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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Incongruencies

A few rambling observations about the recent murder of an infamous late-term abortion provider, and the ensuing national discussion:

It Happened in a Church
Before last week's murder, most national discussion characterized the debate as one in which the religious were pro-life and the secular pro-choice. So it struck me as completely odd that a prominent personality of the pro-abortion movement would meet his terrible end while serving at his Protestant church. National Catholic figures have been pressed on their contradictions in this regard. Speaker Pelosi and others have been forced to address the in-congruency of their profession of Catholic faith and their commitment to abortion rights. But here we have not just an advocate of abortion rights, but a provider of them, that didn't just attend a Lutheran church, but even served as an usher there. Perhaps the liberalization of mainline Protestant denominations makes this unsurprising.

According to media accounts, people find this assassination particularly shocking because it took place at a church, "a place of peace." Leaving aside the horror of murder, consider the cultural perception of church as "a place of peace." I wonder if this is the same sort of peace that Jesus brought?
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him..." (Colossians 1:19-22)
I think that many people consider church to be a place of peace or refuge. Indeed, God is our refuge. But a refuge is not the same as a resort. Church isn't a place to go for rest and relaxation. It is a place of worship. And worship means encountering the Holy God. When we truly do that, we can only collapse in woe as did Isaiah:
"Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5)
It is then we see that the peace we need is peace between our wicked selves and God--a reconciliation provided only in Christ.

Murder in the name of life
Much has been made of the contradiction of a murder being committed for a pro-life cause. Of course this is a true contradiction and it was a wicked deed. Pro-abortion apologists, however, are taking the opportunity to ridicule the inconsistencies of pro-life beliefs. Consider this excerpt from Jeff Schweitzer, on the Huffington Post: 
Let us look at the rationale for many of those who oppose abortion. A primary argument rests on the notion that life is sacred. Indeed, the very term "sanctity of life" is code for opposition to abortion, supposedly indicating a pious regard for all things living. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cows, pigs, goats and sheep are alive, but killing them for food is not questioned. Hunting big game for sport is just fine. But since cows and big game are alive, the unctuous appeal to the "sanctity of life" is absurd. Plants are alive, but I suspect the "sanctity" part only applies to animals. What abortion opponents mean is that some forms of life, that only they have the right to define, are sacred, while others can be disregarded as long as they give the okay.
(emphasis added; full article here)
At first I found this laughable, but it is no laughing matter for Mr. Schweitzer. He is disgusted, and convinced he has discovered the Achilles heel of our pro-life position.

If it were true that only the forms of life "that they have the right to define" are sacred, than he would be correct. It is absurd. Why should we mind the authority of a "movement"? But we appeal to a higher standard. Genesis 1:27:
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

The implications of this are far-reaching. Understanding that we are made in the image of God and yet sinners in rebellion against God changes how you understand the world around you. It is vital that we teach this principle to our kids.

Anecdotally, I find that kids from Christian homes routinely miss this answer. I've asked kids in Sunday School and in homeschool groups "What is the difference between us and animals?" Almost always I hear answers like "We walk and talk" or "We read." I asked a group recently "What is the difference between penguins (who do not seek their own glory) and people (who do)?" The kids launched into a list of the differences between mammals and birds. Our culture programs kids to think only biologically and materially about these issues. We must work overtime to get them thinking first about the spiritual truths.

2 comments:

Sharon said...

I have to say that I don't understand this comment by Schweitzer, either. It seems that he is arguing that it is ridiculous to state that all life is sacred, and so I presume that he is heading towards the opposite end, proposing that none is. Yet surely one of the major arguments that has been used to promote abortion is the sacredness of the mother's life. Most often we see this in arguments expounding her "right" not to be "harmed" by a pregnancy/birth. I just don't get why Schweitzer thinks that it isn't okay for a pro-lifer to hold human life as more precious than animal or plan life, but that it is fine for pro-abortionists to hold some human life as more sacred than other human life. I just don't get it!

Regarding your comments about peace, I remember quite clearly the first time I realised that the "peace" the angels proclaimed at Christ's birth was not anything to do with earthly wars, but to do with reconciliation to a right relationship with the Father through the Son. All of a sudden a whole host of things fell into perfect place, theologically-speaking.

~ Sharon

Mrs. Edwards said...

Sharon,
I wrote a brilliant reply to this comment, lost my internet connection, and when it came back it was gone. Meanwhile, all the brilliance is gone! :)

I thought you made a good point about Schweitzer. It is logic that runs to a dead end. In the end I think it is all about avoiding the one great truth that non-believers must avoid: God. If you read Schweitzer's full article, it is even more illogical, but I think it is an interesting read. Much of what he writes seems to me to prove the point of pro-lifers.

So much of our Christmas cultural traditions reinforce the idea that the angels were proclaiming peace between men rather than between men and God.

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