Politics and the Church – Extrication From the Shoal Waters [Part 16]

Last week we took a look at policies imposed on Americans not by legislatures but by judges.  Much of our drift off course into ‘shoal waters’ has been the result of faulty ‘navigation’ by judiciary action.  We saw that same-sex marriage was initiated by judicial decisions that set aside four centuries of American laws defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman.  This week we will take a look at another unrighteous policy imposed on America, not by legislatures but by judges…abortion.  Abortion on demand was imposed on us by judges who decreed it to be national policy.

The Bible is not silent on the issue of unborn children, making it clear that from the time of conception, human life is alive in the womb [Psalm 139:13-16 for example].  Many other verses affirm that life within the womb is created by God Himself  [Job 31:15; Psalm 22:9-10; Isaiah 44:2; 49:5; Jeremiah 1:4-5; Luke 1:15].  Many today think that abortion is a ‘modern issue’, but Ecclesiastes  1:9 reminds us that there is “nothing new under the sun”.  As long as there has been pregnancies there have been some who did not want to be pregnant.  The Bible, therefore, addressed this issue, even establishing civil penalties for actions that caused an unborn child to be harmed or killed [Exodus 21:22-25].  Fifteen hundred years later as the Western world was developing under the enlightened influence of Christianity and the Bible, abortion was still recognized as a crime, for it represented taking of life of an innocent victim, and the shedding of innocent blood is resoundingly condemned throughout the Bible [Deuteronomy 19:10; 1 Samuel 19:5; Psalm 94:20-21; Proverbs 6:16-17; Isaiah 59:2-7].  Abortion was so thoroughly repudiated that it became a crime under the Common Law, which is recognized as the basis of law in civilized nations and which was incorporated into the U.S. Constitution through the Seventh Amendment.

From America’s earliest beginnings, abortion was always seen as wrong.  Policy even before the Declaration and Constitution condemned abortion.  William Blackstone, a favorite legal authority of the Founding Fathers, wrote: Life is the immediate gift of God…a right inherent by nature in every individual; and begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.  For if a woman is quick with child, and by a potion or otherwise kills it in her womb; or if anyone beat her whereby the child dies in her body and she is delivered of a dead child, this…was by ancient law homicide or manslaughter [Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1771, Vol. I, pp. 129-130].  After America separated from Great Britain the new government preserved the previous position against abortion.  James Wilson, both a signer of the Declaration and the Constitution and an original justice on the US Supreme Court, began his first organized legal training by telling law students: With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life, from its commencement to its close, is protected by the Common Law.  In the contemplations of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb.  By the law, that life is protected [ James Wilson, The Works of the Honorable James Wilson, L.L.D., 1804, Vol.II, p.475].  American law was clear: as soon as it was known that life was in the womb, that life was protected.  Unborn life was to be protected under the law…a historical position repudiated by the US Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe v. Wade.  The Founders believed that the right to life was the first of the inalienable rights that God had given to everybody.  John Quincy Adams reminded the rising generation: Ask the Declaration of Independence and that will tell you that its authors held for self-evident truth that the right to life is the first of the inalienable rights of man and to secure and not to destroy that right governments are instituted among men [ John Quincy Adams, An Oration Addressed to the Citizens of the Town of Quincy, on the Fourth of July, the Fifty-fifth Anniversary of the Independence of the united States of America, published Boston 1831, p.14].

to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…This phrase in the Declaration of Independence was taken from the most popular law book in the Founding Era: William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.  This phrase recognizes that God Himself has given moral laws, and that they are visible not only to what He has created but that He also gave a second revelation of those moral laws through His written Word, the Bible.  Thus, abortion is wrong under God’s revealed Word, and it is also wrong under God’s laws of nature.  It is a violation of God’s Moral Law.  Pregnancy does not occur unless it is God’s Will.  Henry Hyde, who spent thirty-two years in the House of Representatives, was one of the most vocal opponents of abortion and the liberalization of abortion law in America.  He stated on July 16, 1993:  “That all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator”…human beings upon creation, not upon birth.  That is where our human dignity comes from.  It comes from the Creator.  It is an endowment, not an achievement.  By membership in the human family, we are endowed by our Creator with “inalienable rights”.  They can’t be voted away by a jury or a court.  “Among which are life”…the first inalienable right, the first endowment from the Creator.  That is mainstream America, the predicate for our Constitution, our country’s birth certificate.  To respect the right to life as an endowment from the Creator…It is the unborn who are the least of God’s creatures.  We have been told that whatsoever we do for the least of these we do unto Jesus.

     America’s position on protecting life of a child during the time of the Founders was quite different from what was practiced in many other nations.  Across much of Europe, it was wrongly believed that parents gave life to their children, so under the law of those countries, parents had the right to take their child’s life.  Americans knew that the life of a child came not from parents but rather from God; parents therefore had no right to deprive an unborn child of its life. 

So how is it that in a nation where so many claim the be “Christians” that we have a surprising position on the abortion issue? We have seen what the Bible teaches us on the shedding of innocent blood, yet only 29% of Americans would like to see Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion, overturned?  63% do not want to see it end  [Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project, “Roe v. Wade at 40: Most Oppose Overturning Abortion Decision”, January 16, 2013].  76% of white mainline Protestants, 65% of black Protestants, and 63 % of white Catholics (and nearly 40% of “Christians” overall) want to see abortion protected and continued [Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman, “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011”, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health 46, no. 1 (March 2014)].  65% of abortions …or about six hundred fifty thousand annually…are performed on professing “Christians” [Rachel Jones, Lawrence Finer and Susheela Singh, “Characteristics of US Abortion Patients, 2008”, Guttmacher Institute, May 2010].  Nearly two hundred thousand abortions are performed each year on “born-again Christians” [Ibid].

So how is it that a politician can claim that he/she is a supporter of children’s rights and at the same time support abortion?  Life is a sacred gift and innocent life must be protected.  God’s Word says so.  We must elect all of our civil leaders according to this standard. “Coloring” abortion with ‘nice/compassionate’ words does not alter the fact that most abortion is still ‘murder’. Once again we find our ‘ship of state’ in peril due to government action…or inaction.  Next week we will take a look at another controversial subject…physician-assisted suicide.

– Bob Munsey

Question:  Some politicians say life doesn’t begin until birth thus the unborn is not protected by law.  Why is it then that when one murders a pregnant woman and her unborn child dies also, that murderer is not guilty of one murder but two murders?

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