Why We Fight the Way We Fight

One of the questions pro-life activists are asked often is, “Why don’t you use Christian arguments to make the case against abortion? Isn’t the case against abortion inseparably rooted in the fact that human beings are created in God’s image?”

Well, yes. And also, no. Let me explain.

First of all, the example we would usually give is that of a firefighter. A firefighter wouldn’t cease in his task of saving lives, of pulling endangered human beings from a burning building, to talk about God with people inside the burning building. The immediacy of the circumstances demands that he work first to rescue those being “drawn unto death.” However, we would point out that a firefighter honors God by fighting against imminent and dire circumstances to preserve God’s gift of life. The firefighter’s actions illustrate the underlying truth behind them: That life is precious. Parallel examples (resistance workers pulling Jews off death camp trains, humanitarian workers hiding fleeing refugees from genocidal forces) could also be used to illustrate this point. Just as the actions of these human rights defenders honor God by fighting for those created in His image, so too does the actions of those seeking to defend the lives of those in imminent danger of abortion.

I would argue that to a large degree, the whole pro-life position presupposes the existence of God. After all, why is it wrong to kill human beings? It’s wrong because human beings are valuable. And why are they valuable? Because they are made in the image of God. He Who gave them life is the only One with the right to take it. Abortion, like the intentional destruction of any human life, not only violates human rights but also violates the sovereignty of God.

There is another point to be made here, one made by pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf: I would categorically reject the premise that there is God’s truth, then, man’s truth. Truth is truth, and if reasonable arguments can be made for the pro-life view, those are God’s reasons.” Thus, to try to draw a differentiation between using explicitly Christian arguments versus, say, an appeal to the pre-born child’s humanity and the inhumanity of abortion, is simply a false dichotomy.

Unfortunately, bringing God into the discussion at universities and (especially) secular high schools, especially in the context of street-level outreach, generally causes you to lose the discussion (and by that I mean, lose the attention and the growing interest of the students approaching us.) It would seem logical to assume that those who have been undervalued, devalued or abused would be open to hearing about Who gave them value. Unfortunately, in our culture today, the reverse is often the case.

(I would note, as an aside, that this is not by any means new. In spite of William Wilberforce’s moral appeals in his anti-Slave Trade speeches to Parliament, the abolitionists generally avoided infusing their official case with biblical rationale. In his seminal work on the abolitionists, Bury the Chains, historian Adam Hochschild notes that such rationale is remarkably absent from abolitionist Thomas Clarkson’s enormous expose of the Slave Trade: “What also makes the Abstract feel surprisingly contemporary is what it does not contain. At a time in history when a large portion of all books and pamphlets were theological tracts and sermons, and in a book that quoted several clergymen as witnesses, the Abstract had no references to the Bible. Clarkson and his comrades somehow sensed that they could better evoke sympathy if they stood back and let the evidence speak for itself, supported by the damning quotations from West Indian laws and newspapers.” Human beings can still generally recognize barbarism when they see it, even if they are hostile to the moral truths that define it as such.)

In a hurting culture, starting with the Big Truth while trying to impart one of the small truths is often counter-productive. Talking to someone who has been abused (emotionally, physically, or sexually) and explaining to them that they were created in the image of an all-powerful God will often result in a simple, hard to debate response: “Well, where was He was all of this was happening to me?”

The question of evil and why God permits it is always the most difficult apologetic question to answer–not in the purely logical, rational sense (that’s pretty easy, especially in the university setting) but in the sense that you’re combating people’s feelings and emotions rather than an objective question such as “Can a God Who is Love permit evil things to happen?”

In conversations with our culture, it’s often about taking baby steps. We’re trying to impart the idea that they as humans have value, in order to build a bridge to the realization that all humans have value. In many street-level debates, not all passersby go the desirable, “I was pro-choice, you talked to me, now I’m pro-life” route –often, we have to lay a foundation. Bringing up the Divine is the opposite of baby steps–suddenly, instead of feeding them ideas in little, bite-sized chunks, we’re trying to ram an entire belief system down their throat. In a culture that does not know God, even the mention of His Name brings up a million questions. Who is God? Which religion is right about Him? Does He love me? Why did He allow these things to happen to me? What does His existence imply for my life and how I live it? Keep in mind—we’re trying to protect innocent children from imminent death, and thus often do not have a lot of time to convince someone not to kill their child. No one has ever suggested that those hiding humans fleeing genocide should have first attempted to convert them to Christianity before taking them under protection and into hiding—the imminent danger of the situation demands immediate action. The Good Samaritan did not first take the wounded man to church or the synagogue, but to get healed from his wounds.

Having an internally consistent Christian worldview often makes it extremely difficult when talking to a borderline illiterate, over-sexed, visually driven culture, as you’re constantly wanting to show people the results of their own beliefs, or logical extensions (presuppositions or inevitable conclusions) of those beliefs. Unfortunately, in order to fully engage with our specific mission–which is to turn a culture against abortion and solidify the growing belief that it violates human rights–we have to have a laser-focus. Those who fight for everything often end up fighting nothing. We can’t take on the entire forces of Darkness, even though we can rob Satan of many of his victims. And we do. Every day.

That being said, I firmly believe that turning someone pro-life is often the first step towards introducing them to greater Truth. We see time and time again that in order for today’s culture to recognize that Truth exists at all; they have to be convinced of some part of it. They often begin to ask what else is true, what else they have accepted that may be a lie. We see often that for people to remember they have a conscience, it needs to be pricked, awakened. Our projects, which graphically expose the reality of abortion, unequivocally do that. Much of our opposition is the startled cries of pain of consciences that have not seen the light in far too long (and don’t our eyes always hurt when the light is suddenly switched on?) We are the first point of contact in a heavily secularized culture to introduce these young people to inherently Christian concepts that are totally foreign to them–concepts like self-sacrifice, forgiveness, human dignity, human value, truth, and right and wrong. We are directly undermining the suicidal but prevalent concept of moral relativism every day. In our specific role as anti-abortion activists, we might not be able to take down the whole rotting house. But we can take a jackhammer to the foundation.

The pro-life movement is but one segment of a broader Culture of Life that is at war with a broader, secularized Culture of Death. We have been tasked with defending one small part of a much greater Truth. The first point of contact doesn’t win the war or even the battle, but it does establish a bridgehead. Concepts such as those I mentioned above are, I think, a bridgehead in a culture that is rejecting so much of what is right and beautiful. Often in discussion people go from “abortion is wrong” to “I should not have sex before marriage” without us even bringing it up–the premises we are teaching them lead to other, almost inevitable conclusions. The newest generation of young people has experienced the full brunt of the fallout of the Sexual Revolution, from broken families, the disappearance of true, self-sacrificing love, a quarter of their generation butchered by abortion, rampant STD’s, and a nihilistic lack of truth. We as anti-abortion activists are trying to help them reject a large part of that legacy.

Others, we hope, will help us with the rest.”

My Encounter with an Abortionist

Every day, at the crack of dawn, our sons Jonah and Elliot climb into our bed to snuggle together and sleep for a little longer. Today was different. While the house was quiet and the sun still hid behind the horizon, I laid awake thinking about last night’s debate. It became clear that my opponent, Dr. Fraser Fellows, had no coherent argument for abortion, nor did he rebut the pro-life case against abortion—more about this in a post on CCBR’s blog later. But an event like this also warrants personal reflection.

It is one thing to fight abortion on a daily basis; it is something entirely different to meet a man—a husband, father, and grandfather, pleasant to speak to in person—who has literally crushed the skulls of thousands of little children over the years. And so this morning, struggling to comprehend the depth and close proximity of this evil, I picked up “Real Christianity” by William Wilberforce, the British politician who tirelessly fought and ended the slave trade. Very fittingly, he writes the following:

“We need to see our true state as God sees it. Because of His perfect purity and His ability to know us better than we know ourselves, it is likely that He sees problems and failures we are barely conscious of—if we recognize them at all. God always operates in the now. Over time, our defense systems have the ability to dull the conviction of the acts and attitudes that violate God’s holiness. Remorse can turn to faint recognition. But God still knows those actions in the now.

Think of the implications of this observation for the person who has not had an authentic encounter with Jesus Christ or embraced His finished work on the cross as payment for all sin. What if this person had to appear before Christ at this very moment with the full impact and offensive nature of every sin he or she has ever committed revealed in His presence? When I imagine such a scene, it helps me come to grips with the true state of my spiritual life. It is always sobering.”

I shudder as I imagine Dr. Fellows appearing before the Judgment Seat, with the blood of thousands of God’s creatures dripping from his fingers. As much as I hate the “work” he does, I fervently hope that our encounter may serve to break his resolve to provide abortion, currently causing a bloody trail of destruction in our culture and his own soul. With this hope, I gifted Dr. Fellows the autobiography of John Newton—the slave trader who helped to bring over 20,000 African men, women, and children into slavery with his ship before being rescued by amazing grace.

However, with all the interest in a debate like yesterday’s, let us not forget ourselves. How will I stand before God? What will that day be like for each of us? As William Wilberforce aptly points out, that’s a sobering thought. If not covered by the blood of the Lamb, God’s eternal wrath will rest on me as it will on an unrepentant abortionist—though the Bible is clear that those who knew better will be punished all the more. Yet, the remedy for all sinners, from abortionists to outwardly moral people who miss the heart of the matter, can still be found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who laid down His life for enemies.

In that, He provided the perfect example of what it means to love. True love means wanting the other’s good. It requires sacrifice. And it is manifested through our actions for those around us. Aside from His own life, the Lord Jesus illustrates that in many different stories and examples, perhaps most powerfully in the parable of the sheep and the goats.

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

The following verses make it very clear that, when weighing the lives and actions of those on the right and the left, Jesus counts service to the least as service to Himself. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (vs. 40). Whatever you did for the least of these, you have done it for me. The Saviour personally identifies with the hungry, thirsty, naked, marginalized, and oppressed. Would it be far-fetched to say pre-born children fit that description?

In his book “Love the Least (a Lot)”, Michael Spielman writes, “The God of the universe humbled himself not just to become a man, but to become a child, an infant, a fetus, and an embryo! To those on his left, to those cursed with eternal fire, Jesus says, ‘I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not (vs. 42, 43).’ Is it really such of a stretch to imagine him also saying, I was in the womb and you gave me no care, I was threatened by abortion and you did not intervene, I was an embryo and you said I didn’t matter, a fetus and you said there were more important things to do? The measuring stick of Christian love is not what we do for our friends. It’s not what we do for the healthy and put together. It’s what we do for the ‘least of these.'”

While the Bible is clear that good works will not merit us salvation but are rather to be done in obedience and thankfulness to God, this parable powerfully illustrates that our actions will be weighed in the balance. As Spielman notes, “We would do well to feel the weight of Christ’s warning to the goats.”

This is also true in light of my debate with Dr. Fellows. When confronted with those who willingly advocate and carry out a worldview that literally leaves little children in the trash, it is fitting to take inventory of our own lives. What matters at the end of the day is whether we are reconciled with God, but let’s not think that’s a spiritual question without practical implications. The Great Commission is to love the Lord above all and our neighbour as ourselves. And love, the Lord Jesus shows us, is a verb.

When God’s creatures are destroyed in our culture, loving Him and our neighbour—both born and pre-born—can mean nothing else than taking action. So march on we must, being a voice for the voiceless in the place we’ve been given in this life, but with the disposition of my 3-year old who remarked this morning,

“Let’s pray for that Doctor and for all the babies. Because the Lord can do everything.”

The Sexual Revolution and Pro-Life Men

The Sexual Revolution sparked a fifty-year “gender war” that has cost us millions of pre-born lives–and in no small part due to the decline of biblical masculinity. In a workshop for men at the Rescue Summit in Ottawa on March 1, Jonathon Van Maren examines how men have become victimizers, how men have become victims, and how we are called to reject both of those paradigms and stand up for those in our society who need it most.

Stop “Struggling” with Porn

I’m very frustrated.

Over the last several years, I’ve done quite a few presentations in different Christian communities (Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta) on sexuality and pornography. Each time I’ve given the presentations, I’ve changed them quite a bit, adding things I’ve learned, tweaking it based on the needs of the community and the feedback I’ve gotten. I’ve gotten anonymous emails detailing the struggles of porn addicts in Christian homes, and had anonymous letters stuck in the door of my home. The more I hear from the men and women and youth in the communities where these topics are presented, the harder I actually find it to speak on those topics.

Many of the things I hear make me angry. While it is legitimate to be angry about the use of pornography—it’s much worse than just lust, it is sexual cannibalism, the one-sided consumption of a human being created in God’s image for personal pleasure—one must be very careful not to slip into the sin of pride. When dealing with issues of sexuality, we can never say, “Well, that’s not a sin I struggle with and thus I am somehow better than those who struggle with these sins.” After all, in John 7 we see how the Lord Jesus dealt with those guilty of sexual sin, after challenging those who sought to stone a woman taken “in the very act” of adultery: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” One by one, they left, “convicted by their own conscience.” Jesus then said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Pride, we see in the New Testament and in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, was condemned far more harshly than sexual sin. We have to assist each other in becoming free from sexual sin, not set ourselves above other people.

My frustration is not simply the result of seeing just how widespread the use of pornography is, and how damaging it is. As I heard one speaker put it, those who do not think they are susceptible to sexual sin are saying they are stronger than Sampson, wiser than Solomon, and closer to God than David, the man after God’s own heart. What frustrates me is that time and time again, men I speak to refuse to do what it actually takes to kick porn addiction and purge their minds of this scourge. In all cases, pornography is by its very nature predatory, perverted, narcissistic, and in direct opposition to how God created sexuality. It is, simply, self-inflicted destruction that contributes to the external destruction of so many of the lives that make up those de-humanized pictures. In cases where the man (or, in far fewer cases, the  woman) is married, it constitutes adultery. This is not just our culture, our church, our own “little lust problem” or “bad porn habit.” This is people consciously deciding to consume other people like a product, destroying their own relationships, twisting their perceptions of the opposite sex, and creating neural pathways in their brain that will often prove almost impossible to subvert.

Porn flourishes because people can nurture their obsession in private. No one looking over their shoulder, no one is seeing what they’re seeing, and they have the opportunity to make whatever material they viewed virtually untraceable after the fact. That’s why the one filter I always push for those who want to leave their porn addiction behind is an accountability filter — a filter that sends your Internet history every week to someone who will hold you accountable for what you viewed in the week past. I recommend this type of system (and there are a number of very good ones.) to everyone who tells me that they’re struggling with pornography—but it never ceases to amaze me at how many want to talk about their porn problem, but don’t actually want to kick it.

If you want to stop looking at porn, sign up for an accountability filter, and make your accountability partner—the person receiving your weekly history—your pastor, a church leader, one of your parents, your wife, your sister. Do you really think that you’ll browse some filthy porn site if your minister, or a church elder, or your mother or wife, will see at the end of the week what you’ve looked at? Perhaps in some cases, there will be slip-ups. But it’s generally very unlikely. With people you love dearly and respect much “looking over your shoulder” when you’re on the Internet, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll view your “porn problem” quite a bit differently—imagining how your wife or mother would feel if they realized what you were looking at would change your own view immediately and drastically.

When I suggest this step, I’m often told it’s “drastic.” No, it’s not. Looking at porn is disgusting and predatory, and this solution is not at all “drastic” when put into the context of the problem. If you think that porn consumption is not a big enough deal to take “drastic” steps to get rid of it, then you haven’t realized just how big of a deal it is. Yes, people can get around filters. You can decide to take one of your devices (cell phone, iPad) off of the accountability filter. But that’s a choice—a choice to continue the sexual consumption of other human beings. You don’t just “fall” into looking at porn.

Let me explain: I smoked cigarettes for close to ten years. For me to “fall into” smoking cigarettes again, I would have to get in my car, drive to the store, purchase the pack, take a cigarette out, and then light it. There are at least five conscious decisions that take place before I “fall into” smoking cigarettes, and am “struggling” with it again. The same applies to watching or looking at pornography again: You have to go home, or someplace where you can be alone, boot up your laptop or device, log on, search for whatever porn you’re “struggling” with, and then view it. There are multiple decisions taking place here. While pornography addiction is incredibly powerful, you do not simply “fall into” viewing porn again when you’re trying to kick the habit. You make a series of decisions that result in you viewing porn. You may be addicted, but you’re not helpless. And I do get frustrated when I hear from guys that they’re still “struggling,” but they still haven’t taken the drastic steps necessary to kick this habit. I’m sorry, you only get to say you’re “struggling” if you’re actually taking all of the necessary steps to get free.

Sexual sin is, in this day and age, one of the most common and destructive of sins. I understand that many people get hooked as the result of simply stumbling upon imagery on the Internet, or being exposed to it by friends, or even, in many cases, being exposed to it at a very young age in the home. But there are ways to free yourself from this addiction. There are people who want to help you get free of it, and people who won’t judge you or think that they are somehow better. To say to someone struggling with sexual sin that those who struggle with different sins are somehow better would be to defy what the New Testament tells us. But you do have a responsibility to cease this destructive and disgusting habit. The help is available. The choice is yours.

Porn goes to Church

Pornography is not just a ‘cultural’ problem. Pornography is also our problem. I think it’s necessary to ensure that everyone understands that this problem does, in fact, impact our community. There is a tendency to view these types of problems as problems of the outside world that we have to prevent from seeping in, as opposed to problems that we need to face and root out in our own church community. I’d like to very briefly go over three important facts about pornography:

1. Pornography is a problem in our churches
2. Pornography is a huge problem in North America
3. Pornography addiction is incredibly dangerous in its mental impact.

Porn is a problem in our churches

I’m going to share with your four (of many) testimonies of young people, all members (baptized or confessing) of the Netherlands Reformed Congregations, of how pornography has impacted their lives. These testimonies are anonymous.

A NRC wife and mother:

“When my husband first told me about his struggle with pornography I was too shocked to respond. Once that wore off I experienced much anger, low self-esteem, sadness and insecurity about our relationship. However, I am happy to know that he had the confidence and courage to tell me about it. His guilt about watching pornography is stronger than his pride to keep it hidden from me. We have become very open about the topic and discuss it from time to time. There are times that he feels the urge to look something up, but keeping communication as well as using a reliable filter for the internet on both our computer and smart phones has kept him accountable and our relationship strong. Now my trust in him has been renewed, we pray together asking for God’s forgiveness but also for His protecting hand over us.

In my perspective our community must be more open about this issue so that those who do struggle with pornography feel they are not alone and that they are willing to seek help. Without help someone who struggles with pornography will only feel hopeless and more than likely develop an unbreakable addiction. We must be realistic, realize that many people struggle and stop being quiet about the topic.”

A NRC high school student:

“I am a high school student. I was disgusted to hear a high school guy mention to his buddy, ‘I wouldn’t know what to do without data on my smart phone, then I wouldn’t be able to watch porn every night.’ What? Is viewing porn now the norm? Do guys not even realize what impact even hearing this has on girls? And why are we not discussing this issue?”

A high school teacher in a NRC school:

“As a teacher of high school-aged students I am appalled at how little education there is surrounding internet safety and pornography within our churches, homes and schools. I have spoken with girls who have become victims of sexting, heard from young men who already acknowledge they have a porn problem and have gathered from student surveys that they know that pornography messes with the mind. Many of the young people are looking for answers, but without opening the topic of pornography they feel lost and end up looking for answers in the wrong places or falling into unstable relationships.

I am very afraid for our upcoming youth and relationships. It is already obvious that porn is breaking up marriages and creating preventable problems if we would only be more open about the topic!”

And a NRC husband, who was exposed to porn at a young age and became addicted well into his teen years. He writes:

“This did not mean that from then on I was free and clear and never had to deal with the issue again—far from it. The pull of this addiction is much too strong and lasting. Thankfully I do not have the images popping up in my head from memories. However, everything around me reminds me of this “high” from store front advertisements, to suggestive music lyrics, to clothing that is too tight or too revealing. It is not the first and only thing I think of when confronted with these example but it is almost always there somewhere lurking in my thoughts. Therefore a constant guard is needed to fight against this addiction on a continuous basis. I can also say that the longer you stay “clean” the easier it becomes, now the triggers are not as frequent or perhaps as noticeable. Yet, they are always there and I am afraid they will always remain.

This constant struggle has (had) obvious strain on my marriage as I have fallen twice since my vows a few years ago. Thankfully, my wife is understanding and patient with me. She has also been my biggest help in this struggle, keeping me accountable and installing filters that monitor internet activity and block and filter out pornography. In my opinion the blockage of sites doesn’t help completely. It does make getting to the pornographic content harder but there is always a way around them and the younger and more attuned to technology you are, the quicker you will find it. The best mechanism or weapon to fight this battle other than prayer and the Lord’s help is accountability and openness. Knowing that my wife is looking over my shoulder and checks my activities it a huge deterrent and thankfully the consequence of disappointing and saddening her has more weight for me than the high of this addiction. I am afraid that others are not as fortunate. Considering how controlled the addiction is and how the images hardly plague me, in many ways I have been blessed undeservedly.

Now, the struggle is still there, but we have safeguards in place and as a couple know how to fight against and deal with the temptation better. For many, the addiction does not start after one or two instances but develops over time and therefore can be stopped, deterred and interest hopefully ended before it is addicting. Therefore, if I may offer advice, I would definitely recommend a filter or accountability program for everyone, especially families with teenage boys but also young adults. We all have the same heart. Let’s not think this fixes everything. It must be combined with supervision, education, conversation, discussion and especially prayer.”

These testimonies from people within the NRC here in North America who have struggled with pornography (and there are many more), as well as recent findings by our sister congregations in the Netherlands that show sky-rocketing rates of pornography addiction among young people in their churches, prove that this is a growing and imminent problem that demands our attention and our action.

Porn is a problem in our churches because it is a problem in our culture.

The threat pornography poses to churches and families is absolutely unprecedented in modern times in scale and severity. Just to give you a brief idea of the sheer size of the porn threat using the measurement of time:

Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography.

Every second, 28, 258 Internet users are viewing pornography.

Every second, at least 372 Internet users are searching for pornography online.

And every 39 minutes, a new pornographic film is being created in the United States.

Beyond that, the numbers get much worse. Statistics from 2013, released by the Christian anti-porn organization Covenant Eyes, revealed the following:

Global pornography revenues are estimated at about 10 billion dollars—but an estimated 80-90 percent of online porn users access free pornography online, which means that the ten billion dollars is truly the tip of the iceberg.

How bad? Researchers have estimated, after an analysis of 400 million web searches, that 1 in 8 of all searches online are for pornographic content. Computers are not the only danger—as cited in the testimony of the NRC high school girl, mobile pornography is increasing drastically in popularity. For example, an analysis of over one million hits to Google’s mobile search sites, over 1 in 5 searches are for porn. The porn industry is moving quickly to take advantage of mobile porn users, and they expect to reach sales of 2.8 billion dollars by 2015.

And teenagers are the most vulnerable target.

A 2010 survey noted that over a quarter of 16-17 year olds said they were first exposed to nudity online, even though they didn’t want to see it. However, when addiction takes over—often fueled by adolescent curiosity and developing into a powerful, mind-twisting addiction—the results are devastating. The result? More than 7 out of 10 teens hide their online behavior from their parents.

Over half of boys and a third of girls see their first pornographic image before they turn thirteen—some research says around the ages of 7 or 8. I have spoken to young men who first stumbled upon pornographic images at that age. By the time young adulthood is reached, 64-68 percent of young adult men and 19 percent of women are using porn every single week. An additional 17 percent of men and 30 percent of women are using porn one to two times a month.

This means that if you are not using pornography at all in today’s North America, you are a minority.

The porn threat is psychologically and spiritually devastating.

Pornography, because people are so visual, actually triggers a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing what are known as “erototoxins.” These erototoxins literally rewire your brain, and the images are often burned into one’s memory, inerasable.

In other words, pornography fundamentally changes how human beings think and function. The after-effects of viewing pornography are not like the after-effects of consuming drugs or alcohol—pornographic images can remain lodged in someone’s brain for decades, or for the rest of their lives.

Here are just a few of the long-lasting effects of porn use:

A diminished trust between intimate couples, as the previously mentioned NRC testimonials also reveals.

An increasing belief that monogamy is not the natural state.

An increasing cynicism concerning true, self-sacrificing marital love.

An increasing belief that marriage is not something to aspire to, but rather is sexually confining.

An increasing disdain for family and raising children.

It creates extensive psychological problems for men, including becoming more controlling, highly introverted, narcissistic, dissociative and distractible.

It results in addiction to masturbation.

It reduces women and girls to the level of objects, and change the way males view females.


To conclude, pornography is a real cultural problem, and is already a problem within the church community. We cannot simply attempt to keep porn out; we also must root porn out.

Pornography has the raw power to destroy the futures of an entire generation. We need to equip the youth to combat this new threat. Forewarned is forearmed.

God and Reason Part II

In God and Reason Part I,” we saw that science is a method of observation, investigation, and explanation. It is not a belief system and as such, it has no tools or arguments to claim that what it does not observe does therefore not exist. There is another source of knowledge called revelation. We saw that the fallen will of man does not want to accept God’s revelation because that would beg the question why he is not worshipping this God.

Have science and revelation always clashed? Notice how in Genesis 2, the creator brings animals to Adam to see what he would name them and then approves of the names (vs. 19). There was gold, bdellium and onyx in the Garden. The presence of gold, onyx (hard material), and bdellium (soft, resin-like) suggests a future of development. Humanity would grow in wonder and adoration seeing through science the marvelous concord between who God is and what he made.”

When humans fell in sin, they lost the substance and essence of God’s image given in creation. But they still have a remnant of this image, for example, the human desire for peace and the craving for justice. In the same way, we still have traces of creation knowledge. I am going to deal with two of them in this article: origin and evolution. By remnants of creation knowledge I mean that after science has tried all it can, people—deep down—continue to have doubts. There is this other trace of knowledge that keeps raising its head.

The first is origin. To start with nothing and end up with something cannot be explained by science. Before the classical Greek philosophers (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) came to dominate Western thinking, scientists assumed that material things simply had no beginning. Due to findings in physics in the last 100 years, most scientists now admit on their own terms (the first and second laws of thermo-dynamics among them) that this assumption is wrong. Of course, if they had received Genesis 1 and 2 in the first place, they could have known all along. Remember, God even directs science itself to teach scientists about creation.

Origin remains a puzzle for scientists. Some pre-matter had to exist that eventually led to all things physical. The leading theory is that gas-like particles caused a large sudden process (big bang) that generated matter. The problem is that this ‘Big Bang’ thesis still does not explain how the pre-matter or gas-like particles came into being. In other words, the Big Bang solution is not a solution to origin. “In the beginning, God” is a more logical statement than any proposition about pre-existing energy, vapour, big bangs or big crunches. God, who is without cause, time and matter, caused time, space and matter to come into being. Ultimately it is by faith and not (just) reason that we ‘understand’ creation, but the faith that receives this explanation is not airy fairy but quite reasonable. God has said that he is without beginning and without end. He calls himself the “I am that I am.” It makes sense that a God without beginning can indeed be the cause of all things with a beginning.

There is a marvelous phrase in the letter to the Hebrews which captures the debate on origin: “so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Chapter 11). In other words, the material world was made by the non-material. Not only is this logically plausible but it is also in fact more likely than material just showing up.

To illustrate my point that the problem is not reason per se, consider an example from the world of law. In court trials evidence is sometimes called ‘inadmissible,’ usually because it has been allegedly gathered without proper authority or process. Similarly, secular scientists rule that ‘God-as-the-originator’ is inadmissible evidence. As in court, the evidence ruled inadmissible is often the real story. Divine creation is the real story that science cannot see.

The second is evolution. The logic of the evolution argument is that all things have changed slowly from simple matter and life form to more and more complex. Just as scientism is a case of over-reach so ‘evolutionism’ is a case of overreach as it tries to claim that it can explain all things by virtue of the logic of change.

I want to make sure not to over-state the point. Evolution itself or the notion that things change over time is logical and supported by observation as well as revelation. Consider a few examples: The people immediately after Adam lived hundreds of years. (It may be a reflection of the eternal life God had designed for them) People today are very old at 90. We have new dog breeds that result from pairing previous ones. It is likely that we have many more dog varieties today than 300 years ago. Lions in the Garden of Eden ate herbs and plants. Now they eat meat. In the new heaven and earth they will no longer eat meat. Change within species or micro-evolution is not something Christians need to quarrel with.

But science oversteps its bounds (again) when it claims macro-evolution as the explanation of life and all diversity of life. The macro-evolution assertion is that all things come from very few things and ultimately from the simplest ancestor of life forms. A good deal of evidence is increasingly pointing away from this theory. Researchers are finding out that even the simplest organisms broken down to their single cells are so intricate and so dependent on design that this race to the bottom in terms of simple is not satisfying reason. The thorny question is: if the ultimate simple life form (also called last universal common ancestor) is both highly complex and cannot in fact be broken down into simpler pieces how did it come to be such? At one point, scientists thought there was no limit to the amount of time it could have taken for this all to line up, but since the laws of physics require a finite amount of time for all things, there is not enough time for this to occur. That leaves two known answers: the leap from nothing to the first life form happened by random chance or by design.

One writer compared the idea of the components in a single cell coming together by chance in a limited time frame as follows: Imagine a very large scrap-metal yard. Suddenly a whirl wind blows up and there stands a fully assembled, flight-ready Boeing 747. As you can appreciate, compared to such a chance argument, the design argument is rather reasonable.

Moreover, God-the-designer has said that he made various types of creature and species. Life does not have to be reduced to its simplest form in order to be understood. God has clearly willed to create complex things and he is obviously able to do so. About humans, he said that they were made in his image. A complex God has created complex creatures. This is quite reasonable. Thus we can conclude that in essence the macro-evolution logic is a deliberate alternative to circumvent the nature of God who designs complex things by his word. In other words, God did not only cause the origin of all things, but he caused things to come into being at a sophisticated level. He wanted his creation to enjoy him so why would he make primitive life forms and wait?

Evolution is about change. The Bible declares that the most dramatic change took place as a result of sin because sin turned life into death. Put in its proper perspective, the extent to which evolution occurs is one of the results of sin. To turn change into a theory of macro-evolution and thus place it above God as an alternative to understanding the beginning and complexity of life betrays arrogance.

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 III: Bible Time and Science Time”

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.

Killing the Blessings

Every once in a while, I read something that surprises me with its impact. On Tuesday, I stumbled across an article posted on the “Gender Focus” website just a few minutes before—the opening sentence was: “This afternoon I had an abortion.”

The word “abortion” doesn’t lose its power when you see what it looks like every day, and when the focus of your week is exposing the public to literature depicting what the Toronto Star called “bloodied, tiny bodies” a few days ago. It’s a word that hides, not reveals. It represents the passing of a human being, forced from this life by our barbarism, our selfishness, and our apathy.

Reading the “Gender Focus” article, featuring the defiantly relativistic title “My Reality: My Abortion Experience,” it was hard not to feel that this woman’s reality was, indeed, a sad one. When she saw the pregnancy test was positive, she relates, she swore so loudly she was positive her daughter heard her downstairs. But immediately—immediately—she “knew what I wanted to do, knew what I needed to do.”

What she thought she needed, of course, was an abortion. She needed a doctor to search out the tiny human growing within her, and vacuum it into crimson shreds. This, in our culture, passes as a “need.” Pregnancy is not beautiful—it is a disease. And we have a state-funded, convenient, lethal solution. And effective–the fetus—at least that one—won’t come back. That’s because he or she was an unrepeatable human being, never seen before in human history and never to be seen again.

As pro-lifers reaching out to our culture, we make the argument that abortion is a human rights violation because it violently ends the life of a human being. We don’t use religion to make our point—and we don’t need to. But when reading a story like this one, I can’t help but think how tragic it is that our society has so completely perverted and destroyed the concept of love. It is one of God’s great blessings that when two people love one another, that love can bring about a completely new human being. Now, that human being is considered by many to be a threat, an inconvenience—even, some say, a parasite. God uses human interactions to bring about brand new, unique, unrepeatable human beings—and we violently carve “Return to Sender” into their tiny corpses and fling them back into Eternity. I shudder to think of it—God’s Blessings, millions upon millions of tiny souls, appearing before Him after the briefest of tenures on Earth, hacked short by the blood-stained hands of those still below.

Children used to be considered a blessing. Children used to be considered the future, not an inconvenience to our future. Our love now has no room for others—it must be sterile to be fulfilling. It is morbidly interesting to note that the root word of carnality and carnage are the same—carne, or Latin for “flesh.” Today, it seems many times that love has been replaced by carnality—and that carnage has proceeded from it.

This article was first published on The Bridgehead and has been republished with permission from the authour.