The Humanity of the Unborn: The Ancients Understood It For Two Reasons

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will eat curdsand honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. 16 But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and
choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.” – Isaiah 7:14-16

This verse shows that 2700 years ago there was no confusion that pregnancy involved a human baby in the mother’s womb who has the potential to grow and to learn.

“The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son.” – Gen 16:11

Here an angel has just told Hagar she would give birth to Ishmael, explicitly stating that pregnancy by its very definition involves a child, two people mother & child…not just mother (as is all we seemed to be concerned with today). This was recorded roughly 3360 years ago by Moses but the origin of the story is older than that.

How is it that for thousands of years no one was confused over a pregnant woman having a child in her womb? People who had no technology, no scientific advancement, and no doctors degrees or PhDs in biology had this one down. Fast forward to today. Now we have all sorts of technology that confirms the humanity of the child in the womb and even allows you to view that child and watch it in 3D/4D move around all while in the womb and now all of a sudden we are so confused as to what exactly a fetus is and whether or not “it” is alive or a human. Strange, don’t you think?

The ancients understood this for two reasons:
1 – Common Sense: Scripture tells us these are children but are we really that foolish to need to be told that? Common sense tells us that so clearly that the ancients didn’t need a doctor to explain the humanity of what was in the womb. The answer to that question goes back to a few posts back on the narratives that we use to make sense of the world around us. Our society has rejected God’s narrative of the sanctity of human life. It does not value God as Creator who is intimately involved in his creation…caring for it and loving it. Once you fully embrace post-modernism you remove the teleological/eschatological component from impacting and informing our understanding of human life.

For reference:
Teleology = “the fact or character attributed to nature or natural processes of being directed toward an end or shaped by a purpose”

Eschatology = “a belief concerning death, the end of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humankind; specifically : any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment”

2 – Faith in God & the Narrative of Scripture:
In other words, where this world is headed and what God has to do with it and say about it no longer matters once you remove all truth and replace it with relativism. People become agnostics who don’t really land anywhere. So what does all this matter if at the end of it all there is no God and that he really isn’t coming back to judge the world? And as was said in a previous comment, how does one evaluate the value of life whether one’s own life or the life of others from the post-modern perspective? What does it matter if you destroy life if you don’t believe God created the world and that he “knits babies together” in the womb as Psalm 139 tells us. The truth is, God is intimately involved in His creation but people ignore it, reject it or haven’t been taught it. Once you lose that piece, the rest falls apart.

The Real Face of Abortion…What Would It Take to Change Your Mind?

I have wrestled with whether or not to post this. Just a warning…this is not for the faint of heart. All I ask is that the comments not get into political wrangling but stick with what is really going on here.

Last week I saw something I hadn’t ever seen before. I saw a picture of an aborted baby. It was graphic. It was gruesome. It was bloody. It was sickening. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Is this really what is going on? I went to google images and typed in “aborted baby” and hundreds of equally disgusting pictures filled my screen. There were pictures of dead babies next to tubs of bloody water. Tiny dead babies that could fit in your hand. Big babies that looked like they were asleep in a pool of blood…almost like they would have been just fine if someone hadn’t killed them. It was too much to handle. I hesitate to write this here. It is nasty but it is real and it happens every single day.

How can we create a society that can advocate and support for more of what I saw in those pictures? The answer is easy. You create a new reality for people that they can more palatably buy into. Here is how you do that…

Change the language
Language is powerful. Language shapes the way we view things. The media and politicians know this very well. That is why the debate is about “Woman’s rights” and not about “The Right to kill unwanted babies”. The first makes a better bumper sticker than the second. The first sounds better on the evening news than the second. As I looked at those pictures there was one word that I kept hearing over and over. It wasn’t “Choice” or “Rights”. It was the word “NO!” How can you see that and say “YES!” with big smiles on our faces like we are the champion of someone’s rights and we are demonstrating how progressive we are by killing the innocent and helpless? We have sterilized our language and we have pushed the graphic truth of what is happening behind closed doors (the next point on the list). It is tempting to say I saw pictures of “abortions” because that sterilizes things or maybe we call it a picture of an “aborted fetus” because fetuses don’t really sound human. If I say “fetus” it all sounds like it is no big deal, no harm done, right? But if I say I saw a dead baby it might almost make you feel sick or at least deeply saddened. People don’t support things that make them sad so put a happy face on it by turning the issue from killing babies to rights and choices of real women who have real struggles themselves.

Put it out of sight
We condone this sort of thing because we put it out of sight. You will never see the images on the news or in a political ad because it is too disturbing to even look at. Yet we condone it?  If someone walked up to you on the street and said they just saw a dead baby or a pile of dead babies in a dumpster down the street you would be scared. You would call the police. When bodies of dead babies are in public it is gruesome. It would bring you to your knees in tears. So we push it behind closed doors where no one has to see because if you did, you wouldn’t ever want another baby to go through that ever again and the agenda would be DOA. How can something be too disturbing for the general public to see and yet accepted and legitimized and repeated tens of millions of times?

What we celebrate and punish
But it gets worse. There is a gross distortion of reality in this discussion that goes beyond language and space. You can see it by the discrepancy of what we celebrate and what we punish. Kill a baby outside the womb…even just one…and you can get the death penalty or life in prison. You destroyed a life and you deserve to be punished severely. We can’t let people go around destroying life now can we? Heaven forbid if it was a mother who killed her own baby. Society would treat her as if she was less than human and her civil rights are removed as she goes to jail as a monster who killed her own baby. Her face would be all over TV. But have a “standard medical procedure” by a skilled doctor who kills them in the womb and then delivers the dead baby and it is just a doctor helping a woman exercise her rights. She isn’t a monster. It is just being pro-choice. Same baby, same thing done…one is murder and one is just “an abortion” performed on a “fetus”. Carry on…nothing to see here. But there is something to see here. It is gross. It is brutal. It is happening every day all around us behind closed doors. In fact, it has happened over 50 million times since Roe vs. Wade. Sorry to say this but can you imagine how large a pile of dead babies that would be?

What does and doesn’t disturb our society
That sounds terrible but it is reality. We have gotten to the point we are at because people don’t want to talk straight about what is going on here. I can understand why. These things are not easy to talk about. It is all very disturbing…but to some it isn’t disturbing in the least and that is what bothers me the most. What distrubs some more than the killing of babies is that some wouldn’t support a woman’s right to choose. They support killing babies but don’t support abortion and you are a monster who lives in a cave.

You have probably seen countless discussions about abortion on television and the internet. What would you think if in the middle of one of those live broadcasts someone said, “I have brought a few pictures of aborted babies with me. We are going to put those up on the screen for everyone at home to see.” Someone there would stop them. They wouldn’t let that be shown. That is too nasty, too grusome. Too terrifying to show people that. But it is reality. Which is worse…killing 50 million babies or showing a few of their pictures on TV. Why is it that showing pictures of it is too terrible to do but actually killing the babies is no big deal? One would be allowed and praised but the other wouldn’t be proper for television.

Two classes of babies
The gross distortion of reality goes beyond what we celebrate and what we punish. It is also evident by the way we treat these two classes of babies based on where they die. If they die postpartum they have a funeral. If they were murdered, the baby murderer is a monster and their face is splashed all over TV. Meanwhile, aborted babies are treated like garbage. Their bodies are often incinerated as medical waste. Brutal. Nasty. Happens all the time.

What would it take to change your desire from a woman’s right to chose to saving real babies?
So here is the deal…logic and political posturing won’t change people’s minds on this. What is going to change your mind is experience. Since I can’t walk you into the room where an abortion is performed and see the dead baby be delivered and incinerated you aren’t going to get the full  experience. But there is one way to see the real face of abortion. Go to google images and search for “aborted babies.” As you look at those pictures see what words come to mind? Do you hear the words “Choice” and “Rights” or “No, no, no!” What are you going to do about that?

I wish there wasn’t even a need for a post like this but after seeing what I saw I feel the burden of helping others put a real face on this…or, sadly, 50 million faces. I know there are strong opinions on things like this. Even if you disagree with me I hope you really read through this post and considered what is really going on here and not just form your opinions based on whitewashed versions that are meant to distort our sense of what this is really all about.

Win the Culture War, Lose the Soul – Intellectual Agreement or Actual Conversion?

In the first chapter of Will Willimon’s book The Intrusive Word: Preaching to the Unbaptized, Willimon makes the case that too much of our preaching has not relied on the power of the Gospel to not just hear and agree with what is being said but to be converted by the message. The reason people have a hard time hearing is because they are so caught up in the powers and cultures of this world that the Gospel becomes foreign to their ears. It is not that the message is complicated and hard to understand but because the message is counter-cultural. He believes we have taught more to get people to agree with the truth of the message more than we have preached to actually convert people out of the world and into new life through Christ. Now that is something to chew on for a while. Do you agree?

Now this ties into Christianity and the culture wars really well. Much of the ruckus we have made over social issues like gay marriage and abortion has been to get the other side to agree with our stance but comes short of actually intending to convert people. We have isolated evangelism from the whole discussion and seen gay marriage, abortion, etc as separate issues that have little to nothing to do with conversion. We believe the world needs to agree with our stance but we don’t see this as an opportunity to move beyond agreement toward conversion. We have thought if people will just get it right on these things that everything and everyone will be okay. We have been taught to believe that Christian faith is agreement with certain truths over and above the tenants laid out by other religious or even non-religious groups. That is just not the case! That is part of it but not all of it. There is a huge difference between agreement with Christian truths and actual conversion and disciple making. Jesus didn’t say “Go and make the world agree with everything I have commanded” He did say go and make disciples, teaching them to actually obey the commands of Jesus and live in submission to him starting off with baptism. Jesus was talking about converting the world, not changing their minds on a few issues. True conversion goes further than intellectual ascent and requires a change of identity.

Win the Culture War, Lose the Soul

I hear this a lot these days. Christians are fighting the wrong fight. They saw we have gotten distracted and missed the point. We have engaged the wrong “enemy” with the wrong tactics. They say we might just win the culture war but at the expense of winning many souls to Christ.  Rachel Evans recently posted an article entitled “How to Win a Culture War and Lose a Generation.” It only got 487 comments in a short period of time. Apparently something she said might just have resonated with two or three or four hundred people. She has a way of doing that.

Here is where I think people like RachelRex ButtsJonathan Merritt and others are right…our generation is tired of all of the politics. We are tired of the bickering. We are tired of trying to leverage worldly powers for the good of the kingdom of God. It is like we really believe God needs our help and the help of our legislatures to get it right these days. So we try to bring about change through worldly channels. It gets tiring. It really does. Their voices and opinions have brought some needed balance to the conversation. However, there are a few things I feel have been left out that I want to add.

First, there are some fights in life that are worth fighting to the day you die. I am not saying we have picked all the right ones all the time and through all the right means but we can’t go to the extreme of saying there is little to nothing that is really worth fighting for. What you are willing to fight for shows where your heart is. Honestly, we all have things we are willing to stand up for and speak out for or against. It is just a matter of which issues we believe are important enough to do it. I believe scripture needs to help us define and refine our list and not the world.

Second, I don’t think we can allow the world’s reaction to truth dictate which things we talk about and which ones we avoid. Hear me on this. I am not saying be unloving. I am saying the standard for what Jesus and the church is to talk about is not based on how the world reacts to the conversation, unless we are doing it in a way that is unloving, uncaring, and anything less than compassionate. If we are unloving the world may help us correct our tone but the content must always come from scripture. It only makes sense that there is going to be a certain group of people in the world who get up in arms when you speak the truth in areas they disagree on. That is the way the world works. In John 16:8-12 Jesus says that when the Holy Spirit comes, “he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” and “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth”. Jesus tells us there is truth, especially in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment that the world is not going to want to hear and yet it still stands as truth.

Third, Rachel and others express how tired they are of it all. Well, I am too. However, our own personal level of fatigue does not determine the worthiness of the fight. If it did Elijah should have given up years before he was taken up into heaven because he was also tired of battling the religious and political powers of his day. There are some fights worth fighting and those fights are going to make you tired from time to time. They are going to make you wish they would end. The truth is, some won’t. Now we have probably taken the extreme in the past that many of the fights worth fighting for were political. That was a mistake. We need to open up the New Testament and have a good look to see which fights Jesus and his followers deemed worthy of a fight and which ones did not. I think we have gotten too worldly in our definitions of which issues should get our attention.

Fourth, in some ways my generation has gotten lazy. I am not saying all of us but some have. We are used to things being worked out for us and handed to us. I am not pointing fingers. I am not speaking against Rachel, Rex, Jonathan or anyone else. I am just saying that we have a real tendency to not stick with anything for any length of time. That means our willingness to stick with a cause or abandon a cause is not the measuring stick for whether or not it is a worthy cause. I am tired of trying to teach my three year old to share with his little brother. I am not going to give up on that one and lose that battle. He has to learn it. It is that important. It would be easier in the short run to just give up but it would be much tougher in the long run. I think that is true with some of the issues we face today. We want short term results at the expense of long term gains. So don’t upset the world. Don’t speak out because someone might get turned off from Christianity. We lose our gumption.

Fifth, one of the problems we have is that we, Christians, have zeroed in on a small handful of issues to scream about at the expense of some others. My opinion is that when we spend a large amount of time on 2-3 issues and neglect other issues that are just as relevant we lose our relevance. Let me get more specific. When we spend a large amount of time on homosexuality and abortion (both things worthy of attention, mind you) to the neglect of many other things including the mission of the church and even sins that are in the same lists as homosexuality in scripture but aren’t really talked about very much, people stop listening to what we have to say. On the surface it at least appears we are more willing to poke at issues that are distant to us than those which are more personally relevant and might require personal change on our part. In other words, it is easier to condemn homosexuality when you don’t struggle with it than it is to condemn pride, which you do struggle with. When we do that we lose credibility.

Last, there is a real tension that I struggle with that I haven’t heard anyone mention that I would love to hear your thoughts on. Starting with Rob Bell and now from dozens of others I have heard people decry the bullhorn man. You have that guy out on the street corner preaching people to hell. I know that extreme and I don’t like it. It is often hateful and impersonal. It does some damage. I think we can and should avoid that approach.

Then take Isaiah who in Isaiah 20 preached against sin in Israel completely nakedGranted, his audience was God’s people and not people in the world…which is another issue for another day but still something that should be pointed out when it comes to the role of the prophet. If an Isaiah appeared on the scene today he would be called crazy by some Christians. Some would tell him to stop because of what people might think about Christianity based on what he was doing. Some would think three days of naked preaching was long and crazy. Isaiah went three years! Should people have warned him about who he was going to lose and who would be turned off? How do we find this balance? How do we stay the course? How do we balance the prophetic voice and telling people the tough things that need to be said by someone with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ? How do we know which fights are the right ones and which ones are not worth our time? What would we tell Isaiah if he were alive today and what does that tell us about ourselves?

A few answers:
Much of the answer to these questions comes from embracing grace and truth at the same time. I think we also have to realize that first and foremost any rebuke we have to speak is to be first aimed at God’s people and not the world. Another solution comes from having our nose in the Bible. It is easy to have worldly standards if you let the world be your guide. It is hard to know the truth if you are out of tune with God and His Word. These are all difficult things and I don’t claim to have all the answers. It is important we approach all of this with humility and I hope that is evident in everything I have said above. If not feel free to let me know that I missed it! I do hope some of the points made in this post help someone gain some perspective especially when it comes to the centrality of God and scripture in shaping our views and approach on these issues.

John Piper’s Response to President Obama Regarding Abortion

Have a look at this powerful post and video by John Piper. He makes some really good points. I sure hope someone *cough* is listening.

Here is the link.

Brian McLaren Endorses Barack Obama

With McLaren writing a book called “Everything Must Change” it is only fitting he endorses the candidate whose focus has been change, change, and more change. Unfortunately I am afraid Obama is more about changing what he needs to in order to get money for his campaign and to get elected and not real change in Washington. He changed on campaign finance and is now changing on drilling. Initially he said we should all get tune ups. I guess he is out of touch with real Americans enough that he doesn’t even know that today’s cars don’t require tune ups. This is also the guy who said if his daughter got pregnant he wouldn’t want her to have to suffer for that “mistake” and would support her right to get an abortion. Sadly enough I cannot say McCain is really a whole lot better.

Get ready for a big helping of change.

Euthanasia Links

I am putting together a class on Euthanasia and Abortion in our series on Christ and Culture. I wanted to pass on a couple of interesting links:

Euthanasia – A Christian Response (a great resource with FAQs, history, and helpful links)

Nurse’s Participation in Nazi Euthanasia Programs – This one shows the progression from killing babies to mentally retarded children, on to adults and finally the concentration camps. There was apparently a book written in 1920 called “Permitting the Destruction of Life Not Worthy of Life” that was pro-euthanasia and eventually turned into an impetus for the concentration camp killings.

Murder of Jessie Davis and the Unborn

News came out Saturday that the body of missing person, Jessie Davis, had been found. Jessie was 9 months pregnant and her boyfriend Bobby Cutts Jr has been arrested and charged with two counts of murder. One count is for Jessie and the other for her unborn child. These events have tragically unfolded before our eyes and her family is in our prayers as they deal with this great loss.

This story brings to light some inconsistencies regarding how society defines life. In this instance the death of the baby warrants a charge of murder. In other instances mothers choose to end the life of their babies and that is considered legal. Is life to be defined by the whim of the mother? How is one life different from another based on the opinion of the mother? How is it life in one instance and inhuman fetus in the other? I wonder if Cutts’ legal defense will try to wiggle out of the second charge of murder by saying that life begins at birth, the argument of many abortion rights activists and the green light for women to have abortions.

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