Pro-Life Doesn’t End With Birth

Painting_Lhermitte-Les_Glaneuses-1898When abortion advocates first started down the road to change society’s view on the subject, they framed the issue by identifying themselves as Pro-Choice and “the other side” as Anti-Abortion. Some in the media still use the latter designation, but those in opposition to killing the least, most helpless, voiceless people—the unborn—prefer to be known as Pro-Life.

But yesterday I read an article that poignantly reminded us that Pro-Life ought not end with ensuring a baby’s birth. God’s heart, as He says over and over in the Bible, is for orphans and widows and strangers. In the Mosaic Law, He made provision for those people so that they wouldn’t be tossed aside. The principle was this: in that agrarian society those who worked their field were not to meticulously harvest every last grain or olive or grape. They should reap their field, but not go over it a second time so that whatever they missed, the widows, the orphans, the strangers could harvest for themselves—an undertaking called gleaning.

So before the people of Israel arrived in the Promised Land, God had in place a plan to provide for the people some today call throw-away people.

Unfortunately, God’s people don’t always reflect God’s heart. The article I read detailed an encounter a mom had in the grocery store. Mind you, she’s a foster mom as well as a mom to her own sons. She had her hands full. Her husband, who was with her, saw someone he knew, so got caught up talking. The mom decided to proceed to the check out. Here’s how things went:

The 7 month old I was holding got hungry and started clawing at my shirt trying to nurse. The 1.5 year old tried to grab candy that I wouldn’t let her have and starting wailing. (No, she is not spoiled. Sometimes, 1.5 year olds cry loudly. I promise that sometimes, regardless of how awesome a parent you are, they just do.) The 2.5 year old was trying to help his 6 & 8-year-old brothers put the groceries on the belt, and of course, he dropped the container of blueberries, which spilled all over the floor. To top it all off, I had WIC [The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children] coupons for our foster daughter, and I grabbed the wrong cheese (I swear it was labeled WIC approved!), so the cashier had to call someone to come figure it all out.

OK, pretty much chaos. She apologized to the people in line behind her, but one couple responded in a judgmental way:

The man looked at the woman and said in a voice much too loud, “Some people should stop having kids.”

Yeah, he didn’t know she was a foster mom. Now here’s the kicker. When she got to the parking lot and began loading groceries, she saw the couple get into a car with a Pro-Life bumper sticker on it. Now it’s possible that they bought the car used and the bumper sticker was already in place. Nevertheless, the point is clear: life begins with birth, so those of us advocating for the unborn ought not stop caring when they successfully come into the world.

As I was reading in Deuteronomy this morning about the gleaning laws, it struck me that God included “the aliens” in with the widows and orphans. It seems a little odd at first. But people didn’t buy and sell land back then the way we do today. Especially the Jews. They divvied up the land by drawing lots, and they were to retain those parcels in perpetuity. Should they sell, they actually would be leasing the land because at the Jubilee—every fifty years—the land would revert to the family that had received the parcel when they first arrived.

People from other countries, as I recall, were not part of this process. So they weren’t land owners. The best they could do would be to hire out as a worker for someone else. Or glean someone else’s land.

If God’s people are to have God’s heart, it seems to me we should have as much concern for the orphans—the foster care kids—as we do the unborn. But we should also care for the “aliens.”

This seems especially important at a time when we seem to be flooded with “aliens,” including a host of illegal aliens. And now, potentially, aliens from a strange land that may harbor enemies who wish us harm. I’m referring, of course, to the Syrian refugees our government is making arrangements to bring to America.

Some US citizens, including some Christians, complain. Why don’t they go to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or United Arab Emirates? I’ve asked the same question. After all, we have our own immigration issues to sort out. Why bring in more people when we haven’t figured out how we’re to handle the influx of immigrants we already have?

But I wonder if these questions reflect the heart of God. I suspect not because here’s what God actually said in Scripture:

He [the LORD God] executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. (Deut. 26:18-19)

Later Moses instructed the priests in a rite to remind the people of God’s commands when they arrived in the land. First the priest would tell the people what God had said, then the people would respond. The first on the list were familiar, don’t make any idols, honor your father and your mother, but then tucked in behind Don’t mislead a blind person, is the command involving aliens:

‘Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deut. 27:19)

If we look into the New Testament, we see Jesus commanding others to love their neighbors. And then the lawyer who had prompted Jesus’s statement asked a question designed to let him wiggle off the hook: who is my neighbor? Jesus responded by telling a story about a stranger. He didn’t cast the stranger as the one in need of help, however. He made him the hero of the story. The guy who acted like a neighbor was the hated stranger who put his prejudices aside to help someone in need.

That’s God’s heart. He cares about people. He makes it clear in Paul’s letters that those who follow Him are equal in His eyes.

So here’s the thing I realized this morning. In some of these places in the Middle East, it’s been next to impossible to preach the gospel. But as Syrian refugees stream into the West, they have the chance of hearing about Jesus, perhaps for the first time. We might not be able to go to the mission field, but God is bringing the mission field to us.

What a great opportunity for all of us who are Pro-Life!

Published in: on September 24, 2015 at 6:23 pm  Comments (8)  
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There Will Always Be A Lusitania

British_Lusitania_poster_1915_LOC_cph.3g10930Some of you may remember the Lusitania from your school days studying World War I. In 1915 this British passenger ship sailing from the US was hit by a German torpedo and sank, killing nearly 1200 people.

At the time the US was neutral in the war, but a number of people used the sinking of the Lusitania to fuel the argument that the Central Powers needed to be stopped.

In writing terms, you can think of the Lusitania as the inciting incident.

The gassing of Syrian civilians by their own government is today’s Lusitania. As in 1915, there’s no doubt that the event occurred. And there are people using the tragedy as evidence that one side of the conflict needs to be stopped, that in fact, the US should intervene.

The truth is, however, “inciting incidents” happen all the time, and governments resist the inclination to act. Perhaps the clearest example of this resistance occurred during the years leading up to World War II when Germany under Hitler’s rule annexed Austria, then part of Czechoslovakia, and finally invaded the latter.

Throughout, the war-weary European states attempted diplomatic solutions to placate Hitler. After resisting for several years, they drew the line with Poland, however, and Poland became the Allies’ Lusitania.

In contemporary times, the US government has closed its eyes to genocide in Rwanda, attacks against citizens by Idi Amin in Uganda, civil war in the Central African Republic and in Nigeria, and attacks against Christians in Sudan. None of the many incidents that cost hundreds of lives, even thousands, became a Lusitania.

The international community was aware, for example, of what went on in Sudan when the government began

a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs in Darfur resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of civilians [“Sudan internal conflict (2011–present)“]

Torpedoed_LusitaniaDespite the indictment of Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (Ibid.), the US did not intervene on behalf of those people, and neither did any of the European nations or the United Nations, or any of the Arab nations.

What is it, then, that turns a human tragedy into a Lusitania?

President Obama says in Syria, US interests are at stake. More so than in Iraq, the country the US declared war on because of their threat to US interests? Weren’t Democrats viciously blasting President Bush for responding to a Lusitania that goaded the US into conflict?

The thing about Lusitania‘s–someone is always claiming conspiracy. Even the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has some convinced that the US government “let” it happen so that the public would get behind the war President Roosevelt wanted to declare.

When it comes to Syria, I have questions. Where did this poison gas come from? Is Syria producing it in secret labs as Iraq was supposed to be doing? Have the investigators ruled out the possibility that rebel forces aren’t the perpetrators–for the very reason that they wanted to create a Lusitania?

And where are the other countries of the world? Why is Russia continuing to back a government accused of an action the international community agrees is illegal? Supposedly the US has the backing of other Arab nations for a military strike. But why? Why aren’t these Arab nations acting against one of their own that is out of line?

Further, why is death by gas so much more heinous than death by machette or AK40 or suicide bomber so that the government must take action in Syria when none was taken in other places or was ridiculed as evidence of Republican greed?

And finally, what would US forces strike? As I understand it, the center of Damascus, where government buildings are, is filled with civilians who have fled the fighting in the suburbs. Will the military target Damascus? And how are we to protect civilians from our bombs? Is the US killing people better than Syria killing people?

Not every Lusitania needs to be resisted, but I’m wondering if this isn’t one.

Published in: on September 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Middle East Hornet’s Nest

Middle_East_(orthographic_projection).svgIt’s not like things have ever really calmed down in the Middle East for, oh, the last seventy years or so, but believe it or not, tension has risen yet again. Apparently Israel took action against Syria’s sitting government with an air strike near Damascus, targeting a military and research site. At least one Syrian official says the attack was a declaration of war.

Now the report is that Syria will retaliate despite the fact that the US has backed Israel and in fact is talking about arming some of the moderate rebels.

Israel’s great concern in Syria’s civil war is this increasing armament, especially of those linked to Hezbollah, an organization operating in Lebanon that has continued to make the annihilation of Israel a cornerstone of its policies.

The Middle East has long been a hotbed of conflict. In ancient times, key trade routes passed through the region, linking Africa with Asia minor, the Arabian peninsula, and Europe. With the changes in transportation, the Middle East seemed to lose much of its importance, but in the twentieth century, with the demand for oil and the discovery that many countries in the region were “black gold” rich, the eyes of the world again shifted in that direction.

Add in the confusion reigning after World War II, in which displaced Jews were promised a homeland. When Britain, which had governed the region after World War I and the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, declared its intention to terminate the Mandate under which it operated, “the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending partition into an Arab state, a Jewish state and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem” (from “Palestine” ).

Palestinians rejected the proposal, and a civil war ensued, resulting in the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. War or peace accords have been a way of life since, resulting in varying degrees of stability.

Nothing has brought more concern, however, than the threat of Iraq and Iran gaining nuclear weapons. With Iran now having some type of nuclear capability (they insist they are merely generating electricity) and determined to support failing Syrian President Bashar Assad by shipping arms to his regime, the unstable situation has all the ear markings of a conflagration waiting to escalate.

Knowing all this history and the dynamics of the region, the religious tensions, and the economic factors, it still amazes me that such a small area can command such a great deal of interest, especially when you realize that Israel doesn’t have oil–not in the pipeline loads as does Iraq or Saudi Arabia or a handful of other Arabic states.

I remember hearing when I was younger, the interpretation of the book of Revelation that believes in a physical, literal fulfillment of the prophecy of the events surrounding Israel, and I thought, why would the whole world want to go up against that tiny, insignificant nation? It seemed unlikely.

In area, Israel comes in at number 153 out of 249 nations, making them smaller than countries like Belize, El Salvador, and Haiti. Such a tiny place to stir up such anxiety, such hatred, such animosity. But for one reason or the other, it has managed to stay at the crossroads of the world and generate strong feelings. Not many people are neutral about Israel.

This is one of those topics that can easily bring people to blows or at least to heated arguments. I’m glad to know there is a sovereign God superintending the situation. Otherwise it would be easy to become overwhelmed by the irreconcilable issues and the long-standing acrimony. We’re talking about the mother of all feuds–the granddaddy of the Hatfields and the McCoys. With modern weapons.

Yeah, not good.

But God is.

Which doesn’t mean He will stop the Middle East from erupting. In fact, it might mean the opposite. However, He has promised that when His people pass there the waters, He’ll be with us, and through the river, they will not overflow us. When we walk through the fire, we will not be scorched nor will the flame burn us. (Isaiah 43:2). The promise isn’t that He’ll prevent high waters or a fire we must walk through. Rather, He promises us His presence and provision in the midst of it.

Good to remember when we listen to the news.

Published in: on May 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm  Comments Off on The Middle East Hornet’s Nest  
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The Slaughter Of Civilians

Indiscriminate death, and some discriminate, has been in the news the past few days.

There were the killings in Seattle, where a gunman walked into a building and let bullets fly. Four people died. He then carjacked an SUV, killing the driver. When he was cornered by authorities, he put his gun to his head and killed himself.

That horrible event has been overshadowed by the slaughter of civilians in Syria. Government forces, or terrorist forces supporting the government, stormed into a town at night, going door to door and killing people in their homes. Over half of the victims were children.

In both instances, those who died were in places they believed to be safe, even protected.

One more similar story is on the news. An untold number of babies are being killed for no other reason than that they are of the “wrong” sex. Gendercide, the media has dubbed it–a practice that apparently a number of European countries have outlawed.

For whatever reason, the “in thing” touted by the influencers in our country seems to be whatever Europe is doing. But that’s a topic for another day. Suffice it to say, any number of liberals who would dismiss conversation about “gendercide” on the grounds that it is a conservative-backed concern, apparently are paying attention because the US is lagging behind Europe.

The idea that anyone is even questioning whether or not our government should take a stand against gendercide is astounding. We’re shocked by Syrian militia killing children in their beds, but not shocked by American medical personnel killing babies in theirs? Yes, the mother’s womb is the bed of these helpless infants–the place where they should be most protected, where they ought to be safe to grow to maturity.

When abortion was legalized in America, the feminist movement claimed a fetus was not alive, that it was part of the mother’s body, a bit of tissue. Years later, science has proven indisputably that these babies are in fact alive. Yet the feminist movement clings to the “right” of the woman to give birth, or not, to a baby she has conceived.

There are no moral grounds for this stance, simply legal rights those determined to uphold abortion still cling to. Hence these feminists, in the face of gendercide–which, incidentally, targets baby girls–must now choose, something they’ve insisted they should be allowed to do.

The problem is, either choice undermines who they are. If they take a stand against gendercide, they believe they are opening the door to an end of abortion. But if they stand against those who are trying to bring an end to gendercide, they are opening the door to crimes against women.

For those who believe the Bible, this ought not to be an issue. From the day Cain killed his brother Abel, God has outlawed murder. He also abhorred child sacrifice and condemned all nations, including His chosen people, when they did not care for orphans, widows, the poor, and strangers. In other words, we aren’t to abandon children, we aren’t to sacrifice them, and we aren’t to kill them.

Apparently our government has such a skewered moral compass that we can’t even determine that killing baby girls simply because they are girls is wrong. (See “Gendercide Abortion Ban Fails in the House”).

Published in: on May 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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