THE UNTOUCHABLES SERMON SERIES
DECEMBER 20, 1998
Every time I deal with controversial issues, untouchables like racism, homosexuality and abortion, I intuitively know that groups have already formulated their opinion. Some of you can’t wait to cheer me on as I slam-dunk the pro-choicers. You want to sort of start the wave to start the fires of hell. For you, it is the white hats versus the black hats. Others here have come to church with the proverbial chip on your shoulder. You say to yourself that your mind is made up on this issue. No one will change it. Even God, Himself, won’t do it for you. You know where you stand and you can’t wait to call the pro-lifers narrow minded, right wingers, people who are out of touch with reality.
Still others here are apathetic. You have a whatever attitude. You say that what a woman does with her own body is her deal. That sounds so postmodern, so cool, so choice driven, doesn’t it? But there are numbers of people here today, specifically women, who have been carrying around a dark secret for years. And this secret, if the truth were known, has been haunting you like an ominous rain cloud. You have had an abortion. I want you to know something. I realize that you understood what was on the docket today, yet you attended Fellowship Church. And I know it took boatloads of courage for you to walk through these doors and to sit down. But you desperately want to know where you stand in God’s eyes. You want to know what He thinks about what you have done, the choice that you have made.
Throughout this series I have challenged you to do one thing. I have challenged you to listen with an open heart and an open mind. I have challenged you to take your prejudices and presuppositions and put them aside and tell God to have His way with you. God, I want to see your take on these untouchables. So ladies and gentlemen, don’t listen with crossed arms or closed fists. Uncross your arms, open up your palms heavenward and say, “God, show me the truth. Show me the reality about this hotly debated topic.”
I have come to my stance through a lot of research and prayer and study. I didn’t come to this stance by some pie-in-the-sky thinking, by just grabbing something out of the air to perpetuate the party line. No. I have done the research. I have done the work. It is kind of funny, isn’t it? You have one camp of the abortion issue, say the pro-choicers, who are sincere about their position. And pro-abortionists will sincerely counsel a woman to terminate the pregnancy. They will do it based on sincerity. On the other side of the coin, you have the pro-lifers. They, too, are sincere. They will sincerely counsel a woman who is seeking an abortion not to go through with it. They will sincerely tell her to save a life that she can do it and it is worth nine months of her life. Everybody is being sincere but who is sincerely right. Somebody is sincerely wrong.
Just for a second I want to give you an exercise to do. Just look at yourself. As I am looking at myself, you know what I am saying to myself? I am glad that I am alive. I am glad I am here. And because I am here, someone 37 or 38 years ago saw to it that little Ed was protected. And I am glad about that. And if I had had a choice in the deal, if I had had some leverage, I would have said that I choose life over death any day of the week. So I am alive. I am fired up about it. I am jazzed. I am juiced. I am here and so are you.
Doesn’t it seem logical, just to use elementary reasoning, to do the same thing? That is why I firmly and lovingly seek to protect the right of developing children inside their mother’s wombs. That is where I stand. I say that in a love-driven and grace-fueled way. We must stand up and we must do whatever it takes under the principles and precepts and authority of God’s word, to protect the lives of developing babies.
I am going to do something different for the remainder of this message. I want to share with you how I came to my position. I want to take you on this spiritual and intellectual and relational journey regarding why I am pro-life. I will share several particulars. The first particular that led me to my stance is my Christo-centric orientation. You see, the moment that someone bows the knee and establishes a relationship with God through Christ something happens. Suddenly everything is redirected and reoriented. Suddenly you place the Bible as a priority in your life and you funnel everything, every decision, every thought, and every word through this grid, through this authority. And things begin to change. You begin to see that life has a huge and heavy and high price tag on it. You begin to realize that each one of us is made in the image of God. We are tailor-made and we have unique agendas and purposes that God has only for us. That is a cool thing. That is a great thing. It causes us to thank God with our talent, with our time, with our resources. We are made in the image of God.
One of the things about the Bible is that it tells us in painstaking detail that God has always been there. Theologians call this concept the omnipresence of God, meaning that you can’t shake God. You can’t shake Him, He is right there with you. God was present during conception. God was present as you developed in your mother’s womb. God was present during birth. God was present during the preschool years. Yes, the terrible two years. Yes, in junior and senior high school, yes in college, yes as an adult. And for Christ-followers, He is present with us throughout eternity. And God so loves you and me, ladies and gentlemen, that He commissioned His only Son to live and to die a sacrificial death and to rise again just so we could have life.
The Psalmist knew all about it. In fact, the writer of this classic book of the Old Testament got so fired up about it that he penned these words in Psalm 139, beginning with verse 13. “For you created my inmost being, you knit me…” Notice the word me, not a product of conception, not a tissue mass, you knit me. “…together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together…..” This Hebrew word woven together suggests our veins and arteries. “…in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body…” This means in the original language, a fetus or embryo. “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” That is the kind of God we serve, a God who has been there, a God who places a high price tag on life.
All you have got to do is thumb through the Bible, just in a casual way. The Old Testament is jammed with directives protecting life, protecting us from violence, protecting people from becoming victims. And at the top of the list in the Old Testament is this directive that says, thou shalt not kill. God is saying for one human being to take another human being’s life is a choice that we do not have. Let me give you a quick advertisement. Beginning the weekend of January 2 and 3, we will start the New Year with a series of talks I am fired up about called FIRST & 10. We are calling it “Values for Victory”. It is the ten priorities that will transform every life. I am doing a series on the Ten Commandments.
So let’s say you looked at the Old Testament and realized that God is really serious about life. Then you go to the New Testament, and Jesus, that revolutionary, that master teacher, says stuff like, love your enemies. He says things like turn the other cheek. Jesus said to defend the defenseless. He said to protect the unprotected. I ask you, whom did He describe in this camp. He challenged Christ-followers to protect widows, orphans, the mentally challenged and the physically challenged. But one question keeps haunting me. What group has no voice, vetoing power, plank or platform? What group can’t say a word? What group has no choice? Developing babies inside their mother’s wombs. The powerful words of Christ are so penetrating in Matthew 25:40. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.”
Abortion, like racism and like homosexuality, is a sin that breaks the heart of God. It is stunning when you realize that a woman makes a choice to have sexual intercourse with a man and then through abortion she will take any choice away from a developing baby. It doesn’t make sense. Somebody help me. I don’t quite get it. Yet in our secularized society, we have watered down all of the words. I call it the semantics of sin. We don’t call sin sin anymore. It is kind of the S word. It is not adultery; it is having an affair. It is not homosexuality; it is the gay lifestyle. It is not abortion, it is pro-choice. It is not pre-marital sex; it is being sexually active. I have got to tell you that my Christo-centric orientation is the big particular that has led me to my stance. It has led me too lovingly and firmly, under the laws and principles of the Bible, to do what God wants me to do and that is to protect developing babies, developing children inside their mother’s wombs.
There is another particular and it is just the sheer amount of data that I have downloaded over the years on this topic, from a scientific framework and also from a rationalistic framework. You know it is wild to think about the advances in research and technology. It is incredible what we know now. I went to the doctor a couple of months ago for my physical. My physician was explaining to me about a new machine. He said it was very expensive and that there were only a few of them in the world but that you could lie down dressed and that within ten minutes the machine could scan your entire body. This machine can show you pictures, clear pictures, of what you look like. It can show if you have a little tiny tumor or if you have some slight calcification in the arteries. My doctor said that it could tell how many vitamins the person had swallowed that morning. Can’t you imagine the technician saying, “Wow, Fred Flintstone. There is Barney, I think.”
A couple of weeks ago I went to my high-tech dentist. I had a filling that needed removal and replacement. The technician said, “Mr. Young, you have the biggest mouth I have ever worked on! There is so much room in there.” Anyway, she put this machine in there and it started clicking. I didn’t know what it was. It wasn’t a drill. After awhile, my dentist raised up my chair and told me to look to the left. And I saw on a kind of side screen a before and after picture of my molar. It was kind of like a tooth makeover right before your eyes. Before, it was ugly, out of style, out of fashion, that silvery mercury-laden filling. Now it was white. Technology blows me away. Well the technology that is available today was not available two decades ago. What physicians and technicians can see now really takes them back. They know now that a twelve-week-old fetus has facial expressions, arm and leg movement, thumb sucking. We are talking about a developing child. Eighty-five percent of women considering abortion will not go through with it if they are shown pictures of developing babies at the same stage as their developing child.
Would you take the life of a baby who is one hour old? How about a day old? How about a couple of weeks old? Would you take the life of a baby an hour before it was to be born, a day, a couple of weeks before it were to be born. You won’t hear this stuff from the political pundits and media spin-doctors out there trying to perpetuate their mentality. Oh, no. You will hear the language of confusion and illusion and oftentimes the language of intrusion. I want to talk to you about this confusing language because it sounds so cool, so scientific, so with it, so right. But when you dissect the terms, when you put them up against the backdrop of abortion, it is scary.
Have you heard this before? Every woman has the right to choose what she wants to do with her own body. That sounds all right. Every woman, every woman? There were 1.5 million abortions last year in the United States of America. About one half of those aborted babies were female. They were little girl babies, little women babies. Seven hundred and fifty thousand dead female babies didn’t have a choice. Don’t even go there. It is illogical. It doesn’t hold water. Again we have got to go back to the language of illusion and confusion. Her own body? We are talking about pregnant women, correct? We are talking about women who have developing babies housed in their uteruses. We are not talking about one person; we are talking about two persons. When you are pregnant, ladies, it is your body and another body. You have got one set of brain waves. The baby has another set of brain waves. You have got one heart beat, the baby has another heart beat. You have one skeletal structure; the baby has another skeletal structure. So, if every woman has the right to choose what to do with her own body, it is not your body, it is the baby’s body.
Yet we just sit there, Americans, just totally numbed out. “I believe it, Ted Koppel. I believe it, Dan Rather. I believe it, Wolf Blitzer. CNN said it, I believe it. Have you ever studied what those people believe? Have you ever studied what most of them feel? Have you ever studied their ideology, their educational background, their view of scripture, their view of God? Have you ever done that? It will shock you. Now I am not saying that everybody in the media is that way, but a lot of them are. They use the language of confusion and illusion.
Another term states that no one really knows when life begins. We just don’t know, they say. Well, biology students know. I have a good friend who is an obstetrician. He knows. Definitely, pregnant women know. In fact, the entire medical community will say that when the sperm meets the egg we are talking about life. People know when life begins.
Where did we go wrong? Where did the wheels fall off, when did we start to talk about human beings only as people who are seen? I guess what we are saying is that when you can’t see someone, when you can’t see the baby, it is not a human being. But when the child is born and you can see them, that means that they are a human being. What is the difference between a little developing baby in a mother’s uterus compared to a little baby who has made an eight-inch journey down the birth canal? What is the difference? Eight inches? Again, I wonder what has happened to us.
And then again, this week, I ran into a writer in USA Today, David Masceo. He was talking about the 36 million abortions that have taken place in our country since 1973. And here was his thesis for the entire full-page article. If we hadn’t had abortion, if all of these babies had lived, talk about financial problems. Our country would be in a tailspin. Talk about crime, it would be horrible. We won’t know what to do. Talk about racial problems and tensions. It would make today seem like nothing. And this was an educated person. Don’t you see how it devalues life, it cheapens our existence? Don’t you see now how a lot of people today put the spotted owl and the anaconda and the brook trout on the same level as a human being?
Let’s have another one. Every child should be a wanted child. Now that sounds good. If you are poor, if you have seven children and are living in a horrible part of town, you should not have another baby. Every child should be a wanted child. You don’t want that child to suffer. OK. You don’t want that child to suffer sounds OK. So then we are going to kill the child to keep him or her from suffering. Is that right? Every child is a wanted child. Those children who are unwanted are really up there for abuse. But, read the data. Since Rowe vs. Wade, child abuse has skyrocketed and we are talking about wanted children.
I will never forget what happened to me when I was on vacation two years ago. I was in the Gulf area of Florida with my family. I walked outside of the condo with a cup of coffee in my hand one morning. I love the beach; I am a beach person. I saw the sugar white beach and the turquoise water. I was thinking about the trout leaping and the red fish running. I saw the seagulls kind of hanging in the air. But something stood out. Something kind of rocked me in this picturesque scene, a bunch of ugly signs. I walked up and read the signs. One said, “Warning – breeding ground for the sea turtle. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” I am all for protecting the environment. I am a big time fisherman and I always practice catch and release. I pick up paper all the time. And I believe that if you litter, you are committing cosmic treason before God, trashing God’s planet. I love animals. You know, I have dogs and cats and all that. But let me get this right now. We are throwing people in jail for disturbing the eggs of the green sea turtle, yet it is legal to take the life of a developing little boy or little girl? It doesn’t make sense.
So, yes. My Christo-centric orientation is a particular. Yes, the sheer data that I have downloaded over the years is definitely a particular. But there is one last particular. The eyewitness account from women who have had abortions. I have kind of a unique position in life because I have been exposed to thousands and thousands of people over the last ten years. I have talked to a bunch of women who have had abortions. If you have had an abortion, listen to me. It is not the unpardonable, the unforgivable sin. It is not. There is a second chance. There is a better way. However, if you try to deal with it yourself, if you try to work it out with your own set of plans, you are going to live in a rut of regret for the rest of your life. You will feel like life is caving in on you. Come clean. Call abortion what it is, a sin before God. Confess it. Take it to the cross. Come clean with it and you can be cleansed and forgiven today, right now.
A couple of days ago this letter was in my mailbox. I have permission to read it. “My husband and I were a young self-centered married couple when we made the wrong decision to terminate a pregnancy because the time was not right. After we became Christians, we asked and received God’s forgiveness and amazing grace. I don’t think that we ever really forgave ourselves. I heard a couple at the Fellowship Church give their testimony about a similar decision and it blew me away. I thought that the secret was too dark and horrible to ever share out loud. After the message that day I sobbed in the car. It was not pleasant to look at an action so horrible in God’s eyes without being deeply affected. Since that time I have selectively been able to share with others God’s healing in my life. I recently shared with a group of women that were struggling with the guilt of their sin. We read scripture and prayed together. In another instance an unmarried woman was brought to me and I was able to tell her the real story of abortion. It seemed like a quick fix for her but I told her that the repercussions would last for a lifetime. I know there will be many, many women and men sitting in the auditorium who will be facing this sin in their life for the first time. For many, it will be like unlocking the door to something they thought was tucked inside forever. I will be praying for you as you bring the upcoming message.”
What a lesson. If you want to talk to the lady who penned this letter, she wants to be available to discuss forgiveness, to discuss this sin with you. There is another side. If you call our church office on Monday morning we will get you together with her. So, those ladies here who have had an abortion, it is not the unforgivable sin.
Let me talk to another group. I know right now that we have some people who are thinking about abortion. I have talked to you over the last couple of weeks and I know you are here. Based on the particulars that I have shared with you, based on my relationship with God, I ask you not to do it. It is not worth it. First of all, it is not worth it because it is a sin before God. The pain and guilt and alienation and separation aren’t worth it. Don’t go through with it because it is a sin.
Number two; don’t go through with it because you are taking a life. And on top of that, if you decide to have the baby, you are going to save a little boy or a little girl. You are going to save someone who was tailor-made in the image of God. You see, the adoption option is open and there are literally millions of men and women, husbands and wives, who have aching arms and aching hearts for a child. They are infertile. And if you do this for them, you can change the course of their existence and you can also save a life. And who knows what that little boy or that little girl will become.
A close friend of Lisa and mine got pregnant before she was married. This young lady faced abortion and adoption as alternative decisions. She made a courageous move. And a Christian couple took her in and when she had the baby she put him up for adoption and he is in a wonderful Christian home. She, too, told me that she wanted to make herself available to anyone considering abortion. So, if you are considering abortion, call the church office and we will put you in contact with her. We want to help you. We want to show you there is a whole other side out there.
The third group that I want to talk to about is made up of those of us here who loving and firmly seek to protect developing babies in their mother’s wombs. I challenge you to get involved. Write letters. Become pro-active. Maybe God will lead you to take in a woman who has decided to keep her baby, to save a life. Maybe God will lead you in that realm. And need I say anything about violence. Don’t even go there. Don’t become over zealous.
Fourth group has to be those here who are still pro-choice. If you are pro-choice, we love you. I love you. Why? Because you matter to God and because you matter to God, you matter to us. But I think that you are off base biblically, intellectually and relationally. I challenge you to study this issue with an open heart and an open mind. I challenge you to really do the research. Go to our bookstore after this service and we have a list of five or six books that you can study. Study the Bible. Talk to other people who have dealt with this issue. Speak to women who have had an abortion. Do those things and see what God does.
In a couple of days we are going to celebrate the defining moment in history, aren’t we? We are going to celebrate the ultimate birth, that moment in time when God sent His only Son to be born of a virgin. We will have this birthday party for Jesus. I ask you, what if Mary, years ago because of the social stigma, because of peer pressure, had said that she would have an abortion. What if Mary had made that choice? I ask you, where would you be? Where would you be?