Thoughts on Red Envelope Day

The first time I made an excursion into the blogosphere things ended up being very churchy.  I said a lot of worship styles, culture war, etc.  I really don’t want to do that this time around, though we’ll see if it can be avoided.  I did, however, want to offer a comment or two about yesterday’s Red Envelop Day.

The (in)famous Internet Monk provoked a few thoughts of mine when he posted on this topic yesterday. His objections were as follows:

1)It does nothing
2)It makes millions feel they’ve done something
3)The combined expenses and energy could help hundreds, even thousands of people. (Dig a well. Send a Dr. somewhere. Build a clinic.)
4)Evangelicals no longer believe that it is valuable to do something that only GOD and a few affected people see. No…it has to have media coverage to be worthwhile.
5)Jesus wouldn’t do it. He’d save a child.
6) John the Baptist wouldn’t do it. He’d preach in the street.
7) Mary wouldn’t do it. She’d say I’ll raise a child.
8) It’s typical of evangelicals now: shallow and silly in every department.
9) It’s a rerun of that O’Hare/FCC bit that cost millions of dollars.
10) It insults the President, who is fully aware of his position.

While I am tempted to argue these points, I can’t say that I disagree with him all that much.  I said the following the comments thread:

“I agree with iMonk’s point. But let us not forget that the force of law matters. When things are illegal, people are, as a matter of course, less likely to do them. So if abortion is not available, it would not be used as often as a matter of convenience. So while we clamor for financial support of doctors, adoption, clinics and all these other worthwhile endeavors, there is no shame at all in petitioning to make abortion illegal and in voting on that issue alone.

Having said that, Red Envelope Day is silly and ultimately useless.”

A couple of points.  First, I stand by my original response.  No matter how much we support women’s shelters or similar efforts to aid single mothers in need, there is no reason to give up on the intellectual fight against Roe v. Wade.  The force of law matters, because when something is illegal, people are less likely to do it.  One commenter in the thread mentioned prohibition, but that is simply an apples to oranges situation.  In the case of prohibition, alcohol was part of a lifestyle.  Abortion is a part of almost no one’s lifestyle, and banning it would be a source of deterrence for many, many women.  If the law didn’t deter, there would certainly be more nineteen year-olds drinking and more fifteen year-olds smoking.  Pro-lifers should not, under any circumstances, give up on the fight against Roe.  Oftentimes I read pieces like this, with their accompanying comment threads, and I hear a lot of talk about how we should all put our time and money where our collective mouth is and go volunteer at the shelter or adopt a child.  And all of those things are right and proper, but the law still matters.  I would hope writers like Michael Spencer would remember that the pro-life movement is much, much more than James Dobson.  It is also Robert P. George, Hadley Arkes and the late Richard John Neahuas.  That’s a Catholic list, so I’ll include Russell Moore and Charles Colson as evangelicals in that category.

I also think there is a place for a public demonstration like Red Envelope Day.  It is important that citizens, whatever their concern, make a public show of their approval or disapproval of certain policies.  The problem with Red Envelope Day is that this sort of thing is getting old.  It is much effort, so much ballyhoo over a public display of pro-life sentiment towards a very pro-choice President, but it will produce very little in the end.  I suppose we can pray over the envelopes and quote 2 Chronicles and hope that President Obama all of a sudden changes his mind, but that seems unlikely.  I hate to say it, but I do feel that this is typical of evangelical activity.  Make a lot of fuss over a matter and feel as though great deeds have been done.  It all has a very Don Quixote-like quality.  Let’s have Red Envelope Day if we like and let’s wear our red Life bracelets and protest silently and march and wave signs, but let us never, as once great football coach said, confuse activity with accomplishment.


4 Responses

  1. […] Matt Stokes responds like a reasonable person. Good blogger, Matt. Good. […]

  2. Keep it up, Matt. Most of us understand what a petition is, and what it is not. (Most of us).

  3. Still, perhaps we have all forgotten how to “Kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight”…I hope not, but it sure looks that way from this precipice.

  4. I read your comments on Imonk’s site and really liked them. Thank you for posting.

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