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The Subtle Promotion of Death

February 1st, 2010 | 2 min read

By Andrew Walker

To mark the occasion—for some a highly anticipated (and caloric) event, and for some, more forgettable—why not bring Christian reflection to the Super Bowl?

The Internet, blogosphere, and news networks are abuzz with the current Tim Tebow Abortion Commercial Controversy—coming soon to a TV near you.

While I will refrain from the multiple canvasses upon which this debate has been forged, I do want to draw attention to the obvious: While no doubt pro-choice advocates are effused with frustration at CBS’s allowance of the commercial produced by Focus on the Family, the pro-choice movement is framing their frustrations in an exceedingly loathsome way, even to such a degree that they are exposing the fallaciousness and hideousness of their position as vehemently anti-life. Here is where the argument opens up and allows the pro-life movement remarkable potential to gain positive capital.

To the chagrin of the pro-life movement, we’ve often allowed our opponents on this issue to define the terms of the debate and as a result, we’ve never really felt compelled to draw attention to the obvious: Yes, we as pro-life individuals are for life, but we’ve never wanted to identify pro-choice individuals as for death. Now, lest I be interpreted as comparing every pro-choice individual to Hitler, I believe that the protestation over this commercial waged by the pro-choice community reduces to such. If anyone is doing the labeling, it's self-ascribed this time. Careless presentation, presently exhibited, often merits unfortunate consequences. As even the New York Times concluded, “the would-be censors are on the wrong track. Instead of trying to silence an opponent, advocates for allowing women to make their own decisions about whether to have a child should be using the Super Bowl spotlight to convey what their movement is all about: protecting the right of women like Pam Tebow to make their private reproductive choices.”

The manner and attitude of their response is only fueling the positive aspects of the pro-life movement. Does anyone want to be seen actively working against the family and proposing, as renowned Hollywood feminist and bloviator Joy Behar did, that Tim Tebow could easily have been a pedophile just as much as he is a Heisman trophy winner and all-around good guy? Pro-choice individuals need to ask the perilous and self-indicting question of how their protests are being interpreted. To me, this particular argument has been interpreted as Kevorkian libertinism.

The lesson: Choose carefully how you argue and grant, however sacrosanct the issue is, that life is good and to be encouraged. In the absence of this axiom, the pro-choice movement’s frustration is tantamount to their own demise.

[I would like to thank Matt Anderson for allowing me to write for Mere Orthodoxy. In time, he'll joined the enlightened readership of National Review.]

Andrew Walker

Andrew T. Walker is an Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.