Pro-Life

Other than perhaps Kumbaya, it's difficult to find a hymn or gospel song strongly emphasizing brotherly care -- especially ones that so powerfully creates a picture for us of carrying one another on this long journey of life. Most of our hymns (very appropriately) sing to or about God, but isn't the second greatest commandment something to sing about as well?

When Life Matters Worldwide's President, Tom Lothamer, speaks in churches, he makes a point of sharing the forgiveness that can be found in Christ after an abortion. He doesn't know who's listening. Perhaps someone with a guilty conscience, or someone contemplating abortion.

It's obvious that human beings should treat animals well, but when it comes to animal life versus human life, we must favor God's creatures who are made in His image. Passages such as Genesis 9:2-6 and Exodus 21:28-36 are instructive. Indeed, human beings are "exceptional."

Suffering in silence

It's so tempting to say, "You're strong! You're gonna make it." But we should instead be praying suffering people will BECOME strong . . . in the Lord. For some of us, however, holding our silence is a form of extreme suffering.

She had been taken from her home and they had not allowed her to return. She'd probably seen members of her family killed, or also taken captive. This nameless servant girl probably had no hope of ever returning to Israel. But like Joseph, she maintained her faith in God and adherence to His ways.

Keep the "human" in the "sanctity of life"

Human life is special. We are the only form of life which is said to be made in God's image (Gen. 1:26-28). That's why we talk about human life as being "sacred" or having "sanctity." We are set apart from every other form of life.

Murder mystery

In Genesis 9:5-6, God made killers accountable for the human blood they shed --

Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. 
And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man.

Our new Brother's Keeper video demonstrates the importance of accounting for every life:

Brother's Keeper from Life Matters Worldwide on Vimeo. Available in HD on our Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Slideshow DVD -- free!

As our bulletin insert for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday 2016 points out, God's law differentiated between manslaughter and murder. According to Numbers 35, a person would be charged with murder if he used a weapon against his victim, was known to hate the victim, struck him in enmity, or ambushed him. If the victim was a friend and the killing unplanned, it could be considered manslaughter.

People guilty of murder were handed over to the victim's avenger. Manslayers, on the other hand, could reside in a city of refuge without fear. Thus each death was examined and acknowledged.

But what about when the person responsible for a violent death was unknown? We've prepared a study of Deuteronomy 21:1-9 that shows how God said murder mysteries should be resolved. You're welcome to download The Case of the Unknown Killer for your Sunday school class or Bible study group.

God's word urges us to treat the disabled person as our neighbor, to watch out for them as a brother.

Oh hold them back!

With the stroke of a pen, California governor Jerry Brown on Monday approved assisted suicide in his state. With Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana, 10% of the country now has the right to expect doctors to help them die.

This is not only a problem for doctors. Patients – especially the disabled – will be more vulnerable. They will feel a duty to die. This is why doctor groups and disability advocates oppose assisted suicide.

Death is insatiable. We know this as a spiritual reality, but it’s also a historical phenomenon. In Europe, the euthanasia slippery slope looks like this: It began with the legalization of assisted suicide for the terminally ill, and then involuntary euthanasia for the mentally incompetent was added. Later they allowed anyone age 12 and over who’s suffering to request “aid in dying,” and now a Dutch pediatrician wants to erase the age limit.

As we know, death is not the answer to suffering. We live by God’s grace; by His compassion, we assist those who are struggling.

This is why it’s so crucial that churches be equipped to offer support to the elderly and terminally ill. Through LIFT, Life Matters Worldwide offers a Christian response to suffering. LIFT is Living in Faith Together. Churches adopting the LIFT program help each other live out their days without fear and without succumbing to the world’s “wisdom.”

We've used the passage from Proverbs 24 to urge action on abortion. It fits here, too:

Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?

And will He not render to man according to his work?

Related reading:
Assisted suicide increases other suicides
What's really needed is access to palliative care sooner: here and here

I'm always fascinated by the glimpses of missionary life in Bill and Lori Smith's weekly newsletters. They serve in Papua New Guinea -- he with national pastors through a Bible college and she through a medical clinic. Life Matters helped the clinic obtain ultrasound equipment that has saved several babies' lives.

In a recent newsletter, Lori related how they'll be taking an evangelistic mobile clinic to Sagifa this Friday. Safiga is the home village of one of Lori's patients who died recently of cancer. Lillian accepted Christ before she died, but her village remains in deep bondage to the forces of evil. 

"Sorcery is the iron band that chains her people in fear," Lori writes. When Lillian died in Bill and Lori's home, the village sent a witch "to try to decipher the person responsible for her death so they could be killed." 

While this practice is shocking to Western sensibilities, when I consider it in light of the biblical pro-life ethic, I find surprising similarities. 

Genesis 9:5-6 says -- 

For your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
 
“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed;

for in the image of God has God made mankind.

Note that the fact man bears God's image is the reason for the death penalty and not a reason for prohibiting it. 

It's amazing to me that a seemingly primitive or "backward" culture sees human life as distinct from that of animals and important enough to avenge.

The difference, however, between the PNG tribal understanding of "the sanctity of human life" and the biblical pro-life ethic is that God's word presses societies to determine the cause of a death -- whether it is natural, accidental, or homicidal. The penalty, if any, depends upon the cause. Accidental deaths are treated differently than intentional and, of course, natural deaths caused by old age or disease are not avenged at all.

Instructive passages:

Exodus 21:28-32 - what to do if an animal kills a person

Leviticus 20:1-5 - what to do if someone offers a child in sacrifice to an idol

Numbers 35:6-34 and Deuteronomy 19 - distinctions between murder and manslaughter

Dt. 21:1-9 - what to do in the case of an unsolved murder

It's also very important to note, furthermore, that the biblical way of determining a cause of death relies on evidence -- not intuition, hearsay, or sorcery. The witch's method serves the agenda of the Enemy, leading to more deaths of innocent people in an endless cycle of revenge and superstition.

God's law requires careful investigation, public inquiry, and the testimony of more than one witness. So we see how societies can pervert God's intent and how biblical justice prevents witchhunts.

Find out what happened when Lori's mobile clinic team went to Safiga

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