Biblical incrementalism

If you start talking about applying the Bible in pro-life circles, some folks will start accusing you of being impractical. "We're not going to just snap our fingers and suddenly live in a biblical society that obeys all of God's commands. We need to take small steps in the right direction!" These folks sometimes call themselves incrementalists.

What are we incrementing towards?

Most folks in the pro-life community seem to misunderstand God's commands. They have a strong sense that God hates murder (correct), and that their mission is to decrease the amount of murder in the world (broadly incorrect), and that God wants them to change the nation's legislation to reduce murders per capita (very incorrect).

God's commands to decrease murders are personal, given directly to every individual. "You shall not murder." You, personally, are expected to reduce your murders per capita to zero.

God's commands to his people about other people's murders are a bit different. "He who strikes any man mortally shall surely be put to death."

We are not commanded to reduce national murders to zero, we are commanded to put murderers to death.

What biblical incrementalism is not

  • legislation that makes it more difficult to kill your baby
  • punishing murder, but calling it something other than murder
  • punishing an accomplice (e.g. a doctor) but not the other guilty parties
  • any new legislation that treats abortion like some new special case rather than murder

None of these things move us closer to what God has commanded.

What is biblical incrementalism?

We must take steps in the direction of obeying God. Here are biblical steps we could take:

I am only interested in incrementing towards what God commands us in the Bible.