School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare

The nation is watching, with horror and disgust, news reports out of Connecticut of a horrific act of violence against an elementary school filled with defenseless children. While every act of murder ought to provoke outrage, there’s something especially condemnable about the murder of children. I think there’s a reason for that.

In the hours after the shooting, Jewish political and cultural commentator John Podhoretz called attention to a concept most Americans don’t like to think about at Christmastime, if ever: hell. Podhoretz noted the heightened iniquity of child sacrifice in the Hebrew Scriptures’ denunciation of the god Moloch. Moloch, of course, was a blood-thirsty deity who demanded his followers to pour out the lives of their children. The valley of this atrocity was called Gehenna. Jesus pointed to Gehenna when he told us about hell.

Throughout the history of the universe, evil has manifested a dark form of violence specifically toward children. Not only did the Canaanite nations demand the blood of babies, but the Bible shows where at points of redemptive crisis, the powers of evil have lashed out at children. Pharaoh saw God’s blessing of Israelite children as a curse and demanded they be snuffed out by the power of his armed thugs. And, of course, the Christmas narrative we read together this time of year is overshadowed by an act of horrific mass murder of children. King Herod, seeing his throne threatened, demands the slaughter of innocent children.

Jesus was not born into a gauzy, sentimental winter wonderland of sweetly-singing angels and cute reindeer nuzzling one another at the side of his manger. He was born into a war-zone. And at the very rumor of his coming, Herod vowed to see him dead, right along with thousands of his brothers. History in Bethlehem, as before and as now, is riddled with the bodies of murdered children.


There are more factors at work here than just impersonal psychology and sociology. “The course of this world,” we’re told, is driven along by “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). And behind all of that is a bloody skirmish. Satan is, Jesus tells us, a “murderer from the beginning” because he hates life itself. And he hates the life of children, particularly, because they picture something true about Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus showed his disciple John that behind the particulars of history there’s another, darker, story going on. Jesus showed the picture of a woman giving birth to a child, with a dragon crouching before her to devour the baby (Rev. 12:4). When the woman and her child escaped, the dragon “became furious with the woman and went out to make war on the rest of her offspring” (Rev. 12:17), and has done so ever since.

Satan hates children because he hates Jesus. When evil destroys “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40, 45), the most vulnerable among us, it destroys a picture of Jesus himself, of the child delivered by the woman who crushes the head of our reptilian overlord (Gen. 3:15). The demonic powers know that the human race is saved, and they’re vanquished, by a child born of woman (Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 2:15). And so they hate the children who bear his nature.

Violence against children is also peculiarly satanic because it destroys the very picture of newness of life and dependent trust that characterizes life in the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:4). Children are a blessing, and that enrages the horrifying nature of those who seek only to kill and to destroy (Jn. 10:10).

The satanic powers want the kingdoms of the universe, and a child uproots their reign.

Let’s not offer pat, easy answers to the grieving parents and communities in Connecticut. We don’t fully understand the mystery of iniquity. We don’t know why God didn’t stop this from happening. But we do know what this act is: it’s satanic, and we should say so.

Let’s grieve for the innocent. Let’s demand justice for the guilty. And let’s rage against the Reptile behind it all.

As we do so, let’s remember that Bethlehem was an act of war. Let’s remember that the One born there is a prince of peace who will crush the skull of the ancient murderer of Eden. Let’s pray for the Second Coming of Mary’s son. And, as we sing our Christmas carols, let’s look into the slitted eyes of Satan as we promise him the threat of his coming crushed skull.

The mystery of evil is a declaration of war on the peace of God’s creation. The war goes on, but not for long. And sometimes the most warlike thing we can say, in an inhuman murderous age like this one, is “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

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

What should be our Stance on In Vitro Fertilization?

In 2010 the Synod of the Netherlands Reformed Congregations in North America approved a report on In Vitro Fertilization, which was a 75-page, scientific and Biblical analysis of this so-called reproductive technology. The Reformed Pro-Lifer has asked one of the co-authors of this report to summarize the document. While much more could be said about this topic, please keep in mind the following is a summary of the original report. We are grateful for Rev. Sonnevelt’s willingness to provide this to us, and for the opportunity to make it available to our readers.


Due to increasing medical and technological advances, as individuals, office-bearers, and as a church family we are also confronted with more difficult decisions. This is especially true when married couples are unable to naturally conceive a child, and some are considering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) as an option while others have already made use of this technology.
Technically speaking, it is possible to use IVF in such a way that there is no loss of life involved. Some couples choose to have only one egg cell (or two) harvested from the woman and to have this fertilized by the sperm of the husband in a laboratory setting. They refrain from quality control and have all zygotes implanted into the uterus of the woman, hoping that this may lead to further gestation and the birth of a healthy child. As no extra embryos are engendered or frozen, the sixth commandment is not violated. And as there is no third party (donating ova or sperm), the seventh commandment is not transgressed. Some of these couples explain that they follow this method in dependency upon the Lord. They defend their stance by saying that the abuse of a method does not discard a proper use of it.

Thus, we need to consider whether it is right, from a Biblical and moral perspective:

  1. To make use of this method even when it is strictly confined to the two marriage partners;
  2. To use IVF when no embryos are lost in the process due to generally practiced “quality control”;
  3. To let some of the newly conceived embryos be frozen even when the couple says they want to implant these in the future?

Some underlying questions and points for further reflection:

  1. Is the beginning of a human being not something that takes place, under God’s blessing, as a result of the intimate union between a man and his wife? Is IVF not a crossing of boundaries marked by the Creator and a violation of the dignity of the human life? Can the (natural and understandable) desire for children co-exist with the application of a method like IVF?
  2. Is it legitimate to make use of a method that could only be established after many experiments and with the loss of much human life, a method that leads many today to choose the best embryos they want and to reject those of an “inferior quality”?
  3. Is it acceptable to freeze tiny human beings in such a way? What are the implications of the fact that some of them may not survive this process? What to do with such embryos when the parents change their mind about using all of them or pass away as a result of an accident, etc.?


A. A New Technique

In Vitro Fertilization is a medical procedure in which mature egg cells are removed from a woman’s ovary after she has taken fertility drugs to cause a number of eggs to mature at the same time. Semen is collected from the man, which is joined with the egg in a glass dish where conception then takes place. New life is allowed to develop for some days, and either inserted into the uterus of the same or another woman for normal gestation and birth, or frozen and stored for later use.

Infertility is a growing problem and there has been a corresponding growth in reproductive technologies to provide a solution. An entire “industry” has emerged with little or no regulations to protect the interests of the men, women or children involved. The many techniques used to overcome infertility have profound moral implications that we should be aware of. For example, children produced through technical processes are generally subjected to “quality control” and eliminated if found “defective,” resulting in the death of countless newly conceived human beings. Yet, some find it unnecessary to examine the morality of IVF if it is practiced in the way the introduction describes it, involving a husband and wife who use means to overcome a medical problem: infertility. But the question must be asked: Does the procedure violate human dignity and the marriage act and should it be avoided? Is IVF moral or immoral?

Obviously, IVF eliminates the marriage act as the means of achieving pregnancy. New life is not created through an act of love in the closest union possible between husband and wife but by a laboratory procedure. Husband and wife are merely sources for the “raw materials” which are manipulated by a technician to cause the sperm to fertilize the egg. Not infrequently, “donor” eggs or sperm are used. Thus, the genetic father or mother of the child could be someone from outside the marriage, causing much confusion for the child. The identity of the “donor” may never be known, which purposely deprives the child of an awareness of his or her own lineage.

Nevertheless, even if the egg and sperm come from husband and wife, are there not other moral issues that arise? Routinely, several embryos are brought into existence but only those with the most potential are implanted in the womb. The others are discarded or used for experiments. This is a terrible offense against human life. While a little baby may be born because of IVF, many other lives are usually snuffed out in the process.

IVF is also very expensive, often costing at least $10,000 per attempt, while over 75% of the embryos created perish at some point in the process. In order to reduce costs and increase success rates, doctors may implant five or more embryos in the mother’s womb. This may result in more babies than a couple wants. To avoid carrying and giving birth to “too many” babies, doctors engage in what is called fetal or selective “reduction,” which means babies in utero are monitored to see which are to be eliminated. Then the “less desirable” babies are killed by filling a syringe with potassium chloride and thrusting the needle into the selected baby’s heart. The potassium chloride kills the baby within minutes, and he or she is expelled as a miscarriage. Again we see the unspeakable diminishing of the value of human life which can arise from this procedure.

Not everyone who has had a child through IVF has used donor eggs or sperm or killed unwanted babies in the course of the pregnancy. Yet there is still a moral problem with the procedure itself. The dehumanizing aspects of this procedure are even evident in the very language associated with it, such as reproductive technology industry, products of conception, and reduction. Inherent in IVF is the treatment of children, in their very coming into being, as less than human beings.

B. Designer Babies

Sperm and eggs are being bought and sold, and wombs are being rented. Typical prices for sperm are $1,800, for ova $6,500, and for surrogate motherhood $45,000. Couples from around the world come to the US to choose not only the sex of their child but also “cosmetic” features, such as hair and eye color. Incredibly expensive genetic testing also “helps” to identify defects so that children of inferior quality can be aborted. All of these are the first steps toward the “designer baby.”

Many of these technologies border on the quality of human life ethic, while the Bible’s eternal perspective teaches us that human life itself is of higher value. In Exodus 4:11 God speaks to Moses: “Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?” The fact that God creates human beings in His image establishes value, not our height, or sight, or hearing.

We must realize that values like unpredictability, diversity, and uniqueness are central to God’s creation. Some genetic technologies violate these values. Does man know how to exercise wisely the power and control that these procedures bring? With the reality of sin ever before us, it is difficult to answer in the affirmative. That is why the prudent, biblical stance is that if a procedure will likely and eventually violate biblical guidelines, it is imperative to turn around and not to proceed at all.

C. Immoral Madness

In July 2009, British scientists reported having coaxed the first human sperm cells from embryonic stem cells. They used days-old human embryos, leftovers from IVF treatment, and isolated stem cells out of them. After being treated chemically, the stem cells developed into full-grown sperm cells within a couple of weeks. This research triggered criticism, not only because of the low quality of the developed sperm cells, but also because of ethical objections to this method. Interviewed by the BBC, Josephine Quintaville declared, “This is an example of immoral madness. Perfectly viable embryos have been destroyed in order to create sperm over which there will be huge questions of their healthiness and viability. It’s taking one life in order to perhaps create another. I’m very much in favour of curing infertility, but I don’t think you can do whatever you like.”

Current legislation in the United Kingdom forbids use of this sperm for the creation of children but in most countries public policies lag behind the pace in which technology advances. While the researchers denied having the intention of “producing human life in a dish,” others have already questioned whether women will still need a man to create a child in the future, thereby further eroding God’s institutions.

D. Frozen Embryos

In Vitro Fertilization has also produced another significant side effect, which is the presence of over 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States alone. This number grows each year when people utilizing IVF no longer want the embryos, leaving clinics with the dilemma of whether to sustain them in the frozen state or discard them. Embryos can remain viable for a decade or more if they are properly frozen, but not all survive when thawed. Some couples and clinics donate frozen embryos to scientific research, but this raises profound ethical questions due to the nature of the research and the loss of human life involved.

The frozen embryos press our society with the question of how to view them: Are they of value and worth? Most couples are not happy with destroying the embryos they created through IVF. This dilemma has meanwhile created the opportunity for people to even adopt frozen embryos. During congressional hearings concerning stem-cell research, John Borden stood before the panel with both his sons in his arms and asked, “Which one of my children would you kill?” John and his wife, Lucinda, unable to have children of their own, adopted frozen embryos that were “left over” from In Vitro Fertilization. Their striking testimony demonstrated that embryos are human beings in an early stage of development and therefore should not be sacrificed for embryonic stem-cell research.

If life begins at conception (as the Bible teaches us), reproductive technology has produced a gut-wrenching dilemma, in particular because there is no ethical consensus in the culture. Sadly, by disregarding God’s clear directives (e.g., Psalm 139:16), we are now left to deal with this consequence of In Vitro Fertilization, and the large majority of these small human beings will die when used for research or by being left in the freezer for too long.


A. God – the Creator of Life

Many texts in God’s Word shed light on the beginning of life. The act of creation uniquely belongs to a Triune God alone, as evident from some of the very first words spoken in Scripture, “Let Us make man” (Gen. 1:26). Moreover, in Isaiah 44:24 we read, “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself.”

Consider also Job 10:10-12 and 31:15, Ecclesiastes 11:5, and Isaiah 44:2 and 46:3. These passages show that God’s eye is upon everything that has been made, in a special sense upon living creatures, and in a very special sense upon human beings. His eye is also upon the children (Jonah 4:11), upon the unborn child (Ps. 139:14-16), and even upon the seed out of which children come into existence (Gen. 39:8-10).

B. Man – A Unity of Body and Soul

Basic biology shows us that conception is the beginning of a new individual so even at the first, single-cell stage of existence it is fully a human being. It is human, alive, and genetically distinct from the mother, and breathes and consumes nutrients as a whole, separate being. It only needs to grow and develop in the right environment to become an embryo and then a fetus, just like it will become an infant, toddler, child, adolescent, and finally an adult. This, by itself, should be enough to reject abortion and all IVF practices which lead to the death of the unborn child.

Another question is whether an unborn child already has a soul. The Bible instructs us that man consists of two essential elements: body and soul, as can be seen in the following verses.

  • “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).
  • “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

God made our bodies in a wondrous manner, about which the poet of Psalm 139 cried out, “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (vs. 14). God also gave man a never-dying soul. This soul, the principle of life in a physical, moral, and spiritual sense, is a very precious gift. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? And what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26).

The debate about when the soul enters the body of a human being has gained a new dimension in light of the abortion movement. Many regard an unborn baby as a cluster of human cells without personhood, which has far-reaching consequences. According to God’s Word, a human being consists of body and soul. Denying the unborn child a soul is the equivalent of saying that he or she is not fully a human person yet.

The Scriptures give a strong indication that every person has a soul from the time of conception. We read that Jeremiah was already sanctified and ordained as a prophet while in the womb (Jer. 1:4-5), and that John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, who was pregnant with the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:41, 44). Other significant texts show that man is considered a sinner by God from the time of his conception, which implies the existence of a soul.

  • “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5).
  • “Among whom also we had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3).

Although Rev. G.H. Kersten says in his Reformed Dogmatics that it cannot be known with certainty when the soul enters the body, he writes in his explanation of the Heidelberg Catechism, “From the hour of our conception until we draw our last breath, our sins cry out for the just penalty of death” (page 5). Additionally, the Heidelberg Catechism, when speaking about the profit of “Christ’s holy conception and nativity” says “That He is our Mediator, and with His innocence and perfect holiness, covers in the sight of God, my sins, wherein I was conceived and brought forth” (Lord’s Day 14, Question and Answer 36).

While it is hard to prove the soul’s presence at conception, this is true at any time. We know that all genetic material is present at conception; nothing is added later. And Scripture passages overwhelmingly suggest that human beings have a soul from the very moment of conception. The implications regarding the issue of IVF is that every time an embryo is killed in the process, either intentionally or unintentionally, and every time that a frozen embryo does not survive the procedure to which it is subjected, not only human life is lost, but a precious soul also enters eternity.

C. Children – a Gift of God

God alone is the Author of life and children are an inheritance from Him, as we can see in Psalm 127:3: “Lo children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” Couples who are without children often experience this as a heavy cross. It is important that office-bearers have an eye for this sorrow and approach childless couples with compassion.

In biblical times, childlessness was a double cross, not only because of the natural desire inherent to all human beings, but also since God’s blessing was seen in outward prosperity more than in the New Testament. Furthermore, since God had promised the Savior’s birth in due time, having no children meant that the Messiah could not be born from or greeted by one’s no descendants, nor could they receive His blessings in the future.

The Bible tells us about several barren women, some of whom were later blessed with children. We read about Sarah in Genesis 16:1-5, which shows that childlessness has been an issue almost from the dawn of history. We read about Rebekah in Genesis 25:21. It is remarkable that the wives of the first two patriarchs were unable to conceive until God opened their wombs, which makes the birth of Israel as a nation and even greater wonder of sovereign grace and supernatural power. Genesis 29 and 30 speaks about Rachel, for whom receiving a child had become an obsession, throwing even the favor of the Lord into the background. Even when she gave birth to Joseph, she was not satisfied, which ultimately became her ruin as she died while giving birth to Benjamin.

This history contains a solemn warning. How much reason there is for childless couples to watch against crossing the boundaries and becoming inordinate in their desire! God’s Word says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). Besides, it is the task of office-bearers to speak about these things in a pastoral way. What is the motive in seeking parenthood? Are there other desires, more important desires, in their lives? In seeking to receive a child and in asking for a child, is there something of Hannah’s desire and submission? For Hannah, childlessness was a cause of much grief, as we can read in 1 Samuel 1:6-11. She may have even wondered whether the Lord had rejected her, which was the greatest grief for her God-fearing soul. The outcome of this history shows that the Lord undertook for her. Indeed, children are a gift of the Lord.

D. God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility

When thinking about childlessness and the issue of IVF, we should also take into account what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. In Genesis 1:26 and following, God created humans––both male and female––in His image and then gave them the charge to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (1:28). Verse 29 extends this dominion to plants, trees, and seeds. Although colored by the reality of human sin, this dominion status is repeated for Noah in Genesis 9:1-2. Reproductive and genetic technologies fall under the stewardship responsibility of humans as well.

This has powerful implications. While these technologies give humans power never realized before, we must remember that God is the Creator and we are only creatures. He is sovereign; we are stewards. And due to sin we have an inborn inclination to take matters into our own hands. Our will being totally depraved, we are prone to raise our fist against the Lord and to question His wisdom and goodness concerning His ways. We want to be our own master, and it is only by grace when we may learn to bow under God’s sovereign will.

E. The Providence of the Lord

Another biblical truth, closely connected with those mentioned in the previous paragraph, is that of God’s providence. Let us quote from our confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10.

Q. 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.

Q. 28. What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?
A. That we may be patient in adversity thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.


A. Reflections – Biblical and Pastoral

We feel much empathy for married couples who struggle with infertility and yearn to have children. Yet we should not forget that God is free and sovereign in all His dealings. We ought to realize that all human plans fail when He does not add His blessing. As well, we should be careful not to cross the boundaries of what is permitted in light of God’s Word.

The examples of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah show that God is a surprising God. “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14). “Behold, I am the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). It would be to God’s honor if children are received in the way of a wonder, just as it would to God’s honor if He grants submission to His will, even in withholding what is dearest to us. There is sweetness in such submission to Him (1 Sam. 1:8).

Since man is the crown of God’s creation, humans may never be used as a means to an end, not even to overcome infertility. In IVF, children are produced through a technical process and in their very coming into existence they are subjected to the arbitrary choices of those bringing them into being, rather than brought about by the providence of the Author of creation Himself. Bringing the sperm and egg together in a glass dish to bring about fertilization is a highly technological procedure in which procreation and marital intercourse are disconnected (see the article of Prof. Dr. W.H. Velema under Appendix 3 of the original report). It is therefore our conviction that in following this procedure a man and woman, even when it concerns a married couple, transgress the God-given boundaries.

Moreover, this procedure has been established at the expense of many lives of unborn children and continues to do so. It has also opened the way to a host of other problems, as discussed previously. Even if a couple uses IVF by only using one or two eggs, having all embryos implanted, and refraining from freezing them, this way of using the procedure is only possible due to years of experimentation which has costs hundreds of thousands of embryos their lives.

Finally, IVF has also opened the door to a host of other horrible sins. Use of donor eggs and sperm, also by gay and lesbian couples, clearly infringes upon the marriage union and breaks the seventh commandment of God’s holy law. The very children who must gratify the desires of their genetic, biological, or social parents have to pay the price, many of whom have much higher rates of sustaining genetic or birth defects. Can we close our eyes to all these side effects of this technology in our apocalyptic culture? Is it fair and realistic to highlight a so-called proper use of this technology when there is so much abuse of it? Should we not even hate the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude:23)?

B. How to Overcome Fertility – Lawful and Unlawful Means

The Bible is not against using means, provided that those means are legitimate and are sought in dependency upon the Lord. Any number of morally acceptable interventions may be used to take away infertility. For instance, surgery can overcome tubal blockages in the male or female reproductive system; fertility drugs may be used, with the caution that multiple pregnancies may put mother and infants at risk; and ways to track natural reproductive cycles may enhance the chances for achieving pregnancy.

The church has great compassion for those who suffer from infertility. Out of love for all human life and respect for the integrity of marital relations, however, the church teaches that some means of trying to achieve pregnancy are illicit. Some of these means and methods actually involve the taking of innocent human life, or treating human life as a means toward the end of “manufacturing a product.” Methods such as these do violence to the dignity of the human person.

In our modern Western world, we have a tendency to think that we can solve all our problems with the right “technology” but children were never intended to be engendered by technology or produced by an industry. For that reason, we reject IVF as a God-dishonoring and dehumanizing practice, not acceptable in any form or under any circumstances. In seeking the blessing of children, we must only use methods of which we can expect that God’s blessing and favor may rest upon them.


Our conclusions regarding In Vitro Fertilization are not rooted in one single motive but founded upon several arguments, each of which is sufficient to denounce the method of “producing babies” outside the mother’s womb and disconnected from the physical union between a man and his wife. Taken together, these arguments are all the more compelling to reject IVF as a way of alleviating the problem of infertility.

Let us take a firm stance in these troublesome times in which God’s Word is being undermined and in which the very foundations of life are shaking. Life is life, right from conception. From a scriptural as well as scientific viewpoint, there is no doubt about this fact. What is conceived in a Petri dish is not potential life either, but a very small human being with a soul for eternity.
Finally, when we see the developments in our world today, we must hang our heads in shame. When we notice the general declension in our culture, we should weep. How has it come so far? Did all these things go on in our nations and in our midst, while we were fast asleep? Instructed in the truth, we can no longer claim ignorance.

May the Lord grant unto us a heartfelt repentance and a turning from the paths of evil! May our ways be directed according to His Word, of which David said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).

My Little Sister Was A Person, Too

Having worked with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform for a year now and being confronted with the issue of abortion on a daily basis, I was fully aware of the gravity of the situation here in Canada.  However, it was not until a few weeks ago that I realized that the current status quo has serious personal implications for my family.

In my growing up years, abortion was an issue we never spoke about, and certainly never worried about.  After all, we weren’t having abortions so the status quo didn’t affect us at all.  Quite the contrary, my parents have been blessed with 16 children, two of whom we were grieved to lose at very young ages.

Pauline was full term or 40 weeks gestational age when she was stillborn on February 3, 1999 and on September 8, 2003, Rebecca passed away in her sleep at the age of 11 months and 21 days.  Both were dearly loved, mourned, and they are missed even today.

A few weeks ago was the ninth anniversary of Rebecca’s death.  As is our custom, we commemorated the occasion with a family trip to the cemetery where we visited both Rebecca and Pauline’s final resting spots.  Their graves lie just a row apart from each other in the Baby Land section of the cemetery and they have matching gravestones.  By all appearances, there is not much difference between the two except for the names and the dates inscribed onto the stones.

However, there is a distinct difference between the two.  You see, according to the laws in Canada, my sister Pauline is not classified as a person.  Section 223 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that a child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state from the body of its mother whether or not it has breathed, it has an independent circulation, or the navel string is severed.”  My sister never had the opportunity to “become a human being” because she died prior to her birth.

The morning of her birth, when Mom and Dad returned home from the hospital, rather than the excitement of a new baby, they had empty arms and the duty of selecting a coffin and arranging a funeral.  This is never something that a parent expects, but even worse for my parents was the realization that their precious daughter is completely disregarded as a member of the human family by her own country.

While it infuriates me that this is the case, it also confuses me.  What made the difference between Rebecca and Pauline?  Was it size?  Rebecca was only a little bit bigger than Pauline upon each of their deaths and that’s only because she had an additional year to gain that extra weight and size.

That extra year also contributed to the fact that Rebecca was more developed than Pauline.  Rebecca was learning to pull herself to a standing position, as is appropriate for a little girl that age and Pauline was also doing age appropriate things such as sucking her thumb, kicking, and moving.

They were in very different environments upon their deaths, as Pauline was still within the [safety] of my mother’s womb, and Rebecca was in her crib.   This difference again, only a difference based on age.

They both relied on my mother for their basic needs such as nourishment and shelter, Pauline from within my mother’s womb, and Rebecca from without.  Because of her age, Rebecca’s degree of dependency on my mother for survival was decreasing.

It is completely ridiculous that such a distinction is made because of such minor differences.  In fact, in our society, these differences can often mean life or death for the youngest members of the human race.  This is age discrimination of the worst kind, and this is why I will continue to fight for personhood rights for all human beings.

For little girls just like Pauline.

Abortion in God’s Family

Can you imagine your 17 year old daughter having an abortion? Or the girl who sits behind you in Gr.12 home-room? This may or may not come as a shock but it is happening among our Christian friends and in our Reformed families. The sad and distressing reality is: abortion is happening right in God’s family.


Of course, this has been a well-kept secret – at least from parents and those who “must never know.” And yet there is talk. The burden of guilt is felt and a friend is told. Or a counsellor. I’ve encountered it personally. Others who have contact with young Reformed sisters in different areas of the country have confirmed to me that more than a few of our very own young ladies have visited an abortion clinic to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy.


So why is this happening? Surely our young people know it is wrong to murder their unborn child? We teach this at home, school and church. We write letters to our politicians and newspapers. We take our teens to the March for Life walks. And yet, some who publicly parade with placards on Parliament Hill one month, find themselves the next month quietly visiting an abortion clinic for a consultation. What is going through their minds?


We need to pay attention to their motivation. It’s true for all of us that our actions flow out of our desires. When facing temptation, each of us will decide to do what we most want to do at that moment. It’s just like the decision some make to have sex before marriage. They know God is against it. They likely have seen certain embarrassing results of it in the lives of other church people, they know what can happen, but in that moment of decision the desire for pleasure (theirs, that of their partner or both) exceeds the desire to please God. And the potential consequences are irrationally pushed out of their mind thinking, “That won’t happen to me!”

If we wish to have our teens and young adults keep their bodies sexually pure, we need to convince them that the greatest pleasure ultimately comes from seeking to please God in every decision. Just like with Eve, reaching for the forbidden fruit comes from the conviction that doing so will result in a better outcome – usually some form of self-pleasure. Yet we know what misery followed Eve’s decision – and every such decision since! But if we and our children understand that God will freely give us pleasure and fulfillment as a gift so long as we give our heart to Him in love and obedience, that will be the strongest defence against sexual temptation.


When it comes to the decision to abort, it’s not pleasure which motivates but most often fear. Consider the predicament one of our 17 year old girls might be in when she learns she is pregnant. All her life her parents have taught her that pre-marital sex is a sin. The feeling of her personal shame is high. She realizes all at once that if this comes out in the open, her parents and family will carry the shame as well – and they will be upset! Perhaps her father is an elder – what a public embarrassment for him! She anticipates an angry response.

She also worries greatly whether she will be able to raise this child on her own, whether she will be capable as a mother. The more she thinks about the future of her child, the more anxious she becomes: will he be labelled all his life? Maybe my child will be picked on and bullied. As an unwed mother, she thinks her reputation will follow her all her life and her child will have to always live with a social stigma too. The window of opportunity to decide is short (soon she’ll start to show!) – and she concludes: I can’t do it! I won’t do it!


When these fears are at their height, a young pregnant woman searches in desperation for a solution – and she finds a straight-forward one via the internet at the abortion clinic. She can’t talk to her parents and she dare not talk to her friends or even the child’s father – no one must know! Fear drives her to be anonymous and to seek a quick remedy – and both are freely offered at the local abortion clinic. Over the last 30 years, these clinics have not only sprung up in many Canadian communities but they are prominently advertised and their costs are covered by the government. Abortion is promoted as a socially acceptable, ‘easy’ and even ‘safe’ solution to the ‘problem’ of an unwanted pregnancy.

Imagine being in the shoes of such a young lady. You only have yourself to reason with, or possibly the people at the clinic who favour abortion. Many thoughts go through your mind: “It’s not that different from using birth-control is it? If only I’d been smarter, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant – one visit to the clinic and my problem is over! I’ve only been pregnant three weeks – it’s not really a baby in there yet, is it? Having an abortion this early is not murder – it’s just a group of cells! It’s just a miscarriage that’s been organized, that’s all. God won’t mind because He knows it was all a mistake and I’m too young to be a mother.” So many emotions, so many thoughts (many not rational), but in the end the immaturity of youth, a frantic need for a quick and quiet solution, and the lack of a supportive Christian sounding board makes the choice to abort the most attractive at that moment. What she wants most at that moment is to avoid the troubles of admitting her sin – and the die is cast.

Climate Change

That is what we as church community and as families must change – the forceful pressures which make our daughters feel trapped in the consequences of their actions. Let me be crystal clear: we must not dumb-down or minimize the sin of pre-marital sex. It remains contrary to God’s will. But there is forgiveness in the blood of Christ for all who repent – forgiveness and reconciliation! It’s maddening to think that some of our young people would rather murder their unborn children (with all of the dire consequences) than seek the help of their parents, office bearers, or extended church family!

We need to adjust our social climate so that conditions favour dealing with the sexual sin (and resulting pregnancy) in a spirit of Christ-like love, forgiveness and restoration rather than hiding it. And with forgiveness needs to come support. When a church member falls into sin, we are called to restore him gently, remembering how prone we are to fall ourselves (Gal 6:1). Paul even says that we are to “carry each other’s burdens” in this way. From our attitudes to our actions, our calling is to surround every repentant sinner with grace-filled care, remembering that this is precisely how our Father in heaven deals with us (Luke 15:20-32).

Test Yourself

Does your daughter (and your son too!) know if she falls into sexual sin, she can talk to you about it without you having a fit of anger? Does she believe the consequences of admitting her sexual sin to you as mother or father would be worse than not to do so? Has it been stressed so much in your home that (in her mind at least) it is a ‘greater sin’ to bring shame on the family name than it is to quietly snuff out the life of the unknown unborn?

Have previous cases in the church been handled roughly or insensitively by the consistory, bringing unnecessary difficulty upon a repentant woman or couple? Has total silence of the consistory contributed to damaging rumours? Do congregants expect a public shaming or is there a track record of gentle, public restoration in the case of sins which become public? In short, does the young lady have reason to fear reaction to her news in her family or church?

New Emphasis

If there is any doubt about the answers to these questions, we need to sound a new note in our homes and congregations. Or rather, we need to sound an old note more clearly and consistently across the board, the note of grace. To be sure, our children need to grow up knowing right from wrong and the consequences of sin, but just as well, they need to know forgiveness and renewal in the blood and Spirit of Christ. Grace never glosses over sin or dismisses it but rather grace – God’s work of salvation in Christ – pays the high cost of our sin and goes to work transforming our hearts and lives.

The fears of our young adult children are often times our fears as parents passed down to them – the fear of man. As parents, we fear a bad reputation and embarrassment and will do virtually anything to protect ourselves. We don’t want anyone thinking poorly of us and so we let people see only our “good” side, our strong features. We never show our faults or at least we minimize them as much as possible.

We carry-on this same pattern with our children. They must never see our weaknesses or sins. If you’ve never said to your kids, “Dad was wrong and I’m sorry” or “Mom sinned against you earlier today – can you forgive me,” then chances are you’ve never heard them say that to you voluntarily, from the heart. And if they don’t feel free to admit their more common sins knowing they will find a kind and forgiving heart, what makes you think they will come to you when the issue is weightier like a pre-marital pregnancy?


What we need is more transparency and humility as parents and also as office bearers. We need to be less afraid of man and instead develop a healthier fear of God. We ministers and elders along with fathers and mothers need to be more open about our mistakes and sins – and what we do about them. We all know each person is a sinner. We all know that Christians are people who struggle against sin and daily need forgiveness. Yet we can’t seem to let this show to our neighbour! The example of the Apostle Paul is just the opposite! (1 Timothy 1:15,16)

I’m not saying we need to hang out all our dirty laundry. But let’s not pretend we don’t have any either! Let’s live in the reality that all our dirty laundry is washed whiter than snow in the blood of the Lamb – and let’s encourage our family and friends to live this way too! Our past sins and mistakes can be lessons for another’s benefit, as the Bible demonstrates in more than one place.


Let’s be real and honest with one another, encouraging the confession of sin and sincere repentance. In our dealings with our children and teens, with our parishioners and fellow congregants, let us do what we can to let them know there is a soft landing in our home and church for broken sinners looking for forgiveness. As grace abounds, fear will melt away – also for those who have had an abortion.

As much as the unlawful killing of our pre-born family and church members hurts us all and is an offense to God, yet the blood and Spirit of our Saviour are there to wash also this sin away. It’s a great burden for a conscience to bear alone but let us offer help and healing by households and churches filled with compassion. Let’s start the conversation about grace with our sons and daughters today – and let’s keep it the centre-piece of our relationships all through-out God’s family.

Peter H. Holtvlüwer

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Pre-School: No Pencils Allowed—Just Bloody Scissors

My morning starts off pretty normal—scrambling around for missing library books, trying to find matching mittens and attempting to have the oldest of my crew ready for the bus by 7:50. After a wipeout on the ice-covered driveway, my 5- and 8-year old are on the bus, ready to take on the day. Next, it’s pre-school for my 4-year old and off to a friend for a quick coffee for my 2-year old and me.

Today also happens to be the day affectionately called “Halloween” by most, but in our house we do not celebrate the culture of death.  We strive to fight abortion, the death of the smallest and most vulnerable. My daughter’s preschool is having a pajama party instead of dressing up for Halloween, for which I am very thankful.

I buckle our youngest two into the van and unsuccessfully search for the ice scraper so I find the nearest toy, scrape the windshield and hop in.  Then I remember that the pre-schoolers were encouraged to bring a non-edible treat for their classmates so back into the house I go.  I spot the box of sparkly pro-life pencils. Perfect!  I grab them and we are finally on our way.  At school, after a kiss and a smile, my daughter excitedly joins her class, pencils in hand.

A couple of hours later we are back to pick her up. I hold my two-year old as we make our way past an adult with a scissor stuck in her head and kids decked out in costumes of all sorts and sizes.  When we arrive at the preschool class, the teacher is in the hall with one of the kids handing out candy bags to the parents.  I notice her holding the box of pencils and ask if they got handed out.  “No,” she replies, “we need to talk about this.”  Confused, I step aside with her.  “I wouldn’t allow your daughter to hand these out,” she states. “They are too sensitive and controversial.” I am so shocked that I just look at her, then turn around speechless and leave with my kids to dodge the costumed elementary students in the hall.

This is the world we live in—a world where the scarier, the darker, and the more devilish things are, the better. A world where the culture of death is fully embraced, whether by making light of death or by championing a woman’s right to abortion. A world that completely rejects the sanctity of life. Where will this end? Isaiah 5:20 warns, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”

How should we respond? Romans 12 vs. 21 gives guidance: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Ephesians 5 vs. 8 tells us why. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”  In our walk, each of us should display the truth we profess, though my morning showed that isn’t always easy. People reject the truth, however gently or nicely we offer it to them. Should we just give up or should we find other ways to reach them? The Beatitudes speak of blessings for the peacemaker and those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

While my experience at pre-school can’t be considered persecution, I can only imagine to which lengths people would go to suppress the truth. And we shouldn’t be surprised. In fighting for peace—true peace—we can expect opposition, even persecution, especially when we bring a message that speaks to the conscience and confirms Biblical truths. But we can’t give up. This fight is not for us: it should be for God’s honour and the youngest of His creatures. And the Beatitudes end with great hope for those fighting for righteousness: “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

My morning reinforces why I do “Choice” Chain, why I stand on our streets with prenatal and abortion imagery. The pro-life message will continue to be censored, even when it simply says to “Respect Life!” That is why we must bring our message to those who otherwise would not get or ask for it. That is why, as “Choice” Chain volunteers, we work together to expose and oppose abortion.  Because in a world that obviously embraces visual learning and has shown it isn’t opposed to graphic displays, people are being touched by the ultimate display of truth—the beauty of life and the horror of abortion—which is being used to change our culture. And as the Lord blesses our work, I pray our culture of death will truly change into a culture of life, where “the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35).

I hope and pray that we will continue to be used to change hearts and minds and save lives. What will you do? After all, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.””

A Wednesday Abortion

Sunday night, quarter after eleven. I’m almost sleeping when the familiar chime of a text message startles me awake. Who is texting me late on a Sunday evening, I wonder. It’s one of my friends, letting me know that she is meeting with a couple tomorrow to discuss their options just one more time before their scheduled abortion on Wednesday.

“Please pray!” she pleads. All I can think of is to reply with a simple “Okay” before sending up a prayer for this couple, and for their child, now in imminent danger; begging God to change their minds, to bless the meeting so their eyes will be opened to what will really be done to their baby.

I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement for a little while already, but this specific request hits much closer to home. It won’t leave me, and the next morning I forward it to several close friends and family. At work I tell my boss and some co-workers about it, asking them to pray about this as well. I do my work, but my thoughts keep returning to this twisted situation. Midway through the morning, my boss calls me and several of my co-workers over to the transmission rebuilding bench. We stand in a circle and pray.

At lunch time I find out from my friend that the meeting did not go as we had hoped. It had quickly become clear that the woman, whom I will call Krystal, will keep the child and cancel the abortion… IF her boyfriend steps up to the plate and supports her. However, he is not supportive at all and does not want a child. He won’t consider adoption because, in his words, the options are limited to “keeping the child or aborting the child.” She is less sure. When the conversation turned to prenatal development, she started to cry. “I didn’t want to know that!” It was making her reconsider. She did not seem convinced at all that abortion is the right thing to do, but his attitude and refusal to shoulder his responsibility leaves us with little hope for the life of their baby.

My friend is told that the abortion is scheduled for Wednesday at the Kensington Clinic in Calgary, so we decide to try and reach them there, one last time. It will be our last chance to try save the life of the child. On Tuesday it is all I can think about at work and I pray throughout the day. This one precious life hangs in the balance. We still have a chance to make a difference.

Wednesday morning, we arrive at the Kensington Clinic a little after eight o’clock. We know that Krystal is desperately in need of support so the plan is to be there and offer whatever support we can. Because of a legislated ‘bubble zone’ that does not allow us near the clinic, the closest we can be is on the other side of the street. We each have a sign, one simply with the words “What do you need?”, another with a website for post-abortive women. It is bitterly cold, but already as we arrive, we are greeted by some ladies standing just outside the bubble zone, praying as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign. Holding our signs, we stand as close to the clinic as we can.

The first car pulls into the clinic parking lot. The couple waits for a few minutes before leaving the vehicle and walking toward the clinic door. “Lord, please stop them, make them change their mind!” A deep feeling of uselessness settles on me as they enter. A while later he leaves, to return in several hours and pick her up after their baby has been killed. A gorgeous late-model Audi pulls in. Obviously they aren’t there because they “can’t afford the child.” This scene is repeated over and over during the course of the morning. Each couple, every woman that enters that abortion clinic to have her baby torn apart, leaves us feeling even more powerless to stop the bloodshed.

“That’s them! I’m almost positive! She saw our signs and looked at me as they drove past!” My friend is quite sure that Krystal and her boyfriend are in the car that just came by. The late ninety’s Civic slowly drives past us, pulls into the abortion clinic parking lot, to then turn around and leave again. The man looks irritated, the woman cries while covering her face. Is that really them? Did she change her mind after all? While several other babies already lost their lives here today, maybe hers will live! A little ray of hope creeps in as we continue to stand there. Another friend joins us a bit later with a sign that says “Abortion is forever” and “Mommy can I live?” We discuss what just happened, and continue to stand on the sidewalk, hoping, praying…

A taxi pulls up right next to us, the driver motioning to the clinic, the girl nodding and paying him. I take my friend’s sign, she quickly walks over to the girl just exiting the taxi and offers her a “Precious Feet” pin. The girl waves her off and crosses the street. Again the clinic door opens and she disappears from view. Why? Why? Why? So many, so, so many! Somebody, stop this! Another couple enters, also resembling Krystal and her boyfriend, but from this distance we can’t be sure. Doubt enters our hearts again. “Oh Lord…” is all I can pray.

Noon comes and goes and no new people enter. Vehicles start arriving again, picking up daughters and sisters and girlfriends and wives. Each of them entered the clinic with their baby. Each of them leaves with a violated body, an empty womb. Later, a bio-waste truck will come and pick up the broken little bodies of the slaughtered innocent.

We stay for a little longer before deciding that, as there are no new people coming, we have done what we could and it is time to go home.

That night I get another message. “They had the abortion today.”

Words fail me. Their baby is dead—her little body torn apart by the suction machine. Maybe if we had been there a bit earlier… Maybe if we… Maybe… But then, Isaiah 55 comes to mind. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I can’t help but think that Krystal may have kept her child if her boyfriend had been a man and shouldered his responsibilities. Where are all the men? What kind of guy doesn’t support the mother of his child? What kind of guy thinks his future is more important than the life of his child or the well-being of his partner? So often women say that they cannot raise the child alone, as if it is obvious that the child’s father will not be there to help and support. I also can’t help but think that Krystal may have kept her child if we had reached her with the pro-life message earlier, if she had heard a persuasive case for the pro-life position prior to her crisis.

It becomes very clear. We have to reach these people before they schedule an abortion. We have to educate before people make these decisions. And we have to offer our homes and our hearts for girls like Krystal so, when their boyfriends and husbands pressure them to abort, they will have place to go to. We have to live the pro-life message, every one of us.

I have been pro-life all my life, but to my shame, until recently, I was able to live in my own comfortable little world, largely unencumbered by the fact that hundreds of my fellow Canadians were being slaughtered every single day. But that Wednesday, one precious life hung in the balance. We still had a small chance to make a difference. We did all we could, but to no avail. And then it hit me.

This is happening to 260 children every single day in our country! Every day, 260 Krystals enter an abortion clinic or a hospital and their children are decapitated, dismembered and disembowelled. More than anything, more than the sadness, the anger, the feeling of uselessness as we stood outside with our signs, I began to feel a deep sense of urgency. Every day that passes, babies are killed. Every day as we live our lives—going to school, church, or work, or enjoying time with friends—people are being killed across the country, behind sterile clinic doors. Far too often we say, “Maybe I’ll get involved later; I’m so busy now. I need some time to think about this. I’m not really ready to do pro-life stuff. I don’t know enough to be able to do anything.” But every day we push it off, babies die. What difference does it make to those babies if we are pro-life but do nothing about it? Edmund Burke once put it so simply: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Over the past few years, more young people are joining the pro-life movement and becoming active about their conviction. This movement is making progress. We are changing hearts and minds and saving lives. With God’s blessing, we can end the killing, but we need your help! Public outreach may not be for everyone, but we can all do something. We can start by valuing our pre-born children as much as our born children. We can support the movement financially. We can call or write our politicians, urging them to do what is right. We can educate ourselves on pro-life apologetics, so that we are able to talk about abortion with our co-workers, friends and family. We can open our homes and churches to girls and women in crisis. And we can certainly pray for God’s blessing on this movement. Each of us has a role to play. Which is yours?

Think back to the picture I painted for you, the one we witnessed on that Wednesday. We saw how approximately fifteen babies were walked to their deaths, just at one clinic. Nation-wide, about 260 babies lost their lives through abortion on that day. And on Thursday. And on Friday… From the day we were at the clinic till the day this article is published, 3120 babies have been slaughtered. That is approximately the same as the number of people who died in the 9/11 attacks. The preborn are paying for our inaction with their lives! So let us ask ourselves: What are we doing to stop this? If we don’t do anything, who will? And if we don’t do something now, when will we do it?

I want to leave you with another quote from Edmund Burke: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

It Happens In Our Churches

I was standing in my kitchen, one late Monday night, when she told me. She was standing there, talking about life, talking about why things happen the way they do. Why people stay with the people they do. Old memories, old pasts, old regrets. Ties that bind. Those sorts of things. The conversation was light hearted, nothing could have prepared me for what she was about to say.

“You should have had a niece or nephew. Six years ago, you should have been an auntie.”

I wish I had a video camera on my face so I could recall what emotions passed over. I didn’t know what to say, I tried to stay calm. “Oh God…” is the only thing I remember saying. A silent prayer? I don’t know what it was, at the time. She continued talking about it, while I tried to cover any emotion and stay chill. I’d been involved in the prolife movement, but I’d always been scared of saying the wrong thing. Earlier that evening, I had said to a friend: “But how do you know you’re not saying the wrong thing?” This was my time…

I stood there in silence, listening to her continue on about it. “At that time, it was the best decision for me. I was in no condition to be a mother. That child would not have had a happy life.” I had so many questions, I wanted to know how, I wanted to know why. But I couldn’t formulate words. Where were the people that should have been there when she needed them?

We grew up church goers. We knew the difference. We were raised the right way. We heard speakers speak, we heard teachers teach, we heard preachers preach. We knew.

We heard about it from others, from celebrities, from ‘heathens.’ But we thought- no, we knew that church goers would never do such a thing. After all, we knew.

We knew, they know. And we all know the truth. It happens. In our circles, in our communities- it happens. Babies are aborted, within our close, loving supportive circles. The mothers and fathers alike go on to carry the scars, somehow convincing themselves that it was the right decision at the right time.

I sit in church every week. I hear people talk. I hear people tell stories. I hear things. Don’t tell me it’s not happening- right here in our very own communities. Don’t tell me it’s not going on. Don’t tell me that our young people aren’t having pre-marital sex, and don’t tell me that from all those young couples defying the holy bond of marriage, that there are no abortions happening. Don’t tell me there is not a reason our communities oppose graphic imagery so much. Don’t tell me it doesn’t open old wounds, burn old scars.

It had happened six years ago, but that day, my heart broke. It broke for the niece or nephew I had never met. It broke for my sister, who chose to murder her child for lack of what she considered ‘options.’ It broke for the person who performed the abortion- that person who was guilty of murdering my niece or nephew, along with thousands of other children. It broke, and I had to learn how to grieve.

Yet, it also opened for everyone out there who was going through with it. Who wanted to terminate life.

Who didn’t think they could do it. Who truly believed it was the right decision at that time. I sit in the church, I hear, I know. They sit in the church, they hear, they know. My sister sat in that church too. She heard, she knew.

Don’t tell me it doesn’t happen. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking we’re all okay, because we know.

Don’t tell me we don’t have any need of graphic imagery, of “Choice Chains” or of the Pro-life movement. Don’t tell me any of that.

Most of all, don’t tell me ‘I know.’ Because she knew too.

Silence Is Blasphemy

blas-phem-y, n. An intentional and defiant dishonoring of the nature, name, or work of God by word or action. —Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia

* * *

Frank asseveration is long overdue: Pulpit silence on the abortion holocaust is nothing short of blasphemy.

I’m aware this is a serious charge. But the church’s decades-long tacit sanction of mass murder is a serious matter.

We need to stop mincing words. When heinous acts—even acts of omission, like silence in the face of evil—are deliberately committed in the name of God, there is no more fitting word to describe it. It is blasphemy: the intentional and defiant dishonoring of God. To fail to call it what it is minimizes, and effectively harbors and perpetuates, the abominable practice through euphemism’s power to anesthetize sensibilities. The sanction of this unspeakable evil must end immediately. And there is good reason to believe it can.

In March I outlined a One-Minute Strategy for Ending Abortion ‘Overnight.’”  (reprinted here) It met with overwhelmingly enthusiastic approval from a broad cross-section of lay Christians and Jews worldwide. But troublingly, it generated virtually no response from church leadership except among Catholics.


That suggested to me more than mere happenstance. It suggested intentionality. So I wrote a second article (reprinted here), subtitling it “An Open Letter to Evangelical Pastors in America.” I hoped to coax out the reasons for the unresponsiveness. But I obtained virtually identical results: enthusiastic embrace at the pew level, but no significant adoption of the strategy by church leadership, and no explanation for the overall general unresponsiveness.

Which continues to baffle and frustrate me. The One-Minute Strategy to End Abortion (acronym “TOM’S TEA”) is so simple and straightforward. I can think of no good reason for not implementing it. If there is one, no one is telling me.

In fact, evangelical pastors aren’t telling me anything. I do get the very occasional defensive soundbite, consisting of a few sentences contending that “the mission of the church is simply to preach the gospel, period.” But one would think a matter of this gravity would warrant either a formal defense, or else the immediate embrace of a strategy like the one proposed. Instead, the silence persists and the church continues by default to approve and enable the modern-day equivalent of Moloch child-sacrifice.


And then there’s the “defiant” aspect. If “intentional” is roughly synonymous with “purposeful,” then “defiant” is something darker still. But again, the days—indeed, the shameful decades—of pulling punches are at an end.

Defiance connotes not merely what may be construed as ignorant purposefulness, but deliberate, stubborn willfulness. It means that whatever ideas underlie pulpit silence, the remedy is not so much robust reeducation as radical repentance.

Martin Luther King, Jr., would agree. He would unflinchingly impute defiant culpability. It was King who famously stated, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Dr. King also said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer likewise would agree that this is an eyes-wide-open, deep moral problem. Said Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Charles Finney would not only agree but bring it home to the church’s leaders, where the preponderance of responsibility falls:

Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.

The ideas of these men are thoroughly biblical. In fact, James says the hallmark of spurious faith is profession without concomitant action to care for the neediest, most helpless people. Without the accompanying works of what he terms “pure religion,” our supposed faith is not faith at all. (Significantly, James is also the one who wrote, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”)

The pulpit that preaches the gospel of God’s love but refuses to consistently decry abortion is one of the most blatant and profound examples of “faith without works” I can think of. Churches doing this effectively negate by their actions the very message they preach. They may have a name and reputation that they are alive, but they prove by their works—or lack thereof—that they are dead (Revelation 3:1).

Hear me: If silence in the face of great evil is itself great evil, then where there is reasonable prospect of diminishing the evil by decrying it, silence becomes an evil that is positively monstrous. There is reasonable prospect of diminishing this evil by decrying it. Please let that sink in.

If the thought of 3,500 babies being savagely murdered every day doesn’t keep you awake at night, my silent, God-empowered-to-say-and-do-something-about-it friends who stand in pulpits week after week ostensibly dispensing the message of God’s love for “the least of these,” then maybe the thought that you are complicit in an unspeakably great evil and shall one day answer for it, will.

Again I implore you: Implement some form of the One-Minute Strategy in your church as soon as possible, and then, performing works consistent with our most holy faith, admonish your congregation to vote pro-life on November 6—or else defend, here in public, in writing, why you won’t.

But do something. Not to act is to act. Silence is blasphemy.

* * *

“This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.” (2 Kings 19:3)

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Grey is the Devil’s Favorite Colour

It hit the racks faster than any other work of literature in the past ten years. It sold more copies quicker in more countries in more different currencies than ever before, and it drew women and girls of every age group like never seen before. In short, it was nothing but a phenomenon.

We heard about Twilight, and warned our youth against it. We saw the draw for The Hunger Games, and publicly spoke out against it. But, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this particular book snuck in, ensnaring women with its captivating plot, alluring psychological warfare, and explicit sexual content. Under the cover of ‘erotic romance,’ 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels have infiltrated our society, catechized our youth and attacked our Biblical, God-given views on love, purity and the sanctity of marriage.

What is it about 50 Shades of Grey that we are so concerned about? Is it the dominance, the abuse, the excitement, the fear of the unknown, or is it gripping tale that have had women confessing that they read all three books in just two days? Is it the kinky, ironic ‘love story’ that has females, from middle school age to senior citizens, on waiting lists at their local library waiting to get their hands on this latest sensation? Or perhaps is it the glamorized rape that violates all biblical commands and morals that has had women across the globe, Christian and atheist alike, glued to its pages?

Proverbs 5 reads: “Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets, let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (15-18). Clearly talking about marriage, which God designed and sanctified to be between one husband and one wife, we would be lying to ourselves if we condoned anything other than God’s design for sex. Sex was meant to be exclusive to marriage, should be valued and viewed as a holy part of marriage, and is a precious gift from God to be shared between husband and wife.

From the beginning, God made it known to man that adultery was a sin (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5), and that it is grievous if we take pleasure in something He abhors (Gen 6:6, 7). Therefore, it is palpable that in partaking in deeds that condone this action, we are also guilty of condoning the action. What is more, we are now guilty of the sin ourselves.

E.L James, author of 50 Shades of Grey, very obviously disregards God’s blessing of marriage, and actively promotes the disregard for this covenant between husband, wife and the Lord. Instead, James portrays a relationship as nothing but sexual, disregarding chastity, disembodying the covenant, and disclosing the relationship to be nothing but a contract.

James also very explicitly violates the biblical concepts of authority and submission in her novel. With BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism & Masochism) being the root of the erotic thrill in her novel, James has, knowingly, told millions of people lies about the nature of relationships. Biblical standards of relationships clearly speak of loving service to one another, violently contrasting her view of an egotistical power trip. The Song of Solomon, written to mirror Christ’s love for His church, does not speak of domination, abuse, control and humiliation. Instead, it speaks of Christ’s overwhelming love, more evident in His agonizing death on the cross to save His people whom He cherishes so dearly.

Not only does BDSM provide full, cruel access to the male in authority, but it also portrays the biblical directive to submit as a direct link to brain-dead, passive, weak-willed doormats who comply with the whims of dominant, controlling men. Distorting and misleading, BDSM mocks the beauty of what true submission is all about—first and foremost, living a life in service of the Lord, and in so doing, to those around us, and in marriage, to one’s husband or wife. The command to submission is not a command to subject oneself to abuse, disrespect, and passivity. It does not mean the lack of independent thought, or letting oneself be trampled over in daily decisions. In using “dominant” and “submissive,” James steals the gift of true respect, in Christ, to one’s husband.

In addition, 50 Shades also encourages the sin of sensuality. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he warns them as follows: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness… of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (5:16,19-21). Directly referring to the sin of sensuality, Paul commands the church to “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

The apostle James also speaks about resisting temptations in his letters. Speaking of our magnetic nature to things that displease God, he warns to resist these desires, and to “not err, my brethren.” Contrarily, 50 Shades not only trivializes, but encourages the sin of sensuality, which is “anything that is characterized by lust, expresses lewdness or lust, and tends to excite lust.” Not only does Scripture tell us it is wrong, but it also commands us to flee from all things, much less willingly indulge and expose our minds to such perverted content (1 Timothy 2:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:22).

The old expression ‘curiosity killed the cat’ might not be too far off where 50 Shades is involved. Curiosity has led to the downfall of multitudes- trapped in the destructive, downward vortex of sexual sin. We think only of alcohol, drug and pornography addictions. Plaguing curiosity, it dangles behaviors in the foreground of society that are forbidden, unfamiliar and titillating. The widespread media hype about 50 Shades has led society to rationalize the behaviors it suggests, which are nothing short of graphic torture porn.

Categorized under ‘erotic romance,’ the fundamental idea behind this alleged ‘literature’ is to make one crave more, thus the reason women have shame-facedly admitted to reading all three books of this particular series in less than forty-eight hours. Similar to pornography, erotica makes one crave increasingly graphic, perverse images over time. This slippery slope leads to deeper and darker erotica, which is known to destroy marriages, robbing people of joy and satisfaction of “ordinary,” non-twisted sex with an “ordinary” spouse. Not only that, but once the ‘thrill’ sets in, like a typical addiction, it is near impossible to get it out of one’s head. Psychological studies have proven that our very thoughts have transformational power, with the ability to lead us to good or evil.

Filling one’s mind with sin, sensuality, dysfunction, and the fundamentals of BDSM will not lead one closer to God. Psalm 73:28 reads: “But it is good for me to draw near to God.” Thomas Watson writes in his commentary on Psalm 73 that it is a duty incumbent upon Christians to draw near to God. How is that possible, when one’s mind is full of impure thoughts? How can we lead a righteous life before God, when we are willingly and intentionally partaking of such filthy behaviors?

Finally, 50 Shades of Grey glamorizes pathological relationships, twisting and distorting ones human nature into sympathizing with the protagonist, justifying the seriously dysfunctional, abusive relationship that fills the pages of this latest thriller. Dr. Drew Pinksy, a relationship expert comments: “Why women would pick this up as any sort of model for a reasonable relationship, I find just short of disturbing… the idea that women look at this relationship as anything other than absolute, categorical, profound pathology is more than I can imagine.”

This book is targeted at girls, but what kind of message does it actually send to them? In the age of internet pornography where many men think women “owe them something,” is it not extremely damaging to have a book that tells girls they should be giving these boys everything they want, even if it includes rape and torture? Is this the type of garbage we should be encouraging to teenagers and young women, many of whom may already be insecure in a hyper-sexualized society?

In Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, he writes: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8) Infiltrating our society with its graphic, sickening content, 50 Shades of Grey violates all the God given commands, delving deep into the murky waters the devil loves to see us swimming in—every shade of grey.

But this isn’t a grey issue. This is a black and white issue, an issue that needs to be faced today. Letting it go untouched, ignoring it, hiding it behind closed doors, pretending it doesn’t happen, and pretending we don’t read it isn’t facing it. Erotic romance should not be a 9th grade conversation. Erotic romance should not be the escape from an unhealthy teenage relationship. Erotic romance should not be the stimulant for a happy married life, and erotic romance should not be lining our shelves at home. Violent, twisted pornography isn’t going to make you feel better. But it will likely scar your mind and, God forbid, even destroy your chances at a healthy relationship or (future) marriage. The choice is yours. But remember, the devils favorite colour is grey.

Are All Sins Equal?

Doing pro-life work is often met with resistance, sometimes from where we least expect it. Whether we make the Biblical case for public pro-life action or for a boycott of companies that support Planned Parenthood, Christians have responded that there are too many societal sins to justify a focus on fighting abortion. And when we point out the urgency of God’s command to do all we can to save “those that are ready to be slain,” others defend their inaction by saying something along these lines: “Remember, all sins are equal!”

It is not my intention to vilify those people. Some have asked genuine questions about prioritizing pro-life work, and perhaps for others, the intent behind proclaiming all sins as equal is to assure fellow sinners that God is willing to forgive, regardless of the heinousness of sin. But for many, “all sins are equal” has become an all too familiar mantra, unfortunately used to excuse unbiblical behaviour.

It is because of such claims that we examine our own position. Is it fair to reject the call to save pre-born children from death because there are other, just as pressing evils to fight? To find the answer, our Reformed heritage suggests none else but the Scriptures as our starting point. What does the Word of God say? Are all sins really equal?

First of all, it is true that every sin deserves God’s wrath, both in this life and in the one to come, as we can find in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death.” The Bible is clear that our Creator’s perfect holiness demands justice for even the slightest transgression. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). This means we need the righteousness of another, of the Mediator, to escape God’s wrath and be counted righteous in the sight of the Lord.

But since one sin is enough to condemn us to hell, does that mean that all sins are evil to the same degree and that the consequences are all the same? And does that mean we have an obligation to fight every sin equally? The Bible shows the contrary.

The first piece of relevant evidence is a series of events in which God brings judgment on groups of people in Old Testament times. Consider the Flood (Genesis 6–9), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19), the Exodus (Exodus 7-12), the Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 17), and the Babylonian exile (2 Kings 24-25). God bore with sin, oppression, and rebellion only to a point, until the measure was full. When the line was crossed, whether in degree or frequency, God treated the people, previously blessed with His grace, in a vastly different way. If all sins were equal, why the distinction?

Furthermore, when individuals sinned there were different sacrifices prescribed for each situation and different punishments required for certain sins. For example, a thief paid restitution but those who committed adultery or premeditated murder were put to death (Exodus 22, Leviticus 1-6, 16-17, 20). Thus, God provided a system of jurisprudence that reflected His will in taking all sin seriously but also showed that some were worse than others.

There is at least one more telling example in the Old Testament: Numbers 15. The chapter describes two different kinds of sin: the unwitting or accidental sin, which has an offering prescribed for it (vs. 22-29) and the defiant, premeditated, or haughty sin, which cannot be forgiven and therefore has no prescribed sacrifice.  This sin is persistent and goes beyond the breaking of a specific commandment to the point of a deliberate rejection of Word of the Lord (vs. 30, 31). Evidently, in the Law of Moses, not all sin is the same.

What about the New Testament? We see the same trend under the new dispensation, which becomes especially clear in the words of the Saviour Himself. For instance, in Luke 12, the Lord Jesus explains that those who know the revealed will of God but do not act accordingly “shall be beaten with many stripes” and that “it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for [Capernaum]” (Matthew 11:23, 24) because of its unbelief and refusal to repent. He also said to Pilate, “He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11). Hence, there are degrees of punishment, which implies degrees of guiltiness, which means that some sins are more blameworthy than others.

In summary, all sins are equal in that they all deserve God’s wrath, no matter how trivial they seem. No sins are small when committed against a great and generous God but beyond this, the gravity of each transgression depends on varying factors, as observed in both the Old and New Testament. It makes a difference whether those committing the sin know better, are in the public eye or objects of public trust, and whether one commits or omits deliberately (1 Kings 11:9-10, 2 Samuel 12:7-10, Romans 2:17-23, Romans 1:32, Matthew 18:15-17). The severity of sin is further determined by the persons offended or harmed, in particular the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but also any fellow Christians or those who ought to be aided or protected by virtue of their vulnerability (Hebrews 10:28-29, Matthew 18:6, Proverbs 24:11-12). A consideration of these and many more texts shows that the Bible’s answer to our question is very clear. In the words of The Shorter Westminster Catechism, “Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.”

To deny these distinctions trivializes sin and may even serve as an excuse for one’s own behaviour. When the clear teaching of Scripture is rejected in favour of feel-good theology, the playing field is dangerously leveled. Murdering a child can then be belittled as no more sinful than stealing a cookie and as a result, lack of action in response to either of these wrongs hardly makes a difference. After all, all sins are equal, right?

Wrong. Not only do the Scriptures tell us that some sins are worse than others, it also tells us in no uncertain terms that God hates a certain practice: child sacrifice, also known as abortion (Leviticus 18, 20, Jeremiah 19). Considering the factors that aggravate sin, this means that the procedure that intentionally destroys the crown jewel of creation—a small child knitted in the mother’s womb, is the greatest evil of our time. As John Calvin said, “If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”

But before you point fingers at those who perform or undergo abortions, listen to the words of the Lord in Proverbs 24:11-12.If thou forebear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? Doth he not know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”

The implication? Once again considering the factors that aggravate sin, this means that failing to do anything about abortion is perhaps worse yet, especially when we know better and ought to be the salt and light of this world, but omit to save those who are being slaughtered. It also means that if innocent human beings are in danger, we are to come to their rescue in every possible way. That’s why, when it comes to abortion, we are confident that it should be a matter of priority, and that the Christian church bears the greatest burden of responsibility in fighting this evil.

As Martin Luther once wrote, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the devil are that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven, and to be steady on all the battle fronts besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

As long as the blood of precious pre-born children is being shed in our own backyard, this is the evil we must face with the greatest urgency. Why? Because not all sins are equal.