Obedience vs. compromise, aborticide, and unequal protection of the law

Obedience vs. compromise, aborticide, and unequal protection of the law

"Partial obedience is total disobedience."

By Harlan Brown
May 9, 2011

Recently, pro-lifers have celebrated a number of legislative victories. For example:

  • Ultrasound bills
  • Parental consent bills
  • Fetal pain legislation
  • Fetal homicide legislation

But are these really victories? Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, 11th Edition, defines victory as "achievement of mastery or success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties." Merriam-Webster defines success as "favorable or desired outcome."

If passing laws that regulate aborticide (see "Conception, abortion, aborticide, and the obfuscation of truth") is the desired outcome, victories have been achieved. If abolishing aborticide is the goal, we're not there yet.

Hollow victory

But aren't aborticide regulations a step in the right direction? Not necessarily. For example, the ban on partial-birth abortion (PBA) ban was touted as a pro-life victory. Sincere individuals made a huge effort to accomplish that goal, and they were led to believe that they were saving lives. Yet the victory was hollow. Fighting for the partial-birth abortion ban raised hundreds of millions of dollars for pro-life organizations, but the ban did not save even one baby's life. (See "PBA Summary: Saved Not One.")

Furthermore, rightness is not determined just by the goal but also by the means for achieving it. The end does not justify the means. If the means involves disobeying God or telling others that it is all right to disobey God, the step is in the wrong direction.

John Archibald, co-founder of Colorado Right to Life, National Right to Life Committee, and Americans United for Life, in "Focus on the Strategy II" referred to the "incremental strategy" of aborticide regulations and exceptions as "not only immoral but strategically wrong." For an explanation of why this is so, see "Oppose Regulations Because..." and "Oppose Exceptions Because..." by American Right to Life.


Aborticide regulations and exceptions place more emphasis on the political process than on obedience to the Creator of life, who commands, "Do not murder." Aborticide is murder. (See "The Bible and Abortion" and "Evangelium Vitae.") God's command does not allow room for compromise.

Yet we human beings are prone to compromise. Politicians are no exception. Consider the results of compromise involved in achieving legislative victories. The pro-life legislation mentioned above tells mothers this:

  • Get an ultrasound, and then you can kill the baby.
  • Obtain parental consent, and then you can kill the baby.
  • So long as the baby can't feel pain, it's okay to kill him or her.

Fetal homicide legislation is an area that has the potential for being fully consistent with God's command "Do not murder." (See "Good and Bad Fetal Crimes Bills.") However, legislatures pursuing such legislation have chosen thus far the pro-aborticide path.

An example of pro-aborticide fetal homicide legislation is The Unborn Victims of Violence Act/Ethan's Law recently signed into law in North Carolina. See "Governor signs pro-aborticide fetal homicide bill." An example of a fetal pain bill is HF 5 recently passed by the Iowa House of Representatives. This legislation stands in contrast to HF 153, which is currently stalled in committee. HF 153 is a personhood bill that would abolish aborticide in Iowa.

Margaret Sanger speaks to KKK gals Photo used by permission of Frederick Douglass Foundation

Margaret Sanger speaks to a KKK rally in Silver Lake, NJ, in 1926.

Compromise is commonplace in politics, even regarding a life-and-death issue such as aborticide. Many "pro-life" politicians have compromised and voted to give taxpayers money to Planned Parenthood, America's largest aborticide provider. Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger, referred to blacks and poor people as "human weeds."

Misleading title

Sometimes legislation pertaining to aborticide uses a misleading title that gives the impression that more is being accomplished than really is. For example, H.R.3, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, does not abolish taxpayer funding for abortion; it limits it. Some tiny boys and girls are treated as persons; some are not. Section 309 permits funding for abortions related to rape, incest, or preserving the life of the mother. Equal protection under the law vanishes.

God's command "Do not murder" makes no exceptions. Furthermore, God's word says, "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin." H.R. 3 not only condones murder in some cases but adds insult to injury by making taxpayers pay for it while pretending that there will be no more taxpayer funding for abortion.

Lesser of two evils

Some persons contend that we must choose the lesser of two evils. I agree that sometimes we need to choose the lesser of two bad options. However, does God's word ever tell us to choose the lesser of two evils? The Holy Bible says, "Depart from evil" (Psalm 34:14).

In the debate over incrementalism, a crucial question arises:

Is it justifiable to allow the killing of some innocent humans in order to prevent the killing of others? In other words, does the end justify the means?

"Burning Buildings and Half a Loaf" analyzes this issue in detail. Consider the following situation:

Suppose that you have three children and a terrorist says to you, "Kill one of your children or I will kill all three." (The numbers here may not reflect specific bills, but the moral issue remains the same regardless of the numbers.)

Do you kill one to save two? I hope not. I hope that you would never consent to killing your child or any innocent human being. I hope you would do your best to save all three, trust in God to help, and not assume that you must kill one to save two. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. (If you don't believe in God, you have a problem more serious than incrementalism.) God commands, "Do not murder." We may not be able to control what others do, but each of us is accountable for our own choices and actions.

Partial obedience

At a Christian men's conference earlier this year, one of the speakers said, "Partial obedience is total disobedience." He showed from the Scriptures why that statement is true. Although he did not apply his statement to the issue of aborticide, I believe that it does apply.

King Saul of ancient Israel is an example of someone who obeyed God partially. God gave him explicit instructions, and he chose to compromise. Here's the story from 1 Samuel 15:1-23 in the World English Bible (with verse numbers removed and subheads and highlighting added):

God's instruction to Saul
Samuel said to Saul, Yahweh sent me to anoint you to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore listen you to the voice of the words of Yahweh. Thus says Yahweh of Hosts, I have marked that which Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way, when he came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and don't spare them; but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
Saul's response
Saul summoned the people, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah. Saul came to the city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley. Saul said to the Kenites, "Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them; for you shown kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt." So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. Saul struck the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, that is before Egypt. He took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and wouldn't utterly destroy them: but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
God's response
Then came the word of Yahweh to Samuel, saying, "It repents me that I have set up Saul to be king; for he is turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments." Samuel was angry; and he cried to Yahweh all night.
Samuel confronts Saul
Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning; and it was told Samuel, saying, "Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a monument, and turned, and passed on, and went down to Gilgal." Samuel came to Saul; and Saul said to him, "Blessed are you by Yahweh: I have performed the commandment of Yahweh." Samuel said, "What means then this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice to Yahweh your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Then Samuel said to Saul, "Stay, and I will tell you what Yahweh has said to me this night." He said to him, "Say on." Samuel said, "Though you were little in your own sight, weren't you made the head of the tribes of Israel? Yahweh anointed you king over Israel; and Yahweh sent you on a journey, and said, 'Go, and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.' Why then didn't you obey the voice of Yahweh, but flew on the spoil, and did that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh?"
Saul's self-justification
Saul said to Samuel, "Yes, I have obeyed the voice of Yahweh, and have gone the way which Yahweh sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the devoted things, to sacrifice to Yahweh your God in Gilgal."
Samuel said, "Has Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because you have rejected the word of Yahweh, he has also rejected you from being king."

King Saul chose partial obedience, and it cost him his kingship. Morality trumps politics because obedience to God trumps everything. Partial obedience is total disobedience.

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