Monday, February 21, 2011

On Staying True

There has been a flurry of blog posts about the videos made by Live Action. I am sure that most people who keep connected with pro-life issues know about the seven videos released by Live Action, videos that showed actors posing as pimps and prostitutes catching Planned Parenthood employees on tape, giving advice on how to secure STD testing and abortions for young girls engaged in sex work. The videos were even raised as evidence in the House of Representatives last week as a bill was put forward to deny funding to Planned Parenthood. The bill was passed, and pro-lifers are rejoicing over this victory, but it still has to pass the Senate and can eventually be vetoed by the President himself, so it is not a done deal.

Jill Stanek posted the question over a week ago, Is it morally acceptable to lie? with regards to the Live Action videos. And received 170 comments, the topic certainly raises debate. The question had been raised by some pro-life people as to the morality of Live Action's methods. The majority of people come down on the side of Live Action, with the best argument (in my mind) being that it is morally ethical to lie to someone who is not hurt by this deception, and if that lie is being used to expose a truth that would be beneficial. There is no doubt that the coverup of rape and sex abuse of minors by Planned Parenthood is wrong and exposing that is definitely something desirable.

Even Peter Kreeft, a noted philosophy professor at Boston College has weighed in to say that what Live Action did was right. And Stephen Kellmeyer has written a good response, claiming that Kreeft is abandoning logic, his very life's work, with emotionalism and gut reaction.

I suppose I am guilty of gut reaction myself. But this whole thing worries me and has been hanging around my mind for the better part of a week. Something is just not right; in the same way that I cannot endorse the pro-life activity of Randall Terry, I cannot endorse and support the activity of Lila Rose.

Going into a Planned Parenthood clinic and using actors to get information from the employees there is deceitful. Now people argue is it a lie in the sense of the Ten Commandments? and one can get lost in the long arguments that follow that trail. And the worrisome question then arises - did hiding Jews in the Second World War - was that a lie? was it wrong to lie to the Nazis in order to save lives?

I find the Nazi example not analagous, because it would be like comparing murder to self-defense. Lila Rose and her crew initiate the action of going in to the clinics and posing as pimps and prostitutes; preventing Nazis from finding hidden Jews is akin to defending one's self and one's family from an intruder, and self-defense is morally defensible. Live Action initiated the deceit; they weren't backed into it. I think there is a difference.

It is a question of integrity. Abby Johnson wrote at length in her book Unplanned, how she came to trust the people from Coalition for Life who were praying outside her clinic for the entire 8 years that she worked there. It was because she knew they were transparent to her that she could trust them and turn to them when she had to escape her work.

As the organizer of 40 Days for Life here in Halifax, I have to stand on the public sidewalk outside the Victoria General Hospital and be exactly what that movement calls me to be: a witness to the truth that abortion takes lives and hurts women. If I were to combine that witness with sneaking into the fifth floor and ferreting out information about the clinic from its employees without telling them who I am, then I compromise what is going on with the prayer vigil right outside. And if I were to applaud someone who did that, even if it seemed to advance our cause, I would be complicit in their deceitful behaviour.

The majority of the pro-life movement is composed of Christians. As Christians, we must remain true to what Jesus himself would do and that is to use the weapons of spiritual warfare because this is a battle against principalities that are not worldly. Does that mean we never take any action to stop abortion? Of course not, I am not saying we just pray and don't do anything. But we cannot use the tactics of the other side to gain victories, because then we taint the entire movement. And that movement has to be rooted in truth; deception and lies, even if they uncover truths, are not the weapons we should be using or endorsing.

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? - Galatians 3:3

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? - Mark 8:36

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

I'm really glad you wrote that post.

Another pro-life blogger who has acted as a sidewalk counsellor admitted to lying to women to save the baby's life.

If sidewalk counsellors get that reputation and our enemies use that reputation against us, how does that help us in the long run?

I also think there is a big difference between thinking of a good answer with a gun to your head and planning a strategy involving lies ahead of time.

People say this controversy is a distraction. I think it's necessary. We will only win this fight with spiritual purity.