Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cognitive dissonance

O LORD, why dost thou make us err from thy ways, and harden our heart, so that we fear thee not?
  - Is. 63:17
Why is Jerry so hung up on tax-funded abortion? Why can't he and other pro-lifers just get over it, and 'get a life', as they say?

This question has a flip side. Why, or how, have other Christians apparently gotten over legalized abortion? As evidenced in our democratic process, a sizable percentage of Christians seem largely untroubled by it. Why?

There may be a clue in the phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance. From Wikipedia:

Psychology Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The "ideas" or "cognitions" in question may include attitudes and beliefs , and also the awareness of one's behavior. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
The part about "awareness of one's behavior" is germane. It would appear that the enemy of our souls scored a major coup here. I do not refer to the infamous shock of Roe v. Wade, but to the quiet and mundane coup of congressional budget allocations, i.e., the public funding of abortion and of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

When ordinary taxpayers found themselves paying the abortion invoice, many may have succumbed, through cognitive dissonance, to a belief that it was not such a big deal after all. Just get over it.

If this helps to explain our cultural ambivalence, then it may also tell us how to begin to effectively turn the tide back again.

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