Categories
Life

Rescuing Little Ones with Jesus-like Love

I’m preparing to lead a discussion later this month on abortion as part of our summer Culture & Theology series at Grace Chapel. In my research, I ran across this article on Biblical Ethics in the ESV Study Bible. Here’s a snippet of that article discussing abortion in early Christian literature.

Against the bleak backdrop of Roman culture, the Hebrew “sanctity of human life” ethic provided the moral framework for early Christian condemnation of abortion and infanticide. For instance, the Didache 2.2 (c. a.d. 85–110) commands, “thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.” Another noncanonical early Christian text, the Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c. a.d. 130), said: “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide.” There are numerous other examples of Christian condemnation of both infanticide and abortion. In fact, some biblical scholars have argued that the silence of the NT on abortion per se is due to the fact that it was simply assumed to be beyond the pale of early Christian practice. Nevertheless, Luke (a physician) points to fetal personhood when he observes that the unborn John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth came into the presence of Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus at the time (Luke 1:44).

More than merely condemning abortion and infanticide, however, early Christians provided alternatives by rescuing and adopting children who were abandoned. For instance, Callistus (d. c. a.d. 223) provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.

The second paragraph is particularly intriguing to me (and my wife, I’m sure, though she doesn’t know I’m posting this!). What Christians did in the first century was actively seek to provide a better alternative than killing babies. They fostered and adopted abandoned children. As Carly and I anticipate our third child (a boy!) journeying from the waters of the womb to the air of earth, we are beginning to think and pray about how we can be a 21st century Callistus and Benignus. Christians must keep exposing the works of darkness, like abortion, because we know the true Story. But if we truly want to make an impact, we must live the true story by rescuing the most vulnerable among us.

This is not just an individual Christian endeavor—a James Pruch “thing.”. This is an all of us endeavor—a gospel thing. This is an all of us thing because, after all, this is exactly what God, in his mercy, did for all of his children. If you are a Christian, the Apostle Paul writes, you have been adopted through Jesus (Eph. 1:5). God has rescued you from the darkness and into his family of love (Eph. 2:4). Later in that same letter, Paul calls his readers to “imitate God as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1).

How might we imitate God in our cultural context, as it relates to rescuing babies, the most vulnerable among us? What will we do as local churches and as a global church to praise the glorious grace of God for our adoption (Eph. 1:6)? What will you do? Adopt? Foster? Respite care for other foster parents? Disciple women who go into pro-life pregnancy centers? Donate money to people who adopt (adoption is expensive!)? There are an abundance of possibilities!

When we rescue little ones—in any number of ways—we give ourselves up in Jesus-like love. Make no mistake, this is a call to die. But we are not calling little ones to die. It’s a call to die to ourselves. When Christians live like Callistus or Benignus, we are actually living like Christ. We are not saying, “You for me,” like abortion. We are saying, “Me for you,” like Jesus. We are saying, “I’ll give up my comfort, my convenience, my money, my time, my schedule, my reputation, my everything for you.”

Sounds like a better alternative. Doesn’t it?

Categories
Life

Calvin on Abortion

From John Calvin’s Commentary on the Last Four Books of Moses:

For the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.

Categories
Life

The Gosnell Story

If you are unfamiliar with the Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who is on trial for murder, watch this 21-minute documentary below. You can also read about Gosnell in a recent USA Today article. World Magazine has ongoing coverage of the case

As a small way to help spread the word on this atrocity which is being completely ignored by the national media, please Tweet, Facebook, or blog these links.

http://vimeo.com/44824447

Categories
Life Theology

Roe v. Wade and the Ultrasound of Our Second Baby

January 22 was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As Joe Carter at TGC writes, “To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Center for Reproductive Rights released a creepy video in which actor Mehcad Brooks attempts to humorously sexualize and anthromorphize the abortion-on-demand law.”

January 22 was also the day that my wife and I went to see an ultrasound of our second child. (I’m proud to say that our baby is a girl—our second.) It was surreal to think we are celebrating the life of a little girl, one we get to see through the common grace of modern technology, on the same day others are celebrating the slaughter of millions of little girls and little boys.

Today, our daughter is just over nineteen weeks old. Did you know that according to the latest statistics, 1.8% of abortions kill babies that are between 18-19 weeks? That is almost 22,000 people.

That’s 22,000 people who have their heart beating about 155 beats per minute.

That’s 22,000 people who have a 3 cm-long femur.

That’s 22,000 people who have two fully-functioning kidneys.

That’s 22,000 people who start to grow hair.

That’s 22,000 people who can taste, see, smell, and touch.

That’s 22,000 people who can hear their mommy talk and sing.

That’s 22,000 people who have the ability to suck their thumb, cross their legs, and push back when the ultrasound tech presses in.

Of course, there are nearly 1.21 million total babies each year—3,700 each day—in the United States who are killed. The majority (nearly 90% of babies), however, never get the privilege to develop this far. This right is stolen from them. If we remember anything from our childhood days, it should not be so, for “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

In light of that, consider these four simple arguments from Scott Klusendorf that prove true Dr. Seuss’s wisdom. You can remember these arguments with the acronym S.L.E.D.

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

When the day is done, abortion is killing babies. Not tissue or cells. Babies. They will not turn out to be anything else. They will not be birthed as trucks or frogs or trees or laptops or dogs. They are human. Babies.

This is terribly bad news. But there is good news. Don’t you long for some good news? The good news of the gospel is that God saves sinners. Everyone is a sinner—including those who have had abortions, supported abortions, and made creepy abortion videos. Also hear me say, this includes Christians who have been unmerciful and even nasty toward those who have aborted babies. This also includes me, the Christian blog writer, who needs Jesus more than you can imagine! The gospel is the good news that Jesus lived the kind of life we should have lived, in perfect obedience to God, died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and rose from the grave as proof that God accepted his payment. This is for everyone. All who come to Jesus receive hope, forgiveness, healing, and new life. All who cry out for mercy and grace will be heard.

They sacrificed their sons
and their daughters to the demons;
they poured out innocent blood,
the blood of their sons and daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,
and the land was polluted with blood.
Thus they became unclean by their acts,
and played the whore in their deeds.

Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes
and were brought low through their iniquity.

Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress,
when he heard their cry.
For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
He caused them to be pitied
by all those who held them captive.

Save us, O Lord our God!

(Psalm 106:37-47)

Categories
Life

To what extent should churches and pastors engage in politics?

Each day, I have a short (“short” is relative) discussion with the junior high pastor (Jack) at my church about any topic related to theology, culture, or practical living. We rotate who chooses the question every day. Today, the question was the title to this post. I plan on posting one or two takeaways from the better discussions we have.

The posts will be abbreviated, and I realize I risk oversimplifying the answers to these tough questions in a 500-word-or-less post. But I hope these short blogs are an appetizer to fruitful debate that can happen in the comments section.

Jack and I agree on most subjects.  Hopefully we won’t someday and it will turn into a swashbuckling bar-brawl, Indiana Jones-esque fight scene.  Okay, maybe not.  Nevertheless, when we disagree, I hope to faithfully represent the other side of the debate here.