The Expendables

Next January 22nd will bring two things.  A new President and the fortieth anniversary of the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.  The estimate that more than fifty million babies had been aborted was surpassed last year in January.  This figure is more than eight times the number of Jewish men, women and children that died in the Nazi-inspired Holocaust.  This is why some refer to abortion as the American Holocaust.

The basic philosophy underlining the Court’s decision is the fetus is not legally considered a person until birth and as a result lacks legal protection under the U. S. Constitution.  Advances in medical science have made huge strides in neo-natal care challenging the limits of ex utero viability and the advent of sonograms have put a decidedly human face on the developing baby in the womb.  For these reasons, the incidence of abortion is on the decline.  But a new threat looms.

Two professors, Francesca Minerva at the University of Melbourne and Oxford University and Alberto Giubilini of the University of Milan, have published a paper just last month in the Journal of Medical Ethics promoting “after-birth abortion.”  Among the many arguments put forth by Minerva and Giubilini are “both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons” and “killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be… including cases where the newborn is not disabled.”

You read that right.  While the authors make a strong argument for the killing of a newborn with a birth defect, they also make it quite clear it should be permissible to kill a healthy newborn if “the well-being of the family is at risk.”  Since a newborn is not “morally relevant” and the newborn cannot “be said to have aims,” it is not an “actual person” and has no right to life.  If you think this is an isolated opinion, keep reading.

Consider Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University who has said, “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person.”  He is essentially in agreement with Minerva and Giubilini.  But this is the same Peter Singer who in an article entitled Heavy Petting advocated sex with animals is ethically permissible as long as it was mutually enjoyed.  I know there is a difference between abortion and bestiality.  I only mention Singer’s views on bestiality to show you where his ethical mindset is.

The fact that Minerva and Giubilini’s article appeared in an “international peer-reviewed journal” is of some concern.  It is indicative of an apparent ongoing debate among medical professionals and the publishers considered it a worthy topic for public discussion.  The issue of infanticide, killing infants, has been around since ancient times.  Until the recent publication, I thought infanticide was a matter discussed and forsaken in the ancient past.  But one source says the issue has resurfaced and been give serious consideration among some ethicists for the last forty years.  An issue I thought had been relegated to a more benighted period of human history has been reborn and reached the light of day.

Early in the debate about abortion opponents argued that legalizing the practice would place our nation on a “slippery slope” of moral decay taking us in a direction and at a speed we would not be able to control.  We are no longer on that slippery slope.  These “professors of ethics” are suggesting we take a flying leap from the brink of common decency into a free fall in an immoral abyss.

In Psalm 139:16 we read, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”  When commenting on this passage of Scripture I see two important points.  Life is sacred because it is a gift from God, and life is precious because it is measured.  I once thought that those who held a different perspective did not believe in God.  I now think I may be wrong; they may believe in God, they just think they are Him.

I guess I always knew there were those who viewed human life in such cold, utilitarian terms.  But, I never thought such views would be given a public hearing, or serious consideration.  I never thought newborns would be considered expendable.

 

Lest We Forget

On March 2, 2012, thirty-eight people in four states died from tornadoes.  One report told of Teri Kleopferi of Chelsea, Indiana, who lost her husband’s aunt and uncle and their four year old grandchild.  Fighting back tears she said the homes and other possessions lost were “just things.”  She said “I tried to gather my thoughts…about the family.  It’s been hard.  We can’t replace them.”  You can hear her heart break in her words.

This homeland tragedy, like the tsunami that struck Japan last year and the earthquake that rocked Haiti the year before, leave people of faith asking a simple question; why?

Pat Robertson, who said the earthquake that hit Haiti was God’s judgment, now says God was not responsible for the tornadoes that killed so many.  He was quick to infer the victims were to blame for living in an area prone to tornadoes and for not having enough faith to pray the tornadoes away.  I do not like to criticize Pat Robertson because his ministry has given birth to such charities as Operation Blessing International providing humanitarian aid to people in need around the world.  But his willy-nilly statements regarding a number of recent issues do not serve biblical truth well.  His misstatements run the risk of making him irrelevant.

Bestselling author John Piper said “Jesus rules the wind.  The tornadoes were His.”  His perspective is that of the Calvinist who is quick to emphasize the sovereignty of God which seems to bespeak an indifferent attitude to the human suffering in the midst of these recent disasters.

I know it can get confusing.  One preacher says God is not responsible for these tornadoes and another says He is.  This is why I urge believers to read their Bibles.  When Christians read and discover the truth for themselves it brings a faith and peace to the human heart that the conflicting views of others will never be able to accomplish.

It seems clear to me that the disobedience of Adam and Eve introduced an evil that was universal in scope.  I do not know, and the Bible has not given us any specific details of what Eden was like before the Fall, but I believe it was a very different kind of place than what the world is today.  Their fall ushered in a fallen world.  Our first parents desired to know good and evil, and evil cannot be understood with the intellect alone, it must be experienced to fully know it.  Ergo, God has allowed each successive generation to experience the reality of a fallen world to remind us afresh of the folly of not trusting what He has said.

Mankind is a forgetful lot.  We sometimes grow comfortable and think this is our home, when the truth is we are just passing through.  Both believer and unbeliever are here temporarily.  We live in a world with an enemy hostile to our presence, where our existence can be obliterated suddenly and without warning.  There is not a moment here when we are safe and secure in the purely natural sense.

Paul has assured us “that neither, death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).”  True security is found in Christ alone; to seek security elsewhere is foolish.

What should be the Christian response to these tragedies?  We should support the relief efforts.  We should take comfort in knowing what happened did not escape God’s notice and He was there in the midst of the storm.  He is infinitely concerned with each one that was spared and each one that was lost.  We can rest on the truth that the Judge of the whole earth did what was right in each individual case.  Amid the chaos God was still in control.  Death is only tragic if you believe it is the end of life, for the believer death is merely the doorway to heaven.

I believe in the sovereignty of God.  The recent catastrophes do not lead me to think God has lost His grip on the universe.  These events serve to remind me of where I am at, how I should be living my life, and where I am going.  They should be a reminder to us all that life is short and death is certain.  They should serve as a reminder, lest we forget.

Talk Is Cheap

Newt Gingrich awhile back promised to be faithful to his wife, his third wife.  He made his promise of marital fidelity public in order to gain some traction among conservative evangelicals in his bid to secure the Republican nomination to run for President of the United States.  Gingrich was hoping to cover past indiscretions with future promises of faithfulness.

While there are a host of Scriptures that come to mind and I will share some in this article, I was reminded of something my drill sergeant said to me in basic training.  In his first introduction he let us know what was ahead and what he expected from us.  He punctuated his remarks with three words that I am sure I had heard before, and were not original to him, but they had not seriously registered in my thinking until that moment.  He said, “Talk is cheap.”

His point was simply what one says is not as important as what one does.  This is made clear by Jesus.  He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter (Matthew 7:21).”  Jesus is not suggesting our entrance into heaven can be gained by our labor or can be earned, He is pointing us to the truth that genuine belief translates into Christian living.  Genuine faith is not about what one” says,” but what one “does.”  There is no dichotomy between faith and practice.

Franklin Graham has come under fire because he has supposedly questioned President Obama’s Christianity.  Graham has said the president claims to be “a Christian and I accept that,” but the President’s position on abortion and traditional marriage are “in direct conflict with God’s standards as set forth in Scripture.”  For these reasons Graham has said he cannot vote for Obama.

A group of black ministers along with the NAACP issued the following statement.  “As Christian denominational leaders, pastors and, more importantly, followers of Jesus Christ; we are greatly troubled by recent attempts by some religious leaders to use faith as a political weapon.”  I’m troubled too.

I am troubled that a group of ministers who claim to be “followers of Jesus Christ” support the President’s agenda to murder the next generation through abortion, or support the practice of gay marriage that cannot produce the next generation.  I am troubled that anyone would think these are political issues, and not matters of grave moral concern, with serious practical ramifications.

The killing of the unborn and the issue of gay marriage are at their core issues of great importance and moment to any thinking, Bible-believing Christian.  But we live in a nation today where many claim to be Christians but few live as Christians.  Many think it is alright to believe God loves them and they will go to heaven and then live like citizens of hell.  Who do they think they are fooling, God?

Jesus goes on to say, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

If this passage is unclear allow me to shed some light.  Judgment day is coming.  When it arrives “many” will realize their lives were ill-spent, but fearing the wrath of God they will “say” they “did” many righteous things.  Jesus will say to them “I never knew you.”  You can’t lie your way into heaven and you can’t fool God.

If Newt Gingrich has repented his past is forgiven, but I do not want to hear his promises of future fidelity, I want to see a life of fidelity.   Barack Obama may claim to be a Christian, but that is just talk; I want to see some policies and administrative decisions that are predicated on biblical truth and pragmatic worth.  Newt Gingrich may think his hopes of being nominated are the most important thing right now and Barack Obama may think getting reelected is the most important thing right now, but they would both be wrong.

It is true the Scriptures teach we will give an account of every careless word that is uttered (Matthew 12:36), but this is because those words are spoken in disregard of our actions.  One day we will all give an account not of what we say, but of what we have done, because talk is cheap.