Most times, a blog post for me originates from an emotional or deep spiritual experience, maybe ever so slight, at a church service, or even listening to music and praying in the car on the way to work. God enlightens me, His Spirit is illuminated through truth in His Word, and I have something I feel worthy to be shared. Because of this, my expectation usually is that my sharing will initiate the same experience in you. I realize this is not a given. But, I believe it is worth the effort.
The song that accompanies this montage has become one of my favorites. When I listen to it, the repetition convicts me that I'm not realizing or experiencing the grace of God deeply enough. Like ok, I get it: God loves me and demonstrated that love for me in that while I was yet a sinner, he died for me. That's pretty awesome. And then the Spirit pleads: "Yes, but do you really see this??" And I say, yeah, you're right, it is not just pretty awesome, it is amazing. Amazing grace. And he says, "Yes, but! Do you really understand the amazement of this?" And I say, you're right! Its not just amazing, it is unfathomable. "Yes, but! It is not just about your understanding. Do you feel this in your heart?" And so on we go. Soon, the only appropriate reaction is falling on my knees. And the song and the Spirit continue: It covers me! It covers me! I say: thank you Lord. Thank you Lord! I am not worthy, yet you love me, and cover me with your grace. And the Spirit says, "Yes, but! Do you feel it, and are you experiencing it, in your soul? Is it transforming you minute by minute?!"
The song could be 10 minutes long with the same lyrics, and still the Spirit would be speaking and pleading with me. If I had the opportunity to exhort a group of people with this song playing in the background, I would attempt to reenact this dialogue with the Spirit I have highlighted. I would press to the most practical level, and say, "Yes, you understand the grace, yes you feel the grace, yes you are experiencing the grace as transformation...but!! This is not just a temporary experience! It should be a constant reality in the Christian life."
Do you see, feel, and experience the overflowing grace of God when you are in a meeting, and no one is on the same page as you, and their questions and interruptions make it impossible to achieve the goal set before you, and your frustration boils up? Are you able, by this grace of God, with patience and a smile, to embrace an eternal perspective and boldly yet graciously simplify, clarify, and direct in a way to bring about resolution?
Do you see, feel, and experience the overflowing grace of God when you are at home with screaming children, and a dish is pushed off the counter and juice is spilled on the carpet? Are you able, by this amazing grace of God, to patiently yet forcibly discipline in an way that is encouraging for you children?
Do you see, feel, and experience the overflowing grace of God when you are stuck in traffic, get cut off when changing lanes, and later approach that same person who cut you off? Are you able, by the transforming grace of God, to offer a smile to that person that communicates forgiveness and grace, yet a certain amount of "go and sin no more" without being judgmental?
Pick your example.
It covers me. Grace flows down and covers me. It covers me! Thank you Jesus!
I don’t often consider the story of Jesus being presented at the temple, and the words and witness of Simeon in the Gospel of Luke, when I think of the Christmas story. Can you relate? I think of Mary, and Joseph, and the precious child in a manger. I think of the wise men, and the shepherds, and the gifts of frankincense. I know that as a baby, Jesus was Lord and Savior – he came as a human but all along he was God and would “save his people from their sins” – but I don’t think of the possibility of this reality being known and present in him as an infant. Right? We know it, but we don’t often consider whether if we had the opportunity to see him as a baby we would know by looking at him. We would probably just see a baby, and even as a devout Jewish person, not believe or understand what had already been said about him. Looking at him physically wouldn’t really change the unlikelihood in our minds that this baby was the promised Messiah who would go to a cross and receive the crown of glory. Would it?
Simeon: An Often Neglected Character in the Christmas Story
Yet the testimony of Simeon shows us that it was apparent, through the Holy Spirit, that the baby Jesus was the one who would accomplish the salvation of his people; a salvation prepared in the presence of all peoples and a light of revelation to the Gentiles; a salvation that would require him to suffer on a cross and taste death, and in turn, receive the crown of glory and honor. Simeon saw that, and even declared that after seeing it, now he could die. “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word” (Luke 2:22:29). God had fulfilled the promise He had made to him in His Word. It was finished! He knew now that to live was Christ, but to die would be gain, just as the apostle Paul later articulated. The cross and the crown were present with him even in the cradle.
Simeon was a man who lived in Jerusalem, and we are told was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. That description alone should uniquely draw us to him. He was righteous and devout. As we approach Christmas, and consider our Savior, celebrate his incarnation as a baby, and anticipate the celebration of his death and resurrection later, can the same be said of us? What does it mean for us to be righteous and devout as we approach the Christmas season? Does it matter? If we are already covered in the righteousness of Christ through our faith in his substitutionary sacrifice and our repentance away from sin towards new life in him, is there something additional required in our behavior or attitude for us to see, in Jesus, who he really is, what he did, and is still yet to do?
I’m not asking whether there is something additional required of us to become saved or stay saved, during the Christmas season. There is not. Salvation is by faith alone through Christ alone. Alone! But I am wondering whether our sensitivity to the Spirit can be reduced as we approach this special season in a way that when we look at a nativity scene, or sing Christmas carols in church, or pray with our family before a meal, we miss him. We just miss him. We think of safety and family and blessings and gifts, and we acknowledge Jesus as the center, but we fail to marvel at him. We fail to marvel at his grace, and his glory and honor. Is there not something, by way of devotion, that can better prepare us to marvel at him during this season, even when we see a wooden figure in the nativity scene on our mantle? He is the image of the invisible God! By him all things were created! He is before all things, and in him all things hold together! O, that Christians would practically know how to demonstrate this reality, and not minimize it, especially in anticipation of the celebration of the incarnation of Christ.
The Consolation of Israel
Simeon was also said to be waiting on the consolation of Israel. Are we waiting for the reconciliation of all things? Not waiting, as in, on our lawn or impatiently in our houses, but waiting eagerly, as in, talking about him and expressing joy and hope in him wherever we go. In Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven making peace by the blood of his cross (Col 1:19-20). As the author of the Book of Hebrews said, “we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (Heb 2:9).” How wonderful a time Christmas is to remind ourselves of the true hope in Jesus! What a great time to practically reveal the reality, that as Christians, we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved (Rom 8:23-24). In this hope!
John Calvin, in Volume XVI of his commentaries, said, “Since an expectation of this sort is commended in Simeon as an uncommon attainment, we may conclude, that there were few in that age, who actually cherished in their hearts the hope of redemption. All had on their lips the name of the Messiah, and of prosperity under the reign of David; but hardly any one was to be found, who patiently endured present afflictions, relying on the consolatory assurance, that the redemption of Christ was at hand.” May this hope and expectation not be a rare thing among Christians today, as it was in the time of Simeon! May we, as Calvin continues, “breathe out unceasing prayers for the promised redemption.”
If this hope specifically gripped us during the Christmas season (and all year, to be sure!), what a difference it would make to the cultural understanding and perception of Christians and the meaning of Christmas - as people see us marveling at the Person and Work of Jesus, with an eager hope that he really did live a perfect life once he grew up, and he really did possess the fullness of God in his person, and he really did taste suffering and death on the cross, for our sake, if we would believe, and he really did rise from the dead to give us hope, and he really is coming back to make all things new. And all of that we can see when we look at him! It is all true. And it is so amazing that now that we have seen, like Simeon, to die is gain. Family and safety and blessings and extravagant meals and gifts are wonderful and pleasurable, but they are a shadow. The substance is Christ.
A Sight to See
Hear this challenge from Calvin: “If the sight of Christ had so powerful an effect on Simeon, that he approached death with cheerfulness and composure, how much more abundant materials of lasting peace are now furnished to us, who have the opportunity of beholding our salvation altogether completed in Christ? True, Christ no longer dwells on earth, nor do we carry him in our arms; but his divine majesty shines openly and brightly in the gospel, and there do ‘we all’, as Paul says, ‘behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord,’ – not as formerly amidst the weakness of flesh, but in the glorious power of the Spirit, which he displayed in his miracles, in the sacrifice of his death, and in his resurrection. In a word, his absence from us in body is of such a nature, that we are permitted to behold him sitting at the right hand of the Father. If such a sight does not bring peace to our minds, and make us go cheerfully to death, we are highly ungrateful to God, and hold the honor, which he has bestowed upon us, in little estimation.”
May it never be! Let us see, and savor, and hope in Jesus Christ this season so that all may know the salvation that comes in him through the cross, and unites us with him in his crown of glory, all while we behold him in a cradle.
You are Lord. Help me be still. And know, that you are God! You are God! I come to you still a bit perplexed and disturbed. I know that you are sovereign and that you are good, and in your arms I rest. I desire so much not to be "ye with little faith". I know, as John Quincy Adams said, that "duty is ours, but victory is the Lord's". But I also know that you know my heart, my cares, my anxieties, and my sin. And you know my confusion and my frustration, and you can handle hearing about it, even though you already know. I appreciate that you desire that I ask of you, and you will provide in your perfect will and timing. You can even handle a little anger and questioning. You are God! And you are good, all the time.
So I come to you kinda broken, kinda mad, kinda confused, and kinda scared. I couldn't sleep after the election was called. I was emotional about politics! What in the world? I know that we were not voting for a savior. I wrote about that and was convicted about that 4 years ago. I know my Savior is Jesus Christ, and him alone. I know that your kingdom, the everlasting kingdom, is not of this world, not to mention this country. Yet, I am fighting to believe it a little. Not fighting for my life, say, or for my salvation, but fighting to believe it in every context of every part of life, namely, this week, in the outcome of the American elections.
Lord, you convicted my wife and I to have carry out Indian food and pray for the unreached Tanti Hindu people in Northeast India as we watched the election coverage. And it was awesome! But I feel convicted that I allowed the distraction of the election results to reduce the impact of that experience. I was not just a casual observer to a remarkable historic process, or even a trusted follower of you watching history unfold. I was an invested participant, with much at stake, who was legitimately worried that your will would be thwarted. I confess, and ask that you would forgive me! I know you have. Thank you Jesus.
But I know you didn't want me to be just a casual observer. You wanted me to participate, and then deal with the result. And so I'm dealing. And it's not easy. Lord, you know my most intimate thought, and so you know why it's not easy, but I want to tell you anyway, because I delight in union with you in prayer, and I know you delight in it also.
It is not easy because I am nine years into my family's business, and have increased responsibility and increased stake all the time. And we are in a transition season of our company, and it is hard. The stats for success for third generation small businesses are not good. We have our work cut out for us, and many people's livelihoods are at stake. And Gracious Father, I sincerely do not believe that my President remotely understands what we are up against, even before the burdens we have from his approach to governing. I don't believe this because, although he mentions support for "job creators" and "small businesses", his policies and philosophy bumps up against our efforts, and decreases our incentives and abilities to grow and to hire at almost every turn. I don't think he does this intentionally, just naively. And he doesn't seem to listen to those who know what they are talking about in business. I personally know of no businessperson in my network that believes he is helping business. I am sure they are out there, but I do not know them. Father, please help the President understand and see the big picture of small business, job creation, and economic growth in our country. Give him ears to hear, and humility. And help me and my company and my industry be patient, work hard, be outspoken, but also gracious, as we pray for and follow the leadership you have ordained. May the President's lack of experience in business not hinder his success any more, and may he surround himself with wise advisers to support him in leading our country to prosperity and our people to opportunity. I trust you Father.
It is not easy because I myself am at a much different life stage than I was in 2008. I was concerned then, but it was just me. Now I have a wonderful wife, and God willing, before Barack Obama's second term is over, I might have a child. That raises all the stakes. And I am concerned. Lord, things that I didn't think about practically, but only theoretically, are now real to me. Things like the national debt are real, in the context of a family, and raising another generation. The cost of health care is more significant when its not just you. Lord, of course I want as many people to have health care as possible, and the least of these without it is not your will, but why is an unpopular, government-mandated option with no regard for costs the right course of action? Is that not a reasonable concern? Lord, search my heart. May there be no offensive way in me. Also, things like financial investment are more real when you're in your 30s. Thoughts about investment for kids, for education, for retirement, are no longer hypothetical. And I am concerned investing in an environment that depends on a government that is highly in debt. Is that not shrewd? I am concerned investing in an environment that would punish gains and wealth. Would I not use wealth ultimately for your glory? Am I off base here Lord? I pray that President Obama would have humility and confidence as he explains and implements his heart for these things. And open our ears to listen, our mouths to discourse respectfully, and our hands to action, lest we be hypocrites.
It is not easy because the reaction to the outcome of this election from friends is all over the map, and in some cases Lord, it is deeply concerning. Some seem apathetic to what is very important. Like many Christians throughout history, they would sooner disengage than bring their perspective and ideas to the table. Some seem despondent, as if hope is lost. Some seem elated, and almost giddy, as if their hope is in something other than Jesus. Some seem proud, and hardhearted to things I know you care about, even while they support and speak for other things you also care about. Some seem angry. Some seem unwilling to make, or listen to, a reasonable argument. Help all of us be more like Jesus. Father, I pray that you would help the President maintain and apply his desire to unite and not to divide. May it not just be rhetoric. I pray that I would be patient and kind, and assume the best in those who seem to not know what they are talking about, or care. I know they might just disagree. Help me be humble. But help me be bold, and informed, and my words be gospel-shaped and God-glorifying.
It is not easy because I know...I know!... that you care about the unborn and to be pro-life does not mean to not care about women's rights. O Father, help us articulate our compassion for women as we defend the unborn. Is it not there? Search my heart, and give me your words. Help me discern and engage with those who automatically believe that I lack support for women in need just because I would defend the unborn, half of whom will one day be a woman themselves, if we would allow. Give me self-control to communicate my passion and what I know...I know!.. to be your heart, in light of stories that are just so ignorant to the pro-life cause and what it is really about. Stories like that promoted by "Daughters for Obama", about a 50 year-old woman who always wanted a little girl, but at her age did not desire to be pregnant, and when she was, and her long-awaited little girl was born with down-syndrome and only lived to age 6, she was in deep despair, and presumably would have rather her little girl not have been born, but aborted. O Lord, the foolishness and the tragedy of this! Help me show compassion for women in these situations while defending the preciousness of the life of those like little Felice. Lord, give us wisdom and humility to do the right thing to all involved in these situations. And give the President, and those in Congress, compassion and a listening ear to govern in a way that protects women and the least of these, who have no voice, and will never have a voice, if we don't let them live. Is "Unborn for Obama" not just as significant a cause as "Daughters for Obama"? O, that you would make that happen even within four short years. You know the names of the numerous daughters who were never born.
And lastly, it is not easy because in retrospect, the result of the election was not only predictable and unsurprising, but also in some ways it is not all bad. And I don't like to admit that. In 2008 I supported John McCain in large part because he represented a candidate who would not promote himself as much as he would work hard to help the country, whereas Barack Obama seemed to promote himself, almost as a savior, in his efforts to help the country. I believed then, and I believe now, that such an approach confuses who is truly our savior, and would not only distract Christians from your global glory and purpose, but also be a hindrance to communicating the gospel to those who don't believe. And in some ways, Mitt Romney was perhaps a similar candidate with a similar approach. His continuing remarks about America being the "hope of the earth" is confusing and dangerous savior language. Perhaps this focus was outside your will, and therefore an explanation for the result. Thank you for your graciousness in giving us clarity and access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. May we honor it and proclaim it! Some day Lord, we know, it will be less accessible and welcomed. It already is in many places. Father, give the President humility to see himself and the government not as the solution to our problems, but as a helper, and an institution that can promote great good, and restrain great evil, through the structures that you ultimately have established and held together.
I see now that the result may have not been all bad because the country is changing, and certain trends are better in the open than underground, so we can have the opportunity to discern and respond to them. It is clear now that the demographics of our great nation have gone through a transformation, and any political party that ignores the scope of minority groups or issues that matter to them, will not likely be in governing power. It is good that this is clear. Father, remind me daily that I am a Christian before a Republican, a citizen of heaven before a citizen of this world, or this country. But as a Republican, and a citizen of this world and this country also, help me communicate priorities and adapt to changes, without compromising convictions. Lord, in your mysterious will, you have provided an opportunity for those who believe strongly about life and family to reevaluate the way we articulate convictions, so as not to mislead or turn away those who disagree. Help us be clear, and bold, and compassionate. Father, give us your words so that we always have a reason for the hope that is in us, and a reason for why we defend the unborn but still support women, and a reason for why we defend the traditional view of marriage and family yet still support equal rights. As Christians, help us clarify, and rethink, if necessary, our views on immigration, foreign policy, climate change, and care for the poor, so that we are in line completely with the truth of Scripture, and convincing in our efforts. Give us a clear conscience, Lord, and a winsome spirit, as we engage in these issues. I pray that the President and all our elected officials would not consider "conservatives" to be out of touch, but still a relevant and helpful voice for the common good. And may we take advantage of that openness to hear us out by being clear, bold, and compassionate in defending what we know is non-negotiable, and being humble to what still requires healthy discourse and disagreement.
I love you Lord, and I trust you. Give me discernment to speak and act in a manner worthy of you, even as it applies to politics. Give those who disagree soft hearts and open minds to hear reasonable arguments, and in disagreement help me be patient, gracious, and understanding, and help common ground be gained for the common good of all people, and ultimately, for exposure to your great gospel so many may hear and believe, and you may be glorified. Please help the President and elected officials work for the common good in a selfless way. Help your church be a light not just to this nation, but unto all the nations, with eager anticipation of your coming.
I pray in the name of Jesus Christ; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
So, I have officially read every article on the Internet about the election. Most of them are saved on my jump drive. I am told they are finished writing them now, so I have adequately caught up. Someone informed me today, though, that I should not believe everything I read online, because some people are either crazy or stupid, or both. I was glad to be informed of that, otherwise this post could have been a lot different. Crisis averted.
I assure you I am neither crazy nor stupid. However, it is hard to imagine that any contribution of mine would have any affect at this juncture. Yet, I proceed nonetheless. Someone out there has to care? Otherwise why would all these people be writing and talking about it all so much?
Let me start by making a few things clear. I do not believe Barack Obama is a Muslim or born in another country. I do not believe Mitt Romney is a rich snob who doesn’t care about the poor. I do not believe Barack Obama desires to ruin the moral foundations of our country. I do not believe that Mitt Romney is going to impose a Mormon worldview on the country. I do not believe Barack Obama desires to appease our enemies and leave us in great danger. I do not believe Mitt Romney is a liar or a fool. I do not believe Barack Obama is a Socialist. I do not believe that Mitt Romney is a man of questionable or inconsistent character. I do not believe Barack Obama is corrupt. I do not believe Mitt Romney hates women or is indifferent to their rights.
Imagine how much time and silliness could have been saved if more people just agreed with my previous paragraph and continued on with serious and intelligent discourse? My goodness. Instead, irrelevant and unintelligent conversation has dominated the “stump”. Oh, what could have been.
But with that as introduction, hopefully people of all political affiliations can now hear me out. Especially Christians, as ultimately, this post is a plea to Evangelical Christians. They are, in the end, the only segment of the electorate to which I would claim even partial influence. Why? Because I is one. What follows is how I have approached this election, and God willing, will approach every election going forward. I hope it can be challenge and encouragement.
First, I establish prerequisites for the candidates. By this I mean, of course, that in order for me to consider a candidate at all, a few criteria have to be met. Let me warn you that it is impossible to hide my ultimate thoughts until the end, and even at this juncture, my “vote” will be revealed. I truly expect to lose many with my choice of criteria to use as “prerequisites”. Please don’t let me lose you! Even if you disagree, I am extremely serious about these, and as long as I have breath I will contend that they are not only relevant, but logical and non-negotiable to the Evangelical Christian.
First, the candidate must defend the sanctity of human life. What does that mean? Well, I have formed my definition here in large part through the influence of Ronald Sider and his book, The Scandal of Evangelical Politics. It means several things. It means that he or she defends the unborn (in addition to the mother) and supports efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion. It also means that he or she is opposed to the unnatural taking of elderly life because of someone’s definition of whether it is their time. It also means that he or she is opposed to efforts to trifle with human life in the form of genetic engineering, human cloning, or embryonic stem-cell research. It also means that he or she is proactive and vocal in reducing preventable starvation within our country and around the world. On these things, neither candidate for President is a shining star. But it is clear that Mitt Romney meets the prerequisite criteria and Barack Obama does not.
Consider the ever-sensitive abortion issue: Richard Mourdock from Indiana was the subject of much news because of his out spoken defense of unborn life, without exception, which I wrote on in my last post and explained as the coherent, biblical, pro-life worldview. He went as far as to say that even in the unfortunate case of rape, that abortion should not be allowed. And all hell broke loose, and very few who disagreed were willing to hear this simple and coherent argument explained. It is a fair question, and those of us who hold to pro-life without exceptions should be prepared to explain it. So to, though, should those who hold to pro-choice without exceptions be prepared to explain how they could justify killing a baby who is 7 months in the womb, who is perfectly healthy, in a mother who is perfectly healthy, with the husband and father around, and two other children at home. Mitt Romney has explained his stance on the tough and rare issue of abortion in the case of rape. Though I disagree with the exception, he meets my prerequisite criteria because he would support efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate abortion. Barack Obama has never explained and justified his stance on the abortion of a perfectly healthy baby and mother with husband and father, brother and sister at home. This is quite appalling actually.
So it goes. I am NOT a one-issue voter. But applying a simple prerequisite system, using issues that, as a Christian, simply are non-negotiate by any faithful reading of Scripture and awareness of church history, I can’t even get passed the first sub-point of my first prerequisite criteria. The good news is that this means I don’t have to spend a lot of time discussing my second prerequisite criteria, namely, marriage and family. I’ll simply quote Sider: “Through federal and state legislation and constitutional amendments, we should insist on the historical definition of marriage. Vastly more important, however, is the long, tough struggle to persuade heterosexual couples to keep their marriage vows and promises to their children. The right kind of legislation can help some. More vigorous, biblically famous teaching and discipling in our churches can do much more. Somehow, if our grandchildren are to live in good, just, healthy societies, we must find ways to restore wholesome, joyous, faithful marriages and families.” It is fairly obvious that one candidate meets this prerequisite while another does not.
If, someday, neither of the candidates meet these prerequisites, that will be an interesting discussion about whether voting or not voting is the best course of action. Clearly, this time around, voting is the right and necessary thing to do.
If, someday, both of the candidates meet these prerequisites, that will be an interesting and necessary discussion about numerous important issues that I have many thoughts on, such as, foreign policy, the economy, health care, debt, size of government, climate change, immigration, etc. In fact, in my extensive reading I have considered the candidates almost exclusively on these issues before I even finalized my prerequisite system. It is true I knew I was not going to vote for a candidate who did not defend the sanctity life and traditional marriage, for example, as these are issues that go beyond the realm of politics and into the theological realm. But I wanted to be informed and aware of the differences and the nuances of these issues. I think I have done that, but unfortunately, I don’t have the time to break all that down for you. Suffice to say, Governor Mitt Romney comes out as the candidate who fits within my biblical political framework, without a shadow of a doubt.
This is without question one of the quicker blog posts I have ever written. I regret that, as I have so much to say, and there is no way I communicated effectively here. Hopefully I at least communicated a biblical political philosophy, or encouraged you to develop one. Probably just reading Sider’s Scandal of Evangelical Politics would be the more complete way to gather everything I am saying. If you’re like me, you won’t agree on every page. But you will be excited and convicted to immerse yourself in Scripture to find out how to glorify God in your political participation.
No matter the ultimate “winner”, I hope to post a very heartfelt prayer for either Obama or Romney the next morning, for their families, their protection, and wisdom in leading this great country, all the while expressing my trust and dependence on my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose kingdom will have no end.
on the controversial theological topic that in our culture and time has wrongly
become a mostly political topic, and the stances of three men running for
office this election cycle whom I support politically, but (two of which) I disagree
with in part on what is the complete pro-life priority, my heart is heavy.
Christians not in the public sphere, we can be clear in a way politicians can't.
This is the way of the world. So are we? Here is my attempt: What Satan means for evil (in the case of rape), God can mean for good (in the case of new
human life). I hope that is as clear as it gets. The hardest question is not what
is God doing in the act of rape that causes pregnancy, but what is he doing in
a rape that doesn't? And as an aside, neither question is political at the
core. There are political implications in society, to be sure, but we don’t
expect any politician to be able to fully articulate the complexity of how they
would work in our fallen world to everyone’s satisfaction, especially in the
context of a campaign. Or, at least, we shouldn’t expect that. Lest we be naïve
and even disruptive to the political process.
the first question, namely, what is God doing in the case of a rape that leads
to pregnancy, can be confidently answered at least in part from a biblical
worldview. Among other things, most of which we will never understand in this
life, in the case where this act leads to conception, we can unequivocally say
that one thing God is doing, indeed one thing he already has done, is create life.
And that is very good! The God of the universe said so. It is the same life at
conception that is present in the case of a pregnancy in a woman who is
contemplating abortion because of financial reasons alone, or no reason at all. It is the same life
at conception that is present in the case of a pregnancy in a woman who has
waited to have kids through several miscarriages, or in a woman who has been
blessed with two other children already. It is the same life at conception that
was present in your mother when you were in the womb. It is the same life. It
is all very good! And defending the sanctity of life means defending all of it.
This is the coherent biblical pro-life perspective.
that does not mean that we as Christians have to automatically abandon support for those who
are pro-life but would make various rare exceptions, such as Governor Mitt
Romney and apparently Congressman Mike Pence, who now are outspokenly pro-life
except in the case of rape (and incest, which isn’t talked about much, and in
the case when the life of mother is at stake, which everyone agrees is an “exception”
because another life is at stake). But let’s not confuse what the coherent biblical
pro-life argument is, or make ridiculous accusations of “insensitivity to rape
victims” or “opposition to women” when this perspective is offered. Of equal priority, of course, is to support, care for, and grieve with, victims of rape.
Anyone who says the pro-life without exception stance neglects this does not understand
the argument or the person making it. Even the President of the United States has implied these things about recent events (on the Jay Leno show of all places), indicating his own naivety to the worldview, and reluctance to hear it simply explained and defended. There is a big difference between disagreeing with this worldview and implying that it is insensitive or unacceptable. So many today blur this difference to their shame. That is not only intolerant but ignorant. It is not shocking that pro-life without exception is the
stance of those who claim pro-life. It is more shocking (though not really “shocking”)
to make exceptions while claiming pro-life. Life except in the case of....doesn't make sense in principle. David Weigel in Slate interestingly points out that Joe Donnelly, the Democrat opponent to Mourdock in the Indiana Senate race, is also pro-life and believes that life begins at conception. But he not only makes the exception for rape, but also foolishly accuses those who don't make this exception to be insensitive and unacceptable. Weigel says: "You've got a Republican candidate who believes that life starts at conception and won't make allowances for abortion, and a Democrat who believes life starts at conception and HEY LOOK OVER THERE." At least the exceptions such as in the case of rape indicate real possibilities that need to be addressed, and are indeed unfortunate, and therefore delicate and complicated. Some just disagree that they should be exceptions. In principle, everyone that is "pro-life" should, but the fact everyone doesn't is not the end of the world. Better to defend life in the majority of the instances where abortion is performed when other options should be pursued. There is always a better answer than killing the baby. That is the core of what it means to be pro-life, and it is sensitive enough of a stance, even without the rare exceptions. When those who are pro-life are asked about these exceptions, it sure is nice to have this type of testimony to give us all real perspective and an opinion that really matters: "My mother was raped at 17. She went to a back alley abortion clinic in 1972. She was so young, she was 17 years old. Her life had been changed, and all she wanted was her life back. I owe my life to pro-life advocates, for saying my life was worth saying. I don't deserve to die for the act of my father. 20 years ago, I was pro-life with exceptions. I never really looked at the child's point of view, I only looked at the mother. I stand behind Richard Mourdock 100 percent because if you're going to be pro-life, there cannot be exceptions, because we're not thinking about the child if there are exceptions." Frankly, any politician or media pundit talking about this issue seriously without acknowledging and being sensitive to stories like this, hardly deserve your attention or your respect.
I read an article yesterday morning titled, Media's galling abortion extremism double standards, that makes a very interesting point; one that really should be reconciled by those who would consider pro-life without exception to be "extreme":
"It's worth noting that no debates ever ask any consistent pro-choice candidates why they think there should be no protection for unborn children whose lives are ended simply because they're female, or because they have Down syndrome, or because they're inconveniently timed, or because of the circumstances of their conception. Nope, even though the vast majority of Americans seek some or total protection for unborn children, these questions are never asked."
Boy would I love some debate moderator to ask the current President these types of questions. Too late I guess. Thankfully,
the world is not yet requiring politicians who proclaim Christ to answer the
second question I mentioned above, namely, what is God doing in the case of rape that doesn’t
lead to pregnancy? What good is coming from that? But they will eventually.
the world asking us? If so, what are we saying? Why do bad things happen to
good people? Where is God when it hurts? How could a good God allow evil and
still be all-powerful and all-good? What are we saying to these very good, yet
very common, questions? Are we ready to give an answer for the hope that we have?
the meantime, we should rejoice in our sufferings for their (the world's) sake, because in our flesh we will be filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions, not by way of
accomplishment, but by way of personal presentation. How? By showing others redemption
through suffering that they might otherwise never personally see for themselves.
Why? For the sake of His body, that is, the church! This is the gospel. All
Richard Mourdock was saying is that God can and does bring good (not just
better than bad, but ultimate good!) out of evil and suffering. He did this in Jesus. And he can do this in the life of a human being conceived in the
horrific act of rape. We know this because he brought even better good than a baby (redemption in Jesus) out of even greater suffering than rape (crucifixion of Jesus). To not understand this is to not understand the gospel. We
should not be surprised that the media and the secular world do not understand
the gospel. Of course they don’t. It is foolishness. Worse, they hate it. That does not change our message.
you are a Christian, you, like Paul, have become a minister according to the
stewardship of God that was given to you for them (the world), to make the word
of God fully known – not partially known – the mystery hidden for ages and
generations but now revealed to the saints. To you God chose to make
known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery,
which is Christ in you…the hope of glory! Him we proclaim, teaching everyone
and warning everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature
in Christ (everyone!) - not immature, unable to explain and understand the word of God, and
how it applies to life, suffering, and more; even politics - but mature. For this reason
we toil, struggling with all his energy (not our energy!) that he powerfully
works within us. – Colossians 1:24-29 Praying with you for our leaders, our country, and the unborn - without exception.
The teaching, words, and ministry of many people (to be referenced and credited periodically) have contributed significantly to the thoughts and efforts of the writings posted on this site, perhaps in some cases verbatim. May God make me invisible and show me as helpless, show the people quoted and referenced as humble and anointed, and most importantly show Jesus Christ as infinitely glorious and irresistibly desirable.
I ate fiberglass insulation. It wasn't cotton candy like that guy said. My tummy itches.