Christian ethics and public policy

I really appreciated Philip Jensen’s contribution to the abortion debate which appeared recently in the smh. He doesn’t shy away from calling it a matter of life and death, and the taking of human life. But he also does what is often missing in these kinds of debates. He confronts the question of why abortion should remain in the criminal code in a democratic society where many people think abortion is morally fine.

This is absolutely vital, because the reality is in a democracy it’s not enough to argue for public policy on the basis that ‘X is wrong because God says so’. This might be the ultimate truth of the matter. But in arguments about public policy you’ll just end up in a stalemate with people who say ‘I don’t believe in God and I think X is right’. Instead you have to try and argue from widely agreed truths. You have to consider general social outcomes from your position, and you have to consider how those who disagree with you might be accomodated or dealt with. Philip Jensen’s article does all of these things and is therefore a very constructive Christian argument.

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