Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason uses the term sibling rivalry to describe conflicting arguments used by the same party.
Sometimes objections come in pairs that are logically inconsistent and therefore oppose each other. I call this “sibling rivalry” because they are like children fighting.
For example, those who are quick to object that God isn’t doing enough about evil in the world (“A good God wouldn’t let that happen”) are often equally quick to complain when God puts His foot down (“A loving God would never send anyone to hell”). If He appears indifferent to wickedness, His goodness is challenged. Yet if He acts to punish sin, His love is in question. These objections compete with each other. They are siblings in rivalry. One or the other needs to be surrendered. Both can’t be held simultaneously.
I encountered a second example from a pro-legalized-abortion advocate. He simultaneously maintained that:
- I was trying to force my religious views on other people by maintaining that abortions should be illegal.
- Abortion was acceptable according to the Bible given his interpretation of Exodus 21.
It is pretty obvious that his views conflicted: You should not use religious views to influence public policy on abortion and it is acceptable to use religious views to influence public policy on abortion. It was a transparent attempt to ignore my views while permitting his, all the while demonizing me for supposedly doing a bad thing.
I think both arguments fail badly, as I’ll demonstrate in a moment, but under no circumstances should a pro-choicer use both.
Argument 1 fails because there is no reason someone’s religious views should not inform his political views. No one seems to object when my religious views on perjury, stealing and murdering atheists align with my religious views. I think all those things should be against the law. Oh, yes, and there’s that First Amendment thingy, which protects my religious views.
Also, as usual I was taking great care to use secular reasoning when dealing with secular arguments. The scientific fact is that abortion kills an innocent human being. I can point to the immorality of that all day long without opening the Bible. The other gentleman was the one who brought up the religious bit in an attempt to discredit my views.
Oddly, though, he didn’t realize his inconsistency in using his (mis)reading of Exodus 21 to support his views. If religious reasoning isn’t fair game to oppose abortion, why is it allowed to condone abortion? I pointed out to him that he was just forcing his religious views on the innocent unborn human beings who die during abortions.
I encourage you to watch for this trick whenever pro-abortionists pull the religion card out. Ask them if they are just as opposed to liberal Christians (such as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice) who insist that Jesus is OK with abortion. I’ve yet to find one who objects to that support. That works on the same-sex union and other debates as well. Just look for it.
More importantly, the religious pro-abortionists rely on a bad translation to make their case from Exodus 21. This link is a keeper, as it clearly demonstrates from the original languages why the verse does not support abortion. Oddly, this fellow never responded to my counter to his Exodus 21 arguments.
Also, it is interesting that these liberal Christians find a passage in Exodus as a foundation for their pro-abortion views, yet they have a generally low view of scripture and ignore the legions of pro-life verses — e.g., Don’t murder, do unto the least of these, love your neighbor, Jesus is the author of life, God knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, etc. Just flip your bible open just about anywhere and you’ll find some.
So remember these responses and don’t let them dismiss your views so easily.