Today at Grace Church we finished a short series I entitled “Who Speaks for Life?” Last Sunday we focused on the life of the elderly and people with disabilities, today we talked about the life of innocent babies with no voice, those who have been slaughtered in the womb, close to 55 million in this country alone. 

I don’t often do this, but since a lot of my people asked me to post today’s message on my blog, I am doing it. I apologize for the unedited version you will see here, and the fact that you are not able to see two of the videos that went along with the message or the Power Point that illustrated it. I am running out of time as I leave for a three-day retreat with my ministry leaders tomorrow morning, but if you wait a few days, the message will also be uploaded to Grace Church’s website. So here it goes:

[INTRODUCTORY VIDEO]

Introduction

It’s been 41 years since the United States Supreme Court, by a 7 to 2 vote, struck down a law in Texas prohibiting abortion. 41 years of tiny body parts that could fill a city. 41 years of blood that could flood streams and overflow the banks of pristine rivers. 41 years of a brutal assault on the lives of the most vulnerable among us. To date, it is estimated that more than fifty-four and a half million abortions have been performed in this country.

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54,559,615

and counting, to be exact. To give you an idea, according to U.S. estimates, approximately 200,000 people died in the Vietnam War and yet over 54 million have been aborted. This number is staggering, a veritable genocide, and a slaughter of the innocents on a scale never before seen in the history of our times. And if you add the emotional toll on millions of women who suffer from psychological effects of abortions, the tragedy is impossible to measure.

Those who side with the Supreme Court’s decision consider the life of the unborn a mere extension of the woman’s body, but God thinks otherwise. Today, as we conclude our short series called

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“Who Speaks for Life?”

we will look at God’s view of life based on an ancient song composed by David. But before we do that, let’s look at the case for abortion, as made by our now friend and foe, Professor Peter Singer, from Princeton University. If you were here last week, you will recall that I explained Professor Singer’s utilitarian approach, which advances the idea of  doing the greatest good to the greatest number of people as the ultimate test for making moral decisions. Following this logic, Professor Singer argues for the elimination of some children who are born with severe disabilities that render them unable to make decisions. In fact, in his view, every unborn person is not yet a ‘person’ until it can exercise a preference, including the preference to continue to live. This view, by extension, applies to adults whose mental capabilities have been so severely impaired that they can no longer make decisions for themselves about living or dying.

With regards to abortion, Professor Singer stipulates that the central argument against abortion may be stated in the following syllogism:

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It is wrong to kill an innocent human being.

A human fetus is an innocent human being.

Therefore it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

As a good philosopher, Singer says that if we take the premises at face value, the argument is deductively valid. Now Singer knows that defenders of abortion attack the second premise, meaning, they believe that the fetus becomes “human” or “alive” at some point after conception; however, Singer believes that this argument is defective because human development is a gradual process. In other words, how does one know at what particular moment in time one becomes a human being?

So instead of attacking the second premise, Singer attacks the first one, denying that it is necessarily wrong to take an innocent human life. He says that “… the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life.” (Peter Singer, Rethinking Life and Death, p. 105).

Here is Singer’s computation. It is back to that utilitarian approach again. He says that we must weigh the preferences of a woman over against the preferences of the fetus. And since, according to Professor Singer, up to around eighteen weeks (arbitrarily determined by him) a fetus has no capacity to suffer or feel satisfaction, since it cannot have any preferences at all, abortion is morally permissible. End of the story. In his words:

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“Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time. So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.” (Peter Singer, Peter Singer FAQ, Princeton University, Accessed January 19, 2014).

In contrast to Professor Singer’s view, here is what the Psalmist David had to say in Psalm 139:13-16:

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“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16).

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1. God is the creator of life

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jeremiah 1:5).

We didn’t become a person to God only at the moment of birth. God didn’t look at the world suddenly and noticed that someone was missing. He is good at keeping track of people. We were an idea in the mind of God before we were even conceived and every idea that God has ever had has always been sacred.

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“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7).

Though we were created finite, we are still the product of God’s handiwork.

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2. God is the crafter of life

I find it interesting that Jesus, the Son of God, while he walked on earth, became known for doing things skillfully. When he talked, the people said, he wasn’t like the Scribes and Pharisees who bored them to death with their long list of woes and no’s. They said that when Jesus spoke, “He spoke with authority.” In other words, Jesus spoke in a way that brought conviction. And when he made wine from water, he didn’t just make Sutter Home, you know, the Wal-Mart brand. He made Chateaux Margaux. That is Jesus for you, what about His Father? Well, in this case, it is like Son, like Father.

God didn’t just create us, he fashioned us with the touch of an artist who perfects His trade. Come and see God at work. He weaves the building blocks of life step-by-step, starting with a small cell with 23 female and 23 male chromosomes, all the way to a fully formed and highly complex human being who can solve math puzzles like Einstein or throw the football like Peyton Manning. [Top and bottom of the intelligence gene pool].

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“… you knit me together in my mother’s womb… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13b, 15).

Both of these expressions, “knit together” and “woven together,” speak of meticulous, painstaking work done by a highly skillful craftsman. Let me just focus on the Hebrew word translated here as “knit together.” This word speaks of the idea of “surrounding it all with a covering,” as if to refer to the apparatus that is in place to protect the baby from stuff that would invariably harm it.

And wouldn’t you believe it: the baby has a natural protective shield which includes the umbilical cord, the placenta, the uterus and various other bones and muscles which when they work together they make the womb the perfect baby carrier.

Just to give you an idea, [and just so you understand it, I am no expert in these matters, but these facts are well-known. They can be found in any reliable medical website. I happened to go to one called

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babycenter.com

because two of my friends who are pregnant recommended it to me].

Anyway, as I was saying, just to give you an idea, the umbilical cord protects the baby’s blood vessels.

SLIDE (Baby in the womb showing the different characteristics I’m talking about here)

The amniotic sac protects the baby from germs, and the amniotic fluid keeps the baby cool and protected from pressure outside the womb. To make sure that an extra layer of protection is added, a mucous plug seals the womb and stops infections. It’s an air tight package. You get the idea that by design God has encased the baby in a bullet-proof vessel. He wants the baby to feel secure inside a place that when everything works right it is supposed to be an impenetrable fort. “Secret” = “covered over,” “hidden out of sight.” There is a reason for that!

SLIDE (Picture illustrating abortion procedure with forceps)

So when you introduce a foreign object or chemicals into this fortress—beyond the abdominal muscles, the spinal column, into the sanctum of the placenta, the umbilical cord, all the way inside the body of that innocent being who swims gently inside a warm pool of life-preserving liquids – when that happens, a disruption of stupendous proportions has occurred, something totally contrary to how the natural order of things seems to dictate.

And that is just one of the reasons I am opposed to abortion. It goes against every intention of the scheme that put that baby and its environment together – something that was painstakingly placed at the center of layer upon layer of protection meant to keep it alive is suddenly struck down by a force outside of itself against which it cannot contend. It is a violent rupture of the highest order, a subversion of how things OUGHT to be. And this by the way would be true whether that baby was placed there by God or simply by the implausible whim of an evolutionary hand. Either way, all the natural signs point to protection, but abortion, by an unnatural act, points to destruction.

And that, my friends, is at least one way we can understand the meaning of this passage when it speaks of God “kitting together the baby in the mother’s womb.”

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3. God is the composer of life

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“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16).

Now we don’t know for sure whether God has a literal, physical book where He writes the script of our life. But we know from this and other texts that God keeps track. The Psalmist uses a metaphor to speak of life as a book where God writes each chapter. But contrary to those who write looking for inspiration as they go, God has already written the book from beginning to end before we even see its first page. We are so important to God that He put some thought ahead of time to ordain the events of our lives. That places us in a special category among all of God’s creation.

In another song, the Psalmist says it this way…

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“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hands…’” (Psalm 31:14-15).

Now granted, because we are finite people and live in a world full of imperfections, from time to time there are some chapters in our books that are unpleasant. But the good news is that when you keep on reading, things get better for the follower of Jesus Christ. I know that there are some among us whose lives may have been completely altered by an unwanted pregnancy which may have resulted in abortion. I have a word for you today: God loves you and He has redeemed you with the blood of His Son. He wants to give you hope today.

Thank God that there are people in this world who are willing to provide services to help moms who are overwhelmed with the thought of having a baby they are not prepared to have. These women are often counseled to have an abortion. Here in our area we have the Susquehanna Pregnancy Care Services. In other places in the world, people are coming up with even more radical ways to combat this evil. Here is an example of a pastor from South Korea…

[VIDEO – ‘DROPBOX’ – HERE]

I have the privilege now of welcoming to the platform someone who has a story to tell about her journey through the hurt and healing of an abortion experience. I want you to give a warm welcome to Lisa McCoy.

[INTERVIEW WITH LISA MCCOY HERE]

1. What is story and how did you start getting involved in this ministry? (Feel free to share openly with our people).

2. What can the Church of Jesus Christ do that will tangibly help families who may be considering an abortion?

3. In a nutshell what do women tell you that they wished they knew before they made the decision to have an abortion?

4. What does it mean to experience healing and forgiveness for those who have experienced abortion in the past?

5. How can we pray for you and your ministry?

Conclusion

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I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

My Translation:

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“God, you outdid yourself when you created people and after you made each one of us, you threw away the mold.”

The video with which I introduced my message today… I am sure you are wondering when I was going to get around to it. Well, thanks for your patience. Behind that video are real persons with a story of struggle and redemption. Let me tell you their story.

Several years ago I heard through one of the ABF leaders in one of my former churches that a couple from their class had received some disturbing news that their first and only child had shown signs of some severe disabilities and only a miracle could save the baby. Well, eventually the couple did have a baby boy but he was anything but healthy. The doctors offered no hope. “This baby,” they said bluntly, “will more than likely never live beyond one week.” So the couple brought little Jacob home, for just a brief time, they thought, to bond and quickly say good-bye. But one week went by and the baby was still there. Then two weeks, then three.

And that is when I met this couple and their baby for the first time. I was walking from one end of the building to another in between services and they flagged me. They were looking for the Senior pastor but couldn’t. Well, since the occasion was so huge for them, they started looking for any pastor, so they grabbed the first one on sight. I happened to be the one. Solemnly, they announced that their baby had lived three weeks and they had brought him to church for the first time. They wanted me to pray for him. So they handed me their baby and I have to confess: I was not prepared for what I was about to see. As I looked at his face, I recoiled, but quickly regained composure and managed to offer a prayer – perhaps the most difficult and confused prayer I ever prayed, but I did.

As I walked away from the scene, though, it was not the sight of the baby that I couldn’t shake from my head. It was the beaming face of the parents, the enthusiasm with which they introduced me to their son, the expression of sheer joy and exhilaration as they looked at the baby and took in the prayer. It was a sight I would never forget. The love was so tangible, the sense of normalcy so moving. At that moment, I felt I had experienced God’s fully charged love and embrace for those who suffer. I saw it through the eyes of those parents and I was so humbled to be a witness to the existence of such divine love.

When I got home later that day, my wife, who has tremendous insights about these things, remarked to me, “You do realize that what you were seeing was probably  completely different from what they were seeing, don’t you?” Yes, for a brief time, I was stuck on the momentary discomfort of deformity, but I am glad that God let me see the permanent nature of His love to all people, including the ones the world considers undesirable. So fast forward to today, seven years after that unplanned meeting at church hallway, and bask in the glory of God’s love as you watch this. Now, there will be a couple of pictures of the boy in this video. He is a beautiful boy, who is deeply loved by his parents, but it might be hard for you to see his face.

[VIDEO]

Communication Card

I realize that I am a sinner and today I ask Jesus to become the Captain of my life.

I would like to know more about how to volunteer with the Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services.

I would like to know more about how to enroll in one of Lisa McCoy’s classes.

I would like to know more about opportunities to visit the elderly in our community.

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