Simple Concepts Concerning Life


In memory of the 50 million Americans lost since the dreadful Roe v. Wade decision, I wrote a poem for a competition hosted by the Manhattan Declaration (you can read it here).  The point of the poem is simply this: A little girl in the womb has no guarantee of liberty or the pursuit of happiness in America because she has no guarantee of life.

Two contrary points are typically made by those who favor abortion.  First, it is said that the baby in the womb is something less than human, not quite considered a person.  Maybe it is a fetus or embryo, but not a person.  And because it is philosophically impossible to determine at what point the embryo becomes a baby, we are not at liberty to impose a definition upon the mother. She is free to choose for herself.  Second, the argument is made that because the mother will have the primary burden of caring for the child, then she must decide whether to allow her birth.  Each of these arguments is fundamentally unsound.

On the first point, the question must be answered concerning the child in the womb. If it is not human, then what is it?  If it is human, then it must be protected.  Terms such as fetus and embryo only obscure what ought to be obvious to all.  What kind of embryo is it?  What kind of fetus is it?  Obviously, they are human embryos.  As such, they should be protected under the law.  According to our Declaration of Independence, “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Still, the argument persists because pro-abortion advocates claim that humanity is not so easily defined.  When do the cells and DNA actually become a full human being?  Our simple response to this inquiry is, “When is it ever not human?”  From the moment of conception, a human being is in process—a process of growth which continues throughout the time in the womb and even for most of the next two decades after the child is born.  There is growth and development (in the strictly physical sense) from conception to the age of 18 or so.  This is undeniable.

In fact, this line of reasoning is so filled with common sense that it permeates our legal code.  Take, for instance, Title 16, Chapter 5A, Subchapter II, Paragraph 668 (a), of the United States Code:

 “Whoever, within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof… shall knowingly…take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or in any manner any bald eagle commonly known as the American eagle or any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof of the foregoing eagles, or whoever violates any permit or regulation issued pursuant to this subchapter, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than one year or both…”

What is particularly illuminating in the U. S. legal code is the threat of criminal sanction for taking not just the egg of the eagle but also the nest.  It is clear enough that the egg of the eagle is protected (for the sake of protecting all eagles); what is even more astounding is that the eagle’s nest is also protected.  Why?  Because the nest is also a necessary part of the life-development of a bald eagle.  In the case of the bald eagle, the law protects a collection of non-living sticks and limbs because those sticks and limbs provide a nesting area for an egg which—if all goes well—will eventually develop into an eaglet, which–if all goes well–will one day fly as an eagle.  The nest of the egg of the eagle is protected in America because Americans value eagles and want to protect them.  The womb of a mother is not protected in America because Americans…

Now, on the second point of debate, again, the law is clear.  Those who advocate for abortion will say that they may be personally opposed to it, but they cannot feel compelled to burden the mother when child-rearing is her responsibility.  (There are many false assumptions built into this argument—child-rearing is a mother and father responsibility; children are not burdens but blessings; and one cannot be opposed to something and advocate for it in the same breath).  On the basic point of whether the child is the mother’s responsibility solely because it is part of her body, I would appeal to common sense and the law.

Common sense makes plain that the child in the womb is not simply a subsidiary part of the mother’s body.  When a couple goes for an ultrasound, they don’t go there to find out what kind of tumor is growing on the mother’s body.  They go there to find out the ___________ of the ___________.  (Could you fill in the blanks? They go to find out the sex of the baby).  It is simply ludicrous to assert that the baby is like a hemorrhoid, and abortion is good in the same sense as Preparation H.  This is not a part of the mother’s body; it is a separate human body.  The ultrasound is able to determine its sex. If it is a little boy, it will have a little boy organ which belongs to him—not to his mother.

In the law, the same common sense provisions can be found.  Even if we were to say that the baby were merely a growth on the mother’s body, and, because it is her body and her burden, it is also her free choice, we still would not think that the mother is free to do whatever she wants with her body.  Women are not free to do anything they want with their bodies; neither are men.  One cannot expose his body to others without facing charges of indecent exposure.  One cannot prostitute his or her body without facing criminal charges.  One cannot fill his or her body with illegal drugs without violating the law.  There are a great many things one cannot do with his or her body.  There simply is no absolute right to your own body when you live in community with others.

So, we conclude with two simple and undeniable truths.  At conception, human life begins.  And, no one should have the right to rob another human of her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  With these simple facts recognized, we will see the value of human life soaring in America again like the eagle’s.

Life Is the Winner


A Baby in the Womb

The little boy came galloping into his living room with his six-guns a-blazing.  On cue, his dad made a series of agonizing contortions, grabbing his chest and groaning loudly as he fell to the floor in dramatic style, making sure his little gunslinger received full compensation for his cowboy skills.  The little boy loved the scene. Gunfights were always OK in this living room corral—as long as the little guy was allowed to win.

When dad decided to fire back his imaginary pistols, the pint-sized Paladin refused to die in agony.  Instead, his face switched from glee to gloom, and his lip slightly quivered: “No fair. Gunfighters don’t sposed to die.  I don’t want to die, daddy.”  Life and death games are always more fun if you are on the winning side of life.  We never really outgrow this lesson, do we?

I thought of this as I considered how most of us consider ourselves “pro-life,” but we are a little unsure of how far this conviction should take us.  Do we, for instance, refuse treatment for a life-threatening disease on the grounds that the treatment was derived from the stem cells of human babies who were aborted?  It is a dilemma which tests the seriousness of our pro-life convictions.  Like the little boy, we don’t want to die.  Sure, we don’t want to destroy babies in the womb just to harvest their stem cells, but we really don’t want to die.  Should we refuse treatments derived from human embryos?

Thank God, that isn’t a choice we actually have to make.  You may think this is a choice you will have to make, but it isn’t.  Here is the reason you won’t have to make that choice.  There are no treatments being successfully used to cure anything with embryonic stem cells.  None.  Nothing is being helped—much less cured—by embryonic stem cells.

You may not believe this claim, or you may be confused by it.  After all, you might have received stem cell treatments.  One of your loved ones may have been helped by stem cell treatments.  So, you think that stem cells are being used to treat disease, right?  You are partially correct.  Stem cells are being used.  However, the stem cells which are being used to treat diseases are adult stem cells—not from human embryos.

In fact, a group of doctors who form the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics has compiled a list of stem cell success.  So far, according to their count, there are 73 successful treatments for diseases which use non-embryonic stem cells.  And there are 0 successful treatments using embryonic stem cells.  The score is 73-0 against taking stem cells from aborted babies.  In any game, 73-0 is a lopsided blowout.  Even in a staged gunfight, the dad insisted on at least 1 victory.  Embryonic stem cells have none.

Unfortunately, politicians have exploited the success of non-embryonic stem cells to continue aiding the abortion industry by encouraging embryonic stem cell research, but the science is against embryonic stem cells.  Common sense morality is against them, too.  Embryonic stem cell research destroys human life, while non-embryonic research extends it.  The choice is obvious, isn’t it?  The good news for us is that maybe we don’t have to die—thanks to non-embryonic stem cell research.  The sad news, on the other hand, is that some life has to die for embryonic stem cell research to take place.

Example of Political Importance


As Christians, we are told often to keep out of politics.  I agree that the power, purpose, and glory of the gospel far exceeds political ideology.  Nevertheless, this article from Victor Davis Hanson gets to a few root issues which demonstrate that politics matters.  Political decisions have sweeping influence over the lives of millions.  The dangers are real, and life and death often hang in the balance.  Granted, the gospel is much more significant in that it is the aroma of death to death or life to life; however, the gospel ought to be employed for human flourishing so that we rightly acknowledge that human beings alone are created in the image of God.

Victor Davis Hanson does a nice job in this article of outlining the ramifications of our political actions.  He appears to me to grasp the severity of the various political situations presently being mishandled.

Another Down Day for Life


Like the rest of the country, we wonder whether each day will be an up day for the stock market or a down day.  If we were to look at indicators for life rather than indicators of wealth, we would have to conclude that yesterday was a down day.  According to this article, a new drug is on its way to foster more abortions.  Notice (once again) that the drug is called by a deceptive pseudonym: “emergency contraceptive.”  What kind of twisted concept is “emergency contraception”?  Hurry, do something, before you “contract” a baby?  This nonsense makes childrearing out to be H1N1, something to be vaccinated against. Or, as some would see it, a punishment.  A down day for life indeed!

7 Pounds


The newest movie by Will Smith, 7 Pounds, not unlike I Am Legend, deals substantively with the human dilemma.  Specifically, Smith portrays a man who has unexpectedly come face with face with the frailty of the human condition.  Death comes suddenly, and he is unprepared for its arrival.

As a result, Smith (not his name in the movie, of course), devises a scheme whereby death might somehow be defeated.  In the unraveling of his plan, Smith becomes something of a Christ figure, using death to extend life.  Without giving too much of the movie away, I want to offer four key observations from the movie.

First, Smith clearly becomes a Christ-like figure.  In the movie, Smith plays a character who is willing to sacrifice for the well-being of others.  Indeed, the sacrifice motif plays itself out throughout the movie as an integral part of the substance of his character.  The movie intends for Smith’s character to be one who sacrifices.  Ultimately, the Christian will see sacrifice in its quintessential display through Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for many.

Second, and again like Christ, Smith acts on behalf of a certain group of individuals who most assuredly will be helped by him.  Beyond mere sacrifice, Smith—in acting this way—demonstrates great love.  He is willing to lose so that others gain—but not everyone gains.  The objects of his affections are particular.

Third, and in this instance not like Christ, Smith plays a figure whose righteousness is self-imposed.  Never in the movie is there a hint that righteousness is alien to the main character.  Smith plays a character who—though he has been devastated by unexpected death—is still perfectly capable of determining the righteousness of others and making determinations about their worthiness to receive (or not to receive) the blessing he will offer.  One may leave this movie with the mistaken view that righteousness consists of not getting angry or being overly selfish.  Giving and being considerate of others is apparently righteousness enough.  (There is one thing that is absolutely forbidden, but I will not mention it here because it isn’t revealed until the end of the movie).  The main point to make on righteousness is that it appears to reside in the character himself.  Thus, there are judgments made against others, but the title character himself is not judged, even though he might be guilty of fornication, forgery, impersonation, theft, espionage, and, potentially, self-murder. 

Finally, and again unlike Christ, Smith plays a character who is willing to sacrifice only on the condition of perceived righteousness.  In this way, I believe, Smith’s character is the most unlike Christ.  Though I found the movie to be a well-acted, very worthwhile production, I could not help at the end of it to quote Romans 5: Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Though I appreciated the thoughtful plot of 7 Pounds, I left the movie thanking God for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rejected Ad


You may have seen this already, but it not you should watch it.  Then ask yourself why NBC and the NFL do not want such a “controversial” ad to run during the Super Bowl.

The group sponsoring the ad is called catholicvote.org.   I am not Catholic, and I am not real crazy about the name of the group.  However, I applaud loudly their aims and would remind everyone (sadly) that Catholics were right on abortion from the beginning, where many evangelicals were not paying attention to its dangers.

Here is a little blurb from the group:

Catholic Vote.Org is an exciting opportunity to be part of a new movement that’s committed to using powerful media projects to create a Culture of Life. We can help shape the movement and have a voice in its future.

Check it out at www.CatholicVote.org

The Side of Life


You simply must watch the story of Haleigh Poutre.  I dare you to watch it without crying.  I didn’t make it through.  The story is so great in showing the will of a child to live.  Of course, it has a much darker side in that her life has been robbed of so much because of an abusive stepfather.  One clear point of the story is that the diagnosis of “persistent vegetative state” is not always to be trusted.  Err on the side of life.  God help us to learn this lesson.  Watch the story

Forced Abortions


Not much has changed in China.  Sure, they have adopted a capitalist economic system–sort of; (it’s still under communist control).  At heart, however, the nation is still communist, which means it is still ungodly in its view of human life.  This story, which is not worth mentioning in U.S. news outlets, speaks of the horrors of forced abortion.  The story tells the plight of a young couple who already have two children.  The mother is expecting her third.  The Chinese authorities found out about it and seized her home.  Now, the choice is either abort the child or lose your home.  There is a U.S. ( Republican) representative trying to help.  Read the story here.

Two Fine Ladies and a Good Man


I take this opportunity to give thanks to God for 2 fine ladies who have passed away and now, we trust, are in the presence of the Lord.  Our church said an earthly good-bye to Mrs. Ruth Mann and Mrs. Almeda Redmon.  Mrs. Mann taught in our Sunday School for decades.  Mrs. Almeda faithfully served our church until about 3 years ago when Alzheimer’s struck her.  One of the best things to come out of this sad loss is the witness of Almeda’s husband.  For the past 19 months, he has gone to be at her side, day in and day out.  Each day, another piece of his heart was pierced with pain, as he watched his wife slowly give way to this terrible disease clouding her mind, her thoughts, and her actions.  This husband and wife have allowed all of us to learn something about our wedding vows and how to fulfill them.  I bless God for the privilege of seeing a marriage remain firm to the end as promised. 

These two fine ladies will be missed.  They were two of the most gentle women I have ever known.  I am honored to have known them and privileged to have been called their pastor.

Voting for Piper


No, not John Piper, although he is worthy of our support as a great man of God.  Today, my mind is on Piper Palin.  Maybe if we all remember that sweet little girl licking her hand to fix baby Trig’s wayward hair at the Republican convention we will be a bit more cheerful today and much better focused.  The election is about Piper; it’s about loving human beings rightly–even those babies with Down syndrome.  Remember Piper loving her little brother and making him pretty for the world to see.  Think about the tender care she offered to a fragile child and remember what America is supposed to be about: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It all starts with life.  Piper seemed to get that, didn’t she?  Watch the video again. Then, Go Vote for life.

Sanctity of Life


Dr. Gushee was the first seminary professor I heard when I visited Southern Seminary long, long ago, seeking the Lord’s will for my call to the ministry.  Though I haven’t always agreed with him since, I have often been encouraged by his writing.  He has a good article here which mentions, among other things, the responsibility we have to show concern for all human life, including the women who contemplate or have had abortions.  From the article,

 

For those of us who believe that decision was wrong, we still face the task of showing not just that Roe opened the door to the mass destruction of developing human lives in utero, and that this assaults life’s sanctity. We must also show why Roe does not succeed in advancing the sanctity of women’s lives, and must offer both on-the-ground and legal alternatives that can do better.

 

You can read the entire article here.  You may also want to visit a website that demonstrates a deep concern for the “others” involved in an abortion.  “Abortion Changes You has started a PR campaign against abortion by showing concern for all of the victims.

Ridiculous


A liberal Christian group going by the name of Matthew 25 has set up a website to convince people that Obama is the more pro-life candidate between the two major contenders.  It would be laughable, except that it is devilishly deceptive and destructive.  I do not recommend going to their site, as it would give them credibility through traffic, but here is an article that describes the movement.  You might also look for people to say they take the life issue to be more “holistic.”  By this, they mean that they feel righteous by recycling their bottles so that they are helping the environment in this global warming crisis.  Therefore, the issue of abortion is not as important any more.

 

More Good News Well Needed


As we have mentioned before, abortion is responsible for the death of about 90% of babies who are diagnosed (rightly or wrongly) with Down Syndrome in the womb.  This article tells about an effort to counter attack the eugenic approach to life.  The legislation about which this article speaks was championed by Senator Brownback.  I have linked his press release on the subject as well.  It is worth checking out.

Good News Well Needed


I have linked an article  which talks about the actions of one American citizen to bring clarity to the abortion conversation.  One of the realities of a post-abortion culture is that it has a difficult time defining what is human and what is not.  We have trouble saying when a baby is a baby (as is indicated in the responses by Tony and others in the blog titled “Logical, But Destructive”).  This article  tells of the efforts of one young person to force clarity on the issue of personhood.  When does a conceptus/fetus/embryo/baby become a human being, with all the rights of personhood, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  This was, after all, the question that Obama could not answer at Saddleback.

Logical, But Destructive


I once heard a Florida doctor spell out one of the most horrifying, yet logically sound arguments for abortion I have ever heard.  I include this story in our section on the fruits of abortion because I believe that poor, muddleheaded thinking is a natural outgrowth of abortion (and other sins).  As Paul writes to the Romans, there comes a time when God gives us over to a depraved mind.  It seems safe to say that encouraging a mother to kill the child she is carrying in her womb is evidence of a culture’s depraved thinking.

 

Here is the logically sound and yet depraved example of poor thinking:

According to this Florida doctor, he treated a college-aged female one Winter morning and had to tell her what she didn’t want to hear: “You’re pregnant.”  The young, unmarried woman was more perplexed than crushed, and she kept saying, “I don’t know what I should do.  I don’t know what I should do.”  The doctor–thinking she meant something like, “Oh, my goodness, I never planned for this; this was a mistake; I am not ready to be a mother”–tried to encourage the young woman that it would be all right and that her family would support her through the trials of having a child.  In reality, however, the young woman meant, “Should I abort the baby or not.”  Here was the exact dilemma she relayed to the doctor.

 

I don’t know whether I should keep the baby or not because I am scheduled to go on a mission trip with my church group this summer.  If I am pregnant, I cannot go.  I don’t know what to do.  I can do so much good by going on the trip and serving people in need, and I have the opportunity to lead people to Jesus there.  I don’t know what to do.