My Skagit Valley Herald Pro-Life Article

by Jan 18, 2016Culture, Mission, Worldview2 comments

After I saw the Center for Medical Progress videos (I forced myself to watch every one), I knew I had to do something—something even more tangible than a vote—to combat the evil of abortion. I almost attended a protest at an abortion clinic in Greenville, but it just didn’t work out before I left for Washington. There is a Planned Parenthood clinic pretty close to my office here, right across the street from the grocery store which offers great prices on Ritter Sport bars. Perhaps one day I will protest at that clinic, but fathers of young children do best not to be absent from the home unless absolutely necessary. I had to ask myself: “What best can I do?” And I thought, “I can write.”

So I contacted our local pro-life group and offered to write. It just so happens they needed a writer for an upcoming paid advertisement in the local paper. I support incremental change (I would also support sweeping, immediate change, but I think it far less likely to be successful), so I’m glad I could do my bit. I hope to do more.

The local pro-life group still needs an editor, however—the resulting article has several embarrassing typos, in particular, the random placing of “That’s why I’m pro-life” in a place it doesn’t belong:

2016-01-17 20.09.14

I feel sick to my stomach about the multiple errors added to my writing, and I find myself super thankful for the great editors I have worked closely with for the last ten years—both at BJU Press and now at Faithlife.

For the record, here is the original version I sent to the pro-life affiliate:

Are There Moral Facts?

Skagit Valley Herald • Jan 17, 2016

How do you know you know something? When are you justified in saying, “I’m certain”?

When asked this question, many Western people instinctively appeal to the scientific method. If you can measure it or test it, you can know it.

In this view, the types of knowledge that can’t be measured and tested, like moral knowledge, get downgraded. In fact, they no longer count as “knowledge” at all. They are “values” or “opinions,” not “facts.” To claim certainty about a moral truth is to impose your values—your mere opinions—on other people.

For example, a number of America’s most prominent philosophers wrote in a Supreme Court brief some years ago,

Denying [doctor-assisted suicide] to terminally ill patients who are in agonizing pain…could only be justified on the basis of a religious or ethical conviction about the value or meaning of life itself. Our Constitution forbids government to impose such convictions on its citizens.

In other words, no mere “values” (not even “ethical” ones) are allowed to constrain the freedom of others.

But what would America look like if we consistently followed this guideline?

Aren’t we glad that 19th century abolitionists imposed their values on slaveowners? Aren’t we relieved that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference marched its values successfully across the South? Should FDR have refused to impose American values on Hitler’s Germany?

Why do most of us consider these impositions of values justified, but not others? Because lying underneath the question, “Is this a fact or a value?,” is a more fundamental one: “Is this value right or wrong?”

But admittedly, there’s no agreed-upon standard in American society by which such a question might be answered. We’re back to asking, “How can someone know a moral fact?”

The Bible says that we all already know certain moral truths through our God-given consciences (Romans 2:14–15); God has also revealed in Scripture what many of our values ought to be. That’s why I’m pro-life.

But even if you don’t share my Christian value system, stop for a moment and ask yourself why it bothers you that I just adverted to my personal values in a public newspaper. Are you prepared to apply that viewpoint consistently?

One prominent national politician said a few years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast:

We can’t leave our values at the door. If we [do], we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel—the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action—sometimes in the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.

I agree with President Barack Obama. Do you?

Mark Ward, Ph.D. is a professional writer in Mount Vernon, WA.

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  1. Brian Casey

    I feel your pain over having errors inserted, by editors, no less, into something you’ve written It’s of course worse when you feel strong — not strong*ly* — about the topic. Not that any one of us is perfect, but certain kinds of errors can decrease your credibility among those you’re seeking to influence. The good news for writers is that fewer folks seem to care about such things, so fewer readers will notice the errors….

    • Mark Ward

      Funny—that was just the thought with which I was comforting myself. Perhaps this is just the kind of humbling a pedantic person such as myself needs!