In a September 22, 2022 Public Discourse article, David Novak observes, “When religious pro-life advocates naively invoke biblical prohibitions of homicide, they presume these prohibitions carry the prima facie moral authority of the Bible in a polity where, in fact, the Bible has no such authority.”
There are few things that strike me as stupider than the invocation of the Bible as authority in places where it is not recognized as such. In such places one must rely on natural law-type arguments, and point toward their consonance with Scripture, rather than the other way around, never treating these as “proofs,” but as appeals to a universal consciousness of the Tao: something is fundamentally wrong with a society that kills its offspring and with mothers who will the deaths of their children. One would, for example, argue in traditional oriental cultures of the gross disrespect to ancestors this involves, or in secular cultures of its genocidal aspect. Photographs of dismembered babies that assault natural affections are of this kind.
The biblical “proofs,” as proofs, unlike the condemnation, for example, of sodomy, are rather weak. What orthodox Jewish and Christian pro-life advocates actually rely upon, I would argue, is not biblical proscription as much as the enhanced sensibility to Moral Law and its rationes that the Scriptures provide—to things that everyone knows intuitively and must go mad to deny.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more on abortion from the online archives
more from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor