Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stemming the Slaughter

This week has been designated "Sanctity of Human Life" week, it is also the 35 year anniversary of the legalization of infanticide in the U.S., also called abortion.

I have been frustrated with how to personally respond to this devastating shame of our culture. I used to be more active on the protest side of confronting abortion, but alas, time and manifold responsibilities have not allowed for much picketing in my pastoral ministry. I am very grateful for those devoted believers who do spend time visiting the local abortuaries to pray, protest, and counsel, I just can't do so with any regularity. I try to support pro-life causes financially, through prayer, and by verbal promotion, but I never feel like I am doing enough concerning such an atrocious reality in our culture. God has been so patient with us. His righteous character and perfect justice simply will not allow us to descend much deeper in to slaughter. A passage I just covered while preaching through Hosea resonates within me. After much patience, God brings judgment on Israel and speaks openly about His knowledge of their sin. He says through Hosea (5:2)- "And the revolters have gone deep into slaughter,but I will discipline all of them." My dear brothers an sisters, our country has blood dripping off our hands and we have indeed gone deep into slaughter.

For some time I have known one way my family could make a small contribution to the cause of life was to pursue adoption. I will admit, it is not a convenient time to adopt (our kids are just about old enough to do most things themselves) and it will cost us most of the money we have and some that we don't have yet, still, we are compelled to pursue this with absolute clarity of vision and certainty of calling. We are adopting through an agency that primarily deals with crisis pregnancies referred from various counseling agencies (mostly pro-life ones, but not always-Planned Parenthood doesn't recommend every woman abort their child, believe it or not). Trying to directly confront the abortion issue was important to us as we pursue this adoption. If every Christian family did their best to adopt one child domestically, we would put an excruciating pressure on a system that actually has a shortage of adoptable babies. Adoption is so expensive ($15-20K "up front", there is a $10k tax credit that can be recovered) because of the limited supply of babies caused by over a million abortions per year (yes, a million abortions...let that number sink in). Further, we could create a culture where birth mothers could know that carrying their babies to term, rather than killing them, would be supported with loving adoptive parents. Many young girls today are convinced by "counselors" the baby would have a horrible life, etc. All sorts of lies are told to end pregnancies. We have been told we might wait 12-18 months for our baby. Why is this so? Supply is down because of abortion-period.
Many people adopt internationally to meet the need for orphans to be cared for. This is also a very biblical and worthy reason for Christians to adopt. We thought about an international adoption, but in the end, we decided adopting domestically would contribute more directly to stemming the slaughter that is working to take down our nation. I know, just one baby....but imagine if many more Christians would ask God to guide them and provide for them in this area.

History is replete with cultures that devalued life. Infanticide was characteristic of many pagan lands. As I have researched this gruesome practice, I ran across research by Christopher Price that is very enlightening (check out his entire paper when you have the chance, I will quote portions here). Price notes that infanticide was legal and encouraged in ancient Greece and Rome. Other pagan societies, such as the Carthaginians, went so far as to kill their children as religious sacrifices to their gods. According to Plutarch, the Carthaginians "offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs of young birds; meanwhile the mothers stood by without a tear or moan." Price also chronicles myriads of facts concerning the practice of infanticide. Here are a few:

The Twelve Tables of Roman Law held: "Deformed infants shall be killed". Cicero defended infanticide by referring to the Twelve Tables. Plato and Aristotle recommended infanticide as legitimate state policy. Cornelius Tacitus went so far as to condemn the Jews for their opposition to infanticide. Even Seneca, otherwise known for his relatively high moral standards, stated, "we drown children at birth who are weakly and abnormal." A chilling letter from a pagan husband to his wife captures the casual nature of this practice among the pagans:

"Know that I am still in Alexandria.... I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered (before I come home), if it is a boy keep it, if a girl, discard it."

The Roman World, especially during the time of the New Testament's writing, universally practices infanticide. What stemmed the slaughter? Early Christian documents reveal Christian opposition to the practices of abortion and infanticide (same thing). Price notes the Didache (90 -110 CE), an instruction manual for Christian converts, commanded "You shall not commit infanticide." Another early Christian document, the Epistle of Barnabas (130 CE), also explicitly condemned infanticide and prohibited its practices as necessary parts of the "way of light." Further, Price reveals Justin Martyr's First Apology (250 CE) stated, "We have been taught that it is wicked to expose even newly-born children." Also in the second century, Athengoras, a Christian leader, wrote in his Plea to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, that "[we do not expose] an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child murder."

Most powerful to me is the record of Christians taking babies left for dead in to their own homes. Historian Wil Durant writes, "in many instances Christians rescued exposed infants, baptized them, and brought them up with the aid of community funds." This is where I hope to see the modern Christian community become more active. If many more Christians would put their money where their mouth is, I think it would put tremendous pressure on the adoption "industry", expose the absurdity of aborting millions of babies when so many couples want to adopt, and help create a culture of nurture that encourages birth mothers to choose life for their unborn children. Christopher Price argues-

Although ancient and pagan Greek and Rome had practiced and encouraged infanticide for hundreds and hundreds of years, Christianity fundamentally altered those societies. Christianity eliminated the promotion and encouragement of infanticide by government and leading societal institutions in Western Civilization. Clearly, one unique and valuable contributions of Christianity to Western Civilization was its opposition to infanticide.

I agree with him. Talk about transforming culture! This is one of the main reasons Shari and I feel so strongly about pursuing adoption. I am not saying every Christian family should adopt a child, but most should. As God removes his hand of protection from our nation, do we think Christians will somehow be spared of the whirlwind that is reaped upon America? We are part of the problem if we do nothing.

The time for talking is done. I'm sick of it.


Michelle K said...

Excellent and thought provoking post. I have linked to it from my site...

AJF said...

Thanks Michelle. I appreciate your linking it.

mommaL3 said...

I would like to suggest that more churches open up their arms to more single parents in true fellowship instead of supporting the removal of their infants from them.Also, the next time you hear anyone blame those welfare Moms for the trouble our country is in remind them that in doing so they push women into abortion.
Also,the "homes for unwed mothers "were first started by Christians to help Women and their children stay wasn't until after WW11 when so many infertile men returned from the war with stds that there than became a 'market' for single womans babies to hide the sins of the Men with the help of Social workers.Adoption is now an over 2 billion dollar industry whoes purpose is to bring in more healthy white infants.Too many churches have become the money changers in the temples.If you really want to stop abortion than support a single Mom and her child in true fellowship ,love and encourage more parents to step up and show what true family values look like when the going gets tough.

AJF said...

The church can definitely do more to help unwed women with children. I am aware of many churches who do quite a bit for such women and their children. We have had the privilege of supporting some ourselves. There are multiple ways to stem the slaughter of abortion, supporting women who choose to parent their children is one way, offering loving homes for those who choose not to parent their children is another option. With over a million babies being aborted, there's clearly room for multiple ways to address this. As for your comment about the sins of men...I agree there also. Let's be real honest- the primary reason there is abortion is the choice men and women make to have sex outside of the bonds of marriage. Men should take the bulk of this responsibility. It's not to say that women are blameless (last time I checked, it takes two people to have sex and "make a baby"), but men should be protecting women, not exploiting them.

As for the adoption "industry", theres alot of abuse out there no doubt.

Still, the most important matter is the life of a baby who has been conceived. Saving those lives can happen in multiple fruitful ways.

Phantom495 said...

It is also imperative that we teach the next generation about the Biblical view of sex, marriage, and our responsibility to protect the unborn. Also, we must continue to preach it from the pulpit, teach it in our homes, and proclaim it to the world by words and actions.

Along with working on ending abortion the church needs to be much more vocal against the "pornification" of the culture.

Tony, this war to protect life must be approached in a multi-faceted way, and I praise God that He has called you and Shari to take the battle to the enemy in this way! This is a great testament and witness for your boys, and the next generation that God is raising up at Redeemer.

Frontier Forest said...

One of the impassioned issues that so blessed us on our first visit to Redeemer was the unified stand against the atrocities and horrors of abortion that not only came from the pastors but continued in the hearts and minds of the deacons and elders. I was so blessed and gave a hearty AMEN, as Elder Mike Preston earnestly petitioned the Lord for protection of the unborn. During his prayer he also called upon the Lord, “bring us to our knees and put a swift end to the murdering of babies!” We are so blessed to be part of a body where life is considered a sacred gift from God, and is precious at all stages of life.