Apples & Oranges
“I think it’s really great that you care so much about this issue that you want to convince others that what you believe is true. You and I are the same that way. I bet we probably agree on many things. For example, I agree with you that freedom of choice is really important. Generally, I don’t think we should go around telling other people what to do.”
“Beth” responded, “But that is exactly what you are doing! You don’t want to let people exercise their God-given right to choose.”
“I notice your sign says we should not deny God’s will. Are you saying that it’s God’s will for us to exercise our freedom to choose however we wish? That there is no universal standard?”
“That’s right. We are free to choose our own standards.”
“Is it ever okay for a man to rape a little girl if he decides that choice is right for him and he wants to exercise his ability to choose?”
“No, that is wrong,” she said.
“Is it wrong for anyone, anywhere, at any time?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Well, that sounds like you do believe there’s an absolute standard, and that possessing the ability to choose does not justify any choice. We agree that some choices are clearly wrong ones. Is it possible that God’s will and our choices are actually two different things? That some of our choices might actually go against God’s will?”
An awkward silence ensued for several minutes. Finally, she leaned her sign against the fence, and the three women went home.
Beth’s position is a common one, even among many Christians. Her argument makes the mistake of equivocating. Equivocation is a simple logical error based on the double meaning of a word, or based on treating related but different ideas as exactly the same.
Beth’s faulty logic is most clearly illustrated by her sign which asserts that because God chose to give us the ability to choose freely, we are therefore free to choose anything. She claims that any human choice is God’s will.
This argument is like claiming that because apples and oranges are both fruit, then they must be the same thing. We all recognize that although both are fruit, that characteristic does not prove that APPLES=ORANGES. Similarly, although God and Man both possess the free will ability to choose, that characteristic does not prove that whatever MAN WILLS=GOD’S WILL. It does not logically follow that because God gave us the ability to choose, God therefore approves of any choice we make. The ability to choose and the actual choices we make are two different ideas. Treating them as the same is akin to mistaking apples for oranges.
Equivocation is a common logical error, and most people fall into it from time to time. Honest folks do not mind adjusting their arguments and beliefs when they realize the mistake. However, many pro-abortion advocates equivocate on purpose, attempting to confuse and fool those of us who defend preborn humans.
For example, pro-abortion activist Amanda Marcotte wrote an article criticizing Tim Tebow and his mom Pam. She writes, “This strategy of celebrating women who have babies when others might not really points out how the dignity of all women – including anti-abortion women – requires the right to choose… The common denominator in all these stories is that the woman at the center is being celebrated for her bravery in making a specific choice – and that if she didn’t have the right to choose, then she wouldn’t be a hero at all.”
Perhaps you now recognize that Marcotte equivocates on the word “choice.” In one sense she uses choice (“right to choose”) as a euphemism for access to legalized murder by abortion. While in another sense, she uses choice (“making a specific choice”) to mean the ability of a person to select and carry out a course of action. She therefore claims that without legal abortion women could not be praised for choosing life, which is obviously false.
Many “pro-life” politicians also equivocate on purpose to mislead their constituents who are demanding justice for preborn humans.
For example, in a press release dated February 21, 2019, the leader of the Oklahoma Senate, Greg Treat said, “Roe...and [Casey] are horrible decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. But I respect the rule of law, and the U.S. Constitution…”
In this statement, Sen. Treat speaks as if a supreme Court “decision” is the same thing as the “U.S. Constitution.” This is a very clear example of equivocation to deceive voters into believing that COURT OPINIONS=THE CONSTITUTION. He is attempting to hide behind the Constitution, while actually upholding an unlawful and unconstitutional Court opinion.
The conversation related at the beginning was abridged to highlight the point about equivocation, but during our extended dialog, we got to learn a little bit about the three family members who protested our protest. Interestingly, they had not come to commit abortion. Beth had been driving her sister and niece there to get hormones for her niece. The niece was obviously a teenaged girl, but she was trying to look like a boy and referred to herself as a nephew. We could see why the poor kid might have been so confused and misdirected. Her aunt Beth was full of bitterness and confessed to having committed abortion in her past. Her mom did not seem to be all there and appeared to be bullied by her sister Beth.
We did our best to show compassion for their situation by sharing the story of the Lord’s care for the adulterous woman. We explained that while the Lord protected her from the condemnation of some harsh religious leaders, he did not equivocate on God’s standard and admonished her to sin no more. We directed this family to First Stone Ministries, who offer Christian pastoral care and discipleship for those struggling with sexual identity.
John Michener is the Director of Oklahomans United for Life (OUL). You can contact him at: