Tuesday, February 12, 2019

'Lives not worth living' and the church of Jesus

The category of "lives not worth living" continues to expand to the grief of all who value human beings as image bearers of God. And its advocates seem to be expanding as well. They are at least in the openness of their intentions.

The last three weeks have demonstrated some Americans -- maybe a growing number -- believe babies who survive abortions are now included in this dehumanizing classification. At least some abortion rights proponents are committed to ensuring children who escape the lethal efforts of abortionists can be left legally to die without medical care. And a frightful number of lawmakers are devoted to protecting the right to kill until delivery any unborn child who could survive outside the womb.

For instance:

-- New York enacted a law Jan. 22 that legalizes abortion until birth for the mother’s “health,” which is not defined and has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include essentially any reason. It also permits infanticide by eliminating protections for babies who survive an attempted abortion and by removing fetal homicide penalties, according to Americans United for Life. Of course, Jan. 22 is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide.

-- Virginia Del. Kathy Tran told a House of Delegates subcommittee Jan. 28 her bill to repeal abortion restrictions in the state would allow an abortion for “mental health” reasons even when the woman’s cervix is dilating and she is preparing to give birth.

-- Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia commented on Tran's proposal by affirming what can justly be described as infanticide two days later in a radio interview. He said, "The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

While Tran's bill did not survive the subcommittee, the sanctity of human life for babies who can live outside the womb will likely not fare as well in more liberal states. Abortion rights activists are pushing legislators to eliminate even the mild restrictions permitted by the Supreme Court, which they contend is threatening to reverse Roe.

What should be the response of those who believe in the sanctity of life for all human beings from conception to natural death? Yes, we should seek to elect pro-life officeholders. Yes, we should urge lawmakers to pass pro-life legislation, such as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 130). Yes, we should support pregnancy care centers that serve women considering abortions.

We should not, however, outsource our responsibility and opportunity as the church of Jesus. As the church created by our Lord, we have the message, the mission, the legacy and the community needed by mothers and unborn children in crisis, as well as abortionists and abortion's promoters.

As an evangelical Christian church, we have the true gospel message -- God the Son became an embryo in a virgin's womb and grew into a man who lived a righteous life, died on the cross and rose again to save the people of God. We proclaim this life-changing message to all sinners.

We have the mission given by Jesus to make disciples of all people groups, baptizing and teaching -- teaching that includes the message that every human being regardless of age, condition or location is a divine image bearer whose life is worth living.

We have the legacy of the Didache, an early document that condemned abortion and infanticide; the rescue of infants from the exposure walls in the Fourth Century; and the ending of child-killing in countries served by evangelical missionaries in the 19th Century.

We have the community -- we actually are the community -- of the redeemed, who love and serve all and are blood-bought brothers and sisters for those who are born again into the family of God.

May we faithfully follow Jesus and give ourselves for those whom our culture of death deems disposable.

-- Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Where do we see the majesty of God?

I have reconsidered lately where God's majesty is most clearly seen.

Certainly I recognize it in the breathtaking sunsets and brilliant fall colors of Virginia, the snow-capped mountains of Montana and the magnificent waterfalls of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Scenes of such beauty in nature definitely call for offerings of praise to God.

Yet, none of those reaches the pinnacle of God's majesty in creation. That spot is reserved for every human being, because each of us -- and no other part of God's creation -- is made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27).

In my own life, I see or have seen the majesty of God in:

-- A girl born exceedingly prematurely resting in the hands of her mother as a monitor counted down her life in a neonatal unit.

-- A boy with Down syndrome in our special needs Sunday School class who called me "doofus."

-- Older African-American men who avoided raising their heads and looking at me after decades of having their "place" in the Jim Crow South hammered into them.

-- A young female friend of our family who is blind and mentally impaired.

-- A boy in our church who cannot speak or stand.

-- A woman in a nursing home who frequently told tales indicating her mind no longer functioned coherently.

-- A 96-year-old woman, my mother, who never responded as her family spoke tenderly to her and sang hymns around her bed in her final days.

And some I have been unable to see but I knew bore God's image in the womb of their mothers -- mothers who walked past my sidewalk vigil into a clinic and left childless.

Every human being I have ever encountered was an image bearer of God, and every person I see today or will see in the future is an image bearer of God -- even those who oppose the right to life of others. Some of these foes of life may even acknowledge the majesty of the Creator in the wonders of nature, but they are blind to His majesty in some of their fellow image bearers.

We, the people of God rescued by His Son who took on flesh and blood like us, are the ones who have the treasured privilege of testifying to this truth and demonstrating it in how we treat every other human being: Every human being -- no matter his or her age, ability, condition or ethnicity -- bears the image of God and should be treated with the dignity that truth requires.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash