Saturday, March 10, 2018

Love For Innocent Children and Guilty Adults [Mike Spencer]

When it comes to speaking up for preborn children targeted by abortion, the vast majority of churches choose silence over faithfulness. Although many churches have eloquent pro-life statements in their by-laws, few do anything to stop the killing even within their own four walls. The church’s refusal to blow Ezekiel’s trumpet for the preborn has become our great scandal. Could the heroes of Hebrews 11 whose faith compelled them to “shut the mouths of lions, quench the fury of flames, route foreign armies” and “administer justice” have imagined a day when shepherds who are called by God to protect the flock would instead surrender precious children from their own flock to the abortionist’s knife without so much as a whimper from their pulpits? God help us. God help the preborn.

There are many reasons for the church’s silence, but none of them are good ones, given the fact that Proverbs 31:8 clearly commands us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” One excuse that is particularly troubling is when pastors spiritualize their disobedience with comments like, “Preaching against abortion will distract me from the gospel” - as if speaking up for helpless children and sharing the gospel of Christ are competing interests. Notice that no one in the Body of Christ ever argues this way with respect to victims of sex trafficking or the homeless. Only the preborn are treated with such contempt. And only in hell could one consider rescuing children from the abortionist’s knife a “distraction.” Jesus rebuked His disciples for this pernicious thinking when He told them, “Suffer the children to come to me.” Far from a “distraction” from the gospel, rescuing helpless children from abortion is the gospel in action.

Preaching against the sin of abortion, or against any sin for that matter, does not turn people off from the gospel; it turns them on to it. As Jesus taught, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:19). I was reminded of this truth several times in the months of January & February as I had opportunity to speak in 5 churches and at several other events in Washington, Oregon, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. In each church I spoke plainly and boldly of the evil injustice of abortion. I also spoke plainly and boldly of God’s grace, pointing those who’ve had abortions to the One who died to forgive them. I explained that Jesus not only offers forgiveness from the sin of abortion, but the Holy Spirit also promises to begin a sanctifying work that He will carry on “to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”, (Philippians 1:3). In other words, God not only forgives, he heals and restores. I pleaded with those who had abortions not to leave without speaking to me or to their pastor.  I was approached several times by both men and women. Far from being turned off from the gospel, preaching against abortion led these dear ones to recognize their need for the gospel. It was my joy to direct them to verses like Isaiah 53:5 and John 8:36 and to pray with them. In addition, I was able to connect one woman to a post-abortion Bible study through her local pregnancy care center.

Abortion is evil because it kills innocent children, but the gospel of Christ is beautiful because it provides forgiveness for guilty adults. Faithful shepherds do not hide such hope from those who’ve had abortions. Christ calls pastors to thunder from their pulpits both the evil of abortion and the grace of God. The church that fails to fulfill either of these obligations fails to love as Christ has called her to love.

In short, we’re never forced to choose between speaking up for innocent children and pointing guilty adults to the gospel of Christ. Instead, by “speaking the truth in love,” we do both (Ephesians 4:5). 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Another Fatal Flaw in Post-Modern Thinking

"Who are you, a straight, white, male, to tell me what to do?"

A common objection that is often raised on the college campuses in America today is often leveled at male pro-life advocates as a way to simply silence the pro-lifer into submission. I was listening to a presentation by Gregory Koukl recently, on the material in his book Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, when this realization came to me. When this objection(which isn't even a legitimate response to the argument being made against elective abortion) is raised, it is simply a way to silence any disagreement. (I also recommend Douglas Groothius' excellent book Truth Decay, as a tool for critiquing relativism and postmodern thought)

One other example of this happening, during a college campus outreach in the San Diego area a couple of years ago, a similar response was raised when I was speaking to a crowd of students who had come to our display to hear what we had to say. After laying out a brief case for the pro-life view, one student simply said, "Well, that's a male's view, let's get a woman's view on the issue." I was dumbfounded.

How is one to respond? The best way I can think of is to simply turn the question around: "Who are you to tell me I can't?" Or more along the lines of "So what if it's a male's point of view? How exactly does that undermine everything I just said?" Wait and see what the response is; I can guarantee it isn't something most people have though much about. Let me explain.

First, what does one's racial, sexual, or any other characteristic have to do with whether or not their point of view on a particular matter is correct? The statement is based on the worldview of postmodernism, and it's descendent, cultural relativism. A cultural relativist holds to the view that all moral, social, religious, or other views are relative to the culture that produces them. With this in mind, it is helpful to see where the postmodern mindset leads to this type of thinking. As a variation of the "Who are you to say?" answer of the relativist, this one puts values as relative to the members of a particular community group, whether they be racial minorities, gender minorities, or anything else. So, many times, when a feminist group at the local college is putting on an event with the title of "A Feminist Perspective on (Fill in the social issue here)" this is precisely what we are seeing happen. "Why is a man telling me what to do?" is as similar a response as the rhetorical question "Says who?"

The biggest problem with this line of reasoning, based on truth claims and values claims being relative to particular communities, is that it also undermines anything any particular group has to say. After all, if it is all just perspectives and opinions based upon the socio-environmental experiences of the members of a particular group, then no one has anything remotely useful to add to any discussion whatsoever(Including the correction of run-on sentences). There is no real difference then between a women's rights group and their views and any other group. The mantra "You're just a white male!" can be equally applied to the person making the statement "And you are just a female." Why is one perspective automatically superior to another? The postmodern worldview can't pass it's own test. This ends up meaning that no one is obligated to take a feminist perspective on anything seriously to begin with, up to and including abortion.

Some might say, "Wait a minute, women are human beings to, and deserve to be listened to!" Precisely. To acknowledge this statement as true is to reject the relativism that leads to a valuing of a view on the basis of which community it comes from, as opposed to the reasons for that view. It is because women(and minorities) are equally as human as everyone else is what grounds out obligations to respect them as persons, not necessarily as a way of thinking. A man can be just as mistaken as a woman, and vice versa.

This leads us back to the conclusion that there are some objectively true ideas that can be held independently of community experiences. Questions like, "Are all human beings fundamentally equal?" "Do all human beings deserve equal rights?" and "Are human rights worth striving for and upholding?" Don't seem to be questions that should be left up to the individual or the group to decide how to answer. In fact, we can take this a step further: Do human beings cease to be worthy of justice and protection when we leave earth? If we were on another planet, like Mars, Pluto, Vulcan, or Tatooine, would the statement "All human beings have inherent worth and dignity" suddenly cease to be true? What about a mathematical claim, like 2+2=4; would that suddenly cease to be the proper formula if we left our own solar system, or traveled to another country? Thinking this way gets pretty goofy upon further reflection.

So, now that we've arrived at the conclusion that there are indeed objective, universal truths that transcend cultural and subcultural experiences(To deny this is to admit there is one objective, universal truth that transcends cultural and subcultural experience. There is no escaping this conclusion. It cannot be done), how does this correspond to the issue at hand, the morality of abortion?

The argument against abortion, as laid out in logical form below, is either valid or invalid; sound or unsound:

1. It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
2: Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.

This argument is no more undermined or refuted if presented by a straight, wealthy, Republican, Christian, white biological male than if it was articulated by a talking parrot. Anyone who objects to the pro-life position needs to show how the syllogism fails, not merely get angry that someone who has a characteristic they happen to dislike is arguing it. Anything less is an insulting way to say "Just shut up" when there is a needed dialogue to be had.