A few days ago, Ron Paul was on Piers Morgan, and demonstrated, in a breath-taking way, a certain muddledness about life. He certainly tried to stay consistent with his libertarianism, which is — in the world of political trimmers, shifters, and dodgers — a certain kind of admirable. The problem is that libertarianism, on its own, is a false ideology, and will therefore necessitate self-contradiction. The glory of man will always fail.
I am talking about the pro-life issue, but Paul whiffed a couple others too. He continues far too ambiguous on the homosexual marriage issue — as though YHWH would have been fine with the Cities of the Plain had they only had a federal system that allowed for states’ rights on the issue, with each city being allowed by the Constitution to make their own decisions. Say that one of them had not legalized sodomy, we might have had one four/fifths of the brimstone. Paul also said that his libertarianism governed his child-rearing — if he doesn’t believe in coercion, then spanking should clearly be out.
On the pro-life thing, he was asked about abortion in the case of rape. The answer to this, incidentally, is straightforward — when a woman conceives as the result of a rape, there is one guilty party, and two innocent parties. What the pro-aborts want to do is change the ratios — they want one victim instead of two, and they want two perpetrators instead of one. They want the man who took what didn’t belong to him to be joined by a woman who imitates him by taking what doesn’t belong to her.
In response to this question, Ron Paul said that a woman who is raped should go to an emergency room immediately, and get a shot of estrogen, which would prevent the implantation of a conceived child in the uterine wall. Further, he said that he would administer that shot of estrogen. Piers Morgan, astonished, said that he thought Ron Paul believed life begins at conception. Ron Paul said that he did, but that we don’t know at that point whether the woman is pregnant.
This, in effect, was saying that if we don’t know if someone is living in a room then it must be okay to fill it up with poison gas. This example might seem beside the point because, if we did that, we would eventually have to carry a dead body out. But, in the case of this small victim, nobody ever needs to know. But, speaking frankly, and just between us, “nobody need ever know” is not exactly a pro-life rallying cry.
The most charitable takeaway is that Ron Paul does not understand the issue, or the meaning of the words he is using. At all. He does not understand the ramifications of what it means to confess that “life begins at conception.” Further, this ignorance on a point of high magnitude was coming from a medical doctor who confessed that life begins at conception, and that, provided he didn’t know of that person’s presence, that he personally would have no problem taking that person’s life. If that’s not a muddle, I don’t know what would count at one.
When I was in Minneapolis last week, we had a number of really edifying conversations in the context of the speakers’ dinners. One of the most edifying was the last one, where John Piper and I spent a lot of time exulting in (get this) the law of identity. A is A. A is A means that A is not something else, like B, for instance. And those who want it to be something else, or a little bit fuzzier for them, are trying to escape accountability. They don’t want to be held to the terms of the argument — whether we are talking about their own argument or someone else’s.
This pro-life issue is one of the reasons I know that God expects us to grow up into the maturity of logical precision. What is a human being? When does a distinct embodiment of the image of God begin? There is no way to answer the question that does not take you back to a single cell — there, that is a human being. And you don’t get to say, as countless people would like to be able to say, that it is a human being if you would like it to be, and not if you would rather not. A is A. If it is a human being, created in the image of God, then he or she should be treated that way. If not, then not.
So which is it?