Family Life

Close you eyes and imagine the following for a moment:

You are a pastor in a foreign country. 

You see needs in the lives of the many people who surround you. 

They face fear, poverty, cultural estrangement and uncertainty due to unwanted  and unexpected pregnancies.

Child are dying everyday.

What do you do?

Western advisers may discuss traditional outreach methods like pregnancy care centers, abstinence programs and education needed for you area. But how do you locate those unwanted children now before it is too late? Before infanticide occurs?

Human ingenuity came to the rescue for one South Korean pastor. With little money and few resources, he installed a "Baby Drop Box" in his church. Click here to read this amazing story!

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." 

~George S. Patton

We've been focusing on the sanctity of marriage as it relates to the sanctity of human life. This Musing follows up on that theme and is a preview of our Powered by God curriculum that comes out in June. This is taken from the teacher preparation portion of lesson 10 and demonstrates how the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of marriage are intertwined:

Some people look to the animals for clues about human sexuality. They see that some animals reproduce asexually. Other creatures may attempt to mate with the same sex. Still others may switch genders in the course of their development. 

Is this a model or pattern for humans? Do we take from this information that homosexuality or bi-sexuality is normal? Did God create animals this way, or have they deviated from His plan? (One might also ask whether it's progress or regress to behave like animals?)

First of all, animals are amoral. Nowhere in the Bible is an animal spoken of as being moral or immoral, evil or good. Animals just are, and their behaviors are instinctual. They don’t have a choice about how they act. Therefore we can conclude that their sexual or reproductive activities are amoral. They are as God planned them. As far as we know, man’s rebellion did not change the way various kinds of animals reproduce, just as it did not fundamentally change the way human beings procreate.

Furthermore, patterning our lives after animals is dangerous. It’s an idea that flows from the evolutionary belief that mankind is just a higher or “more evolved” form of animal, that we are part of the animal kingdom. As we have seen, the Bible clearly teaches that human beings were created by God to bear His image, and to exercise dominion over animals and the rest of creation. No animal was given that distinction.

Also, when God created the animals, He did not specify they would be male and female (unlike what He said about the creation of human beings), only that they would reproduce after their kind (Cf. Genesis 1:21-28). We must conclude that whatever way animals reproduce, whatever behaviors they display, it is as a result of God’s plan for them.

If God planned for animals to reproduce asexually, to change genders, or to mate with more than one partner, does that mean it is His plan for us, too? No; we were created male and female. Human procreation is meant to be between male and female. In it’s pure form (within marriage), human sexuality reflects God’s image.

Even though we now have all sorts of techniques for procreating in test tubes and laboratories, it still requires male and female gametes (egg and sperm). Even if a homosexual couple “has children” (through surrogacy or adoption), the child is still the result of a union between male and female gametes.

Finally, human beings are moral creatures. Our actions are described as being either moral or immoral, good or evil. In the Bible, God is very specific about the sexual practices that are moral or immoral. 

  • God brought the first heterosexual couple together in marriage (Genesis 2:22-24).
  • Jesus blessed the wedding at Cana with His gift of good wine (John 2).
  • Jesus differentiated between cohabitation and marriage in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:16-18). Note: She was of another culture, yet he held her to the biblical pattern for marriage.
  • Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more” (John 8).
  • The sexual practices that God condemns are delineated in these Old Testament passages: Genesis 19; Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:6-24, 20:10-21; Deuteronomy 22:13-30; 1 Kings 22:46. They include rape, sodomy, adultery (pre- or extra-marital relations), prostitution, and incest. These actions were associated with the pagan cultures that the Israelites replaced in the Promised Land.
  • Old Testament prohibitions of sexual immorality are reiterated in numerous New Testament passages: Romans 1:26-27; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:3-5; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 7. 
  • The New Testament upholds sexual purity as the standard for all believers: 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 and 6:9-20; 2 Thessalonians 4:1-7.
  • God exacted severe punishment for sexual immorality committed by the ancient Israelites in conjunction with idolatry in Numbers 25:1-9. Paul uses the incident as a warning to Corinthian believers (1 Corinthians 10:8). A final warning is found in Revelation 21:8 (NKJV) – “The sexually immoral . . . shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
  • Hebrews 13:4 (NASV) says, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” 

From this preponderance of biblical evidence, we conclude that sexual sin is any sexual act outside the marriage of one woman and one man.

Dear friends,

Biblical morality is taking another beating. Forty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside the sanctity of human life in favor of freedom and equality. Today, that same body is poised to abandon the sanctity of marriage for the same reasons.

While upholding marriage wouldn’t seem to be a top priority for Life Matters Worldwide, it’s really impossible to separate it from what we do in defense of life. Strong marriages between one man and one woman for life are God’s design for raising children. 

All over the world we see the effects of abandoning biblical principles: promiscuity, adultery, divorce, abuse of women, sex slavery, sexually transmitted infections, neglected children, and so on. Where is freedom and equality? These effects look more like bondage and fear.

There’s a lot to be done. People need to hear that salvation in Christ is the source of true freedom and equality (Colossians 3:9-11). They need to be taught the full counsel of God’s word, no matter which way the world is going. Read more in "Are the foundations crumbling?"

The pro-life ethic is rooted in Genesis and propelled by the Gospel. It’s our mission to articulate that ethic in word and deed. Thank you for your donations that make this all possible.

Carrying forth the Name,

Tom Lothamer, president

Related:
The world cannot hear us on marriage
Monogamy, Exclusivity and Permanence?
Question: Why are Christians opposed to marriage equality?

Our intern Amanda is helping me send out our latest copy-ready insert . . . she by mail and me by email. It's been called "Life Matters" for 13 years, this being volume 13, number 1. It comes out three times a year (April, July, and October) and is meant to supplement the full-color printed insert that we produce for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday each January.

This issue is called, "Are the foundations crumbling?" and deals with our culture's attack on the sanctity of marriage as seen in the cases currently before the Supreme Court. What does it mean that only 40 years before that same body judged the sanctity of human life to be irrelevant?

And what should Christians do in response? Cave in? Protest? 

Truly, the pro-life ethic is rooted in Genesis and propelled by the Gospel. It is also fleshed out in the daily lives of believers . . . or should be. Click here to read the rest.

Many of us are prone to thinking abortion is something that only happens to unbelievers. If that’s true, why do many self-professed Christians end up at abortion clinics?

  • A young woman calls a pregnancy helpline to inquire about abortion. Even though she claims to be a believer and agrees abortion violates God’s plan, she has concluded it’s what she’s “supposed to do” because she and her boyfriend had taken precautions. For her, adoption would be “too hard.”
  • A “Christian” couple is divided over what to do. The young man says he’ll do whatever it takes to stop his future wife from aborting, even if it means confessing to their parents. She’s reluctant to spoil their “fairy tale” wedding plans. 
  • A teenager obtains a judicial injunction so she can abort without her parents’ consent. They are “wonderful” people, yet she can’t bring herself to tell them she’s pregnant. Her plan is to attend Bible college (one that doesn’t accept unmarried pregnant students) and to turn this “difficult experience” into an opportunity for future ministry with youth. 

All three women sought abortions in Grand Rapids – once known as a “city of churches” – during a three-week span in September of 2007. Our hearts broke over these stories that reveal seemingly rampant sexual sin, an alarming depth of selfishness, and an amazing lack of conscience among people who should know better. 

What’s going on? Or maybe we should ask, what’s not going on? Are church people being taught that although abortion is controversial and “political,” it’s primarily a matter of the heart requiring repentance and forgiveness? Do they know the suffering it causes? Do they appreciate the sanctity of marriage and of human life? Do they understand what sexual sin is? Do they know what to do when they fall?

Life Matters became aware of these cases because there’s another group of Christians at the clinics. “Sidewalk counselors” serve as a last line of defense for the unborn and their mothers. They see cars pull into the parking lot, some with Christian bumper stickers. They pray. They extend the love of Christ and the truth about abortion to any who will listen. They tell them about alternatives to abortion and offer to accompany them to the local PCC. 

Lives have changed as a result. Women have walked away from the clinics with smiles on their faces and hope in their steps. They’ve received emotional and material support for the duration of their pregnancies, and beyond. Babies are alive today who otherwise would not have made it, thanks to the tireless devotion of a few.

Sadly, no one was standing watch outside a Massachusetts clinic the day Laura Hope Smith died on the abortionist’s table. Or if they were, she failed to heed their pleas. Reported to be a “born again” member of a Bible centered church, the 22-year-old had no idea September 13, 2007, would be her last day, and abortion her final act. 

While the highest rate of abortion belongs to women with a non-Christian religious affiliation or no affiliation at all, about 15 percent of those aborting identify themselves as born-again, evangelical, charismatic, or fundamentalist.

Mystified by such statistics and by her daughter’s actions, Laura’s mother Eileen admits she’d “always been pro-life in my heart, but sad to say, that’s where it stayed. I thought abortion was here to stay, the law of the land. I thought if I could just practice my Christian faith -- faithfully going to church, faithfully telling people about the Lord and how God can change their lives -- then I would surely be tackling abortion from that end. I still think that’s somewhat true.” 

It is very true, but as she now says, “Parents should also talk about abortion with their children.” 

One t hing parents can do is model proper attitudes, such as:  

1. Sexual sin is wrong, whether it results in pregnancy or not

2. Life is God's gift no matter how a baby is conceived

3. Unborn babies should not be punished for their parents' sins

They can also convey the preventative messages that we published in an earlier Musing. If Life Matters can help, let us know.

Which would be harder to hear: "Mom, Dad . . . I'm pregnant" or "Mom, Dad . . . years ago I had an abortion because I was afraid to tell you I was pregnant"?

It's not a hypothetical exercise. Given the numbers of teen pregnancies and abortions in this country, for many families it's all too real . . . like the family to which the Garden of Hope recently introduced us.

A young woman called their hotline last week, seeking information about abortion. She thought she'd "quickly and secretly" terminate her pregnancy while on a visit to Grand Rapids. As a college student, having a child would complicate her life, but her greatest challenge would be telling her parents.

We talked for a long time and this dear, sweet girl had no clue about the devastation brought on by the decision to end the life of her child. I assured her that her parents would know something had happened because the sparky, happy young girl that left their house to come to GR would never be back and they would want to know what was happening to their daughter.

As she hung up the phone, she promised to talk to her parents, and the next day she called back to report. Her mom "felt badly" she'd been afraid to talk to them. They support her plan to continue the pregnancy and assure her they'll work out everything together.

Not all parents are this understanding -- some overtly pressure reluctant daughters to abort their babies -- but most are mature adults who know how to handle disappointments and setbacks. Parents love their children, have sacrificed much on their behalf already, and genuinely want what's best for them. Young people need encouragement to enlist parental input and not act on mistaken assumptions their parents will "kill" them when they receive bad news.

Still, as Russell Moore cautions in his response to TIME magazine's cover story on how the pro-life side seems to be winning, "It’s easy to identify as 'pro-life' when one sees nothing really at stake." He goes on:

A feminist leader once said that most Americans are pro-life with three exceptions: rape, incest, and “my situation.” When the teenage daughter is pregnant, the theory is abandoned and bloodthirsty pragmatism rules. I fear this feminist is all too right.

Pharaoh was pro-immigrant until the Israelites threatened what he wanted. The first Herod Administration was pro-Messiah until the actual Messiah threatened his throne. The second Herod Administration was fine with desert prophets until one meddled with his “adult entertainment.” Lots of people are pro-life and pro-child until the lives of children become personally inconvenient.

. . . [W]e must have a realistic view about how ingrained the abortion-rights worldview is in our culture.

Yes, in our culture, and in our hearts. As with other temptations, it's well before we face this one that we need to determine what our response will be. If we expect our teens to do the right thing when their backs are to the wall, we also must be firm in our minds how we'll react when they make a mistake.

Most Christian parents are zealous about getting the message of sexual purity across to their teens. The trick is striking a balance between that and the equally biblical message of the sanctity of human life. So that his daughter wouldn't err into thinking abortion was better than coming home pregnant, our president Tom Lothamer repeatedly told her, "If you make a big mistake, like getting pregnant outside marriage, don't run to the world for help. Come home! It's safer. Whatever it is, we'll handle it together."

Truly, grace is greater than all our sin. The challenge is to be "cross-bearing for the child-bearing," as John Ensor writes. "To be a lifesaver, you must do what lifesavers do every day" in pregnancy care centers. In closing, I summarize his points:

  1. You must listen and love
  2. Lower her fear and increase her hope
  3. Amplify the voice of her own moral conscience
  4. Inform and educate her
  5. Offer your personal help

Related: 

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!

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