Will Money Trump Morality?

Will Money Trump Morality?

Sarah Silverman is supposed to be a comedian. Her shtick is trying to make abortion funny. At a recent fundraiser for abortion rights she joked with the audience about wanting to eat an aborted fetus.

That is not funny. That is sick.

In a tweet supporting Planned Parenthood, Silverman argued that since abortion is legal in the United States, “it would be insane not to use fetal tissue for science and education.” Critics answered by pointing out the similarity of her reasoning to Nazi Germany where reason led to making lampshades of human skin because gas chambers were legal in that country.

Unfortunately what Silverman promotes in that tweet is seriously advocated by bioethicist and psychiatrist Jacob Appel. In a Huffington Post article he wrote, “If a woman has the fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy, why not the right to use the products of that terminated pregnancy as she sees fit?”

He continued, “Many women would likely use the proceeds of such sales to finance college education or to help raise their children.”

Appel’s words reflect a stark choice facing American society today. Which is more important — money or morality?

Southern heritage

For those of us in the South, that is a serious question. Part of our heritage is a culture that denied the personhood of a whole race of people in order to prop up a dying economic system that benefited the wealthy.

Unfortunately the church of that day in the South sided with money, and that legacy continues to haunt our moral pronouncements.

The question of money or morality is not new and it is one with which we continue to struggle as Appel’s comments demonstrate.

Appel tries to cover up the inhumanity of selling fetal tissue and body parts by tying it to an acceptable cause — a college education. Instead of focusing on the horror of what he endorses, he attempts to focus attention on something else.

It is a classic example of the ends justifying the means. But they do not. You do not make a just, compassionate, humane society by telling women to abort their babies and sell their body parts in order to pay for a college education or raise household expenses.

That is a descent into paganism.

Human life at any stage is not an object that should ever be sold. A Christian worldview declares every life is valuable to God — so valuable that God places His own image in every human being.

The argument about when human life begins is largely over. It is generally agreed by people on both sides of the abortion debate that human life begins at conception.

But people like Silverman, Appel and others continue to deny that human life equals personhood. For them there is some mysterious moment when human life takes on personhood. Is it quickening — when the mother feels life? Is it when the newborn takes its first breath? Is it when the child begins to reason? Different writers promote different criteria.

It is amazing to read articles by so-called ethicists arguing for aborting children “post-birth.” One current ethicist attempts to justify killing children up to three years of age because they have not yet become “persons.”

Many of these same thinkers promote euthanasia and assisted suicide for the disabled and older people with various incapacities.

Human life has lost its value. Resources are being used to support “non-persons,” they argue. It is a clear example of money trumping morality.

Whether we recognize it or not, the Church is in a life-and-death struggle between worldviews that denigrate human life, giving it no inherent value or dignity, and the Christian worldview that values all human life as endowed with the dignity of the image of God.

Philosopher Mortimer Adler describes a time when “groups of superior men (will) be able to justify their enslavement, exploitation or even genocide of inferior human groups.” This sounds hauntingly familiar to Hitler’s treatment of Jews, the killing fields of Cambodia and the genocide of Hutus against Tutsis in Rwandan.

Set against that is the Christian worldview that fostered the rise of the concept of universal rights derived from the conviction that all human beings are created in the image of God.

One writer asserts, “Christianity is the first universalist ethos.” Christians value all human life.

Again, it is money and all it represents — like privilege, power and pleasure — against the morality of the Christian faith.

Individual choices

Culture, it is said, is a reflection of the individual choices of a people. So what will be our choices? Will we be true to the Christian ethic and embrace the morality of valuing all human life or will we stand by and allow morality to be overcome by selfish forces leading culture back to paganism?

In the end, will money trump morality?