Nourishment, Delight, and Fellowship: The purpose of Food in the Chronicles of Narnia

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This article was originally published by IntersectProject: ORIGINAL POST

Food and drink are essential to life: both for its sustainment and its enjoyment. Over the last two years I have found out how true that is. In October of 2017, I was diagnosed with acute starvation. Collateral damage from Chronic Lyme treatment had destroyed my body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Dropping just below 110lbs, I was losing the ability to walk and told that I came dangerously close to losing my life.

Thankfully, I was able to avoid a feeding tube with an elemental diet (a pre-digested drink with all the calories and nutrients you need) that saved and sustained me. Recently, my GI system has recovered to the point that I am able to eat blended soups – consisting of potatoes and some combination of carrots, beets, parsnips and squashes – along with a small amount of chicken (and a little ghee).

During this time of healing I have learned:

  1. There is still a mysterious delight in watching other people, like my wife, enjoy the foods and drinks they love.
  2. By God’s grace, I am still able to find delight in the foods from my limited menu. God is teaching me that He really does intend for us to “laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man,” even when “there’s hunger in the land,” as King Lune tells Cor in The Horse and His Boy.
  3. Regardless of what’s on the menu, I am still able to participate in that most meaningful aspect of a meal: fellowship. Love is a joy that even starvation can’t steal.

One thing I have been doing during this extended time in my sick-bed is reading C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. It has struck me in a whole new way how prominent a role food and drink play in the series. The necessity of food and drink is, undoubtedly, a dominant theme.

In the following two-part post, I would like to look at what we can learn about God’s purposes for a meal from The Chronicles of Narnia. In this first post, we will look at how a meal has been designed by God to nourish and delight, as well as to facilitate fellowship. In the second post we will explore a meal’s ability to heal and to serve as a sign of our ultimate future.

Food Is for Nourishment & Delight

We are biologically embodied beings. As such, we cannot function without food, at least not for very long (as I can attest), and not very well for the time we can go without it. Humans do no better without food and drink than a car does without gas and oil. Which is of course why the Pevensie children are so “worried” that not having any food supplies will make the mission to rescue Mr. Tumnus from the White Witch quite impossible, and why Mrs. Beaver is more concerned about packing enough provisions than she is about getting as big a head start on the White Witch as possible: “You didn’t think we’d set out on a journey with nothing to eat, did you?” (Book 2); why Shasta’s saddle bags are stocked with “meat pasty…dried figs and…cheese,” (Book 3); and why the crew on the Dawn Treader must strictly ration food and drink when a storm diminishes their supplies (Book 5).

Even when Archenland is in urgent need of military reinforcements, Narnia’s troops, led by King Edmund, stop on the way “for a halt and a morsel!” (B3). Why do the Narnians always “want some breakfast,” as Trumpkin says, “before everything else” (B4)?[1] Because Lewis (no stranger to real battle), and by extension Lewis’ characters, know that without breakfast, so to speak, one cannot do anything else. We are meal-dependent creatures.[2]

In addition to being a biological necessity, food and drink are an aesthetic delight. Food is for pleasure as well as for fuel. Hence the aesthetic diversity of food’s colors, tastes and smells. In The Chronicles we see this rich diversity in the various kinds of cuisines consumed by the various nations and creatures. For example: Calormene cuisine (e.g. “lobsters, and salad, and snipe stuffed with almonds and truffles”); Narnian (e.g. “roasted meat…wheaten cakes…honey and many-colored sugars and cream as thick as porridge and as smooth as still water, peaches, nectarines, pomegranates, pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries – pyramids and cataracts of fruit”); Centaur (e.g. “cakes of oaten meal, and apples”); and Tree People (e.g. “earth [of]…rich brown loam…[and] chalky soil”).

Regardless of the kind of meal or creature, according to Lewis, you know you’ve had a good meal when it results in “a long sigh of contentment.” To the point, God gave us taste buds for a reason.

Food Is for Fellowship

The rhythm of eating and drinking has been built into the world, from the beginning, to remind us where life comes from, to whom we owe thanks, and to perpetually draw us back into loving communion with God and one another (Matthew 6:25-26). In other words, food is not just for nourishment and personal delight; it is for fellowship and mutual delight.

My favorite example of what we might call the “fellowship function” of food and drink is in Book 4 after Prince Caspian has spent a few days with the “Old Narnians.” Lewis writes:

“To sleep under the stars, to drink nothing but well water and to live chiefly on nuts and fruits, was a strange experience for Caspian after his bed with silken sheets…at the castle, with meals laid out in gold and silver dishes…and attendants ready at his call. But he had never enjoyed himself more. Never had sleep been more refreshing nor food tasted more savoury…

Why was everything so much better? Because, as Caspian explained when he first met the Old Narnians: “I’ve been looking for people like you all my life.” As we know from experience, the satisfaction we find in a meal is greatly enhanced (or hindered) by the company we keep at a meal and by its occasion. This was Caspian’s first time feasting with those who saw food and drink as gifts, which facilitated bodily nourishment and relational delight; instead of as a mere practical necessity or hedonistic indulgence (the Telmarines perspective).

In Narnia meals are designed to bring people together. They are an occasion for:

  1. Sharing the “fruits” of one’s labors. For example, the Bulgy Bears offer Prince Caspian “some honey” and the Squirrel offers him “a nut” (B4);
  2. Swapping stories. As Peter says while “eating hot fish with no forks, and one pocket knife between five people,” to the Dwarf, “You tell us your story first” … “And then we’ll tell you ours” (B4), and;
  3. Possibly dancing and playing games. For instance, “that night there was a great feast in Cair Paravel, and revelry and dancing…” in Book 2, or the “grand feast” at the end of Book 3 when “tales were told and jokes were cracked” and the “King’s poet” sang such a tale that “when it was over [Aravis and Cor] wished it was going to begin again.”

In other words, Lewis depicts meals as an inherently festive activity. Not to say that there are not sad or lonely meals (e.g. Edmund eating “dry bread” by himself in B2, or the “very poor appetites” everyone had when Eustice went missing and the dragon showed up in B5), but that Aslan’s original intent was for a meal to be a festive occasion.

Before closing, note that in Narnia the measure of a good neighbor is the invitation to a meal. And like in the Bible (Luke 10:25-37), any and everyone, including those who are not like us, qualifies as a neighbor. As a quick example, consider the diversity of creatures the White Witch sees in Book 2 when the snow finally begins to thaw: “A little way off at the foot of a tree sat a merry party, a squirrel and his wife with their children and two satyrs and a dwarf and an old dog-fox, all on stools around a table.” Meals are supposed to cultivate neighborliness.

The Sacredness of Meals

I believe what C.S. Lewis has taught us, with regard to these first two purposes, is that meals are sacred events—rituals where we acknowledge our dependence on God and one another (at least tacitly); and learn the art of thankfulness, sharing, conversation and festivity (or at least we should).

As Christians, I pray these truths will inspire us to be more intentional with the way we cultivate, cook and consume our meals. The question we should all be asking ourselves is: Do my current eating and drinking habits demonstrate that Jesus is Lord of my kitchen (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Editor’s Note: Come back next week to read part 2 of this article.


Darville

Jonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.

 


[1] This includes before making plans: “Let us refresh ourselves…After that, to our plans” (B6). Of course, attending to injuries, such as “Puddleglum’s burnt foot,” and immediate danger are exceptions.

[2] The necessity of food for creaturely flourishing is why Aslan asks the Cabby, who is to be the first King of Narnia, if he can “use a spade and a plow and raise food out of the earth?” and is unconcerned with how much formal “eddycation,” he’s had (B1). And why “hunting parties,” “fishing,” and “planting the orchard outside the north gate of Cair Paravel” are depicted as so important (B4/B5).

A Horse, His Boy, and Providence: A Reflection on a Forgotten Doctrine from The Chronicles of Narnia

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This article was originally published by IntersectProject: ORIGINAL POST

Providence

Providence is that unseen work of God by which He upholds, governs and orchestrates all things.[1] Recently, this foundational doctrine has fallen on hard times. Deism’s and Atheism’s influence on our culture’s imagination has caused providence to all but fade from popular consciousness (even in the Church).

This loss of providence is a disadvantage to living at our point in history; as in former generations,[2] it was readily acknowledged that a healthy understanding of, and trust in, providence was essential to confidently face the trials we have been called to endure in this world.

It’s hard to make sense of suffering if you believe ​everything is a product of chance or personal choice. In our day, we assume everything is either the result of natural causes or that we are “the masters of our fate and the captains of our souls,” to slightly reword the oft-quoted poem Invictus by William Henley. But ultimately, we dance not to the tune of chance or choice, but of providence. And it is much easier to make sense of suffering for unknown greater purposes if you know that “from life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands [our] destiny.”

That is to say, we can “count it all joy” as opposed to sorrow (James 1:2) and “mourn with hope” instead of without it (1 Thessalonians 4:13), if the truth of providence is in our heads and hearts. Having been chronically ill for 12 years, almost losing my life 22 months ago to acute starvation, and writing this article from a temporarily bed-ridden state, I can testify there is no more comforting doctrine than providence.

Providence in The Chronicles of Narnia

Outside of the Bible, I think one of the places we might learn about providence best is in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia—especially in The Horse and His Boy. We see Aslan sing Narnia into existence in The Magician’s Nephew and deliver Narnia from “the Witch and the Winter” in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But we probably “see” providence most clearly in The Horse and His Boy.

The Horse and His Boy is the third book in the series. In it, a talking horse named Bree and a boy named Shasta team up to escape from captivity and find their way to Narnia. Along the way, they “happen” to meet up with another talking horse named Hwin and a girl named Aravis, who are also fleeing various forms of captivity: “Their journey is charged with fear and danger, intrigue and adventure” as they “soon find themselves at the center of a terrible battle…a battle that will decide their fate and the fate of Narnia itself.”

Two passages in particular illustrate the doctrine of providence well. Hopefully, these passages can renew our theological imaginations and animate our wills to lean into the reality of providence in our daily lives.

First, some context. After Shasta and his comrades narrowly escape the attack of a lion (not their first), Shasta is tasked to go on alone to warn the King of Archenland of an impending attack. Afterwards, Shasta gets separated from the King and his men and “happens” to find his way to Narnia—where, of course, he is providentially able to notify the Narnians of Archenland’s need for military aid. The first quote is from Shasta’s journey to Narnia, where along the way he is suddenly accompanied by a large creature. The second quote is from Shasta’s journey with the Narnian troops back to Archenland:

” ‘I do not call you unfortunate,’ said the Large Voice. ‘Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?’ said Shasta. ‘There was only one lion,’ said the Voice… ‘I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.’

” They were going…along the edge of a precipice and Shasta shuddered to think that he had done the same last night without knowing it, ‘But of course,’ he thought, ‘I was quite safe. That is why the Lion kept on my left. He was between me and the edge all the time.’

Aslan is behind everything that happened in Shasta’s life: from ensuring his safety as a baby lost at sea, to protecting him from dangers he was entirely unaware of (jackals), to bringing him and Aravis together on their journey, to reuniting him with King Lune—who (spoiler alert) turns out to be his father! “He seems to be at the back of all the stories,” as Shasta says.

And we should note that Aslan’s providence is not portrayed as being limited to the good things that happen in the story. Even the characters wounds are portrayed as directly caused or sovereignly permitted by the “Lord of the whole wood” (cf. Romans 8:28, Gen 32:25, and Job). In other words, Aslan works ​all things together (good and bad—even His own death) to accomplish His benevolent purposes for the world that He so lovingly brought into being.[3]

Providence in Our Daily Lives

Likewise, in our non-fictional but still enchanted lives, Christ is providentially directing the events of history to accomplish His sovereign purposes. He is ultimately behind everything that happens in our lives—working things out for His greater glory and our greater good.

Do you know what this (providence) means? First, it means we don’t ever need to try to manipulate, unethically manufacture or autonomously engineer anything in our lives (health, political outcomes, romance, job opportunities, grades, etc.). Christ is sovereign over all our circumstances—including unpleasant circumstances (such as illness, infertility or unemployment). Consequently, we can simply trust and obey, knowing Christ truly does have “the whole world in His hands.”

Of course, we should ethically pursue noble ends such as health and justice and marriage and good grades. My point is simply that we do not ordain outcomes and that in a fallen world, we “will have trouble” (John 16:33) as well as treasure (James 1:7).

However, there are things higher on Christ’s priority list than you and I “living our best life,” as defined by the world. Our real “best life now” is one in which we have been called to “share in Christ’s sufferings” (1 Peter 4:13); to “put on the full armor of God, so that [we] can take [our] stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11); and to “count others more significant than ourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

In other words, like Shasta, our present story is one of adventure and danger. We have been providentially conscripted into Christ’s army to do battle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We too are at the center of a battle—a battle that will decide the fate of the men and women of this world.

Providence and The Great Commission

For the Church, then, providence also means that like Lucy and Susan in Book 2, we are called to leave behind the familiar and the comfortable and accompany our great Aslan as He breathes new life into people and overcomes the enemies of the true and greater Narnia—the Kingdom of God. That is to say, God calls us to take up our Kingdom-issued crosses and follow Christ. And as those who lived in Narnia during the days of false rulers and long winters discovered, to do this well, we must renew our own trust “in the seemingly impossible providence of unseen powers,” to borrow phrasing from Greg Forster.

Indeed, it is only because we know that: 1. “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39), and 2: that there isn’t “any such thing as Luck” (good or bad) because outcomes are determined by the Lord Christ, that we can charge into this spiritual battle unafraid with the gospel in one hand and mercy in the other.

Trust in God’s providence enables us to say along with Paul that, “it is [our] eager expectation and hope that [we] will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in [our bodies], whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

And if it happens to be by death for any of us, remember this: that Great Lion who sung us into existence and redeemed us on the rock, is providentially present in our pain (Hebrews 13:5) and has promised us an eternal inheritance that “can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4). So, may we all heed Aslan’s call to be “the first in the charge and the last in retreat,” because He really will put everything “to rights” in the end (Revelation 21).


DarvilleJonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.


[1] “God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute” –J.I. Packer 

[2] One thinks of The Declaration of Independence: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor; or Abraham Lincoln’s First State of the Union Address: “With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.

[3] Note, it is providence that gives the larger story its narrative coherence and its characters the spiritual resources they need to persevere.

Is a Fetus Really a Person?

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This article was originally published by IntersectProject. ORIGINAL POST

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Darville recently published an article titled, “Set the Little Ones Free.” He argues the unborn should be extended what Martin Luther King Jr. called one’s “God-given and constitutional rights.” In a series of follow-up articles, Darville answers three frequently asked questions about abortion. (Read the first FAQ and second FAQ) Here is the third in that series:

Q: When does a human become a person? Couldn’t it be that a fetus is not a person until they can perform certain functions? And that until that point, it is ok to terminate their life? 

A: We should note that this logic sounds eerily similar to the logic of the Three Fifths Compromise, which deemed African Americans as 3/5ths human because of their skin color (i.e. they weren’t considered civilized “people” who could be fully counted as members of a State’s population).[1]


I recently heard that a fetus is not a person with moral value until they can feel pain. Did you know that there are a number of people in the general population who have a rare condition called CIP, who cannot and never will feel pain? Would we say that 25- or 65-year-olds with CIP are humans but not people? Is it ok to terminate them? What about humans in a coma or who have a pacemaker—are they not people because their self-consciousness lies dormant or because their cardiovascular system is not functioning independently? Could we terminate them without consequence?

Hopefully, we can see that these criteria for personhood are entirely arbitrary and lead to logical as well as sociological absurdities. In other words, if our criteria for personhood cannot be applied to everyone, then our view is faulty.

To adapt a line by Scott Klusendorf: humans are valuable by nature, not by incidental features (e.g. skin color, height) or function (e.g. cognitive capacity). Arbitrarily and artificially separating personhood from humanness puts us in a situation where any of us can draw the line of moral value wherever we want (e.g. at race, gender, age, nationality, political party, IQ, EQ, religion, physical strength, beauty, economic status, favorite sports team, etc.).

And in an age of identity politics, this type of reasoning can and does lead to violence (verbal as well as physical). As a society, we should all be worried if we accept this type of subjective criteria for determining personhood and the right to life. Imagine. We would have to hire 24-hour bodyguards in the event that our neighbors decided we forfeited our right to life by who we voted for, the color of our house, the condition of our yard or because we fell ill and lost the ability to move without the aid of a cane or a wheelchair.

In short, no, it is not ok to terminate an innocent life because of incidental, functional or preferential considerations. On the universe as masterpiece view of the world, humans are conceived as individual body/soul unities that bear the image of God (Gen. 1:27), not souls trapped in bodies or malleable bodies without souls (cf. Ps. 139:13-16). That is to say, humanness and personhood have a synchronized beginning, at conception. Humans are persons by nature. And in a moral universe, it is never justified to intentionally and unnecessarily take the life of an innocent unborn moral being. [2]

[1] Note, there are clearly differences between abortion and slavery with regard to the kind and duration of temporal suffering endured. The point here is just that the logic that leads to these horrendous evils is the same.

[2] The one qualification is that there are rare occasions, when before a fetus is viable (i.e. able to live outside the womb), it may be medically necessary to perform a therapeutic abortion to save the bodily life of the mother (e.g. ectopic pregnancies). Outside of those rare instances, induced abortions are never justified.

In “Ethics for A Brave New World,” the Feinbergs helpfully distinguish therapeutic abortions (performed to save the life of the mother) from eugenic abortions (performed on a fetus “who has or is at risk for some physical and/or mental handicap such as Down syndrome”) or elective abortions (performed for convenience). The latter two types of induced abortions are never justified.

The Feinbergs also helpfully explain ectopic pregnancy: “[An ectopic pregnancy is when] the fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus but in the fallopian tube. Only two options are open to the doctor. Either he [or she] intervenes to take the baby’s life in order to save the mother’s life, or both baby and mother will die.”


DarvilleJonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.

Does God Forgive Those Who’ve Had Abortions?

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 12.02.13 PMThis article was originally published by IntersectProject. ORIGINAL POST

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Darville recently published an article titled, “Set the Little Ones Free.” He argues the unborn should be extended what Martin Luther King Jr. called one’s “God-given and constitutional rights.” In a series of follow-up articles, Darville answers three frequently asked questions about abortion. (Read the first FAQ.) Here is the second in that series:

Q: Is forgiveness available for those who have had abortions?

A: It depends on which view of the world is accurate. If humans are cosmic accidents living in an a-moral world, then there is nothing any of us need forgiveness for and no one to whom we owe an apology (Atheism). In fact, if atheism is true, then all human action is determined (i.e. there is no free-will). Therefore, we wouldn’t be responsible for any of our actions. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously said, “to remove all liberty from his (humanity’s) will is to remove all morality from his acts.” On this view of the world, human death is as normal, natural, and morally insignificant as a lion eating an antelope. Death isn’t a punishment for which we need clemency, as there is no afterlife.

But, if humans are karmic illusions only existing within the karmic game, then no, there is no forgiveness (Pantheism). On this view, the way we escape the karmic cycle is to pay off our own karmic debt or attain our own enlightenment. In other words, we have to save ourselves from death and rebirth by playing and winning according to the rules of the karmic game (e.g. Buddhism’s eightfold path). In the event that we earn our escape, we would be re-absorbed into the All-Soul or Nirvana.

We must also never lose sight of Dr. King’s warning that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In other words, if we tolerate injustice in this once instance, we should not be surprised to see the impulse to injustice in our society multiply and the deterrents to injustice diminish. To use C.S. Lewis’ wording, “We [cannot] laugh at honor and [be] shocked to find traitors in our midst.” So, the point is at least twofold: 1. To protect innocent life, and; 2. Not to condition society to a mindset and pattern of behavior that leads to a broader range of unjust actions and less resistance to such actions.

I think in our society we often fail to recognize that there is a world of difference between principle and preference. Subjective truths (e.g. your favorite color, movie or band) have to do with preference. Objective truths (e.g. 2+2=4, murder is wrong, the law of gravity or the laws of logic) have to do with principle. While preferences can be “true for you and not for me,” principles are true for everybody. For instance, nobody can say that “gravity is true for you but not for me,” or that “2+2=4 is right for you but not for me” (at least not honestly).

Likewise, in matters of morality, there is no such thing as “your truth” or “our morality” as if ethics were a matter of personal or collective taste. Ethical principles are not personal preferences we compete to arbitrarily impose on one another. The moral law, like the laws of nature or the laws of logic, is universal—it naturally applies to everyone. It is a fixed feature of the world in which we live and move and have our being.

So, while we may dispute the proper application of moral law in civil law, we can no more rationally dispute that unnecessarily terminating an innocent human life is wrong, than we can rationally dispute the reality of gravity or the sum of two plus two. If at the most basic level, government is charged with protecting the innocent and upholding justice in society, then it is an appalling violation of that charge to fail to protect the unborn.

.Therefore, let us all make every just effort to see abortion laws squared with the moral law in our time. To increase the chances abortion laws are changed, here are a few things we can do: volunteer at local pregnancy centers; share good resources; give to organizations like the Human Coalition; write to our political representatives; vote wisely; support adoption; pray strategically; etc. Remember, God likes to grant “unlikely” victories.

Editor’s Note: Come back next week for the second installment in this series.


DarvilleJonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.

Will Abortion Laws Ever Change?

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This article was originally published by IntersectProject. ORIGINAL POST

Editor’s Note: Last week, Jonathan Darville published an article titled, “Set the Little Ones Free.” He argues the unborn should be extended what Martin Luther King Jr. called one’s “God-given and constitutional rights.” In a series of follow-up articles, Darville will answers three frequently asked questions about abortion. Here is the first in that series:

Q: What are the chances the abortion laws are ever actually going to change? And even if they were changed, the law doesn’t change people’s hearts. So, what’s the point?

A: Especially in democratic societies, it is always possible to change laws to align with the moral law. People didn’t think that slavery or Jim Crow laws would be overturned either, but they were—as the 13th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 testify. While laws might not change human hearts, they can change unjust human actions. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” Likewise, it may be true that the law cannot make people love unborn children, but it can keep people from aborting them, and that is pretty important.

We must also never lose sight of Dr. King’s warning that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In other words, if we tolerate injustice in this once instance, we should not be surprised to see the impulse to injustice in our society multiply and the deterrents to injustice diminish. To use C.S. Lewis’ wording, “We [cannot] laugh at honor and [be] shocked to find traitors in our midst.” So, the point is at least twofold: 1. To protect innocent life, and; 2. Not to condition society to a mindset and pattern of behavior that leads to a broader range of unjust actions and less resistance to such actions.

I think in our society we often fail to recognize that there is a world of difference between principle and preference. Subjective truths (e.g. your favorite color, movie or band) have to do with preference. Objective truths (e.g. 2+2=4, murder is wrong, the law of gravity or the laws of logic) have to do with principle. While preferences can be “true for you and not for me,” principles are true for everybody. For instance, nobody can say that “gravity is true for you but not for me,” or that “2+2=4 is right for you but not for me” (at least not honestly).

Likewise, in matters of morality, there is no such thing as “your truth” or “our morality” as if ethics were a matter of personal or collective taste. Ethical principles are not personal preferences we compete to arbitrarily impose on one another. The moral law, like the laws of nature or the laws of logic, is universal—it naturally applies to everyone. It is a fixed feature of the world in which we live and move and have our being.

So, while we may dispute the proper application of moral law in civil law, we can no more rationally dispute that unnecessarily terminating an innocent human life is wrong, than we can rationally dispute the reality of gravity or the sum of two plus two. If at the most basic level, government is charged with protecting the innocent and upholding justice in society, then it is an appalling violation of that charge to fail to protect the unborn.

Therefore, let us all make every just effort to see abortion laws squared with the moral law in our time. To increase the chances abortion laws are changed, here are a few things we can do: volunteer at local pregnancy centers; share good resources; give to organizations like the Human Coalition; write to our political representatives; vote wisely; support adoption; pray strategically; etc. Remember, God likes to grant “unlikely” victories.

Editor’s Note: Come back next week for the second installment in this series.


Darville

Jonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.

Set the Little Ones Free

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Set the Little Ones Free

By Jonathan Darville

What does it mean to be human? Are we accidents, illusions or masterpieces? This is the identity question many of us have asked at some point in life. And how we answer this one question, consciously or unconsciously, will determine how we value one another and treat each other. It’s hard to overestimate the importance of this question. Before we decide on an answer (accidents, illusions or masterpieces), let’s take a look at the appraisal and ethical implications of each position:

Appraisal and Ethical Implications

  • Option 1: If humans are cosmic accidents, then we, as random combinations of atoms, have no inherent value or lasting worth. We have no worth because we have been left on the doorstep of an indifferent universe by chance.

What ethical implications does this view have? Strictly speaking, we live in an a-moral world where the strong naturally devour the weak. That is, all ethical systems are simply byproducts of the evolutionary process and are “just” insofar as they conform to the “will” of those in power.

  • Option 2: Similarly, if humans are karmic illusions, then we, as projections of the ultimate unconscious Spirit, have no inherent value or lasting worth. We have no worth because “we” don’t really exist.

In this view, morality is nothing more than a useful fiction that structures the rules of the karmic game. In other words, ethical norms have no objective existence.

  • Option 3: But, if humans are handcrafted masterpieces, then we, as individually and intentionally crafted beings, have inherent value and lasting worth. We have worth because we are the treasured possessions of a divine creator and artisan. Morality, then, is a fundamental component of who we are and the way the world really is. That is, we are moral beings living in a moral universe.

With these implications in play, let’s plug an issue like slavery into this comparative framework and see if it can help provide us with some clarity on the question regarding what humans are—accidents, illusions or masterpieces.

Slavery

Is enslaving another human being wrong? It depends on which view of the world is accurate. If right and wrong are causally determined by those in power (be it a king, a few individuals or a majority), then slavery is only “wrong” if those in power say it is. Technically, on this view of the world, nothing is inherently right or wrong. So, for instance, in our country slavery was right in some states before 1865 and only wrong in every state after 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. However, if right and wrong are the illusory but ironclad rules to the karmic game, then slavery would be “wrong” relative to the game we are in, but also only happens to those who deserve it. In other words, in this view of the world, the only people who are enslaved are those with bad karma. Karmic justice ensures that people’s lot in life is exactly what they are due for the way in which they conducted themselves in past lives.

But, if right and wrong are grounded in and emerge from a transcendent and perfectly moral divine artisan, then slavery is objectively wrong at all times and in all places. In other words, on this view of the world, slavery is inherently unjust because it is an affront to the character of the divine craftsman and goes against the moral grain of the universe.

With that said, let’s rephrase the question and ask it this way: Is slavery the result of the strong eating the weak, bad karma or an egregious human injustice? I think most of us, based on what philosophers call a shared moral intuition, would say that slavery is an egregious human injustice. We tend to believe that slavery is wrong no matter who you are, where you are or when you lived. And why do we believe this? Because we tend to believe that all humans inherently possess equal dignity, value and worth, regardless of their race, ethnicity, IQ, gender or socioeconomic status. So, to the original question, it seems that most of us at least function under the assumption that humans are masterpieces—even if evidently broken masterpieces—and that there are in fact ethical standards to which all humans are accountable. How, then, did slave owners justify such evil behavior for so long? They did so by classifying certain 3

populations of people (black people) as less than fully human. For example, in 1857 in what has been called the worst ruling in Supreme Court history, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote:

“We think…that [black people] are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word “citizens” in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate and inferior class of beings who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them” (emphasis added).

A slave, named Dred Scott, had attempted to sue his “owner” for his freedom because he had been brought into the territories of Illinois and Wisconsin, which were both free states. However, as stated in Taney’s opinion, the court ruled that Scott was not a citizen and therefore did not have the legal right to sue. He was not recognized as a citizen because he was classified as part of an “inferior class of beings” and as the rightful property of his owner.

What do you think? Was this ruling just? If so, why? If not, why not? How can we tell if a particular human law is just or not? In the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. in his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, responds this way:

“The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.” Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

By these standards, the Supreme Court ruling was unjust because it did not “square” with the moral law built into the fabric of reality by the divine artisan. That is, the Dred Scott ruling did not square with the principles of cosmic justice. Instead, it arbitrarily deemed an entire class of human beings as inferior because of their skin color.

I think we can confidently say that: 1. At least some things, like slavery, really are wrong: “Right is right, and wrong is wrong” as Tom Sawyer said, and; 2. All humans, by virtue of being human, possess equal value and therefore are deserving of equal rights.

With these basic parameters in place, let’s consider how all this relates to the issue, which as I am sure you are aware, has recently become a topic of renewed public interest and debate in our country— abortion. And like with slavery, let’s proceed by plugging abortion into the framework sketched above.

Abortion

Is abortion wrong? Again, it depends on which view of the world is accurate. As we did before, let’s rephrase the question as: Is abortion the strong naturally eating the weak, karmic justice, an egregious human injustice or somehow an enforcement of justice?

First, we must determine whether a fetus is human or not. Interestingly, this isn’t a disputed point in the debate. Embryologists from all sides of the aisle, tell us that from the point of conception, there exists within the womb a separate and unique being with its own genetic code. As the renowned geneticist, Dr. Jerome Lejeune once said, “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.” And within a matter of weeks, this new being has its own organs, heartbeat, dreams, eye color, nervous system and fingerprints. In other words, it has been scientifically verified that, biologically speaking, a fetus is a new and living human being.

What does the scientific data entail? It entails that if humans are works of art and that morality is a real feature of the world we inhabit, then abortion should be considered wrong for the same reason that slavery is considered wrong: because all fetuses, like all African Americans, are human beings. Therefore, all fetuses are deserving of the same human and constitutional rights as anyone else.

Consider what we would have to do to justify the practice of abortion in the face of the scientific data. We would have to follow the logic of the Dred Scott case and say that fetuses are not citizens, because they constitute an inferior class of being and are the rightful property of another. In other words, we would have to use the slave owner’s logic and arbitrarily say that size, level of development, geographic location, degree of dependency or desirability, deems an entire group of people as less than human.

However, the aforementioned considerations are as arbitrary as skin-color in determining someone’s worth. Similarly, these criteria could never be instituted as viable in the judicial policies of a society in determining someone’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Otherwise, we would have to say that it is justified to end the life of anyone smaller than us, less developed than us, geographically located within our property lines, more dependent than us, or who we do not want to exist anymore. Obviously, this is an untenable and unlivable position.

Of course, we might ask about women’s rights. But note that biological sex is determined at conception. So, what about when the fetus is female? Should not the rights of the woman in the womb be the same as the rights of the mother? Unfortunately, the question assumes about fetuses what was assumed about Dred Scott: that fetuses are somehow less than fully human and the rightful property of another. But science has shown that fetuses are, by nature, fully human. And no one has the right to intentionally kill innocent human life—whether male or female. As Scout reminded us in To Kill a Mockingbird, “There’s just one kind of folks. Folks”—no matter their size or color. 5

Bringing all this together, let’s look at a slightly re-worded version of an argument made by Scott Klusendorf: Premise 1: It is wrong to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Premise 2: Intentionally aborted fetuses are innocent human beings. Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is morally wrong. The argument is valid. So, to deny the conclusion, we would have to deny one or both of the premises. To deny the first premise, we would have to affirm and argue that we live in an a-moral world where there is nothing wrong with things like murder, rape and slavery. And to deny the second premise, we would either have to show that science is wrong and fetuses are not genetically human, or we would have to demonstrate that an unborn child is guilty of a capital offense. None of these options appear plausible.

Since the Roe v. Wade decision the science of embryology and technologies like sonogram have made it harder and harder to defend abortion, which in the last 40 years has taken the life of an estimated 58.5 million children. Comparing that with the estimated 12 million humans who died from the transatlantic slave trade, we can see that with abortion, we are dealing with systematic killing of catastrophic proportions.

Tragically, the womb, the natural place of nurture for a fetus, has been transformed into nothing less than a noose. The cry of these little ones who are being extinguished by the millions, even if just in the non-verbal form of recoiling from pain, is and will remain to be set free—to be emancipated from the ironic bondage of a hostile womb and extended what Martin Luther King Jr. called one’s “God-given and constitutional rights.” And until that day, we all have a duty to speak up for and intercede on the behalf of these little ones, who certainly constitute the most vulnerable members of any human society.

This article originally published at IntersectProject.org.


Darville

About the Author: Jonathan Darville has had a varied and wide-ranging career. He worked in the fashion industry in New York, modeling for clients such as Louis Vuitton, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. He helped lead the New York branch of an international non-profit ministry. He has also served as a Master Trainer for The Center for Leadership Studies, training men and women in Fortune 500 companies in Leadership and Management theory and practice across America.