Sunday, January 28, 2018

Defining Responsibility - Where's the Line?

These are sermon notes, not written in a polished or finished manuscript form. To see the video of this and other sermons:
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Reading – Ex 32:1-6, 21-24
As Christians we must faithfully identify, accept, and fulfill our God-given roles and tasks, for which we alone will answer to God. Yet there is a point at which our responsibility ends and that of others begins. Where is that line? How can we handle what is on our own plate without blaming ourselves for others’ decisions and actions, over which we have no control?
Government Shutdown of 2018
Quick question: Who was to blame for the government shutdown? So far all are 100% agreed that it was “someone else’s fault!” Who gets the credit for ending the shutdown? So far all are agreed that they themselves deserve the praise for fixing others’ mess! So … who can prevent the next shutdown February 8? Again, 100% agreement. “I can prevent it, if you’ll just wise up, do everything exactly as I say, and give me the praise!”
Basic idea: there is a line. On this side is your responsibility. On the other side is the other person’s responsibility.
Like the fence that separates your yard from your neighbor’s. You know what’s on your side. You own it. You choose what to put there (as long as your HOA permits it, of course!). You pay the taxes on it.
From Genesis to Revelation
Ge 3:1-19 Adam, Eve, the serpent, and God.
Ge 4:1-16 Cain, Abel, and God.
Ex 32:1-35 Israelites, Aaron, Moses, and God.
2 Sa 11-12 King David, Bathsheba, and Uriah.
Mt 7 The two roads; the two foundations.
Mt 13 The sower, the seed, and the 4 responses.
Mt 25 Ten virgins, talents, sheep and goats.
A rich ruler. A blind beggar. Judas, Pilate, Peter.
Ac 13:44-48 All who heard the gospel.
Re 21:7-8 Overcomers and lost sinners.

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent
Ge 3:12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Cain and Abel
Ge 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” 8 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Aaron, the Israelites, and the Golden Calf
Ex 32:1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5 Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Ex 32:21 Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?” 22 Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. 23 “For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 “I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
Moses delayed. People approached Aaron.
Aaron called for gold. He took it, fashioned it, made the calf.
Aaron rationalized. “Do not be angry. You know how people are, prone to evil.” He implied, “They pressured me into this.” He admitted, “I said …”
“Out came this calf!”
Other Scriptures on responsibility:
Ten Maidens: responsible to...
Servants with Talents: responsible to...
Sheep and Goats: responsible to...
LUKE 12:42-48 To whom much is given, from him much will be required.
1 COR 4:2 It is required of stewards ... faithful.
HEB 4:13 No creature hidden; all things open, laid bare
MATT 11:20-24 More opportunity means more responsibility
MATT 12:36-37 Render account for every careless word
2 COR 5:10 All appear before the judgment seat of Christ ...
1 PET 4:5 They shall give account to Him.
GAL 6:3-5, 7-10 Carry own load; reap what you sow. No one can bear your responsibilities but you.
REV 20:11-15 Judgment from the books of deeds.
ROM 3:19 Whole world accountable, mouth closed.
Ro 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
SAUL The people insisted (1 SAM 15:20-21).
DAVID sent Uriah home to sleep with Bathsheba
2 Sam 12:1-10              Nathan to David: “You are the man!”
JONAH fled from his call to go to Nineveh
JUDAS threw down the 30 silver coins.
PILATE washed his hands publicly.
Responsibility is knowledge + ability + opportunity. If you know it’s right, you are able to do it, and you have the chance to do it, then you are responsible to do it.
Jas 4:17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Matt 11:20-24               Cities in Jesus’ day to receive greater judgment.
Matt 28:11-15               Jewish elders to guards: “We will keep you out of trouble.”
Jn 19:11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
Responsibility needs to be taught and enforced from the earliest age.
Little boy. “My parents and teachers tell me I’m a very responsible young man. Every time something goes wrong, they say, ‘Billy, you’re responsible!’”
Smokey the Bear – “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!”
Age of accountability.
Emotional Fitness – A Counselor’s Perspective, by Dr. Betty Hamblen
Choices – Each individual is responsible for the choices he makes. If this concept was not taught to you as a child, then please save yourself much heartache and learn it now before you age another minute. Let’s repeat: Each individual is responsible for the choices he makes. He can choose where he goes (to church or to follow a friend to a questionable place) and how he spends time (more work or time with his family). He also can choose to stay estranged from a family member or to reconcile, to overspend or to budget, to make inappropriate flirtatious overtures or to conduct himself with respect and purity.
The troubling issue in choice-making comes when an individual expects someone else to take responsibility for that individual’s choices.
When my grandchildren were younger, one of the first things they did in visiting our house was to pull off their shoes and socks and run around the house barefoot. Being shoeless did not usually cause a problem unless we had to go out of the house to run an errand. We were then delayed while socks and shoes were located and put on.
On one of their visits we were in a hurry to get to the library before it closed. My grandson who was then about five or six years old could not find his socks and shoes.  He asked, “Nana, where are my shoes?” I replied, “I don’t know. Where did you take them off?”
If he hadn’t been so serious, I probably would have laughed at his next responses. He said, “They were by the door, but where did you put them?” I replied, “I didn’t put your shoes anywhere. They are probably in the place where you took them off.”
“No, Nana,” he said, “I took them off by the door, but you must have moved them because they aren’t there. Now tell me where they are.”
Hiding a smile, I reflected on the lesson in personal responsibility that his mother had been working to teach him. She usually asked him three questions, “Who do the shoes belong to?” “Who wore them here today?” “Who took them off?” After each question, he confessed that he was the one who owned the shoes, who wore the shoes, and who took off the shoes. Then the usual fourth question came. “Then whose responsibility do you think it is to keep up with the shoes?”
He was and is a smart boy, so he could see the logical conclusion. If he owned the shoes, wore them, and took them off, then the responsibility for finding them was his. On that day at my house, when I hesitated to answer, and was about to ask the first question, he said, “I know, I know. They’re my re-spon-si-bi-li-ty. I’ll find them.”
Daniel was young and still learning about responsibility, but many adults act in the same manner. They expect others to take care of their personal circumstances, choices, and emotions. They want someone else to relieve them of their own responsibilities. Many do not come to the same conclusion that Daniel did, “They’re my responsibility.”
People frequently expect someone else to take responsibility for choices that they themselves actually made. Let’s illustrate.
Suppose a high school student chooses not to study for a test because he would rather play computer games than read the textbook chapters and put in the work to learn the material. When he receives a poor grade on the test, he may say the test was too hard or the teacher had never liked him. He is asking the teacher to take responsibility for his own choice not to study.
Suppose a woman chooses to have an affair with someone she “friends” on a social media site. When her marriage breaks up, she then may tell others that her husband “never understood” her and that her friends “would understand if they really knew him (husband).” She is asking her husband to take responsibility for her poor choice.
Suppose a college student sleeps late because she stayed up until 2:00 a.m. watching a movie and misses a test in her 8:00 a.m. class the next morning. When her roommate comes in from the same class, the student gets angry and tells “roomie” she should have made sure the student was awake before she left. The student is asking her roommate to take responsibility for the student’s own choice.
Suppose a husband chooses to use physical violence to express his emotions instead of choosing to learn to communicate in appropriate verbal terms. He then blames his wife for saying something that provoked him to hit her. He is asking his wife to take responsibility for his own choice.
These individuals are responsible for their own choices. But they expect another (the one who is blamed) to step over the fence that defines the chooser’s own responsibilities. They want that person to pick up the responsibility that rightfully belongs to the chooser.
The game-playing teen expects the teacher to step over the fence and take away his responsibility to study. The adulterous wife wants her husband to cross over the fence and pick up the burden of responsibility. The tardy college student tries to badger her roommate to put on her shoulders what rightfully belongs to the late sleeper. The violent husband refuses to admit that his choice belongs within his own fence. The responsibility of his choice and its natural consequences does not belong to his wife.
Fences are in place because they are an appropriate way to define what belongs to you and what belongs to another. Fences around property designate where the responsibility for maintaining your own home ends and your neighbor’s responsibility begins. The same concept helps us see more clearly the emotional responsibilities that belong to us and those that belong to someone else.
No More Back-Seat Car Fights: Triplets’ Father “Builds the Wall!”
The Line that Separates “Mine” from “Not Mine” – Responsibility
The Watchman: Ezekiel 33:1-9
Sees the danger, blows the trumpet to warn all.
If not, their death is his responsibility.
However, his responsibility has a limit.
Eze 33:1 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. 5 ‘He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. 6 ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’ 7 “Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. 8 “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. 9 “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.
The Citizens: Ezekiel 33:1-9
Hear the trumpet blast, flee the city and escape.
If not, their death is only their responsibility.
In that case, the watchman is not at fault.
You Answer for Your Stuff.
Others Answer for Theirs.
Choices (sowing) and consequences (reaping).
Attitudes and emotions. Actions and reactions.
Faith and motivation. Submission and obedience.
Worship and involvement. Bible study and prayer.
Schedule and assignments. Habits and routines.
Treatment of others, whether friends or not.
Self-control, moral purity, and sobriety.
Promise-keeping and follow-through.
If you made the choice, you are responsible for it.
You Must Not …
Cross the line of responsibility.
Blame others for your own choices and actions.
Blame yourself for others’ choices and actions.
Allow others to blame you for their behavior.
Bail out others and enable them to do wrong.

Consider who is on one side of the responsibility line, and who is on the other. Here are some examples.

SIDE ONE            SIDE TWO

Watchmen           Citizens

Parents                Children

Shepherds           Sheep

Teachers              Students

Preachers            Hearers

Leaders                Followers

Employers           Employees

The Savior           The Sinner

You and Your Fences
You set appropriate fences.
You monitor and maintain those fences.
You let others know what and where they are.
You know when they are violated.
You restore them when they are crossed.
You take care of all that is inside them.
You do not blame others for your fences.
You respect others’ fences and do not cross them.
Individual responsibility – my fences are my responsibility: setting appropriate ones, maintaining them, knowing when they are violated, restoring them when they are crossed, and taking care of whatever is within the fences.
You and Your Emotions
Events do not determine your emotions. You do.
Whatever happens, you choose your response.
Will you pout and give the silent treatment?
Will you envy and resent your coworker?
Will you become bitter and fault the church, its members, or its leaders?
Will you be the skunk that sprays others?
Will you be the turtle that pulls into its shell?
You and Your Children
Eze 18:19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. 20 “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
To My Child Things I Can and Cannot Do
I can share your life, but I cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions, but I cannot always lead you.
I can allow you freedom, but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church, but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I cannot decide for you.
I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can tell you the facts of life, but I cannot build your reputation.
I can tell you about lofty goals, but I cannot achieve them for you.
I can teach you to obey, but I cannot answer for your actions.
I can warn you about sin, but I cannot make your morals.
I can love you as my child, but I cannot place you in God’s family.
I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Him your Savior.
I can teach you about prayer, but I cannot make you pray.
I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal life.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation – Ronald Reagan

See also - Precious in His Sight: the Sanctity of Unborn Human Life:

While president, Ronald Reagan penned this article for The Human Life Review, unsolicited. It ran in the Review’s Spring 1983 issue. In 1984 it was published in a book by the same title.

Feb 3, 1983
THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is a good time for us to pause and reflect. Our nationwide policy of abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy was neither voted for by our people nor enacted by our legislators—not a single state had such unrestricted abortion before the Supreme Court decreed it to be national policy in 1973. But the consequences of this judicial decision are now obvious: since 1973, more than 15 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out by legalized abortions. That is over ten times the number of Americans lost in all our nation’s wars.
Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court’s result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right. Shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision, Professor John Hart Ely, now Dean of Stanford Law School, wrote that the opinion “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.” Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at a “right” so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born. Yet that is what the Court ruled.
As an act of “raw judicial power” (to use Justice White’s biting phrase), the decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court’s decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.
Abortion concerns not just the unborn child, it concerns every one of us. The English poet, John Donne, wrote: “… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life. We saw tragic proof of this truism last year when the Indiana courts allowed the starvation death of “Baby Doe” in Bloomington because the child had Down’s Syndrome.
Many of our fellow citizens grieve over the loss of life that has followed Roe v. Wade. Margaret Heckler, soon after being nominated to head the largest department of our government, Health and Human Services, told an audience that she believed abortion to be the greatest moral crisis facing our country today. And the revered Mother Teresa, who works in the streets of Calcutta ministering to dying people in her world-famous mission of mercy, has said that “the greatest misery of our time is the generalized abortion of children.”
Over the first two years of my Administration I have closely followed and assisted efforts in Congress to reverse the tide of abortion-efforts of Congressmen, Senators and citizens responding to an urgent moral crisis. Regrettably, I have also seen the massive efforts of those who, under the banner of “freedom of choice,” have so far blocked every effort to reverse nationwide abortion-on-demand.
Despite the formidable obstacles before us, we must not lose heart. This is not the first time our country has been divided by a Supreme Court decision that denied the value of certain human lives. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 was not overturned in a day, or a year, or even a decade. At first, only a minority of Americans recognized and deplored the moral crisis brought about by denying the full humanity of our black brothers and sisters; but that minority persisted in their vision and finally prevailed. They did it by appealing to the hearts and minds of their countrymen, to the truth of human dignity under God. From their example, we know that respect for the sacred value of human life is too deeply engrained in the hearts of our people to remain forever suppressed. But the great majority of the American people have not yet made their voices heard, and we cannot expect them to—any more than the public voice arose against slavery—until the issue is clearly framed and presented.
What, then, is the real issue? I have often said that when we talk about abortion, we are talking about two lives—the life of the mother and the life of the unborn child. Why else do we call a pregnant woman a mother? I have also said that anyone who doesn’t feel sure whether we are talking about a second human life should clearly give life the benefit of the doubt. If you don’t know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn.
The case against abortion does not rest here, however, for medical practice confirms at every step the correctness of these moral sensibilities. Modern medicine treats the unborn child as a patient. Medical pioneers have made great breakthroughs in treating the unborn—for genetic problems, vitamin deficiencies, irregular heart rhythms, and other medical conditions. Who can forget George Will’s moving account of the little boy who underwent brain surgery six times during the nine weeks before he was born? Who is the patient if not that tiny unborn human being who can feel pain when he or she is approached by doctors who come to kill rather than to cure?
The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law—the same right we have.
What more dramatic confirmation could we have of the real issue than the Baby Doe case in Bloomington, Indiana? The death of that tiny infant tore at the hearts of all Americans because the child was undeniably a live human being—one lying helpless before the eyes of the doctors and the eyes of the nation. The real issue for the courts was not whether Baby Doe was a human being. The real issue was whether to protect the life of a human being who had Down’s Syndrome, who would probably be mentally handicapped, but who needed a routine surgical procedure to unblock his esophagus and allow him to eat. A doctor testified to the presiding judge that, even with his physical problem corrected, Baby Doe would have a “non-existent” possibility for “a minimally adequate quality of life”—in other words, that retardation was the equivalent of a crime deserving the death penalty. The judge let Baby Doe starve and die, and the Indiana Supreme Court sanctioned his decision.
Federal law does not allow federally-assisted hospitals to decide that Down’s Syndrome infants are not worth treating, much less to decide to starve them to death. Accordingly, I have directed the Departments of Justice and HHS to apply civil rights regulations to protect handicapped newborns. All hospitals receiving federal funds must post notices which will clearly state that failure to feed handicapped babies is prohibited by federal law. The basic issue is whether to value and protect the lives of the handicapped, whether to recognize the sanctity of human life. This is the same basic issue that underlies the question of abortion.
The 1981 Senate hearings on the beginning of human life brought out the basic issue more clearly than ever before. The many medical and scientific witnesses who testified disagreed on many things, but not on the scientific evidence that the unborn child is alive, is a distinct individual, or is a member of the human species. They did disagree over the value question, whether to give value to a human life at its early and most vulnerable stages of existence.
Regrettably, we live at a time when some persons do not value all human life. They want to pick and choose which individuals have value. Some have said that only those individuals with “consciousness of self” are human beings. One such writer has followed this deadly logic and concluded that “shocking as it may seem, a newly born infant is not a human being.”
A Nobel Prize winning scientist has suggested that if a handicapped child “were not declared fully human until three days after birth, then all parents could be allowed the choice.” In other words, “quality control” to see if newly born human beings are up to snuff.
Obviously, some influential people want to deny that every human life has intrinsic, sacred worth. They insist that a member of the human race must have certain qualities before they accord him or her status as a “human being.”
Events have borne out the editorial in a California medical journal which explained three years before Roe v. Wade that the social acceptance of abortion is a “defiance of the long-held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal value for every human life regardless of its stage, condition, or status.”
Every legislator, every doctor, and every citizen needs to recognize that the real issue is whether to affirm and protect the sanctity of all human life, or to embrace a social ethic where some human lives are valued and others are not. As a nation, we must choose between the sanctity of life ethic and the “quality of life” ethic.
I have no trouble identifying the answer our nation has always given to this basic question, and the answer that I hope and pray it will give in the future. America was founded by men and women who shared a vision of the value of each and every individual. They stated this vision clearly from the very start in the Declaration of Independence, using words that every schoolboy and schoolgirl can recite:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We fought a terrible war to guarantee that one category of mankind—black people in America—could not be denied the inalienable rights with which their Creator endowed them. The great champion of the sanctity of all human life in that day, Abraham Lincoln, gave us his assessment of the Declaration’s purpose. Speaking of the framers of that noble document, he said:
This was their majestic intheir babiesterpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on … They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages.
He warned also of the danger we would face if we closed our eyes to the value of life in any category of human beings:
I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a Negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man?
When Congressman John A. Bingham of Ohio drafted the Fourteenth Amendment to guarantee the rights of life, liberty, and property to all human beings, he explained that all are “entitled to the protection of American law, because its divine spirit of equality declares that all men are created equal.” He said the rights guaranteed by the amendment would therefore apply to “any human being.” Justice William Brennan, writing in another case decided only the year before Roe v. Wade, referred to our society as one that “strongly affirms the sanctity of life.”
Another William Brennan—not the Justice—has reminded us of the terrible consequences that can follow when a nation rejects the sanctity of life ethic:
The cultural environment for a human holocaust is present whenever any society can be misled into defining individuals as less than human and therefore devoid of value and respect.
As a nation today, we have not rejected the sanctity of human life. The American people have not had an opportunity to express their view on the sanctity of human life in the unborn. I am convinced that Americans do not want to play God with the value of human life. It is not for us to decide who is worthy to live and who is not. Even the Supreme Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade did not explicitly reject the traditional American idea of intrinsic worth and value in all human life; it simply dodged this issue.
The Congress has before it several measures that would enable our people to reaffirm the sanctity of human life, even the smallest and the youngest and the most defenseless. The Human Life Bill expressly recognizes the unborn as human beings and accordingly protects them as persons under our Constitution. This bill, first introduced by Senator Jesse Helms, provided the vehicle for the Senate hearings in 1981 which contributed so much to our understanding of the real issue of abortion.
The Respect Human Life Act, just introduced in the 98th Congress, states in its first section that the policy of the United States is “to protect innocent life, both before and after birth.” This bill, sponsored by Congressman Henry Hyde and Senator Roger Jepsen, prohibits the federal government from performing abortions or assisting those who do so, except to save the life of the mother. It also addresses the pressing issue of infanticide which, as we have seen, flows inevitably from permissive abortion as another step in the denial of the inviolability of innocent human life.
I have endorsed each of these measures, as well as the more difficult route of constitutional amendment, and I will give these initiatives my full support. Each of them, in different ways, attempts to reverse the tragic policy of abortion-on-demand imposed by the Supreme Court ten years ago. Each of them is a decisive way to affirm the sanctity of human life.
We must all educate ourselves to the reality of the horrors taking place. Doctors today know that unborn children can feel a touch within the womb and that they respond to pain. But how many Americans are aware that abortion techniques are allowed today, in all 50 states, that burn the skin of a baby with a salt solution, in an agonizing death that can last for hours?
Another example: two years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a Sunday special supplement on “The Dreaded Complication.” The “dreaded complication” referred to in the article—the complication feared by doctors who perform abortions—is the survival of the child despite all the painful attacks during the abortion procedure. Some unborn children do survive the late-term abortions the Supreme Court has made legal. Is there any question that these victims of abortion deserve our attention and protection? Is there any question that those who don’t survive were living human beings before they were killed?
Late-term abortions, especially when the baby survives, but is then killed by starvation, neglect, or suffocation, show once again the link between abortion and infanticide. The time to stop both is now. As my Administration acts to stop infanticide, we will be fully aware of the real issue that underlies the death of babies before and soon after birth.
Our society has, fortunately, become sensitive to the rights and special needs of the handicapped, but I am shocked that physical or mental handicaps of newborns are still used to justify their extinction. This Administration has a Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop, who has done perhaps more than any other American for handicapped children, by pioneering surgical techniques to help them, by speaking out on the value of their lives, and by working with them in the context of loving families. You will not find his former patients advocating the so-called “quality-of-life” ethic.
I know that when the true issue of infanticide is placed before the American people, with all the facts openly aired, we will have no trouble deciding that a mentally or physically handicapped baby has the same intrinsic worth and right to life as the rest of us. As the New Jersey Supreme Court said two decades ago, in a decision upholding the sanctity of human life, “a child need not be perfect to have a worthwhile life.”
Whether we are talking about pain suffered by unborn children, or about late-term abortions, or about infanticide, we inevitably focus on the humanity of the unborn child. Each of these issues is a potential rallying point for the sanctity of life ethic. Once we as a nation rally around anyone of these issues to affirm the sanctity of life, we will see the importance of affirming this principle across the board.
Malcolm Muggeridge, the English writer, goes right to the heart of the matter: “Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.” The sanctity of innocent human life is a principle that Congress should proclaim at every opportunity.
It is possible that the Supreme Court itself may overturn its abortion rulings. We need only recall that in Brown v. Board of Education the court reversed its own earlier “separate-but-equal” decision. I believe if the Supreme Court took another look at Roe v. Wade, and considered the real issue between the sanctity of life ethic and the quality of life ethic, it would change its mind once again.
As we continue to work to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must also continue to lay the groundwork for a society in which abortion is not the accepted answer to unwanted pregnancy. Pro-life people have already taken heroic steps, often at great personal sacrifice, to provide for unwed mothers. I recently spoke about a young pregnant woman named Victoria, who said, “In this society we save whales, we save timber wolves and bald eagles and Coke bottles. Yet, everyone wanted me to throw away my baby.” She has been helped by Sav-a-Life, a group in Dallas, which provides a way for unwed mothers to preserve the human life within them when they might otherwise be tempted to resort to abortion. I think also of House of His Creation in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, where a loving couple has taken in almost 200 young women in the past ten years. They have seen, as a fact of life, that the girls are not better off having abortions than saving their babies. I am also reminded of the remarkable Rossow family of Ellington, Connecticut, who have opened their hearts and their home to nine handicapped adopted and foster children.
The Adolescent Family Life Program, adopted by Congress at the request of Senator Jeremiah Denton, has opened new opportunities for unwed mothers to give their children life. We should not rest until our entire society echoes the tone of John Powell in the dedication of his book, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, a dedication to every woman carrying an unwanted child: “Please believe that you are not alone. There are many of us that truly love you, who want to stand at your side, and help in any way we can.” And we can echo the always-practical woman of faith, Mother Teresa, when she says, “If you don’t want the little child, that unborn child, give him to me.” We have so many families in America seeking to adopt children that the slogan “every child a wanted child” is now the emptiest of all reasons to tolerate abortion.
I have often said we need to join in prayer to bring protection to the unborn. Prayer and action are needed to uphold the sanctity of human life. I believe it will not be possible to accomplish our work, the work of saving lives, “without being a soul of prayer.” The famous British Member of Parliament, William Wilberforce, prayed with his small group of influential friends, the “Clapham Sect,” for decades to see an end to slavery in the British empire. Wilberforce led that struggle in Parliament, unflaggingly, because he believed in the sanctity of human life. He saw the fulfillment of his impossible dream when Parliament outlawed slavery just before his death.
Let his faith and perseverance be our guide. We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others, a value of which Malcolm Muggeridge says: “… however low it flickers or fiercely burns, it is still a Divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened.”
Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Precious in His Sight - the Sanctity of Unborn Human Life

More resources and links may be added as this post is revised. 
New resource: Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, by President Ronald Reagan:
New resource: Report from Texans for Life Coalition (added to the end of this post):
New resource: "Speaking the Truth: Ani's Oral Report" gives a great example of what a student in a public school can do.
New resource: Colson Center's "21 Days of Prayer for Life." Download here:

These are sermon notes, not written in a polished or finished manuscript form. To see the video of this and other sermons:

Ps 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with You. 
January 22, 2018, is the 45th anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion on demand in our country.  Since then, approximately 57 million lives have been lost to abortion as a result of that deadly decree. Let’s consider and recommit ourselves to the biblical case for the value of preborn human lives. “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight!”

January 22, 1973 – The U.S. Supreme Court, in
Roe v. Wade, legalized abortion on demand.
To date about 57 million lives have been taken.
Planned Parenthood’s 2017 death toll: 321,384.
What does God say about that? What do you?

You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
Ps 139:13-14

God’s Plan: Marry, Conceive, Bear
Ge 1:27-28 He created man (male and female) in His image. He blessed them. “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it …”
Ge 2:24 Leave – cleave – one flesh.
Ge 4:1 Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD.”
Ge 4:25 Adam knew his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

God’s Gift: Life at Conception
Heb 11:11 By faith even (Abraham’s wife) Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.
Ge 25:21-26 Isaac’s wife Rebekah was barren. Isaac prayed. She conceived. Twins! The children struggled within her. God: “Two nations are within your womb.”
Ge 29:31 … the LORD … opened [Leah’s] womb (enabled her to conceive), but Rachel was barren.
Ge 30:22 Then God opened [Rachel’s] womb.

Exodus – Pharaoh ordering death of Hebrew males.
What if he had ordered them aborted ten minutes before birth?
Would that be any different in the sight of God?
God’s Gift: Life at Conception
1 Sa 1:19 … Elkanah knew (had relations with) Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. 20 It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the LORD.”

John the Baptist: at Conception
Lk 1:15 John to be “filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”
Lk 1:24 … Elizabeth became pregnant25 “the Lord looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”
Lk 1:36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Lk 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 “And how has it happened …, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.”
The ancient Greeks knew! βρέφος (brephos)  - “baby,” whether preborn or newborn. Cf. Lk 2:12.

Mary: the Virgin Conception
Mt 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
20 … an angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her (that which has been begotten in her) is of the Holy Spirit.”
The male “begets” that which is “conceived.”

What Our Loving God Hates
Pr 6:16 There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, 19 A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
What Our Loving God Commands
Pr 24:11 Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.

Tertullian’s Apology (defense)
Tertullian, a church leader in the second century, wrote in his Apology in AD 197: “But with us, murder is forbidden once for all. We are not permitted to destroy even the fetus in the womb, as long as blood is still being drawn to form a human being. To prevent the birth of a child is a quicker way to murder. It makes no difference whether one destroys a soul already born or interferes with it coming to birth. It is a human being and one who is to be a man, for the whole fruit is already present in the seed.”
The Didache, an early Christian document which dates to the 2nd century AD, states quite plainly: “You shall not murder a child by abortion, nor kill them when born.”
Romans engaged in exposure, putting unwanted newborn babies out to die.
Will Durant estimates that 99 families out of 100 made it a regular practice to abandon all daughters except the first one to die.
Eventually, Christian influence led to laws in the Roman Empire which prohibited abortion and criminalized the practice of abandoning unwanted infants.
Even as late as 1961, National Council of Churches adopted a Statement on Responsible Parenthood which proclaimed: “Protestant Christians are agreed in condemning abortion … The destruction of life [which has] already begun cannot be condoned as a method of family limitation.”

The Right to Life:
Religious – or Also Constitutional?
Declaration of Independence: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness …”
The right to life – for all human life!

Nature and Logic
Hippocratic Oath
Named after Hippocrates, c.460-c.370 B.C., Greek physician, recognized as the father of medicine.
“First do no harm.”
Book by Williams, Obstetrics, suggests that an obstetrician can treat the unborn infant as a “second patient.”
Bumper sticker: “Of all the patients that enter abortion clinics, only half come out alive.”
Dr. Paul A. Byrne of St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, wrote: “I have never read a medical text, or heard of a medical doctor writing or stating that what exists at conception is not a new human life ... Abortion destroys human life. Simply stated, before abortion there is life, after abortion there is death.”
California medical journal, just three years before Roe V. Wade, said that the social acceptance of abortion is a “defiance of the long-held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal value for every human life, regardless of its stage, condition or status.”  Reagan, p. 25
Malcolm Muggeridge, the English writer: “Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.”
Yet now we have come full circle, back to the values of Rome before Christianity’s influence.
Early Development of Babies
Abortion ends a pregnancy by destroying and removing the developing child. That baby’s heart has already begun to beat by the time the mother misses her period and begins to wonder if she might be pregnant (about 31 days after the mother’s last menstrual period or LMP). Surgical abortions are usually not performed before seven weeks, or 49 days LMP. By that time, the baby has identifiable arms and legs (day 45) and displays measurable brain waves (about 40 days). During the seventh through the tenth weeks, when the majority of abortions are performed, fingers and genitals appear and the child’s face is recognizably human. Source: "Abortion: Some Medical Facts", NRLC Educational Trust Fund pamphlet, 1996.
Brainwaves in babies have been detected as early as 40 days after conception.
An unborn baby can feel pain at least in the 3rd month.
About 3 weeks, one day after fertilization, when the heart first begins to beat, the sound of the little heart is too soft to hear. Very soon thereafter, they can see the motion using ultrasound technology.

Dr. Beverly McMillan, an obstetrician and gynecologist, writes: "The baby is human from the moment of conception. When the one cell it is made of has characteristic 46 chromosomes of the human species, it is unique from that moment. Eighteen days after conception your baby's heart is already beating, probably pumping a different blood type than yours. This is almost at the time you would miss your menstrual period. Ten days after conception the baby has planted him or herself in the wall of the uterus and stops your menstrual flow. Forty days after conception (doctors) have recorded brain waves. If you touch a little baby's nose at that point it will draw its head back, so there is definitely some sensation at that time. You can see little arm buds showing up than. By eight weeks we can even hear the baby's heart beat with an ultrasound stethoscope. In abortions done after that time you can see identifiable body parts."

So … What Happened?
The Fourteenth Amendment (ratified in 1868) guarantees various rights to “persons” in the U.S.
But by a 7-2 decision, the 1973 Roe v. Wade USSC declared that the unborn are not persons and therefore have no guaranteed rights or privileges!
Thus they legalized abortion on demand! Against all legal, historical, cultural, and moral precedents.
Seven judges - just seven people! - ruled without any vote from the American people, any law from the U.S. Congress, or any signature from a U.S. President.
Abortion became a multi-million dollar business.
Planned Parenthood, the #1 provider, runs nearly 600 clinics and receives millions of our tax dollars.
They advise women to abort their own offspring.
The pro-abortion lobby is forceful, well-funded.
Political leaders, even whole party platforms, promote “freedom to choose” death for babies.
The Democratic Party has continued to proclaim that the unborn child has no right to life or other guaranteed rights. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, speaking April 3, 2016, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said, “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”
But nature, logic, science and the conscience all cry out with one voice: babies deserve to live!
Babies now even star in their own movies. They are called ultrasounds!

Be Informed!
“Abortion.” “Fetus.” “Pro-choice.” “Anti-abortion.”
“Abortion” is a neutral-sounding term that refers to the taking of human life.
“Terminating a pregnancy” sounds better than “terminating a life.”
“Pro-choice” sounds better than “pro-death.”
“Fetus” sounds more scientific and neutral than “baby,” but “fetus” is simply the Latin word than means “baby.”
Carol Everett, a former abortion clinic manager who supervised the killing of over 35,000 babies, said the main question they were repeatedly asked was, “Is it a baby?” And the uniform answer they were to give was, “No, it’s only a glob of tissue, [like a tumor or an appendix].”
Fetus is Latin for “unborn baby!” Not neutral. Semantic game.
“It’s my body” misses the fact that the unborn baby is NOT the mother’s body.
“My right to choose” means “my right to end a preborn human life.”
My rights end where another’s rights begin.
Rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life account for 1% of all U.S. abortions.
In 1972 (before Roe vs. Wade) 39 U.S. women reportedly died from illegal abortions.
All who favor abortion have already been born.
About 1 in 3 women – abortion by age 45.
About 85% in the U.S. – unmarried women.
Man’s immoral “solution” to a moral crisis.
Pleasure without consequences. Men walk free.
Yet there are many unintended consequences.
Abortion imposes a death sentence on the victim.
85%-plus will change their minds after seeing an ultrasound.
“I hope it’s a girl!”

Take Action!
Don’t fight or flee. Instead pray, vote, and engage.
What the Church and Each Christian Can and Must Do
Know the Scriptures.  Learn how abortions are performed.  Teach your children.  Win your neighbor to Christ.
Locate and contribute to your local Crisis Pregnancy Center.  Lack of funds and volunteers.
Affiliate with pro-life organizations.
Promote alternatives, including adoption and caring for those pregnant out of wedlock.
Tell your representatives in Congress and the Senate of your convictions.
Support pro-life legislation, including a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution.
Pray for the unborn and for God’s hand to protect them.
Pray for abortionists, that their consciences will be pricked.
Distribute information to others.
Ask questions that prompt thinking and discussion.
“Who – or what – gives human life its value?”
“Is the unborn fetus human, one of us?”
“What is the value of human life, and why?”
“Why was abortion illegal before 1973?”
“Could your mother have rightly aborted you?”
“If one can be ‘pro-choice’ about taking unborn human life, can one be ‘pro-choice’ about taking other human life?”

Take Action!
“Is partial-birth abortion morally acceptable?”
“If so, could you assist with this procedure?”
“If not acceptable, why not?”
“Is abortion in the third trimester morally right?”
“If abortion, why not infanticide and euthanasia?”
“How is the value of human life to be measured? By size? Maturity? Brain capacity? Habitat? Degree of dependency? Contribution to society? If so before birth, why not after birth and in old age?”

The unborn baby is not a “what” but a “who!”

Report from Texans for Life:

  • Felony ban on partial birth abortions that Texas can enforce
  • Ban on dismemberment abortions
  • Ban on sale, donation or research of fetal remains from elective abortion
  • Humane disposition of fetal remains required
  • Felony ban on forced abortion in connection with sex trafficking
  • Clinics required to post sex trafficking hotline in restrooms
  • Alternatives to Abortion fund doubled
  • Conscience protection for foster families not wanting to assist with abortion
  • IVF patients to be informed of embryo adoption option

  • Hospitals required to report abortion complications apart from maternal health complications
  • Ban on insurance coverage of abortion
  • Expanded reporting of minors' abortions
  • DNR reform to protect patients' rights