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Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Voting to Kill - the Irish Abortion Result

A remarkable result
Last Friday Ireland decided to set in motion wheels which will undoubtedly lead to the legalisation of abortion in that country, soon. Turnout was 64% with 66% of the turnout voting for abortion and 34% against.

The result was a triumph for a propaganda crusade and a tragedy for millions of people who will now be silently massacred in the one place a human being should feel most secure - the womb.

The stark biological fact is that when sperm and egg come together in the womb, from that moment onwards an independent human life begins, distinct from both parents and connected to the mother only by virtue of the fact that it requires warmth, space to grow, nourishment and protection.

What on earth happened in Ireland?

Did Ireland revolt against false religion? 
That is one real possibility. Ireland is mostly Roman Catholic and this makes the vote even more remarkable since the Catholic church to its credit is staunchly against abortion. Did all the recent scandals in the church result in weakened authority and rejected dogmas?

Was Ireland bamboozled by hard cases?
Hard cases make bad law. I heard of one case where the mother had cancer but was not allowed any treatment because she was carrying an unborn child - the commentator was enraged that the life of the child was put at a higher value than the life of the mother. These sorts of cases are incredibly rare and painfully difficult: in them, all involved should view whatever happens as a rescue mission. If two people are drowning and only one can be rescued, the other is not being killed, just one is being rescued - which is better than none being rescued. Such rescue is not to be called abortion at all, should the life of the  mother be the chosen option.

But in the case above, why wouldn't the mother freely give up her life - or perhaps a foreshortened length of life - for the sake of her precious child?

Was Ireland duped into believing false politically correct slogans?
One of these slogans was "Our Bodies, our right to Decide." On the surface it looks persuasive and conclusive. But a baby is not part of a mother, it is a completely separate living identity relying on the mother for nutrients, warmth, etc - no differently dependent than after it is born. A baby is not a wart or carbuncle, a baby is as human as any living person. Women should indeed have the right to decide about parts of their bodies such as warts and carbuncles, but not the right to decide about a totally and utterly separate human being, who by virtue of the course biology takes happens to be living inside them when it begins its precious journey of life.

Did the slogan "Equal Rights" win the day? 
On the surface it again sounds superficially persuasive: a mother's rights should be equal to a baby's rights. Until you unpack what that means. It means the mother's rights to kill her baby should be the same as the child's rights to live. The equation is somewhat unbalanced when examined in detail. How can "the right to kill someone" be made equivalent to "the right to live"?

The clever use of words?
Another tactic was the use of words. In the debate the Yesers never use the term "baby" but resort to the word "fetus." They use the word "termination" instead of the word "kill".  Psychologically this allows them to say and believe things that no one with a conscience could ever say or believe, such is the power of words.

Was it a loss of conscience? 
We live in world which has lost its moral compass. And yet there are everywhere flickers of what should be. In the same hospitals where surgeons cooly tear babies apart to remove them from the womb, parents fight tooth and nail with those same hospital authorities for their little baby to be taken to another country for specialised treatment. In the one case the parents know that human life is infinitely precious, in the other, they suppress their God-given consciences and set about to murder.

A nation with a hard heart
Perhaps most tragically of all, the vote last Friday revealed a nation with a hard heart. When Lord Shaftesbury was trying to prevent chimney boys going up the chimneys of England to clean them out, risking their lives every time,  housewives were up in arms. They had become so accustomed to their chimneys being cleaned this way, so upset that this convenient tradition would come to an end, that they opposed the bill.

It is tragically possible to develop a hard heart which no longer is able to feel for the pain of a fellow human being.

The tragedy
Since David Steel's 1967 abortion bill, more than 8 million children have been killed before they were able to see the light of day. Hitler "only" killed 6 million Jews. The comparison is outrageous someone says. Yes indeed it is: in one case it was the killing of men and women and children who theoretically could have fought back - and occasionally did. In the other case it is the murder of children who have no strength to fight back, no voice and no name.

It is nothing short of rank hypocrisy to call our nation "more civilised" than Hitler's Germany, when the murder of abortion is allowed, and of all places, allowed in our hospitals.

Lord, have mercy upon us. It is only the Gospel that can save a people. Only the Gospel that opens closed eyes and softens hard hearts. Our task is to preach it with greater passion and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Does the Bible Condemn Slavery?

A common objection
A common objection to Christianity is that the Bible does not condemn slavery. This shows, so the allegation goes, that the Bible is not a trustworthy guide to moral issues.
Roman slavery was not white-on-black

The surface of things
On the surface this allegation seems to carry weight. The apostle Paul encourages slaves to obey their masters - not to revolt. And he tells masters to care for their slaves - not release them. On one occasion he sent a newly converted run-away slave, Onesimus, back to his master, and encouraged his owner, Philemon, to receive him back - not to release him.

How do we explain this attitude to slavery?

The setting - Roman slavery
Around 30-40% of the Roman Empire, by some estimates, were slaves. Slavery in the first century was not white-on-black slavery. Anyone could end up a slave. You could become a slave through war, as the bounty of war. You could make yourself a slave to escape poverty - in which case slavery was the only option for living.

Slavery was part of the social setting and economy of the Roman Empire. If the preachers of the Gospel had preached "end slavery" they would have initiated a revolution that could have taken the lives of countless thousands, if not millions. After Spartacus unsuccessfully rebelled against the empire, 6000 slave-rebels were crucified as Rome's way of saying to slaves "Don't rebel". Encouraging a revolt would have stained the Gospel with the blood of a thousand slain.

Furthermore, the Gospel's primary purpose and message is not to change a man's outward circumstances but to put him or her right with God. The Social Gospel and the Liberation Gospel are both great distortions of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not that the Gospel in unconcerned about social issues, it's rather that Kingdom issues come first - and when they do, practical solutions to social issues follow.

The Gospel's instructions to believing slaves and masters would instantly end all the abuses of slavery and lead to harmonious and redeem the institution from the inside out. If Christian masters and slaves obeyed the apostle Paul, the slave-master relationships would become a friendly partnership and may even lead to freedom.

After saying that, the Gospel sowed all the seeds of slavery's ultimate demise.

Three seeds of Slavery's Destruction
(1) The Gospel rubbished words like "slavery" by using them to describe our old lives under Satan's power. No longer could those words be used in a positive way. And words like "freedom" were exalted by using them to describe a believer's new freedom from death and hell and sin and Satan.

(2) The Gospel raised the standing of all people, by insisting all human beings were made in the image of God. In fact one of the very first known sermons against slavery, preached by a Gregory of Nissa, sometime at the end of the 300s took up this very theme and rebuked those who bought and sold people made in the infinitely precious image of God.

(3) The Gospel taught that in Christ there is no slave or free. The Gospel taught that everyone who comes to Christ is on the same plane in God's eyes, all are his children. "In Christ there is no slave nor free."

Plant an acorn one metre away...
In the fullness of time, William Wilberforce, a Christian MP led the charge against slavery until the time came when from the early 1800s slavery was universally and forever regarded as an evil.

There are two ways to bring down a house of evil. Use a wrecking ball and JCB or plant an acorn one metre from the foundations.

The gentle Gospel chose the latter path rather than the former. The Gospel Oak spread out roots which utterly and totally destroyed the institution of slavery.