Posted by: Art | August 4, 2015

Abortion — A Short Biblical Primer

In response to a Facebook posting, by an old college acquaintance, of a revenue pie chart depicting the allegedly “good” things which an organization called “the other 98%” ascribes to Planned Parenthood, I felt it important to consolidate a thumbnail Biblical case for his corrupt moral logic. Those literate in the scriptures could extend this significantly (e.g., see Psalm 106:37-40, Ezekiel 22-23).

So long as there is still a faint echo of Christian sensibility and culture left in the conscience of many, starting with the life and words of Jesus seems like a useful tool for engaging with those not yet fully hardened.

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Having survived Herod’s attempts at infanticide (Matthew 2:16), Jesus tells his disciples to “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them…” (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16) (Killing them before birth would seem to qualify as a hindrance, no?)

Jesus adds warnings as to the logical corollary: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones… [for] it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:10-14) Despising and causing to perish are inextricably linked, as we would expect also from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:22).

These examples and admonitions should serve as fair warning to all of us. Yes, all. They’re just a tiny fraction of the crystal-clear references, in scripture, to the Creator’s abhorrence of killing children.

At the core of the Planned Parenthood revelations though, is something much larger: the in-defensibility of destroying that which God has made in His own image. (Genesis 1:27, Matthew 22:20-21, Luke 20:24-25)

Job gets biologically specific, thanking God for pouring him out like milk, curdling him like cheese, clothing him with skin and flesh, and knitting him together with bones and sinews. (Job 10:10-12). At no point in that process does he refer to himself as mere tissue, liable to disposal or commerce.

God describes the prophet Jeremiah’s origin in similar terms: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

In like manner, both Jesus and John the Baptist are named by God not merely before birth, but before conception. (Luke 1:13, 31-33, 60) Likewise John (and not just a lump tissue) leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. (Luke 1: 41, 44)

Those prone to equivocation, desiring to impose “pragmatic” developmental, or quality-of-life bounds on the business of preserving or destroying God’s image-bearers will find themselves in league not only with folks like King Herod, who put force behind what Pharaoh attempted (Exodus 1:16), but also with Hitler, who used the same corrupt moral logic as now employed by Planned Parenthood to justify the death of a few million folks whom he considered sub-human for the alleged benefit of others inconvenienced by the inviolable truth of their person-hood.

Posted by: Art | July 30, 2015

Shoes #3 & #4

No words…

Posted by: Art | July 21, 2015

The Mirror of the Bloody City

Before you watch the second Planned Parenthood video (if you can, see below), I’d urge you to read Ezekiel 22 and Ezekiel 23, slowly and prayerfully, dispensing of the delusion that God fences off times or peoples or nations and arranges things such that His eternal, good and perfect moral standards do not apply.

May God have mercy on all of us. He’s been very patient already.

For any with qualms about the method here, Doug Wilson adds great clarity.

…some Christians apply the Golden Rule in ways that are quite demented… [e.g.] “How would you feel if you were a guard at Auschwitz and somebody came and took away all your prisoners? Hmmm?”

…the Hebrew midwives were acting (on behalf of their people) in self-defense, while in this situation the pro-lifers are acting on behalf of children who have been rejected by their own people. It is as though the Hebrew midwives had figured out a way of lying that would save Egyptian babies… If there is a difference, this video sting operation was even nobler…

But here is the real value of the videos. This was not a sting just on Planned Parenthood. This was a sting operation being run on the American conscience. The revealing was done to America. America was being shown what America is doing. This is not mere tissue removal. Cysts don’t have livers, legs, hearts, and lungs. The nation was lied to, and the sellers of baby parts got away with it, because the nation wanted to be lied to. Treating babies as mere tissue was a sexual convenience for a lot of people, and a cold cash opportunity for others.

UPDATE: Owen Strachan adds more worthwhile commentary.

Posted by: Art | July 14, 2015

Holocaust Domesticated

Lord have mercy…

[UPDATE: A few have objected that the above footage was taken out of context. Decide for yourself (2 hours, 42 minutes).]

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready… And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.'” (Revelation 19:7, 21:8-9)

“And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” (Acts 11:26c)

——-

Kevin DeYoung poses some straightforward questions to those who claim the name of Christ while also celebrating Obergefell. A small sample:

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

Posted by: Art | June 30, 2015

The Stubbornness of Created Order

Doug Wilson on Obergefell:

“…progressivism has no possible eschatology other than the heat death of the cosmos… The world is the way God made it, and will stubbornly continue to remain that way.”

Posted by: Art | May 19, 2015

Attention We’d Rather Not Pay

Stunned. Speechless. Staggering.

It’s like witnessing a modern day holocaust, standing before cattle cars in a train station — Which of your children will you reach for, which will you grab and save…?

My part-time Fall job, coaching a very large cross country running team (high-school; girls) puts me in touch, every year, with a range of pathologies all too often hidden behind the glossy exterior of this exceedingly affluent community.

Last year, three teen suicides rocked the local headlines, at least one by a “good kid,” amply successful in every dimension our city prizes. Another was by a more troubled individual who was best friends with two kids on our team, one a former bulimic. Every year, I attempt to coax out of hiding the inevitable cases of eating disorder into the light of the gospel. One clear success there, so far — with that kid, the ex-bulimic — dozens of others gone by.)

In that context, three recent articles have caught my eye. I commend them to your reflection.

————

Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League: The nation’s top colleges are turning our kids into zombies. This piece, by Alan Deresiewicz, in The New Republic, went viral not long after it came out, in late July. I shared it with one of our team captains, a national-class athlete, perhaps an Olympic hopeful, as she prepares to apply early-decision to one of the schools at the very pinnacle of the hierarchy the author describes. (Her dad has already expressed his displeasure at my having done so.)

Here’s one of the most potent bits from the article:

Elite schools like to boast that they teach their students how to think, but all they mean is that they train them in the analytic and rhetorical skills that are necessary for success in business and the professions. Everything is technocratic—the development of expertise—and everything is ultimately justified in technocratic terms.

Religious colleges—even obscure, regional schools that no one has ever heard of on the coasts—often do a much better job in that respect. What an indictment of the Ivy League and its peers: that colleges four levels down on the academic totem pole, enrolling students whose SAT scores are hundreds of points lower than theirs, deliver a better education, in the highest sense of the word.

PROVERBS 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

PROVERBS 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

PSALM 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.

When something is repeated in scripture, especially verbatim, it means, ‘pay extra-special attention to this’. I find it sadly ironic (though not surprising) therefore, that an entire industry (higher education) has chosen to build its house on sand, seeking wisdom anywhere but God, thereby eschewing insight and good understanding, while self-selecting as “fools” (Biblically speaking, those who say, “No, God!”, denying His existence and with it, His Creatorial claim on their lives.)

————

EZEKIEL 28:12 You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.

ISAIAH 14:13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Harvard, Schmarvard: Why Getting Your Kids Into College Should Be the Least of Your Concerns, by Michelle Rose Gilman. I like how the author describes and calls-out what is ultimately a diabolical process that I know all too well (and see all the time): parents seeking both to justify and glorify themselves through their kids.

For some parents, college acceptance approaches the culmination of every single parenting choice ever made. It can seem the ultimate goal, the ROI of parenthood, the final gold award and the epitome of a parenting job well done. It feels like the end game for every AP class, honors class, volunteer opportunity, and sports involvement that you required of your child. This college acceptance looms as the justification for the hours upon hours of helping with homework, rewriting their essays, doing most of their science fair projects since sixth grade, hiring the most expensive college counselor, and pushing, pushing, pushing your kids to get the A at any cost. “My child got into his first choice university” will be worn proudly and loudly as a testament to how well you have done as mom and dad.

…as parents we are almost forced into this artificial race upon birthing our children. We start with our best intentions, of course. We want the best preschool, the best teachers, the best summer camps. Slowly, without our being aware of it, we are competing with our neighbors, our friends, our families. What started out as just wanting the best for our children, suddenly morphs into my child needs to be the best.

As the author points out, this kind of thing (‘push-push-push… any cost) is often done in the name of “good” parenting and “self-sacrifice,” yet of a most perverse kind. Many of these kids are left bereft of the one thing that, ultimately, they cannot live without: God-glorifying, Christ-centered love, wholly independent of ‘performance’.

(A few weeks ago, I could barely restrain myself when, at the track, early on a Saturday morning, I witnessed a chubby, stopwatch-clutching father shouting at his grimacing, near-crying, emaciated sons — ages ~8 and 10 — to ‘keep the pace’ and ‘not let up’ as he put them through a workout which would give pause to most collegiate coaches for its unrelenting rigor. Had he struck them outright, any one of us witnessing the spectacle would have called DSS. Because he was ‘hitting’ them in a subtle and more socially acceptable manner however, it was harder to speak up. The time-splits the kids were keeping helped me to see the scene in the context of the ‘sacrifice’ our culture lauds in the realm of professional and Olympic sport, yet which it cannot stand to look upon when the sacrifice is the Son of God on our behalf.)

————

LUKE 14:26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

MATTHEW 19:29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

In the Name of the Child: How American Parenting is Killing the American Marriage I very much like how the author, Danielle Teller, MD, identifies and shows evidence for how parenting has become a de facto religion in much of our society, even as she overlooks the rest of the Created order of submission (all to Christ, the Word of God, through whom all things were made and without whom was not any thing made that was made).

To understand the frightening power of the parenthood religion, one need look no further than the 2005 essay in The New York Times by Ayelet Waldman, where the author explained that she loved her husband more than her four children. On “Oprah Where Are They Now,” the author recently reaffirmed the sentiments reflected in her New York Times article, and she added that her outlook has had a positive impact on her children by giving them a sense of security in their parents’ relationship. Following the publication of her essay, Waldman was not only shouted down by America for being a bad mother; strangers threatened her physically and told her that they would report her to child protective services. This is not how a civil society conducts open-minded discourse. This is how a religion persecutes a heretic.

The origins of the parenthood religion are obscure, but one of its first manifestations may have been the “baby on board” placards that became popular in the mid-1980s. Nobody would have placed such a sign on a car if it were not already understood by society that the life of a human achieves its peak value at birth and declines thereafter.

The unstated implication to her last statement is that it is widely accepted in our culture that the value of human life is substantially less (if not zero) prior to birth.

ISAIAH 49:1 Listen to me, O coastlands, and give attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. 3 And he said to me, “You* are my servant, Israel*, in whom I will be glorified.”

*For a host of reasons, it should be clear from the text that the individual in view here is the “seed royal,” the Christ: Jesus the Son of God.

Posted by: Art | September 29, 2014

Time, Times and… Just Enough Time

Almost simultaneously, the following three items came on my radar earlier today on the theme of time and its preciousness in our finite and fleeting lives:

1) NYTimes Sunday Magazine article on a new start-up shipping service:

How do we judge whether technology is making us more productive, or just lazy and impatient? Economists think about outsourcing chores in terms of opportunity costs. If you can work during the hour you would have spent mailing a package, it would probably be a better use of your time — as, perhaps, would taking a nap, going for a run or spending time with your child.

[Or perhaps reading your Bible or reaching out with the gospel to someone who does not yet know Christ. Opportunity ‘cost’ looks very different within the Christian worldview vs. the world’s system.]

“People underestimate the value of time,” said Susan Athey, an economics of technology professor at Stanford University’s business school.. The trade-off between time and money is particularly crucial for those with less of each.

2) Charles Spurgeon (from Morning devotional for July 30th):

“When we think of what we vowed we would be, and of what we have been, we may weep whole showers of grief.”

3) Tim Challies reflects on time:

…doing takes time, and time is a fleeting resource. It is a finite resource. When I use time in one way, I cannot use it in another. When I give time to one thing, I take away from something else. To prioritize one area of life is to de-prioritize all the rest… Life is a vapor, too short, too fleeting. But I believe this: I may not have time to do everything I would like to do, but I have all the time I need for those things that God expects me to do… The call, then, is to find the best things I can do with the time allotted to me, while waiting for the great day when time will no longer be finite… It is to obey the words of God: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Which made me think of this one also:

PSALM 90:10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 13 Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.

Posted by: Art | September 25, 2014

Good Works, Dead Works, Mighty Works

TITUS 2:13 …our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 …gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for GOOD works.

Our good works, as Christians, must exist in the context of:

  • Redemption. We were bought at a price. We are not our own anymore. (1st Cor 6:20, 7:23)
  • Repentance. We are to turn away from all lawlessness. We are not to dabble, mix in, or otherwise toy around with a little lawlessness on the side. (Matt 4:17, e.g.)
  • Purity. We are to seek the holiness of Christ. We must be active participants in our own sanctification, even as it is ultimately God’s work in us even to want to. (Phil 2:12-13, e.g.)
  • Obedience and Loyalty. We are His possession. Divided loyalty is no loyalty at all. (Matt 6:24, e.g.)
  • Zeal. Doing the will of God is a 24/7 life-devotion springing from the new birth. It is not a course to take once and pass or a ritual obligation to endure periodically. (John 3:3, Deut 6:5, Rom 12:2, e.g.)
  • Reverence/Fear. Only God is truly good. Our ideas of ‘good’ are marred by sin, especially pride. (Mark 10:18, e.g.)
  • Gratitude. Christ took our place on the cross. Works which are truly good (that is, good in God’s eyes) must necessarily spring from a heart filled with thanks and joy for that unfathomably amazing love–a love no one could never possibly earn. (1st Thess 5:18, e.g.)

Christian good works may not be regarded as such by the world. In similar fashion, what the world regards as objectively ‘good’ works may or may not be so in God’s eyes, depending upon the heart which gave rise to them.

HEBREWS 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from DEAD works to serve the living God.

Because of Christ’s self-sacrifice on our behalf, we are freed from the nagging but ultimately futile impulse of all fallen mankind to try and earn our own salvation–an impossible task (and conceit). Our works in that vein are ‘dead’ because they proceed from death (a sinful denial of Christ’s sufficiency, however subtle such denial may be) and to death (pride in our own self-righteousness, digging the hole even deeper, as it were).

Only by serving the living God (following Him wholeheartedly–something we could not do without His Holy Spirit in re-birth) can our works be made good, conforming to His will, springing from a humble and thankful heart, keeping the cross and our need in full view.

All of which helps to explain/unlock…

MATTHEW 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many MIGHTY works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The emphasis, in the plea of the many who say, ‘Lord, Lord’ (literally, taking His name in vain, i.e., without cross-justification, or new-birth effect) is first on self-justification (‘did we not…’), and second on power (the ‘mightiness’ of the works being of foremost concern to these individuals; see Gen 6:4, 10:8-9 & Psalm 52:1, e.g.).

The goodness of the works–their conformance with God’s will–may be on the list of concerns for these vain pleaders… a bit further down. We can’t say. All we do know is that Jesus chose to emphasize, regarding these many, that obedience to God’s definition of goodness (i.e., trust in the Word Who became flesh) is not at the top of their list.

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