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A National Scandal

Thursday, January 22, 2009

(I recognize that this post is extremely long. The topic of the post, however, is very important.)

Almost two thousand years ago, a scandal spread across the country of Israel. It was a scandal that was large in its scope as everyone knew about what was going on, yet no one was doing anything about the scandal. Finally, one man stood up against the scandal. One man understood the need to speak the truth in an age when the truth was unpopular and standing for the truth could cost you a lot. In this man's case, it cost him his life.

The scandal of which I am referring to is referred to in Mark 6:14-29. In this passage, we read the story of the encounter of John the Baptist with Herod Antipas. Herod Antipas was one of the sons of Herod the Great and had a half-brother named Philip. As Herod visited his half-brother Philip, he lusted after Philip's wife, Herodias, and took her for his wife (ditching his own wife in the process). To make bad matters even worse, Herodias was also Herod's niece!

John the Baptist stood up against this scandal of his day and it ended up costing him his life.

Today, we live in the midst of another great scandal. This scandal is not one done by one man or one family, but a scandal that is done on a national level and is a scandal that is on a great scale. It is a scandal that we mark today, January 22.

As many of you are probably aware, on January 22, 1973, a court ruling was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Roe v. Wade. While much has been said and written about this case, the result of this case is that it opened the door for abortion on demand to become the law of the land - and the practice of abortion has skyrocketed since then. It is estimated that there have been approximately 50 million abortions in the 35 years since this decision was handed down by the courts.

When we consider the statistics regarding abortion, the totals really are staggering.

In the 35 years since Roe v. Wade, there have been about 50 million abortions. Think of that a minute and let it sink in. FIFTY MILLION. We often hear big numbers today and kind of just skip over them. What does this 50 million mean? As I mentioned in a post on this topic two years ago, this 50 million represents more than the population of Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Idaho, Nebraska, West Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Connecticut, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington, D.C. - COMBINED! (This 50 million also represents over 10 million more lives than our largest state, California.)

The Abort 73 Web-site does a great job of listing some stats regarding abortion. Some of these follow:

Looking at some other numbers regarding abortion, we find that in 2000, there were 3,600 abortions per day, 149 per hour, 1 every 24 seconds. As of 2001, there were 246 abortions for every 1,000 live births. On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

While those who support abortion often speak about the "hard cases" - rape, incest, or some health concern with either the baby or mother - only 7% of all abortion cases fit into any of these categories - the other 93% ARE ELECTIVE.

The scandal of abortion is a blight upon our nation. And, as Christians, we ought to speak up against this scandal - even as John the Baptist spoke up against the scandal of his day and exposed the sin.

A couple of thoughts come to mind regarding our need to expose this sin.

1. If we are going to expose sin, we should understand our responsibility to expose sin.

The Bible tells us that we are to reprove - admonish, rebuke - the works of darkness:

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.


Christ also told us that we are to be salt and light - to be different and to make a difference.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.


As Christians we have a responsibility to expose sin. We have a responsibility to explain to others what God has revealed regarding a particular matter. As we expose the sin, we need to do so with a heart of love for the sinner and a heart of obedience to Christ. We also need to be careful that we do not just give half of the story. We need to not only reprove the sin, we need to do so in such a way that we point people to the answer to the sin - forgiveness in Christ.

2. If we are going to expose sin, we should do so with the right character.

If we are to expose the sin and scandal of abortion, we should do so with a basis of right character. Herod understood that even though the message of John the Baptist about his sin was a message that he did not want to hear, the character of John was so evident that Herod actually kept him alive despite the desires of Herodias.

Mark 6:19-20 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: 20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.


When we take on the awesome task of exposing sin, we need to do so with the right character. We read that John the Baptist was just and holy. We also find out that he was bold (Luke 3:7-9) and humble (John 1:27 and John 3:30). We can have this delicate combination of boldness and humility when we understand that without Christ we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.

3. If we are going to expose sin, we should have clarity in our message.

When John the Baptist confronted Herod, he clearly laid out the nature of Herod's sin. In regards to abortion, we need to present clearly two important truths. The first truth is the fact that murder violates God's law. For most people, this is obvious. The second truth is establishing the fact that a child in the womb is a person - and thus murdering that child in the womb is a violation of God's command not to murder.

Some of the facts that point out the truth that a child in the womb is a person includes the following Biblical evidences.

1. Children in the womb are described with the same terminology as children outside the womb.

Ge 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.

The word children used here is the normal word for child or son, even though the children are still in womb. It is not a word that refers to a fetus or even an "unborn child."

Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

The word translated babe in Luke 1:41 is the same word used in the next chapter when we read that Mary laid the "babe" in the manger.

2. Children in the womb are shown as active and alive.

For instance, in Luke 1 - John the Baptist recognized that the other baby was Christ. This baby (in the womb) was active.

By the way, we see this when we consider children in the womb today. Many of us have seen the photograph where a baby being operated on grabbed the finger of the surgeon.

3. Children in the womb are described as persons.

In Psalm 51:5, the Psalmist writes: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Note that it is "I" that was shapen - not some "pre- I"

In Isaiah 49:1, the prophet declares: "Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name." Again, it was "me" that was called, not some "pre-me." (Similar examples can be found in Psalm 139:13, Job 31:13-15, etc.)

The reality is that the world inherently KNOWS that the unborn baby is a life. Some may have been able to plead ignorance in 1973, but with the advances in technology (including the awesome 3-D sonograms), it is beyond reaonableness to claim that this child is not a life. That is why most states have laws that if you kill the child that the mother is carrying, you can get arrested. (Remember Scott Peterson a few years ago - he was convicted of two counts of murder, Laci and the Baby.) The only time when killing a child in the womb is considered acceptable is when the killing is done by a doctor in the name of "choice."

The reality is abortion is taking an innocent life and the image of God is being destroyed by this act. (See Job 1:21 and Genesis 9:6)


4. If we are going to expose sin, we should do so recognize that exposing sin is compassionate.

It is compassionate because exposing sin helps people to recognize their need of forgiveness. Galatians 3:24 reminds us that the law is a "schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."

In our society today, we are often afraid to directly confront sin and to tell someone that their actions are a sin against a holy God. In not directly confronting sin, people think they are being compassionate and kind. In reality, this is not compassionate. Allowing those involved in sin (in whatever form the sin might be) to think that they are okay and just making a "choice" can lead them into a complacence of not recognizing their need of forgiveness.

Instead, as we point out the sin of abortion, we should do so while sharing with them the compassionate truth that there is forgiveness for sin - even for the sin of abortion. That forgiveness is only found in the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses us from all sin.

So, as we mark with sadness this important anniversary, may we step forth boldly and stand against this scandal in our nation. And doing so, may we compassionately point people to the One who can forgive even this sin - Jesus Christ.

Just my thoughts,

Frank

(Some of the these thoughts are adapted from the Abort73 web-site.)

4 comments:

Andy Rupert said...

Thanks for this reminder. It's too easy to look past the issue as unsolvable. I see now how it is still important to speak out against abortion as sin.

Melli said...

Very good article! I'm so glad that you remind people to showcase the sin and not the sinner. Expose the sin - but PRAY for the sinner. Excellent advice! So many want to lay blame and forget compassion... And I too have a hard time forgiving this sin... I have to remind myself constantly that Jesus DOES forgive! EVEN this... Thank you.

Frank Sansone said...

Andy,

Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am not sure it will ever be solved on a national level - the election of Obama probably secured the courts for the pro-abortion side for at least a generation. Of course, I would argue that it is still important to speak out even if we are lone voices crying in the wilderness - after all, John the Baptist's voice didn't exactly "solve" the problem in Israel.

Thanks again for stopping by.

In Christ,

Frank

Frank Sansone said...

Melli,

Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. I appreciate your words. There are definitely some sins that are hard to forgive, but I am glad that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." (Romans 5:20).

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone