A Mother’s Story: God’s Care through Life, Disability, and Death

It is often said that pre-born life is hardly valued in our country and that many abort children with disabilities. I, for one, can relate to the heart-breaking situation of hearing that there is something wrong with your child, but I have never changed my mind about the injustice of abortion. This is my story.

After my husband and I were happily married for sometime we got pregnant and had a miscarriage three times. Our doctor referred us for further examinations, partly because there are genetic disorders amongst relatives. Blood was drawn and DNA testing was done. In the meantime, we were expecting for the fourth time—a blessing from above.

When the results came in after several weeks, we were deeply shocked. There was reason for serious concern. They said our baby would possible have no cerebrum, the largest part of the brain, and that the eyes were implanted the wrong way, due to a “mistake” between the 3rd and 7th chromosome. The verdict? With every pregnancy, there would be 30% chance of a miscarriage, 30% chance of a still-birth, and 40% chance of having a reasonably healthy child, though 5% of the latter could also be a severely handicapped child. As though life can be captured in percentages.

“You’re still young,” the physician said to us in a consoling but somewhat cold manner. “That makes all the difference, right?” My husband was 27; I was 22. All we knew was that One stood above it all. When our daughter was born there was double joy. She was completely healthy and well. I cannot even tell you how happy we were but everything was comprehended in a verse from Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” What a miracle!

One year later, we experienced another miscarriage at 12 weeks of pregnancy, likely due to the same chromosomal disorder. To lose our sweet baby that we would have loved to hold and raise caused much sorrow. But—Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit. Man proposes, but God disposes.

Within the next two years, we received another daughter and a son. We were ever so happy with our little family. Some years later, I was pregnant again and we were delighted. At 20 weeks, we were expected to go for an ultrasound, which wasn’t routine for everyone back then. However, we needed to do this with every pregnancy due to the genetic predisposition for a handicapped child. It was an ultrasound I will never forget.

After a long, ominous silence, during which I intuitively felt that bad news was coming, the ultrasound technician took my hand and said, “Something is wrong with your child.” I remember that I began to cry, and that we were soon joined by my husband and the gynaecologist. But before anyone could say anything, I exclaimed through my tears, “But I will never, NEVER get rid of it!”

Since the medical staff immediately knew were we stood on this matter, no other “options” were offered and we were treated with utmost respect and cooperation. Almost every week there was another appointment and it became clear—our child was seriously handicapped. We didn’t know how long she would live, which caused much tension and insecurity. I had too much amniotic fluid and very much pain during the pregnancy, but the Lord helped me through it every single day. Our child grew according to the book.

Then, at 36 weeks, our Tirza was born. She passed away during her birth. Not because of her handicap, but because of placenta abruption.

Our dear daugther, our sweet child.

Despite her disability and the way her eyes were placed, Tirza was a beautiful baby. I dressed her myself—the few last things I could do for her. Only then I fully realized what it is to miss a child that you have also embraced. My husband and I held and caressed her, as did our parents and other children. We were allowed to take our dearly beloved daughter home prior to the funeral with family and close friends.

“The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

The Lord gave us to believe that Tirza is now eternally with Him—what a great comfort! It would almost be impossible to go through this otherwise, yet the Lord didn’t give us too much to carry. He saved my life, and took our child’s. He measured our shoulders before He put our cross on it.

Our gynaecologist interrupted his holiday to attend Tirza’s birth. Deeply moved, he remarked, “What a beautiful way to give closure to her life.” He explained that with an abortion, parents always have doubts and wonder whether their disabled child would have lived, what he or she would have looked like, and more. “But you have been able to give this a beautiful place in your life,” he said. And that is true. We even have pictures to sometimes look at, and precious memories forever in our hearts.

Despite miscarriages, we received two more healthy daugthers in the years that followed. The last one had to spend two weeks in an incubator at the NICU, and we were so afraid. But again, the Lord was good to us. “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death” (Psalm 68:19, 20).

Others often showed no understanding when we were expecting again, which was difficult. Yet we could and still may put our life in the Lord’s hands with a simple trust that He is in control. That brings true peace. As Job said, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Our marriage form expresses this beautifully as well: “For this reason the Lord Jesus Christ…will aid and protect married persons even when they are least deserving it.”

We have experienced this often, especially when times were difficult. This was also the case with our very last pregnancy. Grateful for another child, we learned at 12 weeks that something was wrong. We thought we would carry the baby to full-term, but at 17 weeks her little heart stopped beating. After an induced birth, we buried her besides Tirza. Again, there was much sadness.

It is now one year later and this, in short, is my story. I speak from experience when I say to never, ever end your pregnancy! To dispose of your pre-born child is to touch God-given life—He reigns, not us. Regardless of how difficult it has been, I would have never wanted to abort my children. When people say they want the best for their child, my question is this: If someone is so dear to you, regardless of special needs, how can you abort him or her? Please know that I would take care of your child with all the love of my heart. I work with severely disabled adults who are unable to do anything for themselves and yet, they are able to give love. Because no one is ever created for no reason. And perhaps they are happier than those with the intelligence to reason everything.

All that matters is whether the Lord knows them, and knows you. You may have everything in this world, but without Him, you have nothing.

“Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous to the general public but is known to the editors of The Reformed Pro-Lifer. Together with her husband and five healthy children, she is a member of one of our Reformed congregations. Besides serving her family, she lovingly provides care for adults with severe developmental disabilities.

Do You Want to Be a Burden to Your Children?

I want to live long enough to be a burden to my children.

I heard a Christian thinker I respect say that years ago, and it embedded in my mind, shocking as it is to our sensitivities. After all, isn’t this the shocking reverse of the received wisdom we hear, and say, all the time? Isn’t it selfish to want to be a burden to one’s children?

This sentence came to mind again this weekend when reading this article in The Guardian by Giles Fraser. Fraser writes that he is not enamored with the pain and indignity of death. But caring for others, and being cared for, is love. We are not “brains in vats,” he notes but persons who live in communities and families.

None of us want to be an undue burden to anyone, of course. I certainly wouldn’t want my children, when I’m elderly, to have to suffer in caring for me in the throes of dementia or cancer or paralysis. But when I peel that back further, in my case, the real issue for me is simple: pride.

I want to be the strong provider/protector/dignified image of myself as husband and father. I want to live on with the image in my loved one’s memories of me as in my prime. I don’t want the humiliation of having to be cared for in my weakness, or the fearfulness of having to trust someone else to attend to my needs. I want to be a man, but I don’t want to be a helpless baby in need of parents or a helpless elder in need of my children.

I’m not alone.

Simon Peter of Galilee was happy to serve his Rabbi and lord, Jesus. He was happy to preach and to heal and to cast out demons, to organize events and to camp out all over the countryside. In the fullness of time, he was willing to sword-fight anyone who tried to arrest his King. But when Jesus kneeled before him with a towel and water, Peter flinched. “Thou shalt never wash my feet,” Peter said (Jn. 13:8).

This seems to be humility, doesn’t it? Peter doesn’t want his Messiah to serve him, but instead the reverse. But this isn’t humility. Peter doesn’t want the humiliation of being the served one rather than the server. He doesn’t want the indignity of his filth being seen and touched and washed away.

I’m the same way. I love being the answer to problems. But when I need other people, I am reminded that I am not alone. I am not the solution. I am not the Messiah.

That’s why God gave us a life-cycle, from dependence to dependence. We don’t pay our parents or interview them or recruit them. They are just there when we are born, and we are helpless. And, at the end, despite all our technology, there is something right about falling back on the kindness of friends and family, who are motivated not by our ability to pay them back but by love and fidelity and community.

And that’s why God gives us the church. No person is a church to himself, but is by definition in need of others, with gifts he or she doesn’t have. The church is an organism, a Body. Without dependence on others, we don’t have a Body but an organ in a jar, to be studied or collected or destroyed as medical waste.

In the Body of Christ, there are not people who have burdens and people who don’t. We are to “bear ye one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). We are all a burden to be borne, just in different ways.

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young; thous girdest thyself, and walkedst wither thou wouldest:” Jesus told Peter, “but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall fird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” (Jn. 21:18).

That’s humiliating. That’s pride-destroying. That’s the way of Christ. It was there for Peter. It will be there for me. It will be there for you. But it is not our path alone. Jesus himself went to the humiliation of the cross. He was a “burden” to his mother, who had to watch him drown naked in his own blood. He was a “burden” to the the owner of his borrowed tomb. He was a “burden” to his women friends, who anointed his dead, bloated, bloodied corpse with spices. Who wants one’s friends to see that?

He was no burden. He was loved. He is Love.

I hope my children never have to sacrifice for their father when I’m elderly. But, if they do, I pray I’ll be Christlike enough to crucify my pride and receive their love. And I pray that I’ll be learning to love, and to be loved, all along the way.

Reprinted with permission from the author; originally posted on Moore to the Point.

Do You Hear the Children Crying?

Do you hear the children crying,
Can you hear their anguished screams?
Do you hear the women sighing,
Tormented by their shattered dreams?

Can you see the tiny forms of children
Broken, beaten, bruised and torn?
Do you see tears carefully hidden
By mothers guilty and forlorn?

Do you not hear, can you not see,
The blood that rests on all our hands?
The stench of great iniquity
That covers all of our vast land?

Do you ask, now where is God?
Who lets such horrors continue on?
Do you sit and wisely nod,
It’s not our fault for God is gone.

But did we not say, with voices eager
Did we not shout with loud acclaim
Did we not gesture with wild fever
Did we not mock, and tell the same;

God, Thou must remain in heaven
Stay beyond our earth’s blue skies
We have eaten the poisonous leaven
Which the devil well supplies

For as we stay dumb, deaf and blind
We see no blood, we hear no cries
Our hearts we harden, and sin we bind
Close on our hearts, believing lies.

Our children suffer, are valued not
Their life not treasured, thrown away
Their little bodies left to rot,
Yet we continue on our way.

But pray our eyes be opened wide
To see the blood of children lost
To see how the Great Divide
Has polluted minds, we pay the cost.

Let us no longer remain silent,
We may no longer close our ears
Let us our best garments rent
And fill our eyes with guilty tears

Let the voiceless gain a voice
Let the hidden blood be seen
Let us no longer rejoice
In what our sinful lives have been.

Let the children come and welcome
Let your daughters gain a friend
Do not keep your lips closed and dumb,
But make the slaying of children end.

Then, do you hear the children laughing
Safe inside their warm cocoon
God-given life in our safe keeping
Remains safe in mother’s womb

Take up the sword of truth all people,
Answer the call of God’s just war
Fight for the rights of pre-born children
Let their blood be shed no more.

God and Reason Part I

Suppose you ask a scientist today to summarize all that exists. He or she will tell you that everything that can be known is part of time, space and matter. Now take a look at Genesis 1 verse 1. It says: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” In other words, God says that he caused time (in the beginning), the existence of space (the heavens), and matter (the earth). Isn’t it remarkable that what science describes as the observable world is the same as what Moses penned down so long ago?

Whether in high school or university, or as we settle into a job, at some point many people wonder about the origin and meaning of life. We struggle with the same questions: how did it all start, where does life come from, and what is the purpose of life? I say ‘struggle’ because there is a dominant opinion in our society which answers these questions with one word: science. But the notion that ‘science’ can answer all these questions leaves many people uncomfortable.

Let’s go back to Genesis 1:1 and the point I made at the start of the article. If the summary of existing things by scientists is so close to the account of God’s word, why does not the vast majority of our society believe in the creation account? Now we are getting closer to the problem. The ‘real’ problem for most people in Genesis 1:1 are the words God created.” God’s authorship of all things was obvious to Adam and Eve before the fall but has become the key stumbling block for millions after.

There are at least three logical possibilities why God’s creatorship of all things could become a problem for people to accept. First, it could be that we have discovered that it is not really possible for him to have made so much, for example, galaxies upon galaxies of stars or tiny cell components. Second, it could be that scientists have discovered that things existing could have come into being through another way that does not require God’s creation or that the revelation of God’s creation clashes with science. Third, it could be that we do not want God to be the explanation of our existence regardless of the argument or logic.
The first logical reason raised above is of course easily answered. God who reveals himself as all-knowing, almighty, all-wise, everywhere present, and always being even before time was cannot logically have a problem creating things big or small. The third reason is not based on science or understanding but on the will. We learn from Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 that they rejected God not because they wondered whether he really was God, but because they wanted to become God themselves. We see humanity after the fall rejecting God in principle. So it is not a surprise that over time people have rejected God in science. People come up with elaborate ways to justify their decision to take God out of the equation. Adam and Eve did the same. They made elaborate excuses about who was guilty of eating the fruit.

Let’s remember that when we think about science and faith and God and reason, the first problem is not the way Genesis describes creation or contradictions between scientific methods and Biblical texts, and so on. The first problem is the broken will directing the mind in a wrong way. The broken will says: “now that we have left God, how can we explain everything without him?”

Consider again the three logical reasons mentioned above why God as the creator of all things is an obstacle for people. I concluded that number one is a non-issue and that number three is the first problem. Thus, the remaining issue to address is reason number two. Now, even though the will is the biggest problem, Christians still need to advance the knowledge and logic of creation as persuasive as possible to non-believers so that their minds begin to question whether their views are really logical and substantial. The study of doing this is called ‘Apologetics.’ Many books are written on the subject. My purpose in this and following articles is to provide simple ideas to guide your thoughts.

First of all, we need to understand what we mean by science. In order to compare the creation logic with science we must avoid a false worldview that has crept in. There is science and there is ‘scientism.’ The first is a method of investigation. It is a set of rules and a code of conduct of how to do research. It holds that to study something you need rules on how to observe, how to compare, and how to establish cause and effect. But scientism is something different. It is a belief system that pretends to be science. It holds that only those things that humans can observe actually exist and whatever cannot be observed by humans in a scientific manner does not exist. The mistake ‘scientism’ makes is that it beliefs there is only one source of knowledge: observation. The Bible of course reveals two sources of knowledge: observation and revelation. I want you to see the logical error folks make who turn science from a method into a belief system: on the one hand they say that humans came late in the evolution of all things after millions of years of other things being around. On the other hand, they claim that only human beings can judge what is and what is not. It is convoluted thinking. On the one hand they say that human brains are just fragile tissue that did not develop as we know it till some 150,000 years ago and on the other hand they say that only this brain can judge all things that have been and are now. Do you see the logical contradiction?

Scientism is merely a presumption. God reveals in creation and in the Bible that there are a lot of things we humans cannot really observe as in touch, smell or measure. Take for example ‘the beginning.’ God says there was a beginning. None of us were there to observe it, but does that make it impossible? God says that he called things into being that were not. How can you observe that? The fact that revealed knowledge exists alongside observed things simply means that the knowledge of God exists alongside the method of science.

Many early Western scientists understood both sources of knowledge. Heinrich Hertz (electro-magnetic frequencies), James Joule (units of energy) and Isaac Newton are three names of Christian scientists you can easily recognize. The point I am making is simply this: learn to distinguish between science as a method and scientism as a belief system. Science as a method contains many things we call talents from God. It can teach us many things. As Christians we do not have to reject it. Do not be intimidated by people who suggest that science and Christianity are incompatible and that science proves Christian knowledge cannot be logical. Think of two types of knowledge (observation and revelation) and two ‘judges’ of this knowledge (God and humans) and that it would be illogical if the human judge presided above and beyond God.

The Christian understanding for all existing things is that God’s revelation, including his creation account should be a framework to use science as a method. This is a reasonable viewpoint that you can develop and defend. God has created all things, including humans and he has given them a capacity to understand two types of knowledge. They have sense and order and logic to pursue the scientific method, but they also have revealed knowledge from God himself that they otherwise could not find out. God has revealed it in his Word.

This article was first published in Insight Into, a youth magazine published by the Netherlands Reformed Congregations. It has been republished here with permission from the author.

“God and Reason Part II: The Question of Origin and Evolution”

Practicing What We Preach on the Value of All People

She was a colourful woman, outspoken, honest, never mincing her words, and this only became more apparent as her Alzheimer’s progressed. I vividly remember visiting my mother’s aunt in a seniors’ home up to the last days of her life. She would beam as we sang psalms but soon snap back into her sharp and critical moods, sometimes saying the most painful things. Once, when hearing the names of two of my cousins, she sat up and remarked, “Those kids? Their parents paid a lot of money for them. They better be thankful for having such a good life!” She was referring to adoption, of course.

Many years have passed but the attitude of many remains similar to that of my mom’s aunt. In her regressing mental state, the dear woman shared a thought few may dare to express, but think all the same. She revealed a way of thinking in which we distinguish between children added to families in a natural way and children who came about differently. We secretly or subconsciously classify children into those who entered the world through conception and birth from a married father and mother, and those who don’t fit that standard. And with that, we create categories of human beings based on the decisions of their parents.

Let me be clear—the intention of this article is not to condone every way in which humans are created. God’s word gives clear direction and boundaries, also in terms of sexuality and procreation. This is why we are to oppose practices that violate the standard that not we, but God gave, with His honour and our best interest in mind. Yet, when adults ignore this and mess around instead, in God’s providence children may be conceived as a result. The intention of this article, therefore, is to highlight that the value of persons is based on the fact that they came about bearing the image, not only of sinful parents like myself, but in the first place of someone far greater than our minds can comprehend—of the Creator of heaven and earth.

The creation of humankind wasn’t an invention of people after all, but started with the Triune God. In Genesis 1, we read of the beginning of Adam and Eve, when the Holy Trinity proclaimed, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (vs. 26). Verse 27 confirms that God carried out His will, as He always does, and “created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them.” These verses leave no doubt as to the image and likeness human beings are created in—that of God! Genesis 5:1 and 9:6, among other texts, confirm this, but what does it really mean?

First, it means that humans are created to mirror and live in communion with their Creator. Every single human being therefore bears a dignity that cannot be erased or enhanced by one’s family history, personal achievements, or societal recognition—a dignity that is to exemplify and glorify God. As the apostle John exclaims in Revelations 4 verse 11, “Thou art worthy oh Lord, to receive honor and glory and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

Second, it means that each of us is created with a specific purpose. We learn in Genesis that God existed before the creation of the universe and the human race and that He made both out of nothing, but not without a cause. God was its cause. He willed to create and “it was.” This, precisely, is why the universe has meaning because it—and we!–were created purposefully. There are no words to express the significance this has for our understanding of the meaning of life.

Third, it means that we are all of one blood, of the same human race. There is therefore no Biblical foundation to hold superiority over any other human for we all go back to the same source, which is God. Francis A. Schaeffer sums it up as follows: “Unlike the evolutionary concept of an impersonal beginning plus time plus chance, the Bible gives an account of man’s origin as a finite person made in God’s image, that is, like God. We see then how man can have personality and dignity and value.”

But, someone might ask, what about Genesis 3? Didn’t the fall change everything? No question about it—we wouldn’t be discussing this topic if sin had not entered the world. The Bible tells us that we are flawed from our original design, though this has not destroyed our God-given uniqueness and dignity. Due to the evil Adam and Eve freely chose in Paradise, there is now a broken line when we look back to creation. Sin, in its deepest form, means that we no longer want to image God. In our sinful state, we either tear down our own dignity to the level of animals with no accountability or power other than one’s instinct, or we exalt ourselves to the level of gods and create images that resemble ourselves to give glory to (Romans 1). Either way, we refuse to acknowledge our Creator’s Lordship over our lives and our dependence on Him.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. To borrow John Calvin’s words, “In the gospel, God declares that he delights to adopt us as his children, and in doing so, he frees us from Satan’s snare and from the tyranny of sin.” The promise to provide a solution to our revolt against God was first given in Genesis 3 and fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem, as the embodiment of the invisible God, the Image we are patterned after.

That is why, when there is an assault on human beings, there is an assault on God Himself. To use an analogy—when someone purposely burns a picture of the person you love, it’s not just a piece of paper that is destroyed. Instead, it’s the image of your loved one, and that hurts. Much more so, when the dignity of human beings is denied and attacked, this is a denial of the Creator. Our minds understandably wander to rape, slavery, and abortion as examples, but what to think of when we define people by their origin or choices?

“Abortion is the result of a changed view on the value of humans,” B.J. Zijl wrote in 1982. This view is one we continually need to counter with the truth that all humans are created in the image of God. But we need to practice what we preach. If this is true for the children we need to save from abortion, it is equally true for their mothers and fathers. If it is true for the children in our churches born to happily married couples, it is also true for those fostered or adopted, created in labs, conceived during rape, born to teenage moms, or raised by single dads. It is true because “children are a heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3).

Finally, let’s not forget this applies to all people. It is therefore also true for straight and gay, handicapped and homeless, the terminally ill and all of those who are seen as a burden. It is true for anyone rejected by church or society, for any reason whatsoever. And it is mostly true because our value and dignity starts with Genesis 1.

A Fundamental Flaw with “Abolish Human Abortion”

Editor’s Note: Many pro-lifers, especially conservative Protestants, have noticed the emergence on social media of a new organization referring to itself as “Abolish Human Abortion.” Many of us were initially enthusiastic about the quality and conciseness of the message they put out. However, AHA has shown itself to be intentionally insulting, misguided, and wilfully divisive. As such, we are publishing an article by an American pro-life advocate explaining just a few of the many problems with their “ideology.”

I wish I didn’t have to write this article, but the reality is I believe that AHA does more harm to the pro-life movement than good. I do want to start off by saying that I appreciate their passion to see abortion done away with and unborn children saved. I believe that much of their views come out of a frustration with abortion having become legalized and remaining so for 40-plus years in the first place, which was due in large part to Christians not taking a stand against this horrible practice, a frustration which I share. However, they are far too divisive (and many of their views are simply skewed and not well-reasoned). What the pro-life movement needs now, more than ever, is unity among its supporters and proponents, even ones who disagree with us on spiritual issues. You can find another such article here. I have decided to add my voice to the fray. I would just like to ask that you hear my heart on this, and not just my words. I am not saying that pro-life Christians should leave the Gospel out of all their conversations; I am merely arguing that it is not necessary to make the pro-life case.

Specifically, I’ll be addressing their article “The Difference between Pro-Lifers and Abolitionists,” which you can find here.

Their first section has the heading “‘Abolitionist’ is not a synonym for ‘pro-lifer.'” That’s a pretty obvious statement. There is nothing in the term “abolitionist” that specifically indicates the abortion issue. William Wilberforce was a slavery abolitionist. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a racial discrimination abolitionist. So my response here is “of course not.” The problem is that they are making here a distinction without a difference. There is no difference between “abortion abolitionist” and “pro-life advocate,” as will be made clear in the rest of this article.

AHA makes the claim that pro-life is the expression of a moral opinion, abolitionist is the expression of a moral action. This statement is very problematic, especially coming from a group that considers themselves Christian. Christians believe in objective morality. Thoughtful Christians don’t deny that Atheists can live moral lives and recognize moral truths. Pro-life is not a moral opinion, but an expression of the moral reality that one ought to not intentionally kill an innocent human being without strong moral justification. Of course, one can be pro-life and not seek to do anything about it, but then their stance becomes meaningless. You can make the case that one becomes an abolitionist when one seeks to put your pro-life views into action (but that’s also the definition of “pro-life advocate”). Even if this is your stance, then nothing about this stance indicates that the non-religious or members of another religion can’t also be abolitionists.

Their next heading states: “Pro-lifers prefer gradual, over immediate, abolition.” This is simply a straw man argument of what many pro-life people believe (a straw man argument is when you attack a similar argument to the one presented that is weaker and easier to defeat). Pro-life advocates actually do prefer immediate abolition. We would love it if our government would stop sanctioning the killing of unborn children, and if Planned Parenthood would stop doing it. What pro-life people realize, and which is supported by history, is that it simply doesn’t work out that way. Gradually is the way to enact a change like this. It took William Wilberforce twenty years to abolish the slave trade in England. He made it his life’s mission to see this done. He worked incrementally; voting for legislation that kept slavery legal yet made conditions safer for slaves. He knew that the way his culture was, he couldn’t pass all or nothing laws. He worked to change the culture’s perception of slavery while working to pass incrementally better legislation until he was finally able to abolish it altogether. It sucks, but that’s the way it’s going to have to get done. Pro-life advocates don’t prefer this, but we’re also willing to work strategically to save as many lives as we possibly can in the meantime. So by AHA’s own definition, William Wilberforce was not an abolitionist.

They make the claim that abolitionism has historically been wed to the doctrine of immediatism, but they offer no supporting evidence for this claim. I’d be interested to know at what point in history a societal evil was recognized, decided that it needed to be done away with, and then made illegal immediately without having to resort to incremental steps.

Their next heading states, “You can be a secular pro-lifer. You can’t be a secular abolitionist.” Really? Says who? Why should we accept your definition of abolitionist? Are you saying there were no secular people who helped abolish slavery or racial discrimination? They are making an ad hoc argument, using their own made-up definition of abolitionist. There is nothing inherent in the word “abolitionist” that one must believe in a higher law or deity. And again, their statements are distressing because one does not need to be a Christian to recognize an objective moral law (just look at the numerous secular ethicists who, almost across the board, reject moral relativism). In fact, the dictionary definition of “abolitionist” is: “a person who advocated or supported the abolition of slavery in the U.S.,” “a person who advocates the abolition of any law or practice deemed harmful to society.”

Their final heading states, “Pro-lifers prefer common ground. Abolitionists prefer to proclaim the gospel.” Another straw man argument. I wonder what AHA would say of someone like me, a conservative Protestant Christian who seeks to abolish abortion in the United States, but also believes these things (like finding common ground and that incrementalism is the wisest maneuver) that apparently true abolitionists don’t look for (and by the way, some of the greatest opponents of abortion has always been the Catholic church, whom AHA would probably write off as not being true abolitionists since they’re “not true Christians”). Anyway, it’s a straw man because a Christian like me seeks to find common ground as a springboard to a good discussion, whereas I am also not afraid of sharing the Gospel with people I talk to. Many of my conversations naturally lead in to where morality comes from and whether or not God exists. But in my conversations on abortion, this is not my main focus. Christianity has a long, proud history of using natural, non-theological arguments to make their case. That’s because if the Christian worldview is true, it is true for all of reality. Abortion would be immoral whether or not you could support that argument Biblically (but more on this in a future article).

I would like AHA to come to one of our Justice for All seminars. We use methods that Greg Koukl talks about in his book Tactics in order to help make our case, to help people see that our views are rational and can be supported through reason and evidence. I am a mentor and speaker for JFA, and we teach good conversation techniques, like listening to understand the person’s viewpoint (rather than simply assuming it), asking questions for clarification and to see why they believe what they believe, and, yes, to find common ground as a way of keeping the conversation going (because believe it or not, we can find common ground with pro-choice people.

This attitude that Atheists can’t be true abolitionists is even more bizarre, considering that on a post in their blog called Atheist Ethics Are Impossible, they state the following to pro-life Atheists: “I admire your desire to abolish the practice of human abortion. I believe your fight against this abominable practice is praiseworthy. I think you are right in believing this practice is a great atrocity and violation of civil rights…” So…what? An Atheist can want and actively work to abolish abortion but can’t be an abolitionist? You believe their fight is praiseworthy and you repay them by saying “you’re not one of us”

I’m not saying that we can’t disagree with Atheists, or that we should act like we agree with them on everything. I have these discussions with my colleagues in SPL (as long as they’re willing — I don’t force it on them). We can work with people we disagree with on other issues against a common enemy, namely legalized abortion.

AHA has this grand idea that they’re “engaging the culture” by refusing to use secular arguments alone, refusing to make arguments apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. While I commend their passion to see souls saved, this actually presents a complete ignorance of their culture. People are not going to be convinced by Biblical arguments (in fact, arguing that God exists because the Bible says so is a logical fallacy, circular reasoning — you need to have secular arguments as to how you know God exists in the first place). You can have a spiritual discussion, all the while leaving the arguments against abortion behind. If you make the argument that abortion is wrong because God has made us in his image and he says that murder is wrong, that’s true, of course. But it’s not going to be convincing to atheists. And by the sheer number of religious pro-choice people, converting them to Christianity doesn’t guarantee a convert to the pro-life position. If you’re going to use religious arguments, you’re going to have to prove that your religion is the true one. While that’s certainly do-able, it’s an unnecessary step in changing peoples’ minds on abortion. I appreciate you if that’s how you feel it is best done, I do it myself. But claiming that Atheistic pro-life advocates (or other pro-life advocates) can’t make pro-life converts apart from the gospel is just plain incorrect. I’ve convinced people to become pro-life by simply presenting them with the scientific evidence of human development.

So again, my purpose here is not to belittle a group of pro-life advocates, and I hope that they prayerfully consider my words. I welcome further discussion, and if someone from AHA would like to respond I would be more than happy to continue the dialogue. One need not constantly bring up the gospel in order to convince someone to be pro-life, especially if that person is hostile to the gospel but open to hearing arguments for the pro-life position. You have to tailor your arguments to your audience.

Originally posted on http://prolifephilosophy.blogspot.ca/2013/05/a-fundamental-flaw-behind-abolish-human.html

A Rainbow Over Destruction

Last week, I was in Calgary to give the interns of the anti-abortion organization I work for training and workshop seminars on pro-life strategy and the history of abortion law in Canada. I was planning to do a week of on-the-street activism with them, as well having several meetings and presentations. Unfortunately, several days after my arrival, the pounding rain that had hammered Calgary ceaselessly for weeks rose back up over the river banks, and the Great Calgary Flood of 2013 began in earnest.

The flood, of course, changed everything. Several of our interns were evacuated from the downtown. Meetings and presentations got cancelled as people were trapped in their homes or in different parts of the city. The police and the army evacuated and then cordoned off huge sections of the city to prevent looting. I drove with one of my friends down to High River, hit the worst by the flood, and saw water levels creeping almost half way up the sides of houses, military vehicles blocking the entrance to the city, and a minivan floating almost completely submerged down a flooded street. It was Alberta, but it looked like something out of National Geographic.

The day before I left Calgary, I was working on my laptop and happened to glance out the window as the rain slowed for a moment and the sun broke through the clouds, highlighting a beautiful rainbow, shimmering magnificently over a city battling to regain control over nature. I thought instantly of a Bible verse that my kindergarten teacher had me memorize when I was five years old, from Genesis 9:12-16:

12. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15. And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

In my work, you often get to see the worst of human nature put on display—selfishness of such heights that people become willing to sacrifice their own children for their desires and their plans. As one writer noted, the abortion message is precisely the opposite of the Gospel message—the Lord Jesus died so that His people could live, while we kill our children so that we can live as we please. Our nation has fallen very, very far—we permit abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and celebrate the man who helped create this bloody status quo as a national hero, giving him the Order of Canada. It should make us tremble when we think of what God says in the Old Testament about child sacrifice, and how He punished those nations in the past.

This is not simply an exaggeration. In Texas this week, abortion supporters were caught screaming “Hail Satan!” at pro-lifers who were singing that beautiful hymn of an old slave trader saved by Christ, Amazing Grace. It was a revealing moment. Every so often, the Enemy lets his mask slip. Every abortion, after all, is an event that must thrill him—the gruesome destruction of a child created in the image of Almighty God, and the hardening of all those involved in the procedure. It is, for the Prince of Darkness, the perfect crime.

But—the Old Testament shows us that God is a God of first, second, and third chances. Time and time again, when Israel strayed from Him and pursued false gods, He forgave them when they repented. His patience and longsuffering cannot be understood, only recognized with utmost thankfulness. Even when God sent the prophet Jonah to Ninevah to tell them that their city would be destroyed in forty days, He responded to their repentance by saving the city, having mercy on the men, women, children—and even, the Bible tells us, the cattle. Even outward repentance, the abandonment of long-held evils, can result in God’s blessing.

For as the rainbow tells us, God will never again wipe out the whole world with a flood. And there is still time for our nation to abandon the evil we perpetrate and celebrate.

Let us not test His patience further.

Christian Persecution: A Growing Global Threat to Freedom (Part II)

Editors’ Note:
Dr. Alexander Moens is a professor of political science at Simon Fraser University and attends the Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, British Columbia. A long-time supporter of pro-life initiatives, he spoke at the launch of the New Abortion Caravan in 2012 and has written on the issue as well. Dr. Moens is involved with a number of organizations that seek to support persecuted Christians worldwide, and kindly agreed to write an analysis of the persecution of Christians around the globe for The Reformed Pro-Lifer.

Part II of this article can be found below. Read Part I here.

What lessons do we draw from this attack on Christian religious freedom? First, let us be careful not to commit either of two fallacies. The first is to think of all politics as simply a large conspiracy. In this view, all Muslims are out to conquer the world and all the problems are painted with the same brush. There is much in Islam, especially the later chapters or Surrahs of the Koran that emphasizes conquest and force, but there is also a great deal of variation within Islam and Muslim communities. Within the Muslim world there are arguments and examples that are the opposite of my points above.

The second fallacy is often committed by folks in the Western media who appear nearly colour blind and tone deaf when it comes to the problem of Islamist terrorism and Christian persecution. In this flawed argument, no overall patterns or conclusions are ever spotted. They speak only of isolated incidents, extremism, sectarian violence and other neutralized words to help the reader miss the bigger picture.

So what is the big picture that we should see in terms of current persecution against Christians? It is religious cleansing. Think of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans in the 1990s. We saw Serbs and at times also Croats and Bosnians trying to kill or push out entire minority communities. This is the current trend in many of the 60 states in the ‘Arch of Persecution.’ Sometimes the cleansing is quite local. In some villages in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania this dynamic is going on but largely under the radar of media attention. In other areas it is more organized. For example in Mali, Mauritania and Niger, hard-line Salafist groups want to get rid of all Christian and Sufi people in the country. The same idea is going on in Northern Nigeria where Boko Haram and Ansar Dine are two groups perpetrating religious cleansing. In some places, the religious cleansing is going on underneath the democracy agenda. In many areas of Egypt, the Arab Spring or the pro-democracy movement is taking place while at the same time various factions of Salafism are pushing out Christian communities. In smaller ways, the same thing is occurring in Libya and Tunisia. In the six former Soviet Republics from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, the end of Russian protection has meant the gradual squeezing out of Christians. In some places like Iraq, the plight of Christians has been an unintended consequence of the American Invasion of 2003. The more than 1 million Christian population under Saddam Hussein is now down below 300,000. There are also good developments. For example, South Sudan was created so that the Christian people could have a country away from the brutal persecution of the Khartoum government whose leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague and is wanted for war crimes and crimes of genocide.

What does the global assault on Christians mean to Westerners and Western Christians? What does this call us to do? The first response for Western Christians is non-political. The New Testament is full of examples of Christians helping brothers and sisters in need even if they live far away. We need to help these persecuted Christians by coming to their aid with secret messengers bringing help, with safe-houses, medical help, and new skills and investment tools to pick up their life in a new community in their home country. We also need to do direct refugee assistance. Christian churches in the West need to develop a community of prayer and care to bring refugees into the West as a last resort. The problem is so huge and acute that every local church of reasonable size should develop a strategy of working with the Canadian government, NGOs and the United Nations to sponsor and adopt Christians and their families.

The second response is political and it applies not just to Christians but to all people living in liberal constitutional states all over the world. The problem is not the West versus Islam, but the democratic world versus the world of religious illiberalism. The encroachment of religious totalitarianism will affect our political freedoms and our economic well-being.

Religious, economic, and political liberty are the three dimensions of a free society such as we enjoy in Canada. All three freedoms are necessary to have the geometry of genuine individual and legally protected rights as well as representative democracy. Without them, minorities exist at the mercy of the majority. Canadian foreign policy has always pursued the principles of liberty by protecting and promoting democracy as well as sought the values of economic liberty by expanding free trade and helping developing countries reform towards economic freedom. In contrast, Canadian foreign policy has not treated religious freedom as a policy file in its own right. The government has simply been afraid to risk insulting many Muslim-dominated states.

The good news is that a crack of new light is opening. The Stephen Harper government has set up a small office for religious freedom in the Department of Foreign Affairs with an ambassador to represent our country on these matters. It is a good beginning. The office is small, the ambassador is young, and most of the bureaucracy as well as the media and academic elites are skeptical. There is much work for Christian thinkers and writers to help the new office become policy relevant and to help fill out its tasks in the future. I hope that young people feel the need to train themselves in this area and become lawyers, journalists and policy makers in order to protect the liberties gained over many centuries and to help Christians and other faiths to live under the protection of the law and responsible government.

Christian Persecution: A Growing Global Threat to Freedom (Part I)

Editors’ Note:
Dr. Alexander Moens is a professor of political science at Simon Fraser University and attends the Bethel Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, British Columbia. A long-time supporter of pro-life initiatives, he spoke at the launch of the New Abortion Caravan in 2012 and has written on the issue as well. Dr. Moens is involved with a number of organizations that seek to support persecuted Christians worldwide, and kindly agreed to write an analysis of the persecution of Christians around the globe for The Reformed Pro-Lifer.

The liberty and order we experience most days in constitutional democratic countries derives from three ingredients: religious, economic, and political freedom. While the latter two are frequent topics of study and literature, the first one is often undervalued even forgotten. It is religious freedom that is under tremendous threat in the world today and scarcely getting the attention it warrants.

What we now call human rights and civil liberties as summarized by the freedom of the individual human being to think, write, and assemble freely has historically been associated closely with religious freedom. The Reformation struggle against the mixture of church and state power assumed by Roman Catholic dogma was one of the key pillars of the development of Western political freedom. In many subsequent struggles, Baptists, Methodists, and Mennonites had in turn to insist on their freedom in the face of dominant protestant denominations such as the Anglican and Reformed churches.

After the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s and the subsequent decline of Soviet-supported communism, the battle of religion has opened up afresh. This time, it is waged mainly by Muslims against Christians and by Muslims against other Muslims. The latter is not insignificant. For example, Sunni Muslims of Wahhabi and Salafi persuasions are systematically discriminating Shia Muslims in Saudi Arabia and in many of the Persian Gulf states such as Bahrain. Also, in various North African states, Salafi hard-liners treat the more moderate Sufi persuasion of Islam harshly. Some Sufi communities are forced to adopt the Salafi view at gunpoint. Shia Muslims, in turn, oppress minorities in their communities and countries, for example the Ismailis in Iran. Often forgotten is the fact that Muslims who become Christian, the so-called Muslim Background Believers or MBBs, suffer the most vehement sort of rejection and violence of all religious people.

There is also less widespread religious persecution of Christians by radicalized Hindus in northern parts of India. Recently, some Sinhalese Buddhists are using the newly found peace in Sri Lanka as a way to push out Christian communities. In Myanmar, dominant Buddhist groups are putting pressure on both minority Christians and Muslims. In Nepal, Buddhists have been trying to keep Christians out for decades.

However, in terms of overall challenge, in terms of scale and amount of people and countries impacted, there is nothing in the world that compares to the wide-spread discrimination, oppression and persecution of Christians, including MBBs.

The Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., regularly publishes a map and index on the sixty-odd countries in which Christian persecution takes place. Its recent report is titled “The Global Assault on Christians.” Many Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) find evidence to substantiate these findings. Two of these with regular Canadian publications are ‘Open Doors‘ and ‘Voice of the Martyrs‘. The bulk of the problem is taking place in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Most of this assault takes place at the hands of Muslim individuals, communities and governments. In East Asia, the persecution of Christians shifts to the hands of militaristic and ideological governments such as in North Korea and various parts of China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Geographically, the persecution of Christians looks like a wide arch that begins in West Africa and draws through the Middle East to the very end of Asia with the many “Stans” such as Uzbekistan in the north and Malaysia and Indonesia in the south. Over 200 million people in more than 60 countries are experiencing a form of persecution for being Christian.

In Islamic countries Christians face a three-fold source of discrimination, oppression and persecution. Typically, ancient Christian minorities such as Armenian or Assyrian Christians are left alone provided they do not practice any form or missionary activity. At the same time, they suffer from systematic low-level discrimination. For example, they are not given building permits to fix or build churches. The problem really starts with the wide-spread Muslim practice that sharing the Gospel or becoming a Christian is a capital offence in Islam. This turns fathers, brothers and uncles into literal revenge killers in many families. The second, and growing threat, is what can be called the mob of the Mosque. In many communities the teachers of the Mosques (the imams) set the crowd on edge against some alleged—often false or fabricated—charges against Christians in the community. The enraged mob goes out and executes rough street ‘justice’ to the accused Christian individual, family or community. This is how many Christians perish in Pakistan or find their homes burned down. For simply defending with words her faith in Christ during a work-place conversation, Asia Bibi has found herself in a Pakistani jail for years now.

The third layer of trouble depends on each state and how much of its administration of justice is influenced by religious versus Liberal constitutional principles. Here the battle between Sharia Law and Western Law is of crucial importance. For example, in Egypt, local police forces and the courts themselves are often afraid to defend non-Muslim Brotherhood beliefs. Muslim background Believers in Egypt find themselves outlaws. The police and courts will not protect them but rather make things worse. Even the Coptic Christians, traditionally a protected community in law in Egypt is experiencing an erosion of its protection. A Canadian Parliamentary report recently has highlighted the many points of discrimination and oppression faced by Copts.

Part II: What lessons do we draw from these attacks on Christian religious freedom, and what can we do in response?

Abortion and the Bible: Why Pro-Life?

As almost every pro-life activist can attest, many conversations about abortion start something like this:

Pro-lifer: “What do you think about abortion?”

Passerby: “Stop forcing your religious values on us! Which church do you go to, anyway?”

It might surprise many, then, (as it certainly surprised me), that so-called “mainstream Protestants” in the US were very pro-abortion prior to Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, with groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention publicly stating their support for abortion—and this prior to Roe v. Wade. Many, it seems, take the Bible’s apparent silence on abortion to mean tacit support.

What does the Bible’s supposed silence on abortion mean? According to the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,” Protestants can be pro-abortion because “the pro-life position is really a pro-fetus position, and the pro-choice position is really pro-woman.” Even Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, who grew up in a Christian home, took a break from writing her unreadable atheist diatribes and wrote an essay called “Why the Bible is Pro-Choice.”

So the automatic assumption that a pro-lifer must have derived his or her beliefs from the Bible or the church is not a necessarily safe assumption. While most believe that the Bible is unequivocally pro-life, people have argued and do argue that one can support abortion—the violent destruction of a developing human life in the womb—and still claim to be a Christian living consistently with the commands of Scripture. Both the pro-life and pro-abortion side, it would seem, agree that what the Bible says or doesn’t say is important.

The main argument touted by abortion supporters to highlight the Bible’s support of abortion, or at least tacit acceptance, is that the Bible remains supposedly silent on the issue. One professor wrote sarcastically that nowhere does Scripture say “Thou shalt not abort.” This argument in and of itself, of course, is patently ridiculous—the Bible does say “Thou shalt not kill” (or “thou shall not murder”), and so we simply have to ask ourselves who exactly the pre-born are, and whether or not their destruction would be permitted under God’s injunction against murder. Further, the idea that the Bible does not oppose abortion simply because it does not explicitly say “Thou shalt not abort” is facetious—the Bible doesn’t explicitly say “thou shall not use toddlers for target practice” but no one thinks that the Bible’s “silence” on this matter means tacit endorsement of such a practice.

The Bible clearly states that human beings were created in God’s own image. Thus, taking their life would constitute murder.

Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute puts it this way:

A century ago racists argued from the alleged silence of Scripture that blacks were not human. Some even denied that black people had souls. Again, this was hardly persuasive. While Scripture does not mention every specific race and nationality, it does teach that all humans are made in God’s image and were created to have fellowship with Him (Genesis1:26; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:10-11, James 3:9). The inference is clear. If blacks are human beings, they are made in God’s image, too. No further proof from Scripture is necessary. The same is true with the unborn. If embryos and fetuses are human beings, commands that forbid the unjust taking of human life apply to them as they do other humans. Appealing to the Bible’s alleged silence on abortion misses the point entirely.

The Bible clearly tells us that the child in the womb is one created in God’s image—see Isaiah 46:3-5, Psalm 127:3-5, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 119: 73, and Luke 1:41-42, among others. Thus, the Bible’s injunction against shedding innocent blood would apply to the child in the womb, as per Genesis 1:26, Exodus 23:7, and Proverbs 6:16-17. The claim, then, that the Bible is “pro-choice” because of its “silence” is one that, quite simply, fails the reading comprehension test.

Scott Klusendorf also points out that permissiveness of abortion is the context of Scripture—beyond simply being not true—would also be ahistorical, since children were viewed as being a special gift from God (Psalms 127:3-5, 113:9, Genesis 17:6, 33:5) while infertility was often considered to be a curse (Samuel 1:5, Genesis 20:17-18, 30:1,22-23.) Simply put, the idea of having one’s offspring poised, dismembered, or suctioned in piece inside the womb is one that would have been completely counter-cultural for a culture that saw children as a visible blessing from God.

Biblical opposition to abortion, then, is really quite simple. The Bible is not silent on abortion—rather, the Bible lays out for us that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings created in God’s image. Thus, we must simple determine whether or not the pre-born child in the womb is a human being created in God’s image—which both Scripture (think of the fetus John the Baptist leaping in the womb to greet the Lord Jesus, at that point only a zygote) and science confirm.