Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Value of Life


Christians can be discouraged by setbacks on the front of protecting life, but not to the point of complacency. We need to realize that there is still progress to be made, even if it is only a little at a time. We also need to know why we are fighting. Unborn life has value because of the nature we all share. It comes from God, and is not ours to dispose of as we see fit. That truth has biblical foundations we need to know. It strengthens us to keep moving forward and equips us to show the evil of abortion for what it really is.

A few weeks ago, the state of New York passed a new law to permit abortions up until the birth of the child, and did so with joyous fanfare. This was likely intended as a victory for the “Resistance,” but is really nothing more than a macabre display of inhumanity.

Law and History

There is not much for me to say that has not been said elsewhere. For the legal aspect, federal law supersedes state law when they are contradictory. Hopefully, there will be a court challenge that results in this travesty being thrown in the dustbin of history where it belongs.

As for history, it is difficult for me not to note the comparisons between the attitude of abortion advocates and those of slavery advocates in the 1850’s. What had once been called a necessary evil eventually came to be considered a sacred right. It became ensconced in legislatures, in courts, and in public opinion across broad swaths of the nation. Its victory seemed complete, until suddenly it wasn’t. The forces of bondage overextended themselves and created their own ruin. As we face a modern version of unspeakable evil, it is good to remember that something similar was overcome in the past. It may come at a great cost, but such barbarity cannot stand forever.

Sadly, I have no prescription to offer for overcoming it. Another civil war is not an answer, even if one could happen. The best we can do is to keep on as we have done in an effort to show the twisted thinking of this cult of death. It has been slow going, and there are often discouragements, but we are limited to chipping away at the foundation of this unholy edifice in our public life. That is our faithful service. Ultimately, its fall will rely on the intervention of God. Until then, we proclaim His will and influence policy to reflect it.

Biblical Principles on Life and Equality

In that spirit, I have a few things I would like to point out. I frequently discuss the danger Christians can get themselves in by not knowing what they believe. We cannot take pro-life opinion to be a given of church attendance. If it is not, that is because of churches not taking up their mandate to teach their congregations about God’s truth revealed in Scripture. It also represents a failure to teach the principles of the application of that Scripture. If a Christian believes abortion is wrong but cannot say why, then they are not very far away from losing the conviction that it is wrong. At the very least, they will be ill-equipped to hand that conviction on to the next generation.

Perhaps it is just me, but it seems the passage most commonly used in response to this issue is Ps. 139:13–16. It is certainly appropriate, given that it shows God as forming, knowing, and valuing us before birth. However, I think a few passages seen less frequently in this context might actually be more valuable for how they can influence political philosophy.

The first, Job 31:13–15, relies on the same understanding in the psalm and speaks to our life in the womb:

If I have dismissed the case of my male or female servants
when they made a complaint against me,
what could I do when God stands up to judge?
How should I answer him when he calls me to account?
Did not the one who made me in the womb also make them?
Did not the same God form us both in the womb?

We are reminded here of something modern thinkers want us to forget. Everyone is equal. Now, that might sound odd. People on the left love to talk about equality. But they do not believe in it in any meaningful sense. They cannot define its source, and they do not apply it when it counts. They are far more interested in comparative value.

That is the primary justification for abortion, after all. A child in the womb has no personality (debatable, but I won’t get into that now) or independence, so his life is less valuable in comparison to the mother for whom he creates a burden. The child’s humanity is therefore ignored, or even denied.

These verses in Job point out the flaw in that thinking. We all have the same value. We are all the same in that, regardless of our eventual station in life, we began by being formed by God. The worth of an unborn child is in his nature, something we all share as the image of God. It is a matter of dignity and potential. If you make humanity a matter of ability, then you open Pandora’s Box. It gives the strong the right to rule the weak, and in many more matters than just the life of the unborn. Not that it can get much worse, frankly. They are the most innocent and the most defenseless among us, which is what makes abortion such a curse of hell.

The next passage, Job 32:6–9, is related. It is a tangential connection, though, so bear with me:

I am young in years,
while you are old;
therefore I was timid and afraid
to tell you what I know.
I thought that age should speak
and maturity should teach wisdom.
But it is the spirit in a person—
the breath from the Almighty—
that gives anyone understanding.
It is not only the old who are wise
or the elderly who understand how to judge.

As in the previous verses, the point is equality. Much wisdom comes with age, but it is not automatic. There can be old fools, and there can be young wise people. What counts is not who comes first, but what comes from God. Once again, we share the same nature.

Obviously, this would make more sense in the context of allowing the young to lead in the church. They do apply in this debate, though. The unborn do not have wisdom, but they do have “the breath from the Almighty.” That does not mean actual breath, it means life. It is God’s gift to all. No one has inherent control over the life or death of another, because the Lord is the actual master of our life. To claim the right to end another life because it is burdensome or inconvenient is an affront to the Creator.

Practical Application

This understanding of the value of life is what makes true liberty possible. Without it, one person could claim natural superiority over another and subject them to their whims. That is what we have seen throughout human history, and it is what we see in abortion. No more, no less. It was the realization that we are all the same at root that led to the American experiment. If not for the biblical perspective that none of us is greater than another because each of us has the same source, than Jefferson’s poetic turn of phrase would not have been possible:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

If human life were the product of pure chaos, then these things could not be true. Equality only has a basis when it goes to the deepest root of who we are, not of what we can do on our own. It can only exist when we know we are equal from beginning to end.

That is the unbroken message of Scripture and the foundation of our Republic. These are things we need to know. If we fail to educate ourselves and those around us, then we will fail to defend life and liberty. If we make an effort to know what the Lord has made available to us, then we will be prepared to stand in the breach. That is where we are, and I hope it is where we will be strengthened to remain. I shudder to think of what else may happen if we grow any more complacent.

Have a question about the Bible? Want to share this article on Facebook or Twitter? Interested in becoming a patron of Quest Forums? Check out the links in the sidebar!

No comments:

Post a Comment