Posts Tagged With: abortion

John the Baptist, Jesus, and Justices: Some Thoughts Regarding the Supreme Court’s Abortion Ruling

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy” (Luke 1:41-44).

A ten-week-old fetus. Photo by Suparna Sinha, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. The timing seems like a coincidence: On the church calendar, June 24 is the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. It is the birthday of the prophet whom God appointed to prepare the way for the coming of Christ. I do not know if any of the Roman Catholic justices who wrote the decision were aware of this and consciously picked this date for that reason. Still, the timing is interesting at the very least.

John’s first prophetic act occurred in the womb. Upon hearing Mary’s voice, he leaped in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth knew there was something special about this leap. John’s jumping and kicking convinced Elizabeth that her relative was carrying the Messiah in her womb. John the Baptist was not just a clump of cells. He was a person, filled by the Holy Spirit, chosen by God to minister as a prophet, and he was already doing his work. He recognized the presence of Jesus, who likewise was more than a mere clump of cells. Though still in their mothers’ wombs, they were already acting as persons.

The fetus’ personhood is the essence of the abortion debate for prolife Christians. While pro-choice advocates emphasize a woman’s right to choose, viewing abortion as a medical procedure, Christianity has historically recognized the baby in the womb as a living person. The essential question is, “When does life begin?” Does it begin when the sperm fertilizes the egg to create a new single-celled entity, with a brand-new genetic code combining the parents’ DNA? Does life begin when that single-celled zygote has grown to become an embryo with its own heartbeat (several weeks after conception)? Does life begin when the fetus’ movements can be felt by the mother? Does it begin when the baby exits the mother’s body at birth or sometime thereafter? The Christian church, under the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit, has always held that the baby in the womb is a person whose life should be preserved. The Didache, written ca. 100 AD, referred to those who commit abortion as “child-murderers, who go the way of death, who slay God’s image in the womb.” It adds, “You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.”

Fourth-century bishop Basil the Great expressed this view:

“A woman who intentionally destroys a fetus is guilty of murder. And we do not even talk about the fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed.”

The choice to commit abortion is very different from the choice to get a tattoo, nose job, or some other medical procedure.

So, now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, has the culture war against abortion ended? Not at all. The ruling merely returned the issue to the states. Some states may ban it entirely, whereas others will introduce a few new restrictions. Some states may even reduce the number of restrictions and offer greater access to abortion than before.

Furthermore, Plan B “emergency contraceptives” may become more readily available. These medications prohibit a conceived zygote from implanting in the uterus to begin development. They do not prevent conception; they merely stop the zygote from developing after the new life has begun. It is, essentially, abortion earlier in the process. Plan B may remain available nationwide by mail order, even in states where its sale in pharmacies is banned or restricted. Women will continue to find ways to end a pregnancy, either through legal means or by finding a way around the system.

So, the prolife movement cannot rest on its laurels. Overturning Roe v. Wade was only one part of the battle. Abortion is primarily a moral and spiritual issue. The Body of Christ must remain completely prolife. Are we willing to take a stand on biblical standards regarding sex: not only homosexuality but premarital sex as well? Will we cherish the family? Are we willing to consider children to be a blessing from God? Will we take a stand for life from conception until natural death for all humans?

We need to consider some of the challenges raised by pro-choice advocates. We are willing to defend the child in the womb. Will we continue to fight for the child after birth? Will we meet the needs of single mothers who have limited resources? Will we feed the poor? Will we donate money and clothing to organizations that serve low-income families? Will we actively assist single mothers that we know: to go beyond praying for them to help them with their financial needs or offer to babysit when the mother needs help?

The Church must assist and actively love single mothers. Will we meet the needs of mothers who have limited resources? Will we feed the poor? Will we provide clothing? Will we help the single mothers in our sphere of influence to ensure that they can provide for their children? “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

What are your thoughts regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling? Can you think of ways that the prolife community can minister to families and continue to witness in a post-Roe world? Share your thoughts, experiences, or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christians and Culture, Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons, Current events | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ascension, Visitation, Pentecost: A Pro-Life Perspective Revisited

I published the following article three years ago, at which time the three feasts of Ascension, Visitation, and Pentecost coincided much as they do this year. This article seems particularly timely as recent news leaks suggest that the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion may soon be overturned.

“In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord’” (Luke 1:39–45; all Scripture quotations are from the ESV unless otherwise indicated).

This article is based on a homily I shared yesterday at my church’s monthly Liturgy for the Preborn outside Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, NY. On the first Saturday of every month, a group of us gather to pray for an end to abortion. The liturgy includes prayers from a funeral service, recognizing that the facility’s “medical services” include the murder of helpless preborn children.

An artist’s depiction of the visitation, ca. 1410. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

This weekend’s liturgy came during a busy time on the church calendar. Thursday was the Feast of the Ascension, when Christians commemorate Christ’s return to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Although many Christians overlook this date, my church believes it is important enough for all Christians to acknowledge, so we celebrate it on the following Sunday. Friday was the Feast of the Visitation, when the newly-pregnant Mary visited her relative Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist). A little over one week later we will celebrate Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit filled the first followers of Jesus and empowered them to fulfill His Great Commission. Thus, we have three feasts within ten days to honor significant events in the life of Christ and His Church.

It is easy to see the connections between Ascension and Pentecost. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, ascended to heaven. He brought something with Him that He did not have before coming to earth: a human body. A part of humanity now dwells in heaven. Ten days later, He sent the third person of the Trinity to dwell in and empower His disciples. Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, divinity dwells within you! You are now a partaker of the divine nature! The very life of God dwells within you.

This thought brings us to the Feast of the Visitation. Whereas this feast celebrates an event while Jesus was in the womb (before He was born), Pentecost celebrates an event after He returned to heaven. Although they occurred at opposite ends of His earthly ministry, they are intertwined. In each event, we can see the life and power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God’s people.

The first person to have a member of the Trinity dwelling within her was Mary, when she was carrying Jesus in her womb. The first person the New Testament speaks of as being “filled with the Holy Spirit” is Elizabeth. This infilling is closely intertwined with the fact that her preborn son, John the Baptist—somewhere between the third and sixth months of pregnancy—is the first person to testify that Jesus is the Son of God. Somehow, when he heard Mary’s voice, he recognized the Son of God within her and leaped with such excitement that Elizabeth knew something miraculous was happening.

The Bible declares the personhood of the fetus in the mother’s womb. John the Baptist began his ministry before he was even born. The Holy Spirit was at work in him. As miraculous as that sounds, he was not the first prophet whom God called before birth. The prophet Jeremiah said,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

This is why Christians speak out against abortion. If it were merely a medical procedure, we could be silent. Some of us may dislike tattoos, but that really affects only the person receiving the tattoo; no innocent lives are lost because of them. Some medical procedures, like cosmetic surgery, may feed on the sins of pride and vanity. Yet, we remain silent, since it does not affect other lives. However, true Christians cannot be silent about murder.

Many of our “political” issues are really spiritual issues which have been hijacked by politicians and the media. Abortion is just one of many social ills that have arisen as America has rejected God and ignored the deity of Jesus Christ. For the Christian, our mission remains the same as that of John the Baptist and the apostles. We must proclaim the kingdom of God as revealed in Jesus Christ; we must live by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, who empowers us to proclaim His kingdom and continue His work; and we must reveal His presence and power until He comes again. Christ has filled us with His Holy Spirit. He lives in us as He did in Mary, Elizabeth, and John the Baptist. May we always serve Him and share His love with those around us. May it always be our goal for our lives and words to testify to the presence of Christ and the Kingdom of God.

Copyright © 2019 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christians and Culture, Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I March for Life

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5-6, ESV).

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The view from within the March for Life as we paraded up Constitution Avenue. Photo by Michael E. Lynch

I joined a contingent from my church and several hundred thousand others in the March for Life in Washington, DC, on Friday, January 27.

Why would I march in this event? Although my company provides adequate vacation time, it is still finite and some people may think I could use my days having more “fun.” Spending nearly 12 hours on a bus (round trip), praying outside the Supreme Court while a small handful of protestors taunt us, and then walking down a street in cold winter weather (the real feel temperature was around 32° that day, which was better than some other years) may be rewarding, but it is not always fun.

First, let us dispense with the standard liberal accusation about why we march: We do not want to oppress women. Probably about one-half (maybe even more) of the participants are female. Some admit that they had babies aborted when they were younger and they now regret that decision. The “women’s rights” argument for abortion would make sense only if another human begin is not involved. Saying abortion is only about women’s rights is like saying that the American Civil War was only about the properly rights of white southerners.

However, another life is involved. When a woman becomes pregnant, her body becomes a sanctuary for another life: A life God has entrusted to her, to nourish, protect, love, and nurture. I can think of no more noble calling than that. The Bible tells us that God speaks of the preborn as if they are alive, calling some to fulfill His purposes while still in the womb [Jeremiah 1:5-6; see also the stories of Jesus, John the Baptist, and Judah (the father of the nation of Israel)].

My son was born two months premature in 1990. After a few rough days when his fate seemed questionable, his condition started to improve. While his mother and I rejoiced about his healing, a very different scene unfolded at the incubator across the aisle from my son. A pair of twins had also been born prematurely, and one’s condition was deteriorating. The parents were saying their good-byes to the smaller boy as he was dying. Tears streamed down the father’s face (he was a tall, rugged-looking guy who I cannot imagine being normally prone to tears). We could not bear to watch. I know we had one thing in common with that couple: We loved our newborn babies, had awaited their births eagerly, and I am sure we would willingly give anything to have healthy children. I am sure none of us could put a price tag on our babies’ lives.

While we prayed for our son and watched that family mourn theirs, I could not help but realize how precious our children were to us. Yet, in much of the country, debate raged (and continues to rage) over whether it would be legal to kill these babies in the womb at that stage of development. Society says that these babies’ value is determined by their mothers. If Mommy wants to keep the baby, he or she is a precious gift from God; if Mommy does not want to keep the baby, he or she is an inconvenience, “growth,” or parasite.

The world becomes dangerous when we determine a person’s value based purely on personal opinions. In the early days of our nation, people of African descent were considered somewhat less-than-human and could be bought or sold with no regard to their best interests. In Germany during the 1930s and 1940s, “ethnically inferior” persons and people with handicaps were considered a cancer upon society, so any means deemed necessary was used to cleanse the nation. The list goes on.

So, I stand and march for life in defense of the most vulnerable in our society. I march to preserve the dignity and value of all human life, from conception until natural death. Last of all, I march in memory of those children whose parents, against their wishes and for reasons known only by God, did not have the pleasure of watching their children grow up in this world.

This post copyright © 2017 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Christians and Culture, Current events, Politics | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The Pro-Life Movement after Antonin Scalia’s Death

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 1936-2016

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia,
1936-2016

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last week is a major blow to conservatism in the United States government. Scalia was considered one of the court’s two most conservative justices (along with Clarence Thomas). Scalia and Thomas were unapologetically conservative on social and moral issues like abortion and marriage. With Scalia’s death, I believe Thomas is the only truly committed pro-life justice on the court.

His demise will have a significant impact on several high-profile cases this year. It is significant enough that some commentators consider it almost a deadly blow for political conservatism. I have even read a few comments online and in social media suggesting that the Constitution died with him.

I believe our problems as a nation are deeper than that. If the fate of our nation rested so heavily on the shoulders of one unelected official, we truly are in trouble.

The real problem is the idolatry of politics that many Americans, and particularly many Christians, have adopted. Many worship at the altar of the state and pray to “deities” named Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. (I am not suggesting that any or all of these men consider themselves divine; just that many of their supporters place a level of faith in them that should be reserved for God. Also, since I write from a rather conservative perspective, I doubt many worshippers of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders are reading this.) While I pray that voters will elect men and women with integrity, who will honor our nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage and biblical values, I do not believe this will heal our land.

Now as always, if not more than ever, Christians need to get our priorities in order: “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NASB).

While we should seek political leaders who will establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty, we cannot expect them to do the work that only God can do. We cannot give them the loyalty and trust that only God deserves.

Our nation is not drifting from God because Antonin Scalia died, and his death by itself does not create a moral and ideological crisis for our nation. Our nation suffers because God’s people do not recognize Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I will end this post with Psalm 2 (NASB), which reminds us that God is still the King, even if earthly rulers refuse to acknowledge Him:

Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”

He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
“But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

“I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

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For Life

This week, I will travel to Washington, DC, with members of my church to join several hundred thousand other people from around the country at the March for Life. Contrary to what many mainstream media outlets will claim: hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists will participate (NOT just a few hundred or a couple thousand); they will a diverse group, not only a bunch of angry white men (many women, young people, and people of diverse races will be present); and it will not be restricted to a bunch of right-wing evangelical extremists (actually, I wish we had more evangelicals present, but the vast majority of participants will be Roman Catholic).

Why would I go? Why do I care about this issue? Why would I give up one of my vacation days to spend it on a long bus ride, followed by one hour praying outside the Supreme Court, followed by carrying a sign for maybe less than a mile down the street with a throng of other people, even though many politicians are trying to ignore us? Some may think it is a waste of time.

I will not be silent. Some people suggest that abortion is “a women’s issue” and therefore, as a man, I should mind my business. By that logic, the Nazi Holocaust was a “German and Jewish issue,” and the rest of the world should have minded their business. The Nazis also claimed their victims were subhuman, or at least a lower class of human, much as abortionists do. When innocent human life is at stake, silence is cruelty.

There are several reasons why I am passionate about this issue. One of those reasons was an experience I had in 1990. My son, Daniel, had been born two months premature and was less than one week old. His first few days in the neonatal intensive care unit were rough, but after about five days or so, his condition improved dramatically. His mother and I remain convinced to this day that the prayers of many friends and family members, assisted excellent medical treatment, brought miraculous results.

However, not all premature babies are that fortunate. Directly across from Danny’s incubator were two twins (I believe they were about three months premature). While Danny’s mother and I were visiting him, celebrating his remarkable turnaround, their parents arrived. They were not there to celebrate but, as we soon noticed, to say goodbye to one of their children. The father was a fairly tall, strong-looking guy, but as he went to the smaller baby’s bed and held his puny hand, his eyes welled up with tears. On the monitors, most of the baby’s vital signs had been declining. My wife and I could not watch; we left. Although we were no longer living their pain, we had endured a small taste of it when our baby was struggling. When we returned a few hours later to see our son, the bed across from his was empty.

That little boy did not experience the healing mine did, but he obviously had one thing in common with Daniel: both had parents who loved their babies, whose hearts ached to see them suffer, and who would probably do and give anything to see them recuperate and grow up.

Sadly, while we (my wife and I, and this other couple) were praying and hoping for healing, grateful for anything the doctors and nurses could do for our babies, millions do not share this passion. Thousands of babies are chopped to pieces, or chemically burned alive, in the uterus every day. In most states, it would be legal to kill a baby in the sixth, seventh—or even the final month—of pregnancy. The child’s fate is left entirely to the will of his or her parents.

Here were three babies, from two families, who were loved and cherished by their parents. From a purely objective perspective, these children were not worth more than other children, but their parents ascribed great value to their lives. Perhaps their only chance for survival was the fact that their parents loved them.

Are we willing to live in a society that determines whether one lives or dies, solely on the basis of whether another person — even a parent — deems them worthy of life. When the news reports about a child who was killed by his or her own parents (remember Casey Anthony?), Americans are outraged. Why should we be, if  parents have the right to choose whether a baby lives or dies?

Legalized abortion continues to bring new complications as it slides along its slippery slope. Several years ago, an article in the Journal of Biomedical Ethics proposed that “postnatal abortion” (killing a newborn) should be “permissible in all cases where abortion is.” Is there any significant moral difference between this and what Casey Anthony did to her baby, or what any other negligent or violent parent has done to a child?

Do any of us have a “right to life” which, according to the Declaration of Independence, is given to us by our Creator? Or, is our right to life in the hands of other people—perhaps people who place selfish personal agendas over the well-being of others?

I could probably write a few thousand more words on this subject, addressing it from biblical, theological, philosophical, constitutional, and other perspectives. However, at this time, I choose to leave it with this personal angle. Babies are loved or rejected; wanted or unwanted; planned or unplanned. But, each of those are a reflection of the parent’s soul, not a quality inherent to the child. I pray for a day when all preborn babies have a legal right to live because they bear the image of God. May we see a culture of life where this can become possible.

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