Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's Wrong with Abortion?

There is a lot of confusion around the issue of abortion. Factually, abortion can be debated from a theological, philosophical, or political viewpoint. But what gets in the way of reasoned debate is a lot of emotion. And rightfully so. The stakes are high. The issues of life and death, freedom and rights, male and female, justice and mercy, and heaven and hell are high-stakes issues, and all surround the abortion debate. It is difficult to discuss without a lot of heat, and very little light.

Abortion is painted as a woman's right to choose. And for many people that position justifies abortion's legality. But few people ask the obvious question. Should all choices have legal protection? The issue here really isn't the ability to make a choice. The issue is what choice is being made.

Is it right to kill human beings for any reason, at any stage of development or dependency?

Biblically, it is clear how God feels about murder (the killing of an innocent human being). The reason murder is wrong is because it not only violates love, it mars and devalues the image of God. (Genesis 9:1-7) So, is killing an unborn baby murder? Well, if killing an innocent human being is murder then, yes, it is murder. Therefore, God condemns this practice.

"But what about the 'rights' of the mother?"

What rights are we referring to? Where do rights come from? Are not rights inalienably given by God Himself? If so, there is no right to murder for anybody. Women get no special "rights" to commit murder for any reason, any more than men do.

"But what about the right for a woman to do with her body as she sees fit?"

Is a baby a part of a woman's body or a separate entity that is dependent on the woman's body? If a separate entity, then the issue is one of dependency. Should we have the right to kill with impunity anyone who is dependent on others for life? What God feels about this is evident. He condemns the exploitation and denial of rights of the defenseless and weak from the strong. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18) That is at the core of his nature. Therefore, it is wrong to kill someone simply because they are dependent and need care.

"But it is also wrong to condemn certain people to poverty because of a mistake."

It is also wrong to sacrifice the innocent for the sake of prosperity. (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:1-5) Jesus said that there is more to life than the abundance of possessions. (Luke 12:15) And Scripture states that God condemns the practice of sacrificing our own children for economic reasons. At the very least committing murder for the sake of prosperity is a lack of faith, because God supplies our needs. And at worst it is putting our trust in a false god (money). (Matthew 6:24) It is better to trust God than to trust in man or money. (Isaiah 2:22; Psalm 52:7) Even when we fail, he can restore what the locusts have eaten. Can't he?

"But the unborn have less rights than the mother does."


"Everyone should stay out of other people's business."

Are not the unborn persons too? It is wrong not to speak up for the defenseless or deny the poor justice in court. (Proverbs 31:8-9; Psalm 82:2-4) So, are there certain people who deserve more rights than others? And who decides? Is that just?

"Well, unborn fetuses are not persons."

Then what are they? They are not dead. And if they are allowed to grow, they grow into male or female adults. They are not something else, like a fish or a bird. What are they? What gives them personhood, and at what stage of development do they attain personhood? Are there some adults who are less persons than others?

"What about special cases like incest, rape, or when the mother's life is threatened?"

On the one hand the innocent should not be forced to pay for the sins of the guilty. The soul who sins should die. (Ezekiel 18) Rather, the practice of mercy and forgiveness is needed for the unborn's sake.

On the other hand, when a clear decision between two lives is required — and that is extremely rare — there is no clear directive as to what to do. But, I am very cautious here, because many people claim almost anything can threaten a mother's life such as mental anguish and financial hardship — which really are not life/death issues, but rather inconveniences. (You can make the case that those inconveniences can lead to death. But so can having to pay your bills or getting fired from your job.)

God is clear about our need to love him and love one another. (Matthew 22:34-40; 1 John 4:19-21) Murder violates both commands and devalues God's image. The issue here is not our freedom to choose. The issue is obedience to God and Christ. We will all be held accountable to God one day. — whether we believe in him or not, whether we commit murder, whether we approve of those who do, or whether we seek his forgiveness and find it. For God is an impartial God. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Am I Trusting The Holy Spirit?

When I watched The Biggest Loser last night, there was a contestant who really bothered me. Her name was Joelle. She was a sweet woman, but very self-deceived. She was so annoying last night that her trainer, Bob, just lost it. You see, she felt she was doing her best, when all the time she was doing much less than any other contestant. She also felt that with all her talking she was actually doing something. But all she did was talk a good game, or complain she couldn't do something.

Meanwhile her trainer, Bob, had to pay her a lot of attention. It was clear that everyone else was doing their utmost and they were pushing themselves beyond their comfort levels to comply with Bob's coaching. But this stood in stark contrast to what she was doing. Yet, she demanded so much more than anyone else. She demanded attention.

Just wait. This hits home.

I had a hard time watching her complain. Then it hit me this morning. I am not much different than Joelle. When my coach, the Holy Spirit, calls me higher and encourages me to go outside my comfort zone, do I not resist at times? Do I talk instead of listening and doing what the Word of God says? Even though Joelle had the initiative and drive to be on the show — seeing the need for help from the right sources — she still couldn't completely trust the sources she herself selected. She couldn't listen to Bob even though she knew he could help her. Do I do the same thing with the Holy Spirit?

God isn't a task-master. But God will push when necessary. God doesn't get easily angry. But it doesn't mean he doesn't get angry when I deceive myself. God is patient. But God is eager for me to grow and mature. I just need to cooperate with his process and trust him. That is what genuine faith is all about. Trusting God with it all, to the point of cooperating with everything I've got.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I Don't Need New Year's Resolutions

I generally don't make new year's resolutions.

But I've noticed that each year carries a theme that God provides. Like 2007 was a year of major transitions. Like an exodus from old ways of doing things and thinking, to travel into new territory. In 2008 it was a year of adjustments and preparation for entering this new land. Now this year seems to be the year where we settle into new territory, which means that we may have to do a different type of work to get settled.


In 2007 my wife and I experienced the death of both of our mothers within a week or so of each other. This was a major change upon each of us in many ways. For example, the structures of our family get-togethers changed radically, and missing that important person from each of our lives has proven to be insurmountable. We also experienced some increasing problems at our church and had to make a decision we didn't want to make to leave. And my wife, who is administrator of her mother's estate had to learn quickly about what that role meant and what it would take to accomplish that role.

In this year, we knew very little about where God was taking us. But we knew we had to walk wherever he was to lead us. It was a time we needed faith, because not everyone can understand what we were experiencing. And we were forced to make decisions at a time when tough decisions ought not be made.

Wandering in the desert.

In 2008 we spent the year trying to fulfill our new roles and journeys. We decided that we needed to work intently on our thinking, habits, and in finding a new church. That was our job for the year, including fulfilling obligations to my mother-in-law's estate.

But this year was also a year where God has revealed himself to us in many ways. He provided us with mentoring materials that my wife and I have been using in our discipleship time. We have been able to teach our kids about theology with intention. God provided a buyer for our mother-in-law's home in a difficult housing market. And we are closer to settling on a new church community, that God definitely led us toward.

New horizons.

Now we stand on the cusp of a new year and we are ready to make new decisions. We are ready to act in new ways, and our thinking is continually adjusting. We are ready to embark on whatever God has for us to do. But we determined to do all things with wisdom and intention, rather than to simply find comfort and ease.

My prayer for the new year is that we will not be afraid, we will find our comfort in the Lord, and we will be able to use our gifts in service to the Lord for the right reasons.