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CHURCH THE CHURCH Guide Guide Hampton Roads’ Monthly Christian Newspaper
BEING THE CHURCH The Church’s Response and Responsibility on Abortion
By Marie Bowen   l   World Magazine
Thousands gatered on January 22nd in  Washington, D.C. for the 41st time as an expression  of objection to the legalization of abortion and to  commemorate the tiny and precious lives of 55 million  babies aborted. The tragic loss of life due to abortion is  staggering. The 55 million babies lost to surgical  abortions in America since Roe v. Wade is just the  beginning. No one knows how many chemical  abortions add to that number, thanks to drugs such  as RU-486 and the “morning-after pill”—now  available over the counter even to 11- and 12-year-  old girls. Globally, the number of babies destroyed by  abortion is estimated to be 120 million every year. No  one can calculate the loss of God’s intended blessing  to the world through those aborted babies. No one  can measure losing the gifts God planned to birth  through the offspring of each of those individual lives. Gratefully, euthanasia remains illegal in all of  the United States, but four states (Washington,  Oregon, Montana, and Vermont) have legalized  “physician aid in dying” (PAD) or “assisted suicide.”  With PAD, a doctor or other third party administers  the dose. With assisted suicide, the patient self-  administers the deadly chemical. In Oregon, where  assisted suicide has been legal for 10 years, the  number of persons choosing death has grown  steadily each year, reaching 77 in 2012. One study   reports that 3.7 percent of physicians admitted to  performing euthanasia while 10.8 percent had  performed physician-assisted suicide. Like me, you  probably have heard stories from individuals who  have given a little extra pain medication to a loved  one to speed the end of their suffering. Whether legal or illegal, hastening the death of any person inside or  outside of the womb is to assert our own wisdom  above that of God’s. Only God has appointed to each  of us a time of natural death (Hebrews 9:27). Abortion and euthanasia and many other  threats to human life deny God’s ownership over that  life. We bear the imago Dei—the image of God—and  we are owned by God (Genesis 1:26-27). We are His.  We enjoy a rich relational status with God that  abortion destroys. Both abortion and euthanasia (or  assisted suicide) take something that belongs to  God—a living person who bears God’s own  image—and literally relegates him or her to the trash.  When we choose death for another human being we  take in our own hands a dominion we are not given. It  is a theft and a violence against God. But making a  statement against abortion, although important, is not  enough. The church must extend compassionate  care. The church has a responsibility to care for a  woman and her child in unplanned pregnancy When a woman finds herself pregnant at a time  that seems inconvenient to her, the messages she  hears are amplified by her own feelings. She may be  married or unmarried but lack support from the father  of the child to carry the pregnancy to term. If she is  young, her parents, friends, teachers, and counselors may urge her to choose abortion. She may feel  inadequate to support or parent her child, have no  idea where to turn for help or how to make a plan for  adoption, or not have the financial resources for  proper medical attention, let alone a means of  providing for a child. She may hear abortion is her  “right” and is “safe, quick, and easy,” and she will be  “rid of this problem” and be able to “go on with her  life.” Even if she is connected to a church, she may  hear nothing but silence from the pulpit. She may  read no information in congregational  communications that provides wisdom in decision-  making or expresses God’s care for widows and  orphans. There may be no visible caring and  compassionate ministry to encourage her or give her  confidence that the church will provide emotional and  material support for her and her child. What is lost when the church fails to stand against abortion? Lost is any stated caution from the church  about God’s prohibition against taking human life.  Lost is pastoral encouragement that we can trust God and know He will be enough for us now and in the  future. Lost is the teaching that God has created the  child in the womb. Lost is the warning that when we  take the life of an unborn child we thwart the plan of  God to bring blessing through the life of that child.  Lost too is the promise of the church that the  community of faith will rally round us and walk with us  through the difficulties of pregnancy and the daunting  task of parenting for the long term. When we devalue the life of an unborn child,  we devalue every human life. At the moment of  fertilization, when the egg from the mother and the  sperm from the father unite, God forms a new human  being in that instant—a new person with a genetic  identity different from either the mother or father.  From infinite possible combinations He forms a male  or female like no other. God means for that new  person to grow and develop with a unique personality  and giftedness. When we refuse God’s gift by  aborting a life He has created, we indicate that not all   lives have value—not every human being deserves to  live. It is as though we say to one another, “If you are  not perfect, if you are not convenient, if I do not want  you, then you have no right to live.” The late Dr. Elizabeth Achtemeier, theologian  and longtime professor at Union Seminary, wrote of  abortion’s denial of the doctrine of redemption—that  having been redeemed we are no longer our own but  belong to God: “But now, you see, the abortion forces in the  church are whispering, ‘Don’t believe a word of it. You belong to yourself, and your body is yours alone. You  can do what you like with that child you carry in your  womb.’ Oh no, good Christians, abortion is not a  fringe issue. It has to do with the heart of our  faith—with the Christian doctrine of redemption by the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “In short, abortion has to do with the lordship of  Jesus Christ and with everything we say about the  nature of Christ’s lordly rule. Abortion says that Christ  was wrong when He commanded, ‘Do not kill’ [Mark  10:19]. Abortion says that we can make up our own  rules for our sinful selves, and totally ignore the fact  that apart from Christ, we can do nothing, except  wither and dry up like branches that are good only to  be tossed into a fire [John 15:5-6]. Abortion says that  Christ is not Lord, but rather that we are our own  lords instead. And so abortion argues against and  denies the church’s earliest, central, most enduring  confession, that Jesus Christ alone is Lord over all in  heaven and on earth.” Dr. Achtemeier perceived abortion as a great  threat, not only to the life of the child lost, but also to  the integrity of our Christian faith: “We need to say in our congregations, ‘Look,  friends, there is a movement afoot in our churches—a pro-abortion movement—that is a denial of everything we believe in our Christian faith. It is as serious a  threat to the Christian Church as is atheism or  idolatry. Indeed, it is a form of both of those evils, and  we need to think through the theological issues  involved in abortion and take our stand and speak  out.” Christianity is the answer to the culture of death Inside and outside the womb—God knows us,  God sees us, God has purposes for our lives. The  Bible stories of women who are pregnant teach us  that God can be trusted to fulfill His promises—even  when we are unfaithful. While those condoning  abortion deny God is able to see and know both  woman and child and provide for both of them in  difficult circumstances, the Christian Church has  believed for centuries that God can be trusted to  sustain and care for her and for her unborn child. The Christian Church was first to save  abandoned infants in Rome and has always led in  protecting orphans and the vulnerable. Such care  naturally flows from our understanding of the  sovereign provision of God and His great love for us. The church holds a view of pregnancy  fundamentally different from that of current culture.  Those wanting to keep abortion legal often view an  unplanned pregnancy as “punishment,” while the  church adheres to the biblical view of children as a  gift from God. “Behold, children are a heritage from the  LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm  127:3, NKJV).   The Christian understanding, that every life has value to God and that God compels us to care for the  most vulnerable among us, has fueled centuries of  compassionate care for orphans, widows, and the  poor (Matthew 25:40; James 1:27). Not every  pregnancy in Scripture took place in ideal  circumstances, but every child in the Bible is received  as a gift from God. So how should Christians today  make choices regarding abortion? Are the feelings,  circumstances, and plans of the woman of first  importance? Should we devalue what God has  created in the womb because he or she may not be  “perfect” in our eyes? Dare we speak as God and  say, “It would be better if this child were never born?” No! Each living human being is unique and  different from any other, and God creates him or her.  She is given to us as a gift. He is made by God to  bless the world in ways we cannot see. Our lives will  be touched and changed and blessed as we welcome  each child into our community of faith. Dare to trust  God. Make Scripture our primary source of wisdom  for decision-making and relish the joy of God’s gift to  us in children. The Christian Church is in a fierce spiritual  battle for the imago Dei—the image of God. A child is  hidden for nine months in the womb—but also  sanctified in the womb by the Lord Jesus Christ, who  came as an embryo to identify with humankind so  that each tiny child might reflect Christ’s glory to the  world.    
Stamped Name Rings
Stamped Name Rings
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