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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pregnancy, Prayer, and Abortion

I recently learned I am to be a grandfather for the first time.  I have started praying for the baby God's blessing.  Not long after starting to do that the thought came to my mind that that is one thing those who contemplate having an abortion and those who believe in abortion cannot do.  I had never thought about that.
How does one pray for a baby they plan to abort, kill?  How do those who believe in abortion pray for what they consider to be nonhuman, just a mass of blood and biological tissue?
If those who believe in abortion respond saying we can pray for a pregnancy where no abortion is planned then I say how is there any consistency in that?  Is that which is within the womb human if we plan on keeping it but just tissue and blood, nonhuman, if we desire to rid ourselves of it?
"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is HIS reward." (Psalms 127:3 NKJV)  Obviously, not everyone is willing to accept that.
What if the child is born out of wedlock?  What if it is?  Jephthah, the son of a prostitute (Judges 11:1), is listed in what we often call God's hall of fame of the faithful in Hebrews 11:32.  Based on the way his half brothers cast him out it seems very likely his father was never married to the prostitute mother.  Lange's Commentary reads as follows:
"If he had been the son of one who was properly a wife, his brothers would doubtless have been obliged to admit him to a share in the inheritance; for Rachel, the ancestress of Gilead, had also several co-wives, whose sons … inherited as well as Joseph himself. But they maintained that his mother had not been a wife of their father at all, not even one of secondary rank,—that she was nothing but a harlot."
No matter how a child is conceived God is responsible for giving the life.  In the womb God is in the process of making a child.  "Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?" (Job 31:15 NKJV)  Jeremiah says the word of the Lord came to him saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." (Jer. 1:5 NKJV)  Would it have been okay to abort Jeremiah while he was still in the womb?  How about the apostle Paul?  How about Jesus himself?
One never knows how a child will turn out but we must remember the child is God's creation, not our own.  Man should not interfere with God's work.  God opens and closes wombs (Gen. 29:31, 30:22, 1 Sam. 1:5-6) and it is he who fashions us in the womb.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jesus and Gay Marriage

Some people say Jesus never spoke on the issue of gay marriage.  However, I believe Jesus did speak on the subject indirectly if not directly.  Let us read Matt. 19:3-9:
"The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?'  And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH?  So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.' They said to Him, 'Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?'  He said to them,  'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.  And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.'" (NKJV)
There are some significant facts in this short exchange that need to be brought out.
(1) We learn from Jesus that God made mankind male and female and that for a purpose, the purpose of a joining together to become one flesh.  Now think about that.  If the purpose of making mankind male and female was so they could become one flesh (obviously for godly purposes) then if a man mates with another man has he not violated God's purpose for making him a man?  If not, why not?  God did not make man to become one flesh with another man.
(2) The wife in this marriage scenario was a female.  Jesus speaks of the wife and makes it clear the wife is a "her" (see verse 9).  Jesus and the Pharisees were agreed on that.  The marriage involved a male and a female.  I do not know what a couple in a homosexual relationship will call their partner if gay marriage is allowed but I know it cannot be "wife" and be the truth.  If the relationship sours over time and there is a divorce what will be divorced?  It can't be a wife.  Can you have a marriage without a wife?  If so where in scripture do you find such a marriage?  I have never read of one in scripture and neither have you and Jesus never knew of any either. 
 (3) We learn what God joined together was a man and a woman, not a man and a man.  Does God join together a man and a man?  If so Jesus knew nothing about it.  If so find the scripture that shows it but I will tell you before you begin it cannot be done.  If God does the joining together of a male and female in a marriage and the Bible not once indicates anything other than male and female then who does the joining together of male and male?  Is it God or man?  This is an important point for the text says God does the joining together.  Is God under obligation to accept man's invention, one that opposes directly his purpose for making man male and female?


Sunday, July 6, 2014

What Early Christians Believed About Abortion

If you will look to the right side of my blog here, just below my picture, you will see a section entitled "Good Bible Study Sites."  One of those sites, the first one listed, is about the ancient writings of the early Christians.  There are some great topics on that site.  I would encourage you to check the site out.  One article you will find there is one dealing with what the early Christians had to say and believed about abortion.  You can find that article by clicking here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

More Troubling Than Gay Marriage?

Today is June 24, 2014.  As everyone knows federal judges all over the country are declaring state bans on gay marriage unconstitutional.  It happened here in Indiana this week and I believe also in the state of Utah.  One other thing happened this week related to this issue that should cause embarrassment and concern to all who believe the scriptures.
The Presbyterian Church U.S.A., which was in 2011 the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, voted to redefine marriage and allow its pastors to perform same sex marriage ceremonies in votes, each being a separate vote, that were not even close but overwhelming.  It now joins the United Church of Christ in its support of same sex marriage. 
In doing some follow up reading on this event I ran across an article by a pastor of the denomination, a man by the name of Sheldon Steen.  Let me quote a little of what Mr. Steen had to say about the changes that were made.  He said, "My deepest prayer is that this moment will become for us like Peter’s rooftop experience in Acts 10. That we will all be able to affirm together the words of God to Peter, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.'”
This brings up an issue more troubling than gay marriage—how does one exegete (interpret) scripture correctly?  Listen to what the New Testament says about homosexuality:
"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."  (Rom. 1:24-27 NKJV)
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."  (1 Cor. 6:9-10 NKJV)
"Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine."  (1 Tim. 1:9-10 NKJV)
"And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."  (Jude v. 6-7 NKJV)
(Underlining for emphasis—DS)
Jude speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah saying they were an example.  The "strange flesh" Jude speaks of that the people of those cities went after was without doubt that of a homosexual nature.  When two angels who appeared as men came to Lot in the city of Sodom the men of the city surrounded Lot's house, "And they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.'" (Gen. 19:5 NKJV)  Go back to the OT account in Genesis 18:16-19:29 and read it, then read again also Rom. 1:24-27. 
When you read the words of Jesus in the New Testament you will hear him speak of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Why?  They were as Jude, speaking by the Holy Spirit, says—examples of wrong doing and God's punishment.  One will note in reading what Jesus had to say that no one questions him about it.  It was a well known fact among all the Jews of what had happened to both Sodom and Gomorrah and why.  They became a sort of standard for evil and God's judgment against it.  No explanation was needed.  All knew about it.  For passages where Jesus mentions either or both Sodom and Gomorrah see Matt. 10:15, 11:23, 11:24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:12, and Luke 17:29. 
Now how can Mr. Steen in view of these passages say God has made clean homosexual relationships?  How does one exegete scripture to come up with that conclusion?  This is the more troubling side issue of the gay marriage controversy.
I know the emphasis today in religious circles is on grace and God's love, not on obedience.  Jesus said, however, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." (John 15:10 NKJV)  What if one does not keep Jesus' commandments?  What if one willfully and knowingly breaks his commandments and that is his/her practice throughout life?  I am not speaking of occasional lapses into sin for all sin in one form or another from time to time (no man is perfect) but rather I am speaking of living a life of sin such as is the case in gay marriage.
I know sometimes people want to claim the only words in the New Testament that are Jesus' words are those printed red in a red letter edition of the Bible.  Sometimes a person will hear someone say Paul said this or that, not Jesus, with the idea being that what Paul says was only his own ideas and do not matter as Paul had his own agenda.  If you believe that read John 16:12-15.  Jesus says, "I still have many things to say to you." (John 16:12 NKJV)  Well, is he never ever going to reveal those things?  Read the text carefully.  I think you can figure it out without any problem.  The Holy Spirit spoke the words of Jesus and Paul was an inspired apostle (Acts 9:17).  The attempt to diminish Paul's authority to speak for Christ fails. 
If it is possible for a person to read plain unambiguous texts from scripture and yet reject them and declare God has changed his mind (is this not what pastor Steen has done?) then what good at all is a Bible as a guide?  I am as serious as can be.  In such a scenario we cannot know what it is telling us.  It does not mean what it clearly states.  Where does that leave us?
I suspect the answer to those who would respond would run something like this, "the Spirit leads us."  Leads us to what is my question?  Does it lead us to reject the scripture the Spirit gave us?  If that is the case we have the Spirit in conflict with himself.  Seems to me we need to try the Spirits and see which come from God.  "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1 NKJV)  The only way I know how to do that is by the word of God.  What does it say?
One ought to read again 1 Cor. 6:9-10 which I quoted above.  I have a question to ask about it and you might want to give it a shot and try and answer it.  That passage gives a list of those who cannot inherit the kingdom of God.  If homosexuals can now inherit the kingdom of God, I am talking practicing homosexuals, then why not fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, etc., also mentioned in that passage? 
Some think a legal (according to the law of the land) marriage ceremony would make a homosexual relationship holy.  If a homosexual marriage is acceptable to God so is an adulterous one.  "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery." (Matt. 19:9 NKJV)
God never condemned a sexual union between a man and a woman but he did regulate it and make it dependent upon being married with both parties to the marriage being scripturally eligible for such a marriage.  Such cannot be said of a sexual union of two people of the same sex.  In fact, God declared such a union as an abomination (Lev. 18:22 and 20:13).  We no longer live under the Law of Moses and no one is advocating putting to death practicing homosexuals but the Leviticus passages do show us how God has felt about homosexual unions in the past.  Combine that with the passages I have quoted from the New Testament above and one sees, who is willing to see, God's view of the matter.
Those who desire to please God are going to have to make a choice.  Are they going to be guided by the word of God or by the opinions of men?  I would say to Mr. Steen who implies that God has cleansed the homosexual marriage (?) relationship to prove it from the scriptures.  Tell me why the scriptures I have quoted are of no account.  Every day it is becoming harder for men to stand up for the written word of God.  People no longer hold it in the high esteem they once did.  It is not uncommon to hear not just the word of God but God himself being attacked and Christians are being accused of bigotry, hatred, and intolerance.  We live in a word where the goal seems to be no boundaries of behavior, no moral judgments.  On judgment day we will not be judged on the basis of society's standards or on the basis of what a federal judge has decided.  The real judge will set on the bench that day.