Special Note: This article is included in Jim’s book “An Attitude of Thankfulness” along with 19 other articles and is available for purchase in Paperback and eBook formats at this link: Jim’s Books
Today is Father’s Day, June 17, 2012. I’ve been thinking about my father today … in particular I have been thinking about a time in our lives when my father was my hero. I was twelve years old. My mother had a serious case of tuberculosis. At that time tuberculosis was highly contagious and the state required that Mom be isolated at Battey State Hospital in Rome, Georgia some 75 miles from our home in Decatur, Georgia. Almost every Sunday my Dad would drive to Rome to see my mother and he would take me along. Regulations forbid me to be anywhere near my mother. Dad had such a privilege, but he had to wear a clinical mask and had limited contact with my Mom. I would sit in the car, preferably in the shade, and wait on his return. When my Mom felt up to it she would go to a window and wave to me. That was the only way I could see her for more than a year.
When school was out, my younger sister Barbara stayed with my older sister Patricia at her home in Detroit. My Dad and I “batched” it together for that summer. He cooked, got me ready for YMCA day camp, made me a lunch, and took me to the pickup spot for the bus to pick me up for day camp. He then drove twenty miles to his job and worked all day. He usually got home late in the evening since he was one of the store managers. I had learned to swim at the day camp and was so excited about it that I wanted him to see what I could do. So, after he got home and even before he made dinner he would take me to the swimming pool to show off for him. In the fall Barbara came home to go back to school. My dad was a wonderful Dad to us. He somehow managed to find time to take me quail hunting on his day off. He generally did everything at home my Mom had previously done. Looking back I don’t know how he kept the pace. Eventually Dad had his half-sister, Ruby Akins, come to live with us to handle some of the household duties. Those were tough times for my younger sister, my Aunt, and particularly for my Mom and Dad.
Wow! In recalling those times I realize that I never gave enough credit to my Dad during his lifetime for the sacrifices he made during that two-year period. My thinking has always been mostly about my Mom and how she suffered. I really missed her, and she missed all of us deeply. It would have been easy for my Dad to give up, to decrease rather than increase his time with me, to complain … but he didn’t. My Dad loved me and I knew that until the day he died. He loved me even before I was born and he still loves me from his home in Heaven with our Heavenly Father.
These memories caused me to hearken back to a previous post I wrote in 2011 on The Sanctity of Life and Abortion. One of the thoughts that crossed my mind was … “What if my mother and father had decided to have an abortion when she was pregnant with me … there would be no love between me and my mother and father, no life at all, no dearly beloved wife of 49 years, no children, no grandchildren, no great-grandchildren.” What if my parents had said, “we just can’t afford another child right now and any way it’s not really a baby that’s inside Lottie, it’s just a fetus, part of her body, and her decision to do what she wanted to do with me. Besides we are right in the middle of World War II and we should be focused on helping our country … not on raising another baby.” Of course, this scenario would have ignored the truth about abortion, that is that abortion is tantamount to murder and millions of unborn babies are murdered each year.
While a number of people were following my blog when I first started writing early in 2011, there are many new readers now who may have not read my original post “On the Sanctity of Life and Abortion.” So bear with me as I reproduce it in its entirety within the context of this article.
Friends, I am burdened by the way that we so easily brush off the “lawful” murder/sacrifice of unborn children in the US. I believe that God will place our complacency toward this genocide alongside that of what Hitler did to the Jews through their mass slaughter. Since abortion has been “lawful” in the US, over 40 million unborn babies have never seen the light of day. As so many consider the decision to abort a child solely that of the mother, I wonder if those same people could agree that it is also the mother’s right to kill her baby after it is born. Our law calls that murder, but the abortion/murder decision is the sole privilege of the mother. I find this totally inconsistent from a human law standpoint. More important it is clear that the Bible teaches that abortion is murder. Would you pray during this “Sanctity of Life” week that God will intervene in this terrible genocide and allow man to truly see the error of his ways? May God forgive us as Christians for such complacency and urge us to tell everyone we know that as a society we will pay for the consequences of our collective sin.
The comments below are summarized from a Sunday School lesson I first taught to a married couple’s class in 1994 and have updated recently. They offer some biblical background on valuing human life. Unfortunately, it has only gotten worse in these past 17 years.
During the 20th century, humans have lived through the greatest period of change in the history of the world. Discoveries by natural science and countless new technical inventions have provided us with previously unheard of luxuries such as personal computers, iPhones, iPods, iPads, etc. However, during this same period, moral and spiritual values that withstood the test of the ages have gone into major decline. Our spiritual senses have been dulled primarily due to the influence of materialism. Everyday conduct that was condemned by previous generations has been commonly accepted as a life-style by today’s generation.
Particularly noticeable in today’s society is the lack of value placed upon human life. Just look at some of the evidences that the value is cheap: the rising murder rate; the advent of car-jacking and senseless killings; the controversy over euthanasia and voluntary suicide; the violence and illicit sex which fills our streets, movies, television, and communities; and perhaps the most telling of all, the millions of aborted babies who were never given a chance to be what God planned for them to be when they were conceived.
Sadly, many adults prefer to change the subject when the topic of sanctity of life and abortion arises. Most prefer to let others deal with the abortion issue. But unfortunately, there is no way we can avoid this crucial issue. Directly or indirectly, each of us is affected by the decisions enacted by our government in relation to abortion. There really is no middle ground on this issue with God. Let’s look to the Bible for God’s directive.
I. All human life comes from God (Gen. 1:27).
Genesis 1 (NIV)
27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
The Hebrew word for “create” is used only of God. It expresses the incomparable creative activity of God. While it is possible for people to invent or even to discover, only God can create. Consider how God made the first human Adam. (Gen 2:7) God breathed into man the “breath of life”, and that is what makes man unique on this earth. John 4:24 tells us that “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” If we are created in His image, then we too are spirit. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us about how God views the pre-born child by stating “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.” A person’s worth to God does not depend on age, gender, or nationality.
II. Jesus instructs Christians to influence society (Matt. 5:13-16) (all scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted).
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Christians are the “salt” of the earth. We lose our “saltiness” when we do not stand up for what is right. Eventually the lack of saltiness leads to the loss of purpose. We are also to be visible in the world (light), not hidden away from view. Christians must express their convictions regarding crucial moral issues such as abortion, pornography, child abuse, homosexuality, and substance abuse. I contend it is “right” for a Christian to take a stand and strongly urge those in government to correct the wrongs we see in our society. Christians must take the initiative to be salt and light on the abortion issue.
III. Jesus calls us to a new attitude concerning the value of Human Life (Matt. 5:21-22).
21 You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
The sixth commandment tells us that murder is wrong. How can people seem to have great understanding of the commandments of God and fail to see this command as it relates to the pre-born baby? Jesus speaks about man’s outward appearances and inward thoughts in verse 22 and tells us that we will be subject to judgment. It is clear from the scripture that man be judged by God on the abortion issue. Regardless of what you think about abortion, God’s position is clear. It is murder. The term “Raca” is a reproach used by the Jews in the time of Christ, meaning “worthless.” The Jews used it as a word of contempt. It is derived from a root meaning “to spit.” Is there really a question in your mind on where Jesus stands on the issue of abortion?
IV. Jesus commands us to live with sexual purity (Matt. 5:27-28).
27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
President Jimmy Carter got in trouble with the news media for admitting that he had “lusted” in his heart and for stating that he was a “born again” Christian. The teaching of Jesus clearly indicates that inward lust is sin … not just the outward act of adultery. This is different from what was being taught and practiced by the Jewish leadership based on their interpretation of the scriptures. Sexual attraction was created by God and is to be limited to the confines of marriage. Lust is the product of Satan and has been adopted by the sinful nature of man. Lust has been marginalized and popularized in our modern-day through movies, television and advertising. At every turn we are bombarded with messages that encourage us to accept sinful and sexual pleasures as a normal lifestyle. Couples live together outside of marriage in open defiance of God’s word. Countless Fortune 500 companies use sex as the central point of their message to sell their product. Ultimately the abortion issue just blends into our tolerance for immorality. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul calls Christians to be accountable for their conduct and “bring their bodies into subjection.”
V. Jesus demands that we value all human life (Matt. 5:43-45a).
43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Christian love as described by Jesus compels us to love all individuals, even our enemies. Such love includes protecting those individuals who cannot defend themselves. Some might argue that Christians have no responsibility in changing the attitude of our nation toward abortion. I contend that Christians have a deep responsibility to defend the un-born child, to counsel the unwed mother that there are alternatives to abortion, to counsel a mother who has had an abortion that God will forgive her of her heinous sin, and to persuade a couple who is considering abortion not to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.
If all of human life comes from God, will you follow God’s example and consider all life precious and sacred? How will you as a Christian influence our society? It is not enough to sit back and let someone else do it for you. A healthy and growing relationship with God means that our attitudes and actions must change to promote the value and worth of all people, particularly those who never get a chance to be born for the first time.
The link below will take you to a video posted on Facebook by the Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California. It is a wonderful depiction of the unborn child’s life cycle. I urge you to spend the few minutes it takes to view it and then pray that God will embolden you to take action about the pitiful human tragedy “we the people” are allowing to continue by “law” in the United States of America.
The opening portion of this article dealt with a time in my life that had a great deal to do with shaping the rest of my life. My life-values were already established when my mother got sick with tuberculosis. But I can tell you that the example my father set for me during that two-year ordeal had a lot to do with cementing them into my fabric for the rest of my life. I loved both of my parents dearly for the rest of their lives. My father passed away in 1986 at 76 years old after nearly a year-long illness brought on by a stroke. He had a sweet spirit and he loved me. I learned so much from my father. He was an honest man who had his faults, but then don’t all of us. The thing I remember the most about him was that he was a friend to all, but mostly to me. I thank God for both my earthly and my Heavenly Father.
My mother lived on to be 91. She and my father were married for 57 years. I will never forgot how hard they fought together to beat the tuberculosis and return the family to normalcy. And I thank God that they did not abort me in 1943 when it was not “convenient” nor “affordable” to have another baby!