By David Tulis
Christianity is remarkable because it accounts for exaggerated opposites such as grace and wrath, humiliation of the sinner and his glorification as a repentant. “Its plan suits the secret irregularities, and expects the unexpected,” G.K. Chesterton says. “It is simple about the simple truth; but it is stubborn about the subtle truth. It will admit that a man has two hands, it will not admit (though all the Modernists wail to it) the obvious deduction that he has two hearts. *** [W]henever we feel there is something odd in Christian theology, we generally find that there is something odd in the truth.”
Christianity is altogether too pessimistic about man, and too optimistic, he says in Orthodoxy in a chapter titled “The Paradoxes of Christianity.” “Christianity is not content to rest with a compromise of these two into “resignation” in which “it loses both the poetry of being proud and the poetry of being humble. Christianity sought by this same strange expedient to save both of them. It separated the two ideas and then exaggerated them both. In one way Man was to be haughtier than he had ever been before; in another way, he was to be humbler than he had ever been before. In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners.”
In discussing happy pessimists and whether a fool should be saved, he says, “Here, again in short, Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious. The Church was positive on both points. One can hardly think to little of one’s self. One can hardly think too much of one’s soul.”
Christianity declares all men fallen, execrable sinners. Yet it wants more of them. God promises population growth as a blessing; He vows population reduction “if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me. *** I will also *** make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate” (Leviticus 26:21, 22). Crowded highways are good; empty ones should give a sense of foreboding. If the factories are roaring, the fields being plowed and the marketplaces jostling, things are looking up. He promises the children of Israel no end of famines, wars, plagues and terrors if they reject Him. A dirty stall tells of the farmer’s increase of capital, a clean one of a sterile asset, a nonproductive resource.
Population growth in a river city
About 168,000 people live in Chattanooga, a city anchoring the Southeast corner of Tennessee. Hamilton County’s population, including that of the city, is 346,000.
If you are an optimist, like me, you have only a little trouble imagining a county headcount doubled to 600,000 and the city’s to, say, 300,000.
Hamilton County could increase population by electing to become a low-tax or no-tax county. People from California and other oppressive states would have reason to emigrate here with their profitable businesses. Population could also grow if people of hopeful spirit — Christians chief among them — have bigger families. That prospect is possible if people have confidence in God and an intergenerational view of wealth and capital.
It presupposes God’s blessing. Will God bless a state whose laws, reflecting the will of its people, do not shield new people from arbitrary death?
The law in Tennessee is a reflection of its culture. It represents what its people esteem as God. Law encapsulates the terrors and applause of their god; it reflects a people’s doctrine of good and evil, right and wrong — its religious impulse. Culture, as Rushdoony says, is religion lived out. The Tennessee Code Annotated reflects that.
Our law makes us undeserving
If we are to believe the histories of J.H. Merle d’Aubigne, reformation long precedes law. Reformation. Christianization in the hearts of commoners comes before the clearing of sanctuaries of their idols. Rarely do reforms from above, such as those of King Josiah, last. Though Josiah left standing the high places of idolators, he is counted a virtuous king, more or less, who cast homosexuals from the temple and reformed worship. But his love of God affected the children of Israel skin deep. After his death they turned away from God to folly and riot.
Tennessee’s law is an image of the ambivalence Tennesseans have about life. It has a capital punishment statute to punish the worst malefactors. It grants license to destroy males and females in another classification, that of unborn child.
Tennessee’s abortion statute reflects the compromise the people make with the Philistines who sit with their boots and armor on the seat of reason. Its statute reflects the horror of destroying a baby, describing the child so that one can nearly sense his soul palpate under the skin over his ribs. It bristles with rough hairs of the animal tearing a prey to shreds.
No, a people so brutal do not deserve doubling.
“‘Abortion’ means the administration to any woman pregnant with child, whether the child be quick or not, of any medicine, drug, or substance whatever, or the use or employment of any instrument, or other means whatever, with the intent to destroy the child, thereby destroying the child before the child’s birth” (TCA 39-15-201). Our law is manly in one sense. It does not wrap destruction of a baby in euphemisms and blobize him in protecting him.
Every person who performs an abortion “commits the crime of criminal abortion” — and the unless is in Hamilton County big enough to drive 300 hearses trough — “unless such abortion is performed in compliance with the requirements of subsection (c).”
Here the people through their representatives permit acts “to destroy the child,” taking great care to impose additional burdens on mom and physician as the baby looks more and more like a newborn as he develops in utero. If the baby is destroyed in the first three months of existence, the following are requisite: the “pregnant woman’s consent” and that the decision is “pursuant to the medical judgment of [the] attending physician,” whom must be state “licensed or certified.”
If the boy is to be destroyed after three months, his death must occur in a state-licensed or -owned hospital. What if the baby is near birth? “During viability of the fetus,” the baby can be slain “if necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother” and the county’s district attorney must be notified. The health of the mother is nowhere defined, and pits a mother’s will against her the survival of her child.
State government in Tennessee oversaw the safe destruction of 12,122 children in 2012, nearly 9,300 of these to women who conceived them in domestic partnerships and other intimate liaisons. In Hamilton County, the death toll was 307.
Sources: G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (Image Books, Garden City: N.Y.) 1959. 160 pp
Induced Termination of Pregnancy report, 2012, Tennessee Department of Health, Division of Policy, Planning and Assessment, Office of Health Statistics; also U.S. census data
Read how a providential God blessed Chattanooga with the closure of Chattanooga Women’s Clinic. ‘Rush, rush, rush!’ — The rise and fall of Chattanooga abortion clinic; the subtitle is: “God’s People Persevere in Christian Combat; Death Mill Shut Down after 18 years of Prayer, Protest; 30,000+ Babies’ Deaths, Botched Abortions, Endless Lawsuits Marked Clinic as God’s Judgment on Chattanooga Families, Churches & Civil Government, 1975 to 1993.” Also, In 1990s, pro-life pressure against abortion clinic intensifies (II) and Meltdown at clinic: Christians buy building as landlord bankrupts (III)