The Personhood of the Unborn

Psalm 139:16 “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. “

The Psalmist is acknowledging the fact that God knows absolutely everything about him and always has. God even knew him in his mother’s womb before he was fully formed. Although this psalm is more about God’s care and interest in David than about David, it is still a latent recognition and appreciation of David’s personhood even before his birth.

Herein is the crux of the debate about abortion. The unborn baby, the fetus is denied his or her “personhood”. As such, these children have no rights under the law. It is, therefore, legitimate to burn them alive with saline or tear them limb from limb with a D & E procedure (Dismemberment and Evacuation).

What would be considered a ghastly, grisly, and gruesome death outside the womb is called a procedure inside the womb. What should be considered chillingly sadistic was recently called “very humane” by Ms. Priscilla Smith, an abortion rights advocate and Director and Senior Fellow at the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School.

As intrauterine imaging increasingly advances and the window to the womb is increasingly vivid, one wonders at what point abortion advocates will acknowledge the absolute heinousness of what they are approving.

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According to the Riches of His Grace

Referring to Jesus’ death on the cross, the Bible tells us “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the    riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)

Redemption refers to the actual penalty of sin being paid. Forgiveness refers to the personal offense to a holy God being pardoned. It is important to understand that these two take place according to the abundance of God’s grace – His undeserved favor.

Suppose you are trying to raise funds for, say, The Society for Wayward Cats. You go to see a millionaire. You say with all the sincerity you can muster, “Mister Millionaire, would you help save wayward cats?” “Yes, I would,” he replies. You wait with bated breath as he writes out a check. He hands you a check. You look; it is for $5. That $5 check would be “out of” his riches. But if he gave you a check for $10,000 that would be “according to” his riches. That would help a herd of wayward cats!

Think you have gone too far for even God to forgive you? Know that God’s saving work in Christ – redemption and forgiveness – is not “out of” but “according to” the riches of his grace.

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Saint or Rebel?

One evening I received a visit by a pastor who had been dismissed from his church. He asked the people of the church why they were letting him go.     He said his church people had told him, “All you preach is obedience.”  I said to him, “I guess they didn’t want to be obedient.”

I understand that preachers can get stuck on certain themes and become one note musicians. It often happens when they stop studying or are having too many demands on their time and cannot study. However, it is a curious thing that professed Christians would dismiss a pastor because he told them that they should obey God.

The Bible tells us, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, ‘I know him’, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” (I John 2:3-5)

Although being accepted with God – “saved” if you will – is by grace through faith and “not of works” (Eph. 2:-8-9), assurance of this is not based in some mystical religious feeling but upon objective facts. One of those objective facts is a willingness to obey God. All I can say about someone who claims he has accepted Jesus and yet has no desire to obey Him is a doubtful and reflective, “Hmmmm!”

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Nothing But the Truth

For many years I have served as either a law enforcement chaplain or as a reserve police officer. My exposure to this world has taught me there are often many sides to a story. The perpetrator, the victim, law enforcement and the lawyers involved may all have different versions of the same event. These versions can be tainted by desires.

The accused desires to remain free. An officer may desire to close a case and lawyers certainly desire to win a case. The victim may desire retribution or vengeance and might say things with a certain slant. The point is that what we desire can influence what we say is true or how we say what is true.

In the end a judge or jury makes the determination of what version of events is really true. But even then, the question remains as to whether the real objective truth has been known. The Bible book of Romans  says that  “…. God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:16)

What is really true is seen by the One Who knows the secrets of the heart. As one sci-fi drama said years ago – “The truth is out there.” Human desires notwithstanding, one day the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth will come out.

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Eating Dirt

Several years ago a 20/20 type program ran an episode about folks that ate various kinds of dirt and clay. Folks were filmed spooning varieties of earth into their mouths and, seemingly, enjoying it. One ABC news article (“Eating Dirt: It Might Be Good for You” (Oct. 3, 2005 By Marc Lallanilla) quoted one lady as saying the dirt she ate “melts in your mouth like chocolate. The good stuff is real smooth. It’s just like a piece of candy.”

Weird, huh? Experts call this this phenomenon “geophagy.” So what does one call someone that eats dirt?  I suppose that if those who eat plant life are called vegetarians then I guess a devourer of the stuff plants grow in would then be called a geophagarian. I’ll go with it! However, for brevity sake I think I will call geophagarians just “geos”.

Various experts have opined as to why geos eat dirt. Some think that it has to do with some sort of deficiency in nutrients that is an inherited characteristic. In other words, they were born that way. Others thought that dirt eating was a mental disorder similar to pica, the abnormal urge to eat non-food items such as paint or soap.

But some nutritionists asserted that this soil consumption is normal and even claimed that the eating of dirt, especially by pregnant women, might be wholesome. They would argue that dirt was the world’s first mineral supplement. Hmmm, the jury is definitely out on that one for me!

No one knows just how many geos there are in this world. They do not tend to broadcast their dietary orientation. It would be a safe guess that they are a small minority, but perhaps not. The fact is that we do not really know what percentage of the population is either wholly or in part geophagarian. It is a given, though, that geos truly believe that their dietary proclivity is healthy and natural and that there is nothing wrong with it. I would think that most of our society might disagree. That is probably why, I suppose, that most geos keep their diet to themselves.

But I wondered what would happen if the geos of this world made themselves known in mass? What if they came ‘out of the closet’ so to speak? What if they organized and began to tell how their lives were miserable because they are not accepted by society and that they have to eat meals in seclusion or only with other geos? What if geos sued their employers because they brought topsoil in for lunch, grossed out fellow employees and were let go? What if a business fired a geo employee because it lost customers because the geo was observed snacking on chunks of clay? Could the company be sued for discrimination?  That would certainly make the evening news!

What if nutritionists wrote scholarly articles and cited surveys that assert that eating soil is normal and ought not to be stigmatized? Hollywood celebrities that secretly partake of a loam enriched diet could reveal their dietary orientation and thus help break down societal prejudice against dirt consumption. Pressure could then be put upon legislators to make discrimination against geos illegal and laws passed outlawing and stigmatizing anti-geo expression. Sit-coms could portray geos as kind, gentle, hardworking, above average citizens who just happened to love dirt. Public school health curricula could portray dirt eating as just an alternate diet and school cafeterias required to include fresh mulch or clay on the daily menu. Could not happen? Really?

I can recall as a parent discouraging my toddlers from ingesting dirt when on outdoor outings. Generally, most parents would, when observing a handful of soil heading for their infant’s gobble hole react swiftly in halting that snack. Physical restraint and expressions like “Oh no” and “yucky” are often used on such occasions.

One wonders, though, in a geophagy sensitive political landscape if enlightened progressives might argue that parents were instilling geophobia into their children and thus creating a generation of the nutritive intolerant.  Conceivably, social services could be called and parents sent to dietary diversity counseling.

For my part, I do not care if someone eats dirt in the privacy of their own homes or back yard. I am somewhat libertarian in that regard. I would not refuse to do business with geos. I do not care what they eat as long as it is not another human being. I believe that geos have the right to be left alone.

However, I would have a problem if a geophagarian encouraged children to eat dirt or tried to convince them that eating dirt is somehow normal.  I would also have a problem if restaurants were fined or forced to close by the government if they refused to provide a soil diverse menu or declined to cater a geo wedding.  I, for one, would probably not patronize a restaurant that served dirt. My appetite, after observing someone eat mud while I am eating my soup, would tend to wane a bit. I would also tend to question the cleanliness of a restaurant that served dirt. Maybe it is just me.

My honest opinion about eating dirt is that it is…well – dirty. Call me intolerant. But to date, those of us who think that eating dirt is not normal or healthy, are still free to say so. Those days may be numbered. There may come a day when reason is turned on its head and normalcy is redefined to accommodate the bizarre, the abnormal, the anomalous and even the deviant.

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A Dishonest Question

I like honest, sincere questions, but a few decades ago there was an older, well-educated man in one of my classes who would ask dishonest questions. These questions were designed to show me up and prompt an intellectual jousting match after which he would, presumably, be seen as the victor. His questions were prompted more out of envy and arrogance than honest inquiry.

The Apostle Paul addressed a question concerning the resurrection by someone much like that man in my class. This question is recorded in I Corinthians 15:35 – “But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?”  Before Paul answers in subsequent verses, he addresses this “hypothetical” cross-examiner with one word – “Fool” (vs 36). In the Greek this word means “mindless, ignorant and/or egotistical.” It is a term for someone that really has not investigated or thought out matters but asks challenging questions as though he has done so. He is not a seeker of truth; he asks as a self-absorbed egotist trying to parade his superiority or justify his unbelief.

What kind of questioner are you, Friend? This Easter season as Christians celebrate the reality of the resurrection, let me encourage you to be an honest seeker. The One Who substituted Himself for you on the cross broke the chains of death to prove that His death accomplished all that was necessary for you to have eternal life. Got questions? Let’s put on the coffee and talk or visit us on Good Friday at 12 Noon or Easter morning at 11 am.

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