Searching for Clarity — Chasing Stories
I’m back! (and the crowd goes wild!!!)
I’m not sure what my blogging volume will look like in coming weeks — our new netbook only runs on WiFi or Ethernet, and we still only have dialup out at the Creek House. I haven’t figured out what will be my best writing method, because I’m used to just sitting down, clicking Add New Post, and starting up — and I can’t do that anymore!
But it feels good to have something to say again.
Clarity. Searching for clarity in a world of sound-bites and extremism. That’s what gets me in trouble a lot these days. I got in trouble today because a friend and brother in Christ wrote, “I wonder how people would react if swine flu killed 40,000,000 people in the US?” He wants to compare the tremendous (and admittedly overwrought and at times bizarre) panic over swine flu to the tense but stagnant atmosphere surrounding abortion in the US.
I sympathize. Every so often, I thank God that I was not aborted (if you recall, my birth-mom was a prostitute in NYC in 1973 when I was born). I strive to uphold the sanctity of life, and I believe Christians are, have been, and should continue to be on the forefront of serving and rescuing the helpless.
Where I get in trouble is in pleading for clarity from men and women who speak for God. Preachers, teachers, Christian bloggers — professional or even semi-pro Christians (like me) will be held to a higher standard — both by God and by the world around us. If I just sit at my desk at work, very quiet and shy, and never mention Christ or the Bible or anything, my actions won’t reflect on Christ because no one will know I’m a Christian.
But people who make their living from the Gospel, and people who are bold enough to wear the label ‘Christian’ in the public square — they have a responsibility to communicate the Christian message honestly and clearly.
Comparing the furor over swine flu to the lack of furor over abortion is intellectually dishonest on several levels.
1) Most Westerners, even in our postmodern world, believe that sick people should be helped. So of course there is a furor over swine flu.
2) Conscientious readers of Scripture, believers in the Most High God, have very different answers to the question, “When does human life begin?” There are three basic schools of thought: two mostly Jewish and one mostly Christian.
Jewish idea #1 “The Breath of Life”
Gen 2:7 — the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Therefore, some Jews believe that human life begins when the first breath is taken. This idea has some merit AND some weakness — both in the fact that it is the first time a human being became alive. So it is a “beginning of life” passage, but its uniqueness should warn us about reading too much into it. But it is the traditional rabbinic understanding.
Jewish idea #2 “The Quickening”
Ge 25:21-23 — Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”
Therefore, some Jews believe that human life begins when the child first moves within the womb. This idea is not to be confused with the Quickening from the classic 80s movie about immortals and swordplay, The Highlander (yes, I’m a nerd, but you knew that already). This idea also has some scriptural support in both Testaments, including when the Holy Spirit caused the fetal John the Baptist to leap in Elizabeth’s womb at the voice of her young, also miraculously-pregnant relative Mary.
Christian idea #1 “The Conception”
I’ve searched long and hard to find a verse to put with this idea. The closest I can get is Psalm 139:13-16 —
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Many Christians believe that life begins at the moment when egg and sperm come together. Here is a qualitative change; where once the potential for life did not exist, now it does. It is a good idea, a strong idea, maybe even a beautiful idea.
But Scripture doesn’t say it, and clearly, a cursory overview of Scripture shows that Scripture implies several possibilities. We don’t know.
When we say, “Abortion is murder” or “Abortion is the intentional killing of a baby,” these exhaustive statements go beyond what Scripture states or clearly implies.
But they sound good!
They make us feel good! We sound strong!
Leaving exceptions and wiggle room is wrong! We’ve got to take a clear and bold stand!
Part of my deep affection for the churches of Christ comes from our foundational desire to speak where the Bible speaks, to be silent where the Bible is silent, to call Bible things by Bible names, and to make the clear statements of Scripture our only creed.
Let us be unafraid to say clearly what Scripture says clearly, and to admit honestly that Scripture is ambiguous on some things.
I believe many, if not most abortions are murder. I believe the world would be a better place without the practice. I believe that the life of a fetus is more important than the life of an adult. I believe churches should be heavily involved in begging, begging, BEGGING (embarrassing ourselves, if necessary) women to allow us to adopt. For those things, I believe there is clear Scriptural warrant.
ALL abortions are murder, though? I just don’t know.
While Scripture is ambiguous on when life begins, it is not ambiguous at all on the Christian calling to protect the helpless and to support and enhance life. Jesus the Christ is the way, the truth, and the life! We don’t have to know exactly when a living soul exists to protect and enhance all the life around us.
in HIS love,