If You Must Err, Err on the Side of Life

///If You Must Err, Err on the Side of Life

Do you remember the comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”? At the beginning of the movie you see a man with a large cart holding corpses going through town crying out, “Bring out ‘yer dead!” Apparently there was a plague going on. Well they bring out this one guy and he’s very much alive and protesting “I’m not dead!” but I guess they wanted to get rid of him, so when he keeps kicking and shouting, they knock him over the head and throw him on the pile. Did I mention it’s a somewhat dark comedy? In ages past, before the advent of the wonderful medical advances we enjoy today , people went to great lengths to make certain someone was dead and not just comatose or even just unconscious before they conducted a funeral and buried them. That’s an error no one could afford to make. So if you had to err, you erred on the side of life. You presumed the spirit of life resided in a person, you presumed that life to be precious and as such you guarded that life! Only when death was certain did burial take place.

Last year the attention of the entire nation focused on a nursing home in Florida, as Terry Schindler Schiavo was starved (dehydrated) to death by court order. It was packaged as a “right to die” issue, but it came down to one or two activist judges. Terry’s “husband” Michael had already demonstrated his undying devotion to her by fathering a child by another woman, whom he intended to marry once Terry was dead. Michael conveniently remembered (coincidentally about the same time the monies he stood to inherit began to seriously dwindle due to Terry’s medical costs), that Terry had once told him she didn’t want to be kept alive by feeding tubes. No signed document to prove it, but he was after all her legal guardian. A more glaring example of conflict of interests couldn’t be contrived in fiction, but the mainstream media conveniently ignored that aspect of the story. It degenerated into a media circus. Jesse Jackson managed to insert himself into the fray. A nine year-old boy was handcuffed and put into a police car for having the audacity to try to bring a cup of water to Terry. Tempers ran hot. I saw some of the most hate-filled and sickening posts on internet bulletin boards; lacking any humanity at all. How did we as a nation descend to such depths of barbarism? It was not overnight. As though scripted by the great Apostle Paul in his letter to the believers in Rome, it began precisely when we refused to acknowledge God as God – as the Giver of life. Our hearts began to be darkened. We dispensed with the Bible and prayer in school. We excluded God (more specifically Yeshua) from our public discourse. We began to scoff at the idea of moral absolutes. We stopped talking about the sanctity of life and started debating the “quality of life”. Those were major steps down a slippery slope of moral relativism. This is precisely the direction that former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop and the late Francis Schaeffer predicted we would go in their collaborative writing of the book Whatever Happened to the Human Race?It would only be a matter of time before elective abortion gave way to infanticide; infanticide to euthanasia and euthanasia to government mandated “euthanasia” for the “collective good”.

The problem stated – the horror of abortion This morning I want to talk to you about the sanctity of human life; human life – in all its stages. I’d like us to see what the Scriptures have to say, and then discuss what our response should be. Before we do that, however, I am constrained to speak for the next few minutes candidly and somewhat graphically about abortion (advise parents w/kids to take them out). Does anyone doubt that abortion is the most pivotal moral issue of our generation? Is there any other issue which elicits such contention and passionate debate as this facing our country? Every other issue, every other point of practical or philosophical debate takes a back seat to the question of when human life begins. I specify human life, because in our collective rush toward insanity, you can today be fined $5,000 for intentionally harming the egg of a bald eagle

  • [1], $1,000 for shipping a pregnant lobster
  • [2], and in the state of Massachusetts you are violating an anti-cruelty law if you award a goldfish as a prize. According to the statute, it is meant to protect against “acts which may be thought to have a tendency to dull humanitarian feelings and to corrupt the morals”
  • [3]. And yet, in spite of all this, you are entitled by law to have your baby suctioned out of your body, or chemically poisoned and then extracted, or dissected limb from limb while he or she is still in the womb and the parts then removed. Add to this the procedure known in clinical terms as Intact Dilation and Extraction, but better known as “Partial Birth Abortion” where the baby is actually delivered alive by the use of forceps, feet first, including the feet, legs, torso, arms and shoulders – all but the head is brought out. Next, using blunt-tipped surgical scissors, the abortionist punctures the back of the baby’s skull, through which he or she then inserts a vacuum catheter, suctioning out the brains, causing the skull to collapse and the baby is then delivered dead. In the 17 and 18th centuries the evil to be confronted was slavery, in the mid-20th century it was Naziism and Communism. In the latter half of the 20th century and now at the outset of the 21st century it is most certainly abortion. This is not an issue over which we can simply “agree to disagree”. Lives are at stake. At the current rate of the number of abortions being performed in the United States, in the time since I began speaking this morning, approximately 40 babies have been put to death. If ever there was an issue about which all believers in Yeshua need to unite in agreement and activism it is this. Statistics Since abortion through all nine months of pregnancy was legalized on January 22, 1973, 33 years ago tomorrow, 45 million babies have been put to death in the United States. Bear in mind, however, that according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute – the public relations arm of Planned Parenthood, about 10% of known abortion providers don’t even submit reports, so the adjusted number of casualties is closer to 58 million. I’d like to be able to present as encouraging the fact that between 1996 and 2004 the annual number of abortions in Michigan dropped 15.5 percent. But all that means is that the number of murdered babies each year declined from 30,208 to 25,512. I am not very encouraged. 25,512 – that is very nearly the equivalent of annihilating every man, woman and child in the city of Oak Park. On average, every day in our country nearly 4,000 babies are put to death through elective abortion. History Abortion is known to have been practiced among pagan peoples as far back as the Patriarchal Period and even earlier. Judaism, from the beginning, rejected abortion outright, knowing full well that life originates with God and as such is sacred. Our people understood that from the time a baby is conceived it is our neighbor, and to cause harm to our neighbor is to violate the second great commandment. Understand, then, the revulsion our ancestors felt in seeing their Moabite and Ammonite neighbors throwing their babies alive into fire pits, sacrificing them to their detestable false gods. Satan has been a murderer from the beginning, and it isn’t beneath him to use the religious realm to promote it. Whereas Plato and Aristotle advocated abortion as a means of population control, both Judaism and, later, Christianity continued to regard it as murder. John MacArthur writes: “Abortion was used even in New Testament times among pagans to conceal illicit sex. If you could remove the evidence, you could remove the stigma of illicit sex. Rich women also didn’t want to leave their wealth to children fathered illegitimately, so while they might have wanted to have an affair with a “lower class” man, they didn’t want to have to support his child, and so abortion was a way to deal with that.”
  • [4] The Didache The Didache is, in all probability, the oldest surviving piece of extra-biblical literature from the time of the early Church, consisting of instructions for believers derived from the teachings of Yeshua. Most scholars agree that it dates back to the middle of the 1st century, sometime in the 60’s. It is divided into three major sections, consisting of sixteen chapters in all. Listen to some of the words of the very first chapter: Two ways there are, one of life and one of death, but there is a great difference between the two ways. The way of life is indeed this: First, you will love the God who made you; secondly, “you will love your neighbor as yourself.” Now all the things that you do not want to have happen to you, you too do not do these to one another… And it goes on to say…Now the second precept of the teaching is: “You will not murder. You will not commit adultery.” You will not sodomize young boys. You will not have unlawful sex. “You will not steal.” Do not practice magic. Do not practice sorcery. Neither murder a child by abortion, nor will you destroy what is born. So, from the very beginning of the Church, Yeshua’s people were forbidden to practice abortion, which was regarded as murder. In Romans 1:26-27, Paul taught that one of the consequences of unnatural sexual practices is disease. Sin has consequences. Illicit sex leads to unwanted pregnancy. The act of abortion is tantamount to forcing the baby – the innocent third party – pay the price! In our own day, we can trace the rapid proliferation of abortion to the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. Morality was cast by the wayside. It’s been said that “freedom isn’t free”. Sexual freedom certainly wasn’t. Consider the price tag: broken hearts, broken families, new and more deadly sexually transmitted diseases, the massacre of millions of innocent and defenseless children, and the searing of our nation’s collective conscience. Consequences Apart from the judgment of God which such barbarism invites, and about which we’ll talk a little later, there are devastating consequences to both individuals and society on account of abortion. The devaluation of the worth of human life has produced a generation of people less empathetic to the suffering or needs of those around them. After all, if we adopt the secular view we dismiss the sacredness of human life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love animals! I happen to believe that the people of God are called to a higher standard in ethics in every category. But listen to the words of Ingrid Newkirk, co-founder of P.E.T.A., “There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” I’m sorry, Ms. Newkirk, human beings, unlike every other being on earth, are created “in the image of God”. While we’re talking about consequences, consider this: we have efficiently eliminated a substantial segment of the potential workforce, many of whom would be in their mid to late 20’s and early 30’s had they simply been allowed to live. Whatever you may think of the Social Security system, we have, in effect, annihilated an entire generation of those who would, at this very moment, have already for years been contributing to it. The potential physical and psychological damage to women who have had an abortion is immense. There is a statistically proven increase in the likelihood of miscarriage, cervical damage and/or pelvic infection, an increase in the occurrence of placenta previa and clinical depression arising from tremendous guilt. Babies are not the only ones victimized by abortion. Nevertheless, it is not on account of practical consequences that we denounce this practice. We do so because it is a moral evil. Some who are compassionate but misguided are straddling the fence. Not wanting to put restrictions on women, they are still ambivalent about abortion on account of the question of pain being inflicted. Those who argue on that basis might suggest that because a 4-6 week old intrauterine baby has a less developed nervous system, you are not causing pain, per se. However, that leaves unaddressed the central question to the entire debate, and do not miss this: Is human life purely the result of arbitrary biochemical processes or is it the creation of God? Let’s see what the word of God has to say about human life.

I. The Bible teaches that God created human life and that life is sacred “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:7-10) I present Job to you first, because although Genesis is the first book of the Bible in the order of its compilation, the book of Job is considered by most scholars to be the oldest book of the Bible, possibly pre-dating even the patriarchal period. And from the get-go it is a matter of plain fact that God is the author of all life: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it; Rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves along the ground.”… And God saw all that He had made, and it was tov m’od – very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:26-28, 31). The sixth day. Everything else had been created in advance of that moment. In other words, God created the sun, moon, stars, planets – the very cosmos – the earth and all its plant and animal life – all in anticipation of what would be the pinnacle of His work: mankind. And only of humanity is it said they were created in God’s image. For that very reason, human life is sacred. After the great Flood, when Noah emerged from the ark with his family to begin humanity anew, God made a covenant with him, and God made clear the sacredness of human life with these words: And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting …whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made man (Genesis 9:5-6). What is important to understand here is that God is the Creator of every man and woman, not just of Adam and Eve; and every human being bears that image. Clearly this has more to it than physical appearance. That we are made in the image of God means our entire composition: our physicality, our emotions, our creative ability to imagine and abstract and synthesize, our capacity to distinguish sounds, colors and textures, to ascribe differing valuation to material and moral issues, our faculty to make moral choices – all these are part of what it means to be made in His image. So I ask you, at what point is each human being imbued with these qualities? Use your God-given intuitive capacity to answer that question. It is in that very flash of light at the moment of conception. At that very instant, everything about you from the color of your hair to the color of your eyes to your natural talents and gifts is there; everything from your emotional disposition to your particular love of music or art or animals or horticulture to your particular craving for a piece of gefilte fish – all is encoded in you within that nanosecond of conception. From that very instant you bear the image of God, and as such are a sacred life.

II. The Bible teaches that life begins in the womb, not the delivery room King David wrote, 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 even one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16). David also wrote, Yet You brought me out of the womb; You made me trust in You even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon You; from my mother’s womb You have been my God (Psalm 22:9-10). Job declared, Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One form us both within our mothers? (Job 31:15)God said to Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5). The Scriptures are clear that an unborn baby is a human life deserving of our protection and nurturing and has the full legal status of human being. Sadly, elitist and godless ideologues in high places, through their representatives in our universities and major media, have brainwashed us into thinking that if you can’t see the baby, it isn’t a baby. It’s described as a “product of conception,” which in itself is laughable. What else would a human being conceive? I’ve yet to meet a woman who conceived and gave birth to a platypus. So irrational has become the defense of a “woman’s right to choose” (to kill her baby), that even when you can see the baby, as now we can using ultrasound and intrauterine photography, they still argue that it isn’t a human being. When is that life a human life? How’s this for extreme? Sen. Barbara Boxer a few years ago went on record as saying she doesn’t consider a baby a human being until the parents take it home!

III. The slaughter of innocent children is nothing new Pharaoh slaughtered thousands upon thousands of Israeli babies in his quest to keep power. Who was behind it? Herod slaughtered thousands upon thousands of Israeli babies in his quest to keep power. Who was behind it? The Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites – all sacrificed their own children in perverse religious rites to Molech, Chemosh, Ashtoreth and Milcom – their false gods. Who was behind it? You know who: the one who was a murderer from the beginning; the one whose cruelty knows no limits, who is utterly without mercy; pitiless and ruthless. He is the same one who in ancient times inspired the Amalekites to attack Israel from the rear, killing the elderly and the young children – the weakest and most vulnerable of our numbers; the one who would snuff out the life of innocent and defenseless children; the one whose judgment is prepared from ancient times. And do we want to be in league with that one? I’m afraid that is exactly what we are doing when we look the other way and allow the slaughter of innocent human beings; we align ourselves with the purposes of Satan, and will we not be judged for it? Deuteronomy 27:25 reads: Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person. I cannot think of a more apt description for an abortionist. The abortionist is accepting money to murder an innocent person. Please don’t deceive yourselves into thinking that they got into this industry because they care about teenage girls who otherwise would have to become mothers before they’re ready. This is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it has made millionaires out of those who, once upon a time, swore upon Hippocrates’ charge: First, do no harm. You might wonder how they can live with themselves. How can someone who does this kind of thing sleep at night? How can anyone justify this? The answer is disturbing. As a matter of fact, may I digress for a moment and tell you what slave owners, Nazis and abortionists have in common? In each case, the only way they could justify the horrible things they perpetrated on their fellow human beings was to tell themselves (and their critics) that their victims were not, after all, entirely human. Slave owners argued through propaganda that the black people were not quite human. The Nazis argued through propaganda that the Jews were not quite human. And today abortionists and their advocates are arguing that the baby inside the woman is not a human being. Those of conscience in the 17th and 18th centuries didn’t buy the lie of the slave traders; Those of conscience in the 1930’s and 40’s didn’t buy the lie of Nazism or National Socialism. And those of conscience today aren’t buying the lie of the Abortion Industry. That life is human, and it is precious, and deserves our protection.

IV. Because human life is sacred, we are charged to nurture, protect and defend it Psalm 41:1 says, Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble. This goes along with the teaching of Yeshua, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Those who are willing to be inconvenienced and even risk their own safety for the sake of the defenseless and weak, will receive the very same regard from God. Psalm 82:4 admonishes: Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. This theme reverberates throughout the Scriptures. There have always been those in society who are weak and vulnerable, and likewise there have always been ruthless opportunists lying in wait to profit from it. We are not to stand idly by and let it happen. The psalmist charges us with their defense and rescue. Remember, too, these words were written to the people of God. I don’t expect worldlings to take up the cause of the weak and defenseless, but you and I are most definitely expected to do so. Toward the end of WWII, after Germany was delivered from the clutches of the Nazis, and the scope of the horror and atrocities committed against the Jews became apparent and were broadcast across the world, many German people said they hadn’t known it was happening. Never mind the systematic extermination of the Jewish people had already been in process for years; the smoke ascending from the Nazi ovens in the various camps seen for miles in every direction. Never mind the train boxcars filled with crying human beings crossing through the German countryside. And, of course, there was a lot of talk. Yet many Germans pled ignorance. As though anticipating such excuse-making, the author of Proverbs declared: Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? And will He not repay each person according to what he has done? (Proverbs 24:11-12) I am convinced that we will be held accountable if we remain silent in the face of the systematic slaughter of millions of the most defenseless “neighbors” of ours, the unborn. They are most certainly our “neighbors”. They are the most vulnerable members of the human family, and they cannot speak for themselves. Proverbs 31 admonishes us: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and afflicted.” Some of the change that ultimately brought about the abolition of slavery was achieved from pulpits and street corner preaching – appeals to people’s consciences. For others it took a war. Even afterwards, some change had to be wrought through the legal system. That’s the difficult thing. Some people learn through conscience; others have to have morality legislated in order not to do the wrong thing. Understand, then, that the present evil we are confronting needs to be fought on several levels. We need to appeal to the conscience of men and women that human life is created in the image of God and is sacred. That’s what we’re doing here this morning, and that is what is being done by the all too few faithful who are counseling young women on the sidewalks outside the abortion mills, pleading with them to choose life for their babies. We need to volunteer our time and energy at local crisis pregnancy centers. We also need to use the marvelous legal system this country was endowed with, which has been perverted by those with a hideous agenda. Our voices of moral protest need to be heard by those who claim to be our representatives in government. If until now you have done nothing, resolve to begin to do something. If you’ve already done some things, resolve to do more. I think that’s not only reasonable, but very much a part of our calling. Before we conclude, let me say something very important here. In any gathering of this size, there is likely to be someone, perhaps several people who have had an abortion, or in some way contributed to it. Please hear this: there is forgiveness; there is forgiveness in the blood of Messiah Yeshua; there is forgiveness when we openly confess our sins to Him. Guilt is a God-given thing, to bring us to repentance, so that we may live. Rabbi Paul would remind us, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua. If you have confessed these things to Him, you are forgiven. If you have not, this morning is as good a time as any. Talk to one of us after the service. Phil Keaggy sang, “Who will speak up for the little ones, helpless and half abandoned. They’ve got a right to choose life they don’t want to lose. I’ve got to speak up. Won’t you?”

[1] Federal Wildlife Laws Handbook: Bald Eagle Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 668-668d (see attached) [2] MacArthur, John The Biblical View on Abortion c. 1993 (www.biblebb.com/files/mac/abort.htm) [3] Knox v. Massachusetts S.P.C.A., 425 N.E.2d 393, Mass. App., 1981 (http://bear.cba.ufl.edu/hoch/animallaw/readings_3.htm (see attached) [4] MacArthur, pgs. 5-6 (of 24)

By |2017-01-30T21:46:28+00:00October 25th, 2012|Categories: Articles by Rabbi Glenn|Tags: |Comments Off on If You Must Err, Err on the Side of Life

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