Shout Your Abortion?

  
  

The mantras claiming “my body, my choice” and “my life is more valuable than potential life” are currently being shouted with vigor across social media, and it seems anyone who replies with any disagreement will be trolled, mocked, and shamed in response for their views. (Ironic, considering what the “movement” claims to be about.) In our prevailing American culture where individual freedoms are held sacred above all else, death has become celebrated.

While reading through social media posts and articles online trying to get a better understanding of what is being shouted, it is clear that there is a massive misunderstanding of the pro-life view for starters. The consistent misrepresentation and strawmanning of the “pro-life” view to absurd degrees as to imply the view is nothing more than a horrible war on women meant to oppress them by robbing them of all their freedom or that such proponents of any opposing views do not care about people once they’re born is ridiculous, distracting nonsense. By trying to rebrand anyone’s view that doesn’t celebrate the “choice” of abortion as hateful “anti-choice” is not adding anything helpful to the conversation. I also keep seeing people ask how it could possibly be better for the child to grow up in poverty than just killed in the womb… I don’t know about any of you reading this, but I haven’t come across very many people who would honestly rather have been killed before having a chance in life than to grow up poor.

Sadly, we all too often lose sight of the real issue at hand with the abortion issue though, and begin to view other people as enemies. The true adversary that needs to be addressed here is this prevailing idea of individualism that is rampant in our culture.

“For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please. . . At the moment, then, of Man’s victory over Nature, we find the whole human race subjected to some individual men, and those individuals subjected to that in themselves which is purely ‘natural’ – to their irrational impulses.” — C.S. Lewis, Abolition of Man

Before rolling your eyes and closing the browser, please let me try to explain. This society-eroding idea of individualism snuck its was into American thought early on and has only snowballed. It came to us via liberalism. Liberalism (think liberation, liberty, freedom) was born out of an 18th-century revolutionary movement in France and America that stressed individual liberty and rights. It brought together deist and utilitarian philosophies, and while ushering in great, countless positive advancements for civilization, it also led the way for a potentially monstrous society of individualism. If God simply set the world in motion (deism) and left sinful man to follow what gives him pleasure (utilitarianism), then society naturally gets built on individual rights… rights that are to be secured at all cost.

Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially ‘deify.’ We will look to it with all the passion and intensity of worship and devotion, even if we think ourselves as highly irreligious. Because of this inordinate amount of value our culture places on individual freedoms, we distort our lives, and in turn further warp our society.

“True freedom is not being unshackled to create your own truth, but is liberating submission to the Truth. Freedom is not the complete absence of any restrictions, but rather the presence of the right restrictions put in place. For example: a fish out of water. The fish is not more free when released outside of the confines of the water, but instead his ability to enjoy life is drastically hindered and he is sure to die.”

In this broken arrangement, everyone inevitably becomes an intruder. When an individual’s “rights” are ultimate, injustices abound, and citizens make demands of the State. In the case of abortion, both sides claim an enormous injustice.

On one hand, a woman, aware that parenting is life altering, may fear that her ambitions will be aversely affected, that her ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness might be severely hindered. To someone making the difficult choice of abortion, the innocent child is seen not just as an unwanted presence but as an intruder. The mother feels she has the right to defend her personal interests… after all, she’s an individual with rights first, a mother second.

The fetus, on the other hand, in no way responsible for his or her own “intrusion” and unable to defend against any attack, also claims injustice. The same inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness belongs to the unborn, but they’re unable to speak up. Termination would thus be the ultimate intrusion.

Such a divisive conflict like this will always result in a frustrating stalemate as long as liberalism (from all sides) gives birth to individualism. Individualism is the real enemy.

“What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without restraint. Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as they are disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good in preference to the flattery of knaves. . . . Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” – Edmund Burke, 1791 ‘A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly’

It’s been over 40 years since Roe vs. Wade, and we’re still talking about the sanctity of life because the mere mention of it generates a moral friction on our human souls – souls fashioned after the Creator God who makes human beings distinctive among His created order.

It is this imago Dei (image of God) imbued to human beings (Genesis 1:26-27) that makes us human in the first place. This is the genesis of the biblical worldview: that God created and imprinted His image upon each person, giving dignity and value to every single human life despite its stage of development.

James tells us we kill because we “desire and do not have” (James 4:1-4). These impulses are birthed and fueled by our Genesis 3 desire to put ourselves in the place of God where no such warrant exists. We do great evil when we use or destroy lives to suit our whims and warped worldviews. When our society values happiness and feelings over truth, nobody really wins.

“We are free to choose, but we are always a slave to our greatest desire.” – Jonathan Edwards

So when someone stands to pray, defend, and cry out for the unborn and oppressed in the face of this celebration of individual freedom, they are calling for us all to refuse the lie of individualism. Autonomy, being a law unto oneself, is no basis for life together. Community is the only way forward to better change. Society must protect both women and the unborn in a way that doesn’t pit them against each other. The debate cannot center only on individual rights but, instead, must address the duties and responsibilities of, not just the biological parents, but the families, friends, neighbors, churches, and social services that can nurture and support them. The burden of pregnancy, especially pregnancy out of wedlock or for women in crisis, should never disproportionally fall solely on the pregnant mother. She still has a claim on the community, no matter the circumstance of the pregnancy. The community still has (in these cases, often extraordinary) obligations, no matter the circumstance of the pregnancy.

A community that models mutuality and solidarity affirms life in a way that dispels notions of children being intruders to personal pursuits. Life together where families and marriages are valued and where freedom is about stewardship rather than unlimited potential turns fear of intrusion into hospitality. Rather than see a baby as a burden, we see it as a life to be welcomed into community, a responsibility to be shared, a joy to be experienced. Any agenda to end abortion must include a vision for mobilizing community to function as it should.

There’s an old saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.” There is a lot of truth to that, and we should stop expecting women to go through it alone. Every abortion done under the banner of freedom and convenience is a failure of humanity: failing a human being in crisis and a human being in utero. Creating and protecting life is fundamental to human flourishing, but community is equally important. Both of these are indispensable, and individualism is an enemy to both.

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Homophobic Bigots…

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It seems like most of the country, maybe even the world, is constantly talking about homosexuality. The conversation is virtually impossible to ignore if you pay any attention at all to cultural currents. News and media outlets, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, television shows, and even the federal courts are conversing about this topic. What some people are saying is very interesting, but much of it is also quite frustrating.

As legislature continues to be passed on the legalization of same-sex marriage and the definition of marriage “evolves/progresses” and all of that, if you’re listening to the rhetoric, here is the accusation against Christians in the broad-stroke: they are bigots. We are intolerant. We are the American Taliban. We’re straight up terrorists and a danger to society. We are right up there with the KKK and the Civil Rights Movement trying to deprive people of rights that are God-given or self-evident. We are out on an ignorant mission to rob others of their freedoms, liberties, and happiness. Those are the accusations against us.

Please don’t close the browser and tune me out just yet. All those accusations leveled against Christians, they had better be false accusations. I don’t pretend that our view will ever be understood by those outside the faith – outside the kingdom of God – but we are a people commanded by God to be marked by love, compassion, patience, mercy, and… even hospitality. Please understand this: You don’t catch sin from sinners. Do you get that?

“If my sinfulness appears to be smaller or less detestable than sins of others, I am still not recognizing my sinfulness at all.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I know some of us, in the attempt to protect our family and to make sure we all stay purer than we actually are, build walls. You don’t want your kids around those kinds of kids. You don’t want to be around those kinds of people. But you are those kinds of people! It’s God’s grace that rescues from “that” (Ephesians 2:1-10). We’ve all got to stop that nonsense. We shouldn’t be consumed with building walls. We should open doors. Our home is open, and my friends, neighbors, and co-workers can make accusations against me, but they better be false. I want them just to be confused to some degree. I just want my neighbors and co-workers to be so ridiculously confused. “This guy is a bigot, but he keeps inviting me over for dinner. He’s so closed-minded, but he speaks respectfully and kind to me. That guy makes me sick, but he keeps bringing me presents on my birthday and Christmas. That dude is such a jerk, but man he tips really well. That guy is like an American terrorist, but he sure is friendly.” I just want that type of confusion. (I’ll admit I don’t always conduct myself in such a way that would reflect the love of Christ, but it is my hope to do so.)

There has to be wisdom though. I’m not telling you to operate in a way that lacks wisdom; God has put us here for the purpose of being the light of the world. We aren’t called to hide out in a building, we are called to engage our community. We are to encourage. We are called to open up our home. We’re called to live in the world. There is some risk involved in that. Yes, there is always risk. Be wise about how you try to do that, but trust God in those things.

I have some friends who would fit the prototype of someone who would probably be infuriated with Christianity and Christians, and sure enough, as we have had conversations, as I’ve seen social media posts, after hearing story after story of being judged harshly, of being ostracized, of being made to feel worthless, feeling like their lifestyle or beliefs are belittled… there has been some unfortunate legitimacy to some of the negative experiences they’ve had with those proclaiming to be Christians, way too much legitimacy to some of those stories. However, some (yes, SOME) of the perceived harshness has been on them. Sometimes people feel hypocritically condemned even when there is no actual condemnation present. It’s not always entirely on God’s people, it’s not always 100%. Because sometimes unregenerate, unbelieving people don’t know what to do with conviction. They don’t feel it as sweet discipline from God; they see it as harsh judgment. They see it as horrible and something to flee from very quickly.

In fact, some of you reading this today probably feel judged, and no one has actually judged you. You may be “judging” yourself right now. We’re not judging you though. However, we’re going to inevitably fall short sometimes. We should be striving to live in glad submission to Jesus Christ where we laugh a lot, where we enjoy good music, appreciate good movies, where we enjoy good food, where we enjoy good drink, where we enjoy hanging out with others and sharing our lives, but not doing so in a way that is outside of the bounds of the Word of God. We should readily let others see the life that is made available to those who would put their trust in Jesus Christ, and then actually see our imperfections. Because tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.

God loves imperfect people. That’s why dressing up like you’re pretty when you’re not isn’t helpful. The bigot, closed-minded, and intolerant labels will inevitably be put on us at this point. It’s over. This is how we will be labeled. It will only get “worse.” If you can’t handle this label and don’t want to be viewed like this, then you’re going to have a hard time; you’ll have to go underground or be silent with your faith, which means I don’t think you even really have any. In the end though, let us hope that the accusations and the labels are false.

In addition to being falsely labeled, if we limit the scope of how we are misunderstood and ignore that it is a form of persecution, we will neglect the Christian ethic incumbent upon us to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14; 1st Corinthians 4:12). When people slander us, mock us, or pass laws against us because we are thought to be anti-gay, anti-science, and anti-women, that is a form of persecution. And as such, we are commanded by Christ Himself to pray for those and love those who hate us so.

Because if John 15:20 is true, and 2nd Timothy 3:13 is true, and the expectation of the entire New Testament is true, then no amount of “cultural campaigning” or PR work is going to rescue the church from being thought by some as backwards and bigoted. Where in the gospels did Jesus promise that the world would love us if we just kept our heads down and tried to be really good neighbors? I know many people who think of the church as being very “unchristian” and evangelicals as being political operatives for the Republican Party. So let’s have the humility to see if we are as obnoxious and unintelligent as many people surmise. Honestly, sometimes some of us are… but let’s not assume that bad press with the world means we’ve all done wrong by God.

As followers of a crucified King we should expect to be like the scum of the earth to some (1st Corinthians 4:13) and like the aroma of death to others (2nd Corinthians 2:16). We should not think misinformed hatred and intolerant harassment mean the church has completely gone off the rails. The presence of persecution or hate is no sign that Christians have failed to engage the world properly. In fact, from everything we’ve seen in Scripture we ought to suspect something is wrong with us if we have somehow avoided all of the world’s persecution successfully.

Because, as Christians we believe that God has reconciled us to Himself, not by demanding that we first and foremost adhere to a moral code, but rather by sending the Son of God, by sending Jesus Christ, unlike us, to live a completely perfect life. Jesus Christ was completely obedient to every command God gave Him. He was other than, although He was fully man. Jesus is fully man, but His obedience is/was perfect. His record was spotless. No accusation could rightly be made against Him. Yet He was still hated by many…

So even when we are being criticized for quoting Scripture and stating our beliefs, the God of the Bible essentially says in Matthew 5, “Hey, they’re going to falsely label you. Cool, okay, stop worrying so much about that. They did that to Isaiah. You guys have something in common now. Oh, they’re going to falsely misrepresent you. Hey, you and Jeremiah would be good friends. You guys could sit around and talk about what it’s like to be ostracized and be pushed to the margins.” Jesus will also say, “Oh, hey, btw, I’m also well acquainted with all that.” Was Jesus not repeatedly misrepresented, repeatedly falsely accused of things that were absurd? There will be nothing you can do about the accusation. Just let it be false accusation, and strive to love your neighbor regardless of their actions, or your own feelings.

Life, and the sanctity thereof.

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There is a lot of talk these days about the horrors of abortion, as there very well should be. But Christians should also be proclaiming the forgiveness that is available in Jesus Christ for women who have had abortions, for the doctors who have performed abortions, for men who have encouraged abortions, for government officials who have legislated easier means for abortions, and anyone who has ever been involved with the action of an abortion. Because the bad news is, abortion is murder. The good news is, Jesus Christ died for murderers.

I of course cannot speak for everyone who claims to hold a “pro-life” point of view, but for me personally, I’ve yet to meet the person face-to-face who calls themselves “pro-life” and honestly advocates that any form of abortion, in any possible given situation, under any conceivable circumstance, for any possible reason is absolutely wrong, a “one-way ticket to hell,” and should never be allowed in any case whatsoever even to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape and incest. (It should be noted however, that since Roe v. Wade, the number of legal abortions done for those reasons amount for less than 2 percent of the 55-million-plus abortions performed in the United States since 1973.) The overwhelming majority of people I know, and the things I have read that take a “pro-life” stance, are against elective abortions being performed outside those perimeters, especially those that are merely due to inconvenience, financial issues, because of the gender of the baby, or high percentage probability that the child might have cognitive disabilities… those type of abortions are the clear cases I find it nearly impossible for anyone to justify morally.

Some reasons I’ve seen given for abortion outside of rape, incest, and severe endangerment to the mother’s health, are the issues or problems with the current adoption and foster care climate in the United States. I don’t know if those making that argument would go so far as to say it’s better to just kill a child in the womb than allow them the chance of a life outside it because it’s just statistically more likely that their life will be spent in poverty and strife, but that seems to be the logical conclusion of some advocates for this situation. I’ll admit that I am by nature a skeptical pessimist, but I have not been able to bring myself to such a logical conclusion as that. I find it difficult to justify choosing who gets a chance at life and who doesn’t. I don’t understand how the adoption and foster care systems of our country not being as effective as they should be, supports the case for women to electively abort babies anytime they please or see fit to do so (because it’s their body and nobody has a right to think any form of ethics should be a factor). Blaming such problems on a particular political party, however misguided and corrupt said party (let’s face it, all parties to varying extents) might be, doesn’t negate the ethical and moral implications of the fundamental issue at hand.

The battle over human dignity is waged not just at the local abortion clinic or crisis pregnancy center, nor merely in the halls of Congress or the Supreme Court. It is also carried out in our choice of words. And this is where the fundamental issue resides: what is life, what is human, when do ‘rights’ begin?

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9 (ESV)

The ‘pro-choice’ stance on the sanctity of human life relies on bullets of deception and warheads of untruth – in short, on what George Orwell called “political language,” which he said “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Those who support the legal killing of unborn human beings in the womb have used political language for decades, cloaking their morally indefensible position in innocuous-sounding terms such as “choice” and “women’s health” – hoping the rest of us will forget about the status and rights of the other person directly affected in the abortion transaction – namely the fetus.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft says that the “personhood of the fetus is clearly the crucial issue for abortion, for if the fetus is not a person, abortion is not the deliberate killing of an innocent person.” Kreeft adds, “Persons have a ‘right to life’ but non-persons (e.g., cells, tissues, organs, and animals) do not.”

Many people, when hearing about abortion, have maybe conjured up in their minds some not-so-invasive, painless “medical process.” That’s not what abortion is… Abortion is the dismembering of one human body in order to be able to more easily extract it from another human body. We read in disbelief about ancient pagan’s throwing their babies into fires in sacrifice to their “gods” – yet we harden our hearts to the reality of children this very hour being dismembered in worship of the god called “women’s rights.”

So it seems to be clear that the real fundamental issue in which many in our society differ on, is what is a human being (and when does life and basic human rights for that life begin)… I would dare to say that as a man, I have equal right to define human life as a woman (contrary to what some people have told me); since men and women are both humans and both are needed to procreate (outside of the use of a test tube, but that is silly and a bit pedantic to try to cloud the core issue with extreme cases). I believe that as a man, I have every right to help conceive a child, love a child, emotionally nurture a child, care for a child, provide monetarily for a child, protect a child, and fight for both the life of my wife (the mother of my child) and my child (whether biologically related or adopted).

It is well accepted in our society and culture (and yes, pretty much universally) that murder is wrong, whether from a legal, moral, or ethical basis. The issue therefore of abortion ultimately boils down to whether or not the one being aborted is a living human child. If so, he or she is to be protected by the same principles, and basic rights which guide our guarding of other human life. There are at least eleven important questions that I cannot quickly recall having heard “pro-choice political candidates” being frequently asked by the media:

1. You say you support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices in regards to abortion and contraceptions. Are there any restrictions at all, under any circumstances, or any particular situation that you would approve of?

2. In 2010, The Economist featured a cover story on “the war on girls” and the growth of “gendercide” in the world – abortion based solely on the sex of the baby. Does this phenomenon pose a problem for you or do you believe in the absolute right of a woman to terminate any pregnancy because the unborn fetus is a female (or any gender)? If you don’t agree a woman should be able to abort a child because of the gender of the baby, why not?

3. In many states, a teenager can have an abortion without her parents’ consent or knowledge but legally cannot get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental authorization. Do you support any restrictions or parental notification regarding abortion access for minors?

4. If you do not believe that human life begins at conception, when do you believe it does begin? At what stage of development should an unborn child have basic human rights? (What supports your view on this? Science, constitutional law, ethical principles, moral philosophy, faith, religion, worldview, personal experience?) (If an unborn baby isn’t really a human life yet, why do miscarriages seem to be so emotionally and psychologically difficult for mothers who experience such unfortunate events?)

5. Currently, when genetic testing reveals an unborn child has Down Syndrome (or other genetic “disadvantages” or “flaws”), many women choose to abort. How do you answer the charge that this phenomenon resembles the “eugenics” movement a century ago – the slow, but deliberate “weeding out” of those our society would deem “unfit” to live?

6. Do you believe an employer should be forced to violate his or her ethical, moral, or religious conscience by providing medical insurance to cover any and all abortion procedures (especially those of an elective nature) and provide easy access to abortifacient drugs to any and all employees?

7. Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.) has said that “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,” pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions. How do you respond to this charge that the majority of abortion clinics are found in inner-city areas, servicing large numbers of minorities? Do you simply dismiss it as status quo, and give the excuse that “minorities” make up the majority of inner-city populations?

8. Many “pro-choice” advocates describe abortion as a “tragic choice.” If abortion is not truly morally or ethically objectionable at all, then why is it so tragic then? Does this mean there is something about abortion that is different than other standard surgical procedures?

9. Do you believe abortion should be legal once the unborn fetus is viable – able to survive outside the womb?

10. If a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered, do you believe the criminal should face two counts of murder and serve a harsher sentence? If so, why?

(Many supporters of no restriction, “pro-choice” under any circumstance make statements along the line that it is a woman’s body and men have no right to have a say, an input, or even an opinion. While I would agree that yes, the baby is very much conceived and living inside of the woman’s body, the baby is a separate entity. The baby is its own person, distinct from the mother… when would you say a child has basic human rights of its own? At what point does it become a human being with any rights?)

11. If a woman (mother) has the right to choose to abort her unborn child or carry the pregnancy to term and deliver the baby, and the man (father) has no say at all in the matter, should the man (father) still be equally legally and monetarily responsible for the child? That is to say, if a woman (mother) gets pregnant unexpectedly and she opted not to have an abortion, and the man (father) had already been very clear he did not want to have a child, the mother had previously agreed to abort the child, and the father had steadfastly made it clear that he did not want any part of the child’s life, then should it be legally possible for the single mother to request the court to mandate the father to pay child support? While I personally believe that the father is morally responsible for taking responsibility for the life he helped create, does this issue present a double standard in regards to abortion rights? If not, why?

Some more questions worth considering in regards to literally zero restrictions, legally eligible under any circumstance, elective abortions:

What should we legally, medically, realistically call the unborn in the womb?

If the entity in the womb is a living thing, is it not a life? If your person began as a single cell, how can that fertilized egg be something other than a human being? Isn’t it more accurate to say you were an embryo than that you simply came from one? So when exactly does a human being have a right to life?

Should we say it is size that matters in determining this distinction? Is the unborn child too small to deserve our protection? Are big people more valuable than little people? Are men more human than woman? Do big offensive linemen have more rights than little jockeys? Is the life in the womb of no account because we can’t hold him or her in our arms, or put him or her in our hands, or because we can only see them on a screen?

Should we make intellectual development and mental capacity the measure of our worth? Are three year-old children less valuable than thirteen year-olds? Is the unborn child less than fully human because he cannot speak or count or be self-aware? Does the cooing infant in the crib have to smile or shake your hand or recite the alphabet before she deserves another day? If an expression of basic mental acuity is necessary to be a full-fledged member of the human community, what shall we do with the comatose, the very old, those who have down syndrome, or the fifty year-old mom with Alzheimer’s? And what about all of us who sleep?

Shall we deny the unborn child’s right to life because of where he lives? Can environment give us value or take it away? Are we worth less inside than outside? Can we be justly killed when we swim under water? Does where we are determine who we are? Is it simply the eight inch journey down the birth canal that makes us human? Does this change of scenery turn “its” into persons? Is love and worth a condition of location?

Shall we reserve human dignity only for those humans who are not dependent on others? Do we deserve to live only when we can live on our own? Is the four-month old fetus in the womb less than human because she needs her mom for life? Is the four-month old infant less than human when she still needs her mom for life? What if you depend on dialysis or insulin or a breathing apparatus? Is value a product of fully-functioning vitality? Is independence a prerequisite for human identity? Are we worth only what we can think, accomplish, and do on our own?

If the unborn life is human life, what can justify snuffing it out? Would it be right to take the life of your child on his first birthday because he came to you through sad and tragic circumstances? Would you push an 18 month old into traffic because she makes our life difficult? Does a three year-old deserve to die because we think we deserve a choice, better opportunities, and less inconveniences?

What do you deserve now? What are your basic rights as a human person? Did you have those same rights five years ago? What about before you could drive? Or when you used training wheels? Were you less than fully human when you played in the sandbox? When you wore a bib? When you nursed at your mother’s breast? When your dad cut your cord? When you tumbled in that watery mess and kicked against that strange wall? When your heart pounded on the monitor for the first time? When you grew your first fingernails? When you grew your first cells?

What shall we call the child in the womb then? A fetus? A mystery? A mistake? A wedge issue? An inconvenience? A choice? What if science, philosophy, Scripture, and commonsense would all have us call it a person? What if the unborn child, the messy infant, the wobbly toddler, the rambunctious teenager, the college freshman, the blushing bride, the first-time mother, the working woman, the proud grammy, and the demented old friend differ not in kind but only in degree? Where in the progression does our humanity begin and end? Where does life become valuable? When are we worth something? When do human rights become our rights? What if Dr. Seuss was right after all, and a person’s a person no matter how small?

Why celebrate the right to kill what you once were? Why deny the rights of the little one who is what you are?

There is also the way our country’s Media frames the “Abortion Debates” we see today.

Framing the abortion debate as an “assault on women’s reproductive rights” plays well with abortion advocates because it paints any abortion restriction from the pro-choice point of view. But this is precisely what the debate is about, and why Americans are so conflicted on this issue.

One side believes in a woman’s unalienable right to terminate her pregnancy. The other side believes in human rights for all, including the unborn human in the womb.

If reporters and journalists were to frame all conversations about abortion as a “War on Babies,” I suspect abortion advocates would cry foul. They would protest such coverage as biased toward the pro-life view, and they’d be right. So shouldn’t we recognize that pro-life advocates are right to question the journalistic decision to adopt a pro-choice perspective in framing abortion restrictions as a “War on Women”?

When news reports use this motif or describe those who protest restrictions on abortion as “woman’s rights protestors,” they’re being unfair. They’re also being inaccurate.

Edmond Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” He also leveled this timeless critique to culture, “What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without restraint. Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as they are disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good in preference to the flattery of knaves. . . . Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” (1791 ‘A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly’)

Along these same lines, John Stuart Mill made this statement, “Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

These words from Martin Luther King Jr. also apply here, “We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal. If I lived in a Communist country today where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I believe I would openly advocate disobeying these anti-religious laws.”

The only issue I have ever seem to come across where many of the secular, relativistic humanists of our culture today do not want the evidence of science to bear great weight on the issue, is the issue of abortion. At eight weeks in the womb, it is scientific fact that the baby has brain waves, a heartbeat, a functioning liver, functioning kidneys, a fingerprint, and recoils from a prick. Again, this is scientific fact. There is not a great debate over these truths. Yet the argument is, “That’s not a human life. That’s a woman’s body, and a woman should be able to do with her body anything she wants to do with her body.”

However, even if we throw science out the window just “for the sake of argument,” and go with the current laws of our country, this is completely untrue in so many of our other laws. If you don’t believe me, try taking off your clothes and running through the streets naked. Do you know where you’re likely going? Jail. Try to sell your body for sex. If you try to do that, chances are you might get busted. Do you know where you’re probably going? Jail… along with the guy(s) who tried to buy it. What about drugs? If it’s really true that the woman’s body is her body, and she has the right to govern her own body anyway she chooses, what happens when she takes illegal drugs or substances? If caught, that usually ends in some jail time as well. So this idea that self-autonomy rules and reigns is not completely true in many of the other domains of our laws, except around this one…

On top of that, many of the laws are so backwards. If a man were to assault a pregnant woman and the baby were to die in her womb, he’d be tried for manslaughter. Yet the same woman can go to a clinic, and for a small price (maybe even subsidized by the government), can have the baby inside of her killed, the baby who does not have her genetic code, who cannot have her same blood-type, who does not have her fingerprints, who does not share the mother’s heartbeat, lungs, brain, etc.

Of the one million plus abortions that occurred in the United States of America last year, the majority of them occurred after eight weeks, which means there’s a heartbeat, brain waves, and functioning organs. But the ‘pro-choice position’ seems to be: “That’s not human. That’s not really a soul. That’s not a person with separate rights.” In fact, we know you can potentially sustain a baby’s life after 23-24 weeks if they’re born early, if they’re born prematurely. But in many states it is still legally viable to kill that baby in the womb post-24 weeks. If we step away from the ‘life issue’ and just look at it on the surface, how can one logically buy into this unless they’re willing to suppress some truth? Scientific, logical, rational truth…

Besides the gymnastics needed to evade the scientific problems that arise in this discussion, abortion also has deeply racist effects. Abortion is discrimination based upon one’s degree of development and location, and is in fact more offensive and objectionable than racism and sexism because it almost always results in the death of its victims. Francis Beckwith explains:

Just as skin color (racism), ethnic origin (ethnocentrism), gender (sexism), national power (imperialism), and birth date (ageism) are irrelevant to one’s possession of fundamental human rights, so is one’s degree of development and location inside or outside the womb (natalism). Unfortunately, this politically correct prejudice, manifested in the practice of abortion, nearly always results in the death of its victim” (Francis Beckwith, Politically Correct Death, 12).

I really enjoy reading and studying history. In doing so, there come about times where I’m reading about a specific issue or certain topic, specifically stuff that revolves around slave trade, sexual-slave trade, and genocide, where I’m just reading history and I’m just left with this overwhelmingly crushing question: “What were they thinking?!” Not individual persons, because I completely understand how particular persons can stumble into dark things and do terrible things. I completely get that. I am a person. I’ve done some pretty dumb stuff. But my question when I read history isn’t just about persons; it’s about people. Like if you read about the slave trade and read specifically about it coming out of England, that the slave trade was really about sugar… SUGAR! The English were stealing Africans and taking them to the Caribbean to harvest sugar because they tried to use the Irish, and the sun just burned them all up. (I’m part Irish, and I can attest to this.) Literally hundreds of thousands of Africans were brutally killed for sugar, for sweet tea, and biscuits! So, I’m left with these nagging questions, “What were they thinking? What were they doing? Where were all the people who were going, ‘Hey, this is crazy!’? How did this bull continue on for as long as it did?”

What we find in history though, is that really underneath and subversively witling away at the foundation of that nonsense were faithful men and women, but the culture by and large was passive and ignored it. So, history is this long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as the words of Reinhold Niebuhr remind us: groups can be more immoral than individuals. I earnestly believe that over the next few years, science itself will help overturn some of the ridiculousness we see in our culture. I really think our children’s children will look at us and go, “What in the world? Where were you? What were you doing? Why didn’t you see this? Why didn’t you sense this? Why didn’t you stop this? How we’re you too busy to end this injustice? I mean, if you’re going to say that you believe what you believe, that a child in the womb is a life, how could you not do anything as millions were killed every year, the most helpless of helpless, the weakest of the weak, those who could not defend or speak for themselves… yet you did nothing?!”

I don’t really have any political affiliations. I vote, I have a voice, but I certainly would not label myself as a republican, democrat, libertarian, etc… and hope you and others would not paint me with any of those brushes. Life is so much bigger than political parties. I sometimes jokingly say (like a former pastor of mine) that I’m with the kingdom of God party, we already have our Guy. But in all seriousness, I find it difficult to support any man or woman who does not believe the sanctity of a human life is more valuable than convenience and relativistic personal beliefs, and is willing to sacrifice the defenseless innocent for popular opinion.

If life begins at conception… the Bible clearly weighs in it does (Psalm 139:13-16… but if I understand correctly, that doesn’t mean much to the majority of this country, and that is perfectly understandable that they wouldn’t heavily consider what the Bible says on an issue if they don’t trust or respect it as being an accurate, trustworthy, or authoritative source); however even secular science agrees with the Bible here, and would say life does begin at conception. One has to be careful playing this little game of, “Well, I define life as this amount of brainwaves.” Because, if that’s true, we have to pull the plug on a lot of people in a lot of hospitals. Our definition of personhood is another piece of this kind of relativistic schizophrenia prevalent in our culture, “it’s what I want to do” and “this is what I personally believe” type of ethic that’s driving this industry, because if we were to say, “Well, it’s only a human when it’s breathing on its own,” then we have a lot of people in ICU who need to go out, don’t we? We need to start pulling some plugs. We need to get rid of our dialysis machines. We need to get rid of our respirators. We need to stop wasting time and money keeping so many helpless people alive.

I believe this issue has become so logically insane, that I’ve found myself provoked at times by the insanity…

However, at the very same time, I do not believe that any women who has had an abortion (or anyone who has had a hand directly or indirectly in aborting a child) has gone beyond the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. In fact, a church I served at in the past has a large ministry called “Grace Abounds” that exists for men and women who are dealing with the post-abortion stress, guilt, loss, and sorrow. There is no condemnation for the repentant person seeking help, no judgment for them. From my limited knowledge, there are also advocacy and pregnancy centers all over near where I live… the DFW Metroplex has many of them, there is one in Denton, one in Lewisville, several down in Dallas, a relatively new one up in Keller. Their sole purpose is to walk with young women, support young women, care for young women who are pregnant and don’t know what to do.

There are also numerous documentaries available that support a more “pro-life” stance. However, the critiques of many of these documentaries seem to just side step most of the issues raised and attempt to “poison the well” argumentatively, attack a “straw man,” or throw a bunch of “red herrings” into the discussion. A lot of what I’ve found to be somewhat interesting in reading the comments on these videos, is the hypocrisy, ignorance, selfishness, and false humility. (Usually, I have a very general and strict rule that I don’t read blog comments or the comments on YouTube stuff, but I just can’t seem to help myself sometimes and inevitably read some of them…)

Here’s some of what what I’ve found in reading comments I should have known better than to give my time: the graphic scenes in these documentaries are just manipulative. “That’s emotive, manipulation, not based on fact. It’s overly graphic and completely distorted just to make people feel guilty.” Now here’s the irony of that. I’m not a huge television watcher and we haven’t paid for even basic cable in at least a few years (Hulu and Netflix are our only sources of television), but I can’t remember the last time I watched television where I didn’t hear something along the lines of Sarah McLachlan singing a song with a puppy that was all beat up. So this is something I’d like to point out, nobody (that is at all sane in the head) is going to say this is the same, that this puppy has more rights and honestly requires more care than any human. Nobody is going to say it, but if you fight for the rights of the unborn, then you’re manipulative… but if you want to give little Sparky a new home, that’s a worthwhile cause. Even the great comedian Jim Gaffigan draws attention to this when he asks, “Wait, there’s still kids starving in Africa, right?”

I hope that in all of this though, as anyone reads this, you know and understand that I believe Christians are no better than non-Christians. In fact, the believer in Christ who has actually been converted and understands the Scriptures doesn’t see them-self as morally fit for God at all. In fact, they see them-self as so desperately broken that unless God sends Jesus to become the wrath-absorbing sacrifice for our lives, we have no chance at ever being restored. So, here’s the thing I just love about the evangelical Church today, and what I mean by “love” is “openly mock,” is that so many self-proclaimed Christians continually show they don’t understand the gospel by pretending we’re more moral and more devoted than everyone else. I’m sure many of you have picked up on a bit of that nonsense. Maybe just a little?

I’m not claiming to have never said anything arrogant and dumb before (or that it’ll never happen again), but I get just as sick and tired as many skeptics and non-Christians when I see things posted on Twitter and Facebook claiming “We’re more moral.” It’s why we’ve got to picket stuff. “We’re more devoted. We don’t do those kind things or make those kind of mistakes.” That’s why we have to eat at Chick-fil-A, don’t drink Starbucks, and won’t pay to see certain movies. Now, despite all the empirical data to the contrary, it’s what so many people like to preach on, it’s what so many love to talk about, it’s what some idiots even put on their t-shirts… it’s just this weird, silly, odd, confusing Bible-belt subculture. “We’re more devoted than the rest of you, and we’re more moral.” But of course that’s not true, and that’s certainly not the gospel. In fact, it’s really the enemy of the gospel. It’s the antithesis of the good news of Christ.

The gospel is not we’re more moral or we’re more devoted. The gospel is, “Jesus saves.” Saves us from what? Us… our inability to be as devoted as we need to be, our inability to be as moral as He’s commanded us to be. Like those places in the Bible where God says, “Be holy as I am holy” (1st Peter 1:13-17 is one place) – do you know anybody else having some difficulty getting there, anyone else failing to act in such a manner? Anybody else you know have some trouble being perfect? Is it just me who struggles with that one? Am I really the only one who is selfish at times, messes up, and makes mistakes… regularly? Alright, so that’s what makes the teachings of Jesus so unbelievably intriguing. Because if religion had a bumper sticker… and I’ve never been a bumper sticker fan… unless it’s a Jayhawk… (Btw, nobody drives well enough to have a bumper sticker that has Jesus’ name on it. It’s true! Seriously! Nobody! If Evangelicals were really thinking, they’d just go the complete opposite. “I don’t believe in Christ,” and then drive like a madman.) Anyway, in the end, if religion had any kind of motto, it would say this: “I obey, therefore I’m accepted.” That’s it. That’s religion. Whatever belief system you want to get into, that’s it, but that is not the teaching of Jesus. Religion says, “Morality and religious observance are means of salvation,” but that is not the message of Jesus.

Our faith teaches us that we are not just set free from fear-based behavioral modification, and the vain pursuit of pleasures that never deliver what they promise, but we are saved to the freedom of knowing that God’s affection for us does not waver despite our persistent failures and shortcomings. We have been set free to enjoy the love of our Father as adopted sons and daughters.

Religion says, “We’ve got it right and everyone else be damned,” and Jesus says, “You love the Muslim, you serve the Muslim, if necessary, you die for him. You love the Jew, you serve the Jew and if necessary, you die for them. You love the Hindu, you give up your food for the Hindu, you open your home to the Hindu, you sacrifice your own life for the Hindu. Even the angry atheist, you love him and serve him, you sacrifice your time, money, and even life for him.” Jesus says, “Love your enemies. Don’t just love your friends. How easy is it to love your friends? Even murderers can easily do that.” I mean, this is a crazy Man here. The stuff He teaches, it is not really religious in nature in any way historically as religion has been defined. The teachings of Jesus go contrary – now, not necessarily what Evangelicals teach and do, but the teachings of Jesus; they’re very, very different. His teachings are the good news, He is the gospel… Jesus is better than life. We don’t walk in fear of some tyrannical deity, but in love for our adopted Father. We are no longer slaves to our own insecurities, rather we have been set free from fear-based behavioral modifications, and into love motivated pursuit of what we long for most. We’ve been set free from the pursuit of pleasure that has as an aftertaste of guilt and shame, and into the pursuit of pleasure that leads to ever-increasing joy. We have been blood-bought, purchased out of slavery to sin. And that is the motivation for why I believe what I believe about the controversial issue of abortion.

However, some people who discuss this topic seem to believe that as a male, I don’t have any right to even enter into the conversation, let alone hold an opinion on the matter that should be viewed with any credibility since I don’t have two X chromosomes…

However, I believe truth is truth, no matter who says it, and gender does not deem one’s views irrelevant to this issue. I will respectfully disagree with that offensive position, and will continue to speak about this topic. I care a great deal about this sensitive and divisive issue in our country, have just as much libertarian freedom and right to speak about it as anyone else. Like many, I have also been deeply affected by experiences both personal and those of very close friends and family. I’ve also been affected by what I’ve read and studied over the years; as well as a great deal of dialogue composed of conversations with people who agree and disagree with me to varying degrees. So I’m not entering into this discussion with views based strictly on emotions or some detached opinion formulated without any change, growth, or careful consideration.

My parents spent years trying to be able to have kids, my mother went through surgeries, and the heartache of miscarriages. Eventually my mother was able to have children and gave birth to me when my parents were both about 30-years-old, then my three little sisters were all born within the next five years. My Dad actually didn’t finish going to school and get his degree until well after I was born. When I was growing up, we were very grateful for the immense assistance we received from the government, friends, and family. There was a period of years in my family’s life where my father was only making between $15-20k each year, and that was with four kids and a stay-at-home mother. My father worked 60+ hour work weeks for many years to provide for us. So for those who might want to dismiss me as some mind of “right-winged conservative, Christian nut-job” who just wants to see the government neglect the poor and deny help to “those who don’t help themselves.” That is simply ridiculous.

I definitely do not think any government assistance is evil and should be terminated immediately, my own family actually benefitted from it directly. However, I would dare to say that the hope and goal of such programs should be to assist the individual(s) and/or families to “get back on their own feet” or become as “self-reliable” as possible after a given amount of time. That all would of course be a very relative, case-by-case scenario, but that should at least be the end goal of such programs, shouldn’t it? The government should not be enslaving its people to depend on it. Even if some would claim that to be a bit too idealistic.

Contrary to when you believe ‘life’ and ‘human rights’ begin in said life, the Bible gives us this command: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” – Psalm 82:3-4 (ESV)

Life is precious and to be protected. Sometimes in protecting life, we must give up our own comforts and self-will, but we must remember that love demands that we lay ourselves down for the sake of others. Abortion is contrary to the demands of Scripture to protect life, care for those who have not the ability to protect themselves, and humble ourselves by considering others before ourselves.

This particular passage of Scripture also gives us a deep resource for this controversial topic as we continue to discuss it and wrestle with the implications of the shifting values of our surrounding culture.

“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2nd Corinthians 5:11-21 (ESV) (emphasis mine)

To those reading this who have had an abortion in the past, helped someone else have one, or been a steadfast supporter of “pro-choice” easy-elective and abortion-approving legislation, I don’t know what you’ve gone through or what painful personal experiences you’ve lived through that have served to influence and shape your beliefs on this controversial issue and the closely related issues tied to it, but I trust that you have done the best you could, with what you had, and where you were. I believe we’re all beggars in need of grace, and you will not get any hate, condemnation, or judgement from me. I would implore you to seek to know Jesus, as the Scriptures testify of Him, and rest in the hope, mercy, grace, and love He offers us all in His Gospel.

The gospel is the good news that God saves. It is the historical narrative of the triune God orchestrating the reconciliation and redemption of a broken creation and fallen creatures from Satan, sin, and its effects to the Father and each other through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and future return of the substitutionary Son, by the power of the Spirit, for God’s glory and the Church’s joy.

We should never forget that grace and forgiveness exist for all in Jesus Christ.

If you have had an abortion or have somehow been affected by an abortion, homicide, suicide or euthanasia, allow me to encourage you in the gospel. Our great God and King brought us the forgiveness of sins through His Son, Jesus, for all who believe. There is no act of taking human life that is beyond the redemption that is possible in Jesus. The Bible is full of murderers such as Moses, David, and Paul, who were redeemed to serve God. For those who are repentant, God’s grace always washes away the painful stain of sin.

My hope is by far greater than you merely adopting a view that sees abortion as murder, but that you will rest in the mercy, love, and grace of our beautiful Savior. That you would know and follow Jesus; understanding then that God sees you as His child, and your identity is in Christ, not in your sin.

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Recommended Articles:

“The Gospel in an Abortion Culture” by Russell Moore

“Made in the Image of God” by Zach Lee

“We Know They Are Killing Children – All of Us Know” by John Piper

“Questions for Our Pro-Abortion Friends, Church Leaders, and Politicians” by Kevin DeYoung

“Unborn Babies Are Hearing You, Loud and Clear” article by: Meghan Holohan, NBC News

“Is the Abortion Battle a War On Women or a War Between Women?” by Trevin Wax

“Abortion and the Negation of Love” by Joe Carter

“Respecting Women is Respecting Life” by Pat Gohn

“Two Women are Behind Legalized Abortion in America: Now Both of Them Want it Reversed” by John Jalsevac

“The Truth (About Abortion) Will Set You Free” by John Piper

“Exposing the Dark Work of Abortion” by John Piper, Desiring God Ministries

“9 Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade” by Joe Carter

“Anniversary Pictures: Remembering Roe v. Wade” by Kathleen Nielson

“10 Surprising Quotes from Abortionists”

“Beyond the Rhetoric: Gosnell and the Late-Term Reality” by John Knight

“Is Abortion Sinful?” by Geoff Ashley

“Aborted Babies and the Risk of Doing Nothing” by Michael Spielman

“Why We Should Legalize Murder for Hire” by Betsy Childs

“Why the Simple Right to Abortion is Unjust” by John Piper

“Comparing Gosnell to Newtown” by Adam Griffin

“Why the Gosnell Trial Shocks” by Jordan Sekulow

“On Abortion, Wendy Davis Doesn’t Know What She’s Talking About” article by Kirsten Powers

“9 Things You Should Know About the Gosnell Infanticide and Murder Trial” by: Joe Carter

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Recommend Sermons:

“Life (2012)” by Matt Chandler

“Life (2013)” by Matt Chandler

“Abortion and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” by: John Piper

“Christ, Culture, and Abortion” by John Piper

“Abortion: The Innocent Blood of Our Sons and Daughters” by John Piper

“Abortion, Race, Gender, and Christ” by John Piper

The Controversial Issue of Homosexuality & Gay Marriage

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It is not really news that there has been much discussion over the topic of gay marriage and homosexuality among people today on social media. The topic of discussion is nothing new, but the ability to discuss it in front of a broader audience this way is still a relatively young form of communication. And like much of technology, this has its strengths and weaknesses; there are great benefits to it, as well as potentially dark downsides. One downside is unfortunately demonstrated when idiotic statements abound, and cause some valid opinions, points of view, and beliefs to come off as nothing more than back-wooded bigotry or ignorant intolerance because we allow a few morons to paint the entire landscape of the discussion.

I’m not even sure the foolish “Westboro Baptist” type point of view could account for an entire 1% of the viewpoints held on this topic, but they certainly get a lot of air-play and media coverage, do they not? It almost makes it feel at times like there really is a large population of Bible-thumping bigots who just want to suppress human freedom and equality by any means available. Whenever there is a discussion panel on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox (whichever poison you prefer), they almost always seem to pick some of the most foolish people to engage in conversation. It’s like they hunt for those who hold extreme polar opinions and then feed off the ridiculous comments that are often spouted out; much of which stems more from emotion than careful consideration.

“If there is equality it is in His love, not in us.” – C.S. Lewis

One thing we all need to do, is stop pretending that the sanctity of marriage has been wonderfully displayed by the church over the past few decades and now all of a sudden it’s under serious attack with the Supreme Court declaring that DOMA and Prop 8 are unconstitutional. It’s nonsense and makes us sound like we’re in ignorant denial of the state of our culture inside and outside the church. As Christians, we should repent of our pathetic marriage cultures within the church. For too long, we’ve refused to discipline a divorce culture that has ravaged our culture as a whole. For too long, we’ve quieted our voices on the biblical witness of the distinctive missions of fathers and mothers in favor of generic messages on “parenting.”

For too long, we have acted as though the leaders of a church were basically just ‘Justices of the Peace,’ marrying people who have no accountability to the church, and in many cases were forbidden by Scripture to marry. Just because we don’t have two brides or two grooms in front of us, that doesn’t mean we’ve been holding to biblical marriage.

So many of us have this vague idea that some fifty years ago Christians comprised the mainstream in America and were fully accepted as a cultural majority. And because of that, everything in America was great, grand, and wonderful. However, history shows us that while there were many solid men and women caring for others, too many preaching “Get right and get in church,” during that time did not stand up for those who were weak and marginalized. The “good old days” so often longed for were also times of racial oppression, gender discrimination, and theological confusion. So, pining for those “moral” days of yore is like chasing a mirage. The past simply wasn’t that great for many when “Christians” had more influence.

After all, we can’t hate a people and reach a people at the same time. We are to cling to the cross, stand on the rock, and remain steadfast in the hope found only in Christ. For we alone have that hope. And it is that hope which we are commanded to share with the world, whether Christianity is the cultural norm or not.

The Christian faith believes in the authority of Scripture; so if the Scriptures are not fitting with the time, culture, societal norm, or your desires; it means there is something wrong with the times and your heart, not the Scriptures. (Unfortunately, many try to solve this problem by proof-texting and manipulating the text to appear to approve or support their twisted view.) Marriage in particular, which has always been “unequal” in a sense, the yoking together two very different kinds of bodies (different minds, different histories, different strengths, different struggles, etc.), must now be “equal,” measured only by the sincerity of one’s love and commitment. To insist on the importance of bodies in our culture is to challenge the ‘sovereign self,’ to suggest that our ethical options are limited by something we did not choose. The philosophical rejection of the Bible is often used to justify moral resistance. People don’t want to be told what to do. However, as Christians, we should agree that truth is not to be simply used as a big stick, it is a mirror. Truth is not a club, or a weapon to be wielded to beat others down, rather it is a mirror to show people their lives through a better light. Everyone wants judgement when it’s not their own foolishness being revealed. Praise Christ for grace in foolish moments and mercy for consistent failures.

The cross isn’t a recovery program, the place to simply rid yourself of undesirable behaviors and improve on what good is already there. It is a place to die. It is not a question of giving up certain sins, but of giving up one’s illusion to rights! Living a holy life comes from having an authentic, passionate relationship with God, not out of strict rules and regulations. We cannot legislate morality or see hearts changed through the law. We must strive to be aware of how we communicate the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us, but it keeps us in denial about our flaws. However, truth without love is harshness; it gives us information, but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.

Apart from the power of the gospel to transform human hearts, renew minds, and redirect human lives to live for God’s glory, man would never comprehend or realize the purpose for which he was created: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Because in Jesus Christ, God put on flesh, and became man. In Jesus, the world saw a man who was ferociously humble. A man who was love incarnate. A man who suffered and was tempted, yet did not sin. A man who was steadfastly obedient until death, even death on a cross. A man who while being the very essence, being of the very nature and substance God, did not consider Himself equal to the Father, but submitted to the will of God and gave up His life for people undeserving of His love. In Christ’s death, He paid our debt at infinite cost to Himself. God paid our debt with His own flesh. Jesus paid our ransom to uphold the justice and righteousness of our Father; so that He could justifiably look upon us and lovingly call us son and daughter. This good news is the substance and meaning of the gospel in which we celebrate: that God became man, to save us from ourselves, and give us life. He came just like He promised, and His love will not be silent.

All humans are created in the image of God, and should be loved and respected as His image bearers. All Christians are as new creations in Jesus Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17-21; 1st John 5:1-3), and we should remind each other that our true identity is not based on sexuality or self-expression, but on our union with Christ. The church universal, and of course the local church should strive to be a community that welcomes all those who hate their sin and struggle against it, even when that struggle involves failures and setbacks.

God’s grace came into your hands free of charge to you. We are to redistribute it the same way. The church needs to remember that we don’t need more family values in the Gospel, we need more Gospel values in our families. Jesus says in the gospel that everyone is wrong, everyone is loved, and everyone is called to recognize this and change.

Real transformative heart change won’t happen through simply ‘trying harder’ and following the rules better, but only through encountering the radical grace of God. We cannot legislate morality or expect the government to force everyone to act strictly in accordance with the Christian worldview. Religion stresses holiness over grace. Irreligion stresses freedom over holiness. Christianity is freedom through grace that leads to holiness. The greatest threat to the church isn’t atheism, materialism, abortion, or gay marriage, but the moralism that celebrates a righteousness which doesn’t come from Christ. We are all far worse than we ever dared to imagine, yet in Christ, we are far more loved than we ever dreamed we could be.

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Some recommended articles:

“How to Survive a Cultural Crisis” by: Mark Dever

“How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness?” by: Russell Moore

“The Church and Homosexuality: Ten Commitments” by Kevin DeYoung

“Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency” by Tim Keller

“Debunking Marriage Myths | The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” by: Steve Watters

“Sex Without Bodies” by: Andy Crouch

“Prop 8, DOMA, and the Christian Response” by: Ed Stetzer

“Marriage in God’s Story” by: John Smidt

“Jesus and Homosexuality” by: Geoff Ashley

“The New Purpose of Marriage” by: Collin Hansen

“Homosexuality is Not Me” by: Matt Moore

“Judaism’s Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality” by: Dennis Prager

“Why Gay Marriage is Good (and Bad) for the Church” by: Trevin Wax

“Why is Homosexuality Wrong?” by: John Piper

“How Might Christians Respond To The Question of Homosexual Marriage?” by: Doug Hankins

“DOMA and the Rock” by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield

“What the Bible Really Still Says About Homosexuality” by: Kevin DeYoung

“What Does God Expect From Gay People?” by: Matt Moore

“Orienting on Homosexual Orientation” by Nick Roen

“Honesty, Truth and Homosexuality” by Geoff Ashley

“God and the Gay Christian” by Samuel Allberry

“Why No Denomination Will Survive the Homosexuality Crisis” by: Kevin DeYoung

“The Gay Community and That One Time Jesus Called Me the ‘N-word'” by Sammy Adebiyi

“What You Should Know About ‘LGBTQ'” by: Joe Carter

“From Radical Lesbian to Redeemed Christian” by: Tony Reinke

“Discerning the Will of God Concerning Homosexuality and Marriage” by: John Piper

“How Can Homosexuality Be Wrong if It Doesn’t Harm Anyone?” by: Matt Smethurst

“9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Cases” by: Joe Carter

“A Level Playing Field” by: Paul David Tripp

“Can a Gay Person Be a Christian? It Depends On What You Mean.” by: Matt Moore

“On Winning the Marriage Debate” by: Eric Teetsel

“Christian Responsibility and Mosaic Law” by: Geoff Ashley

“Fornicating on the Battlefield” by: Tony Anderson

“An Open Letter From a Gay Sister in Christ” by: Hunter Baker

“Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University” by: Brandon Ambrosino

“Rick Warren on Gay Marriage: ‘Tolerance Does Not Mean Approval'” by: Stoyan Zaimov

“I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-sex Marriage” by: Doug Mainwaring

“Sinister New Case Shows Marriage McCarthyism Is Up and Running” by: Mike Judge

“Love and the Inhumanity of Same-Sex Marriage” by: Jonathan Leeman

“Love Warns, Love Rebukes” by: Paul David Tripp

“Grace-Driven Effort and Sanctification” by Sam Schabel

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Some recommended sermons:

“Homosexuality” by Matt Chandler

“The Other Dark Exchange: Homosexuality (Part 1)” by: John Piper

“The Other Dark Exchange: Homosexuality (Part 2)” by: John Piper

Governments in the hands of the King of kings.

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We’re so flippant and arrogant as Americans. Right now we’re watching this really cool thing happen, we’re watching the whole world shift. We’re a generation that’s literally watching and tracking the socioeconomic epicenter of the world shift. For the last 100 years, the United States of America has been a bedrock, world policing, economic power. We were the show. And that’s shifting right now, isn’t it? Asia is a dominant power, India is a dominant power, the South is a power. You’ve got these other nations that are rivals.

And then you’ve got silly preachers on television going, “If we don’t repent, we’re going to be second stage…” It’s like, “Dummy, we’ve always been second stage.” God has been using nations for His plans and His purposes since the beginning of time itself (just read the book of Habakuk for instance). When Christ returns, do you think He is coming straight to Manhattan? Is Christ coming to Big Apple going, “I’m here, people of the United States! Worship Me, you peoples of the earth.” Is that how it’s going down, in New York City? The upper West Side? Or maybe it’s Los Angeles? Please…

The Bible will tell you that it’s going to shift. It’s got to shift. The gospel is not solely an American story. We are a people among peoples, and there will be one Shepherd, there will be one people. This is what you find yourself caught up in. I don’t know what you thought of the last election, but you shouldn’t panic. We’re so polarized in our culture where you have one group that’s celebrating… and then we have other places that are building bunkers and stockpiling weapons, crying about the sacred second amendment. It’s this really weird thing right now.

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.” – Proverbs 21:1

But according to the Scriptures, God places men in office. God’s not going, “Oh no! I’m going to need a huddle here. What are we going to do about the economy in the States. I mean, we all know I love them more than any other people group on earth. So what are we going to do about that? Did you know that some of them can only afford one television, and only 700 channels?! And what’s even worse, some people have to watch their TV live, when the show airs!!! We’re really going to have to do something about this! Holy Spirit, this is on You, what have You been doing?! You need to get down there.” You can giggle about this, but that’s exactly how we think. While the whole world burns we just keep watching television and buying trinkets…

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The King of Kings and the Kings of Earth

In the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart plays the role of young, idealistic Jefferson Smith who is appointed to the U.S. Senate. When Senator Smith arrives in Washington, he dreamily boards a sightseeing bus headed for the capital city’s sites. At the Supreme Court Building, he looks up at the sacred words inscribed in marble: “Equal Justice.” Then in a moment intended to evoke a sense of majesty, he slowly ascends the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial to gaze upon the massive statue of this greatest of presidents. Alas, if only this world’s leaders were as majestic as their monuments! A few short scenes later, Senator Smith finds himself face down in the muck of D.C. corruption and power politics.

Since the history of the world, not one nation has been without corruption. Not one has lived up to the ideals inscribed on its monuments. And it’s on this landscape of fallen nations and futile kings that the story of Israel and its rulers is set.

Same as the Other Nations

As the period of the “judges” came to an end, God was Israel’s only king. But the people called for “a king to judge us the same as all the other nations have” (1st Samuel 8:5). At first, God gave them the kind of king they were looking for. King Saul was tall and handsome. But he was impetuous and foolish, jealous and paranoid. He even massacred an entire city – men, women, and children (1st Samuel 22:11-19). “Build your pretty monuments if you want,” God seemed to say, “but do you really want to put your hope here?”

But God did something unexpected. The people might have wanted a king for bad reasons, but God used for good what they meant for evil. God will rule His people through a human king, and He will make His glory known through such a king.

The message for Jefferson Smith and for us is this: You’re right to place all your hopes in a great Leader, to believe that His government will bring equal justice for all as well as life, liberty, and happiness. But you’re not going to find these in the governments or nations of this world. You’re going to find them in an unlikely place and in an unlikely Leader.

It’s true we should give thanks for just and godly leaders. At the same time, we must never forget that first and foremost, Christians are citizens of heaven. Praise God for leaders and nations that seek equal justice and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But we must remember that ultimately these things will be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. In their absolutely best moments, the governments of this world can only provide a shadow of what our Savior and King Jesus, will provide.

Work with a Loose Grip

So how does this truth affect our view of earthly leaders? First, we obey human governments, knowing that they have been instituted and authorized by King Jesus. They are His servant and agent (Luke 20:19-26; Romans 13:1-7). We should also pray for them. But we should never disobey Jesus, even if other authorities in this world call us to do so.

Second, we should never let our national identity and national values define us more than our Christian identity and Christian values. Our churches should not be gatherings of Americans; they should be gatherings of Christians who may or may not be American. What can you do to make internationals feel welcome?

Third, we should strive with whatever opportunities the Lord gives us in government: voting, policing, soldiering, adjudicating, and legislating to love Christ and to love our neighbors. Christians should work hard for peace, justice, prosperity, and the safety of our neighbors because we love them. And we should do this so that through our lives and fruit, our non-Christian neighbors get a more accurate picture of Christ and His rule. All of us have been given rule over something, even if it’s just a voting ballot, a team at work, or a homegroup. And we want to use whatever rule we have to produce good in the lives of others, just as Jesus does through His rule.

Finally, even as we work hard for good government, we do so with a loose grip, knowing that our true Savior and King is Jesus, not our favorite presidential or congressional candidate. Jesus is the hope of the nations.

Blog by: Jonathan Leeman, The Gospel Coalition Blog
(Second section is an excerpt from “The Gospel Project” for Adults Bible Study from LifeWay. — The first section was added by me.)

http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/tgc/the-king-of-kings-and-the-kings-of-earth

http://www.gospelproject.com

False Faith in Men & Governments

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“[Reinhold] Niebuhr argued that human thinking always elevates some finite value or object to be The Answer. That way we feel that we are the people who can fix things, that everyone opposing us is a fool or evil. But as with all idolatries, this too blinds us. In Marxism [socialism] the powerful State becomes the savior and capitalists are demonized. In conservative economic thought, free markets and competition will solve our problems, and therefore liberals and big government are the obstacles to a happy society.

The reality is much less simplistic. Highly progressive tax structures can produce a kind of injustice where people who have worked hard go unrewarded [and are actually punished for their hard work] and are penalized by high taxes. A society of low taxes and few benefits, however, produces a different kind of injustice, where the children of some families who can afford good health care and elite education have vastly better opportunities than those who cannot. In short, ideologies cannot admit that there are always significant negative side-effects to any political program. They often cannot grant that their opponents have good ideas too.

In any culture in which God is largely absent, sex, money, and politics will fill the vacuum for different people. This is the reason that our political discourse is increasingly ideological and polarized. Many describe the current poisonous public discourse as a lack of bi-partisanship, but the roots go much deeper than that. As Niebuhr taught, they go back to the beginning of the world, to our alienation from God, and to our frantic efforts to compensate for our feelings of cosmic nakedness and powerlessness. The only way to deal with all these things is to heal our relationship with God.” – Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. (New York: Dutton, 2009.), 106-107.

“Man is insecure, and . . . he seeks to overcome his insecurity by a will-to-power. . . . He pretends he is not limited.” – Keller, 110.

“When the illusion of control disappears, we become men and women of prayer.” – Matt Chandler

“[In Daniel 2:31-35] The statue represented the kingdoms of the earth. It appeared as a giant idol, and represented the idolization of human power and achievement. It was human civilization – commerce and culture, rule, and power, all exercised by human beings to glorify themselves. . . . [Nebuchadnezzar] had not believed, however, that there was one preeminent, all-powerful lawgiver to whom everyone was accountable, including him. He was being told that there was one supreme God, who was sovereign and judge, and to whom he was responsible for his use of power. . . . What we learn here is that theology matters, that much of our addiction to power and control is due to false conceptions of God. Gods of our own making may allow us to be “masters of our fate.” Sociologist Christian Smith gave the name “moralistic, therapeutic deism” to the dominant understanding of God he discovered among younger Americans. [Smith] describes this set of beliefs: God blesses and takes to heaven those who try to live good and decent lives (the “moralistic” belief). The central goal in life is not to sacrifice, or to deny oneself, but to be happy and feel good about yourself (the “therapeutic” belief). Though God exists and created the world, He does not need to be particularly involved in our lives except when there is a problem (that is “deism”).

This view of God literally makes you master of your fate and captain of your soul. Salvation and happiness is up to you. Some have pointed out that “moralistic, therapeutic deism” could only develop in a comfortable, prosperous society among privileged people. People “at the top” are eager to attribute their position to their own intellect, savvy, and hard work. The reality is much more complicated. Personal connections, family environment, and what appears to be plain luck [the grace and sovereign will of God] determine how successful a person is. We are the product of three things – genetics, environment, and our personal choices – but two of these three factors we have no power over. We are not nearly as responsible for our success as our popular views of God and reality lead us to think.” – Keller, 114-116.

“The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.” This means that anyone who is successful is simply a recipient of God’s unmerited favor. Even the people at the top of the world’s hierarchy of power, wealth, and influence are really “lowliest” – they are no better than anyone else. This is a rudimentary form of the Gospel – that what we have is the result of grace, not of our “works” or “efforts.” – Keller, 120.

“Any religion that needs state and government power (especially if it would result to terrorism) to enforce obedience to it, is a religion without confidence in the power of its god, or even any regard for basic humanity.” – Unknown

“Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” – Psalm 40:4

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” – Psalm 118:8-9

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” – Psalm 146:3

“Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” – Isaiah 2:22

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.'”– Jeremiah 17:5

“Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” – John 12:41-43

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:1-10

“What did you have to do with being born? Did you work hard to earn the privilege of being born? Did it happen due to your hard work and skillful planning? Not at all. You don’t earn or contribute anything to being born. It is a free gift of life. And so it is with the new birth. Salvation by grace – there are no moral efforts that can earn or merit it. You must be born again.” – Keller