rape 101 Meilaender, Bioethics 35 36
74 and incest to find the strength to overcome their terrible situation and give birth to a blessing in disguise. Possible Reader: How can a Christian encourage an unwilling mother to endure a pregnancy that would greatly upset her life? Answer: Christians should learn the needs of reluctant mothers and serve their indivi dual needs accordingly. Various women have various reasons for considering abortion. For example: she might lose her job, her family m ight disown her, her boyfriend or husband might leave her, etc Christians can serve many, if not all, of those nee ds. But they have to get to know individuals and their stories. Is she worried about losing her job? pregnant? Is she too young? Christians should care enough to as k these kinds of women are having abortions, they would not get many takers. Chr istians need to take a more proactive approach. If, for example, there are a growing number of teen pregnancies in the community, then Christians can provide teenage girls with services that serve to prevent teen pregnancies (abstinence programs, mentorin g, youth groups, etc.) or that care for pregnant teens so that they do not feel alone and overwhelmed (so that they can feel loved by someone who is willing to help without judging them). If a woman already has too many children, then a Christian family c an offer to adopt the new arrival. If the pregnancy prevents her from properly caring for her dependants, then Christian s can offer to help care for her dependants. If she is worried about losing her job, then the church can offer some service to help her
75 keep her job. Maybe the pregnant woman cannot afford to go to the doctor for prenatal care or to give birth in a hospital. The Christian community co uld help by offering health insurance to poor women. Maybe members of the church could cover the costs. Possible Reader: Following Meilaender, sympathy (sharing suffering) rather than compassion (alleviating suffering) is an appropriate Christian respon se to the abortion issue, but what should a Christian do if sympathy does not persuade a reluctant mother to give birth? Answer: One may justify compassion (relieving the unwilling mother of her parental responsibilities) if sympathy (sharing her bu rden) does not work. Hauer was seems to suggest compassion, he calls it hospitality, in A Community of Character Even Meilaender suggests that someone other than the mother may assume full parental at child from an abortion. 102 convince a woman to give birth to an unwanted child. Unwilling mothers often do not want to make time for a baby. A baby would just be a nuisa nce to them. If they were to choose to give birth, then they would rather get rid of the baby so that they can get on birth would probably be more effective to enc ourage her to give birth than offering to with the unwilling mother should stop after he or she has taken over her parental responsibility. The Christian may want to continue to work in her life to expose her to Christian living. 102 Meilaender, Bioethics 34 35
76 Possible Reader: Women do not often go public with their decision to have an abortion. How are Christians to know when an unexpected pregnancy takes place? Answer: Christians need to become proactive in the abortion debate, taking preventive measures in order to remedy the problems that often lead to abortions. Christians can nant women) need better job security. They need to know that they will not lose their jobs if they unexpectedly become pregnant. What can Christians do to help? Women need to know that their education will not be jeopardized if they unexpectedly become pregnant. How can Christians help? Women need to know that they will not go bankrupt if they have another child. They need to know th at people, especially Christians, are ready and eager to help them take care of their children. Christians need to be r eady and eager to take on capacity for sympathy shows that the Christian character has the capacity to help women in all of these situations and more. The church ha s a responsibility to figure out how it can most effectively help to remedy some (or all) of these problems. Possible reader: How should Christians take a more proactive approach to decrease the demand for abortion? Answer: Christians do not need to wait for women to get pregnant before they open their doors and offer their services. If the Christian community make s more opportunities available to all women in society then fewer women will face those struggles that the Gut tmacher statistics claim they do, or face them to a lesser degree. For example, they can work with schools to figure out ways of accommodating pregnant women so that they do not have to forgo their education because of an unexpected pregnancy. Christians can
77 confront bosses who have been known to fire or lay off women for getting pregnant unexpectedly. The Christian community could also help her with scholarships, networking, job search, etc. n of Crisis 103 The Nurtu website claims, working women who are experiencing special legal, medical or emotional difficulties that local pregnancy resource centers or social service programs may feel unable or unqualified to 104 The Nurturing Network is a secular organization, but the Chris tian community could still adopt its services. Mathewes Green talks about Christian women with tools to improve their lives and give them help with budget counseling and 105 Her article appeals to all of society, not just Christians, but Christians in particular can especially benefit from reading it. A hearty increase in Christian public service would more sufficiently convince people to a ccept Christian hospitality because they could see that Christians are genuinely willing to serve others. The Christian community can increase the number and variety of Christian public services as well as increase Christian participation in public servic e(s). Service follows from the Christian narrative, but people who consider themselves 103 Frederica Mathewes Policy Review 57 (Summer 1991): p. 29 104 The nurturing Network (2008), 6 April 2010 105 Mathewes
78 Christian do not always live it. People who associate themselves with the church must start living as disciples, serving the greater community, so that the greater com munity will see that their convictions are justified. An increased Christian presence in public service will make society aware that Christians are a people who serve. Possible Reader: How could the Christian community afford to offer these services? Answer: Charity, fund raisers, tithes, grants, private funding from philanthropists, volunteers, etc. can contribute to the cause. Often people want to help; they just do not know what they can do. The Christian community (church) must inform its members of these opportunities to help reluctant mothers and women who need help. The Christian community should also take a more proactive approach to the abortion issue if it wants to lessen the demand for abortions. Possible Reader: How can Christians per suade a non Christian unwilling mother to that ? Answer: Non Christian unwilling mothers will be more likely to accept Christian encouragement and choose birth over abortion if the y know that there are Christians sincerely willing to voluntarily share in the suffering of an unexpected pregnancy without expecting any reward. Christians can connect to the world most effectively by maintaining personal relationships with people and co mmunities outside of the Christian community. By maintaining relationships outside of the Christian community Christians can gain the trust and cooperation of the outside world. People naturally trust a friend more than they trust a stranger. Having sa id that, Christians do not need to search the world for reluctant mothers and become friends with them. If Christians become more open to strangers, as Hauerwas
79 suggests they should, they will inevitably acq uire social relationships with non Christians. At some time in their life they are bound to come across someone considering having an abortion, or struggling with some other tough decision. If the Christian is friends with that person, rather than a stranger or acquaintance, the n he or she is more Christians to follow advice and welcome strangers. Welcoming strangers keeps Christians connected to the outside world.
80 Conclusion The purpose of this thesis was to address how the Christian community approaches abortion in a pluralistic, democratic society (United States of America); the obstacles Christians face approaching a non Christian unwilling mother in su ch a way that represents Christian convictions without judging or coercing her; and how they may overcome those obstacles. I started addressing these three points by presenting and lightly critiquing position in chapter one. In order to addres s the problems Christians face participating in a pluralistic, democratic society, in chapter two I democracy. I defended distrust of liberal democracy, poin ting out how a to the abortion issue. In chapter three I supplement concept of the Christian capacity for sympathy. Meilaender brings out something implicit in position; Christians can take actions to share the re luctant whether she chooses to give birth or have an abortion. That Christian approach to abortion develops out of Christian convictions, whi ch are held in faith, creates a problem for Christians who practice his approach in wider society Hauerwas points out that Christians in the U.S live in a Christians so that this Christian approach may work in a secularized, pluralistic society such as the U.S.? Meilaender makes a couple claims about Christians that give them a unique relationship to wider society. He claims that Christians believe and accept that
81 sometimes suffering is to be endured 106 and they understand the human need for sympathy in order to endure suffering 107 These two points give Christians a capacity for sympathy towards the suffering of others that develops out of the Christian tradition. human 108 That Hauerwas agrees with these statements is apparent when he claims that dangers we have to negotiate 109 So, Hauerwa s and Meilaender agree that being a Christian requires enduring suffering that could otherwise be avoided. They also agree that an unexpected pregnancy is an example of such suffering that is to be endured rather than avoided. What would motivate a no n Christian to endure suffering that she could potentially participation in the suffering of another, Christians can appeal to non Christian unwilling mothers by personally experiencing their struggles with them. Simply opening the door Christian should rather say something as follows: God does not want you to abort your baby. God wants you to give birth to the gift he has created. As a Follower of Christ, I encourage you to give birth to your baby. If by the time the baby is born you still do not think (fee l like) you can handle parenting it, then I will help to shoulder your burden. I realize that I am 106 Meilaender, Freedom 131 107 Meilaender, Freedom 132 108 Meilaender, Freedom 127 109 Hauerwas, Peaceable 142
82 asking you to endure suffering that you could otherwise avoid, but I hope that you find comfort in knowing that I (as well as other Christians) will take ac tion to make sure that you do not face your struggles alone. That is the kind of message the church should send, and that is the help that it should offer if it is to be effective and faithfully represent the Christian faith. A willingness to share parental responsibility demonstrates a personal commitment to welcome her unborn unwanted child. People who face a struggle together tend to bond with one another in their shared suffering, feeling closer to one another than if they had not shared their suffering. Such a bond could be what it takes to convince non Christian relucta nt mothers to choose giving birth over having an abortion. However, Christians in the U.S. live in a secular society that does not live the Christian narrative, that does not welcome all children as gifts from God, and that tries to avoid suffering that h as no foreseeable personal benefit. Hauerwas and Meilaender are on the right track by claiming, respectively, that Christians can welcome strangers and sympathize with their suffering. But, how much of an impact can Christian sympathy and available Chri stian services actually have on a remains indifferent to the plight of her and her unbo rn child she may feel that abortion is an acceptable option. Christians may be helpless to save the lives of millions of unborn, unwanted children; but their story (the Christian narrative) gives them hope that their sympathy and willingness to serve may convince a significant number of reluctant
84 Works Cited "Abortion." National Survey of State Laws Ed. Richard A. Leiter. 6th ed. Detroit : Gale, 2008. 339 371. Gale Virtual Reference Library Web. 13 Apr. 2010. http://nurturingnetwork.org/whatwedo.html 2008 Hauerwas, Stanley. A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981 The Hauerwas Reader Ed. John Berkman and Michael Cartwright. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001. 603 622 Hauerwas, Stanley. After Christendom Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1999 Hauerwas, Stanley. The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1 983 Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 2005, 37(3):110 118 http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf Mathewes Policy Review (Summer 1991) 28 36 Meilaender, Gilbert. The Freedom of a Christian: Grace, Vocation, and the Mean ing of Our Humanity Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006 Meilaender, Gilbert. Bioethics: A Primer for Christians Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996 NRSV HarperCollins Study Bible: including Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical Books,
85 Student Edition San Francisco: HarperOne, 2006 Scottish Journal of Theology 59.2 (2006): 198 209 Stout, Jeffrey. Democracy & Tradition Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004 7 th ed. Ed. Bryan A. Garner. St. Paul, MN: West Group, 1999