Entries for October 2012

Even though "progressives" wish we'd gotten past the abortion issue by now, it has certainly not faded from this election cycle. In fact, "social issues" (marriage and abortion) once again offer some of the clearest distinctions between candidates at all levels.

Both candidates for president, however, agree abortion should be admissible in cases of rape, incest, and the life (and health) of the mother. This has not been the case in other contests and the rape issue has somewhat blown up in all our faces. Republican candidates could do a better job expressing themselves, but it's surprising how surprised the media has been by the idea that executing one of the victims of a crime ought to be a crime. (And, no, scorn for opposing views does not qualify as a rationale.)

Aside from the standard objection to such "hard case" abortions -- that a person's right to life is not altered by the circumstances of his or her conception -- the pro-life view seems to steadily lose resonance. That's as Jesus predicted (John 15:18-21), so please let us not act surprised.

Tired of being on the defensive, one Christian blogger put together 10 questions that pro-choice candidates should be forced to answer. I'd add an eleventh: Why should being conceived in rape or incest be a death sentence? "Liberals" are usually so good at identity politics, so I wonder why they can't distinguish between a rapist and his baby.

Pregnancy resulting from rape touches on a host of meaty doctrinal issues. A theologian would really be able to sink his teeth into them, but I'll sketch out a few aspects of the biblical worldview that have been overlooked in the recent drama:

  • Sin - Non-biblical worldviews deny its existence, but the Bible says there is such a thing, and that rape belongs under the heading (Deut 22:25-29). God is the ultimate One sinned against, as well as the victim (Psalm 51:4). Rapists and abortionists must answer to Him (Gen. 9:5).

  • Justice - Non-biblical worldviews mistakenly blame the victim for rape, or punish the children. Deuteronomy 24:16 says only the perpetrator is guilty. 

  • Suffering - Non-biblical worldviews say a sovereign God would never allow suffering, so instances of rape mean God either doesn't exist or is weak and not worth our time. In the biblical worldview, God is always great and good, no matter what happens to His creatures. Suffering is a result of Adam's sin and sovereignly allowed by God for purposes known to Him and rarely revealed to us (Job 1-2, Gen. 50:19-20).

  • Life - Non-biblical worldviews view life as random and essentially meaningless. The Bible teaches, however, that God is the source of all life (Genesis 1-2, John 5:26, Col. 1:16-17, 1 Tim. 6:13). Human life is no accident and all human beings are created in God's image (Gen. 1:26-27, Ps. 139:13-16). This includes the child of rape or of any illicit sexual encounter. It even includes the rapist!

  • Parenthood - Non-biblical worldviews increasingly consider children as commodities owned by their parents, but in the biblical worldview, children belong to God and are granted to parents in a stewardship arrangement (Psalm 127:3). Adoption reflects God's loving character and is an excellent alternative to abortion (Eph. 1:5). 

  • Redemption - We who know the Savior who redeems and restores sinners should let these truths shape our responses to rape victims and their children. We should also never let the magnitude and horror of such a violation be too far from our imagination. We should suffer alongside women as they relive their trauma. When they elect to continue a pregnancy, we should support them with a sense of respect, awe, and gratitude for the abundance of God's grace in their lives. We should love and welcome their children.

This has been an admittedly rudimentary treatment of theological issues at stake in our culture. [Added 10/31/12: To demonstrate the difficulty of saying everything you need to on this subject, I found myself today regretting I hadn't made a point about how abortion solves nothing -- doesn't erase the rape or negate the trauma -- it only compounds the violence and violation that women feel. I also should have provided a link to What About Abortion for Rape or Incest? on our website.]

Related: 
Mohler: The Mourdock Moment -- Life, Death, and Lies on the Campaign Trail
Christianity Today: Are Pregnancies Even from Rape a Gift from God?
Douthat: The Press and Abortion, Revisited
Richard Mourdock Gets in Trouble for His Extremely Conventional Religious Beliefs
Rape, Conception, and God: Why Mourdock Was Right
Our Media & The Blessed Rape Baby
Rape, God, Life, and Liberals
Reardon: The Despicable “God Intends Rape” Comments
Mohler: The Great American Worldview Test -- The 2012 Election
Pro-life group vows changes after Akin debacle

Personal stories:
“Rape hurt my mother, but abortion devastated her.”
‘I’m not a mistake.’ Five women conceived in rape support Mourdock
I was conceived in rape. Did I deserve to be aborted?
My Rape Pregnancy and My Furor Over Social Myths
Dear Ann Coulter: babies conceived in rape are not cannon fodder

Postscript: I was just chatting on Facebook with a friend in Kenya and asked him to pray for our country as we undertake the election next week. He replied, "I fervently pray for your nation. May God give you a leader after his heart and give all of you wisdom as you elect." And then he said something that put everything we endure -- endless robo-calls and attack ads -- in perspective: "Pray for us also as we come to elections. Civil wars arise and many kill each other." Wow. Good reminder, huh? Please pray for Kenya!

What does the following factoid say about our culture?

The National Retail Federation projects that Americans will spend $370 million this year on Halloween costumes . . . for their pets!

It's ridiculous on so many levels: There's the folly of celebrating ancient pagan rituals; the pretense of substituting cats and dogs for children; and finally, the fiction that Americans are suffering under a down economy.

Oh, what Life Matters Worldwide could do with $370 million! Or any number of pro-life ministries . . . combined. Did you know that our entire budget for this year is a little over one-tenth of one percent of that figure ($392,000)?

How should we explain this to friends in Africa, Latin America, or Asia, where paganism is not a game and the struggle for daily survival is all-consuming? What couldn't they do with a fraction of what we waste?

Meanwhile, in Uruguay, the country's Senate has joined its House in legalizing abortion in the first trimester. The first abortion clinic has recently opened in Northern Ireland. And in China, abortions continue on a pace of 13 million per year! These three reports were found in a quick scan of headlines from just one newspaper this morning -- The New York Times. They show that we Americans have done a good job of exporting abortion culture.

What can we do? I'd like to think that with more support we could do more to fight abortion here and abroad. We could do more to counter philosophies and vain deceit (Col. 2:8).

This past weekend our board met to discuss next year's general budget and special projects. For now, we're still working on meeting this year's goals. If you'd like to help us, click the 'Donate Today' tab above. From there you can select General Fund or one of our projects to support.

Thank you!

Jesus' description of a future separation of sheep from goats in Matthew 25:31-46 has always held me in fascinated terror. I remember hearing my mother read it when I was a child of five or six and feeling an awful pang of conviction. Had I ever helped someone in such a way that would keep me from being lumped with the goats?

When I asked our president, Tom Lothamer, what he was musing about this week, he brought up this passage. And he said that on a recent reading something struck him afresh. He noted how unconscious the sheep seem to be of their own actions. When told why they are worthy to "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," they ask, "When did we do all this for you?" They seem unaware that helping people, particularly "the least of these my brothers," was actually service to Him.

I think this means sheep are those who serve Christ without consciousness of self, from an overflow of worship and gratitude. What they are conscious of is God's constant presence and protection, His watchful eye, His glorious character that exudes mercy and grace. They don't think about service in terms such as, "I'd better do this for God." Or "I need to rack up more good works." Or "It's my duty as a Christian to help so-and-so." Somehow they are honestly innocent about service to others. They display the beauty of a life transformed by the Holy Spirit.

Goats, on the other hand, seem very conscious of all they have done. Their question is, "When did we not take care of you?" They are religious about keeping score, racking up points, mindful of earning something, making their own way. It's the same attitude that comes through in Matthew 7:22 about people who profess to know the Lord but are ultimately denied by Him.

There have always been questions about this portion of chapter 25, such as who is Christ intending as "the least of these"? And what is meant when He says this is a judgment of "the nations"? Not to be missed, however, is the Bible's unavoidable emphasis on helping the helpless (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Psalm 41:1; Proverbs 19:17, 21:13; Luke 10:25-37, Hebrews 13:1-3, 1 John 3:16-19).

What does this have to do with being pro-life?

Everything. Leaving someone hungry, sick, by the side of the road, and so on consigns him or her to the present condition. Left unattended, unless someone else steps in, he or she will die. And then the question is, will his or her blood will be held to my account (Genesis 9:5)? Will I have to answer for it?

I am my brother's keeper. I am called to be a good neighbor. I may hope and pray for others to come along, but I don't know they will. I am here. I am aware of a need. I must do something.

The Good Samaritan was more conscious of the beaten man's need of help than of its cost to himself or his own piety. He said, in effect, "If I don't take care of this person, who will?"

In the latest update from Bill and Lori Smith (10/14/12), the missionaries to Papua New Guinea write:

Real religion is a relationship with God through His Son and it is lived out in our lives among the people we touch each day. It is not something done each week . . . our religious activities . . . it is a life-transforming daily explosion of His power through my life [my emphasis]. It is reaching out to the lost and hurting around me. It is being willing to go to the place of sacrifice and be willing to be hurt and used and abused to show my love! Leaving my comfy pew and putting into action the love of God to those that need it most! . . .

We can work or we can serve . . . there is such a difference.

What a joy that as we refocus and see God clearly in our lives He eclipses the irritants, fears and frustrations. We give because He has given all for us. We love endlessly because we are loved beyond measure. Our actions speak the words in our lives.

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."

Paul encouraged believers in the 1st century with these words (2 Thess. 2:16-17), and they bless our hearts today. Life Matters Worldwide's mission statement echoes the thought:

Helping the Body of Christ articulate the biblical pro-life message in word and deed.

Word and deed. Proclamation and practice. It's an over-arching theme in Scripture, Old and New Testaments. The prophets were famous for challenging people who professed to have faith in God to also help the suffering person -- or at least stop participating in their oppression. Isaiah 58:1-11, Jeremiah 7:4-7, Zechariah 7:9-12, and 8:16-17 are just a few OT passages that come to mind.

James completes the thought in 2:12-17: 

"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

From our earliest days, this organization was founded on the principle that "it's not enough to say abortion [or now assisted suicide] is wrong, we must also offer alternatives." There are many ways to do that. We've made it an aim to express our beliefs in actions that establish and sustain pregnancy care centers as effective Gospel outreaches. And, through LIFT, to help Christians offer practical and spiritual support when church members are chronically or terminally ill. 

Whatever you do for Christ today, may God encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word!

Related article that may hurt to read: Pregnant and homeless on the doorsteps of a Christian megachurch

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