Changing Attitudes About Abortion

By Leon H Wolf Posted in Comments (61) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Every two years, the University of Chicago conducts what is probably the most comprehensive social sciences project in the country, the General Social Survey (GSS).

The questionnaire contains a standard core of demographic and attitudinal variables, plus certain topics of special interest selected for rotation (called "topical modules"). Items that appeared on national surveys between 1973 and 1975 are replicated. The exact wording of these questions is retained to facilitate time trend studies as well as replications of earlier findings.

One of the things the GSS has tracked since 1972 has been national attitudes about abortion. The questions were phrased in the format, "Please tell me if you think it should be possible for pregnant women to obtain a legal abortion if..." followed by a hypothetical reason which might lead a woman to get an abortion. Some interesting and positive news below the fold:

UPDATE by Leon: Thanks to Laura at Pursuingholiness for putting together this spreadsheet. Notice the sharp increase from 1972 to 1973, then the gradual decrease (with a bump in the early 90s) until now.

The first thing that sticks out in this survey is the systematic uptick in abortion permissiveness between the years 1972 and 1973. For each and every single permissiveness category, respondents were significantly more likely to give permissive answers in 1973 than they were in 1972. In fact, the spread between permissive and non-permissive abortion answers shifted 11.30% to the permissiveness side in that one year alone. In 1973, 86.3% of respondents reported having heard of the "recent Supreme Court decision concerning abortion." These results are hardly surprising, as they fit with what social scientists call the "just world" hypothesis, which where there is a powerful, system-affirming motive that leads people to conclude (in highly oversimplified terms) that the way things are is the way things ought to be.1 It is uncomfortable for people to feel that the world is unfair, and so they tend to shift their preferences to fit whatever actually exists.

This suggests, first of all, that the concern over a potential public backlash if Roe is ever overturned is probably overstated. The Roe decision itself was highly controversial and very widely publicized. In the wake of it, a significant portion of the population simply shifted their opinion in accordance with the shift in the law. Second, one would expect that as time went on, and the Roe decision became more firmly entrenched as an immovable reality in the American consciousness, it would be expected that overall permissiveness on abortion would increase with time. This, however, has not happened. In fact, contra expectations, the permissiveness with which people view abortion is uniformly down since 1973.

Generally, abortion permissiveness increased in 1974 and 1975, decreased in the late 80s, rose again in 1992-1993, then generally leveled off until 2000, to drop drastically over the last two years of the survey (there are some exceptions to this, and if anyone wants to graph it or can find somewhere that it's already graphed, that would be very much appreciated). Apart from some rather obvious correlations with the political situation in the country, the very significant thing is that, after over 30 years of life with Roe American attitudes are more - not less - hostile to legal abortion on a uniform business.

1. In 1973, 84.5% of respondents believed a woman should be allowed to legally have an abortion if there was a strong chance of a serious defect in the baby. The permissiveness on this question reached its peak in 1974 at 85.1%. In 2004, only 72.9% of respondents believed that a woman should be allowed to legally have an abortion in this circumstance - the lowest permissive percentage ever on this question, that follows a ten year downward trend.

2. In 1973, 47.7% of respondents believed a woman should be allowed to legally have an abortion if "she is married and does not want any more children." This percentage reached its peak at 48.3% in 1994. In 2004, the number had fallen to 41.8%, somewhat higher than the 38.9% in 1983, but still a decline over tha last 10 years.

3. In 1973, 92.3% of respondents believed a woman should be allowed to legally have an abortion if "the woman's own health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy." This was the high point of permissiveness for this question. In 2004, 86.0% of respondents believed the woman should be permitted to legally have an abortion in such a circumstance, the lowest percentage.

4. In 1973, 53.4% of respondents believed that a woman should be permitted to have an abortion if "the family has a very low income and cannot afford any more children." This percentage reached 54.8% in 1974. By 2004, permissiveness on this question had fallen to 41.0%, an all-time low.

5. In 1973, 83.5% of respondents believed that a woman should be permitted to have an abortion if "she became pregnant as a result of rape." This percentage reached 86.5% in both 1974 and 1991. In 2004, only 76.2% of respondents answered permissively, the lowest figure in the history of the survey.

6. In 1973, 49.1% of respondents believed that a woman should be permitted to have an abortion if "she is married and does not want to marry the man." Permissiveness on this question reached its zenith at 50.6% in 1976. In 2004, permissiveness had fallen to 40.9% on this question, slightly higher than the low of 39.1% from 2000.

7. One of the most interesting things measured by the survey was the question, should a woman be legally able to have an abortion if she wants one "for any reason?" This question, of course, measures the true level of support for the twin holdings of Roe and Doe. Unfortunately, the GSS did not begin measuring this variable until 1977, when only 37.7% of respondents responded permissively. Given the universal phenomenon that pre-Roe permissiveness was lower on all questions, it is not likely that more than 32% of respondents in 1972 would have answered this question affirmatively. This tracks with the claims of Dr. Bernard Nathanson about the cooked polling NARAL produced prior to Roe. Permissiveness on this question reached its peak at 46.3% in 1994, and in 2004 was at 40.6%. This is the only question on the survey which shows a general (although very small) upward tilt in permissiveness. This is, actually, what would be expected for all survey questions, given the "just world" phenomenon - but even this question shows a downward trend in the last ten years.

Support for the reality of Roe is not nearly as strong as the media and the Democrats would have you to believe. And, this survey also provides evidence that overturning Roe would not be as disastrous either socially or electorally as is also commonly believed.

Most importantly, it shows that this issue is not dead - progress is being made, and attitudes are changing. The fight is worth having, and the argument is changing minds.

1See Adam Benforado, Jon Hanson, David Yosifon, Broken Scales: Obesity and Justice in America, 53 Emory L.J. 1645, (2004)

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today's youth are trending toward a more conservative attitude on social issues. I don't know if that is true or not. If so, then the trend would appear to show up in data such as the GSS. The love-fest youth of the 60's and 70's are being supplanted by their children and grandchildren over time. God bless the little children!

Roe, period. It is poorly reasoned, bad law.

This judicial misstep has been paid for with a devastating increase in social sexual permissiveness and societal value degeneration. While this impact has decreased over time, it will have an incalculable effect on generations.

it appears to be true, on other issues not. It does seem that younger people are less permissive about abortion, adultery, divorce etc. However they are more so on cohabitation before marriage and gay rights issues (including SSM).

Views on abortion are shifting toward the right because right activists have talking about it for a long time.

Views on marriage are shifting toward the left because right activists have only recently started making the case for it.

Honestly, I think past Republicans goofed up when they didn't fight harder on the liberalization of marriage and divorce.  Fixing attitudes on that will take much time and work on the offense, rather than this purely 'defense of marriage' stuff.

itøs because there is a valid case to be made against abortionÆ it kills, for crying out loud. But on gay marraige there is no such case. Instead what is happened is that most young people have gay friends and kin and they know that gays are not the ogres and monsters of old time myth and they are not threat to anyoneøs marriage.

What state bans gays from marrying?  None that I know of.  So gays getting married is allowed today, so I don't see your point.

Not only do you manage, as is traditional when discussing this topic, to ignore the private harm/public harm linkage that forty years of social science and thousands of years of tradition (and Tradition) show true, but you've taken your typos to all-new levels. I'm actually not being mean; how the heck did you manage dipthongs and null sets?

An extensive moral behavior survey was done 2 ½ years ago by a primary research service in Ventura, CA called the Barna Group, Ltd. They've been doing this type of research since 1984. They primarily do research for the U.S. Christian community, but also do a lot of work for secular non-profits and media groups, and are well respected in both the Christian and secular business community.

Their findings showed a rapid decline in moral beliefs over a specific time period, which became markedly worse in succeeding younger generations. You can follow the link above to read the fuller information and extensive charting, but the basic conclusions follow.

Morality Continues to Decay

Of the ten moral behaviors evaluated, a majority of Americans believed that each of three activities were "morally acceptable." Those included gambling (61%), co-habitation (60%), and sexual fantasies (59%). Nearly half of the adult population felt that two other behaviors were morally acceptable: having an abortion (45%) and having a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse (42%). About one-third of the population gave the stamp of approval to pornography (38%), profanity (36%), drunkenness (35%) and homosexual sex (30%). The activity that garnered the least support was using non-prescription drugs (17%).

Generation Gap Evident

There were also huge differences in moral viewpoints based upon a person's generation. In nearly every case there was a pattern of Mosaics (the oldest members of the youngest generation, currently 18 or 19 years old) and Busters (those 20 to 38 years of age) being most likely to deem the behavior morally acceptable. Baby Boomers (ages 39 through 57) were less likely to buy into each behavior, and Elders (a combination of the two oldest generations, comprised of people 58 or older) emerged as the people least likely to embrace the behavior.

Morality Likely to Decline Further

"The data trends indicate that the moral perspectives of Americans are likely to continue to deteriorate," predicted researcher George Barna. "Compared to surveys we conducted just two years ago, significantly more adults are depicting such behaviors as morally acceptable. For instance, there have been increases in the percentages that condone sexual activity with someone of the opposite gender other than a spouse, abortion (up by 25%), and a 20% jump in people's acceptance of `gay sex.'

Research Source and Methodology

The data described above are from telephone interviews with a nationwide random sample of 1024 adults conducted in October 2003. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All of the interviews were conducted from the Barna Research Group telephone interviewing facility in Ventura, CA. Adults in the 48 continental states were eligible to be interviewed and the distribution of respondents coincided with the geographic dispersion of the U.S. adult population. Multiple callbacks were used to increase the probability of including a reliable distribution of adults.

...changes might also be considered.  Its 1973 findings in Roe v. Wade reveals that the SCOTUS was then totally unaware of and continues to be ignorant of the ability of Ultrasonic Diagnostic Imaging to prove that even the first tri-semester fetus is a living "human being". This continuing willful blindness of the judiciary and the legal profession is what law professors refer to as a "legal fiction".  This has not prohibited a more flexible and open-minded public from believing its scientists instead of its heads-in-the-sand judges and lawyers. Prior to public awareness of this scientific discovery, there was reasonable doubt as to when "human life began". Science's subsequent elimination of that doubt may be contributing to this mind changing.

They're similar, but he made a ø not a ∅.  The first is a northern European vowel, the second is the unicode empty set.

Ø ∅ ø

I wonder how many other slashed Os there are in Unicode....

people under 25 are

  1. extremely accepting of gay marriage and/or civil unions.  I'd estimate 70 or 75% of that category supports one or both.

  2. open to the idea of a society without Roe v. Wade, although the number of women who want to ban abortion but admit to considering or definitely having one themselves if they became pregnant is quite high.

  3. spiritual but not beholden to any one denomination.  We see no reason to pigeonhole ourselves into one faith and think of that as something that we can figure out later.

Anyway, that's what I've seen.

There's a lot of people out there who think 'marriage is love.'

That will have to be countered.

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there is an entire generation of people who have grown up with gay uncles and aunts and siblings, gay family friends, gay friends in high school/college, and sympathetic gay characters on TV.  The under 25 set doesn't favor government reconigition of same-sex unions because of lame slogans like "marriage is love."  It's going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to "counter" that kind of groundswell support for something that is increasingly believed to be a civil right.

That's my point: The only reason people think that homosexuals are being denied anything, is that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what marriage is.

Is that marriage doesn't matter all that much to them. You don't have to get married. You can live with someone for 5 or 10 years and not get married. You can have kids with someone else and not get married. There isn't much societal pressure any more to get married. If you do get married it's not a big deal to end it, even within a few years. How many 25 year olds are married or even thinking about marriage or even plan to get married at some point in the future? Probably a whole lot less than at any time in the past.

These attitudes will shift with age however, and especially once they start raising kids. The same as their opinions on drug legalization will change.

what we're seeing is an entire generation taking another look at what marriage actually means, in both the gay and straight arenas.  As the commenter below me noted, heterosexual marriage has been redefined in countless ways -- living together doesn't necessarily mean you need to get married, no-fault divorce has made vows largely irrelevant, 50% of marriages end in divorce, it's acceptable to have children out of wedlock, etc., etc.

However, I disagree in his/her assumption that our generation's attitude will shift with time to the right.  That just ain't gonna happen.  This is the kind of cultural shift that will stick.  The institution has degraded/shifted so much that the new conventional wisdom is why not let gays, whom we know and love on a personal level and whose relationships we recognize as legitimate and loving, try to make the best of it the same way we do?  I would be extremely surprised if there isn't some kind of federal civil union bill in the next 20 years or so.

This would seem to support the perspective I've heard from some older women about the attitudes of younger women toward RvW...that they are not very concerned about the possibility of its being overturned because they don't remember the days before it was passed.

There is something badly amiss with my router these days

is kinda traditional, isn't it? Unless you want to go back to the REAL old-fashioned notion of families arranging marriages.

in moderation have long been accepted as morally OK. Let's not mistake the failure of society to accept minority sectarian positions as evidence of "moral decay".

is not relevant to you, then ignore it. The survey was submitted here because of its relevance to the subject of the diary, which is the attitude of society to abortion.

I would also encourage anyone who is interested in understanding this survey to click on the link at the top of my comment. There is much more information and explanation of the survey, with accompanying charts.

Barna is a Christian research group that provides information on acceptance or rejection of traditional Christian mores (which are now referred to as Radical Right-Wing Evangelical Opinions).

We do not accept drinking, gambling, pre-marital or extra-marital sex, among many other moderations of morally acceptable OKs.

And Barna is right.  In spite of slight gains in abortion (so slight as to be invisible in any manner except statistically) we are losing our future generations.

The definition of moral behavior is always a subjective one.  Therefore, "moral decay" is always from the point of view of a particular group.  What one group may see as a "moral decay", another group may see as an overall improvement in morality.

From my subjective view, the most immoral behavior possible is intolerance of the viewpoints of others.  (And I admit to being somewhat guilty of this, as I'm highly intolerant of people who are intolerant... :-)  Were I to make the ridiculous assertion that my own personal morality should apply to the rest of the country, however, then I'd certainly agree we've had some serious moral decay over the last few years especially.  (This very thread would be an excellent example...)

However, I don't subscribe to the Barna Group's morality.  If they want to speak for the morality of the groups who follow their beliefs, fine.  But I disagree with their assertion that the morality of this entire country is in decay, because they don't speak for the country.  I seriously doubt they could speak for the morality of all christians in this country, even, due to the widely differing ways that Christianity is practiced here, and how it's changed over time.

Your moral code is up to you, and that you disagree with the Barna group is not surprising, since you proudly state you are a moral relativist, which is also your right and choice.

You mention that one group's morals differ from another's. This is true, and you should consider what group you are addressing. Taking a high moral tone and expressing shock and anger here that we would use these parameters as a baseline to discuss our own views is petulant, considering The forum in which you are a guest.

This is not Kos. This is Redstate, a a Republican, Conservative website.

I notice you have not been here long, so it might be wise to read the guidelines here and here that the editors have graciously provided for our benefit. You might pay particular attention to the following rules:

... non-Republican voices are welcome here, but those voices should be aware of the stated purpose and nature of the site. While we value dissenting voices, those dissenting voices should always keep in mind the venue in which they're speaking, and should always remain polite.

The purpose of this site is to promote conservative and Republican ideals. This is our home, and we ask you kindly not to track mud into it. Revocation of posting privileges (banning) will take place after a warning of behavior which violates the intent and spirit of these rules.

I have seen the editors, on many occasions, ban many a blogger for the infraction of these rules, for less than what you have just said, or the visceral tone you have taken. It is not my privilege to be an editor having the power to do so, but keep in mind that they do have the power, and they are watching.

So the next time you get the urge to call us "intolerant", "ridiculous", and "an example of moral decay", as a fellow blogger, I will extend a friendly piece of advice...don't. You might soon find yourself a deaf-mute on this site.

one could take offense if one wanted to. It seems to me that steve-o is free to believe in nothing if he wishes.

Most of his statement is simply hogwash on its merits but I'd hesitate to say he was in danger of being whacked because he's in favor of sociopathic behavior.

is OK with most people, as long as it isn't to excess, and doesn't cause trouble for folks.  For some, it's a vile sin in any form. The rest of us should follow Paul's teaching, which is not to force on them what they can't accept.

Ever wonder why gambling is considered sinful?  Not by most people, even evangelicals, who seem to flock to the boats for their sordid pleasure, but to God?

It's idolotry.  Do people, when they gamble, do so in God's name, and when they win, give him the credit?  No, they entreat, and if they win they credit, "luck", that faceless djinn who visits good on some and ill on others.  They even say "Lady Luck was kind to me, and I won."  And yet the Bible says, "The Lord controls the lot."

End of Sermon.

have a high burden to make the case that either drinking or gambling, so long as they are not to excess, violate tenets of Christianity.

Lots of Christian sects have their little bogeymen. Some don't like musical instruments, some don't like dancing, some don't like drinking. None of those activities are proscribed. When not carried to excess they are morally neutral.

And Barna is right.  In spite of slight gains in abortion (so slight as to be invisible in any manner except statistically) we are losing our future generations.

We, both as a philosophic group and as a party, are spending all of our time, energy, and resources on the political, judicial, and popular culture battles. While this must be done (just to keep from being overrun), and does win some battles, it will never win the war.

It is like trying to clean up a basement before we have fixed the water leak, or trying to smash the ants on our kitchen counter without dealing with the ant colony outside the foundation. While you fight the symptoms, the source of the problem continues to grow.

We must deal with the floodgates of relativist, Godless, multicultural indoctrination of our children. Regardless of anyone's opinion to the contrary, this is where the ultimate war will be won or lost.

If we, as a people, would devote half of our resources and time focusing on our nation's children when their hearts and minds can be won and morals and worldview are being formed, instead of spending as many resources trying to change the minds of adults whose morals and worldview are already established, the return on our efforts would increase exponentially. Within ten years we would begin to see the shift in demographics, and within 20 we would have created an army of those who uphold the truth. At the same time, we should train them and equip them with the tools to uphold the truth in society, and fight the enemies of true conservatism.

One result would be a dramatic expansion of the resources to fight the battles (people, man hours, energy, wealth, expertise, networking, support, etc).

Another would be the huge invasion of Godly conservatives into the bastions of liberal power (government, judiciary, media, education, etc.)

Enough years of continual focus on this will accomplish more than any revolution.

There are two other studies done by the Barna Group that are pivitol to this discussion.

The first study deals with the issue of how parents are currently raising their children. The study, in Barna's usual efficiency, spans the spectrum of public ideologies. The staggering truth which comes out is that those who claim to be Christian, and even the group who describe themselves as born-again Christians, essentially are raising their children no differently than those who claim to be moral relativists. The survey can for all intents and purposes be extrapolated to the parents within the broader Conservative movement regarding their children's moral education. I quote:

This new study helps explain why that is: believers do not train their children to think or act any differently. When our kids are exposed to the same influences, without much supervision, and are generally not guided to interpret their circumstances and opportunities in light of biblical principles, it's no wonder that they grow up to be just as involved in gambling, adultery, divorce, cohabitation, excessive drinking and other unbiblical behaviors as everyone else. What we build into a child's life prior to the age of 13 represents the moral and spiritual foundation that defines them as individuals and directs their choices for the remainder of their life.

The second study clearly reveals the age in which a child's moral compass and the foundation of their worldview must be instilled.

First, a person's moral foundations are generally in place by the time they reach age nine. While those foundations are refined and the application of those foundations may shift to some extent as the individual ages, their fundamental perspectives on truth, integrity, meaning, justice, morality, and ethics are formed quite early in life. After their first decade, most people simply refine their views as they age without a wholesale change in those leanings.

For a parent or grandparent to truly capture a child's heart and imagination, it must be done between the ages of 2 and 7, with their value system in place by age 9. These are the years when a child cannot be ignored, and the most energy and focus must be expended then. It is also the age when it is easiest to ignore a child, which is why most parents expend the greatest focus in the teen years, mainly trying to do damage control, all because the work wasn't done earlier.

Do we want to change our nation's attitude toward abortion? There is our formula for guaranteed success, while continuing to fight the current battles as we have.

his beliefs are his own, and I recognize and would honor his freedom to express them including here. As you probably know, I am ready to debate something on its facts and merits.

I tried to make it clear that I was taking exception not to his position, but rather to what plainly seemed pejorative name calling, and what came across to me as a fairly vindictive tone. And that, right out of the chute.

If I was mistaken, I concede to your august judgement. You are the Gatekeeper.

I am indeed aware of the rules here.  Indeed, I thought my tone was rather polite compared to some other postings I've seen here.

If you read closely, I called nobody "ridiculous".  On the contrary, I simply suggested that the idea that I might impose my morality on others as "ridiculous".  I didn't say that this thread was an example of moral decay - just that it would be an example of intolerant viewpoints should my personal view of morality in some strange reality become the generally accepted one.

As for whether intolerance is indeed displayed in this thread, I suggest you read it with an open mind.  Better yet, next time you post, read the big bold phrase right above the subject box.  And especially think about what it might mean that you considered it necessary to warn me to "tread carefully here"...

Finally, you point out that this is a Republican, Conservative website.   Which is fine.  "Conservative" means different things to different people -- I'm a fiscal conservative.  I believe in a strong, responsible, fiscal priority in government.  As far as social issues go, I'm fairly liberal regarding sexuality, but moderate (and in some areas conservative) on most other social issues.  I just don't believe it's government's (or anyone else's) right to impose their social views on anyone else.

I'm also a Republican - have been my entire life.  There are certainly people here who, based on a narrow view of some of my social views, might consider me a RINO.  That's fine with me, as long as I can apply the same label to those whose fiscal views don't match Republican tradition.  (BTW, isn't it odd how you never see it applied that way?)

you are really describing yourself as a libertarian, not a conservative, your voting record notwithstanding.

To my understanding, a libertarian would want minimal government in ALL areas, fiscal and social.  (That's different from the Libertarian party, which is not truly libertarian...)

As I noted, I favor a strong fiscal policy in government -- government is necessary to avoid anarchy and chaos, and to provide a strong and stable environment for free market enterprise to thrive.   I just don't want government interfering with people's private lives, at least where those private lives don't interfere with anyone else's.

In the traditional, historical sense of the terms, that's more conservative than todays "social conservative" viewpoint.

in a threadjack but to equate the approval of licentiousness with conservatism is to betray a real unfamiliarity with the history of conservatism. You don't find that in either Reagan or Goldwater varieties.

You are entitled to your beliefs but there is nothing in the history of conservatism in the US that would support your social views.

But you clearly have an internal narrative to which you're responding, so have at it. (In the interest of something resembling a polite reply, just because social conservatives don't push as hard on fiscal issues as on social ones, doesn't mean they're not conservative. Or, put differently, don't use Pat Buchanan as a metonym.)

And especially think about what it might mean that you considered it necessary to warn me to "tread carefully here"...

And by that you assert I am intolerant of other peoples views. In your own words, I would suggest you also go back and read my response with some dispassion. As I just indicated to Streiff, I take no umbrage at your position, which I also clearly prefaced in my first response. I stated that you had every right to believe what you wanted, and it made no difference to me. The last two paragraphs of your second response have nothing to do with what I originally said to you. Thus goes your theory of my intolerance.

What I did take umbrage at was your tone and timber. You seemed to come out of your corner swinging, which I admit brought me up short, since my informational post you were responding to was very benign, and I had included almost no commentary.

Even now, having followed your advice and reread your comments, I cannot glean a different intent than what I originally sensed. You weren't the subject of your response, our moral position was. In that regard, referring to yourself in the context was meant to project disparagement on what you perceived to be our moral shortcomings, along with its coinciding opprobrium.

Nevertheless, if you say otherwise, I will leave it at that. I am not one to hold a grudge. Streiff has weighed in. He is an editor, I respect him, and I acquiesce to his judgment.

   

My comment to "...think about what it might mean that you considered it necessary to warn me..." was not intended to reflect on your intolerance.  You, after all, were doing the warning that someone else might not be able to tolerate my remarks and thus might ban me.

Likewise, my original response wasn't directed so much at you as it was at the Barna Group's assertion that morality was on the "decline".  Just because morality is changing, doesn't mean that change is necessarily for the worse.  Morality has always changed with the passage of time, sometimes for the worse, true, but often for the better.  My observation on intolerance was intended to provide a counter-example.

Finally, my paragraphs about conservative and republican were in direct response to your line "This is not Kos. This is Redstate, a a Republican, Conservative website."  Those paragraphs explain why I am posting here, not over at Kos.  I suspect the sorts of things I'd be inclined to post over at Kos would get me banned a whole lot faster there than here... :-)

don't preclude the value of nor skew the results of the other elements of the survey, and the fact that they were included in the survey is just that, a fact, nothing more. Just a tool or finding among the rest of the results that can be retained for rumination or ignored as irrelevant.

To preface this next bit, I'll say that I personally have no problem with enjoying an adult beverage now and again, or some fine wine with a delightful meal. As you have stated, all which is good must be enjoyed with moderation. Without it, even the good becomes bad. So have I carefully raised my children to believe, and so do I attempt to live myself.

That said, it would be difficult for me to lump the societal ramifications of drinking and gambling in with those of dancing or musical instruments. The dissipation of playing a guitar or dancing would be sore fingertips or feet, and some well developed talent (and perhaps irate neighbors in the adjacent apartment).

The dissipation of drinking and gambling are addictions, which result in broken homes and marriages, bankruptcy, scarred children, accident victims, health problems, and death. They are not confined to the individual, but affect his family, his employer, his community, and the whole of his society. It drains social services and increases welfare. It is the largest factor in homelessness, and is a substantial factor in the national suicide rate.

The survey was not at all confined to the Christian community, but was conducted across the spectrum of society. Much of the moral norms of the participants were far to the left of the Christian church, which equates to a much higher percentage within that portion of the participants of the problems I just enumerated.

It then follows that when considering:

1.This survey targeted society as a whole;

2.There is a downward trend of societal moral values;

3. That trend is most marked among the younger generations;

that this trend would result in a higher number of the societal problems of those two factors.

Following that reasoning, it seems very appropriate that these two elements of the survey were included, and would seem to have nothing to do with the specific beliefs in the church, or their various "bogeymen".

You said that drinking is OK with most people as long as it isn't to excess and seem to argue that even most Christians believe that God controls the lot, so therefore, as long as we give him the credit for gambling winnings, we are not sinning.

Those of us committed to the stated beliefs (not just pew warmers) of the fundamentalist evangelical churches (think Assemblies of God, Church of Christ, Southern Baptist, not Rock, Paper, Scissors, Etc.) believe that we shouldn't even dabble in the things that accompany great destruction and sin, not that we should just give God the credit when we win, or moderate our amounts.

As I said, the fact that most people disagree causes we radical right wing religious nuts to believe that we are not winning.

As an aside, our preacher said he was asked if one was required to tithe on gambling winnings, he said, "No.  You must give it all as a sin offering."  

I didn't say anything about "approval of licentiousness".  I did talk about government interfering with people's private lives, which is a far larger issue (including many other aspects of life, including religious freedom, property rights, the right to raise your kids the way you want and so on...), and a core theme of American conservatism from before the word "conservatism" was even used in this country.

Alas, the urge to meddle is a powerful thing...

Yes, it is something of a burden, especially as most people have a great desire to live close to the edge and if the God didn't put it in the 10, they feel like it may be acceptable in small doses.

I explained it thusly to my children:

The devil uses alcohol and gambling to destroy families and lives.  His temptation and destruction always look harmless.  No one would walk down the path to hell if they could see hell from the entrance.  If you know from observation, or from the teachings of other trustworthy Christians, that something may lead to your destruction, flee.

Furthermore, you may be able to resist the destruction, but you have a higher calling.  You are to live as an example and win the lost to the Lord.  You never know when God has placed someone in your circle of contacts that he expects you to reach, but if they see you teetering on the edge of things that they believe real Christians don't do, they may think of you as a hypocrite if you try to reach them.  Don't do anything that may sully your witness.  You don't know who is watching, or what damage it will do to their eternal future.

People want to see that God changes lives.  Not that one can be a 'so called' Christian and still live just like they do.  They are already living lost and alone.  When they reach a point of desire for change, desire to fill that empty spot, desire for deliverance from the enemy that torments them, they want a fresh and new start.  Not just something new to do on Sunday.

I hope that explained my position a little better.

And can I brag for just a moment on my little 5 year old boy?  For our naptime story, we read Joshua and the Battle of Jerico and the story of Deborah, the Judge.  At the end of the story of Deborah, the story said that the Israelites sang a song of praise for their victory.

My little one began singing Victory in Jesus.  He forgot some of the words and inserted, "and we won't ever serve idols" in his little singing voice.  I can't tell you how happy he makes me.

with their own children, bring continual joy to my wife and I. Truly, children are "an inheritance from the Lord"

(As are grandchildren :)

Re: We do not accept drinking, gambling, pre-marital or extra-marital sex, among many other moderations of morally acceptable OKs.

The gambling and drinking bans are 19th century American Protestant innovations. They are not part of the general Christian tradition going back centuries in the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran or Calvinist varieties of the faith. Moderation in such practices was always accepted in the past

Please note that I am not referring to sexual matters in this, just moderate gambling and drinking (like wine with dinner or a Catholic parish bingo game). Since only minority of people ever accepted the opposite opinion these matters cannot be used as moral barometers anymore than adherence to the Jewish Kosher laws in this country can.

a downward trend in morality since poor Aristotle complained about young Alexander and his friends--and probably centuries before that. What usually happens is that young people sow plenty of wild oats and then settle down (mostly) to sobriety and sense as they get older, and the world's moral barometer pretty much stays the same, except when the age demographics get out of whack. For an example of this the baby boom generation in its youth made the whole nation seem like it was on a wild oats binge. But now those folks are 50 or so the country seems to be remoralizing-- in reality all that's happening is that the country is aging

most stats show the country's social problems are slowly but gradually easing: less divorce, less crime, less delinquency and, yes!, less abortion etc. I suggest reading Fukuyama's (sp?) The Great Disruption, where he notes that the country is remorlizing (though this does not mean we are adopting the exact same standards as our grandparents as time never goes in reverse)

and you are using it to allude to some historical equalibrium that doesn't exist. The trend you speak of certainly exists, but does nothing to account for generational differences. It is not exclusionary to intergenerational moral decay nor indicative of its absence.

To use this reasoning as a broad stroke without the finer analysis being called for here would be to deny the grossly obvious shift in moral demographics across our culture and between subsequent generations.

To use that as a denial of moral decay would deny the reversal of many mores between 1700 and 2006.

To apply that logic to history would be to deny the documented moral decay of countless civilizations and empires.

To follow that logic to its conclusion would deny the existence of the concept of moral decay.

Re: To apply that logic to history would be to deny the documented moral decay of countless civilizations and empires.

Please do documemnt this decay as I cannot think of any such phenomenon that was not a temporary blip. And I advise against using Rome as an example since rather awkardly the Roman Empire did not fall until after it had become an officially Christian nation and culture.

I was around in those days, and my interpretation of Goldwater, was that he was a  fiscal conservative, but a social libertarian. Don't forget the famous "kick them in their pants" quote about certain

evangelical ministers.

I think gambling is a sin unless you do it with only the thought of giving God glory.  Nobody does that, and they add lying to the list if they say they do.

There is a hiearchy of maturity in these things.  The old parable goes something like this:

  1. I seek out that evil which I enjoy, and revel in it

  2. I do not seek it out, but yield to it when I see it

  3. I am tempted by it, and give in

  4. I am tempted, but do not give in

  5. I am not tempted by it

  6. I am revulsed by it

Would Aristotle think that history runs in straight line? I doubt it. Aristotle would  present the hypothesis that it runs in cycles, i.e.  there have been periods when morality was lower than today, and periods when morality was higher than today.

into falling empires? We are discussing moral decay as is outlined by the survey above, which has elicited a pronounced reaction from you. I said nothing of "falling empires". This must be why you made the somewhat strange assertion that moral decay (as we have compassed it) did not occur in Rome until it was a "Christian nation". That flies in the face of countless references, and would be very hard to defend on your part, unless you revert back to the assertion that "there is no such thing as moral decay", which brings me to the larger question raised by your response, which is; that was your response.

I outlined four points above. To those, you misunderstood one, and answered the other three with the words "no decay".

Point 1. You recognize no change in the morals of our nation between the generations beyond the usual cycle of growing more conservative as we age. This would include the generations from the 1940's to the 1970's and '80's, when abortions went from hundreds to millions per year.

Point 2. You don't believe there has been a shift in the moral fabric of our society between 1700 when their was no public nudity, out of wedlock children were a rarity and a disgrace to the family, homosexuality was viewed almost universally as a sin and disgrace, abortion too shocking a subject to even be brought up in public; to 2006, when...oh, you get the picture.

Point 3. Been there...

Point 4. You would deny the existence of moral decay.

And that brings us down to it. Your response indicates you believe that moral decay doesn't exist; therefore it is a matter of difference in preference of values and no more. That is the definition of a true moral relativist, and indicates that to you traditional morality has no more to do with the health of a nation than rain on the fourth of July.

Now, that is fine with me, I don't care what views you choose to adopt for yourself, but it does very much affect our discussion. First it tells me that, to you, the premise of this post is inconsequent; our attitude toward abortion and the number of abortions irrelevant. Secondly, it follows that you must believe there is no such thing as the social side of conservatism except that which exists in our minds, amounting to self delusion. This means you believe we Social Conservatives expend valuable time, energy, and resources on pointless issues when we should be putting all of our efforts into attaining the preeminence of Fiscal Conservatism.

That is all well and good, but it also means that a discussion with you on moral issues is pointless for both of us beyond argumentation and academic exercise, since discussion and debate can only occur from some common ground or understanding. In this case, as in all cases, we might find the vestiges of some commonality on social issues, but it would be so basic and small, that the discussion would be long, meandering, and arduous, containing myriad rabbit trails that disappear into the woods. I have had thousands of such prolonged discussions, and at my age, I can no longer spend the time with so little to gain. The reason I chose Redstate as my home is to discuss with more commonality and thus greater fruition.

Thus, Aleks, I mean no disrespect, but I will leave off this thread, and reserve my future discussions with you to fiscally related issues.

Re: "there is no such thing as moral decay",

Yes, I actually don't believe there is, on the societal level (the individual level is another story).  Complaints about "Moral decay" are basically the sour grapes of the older generation regretting that they must be responsible and dour while the younger generation can be irresponsible and impulsive. (And yes, I now include myself with the former coterie and I know well the temptation).

you did. Read your comments vis extra marital and premarital sex.

Again, you really don't understand conservatism at all if you believe what you wrote here.

Believe what you will, but truth in labeling is important.

but I don't think you can in anyway bootstrap that comment into a general contempt for traditional morality on the part of Goldwater.

Text without context is a pretext.

what in the heck have you been talking about?

The subject was the survey. You disagreed and said that their indicia did not measure moral decay. So you were talking about those subject specifically as the survey was talking about those subjects.

Do you even bother reading your own comments?

Never mind. I know the answer.

 
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