The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘abortion

Sentiment and principle

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There has been an outpouring of grief and shame following the horrific pictures of a Syrian child lying drowned on the shore of the Mediterranean. If you think those photographs are painful, read the account of the father who tried to fight his way through the surf to the beach, losing his wife and then his two sons to the waves, one by one. It is truly agonising. Many have agonised.

It has prompted a spurt of sympathy for the flood of refugees pressing into Europe from various points east. News footage pummels us with insights into the horrific sufferings of their previous lives and their often-incredible journeys. We are stirred by video of them arriving in ‘free Europe’ to the acclaim of cheering crowds who pour out their affection verbally and practically. Nations are – to use the dry rhetoric of government – increasing their refugee quota, spurred on by the feeling of the populace and their knee-jerk reaction to what they have seen.

This is not a comment on the appropriateness, or otherwise, of offering refuge to some or all of these men, women and children. It is not a question about whether or not the flood of refugees contains a trickle of terrorists. It is not in any way an attempt to dismiss the gut-wrenching misery suffered by people made in the image of God, or the gut-wrenching grief we feel as those made in the image of God when we see that suffering before us. It is not a comment on compassion fatigue or our almost voyeuristic fascination with suffering.

But I wonder how long such a response will last, and what kind of investment it will sustain? It won’t be long before those refugees, if they are permitted to stay, are no longer wrapped in the warm embrace of liberal sentiment, but facing the cold reality of life in foreign countries which will not prove to be the Promised Land. They will quite likely be living in enclaves where either they are banding together for security, or among – even surrounded by – others who quite possibly resent them and will manifest their resentment. Even many of those moved to tears by their sorrows and sufferings will find those tears drying up as the realities of life bite and time passes. The tears will be stimulated again by fresh atrocities but the old ones will quickly drift away. Many will feel much and do nothing.

I wonder if the same thing has happened or is happening with the Planned Parenthood videos. Remember those? Yes, just a few weeks ago many were up in arms because of the footage of those who work for Planned Parenthood negotiating the transfer for gain of the body parts of murdered children. Even many of those for whom abortion per se is no issue were stirred by the graphic nature of some of the pictures and the callous nature of the conversations. But again, the consequence has not been the sustained mobilisation of a great mass of committed humanity against the murder of the unborn. Rather, we are troubled by the gross appearance of the thing. Doubtless, if it can be tidied up and carried out in a ‘humane’ way – because there’s nothing like a properly humane murder to assuage the conscience – then we shall go on quite content with the fact of abortion. Sentiment will be assuaged, and life can go on as normal.

I wonder if we could go back even to the slave trade. There is, it seems, little doubt that the primary opponents of the slave trade used powerfully emotive arguments to raise the profile of their cause and enforce their principles. The appalling testimonies of ex-slaves, the diagrams of human beings packed like sardines into the squalid interiors of slaving vessels, the protestations of ex-slavers, some of them converted – all of these served to further the cause. But the cause itself did not advance because of this, nor was it eventually won because of this. It was advanced and won, under God, by men and women who were moved by more than sentiment. It was carried forward by those who were governed by principle.

Reasonable sentiment need not in itself be sinful, but it is not always substantial. Sentiment can be swayed, one way or the other. Sentiment in one direction can be turned back by an opposing sentiment that seems equally reasonably. Sentiment tends to be reactive; it is rarely proactive. It bubbles up in a moment and melts away just as quickly. The sentiment that wishes to find a home for poor refugees might be overcome by a different sentiment when they move in next door. Principle – especially Christian principle – should be grounded in enduring truth. It is anchored in such a way that tides of sentiment or waves of feeling (whether that be weariness in pursuing principle or opposition to the principled) will not carry it away. Principle stands against pressure. Principle identifies and reacts to the fundamental issue, not the peripheral and perhaps unpleasant phenomena surrounding the issue. Righteous principle takes full account of misery, but it is moved by a regard for fundamental reality – matters of truth, mercy, justice, peace, righteousness. Righteous principle acts proactively out of allegiance to God in Christ. Christians need to be a people of principle.

Mere sentiment can be dangerous. In the unprincipled – and, once we have abandoned any notion of enduring, fixed, eternal truth, truth grounded outside of our experience and feelings, we have no real basis for true principle – sentiment can move individuals and groups far and fast. It can even leave them horrified by what they accomplished under the influence of sentiment and in the absence of principle. Principle can also be dangerous if it is the wild-eyed conviction about things that are foul and vile. Then unrighteous zeal can drive a person or group to truly terrifying extremes. But principle grounded in divine truth, with appropriate sentiment yoked behind, can and should accomplish much.

So, we will, in this fallen world, hear or see many things that horrify us. Many of them should horrify us. But they do not properly and persistently move us because principle is lacking. Perhaps we also hear and see things that ought to horrify us and move us, but do not because principle is lacking. How many vile things do we see – perhaps even enjoy – without a proper feeling reaction? Principle is not unfeeling; it actuates and directs feeling in proper channels. When faced with a moral challenge, we would do well to ask not only, “What do I feel?” but “What should I feel and what should I then do?” We must dig down to and stir up righteous principle. Reasonable sentiment might galvanise and stir us, but only righteous principle will guide and sustain us.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 9 September 2015 at 13:11

Horrible but logical

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 6 February 2013 at 17:46

Posted in While wandering . . .

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Grace trickling down

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 22 January 2011 at 08:43

Posted in Christian living

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Quizzing the candidates

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Taking a leaf from the book of Guy Davies, and drawing on some briefing from DayOne, the pastors here at Maidenbower have submitted a series of questions to our local Parliamentary candidates (from the three main parties).  The Christian Institute has also produced an election briefing.

With the first of the UK’s televised debates by the leaders of the main parties threatening to alter the political landscape, this could be an interesting election.  We sent the note and asked the questions below of the three candidates with a view to discerning their personal opinions on various issues, and helping the people of God here – and in Crawley more widely – to make a decision about their vote in the upcoming election.

I will post the answers as they become available.

Dear Candidate,

We are writing on behalf of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley, and other Christians in Crawley.  We are taking a keen interest in the election, and consistently pray for the government and other civil authorities at local and national level.

As a means of helping the individual members of this church and other churches, we should be very grateful if you would take a few minutes to consider and respond to the questions below.  These are some of the questions that may help Christians in Crawley decide how to vote in the upcoming election.  We hope to make your answers available to the members of the church at Maidenbower and other interested Christians.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these questions.  We very much look forward to reading your answers.

Questions for candidates standing for Crawley at the General Election (May 2010)

1.         Is our society broken?  If it is, how does your party hope to fix it?

2.         Do you believe that Christian values have a beneficial role to play in contemporary society?  Is Christianity merely a private matter, or should it be allowed freely and publicly to influence the words and deeds of those who believe?

3.         Do you believe that marriage is for a man and a woman alone and that it is the duty of the state to do all it can to strengthen and encourage the institution of marriage?

4.         Do you accept that people who believe that heterosexual marriage is the only proper context for a sexual expression should be free to say so without falling foul of the law or losing their jobs?

5.         Do you believe that churches/religious groups should be free only to employ people whose beliefs and lifestyle are in accordance with the specific teaching of those churches/groups?

6.         Should school governors be given discretion over the contents of sex education lessons and should the concerns of parents be taken into account when deciding what children are taught?

7.         If elected, would you oppose any extension of Sunday trading hours in shops?

8.         If elected, would you support a reduction of 24/7 licensing?

9.         If elected, will you oppose the introduction of Sunday elections?

10.       Do you believe that the law on abortion is too lax, too restrictive or about right?

11.       Do you think that the law on euthanasia should be changed?

12.       Local issues:

  • Crawley does not seem to have a great reputation locally or nationally.  Is this fair, and what – if necessary – should be done about it?
  • Do you oppose or support the idea of a second runway at Gatwick Airport?
  • If elected, will you actively be seeking to obtain a new hospital for Crawley?

13.       Why should the people of Crawley vote for you at the upcoming election?

Chris Oxlade ∙ Henry SmithJohn Vincent

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 16 April 2010 at 09:31

When is a baby not a baby?

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 11 September 2009 at 17:23

Posted in Ethics

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Tom Ascol reminds us that the majority of victims in abortion worldwide are girls: “the feminist movement that championed abortion in the name of women’s rights now finds its hands red with the blood of the very half of the species whom they pretend to represent!”

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 5 March 2009 at 07:37

Posted in While wandering . . .

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What does it mean to be pro-life?

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Justin Taylor quotes Frank Beckwith to show that there is a difference between merely seeking to reduce abortions and seeking the abolition of abortion.

Beckwith says:

Reducing the number of these discretionary acts of killing simply by trying to pacify and/or accommodate the needs of those who want to procure or encourage abortions only reinforces the idea that the unborn are subhuman creatures whose value depends exclusively on someone else’s wanting them or deciding that they are worthy of being permitted to live.

He illustrates as follows:

Imagine if someone told you in 19th century America that he was not interested in giving slaves full citizenship, but merely reducing the number of people brought to this country to be slaves. But suppose another person told you that he too wanted to reduce the number of slaves, but proposed to do it by granting them the full citizenship to which they are entitled as a matter of natural justice. Which of the two is really “against slavery” in a full-orbed principled sense? The first wants to reduce the number of slaves, but only while retaining a regime of law that treats an entire class of human beings as subhuman property. The second believes that the juridical infrastructure should reflect the moral truth about enslaved people, namely, that they are in fact human beings made in the image of their Maker who by being held in bondage are denied their fundamental rights.

Just as calling for the reduction of the slave population is not the same as believing that slaves are full members of the moral community and are entitled to protection by the state, calling for a reduction in the number of abortions is not the same as calling for the state to reflect in its laws and policies the true inclusiveness of the human family, that it consists of all those who share the same nature regardless of size, level of development, environment or dependency.

Let us not set our sights too low: even if our eventual Wilberforces can only move in increments, let their ultimate target be the right one.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 28 February 2009 at 13:29

Posted in Ethics

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Animals, plants and robots

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 11 February 2009 at 15:16

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The skulls of children

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Gene Veith – not long after referring us to the concept of culling as an allegedly appropriate one for the murder of children in the womb – points us to an abortion horror story in which a young woman went for an abortion, and the doctor was late.  Her child was born alive and well.  An unqualified individual cut the umbilical cord, dropped the infant into a biohazard bag and disposed of it.

Irony of ironies, the mother is now suing the doctor and the owners of the clinic.  For what?  Killing her baby?  Where did that shift in thinking take place?

On a similar note, I watched a documentary about Comic Relief, the regular British charity ‘laugh-a-thon’ (or whatever it’s meant to be called) in which we cut back and forth between images of starving children and battered wives and AIDS-ravaged communities and celebrities on varying alphabetical grade lists doing things of varying comedy and vulgarity and the juxtaposition somehow persuades us to part with millions of pounds each year.

Parts of the documentary were profoundly harrowing and deeply moving.  In one, a gentleman gazes at rows of skulls in Rwanda, and cannot help but notice and draw attention to an infant’s skull among the mangled adult specimens, many showing bullet holes, machete cuts, and blows with heavy, blunt instruments.

“What a waste,” he says.  “What a waste.”

What if all the skulls crushed and mangled in abortions were piled together?  How high would the shards reach?  How many millions are being slaughtered at a fearful rate in our nations that are so disgusted by suffering in other places?  Where does this illogical leap get made?


I don’t know the man’s stance on abortion, but I imagine that many if not most of those involved in such programmes would fight tooth and nail for “a woman’s right to choose.”

The moral inconsistency is shocking, grievous.

We are moved by celebrities clicking their fingers at three second intervals to represent the deaths of starving people.  Would you be moved if I beat a drum several times each minute, each blow representing the death of a child, conducted perfectly legally in most instances, among the very nations that rise up in moral outrage because others elsewhere are suffering?

Will future generations look back and wonder at the moral blindness, the blinkered vision, that allowed us to contribute millions to save children starving elsewhere (no bad thing in itself) while slaughtering wholesale our own?

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 6 February 2009 at 12:58

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Pro-life truths

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While the following fifteen points from John Piper have some grounding in US law and culture, the fundamental points apply in the UK also.  Use these things to make a cogent defence of the truth, and of the life of the baby in the womb, and that baby’s right to the life that God has given him or her:

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – Jesus Christ

1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother’s womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

foetus_narrowweb__200x2816. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15. Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 26 January 2009 at 08:41

Posted in While wandering . . .

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The logic of slavery and the logic of abortion

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From John Piper:

On January 12, 2009 Samantha Heiges, age 23, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for drowning her newborn in Burnsville, Minnesota. If she had arranged for a doctor to kill the child a few weeks earlier she would be a free woman.

What are the differences between this child before and after birth that would justify it’s protection just after birth but not just before? There are none. This is why Abraham Lincoln’s reasoning about slavery is relevant in ways he could not foresee. He wrote:

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest; you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. (Fragments: On Slavery)

There are no morally relevant differences between white and black or between child-in-the-womb and child-outside-the-womb that would give a right to either to enslave or kill the other.

I think that William Wilberforce and others would have seen the logic of this.  Such principles put this in a powerful context:

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 22 January 2009 at 22:20

Abortion statistics

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Some numbers.

From 1973 to about 2000 there were an estimated 38,000,000 (that’s 38 million) abortions.  That’s about 4,000/day, 173/hour, and roughly 1 every 20 seconds.  In 2008, there were roughly 1.2 million abortions in the U.S.  Ten years ago there were 1.6 million.  But at 1.2 million/year, that’s still 100,000/month; 23,076/week; 3,296/day; 137/hour; and 2.28/minute.  Now count to 60.

My sermon.

HT: Rich Barcellos.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 19 January 2009 at 08:47

Posted in Ethics

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Murdering Beethoven

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Z points us to the following test:

One way of catching class attention is to ask what advice [medical] students would give when presented with the following family history. The father has syphilis, the mother tuberculosis; they have already had four children — the first is blind, the second died, the third is deaf and dumb, and the fourth has tuberculosis. The mother is pregnant with her fifth child, and the parents are willing to have an abortion, should you so decide.

Assuming there aren’t too many Catholics in the class, you will usually find a majority in favor of abortion. You congratulate the class on their decision to abort — and then you tell them they have just murdered Beethoven.

– L. R. C. Agnew of the University of California School of Medicine at Los Angeles, quoted in “A gripping lesson on abortion,” The Palo Alto Times, 27 September 1977.

(HT: Ray Ortlund)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 6 December 2008 at 21:26

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“This bloody traffic”

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Never, never, will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country.

Any guesses?

These words were spoken on 20 April 1791, as William Wilberforce concluded his first Parliamentary efforts to bring an end to the slave trade, four years after the matter had been formally introduced to the House of Commons.

You might argue with Wilberforce’s implied designation of the nation as Christian (nations are not Christian, rather influenced more or less by Christianity), but you cannot argue with the point.

Could the same question not be asked today with regard to abortion?  With regard to prostitution and sex-trafficking more generally?  With regard to half-a-hundred other horrors to which we have become sadly accustomed in these degenerate times?

Have we lost our sense of the appalling guilt which is being heaped up?  With what horror may future generations look back upon us and ask, “How could they suffer to exist so long such disgraces and dishonour to this country?”

Christian: by your conviction, prayers, example, teaching, and engagement in society, in accordance with your capacity and calling, are you seeking to bring to an end such offences against God and our fellow men?  May God grant in our day men and women who see these things clearly, and who are given by God avenues by means of which to contain and even eradicate some of these grievous social sins.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 5 November 2008 at 08:10

Collective shame and a modern holocaust

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A woman and her child before the firing squad

A woman and her child before the firing squad

Like the author of this piece reproduced by Gene Veith, I am not an American citizen.  Furthermore, I do not even live in America, so I am one step further removed from what he has to say.  One could also debate about the issues of collective guilt and shame.  Nevertheless, even excising the political context, the historical parallel which he draws surely needs to be taken into account by each one of us.  Before this is about politics, it is about the morality of mass murder.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 14 October 2008 at 13:28

Anti-abortion strategies

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Justin Taylor quotes Don Carson at some length, as the latter suggests six ways of addressing the abortion issue.  While there is much that is helpful here, albeit with an American flavour, I hope that the full article reaches more broadly.  Ultimately, the best hope for the unborn is a revival of Biblical Christianity, with all that means both in terms of doctrinal awareness and practical compassion.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 2 September 2008 at 19:40

“Punished with a baby”

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I must admit that I find the heavy political engagement of many American blogs a bit tough on the electronic senses – it’s not an approach with which I am familiar, or always comfortable.  But this is not about ‘politics’ per se.  I don’t know the context of this comment, and what went before and what came after, and I would want to be correspondingly careful about drawing conclusions.  But, first of all, “values and morals” divorced from the living and true God of Biblical truth are essentially valueless, being simply shifting marks. Secondly, under any circumstances to speak of a child made in the image of God as being some kind of punishment is gross – what are (where are) the values and morals that lie behind that declaration?

PS Those are his grandchildren that he is talking about.

HT: Justin Taylor.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 2 September 2008 at 08:47

Abortion rates

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The BBC reports as follows:

The number of abortions among girls aged under 16 rose by 10% to 4,376 in 2007, official figures for England and Wales show.

In the under 14s, abortions rose by 21% from 135 in 2006 to 163 last year.

The number of abortions in all women rose by 2.5% with the highest rate in those aged 19 years.

Government advisers called for high quality sex education at school and investment in contraception services for young people.

Scotland has also seen a rise in the number of abortions with figures published in May showing there were 13,703 carried out in 2007 compared with 13,163 in 2006.

The number of abortions carried out has been rising ever since the 1967 Abortion Act – with just over 22,000 terminations in the first year.

Some 90% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks’ gestation and 70% were at under 10 weeks, a slight increase on last year’s figures.

A total of 198,499 abortions were carried out in 2007.

The number of terminations carried out using the “abortion pill” was 35% up from 30% in 2006.

Around 1% of abortions were carried out on the grounds that the child would be born disabled.

Gill Frances, chair of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group, said: “We know what works to reduce abortion amongst teenagers.  We need high quality sex and relationships education at school and at home and effective contraception.”

“We know what works . . .”  Really?  If we know what works, why are the figures indicating significant increases across the board?  If there is any truth in statistics, surely these figures show that society at large has absolutely no idea what works!  These awful numbers are a further indication not only of the moral malaise in our society, but also of the reality of our inability to rightly assess and respond to it.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 19 June 2008 at 12:49

Posted in Current affairs, General

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Sin is a reproach to any people

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I went to bed last night as the Parliamentary voting on the time limits for abortion was getting into full swing. The clause reducing the limit to 12 weeks had just been rejected, and the vote for the 16 week limit was in full swing. Further votes lay ahead on different time limits.

Imagine my disappointment to discover this morning that nothing had changed: the 24 week limit remains in place, unchanged. The facile arguments employed by the ‘pro-choice’ group – the unfounded declarations that “this is so, and this is so,” the pathetic attempts to dress up declarations of intent as reasoned arguments – can only cause deep grief to any right-thinking person. Moloch has slain his thousands, but the idol Choice continues to slay his tens upon tens of thousands.

Taken on top of the rejection of a ban on so-called “saviour siblings” (it’s a good job only the pro-lifers use emotive language, is it not?) and the denial of a child’s need for a father, this is another dark day for the United Kingdom. Wickedness and lies are making progress, and at present truth has barely held her line, let alone advanced it. Al Mohler has been blogging these issues here and here, and has some penetrating things to say.  Adrian Warnock posted some thoughts here.

We should remember and do several things when faced with such grievous sin.

Firstly, we must remember the Lord God of heaven and earth remains upon his throne. While we cry out to him in righteous anger and deep distress over such wickedness, he is neither unknowing nor unfeeling. This is the God, after all, who withheld his anger from Nineveh, pitying that great city “in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left – and much livestock?” (Jon 4.11). This is the Judge of all the earth, who does what is right (Gen 18.25). God has not abdicated: he sees, and knows, and governs all things (Ps 115.3). That we cannot always understand God’s will and ways does not mean that he is not working out his will in his own way.

Secondly, and following on, we must remember that sin will not go unpunished. Those who promote and perpetrate such moral outrages must one day face the Judge of the living and the dead. They must give an answer for their deeds to this same holy God. There is comfort for the child of God in knowing that God will not allow any sin to fall through his net: what has not been covered by the blood of Christ Jesus must be punished in the sinner. I do not rejoice in the condemnation of any man, but this gross wickedness calls to the heart for justice. We pray for repentance in men, but we long for God to arise and show his righteousness. We must remember, too, that those who strive against this ungodliness must also answer for the manner and matter of our labours for the sake of the silent children whose voice we are.

Thirdly, we must continue to mourn over the sin of our nation. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prv 14.34). This wickedness in the face of God’s plain word – together with increasing evidence from men concerning such things as the pain felt by children in the womb (helpful but not necessary) – exposes us nationally to the firestorm of God’s righteous indignation. We should mourn over the foolishness of many of our elected representatives, who – having been charged by God with maintaining righteousness and smiting wickedness (Rom 13.3) – have turned about, and are found among who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness (Is 5.20).

Fourthly, we must stand in the gap prayerfully. We must pray with gratitude for those who hold the line. Like Moses on the mountain, we must plead with God for Joshua as he fights in the Valley (Ex 17.8-16). But we must also pray for the overcoming of such wickedness. In doing so, we must remember that we do not find the New Testament church engaged in marches, wearing printed togas with catchy slogans, and arguing for political agendas, even when coming into direct conflict with the authorities of the day. We find them honouring the authorities that God has established (however wicked), and engaged in earnest prayer, wearing humility, and arguing with God.

So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of your servant David have said: “Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ.” For truly against your holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, by stretching out your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of your holy Servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4.24-31).

Let us continue to pray that the Lord God would raise up a Wilberforce for this hour, and that he would in grace and mercy provide the necessary framework for the overthrow of this national abomination; let us pray for the downfall of all the schemes of the wicked one, and those who do his will, ignorantly or otherwise.

Fifthly, we must act. Notice again that in prayer and in deed the saints of old pitched the gospel against ungodliness rather than engaging in mere political activism. We must live as Christians in our society, by our words and deeds demonstrating our commitment to righteousness and manifesting what that righteousness is. By our witness, we must seek to be salt and light. By our testimony, we must set out to win sinners to Christ. As good citizens, we must engage individually with the political process, using the means provided to communicate with our MPs and others with influence and authority to express the will of God. In doing so, though, let us remember that we are Christians. Let us tell them what the Word of God says. Let us explain what the justice of God demands. Let us extol what the mercy of God holds out. Let us speak of a Christ who died, who rose, who reigns, and who will return. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel. Neither let us water down our goals. Are we in danger of pursuing a reduction when we ought to be seeking after abolition? That is not to say that – in a world like ours – the process cannot be slow and incremental, but what are we aiming at? Let us not lose sight of the fact that all murder is sin.

Finally, we must remember that this is a sinful world. This is not the sphere in which we can or should expect perfection. We must stand for God and truth, but we look for a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Our citizenship in heaven informs our pilgrimage on earth, but this world is not our hope. It will never be perfect, and we need to embrace the tension of living in it lives full of the savour of Jesus Christ, while pressing on toward the place in which every wrong shall be righted, every tear wiped away. In the new Jerusalem there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things will have passed away (Rev 21.4). We cannot pretend that we do not live in this world, but neither should we forget that it is passing away. These things should make us long for the return of Christ and the coming of his kingdom in glory, and the more determined – as pilgrims and strangers in this world – to live and speak as becoming those who name the name of Jesus.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 21 May 2008 at 10:23

Posted in Current affairs, General

Tagged with , ,

Abortion 40 years on

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Following on from the conference on Saturday, I had two ministries yesterday. In our adult Sunday School class, I continued our studies in the Christian family, as we consider the distinctive roles of men and women.

Then, in our morning worship, I preached in recognition of the 40th anniversary of the implementation of the 1967 Abortion Act on 27 April 1968. Since that time, nearly 7 million unborn children have had their lives taken, some 98% of those abortions having been carried out for what are designated “social reasons.” 550 children a day are being destroyed, and currently 1 in 5 recorded pregnancies in the UK come to an unnatural end (not even taking into account such things as the morning-after pill). In a sermon entitled Abortion: the blood cries out, I tried to identify the issues and suggest a Biblical response.

Firstly, we considered the essence of the sin: it is murder, the unlawful taking of the life of a child made in the image of God.

Secondly, we considered the aggravations of the sin: its defenceless victims; its gross unnaturalness; its wicked motives; its awful brutality; its vast scale; and, its fearful high-handedness.

Thirdly, we looked at the effects of this sin, tearing at the social fabric of the UK, including: the hardening of the nation’s heart; the cheapening of all life; the scarring of individual consciences; and, the incurring of dreadful guilt and divine, righteous punishment.

Fourthly and finally, we sought to ask what our response ought to. We must commit to the sanctity of life in God’s image; we must seize every legitimate opportunity to defend and promote the sanctity of life; we must practically demonstrate our commitment to God’s plan and purpose as families in our society (Rom 12.1-2); we must mourn over, repent of, and turn from our national sins; we must pray that God would raise up a Wilberforce to take the lead in overturning this legislation; and, we must minister with Christlike compassion and sacrificial love to those who have been and are enmeshed in this sin.

In preparing this sermon I found helpful statistics, quotes and insights at the Christian Institute here and at Albert Mohler’s blog here and here. Thanks also to Gary Brady for a post that sparked some fresh thoughts.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Monday 28 April 2008 at 14:51

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