Posted in Worldview Analysis

Pro-What?

What does Pro-Life mean? For some, Pro-Life means opposition to “choice.” This is how the media presents it. This is how feminists present it. Emotionally charged arguments are often successful not because they are rational, or have the best evidence, but because they aim at people’s feelings.

Currently, there is not a better time in our history than now to present such an argument. Children have been raised in a school system, and they have had various media/social media outlets pump their minds, with the idea that “feelings are what determine truth.” How a person feels has been the justification used by many to justify the redefining of marriage, of biological sexes, intersectionality, and recently the attempted impeachment of the currently sitting President.

A Prevailing Attitude

Sadly, this attitude has infiltrated the Evangelical Church. Often displayed in the common refrain: “This is what this passage means to me,” or “I feel like the text is saying this or that.”

Once I read a lady commenting on Jesus clearing out the temple with a whip of cords, overturning money tables and cracking animals and sharply rebuking people in anger. She said, “That just seems so out of character for Jesus.” More than likely it wasn’t the meek and mild and ever so polite Jesus that so many in the Church sing love ballads about that turned her off. Emotionally that type of Jesus just didn’t sit well with her.

She’s not alone. There are others that hate the idea that you should fear God. “Oh you must mean reverence and humility, not actual fear. We shouldn’t fear God, He’s too loving.” But that so far afield from Jesus who taught the exact opposite: “So have no fear of them [mankind], for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him [God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell[-fire]” (Matt 10.26a, 28; emphasis mine).[1]

So, Jesus says to fear God rather than your peers (fellow human beings). The argument against this will say “yeah, but Jesus doesn’t really mean you need to fear God. He just means have greater reverence for God than men.” Actually, the context is in the sense of being afraid. Better to be afraid of God and the consequences of displeasing Him, than being afraid of any man, woman or child you come into contact with because God has the final say and will judge the motives of your heart (cf. Jer 17.10).

Variances in how such things are understood comes down to the use of language. Jesus being angry seems out of character for Jesus being love. Jesus telling us to fear God seems inconsistent with the knowledge of a loving God. In these cases, “anger,” “love,” and “fear” are emotionally charged words.

As it is with…

The same may be said when the debate regarding abortion arises. The debate is framed with emotionally charged language: Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. But if we take care in defining our terms, while stepping back and looking at the situation as a whole we will find that both sides are actually pro-choice. The question is what are the two polarized positions pro-choice about?

“The semantic abuse in the abortion debate is even more clear. Abortionists do not call themselves “pro-death.” Rather, they choose words· that bridge religious and political lines of thought. Most Americans believe that they ought to have the right to make their own choices without interference from government. The pro-abortionists chose “pro-choice” to put the best face on their bloody business.”[2]

To be Pro-Life means that you “choose life over and above death.” Pro-Life in this sense is “pro-choice,” but opponents in the debate want to form the argument in such a way as to demonstrate that Pro-Lifer’s are against something. If you can convince the populace of a negative in your opponent’s position then they are less likely to embrace it. Which is precisely the reason why Pro-Choice advocates don’t want you showing pics of little babies hacked to bits as they are torn from the security of their mother’s wombs. Better to keep that stuff quiet. Such “disturbing” imagery will present a negative view against abortion and the Pro-Choice movement.

What the Argument amounts to

If we are upfront with one another, then we ought to be able to admit that the argument is not a choice about science, or education, or philosophy, but one regarding ethical matters. In saying that I am not denying that science, education or philosophy having anything to add. They do. But by not focusing on it as an ethical issue—which is encased in a semantic minefield—we miss the point of the argument as a whole.

Ethics for Life…

The Pro-Life stance—those opposed to infant murder in the womb—say that it is wrong to kill one’s offspring. They also argue that it is wrong to profit off of such an industry. While opposing the choice of death via murder, they support the choice of life; even if that life must be given up for adoption, or living with various disabilities throughout the course of their life. The Pro-Life movement doesn’t hate women, but loves and cherishes them, including those who have yet to open their eyes and lungs to the world outside of the womb. Pro-Life exalts mothers as well. Pro-Life is about the choice of the sanctity of life, seeing it as precious. They do deny the choice of abortion, that is true, but on ethical grounds. “Thou shall not kill.”

Ethics for Self…

On the other hand, the Pro-Choice stance—those opposed to regulations on when pregnant women can abort their offspring—say that it is wrong for others to tell them what is right or wrong. While opposing, in most cases, death of those already born, they have no problem killing that which is alive and well until the point of violent removal. They say that it is wrong for another to tell another woman what to do with her body. They say it is wrong to remove the autonomous standard of self-governance without liability. This would include not only the termination of a pregnancy, but also restrictions placed on their libido.

Moral Legislation…

The issue is that both sides of the argument see their position and the positions of those opposing them as right and wrong (respectively). Which makes the issue ethical, not anything else! Sometimes you will get an objection from well-meaning people that say that you cannot legislate morality, or that it is wrong for one group’s morality to be imposed on another. However, if we are honest and forthright, we ought to be able to recognize the folly of such a position. Someone’s morality is always being pushed on another.

If you have laws against stealing, then you are enforcing your morality against those who want to make a living through theft. The same might be said on a variety of laws and bylaws of a civil governing body or an institution or corporation. Some companies expect their employees to dress in a certain manner, and those that violate those bylaws are punished for failing to adhere to the moral standards instituted by them. Of course, you will always have those that want to cry out against such laws/bylaws, because they hate the idea that another has authority over them. Disobedient children who do not get their way in a store will throw fits, yell at their parents and fling themselves on the floor or hit anything that they think they can get away with (i.e., another sibling perhaps). Why? Because they have little desire to be governed by the ethical norms of their parents. Children want to legislate their own moral standard, but the loving parent forbids this and enforces those moral requirements necessary to raise a mature adult.

Wrapping Up…

The question that needs to be asked is “Pro-What?” What are the “Pro’s” really for and what are they really against? We could sugar coat the issue. We could put some nice Invisalign forms on it and make it appear nicer than what it really ought to be. But the blunt answer. The answer that parties on both sides of the issue cringe over, because they would rather play nice that save that which is perishing. Better to keep face with our peers than risk offending someone. Better to make nice than to this vile practice what it is, and what those who support it are really for—“Pro-Death!”

Both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice advocates are fighting over choice. It is the difference in the choice that we ought to be concerned about. And if we really love those unborn that are being slaughtered under the guise of choice, under the protective blanket of supposed medical care, then we need to shine a spotlight on the fact that babies are being murdered. And the bright light needs to highlight not just the doctors or the politicians or wild-eyed liberals that are praising this sacrifice to Molech, but the mothers who mercilessly drag their children to the altar of death. What is abortion really about? Pro-Death.

I could offer some qualifications for those I just made uncomfortable, but I won’t. No qualifications are needed or warranted, but repentance is. And for those that fail to speak the truth (out of love), the blood of millions will be on whose hands, do you suppose? I think the answer is rather self-evident.


ENDNOTES:

[1] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).

[2] Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press & American Vision Press, 1988), 128.

Posted in Pro-Life

Why the Lamb and the Wolf?

Recently I’ve been writing about the Pro-Life movement. This is not a new fight, but has been going on since the sad episode in the garden. My last post touched on the fact that we might find ourselves, at times, with some (unlikely allies). But this shouldn’t stall us in our fight to preserve life.

What I have come to realize is that there are various misconceptions about what being “Pro-Life” even entails. But before I get into all of that, I wanted to take a few moments about why it is we are so error prone when it comes to the Christian faith. In particular, what that faith entails.

The Christian Faith is…Life

Let’s start off with an easy question:

**From where do we acquire the knowledge and wisdom to live the Christian life?**

“From God!” the ever so eager student answers. “Right on,” responds the teacher, “but how so?” “By prayerfully reading His Word,” a thoughtful student opines. “Exactly.”[1]

We are all responsible to live for the Glory of God, and in so doing enjoy Him forever.

“Now, can anyone tell me what we are responsible for?” inquires the teacher. “To glorify God!” the student quickly chirps confidently from somewhere in the back. (You will find that when someone assumes they have the correct answer, they are quick to speak. Sometimes this gets them the approving nod at other times disappointment.) The correct answer is “to live.”

Seeing the “Before” …

Before we can fulfill the obligations given to us—1) glorify God, 2) enjoy Him forever—we need to live. Our first priority is living. God has given us life in order that those other two necessaries will follow. In short, God is Pro-Life.

Understanding that our first priority is living, the next question is how do we live life well? We have already identified the what’s (i.e., glorifying God, enjoying Him forever), and we have rightly spotted the where (i.e., God’s Word/The Holy Bible) for living. But some very important related questions are “How do I live in order to fulfill my obligation to my Creator? How does the Bible instruct my living?”

How Obligatory Living Works…

When the apostle Paul spoke to the elders of Ephesus, he gave them a charge as overseer’s (elders, presbyters) over the flock of God with a reminder of what he had done:

  • The Charge: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood…Therefore be on alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years. I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20.28, 31).[2]
  • The Reminder: “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose [counsel] of God” (Acts 20.18b-21, 26-27).

Paul preached life in Christ. He warned those in leadership in Ephesus to guard that life with their very lives. The life Paul preached is found in the full counsel of God alone.

Where the Teaching of Life Originates

This teaching emphasis did not originate from Paul, but from God.

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish…I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him…” (Deut 30.15-18a, 19-20a; emphasis mine).

It does to apply…

Realizing that some might challenge the application of this particular text saying, “This only applies to Israel, not the Church of Jesus Christ!” I want to nip it in the bud. First, by asking a very important question: “Who says?” If God says this, then show me where. If He doesn’t say this, then why do you open your mouth? “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38.2; ESV).

Secondly, have you not read God’s Word? For Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness by Satan to turn the stone into bread—being hungry—offered the following retort:

“It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD” (Matt 4.4; emphasis in original).

Odds are we have some familiarity with that passage. Many a preacher has made countless points regarding Jesus’ words here. But what is the root to which Jesus points? Is it possible that we are missing something in the Lord’s rebuking of Satan?

Jesus’ words go back to a time in Israel’s infant years; during the Exodus under the leadership of Moses. The message of the Lord delivered to Moses and explained to the people is the same as that which we just saw a moment ago in Deuteronomy 30:15, 20a: “I have set before you life…and death.” Jesus quotes to Satan from Deuteronomy 8:1-3 which reads,

“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live…You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you into the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8.1, 2-3; emphasis mine).

Foundational Issues…

The lesson of the manna was that people will either live or die in response to God’s Word. Torah often translated law means instruction. The author of life gives instructions to His creation so they might live. Living is dependent upon their response to His commandments, statutes, instruction, etc. If we are to learn anything from the incident that occurred in the garden of Eden it ought to be this, to be obedient in humble submission to the Lord above is to eat the blessed fruit of the Tree of Life. Just like the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not poisonous, so too was the fruit from the Tree of Life not miraculous. They were real trees that produced real fruit, similar to the apple trees growing in my front yard. What made them either a blessing or a curse was the response of God’s chief representative on earth—Man—when God said “Do and don’t.” Do eat of every tree in the garden, don’t eat of the tree that I put a no-trespassing sign on.

It is said of Jesus that He is the light of all men (i.e., people) and that in His light is life (John 1.4). Thus he rightly told His hearers that if they came to Him in faith they would have life—“I say these things that you might be saved” (John 5.34), but many did not (John 5.40). Peter rightly stated that Christ’s words alone have life (John 6.68). Jesus affirmed that those who abided in His word “the truth will make you free” (John 8.32), and that “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11.25-26). Therefore, the charge that He gave to His disciples before He ascended to the Father’s right hand was that in making disciples of the nations they were to “[teach] them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt 28.20a).

In other words, God is not only the author of life, but His Word is the sustainer of life (eternally so). If one wants to live, then this act of faith is first weighed in response to His commandments.[3] When Jesus taught to obey His Word, to keep His commandments, He was speaking about all that was written. When Paul spoke to Ephesian elders in Miletus his reminder and warning was charged with the life-giving sustenance found in the Word of God alone.

Corrective Insight…

God’s Word not only gives life, but sustains it from the works of sin. And for those of you like Andy Stanley that falsely assume that Old Testament saints did not have a Bible, but is somehow only a New Testament reality…you are wrong. Bible means book. And when believers speak affectionately of the Holy Bible, they mean God’s book. Jesus was sanctified according to all that was written in that book, and it is that same book by which we are sanctified and being sanctified for in it contains the Word of Life (see John 17 ).

God is Pro-Life, which does not begin and end on the debate that has been raging for a couple generations now regarding abortion. No doubt the fight over abortion is a Pro-Life fight. To fight to preserve the lives of little babies, unborn, in the womb is a holy war. To strike against that which is unprotected in what is supposed to be a sanctuary of safety and love, is to attack the very author of life Himself.

Wrapping Up…

My last few posts on this issue are meant to drive awareness into unknowing hearts. The issue is confrontational because at base it is an issue of life vs. death (Debating Abortion). The issue is not new but old and has already been fought and won in our nations past (History of the Pro-Life Movement). The issue will at times bring together combatants that are polar opposites theologically, but being made in God’s image they know intuitively that life is sacred and must be protected at all costs (Unlikely Allies). Which brings me to my final thoughts for this post.

Perhaps you noticed that I used the picture of a lamb and a wolf in my last post entitled “Unlikely Allies” linked above. I did this for two reasons. As things stand right now wolves and sheep are mortal enemies. They have different appetites and opposing natures. This symbolism is used in Scripture to show how believers are at odds with those in the world. But being the creations of God, this has not always been the case. In the beginning all things were very good (Gen 1.31). Not just in status as God’s creatures, but in function as God’s creatures. The fall in the garden changed all of that. Death, violence, pain and suffering were ushered in as the results of sin. However, God promises that this will not always be the case, and it is demonstrated in the prophetic writings of Isaiah.

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb…” (Isa 11.6a).

“The wolf and the lamb will graze together…” (Isa 65.25).

Why? What brings about such change in the creatures of God? The answer is found in the root of Jesse named Christ Jesus (Isa 11.1; Acts 13.22-23), the very one who is the author of all things new (Isa 65.17; 2Cor 5.17). Christ brings peace and righteousness and healing in His wings. This is a future hope that is being played out in a present reality. We, who bear the name of Christ, are charged to fight for the very things that He did. And at times this will mean siding even with wolves, in the hope (trust) that our efforts as faithful stewards (i.e., salt and light) will bring glory and honor to our Lord and win others to our side.

For some of you this presents an eschatological problem, but that is a discussion for another day…


ENDNOTES

[1] There is a bit more to “prayerfully reading His Word” but the students answer is appropriate. There is a correct way and a wrong way to do this. Opening the Bible with closed eyes and putting your finger on the page, just because you’ve prayed “God give me insight into this or that situation” doesn’t make your method legitimate. Such behavior will surely lead you into error. A better way and what we ought to be doing (what should be meant by prayerfully reading His Word) is looking into the context of the writing (Historical, linguistic, cultural—who is being written to and why? Are appropriate questions), being observant of what is written, before we attempt to interpret it, and this we do with great care using Scripture to interpret Scripture and even checking what commentators of the past and present have had to say on the particular portion we are studying, long before we try to apply it to our lives (and the lives of others). But being mindful of whose word it is (i.e., prayerfully reading His Word) is a necessary first step in the right direction.

[2] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard (NASB).

[3] Due to various misconceptions that may arise with this statement, I turn the reader to Acts 17:30 where the apostle Paul rightly declares that believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ is a commandment: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” The gospel is NOT an invitation. That might be a popular way of speaking about it, but it misconstrues the biblical message.