On a cold winter night (freezing by Florida standards) nine years ago one of the most significant events in my life occurred. My wonderful wife and I witnessed the birth of our baby boy! At 5:50 pm on a Wednesday evening (yes, we missed church that night) the sweetest 8 pound 4 ounce package you could ever see or hold was delivered into our lives! As most reading this article are aware, our boy has grown to be quite a reader with quite a personality (“quite” and “quiet” use the same letters in their spelling, but they have “quite” different meanings!). Several weeks ago our gift from God asked if daddy could include him in the writing of the January newsletter since that is his birth month. As a happy (and proud) father, I was glad to oblige. For the next two pages we will look at some biblical truths that were magnified to me at the birth of our son.
I Am Pro-Life (Jeremiah 1:4-5; Psalm 139:13-16)…Before I even officially begin the paragraphs devoted to this bullet point, let me say that God’s salvation by grace through faith in Christ extends to anyone who has had an abortion, as it does to all who have sinned in whatever ways they have broken God’s laws, if they will only respond to the gospel in repentance and faith. Let me also say that while there are those who are pro-abortion because they seek the financial profit the industry entails or because they desire to make it possible for themselves and others to live loose and promiscuous lifestyles with no repercussions, most people who are pro-choice have what they perceive as compassion for their motivation in that they want to spare “unwanted” children the plight they will endure at the hands of terrible parents or that they want to spare a woman the burden of an “unwanted” child when she is unable and unprepared for motherhood. Finally, let me also say that while being pro-life certainly informs the way I vote, I do not believe that any pro-life politician or any anti-abortion law is the ultimate answer. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the sanctifying transformation that occurs as we walk with Him, follow His Spirit, and grow in His Word is the only true and lasting solution for a fallen world, whatever the manifestation of that fallen world may be. With those opening caveats, let me officially begin with this first Biblical Bullet-point from Benji’s birth…
January is not only the birth month of our huggable, loveable, snuggable, kissable, and squeezable boy, it is also national pro-life month. I have personally been pro-life ever since I was old enough to understand the issue. A spokesperson from a local pro-life group came to address our church during an evening service when I was 13 or 14 years old. I don’t remember everything that was said that night, but I will never forget the visceral horror that I felt as the procedure of abortion was described and as some vivid, gruesome pictures of the process were shown. Most people in our country, and indeed around the world, know what abortion is on a basic level. However, that three-syllable word, like most terms and concepts comes into a much clearer focus to the human mind and consciousness when we see it visually depicted.
As I grew into my late teens and early twenties and, more importantly, as my Christian walk began to mature and develop; I discovered that I had a far greater reason for being pro-life than the words and pictures delivered to me during that church service in the late 80’s. The ultimate authority, the ultimate ground of truth, for us as Christians is not what society says, not what philosophy teaches, not what professional speakers emote, now what pictures show, and not even what our personal experience or reasoning relays to us; our ultimate authority for all matters of faith and practice is what the Bible declares for it is the very Word of the only true and living God! I could take up far more space than the rest of this newsletter allows giving and describing Bible verses that support the pro-life position, but I’ll only list two of the more famous passages here. In Jeremiah 1:4-5 God speaks to the Old Testament prophet and declares to him that the Lord has known him since before God formed him in his mother’s womb. What does this mean? It means that babies are persons even before they are born. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks similarly with David declaring that he was fearfully and wonderfully woven in his mother’s womb by the hand of God and that the Lord knew David’s frame while in his mother’s womb. Again, the Bible clearly teaches that a baby is a person even before they are born. If life begins at conception, if a baby is a person before they are born, then abortion is wrong because it is the intentional taking of a human life. (Before moving on here, let me repeat that the main reason I am pro-life is because the Bible, our ultimate authority, clearly teaches that babies are persons in the mother’s womb. However, even science is now teaching that all the DNA, all the necessary “material” for life, is present at conception. As time goes on the baby will grow in Size, will move to a higher Level of development, will change Environments-when it passes through the birth canal, and will have a lower degree of Dependency, but it is never more a person than when it is conceived. Scott Klusendorf, noted pro-life apologist, calls this the SLED argument against abortion. That is, we would never call for the end of a life because it was smaller than another life (Size), had a less developed IQ or other sense than another person (Level of Development), lived in a different location than another individual (Environment), or had a higher dependence on certain medicines, etc. to live than another person (Degree of Dependency))…
When my wonderful wife, the most wonderful in all the world in my sincerely humble and totally unbiased opinion, thought that she was pregnant, we contacted the doctor. Much to our consternation, rather than set up an appointment for the next day, his office instructed us that they did not want to see us until she was seven weeks in because that was about the earliest time they would be able to profit us medically in any way. When the day finally came for our visit, the doctor hooked up an ultrasound and we could see our little baby (he looked like a little “peanut” at the time—“peanut” was a nickname my mother-in-law gave to him when she saw the picture) and hear his heart pounding a perfect 150 beats per minute! It would be awhile before my love could feel him kick and even longer before I could feel him move (usually when my wife and I would pray together!). As much as I know there are difficult situations into which babies can be born and burdens that newborns can produce on people perhaps not ready or able on their own to bear, I even more cannot imagine the trauma that a woman (and a man for that matter) would go through to see the ultrasounds, hear the heartbeats, feel the movement, and then, at one’s own choosing-not because of a medical emergency or miscarriage, to have nothing to see in an ultrasound picture, to have no heart present to hear beat, and to have no feet present to kick your inners.
Within the next few weeks our main physician recommended that we see an additional doctor. He wanted this other specialized doctor to examine our baby more fully than he was able. Upon seeing this “advanced” doctor they informed us that we had some risk factors that could cause our child to be born with Down’s Syndrome. They asked us if we would like to have a certain conclusive test performed so that we could make an informed decision going forward. The test had some risk factors itself and, whatever it would have told us, while it would perhaps have assisted us in preparing for the future care we would have to provide for our child, would not in any way have informed our decision on whether or not to have our baby. We did not have the test performed.
Our bouncing baby was born the day after New Year’s, and what an event to be celebrated indeed (not New Year’s; the birth of our sweet baby!). As he looked into his mother’s eyes, as I kissed his face, as we held him close, squeezed him tight, and stared, stared, and stared some more; I could see in vivid detail the value and joy of new life described in Scripture. I am pro-life.
God Tells The Truth (Gen. 3:16-19)…My wonderful wife and I took some pregnancy classes when we discovered we were expecting. One of the lessons instructed husbands on how to coach their wife through the painful process of contractions. They told us that they would begin and be several minutes apart and then gradually graduate to coming more and more frequently. Like any good husband, I paid attention and formulated a plan. When the contractions began coming I would count how long in between each one and then comfort my wonderful wife by telling her to just hold on for relief would come as I counted down the time intervals.
My plan, though well intentioned and well thought out, didn’t exactly pan out. We knew the birthing process was beginning and went into the hospital on January 1st. However, my wonderful wife was not having any contractions. The medical staff eventually determined that things needed to start moving faster so they gave her a medicine to induce labor. They kept increasing her dosages of this inducing medication every 20 minutes or so. Everything was fine, until it wasn’t! The medicine they gave her took effect in what seemed like an instant. Her pain level went from 0 to 60 in about 2.4 seconds! We sent all our visitors out of the room and I discovered that I never wanted to arm wrestle my sweet wife! She squeezed my hand so hard that it turned several shades of red and purple from distress! (Okay, I might have exaggerated slightly, but just slightly!). I know my love would agree with me that our boy was worth infinite times the amount of pain involved but indeed God was telling the truth when He said that as a result of the fall women would have great pain! Thankfully, they gave her something for the pain an hour or so later! She felt much better, and my hand got some feeling back into it!
A week or so after our sweet boy was born and we took him home, we received a letter in the mail from the hospital. They congratulated us and said all kinds of nice things before coming to the bottom line that we owed them a little over $2,000! Now, we had insurance and everything, and they still wanted over two grand! I was now looking for some of that pain reducing medication! Our boy was certainly worth that infinite times over and God provided for our need, but the work we must do to pay the bills does show that God told the truth when He said that as a result of the fall we would earn our living through sweat and toil.
Apart From Jesus We Can Do Nothing (John 15:5)…Our son just turned nine! I tried to talk him into going back to seven but he would have no part of it! Our precocious blessing firmly informed me that only God has a vote when it comes to our ages and He has decided that we must keep moving forward, not backward. Being nine he has reached that age where I start asking him if he needs help with something, and he often says “no.” I realize it’s a normal part of growing up to reach for a level of independence and to obtain a degree of competence, but it used to be different. When he was born, all he could do to help himself with anything was cry! He couldn’t tell us what he needed when he cried, he may not have even known what he needed. For everything from food to changing diapers, our baby could do next to nothing to help himself; he had to depend upon us. If you think a newborn baby is helpless in the natural realm, I assure you that we are even more helpless in the spiritual realm (and not nearly as cute)! Believers certainly grow in their walk with Christ and gain strength through the Word and the power of the Spirit, but we must never forget the true words of our Lord that “apart from Him we can do nothing.”
The Love Of Our Heavenly Father Runs Deep (1 John 3:1)…I would lay down my life for my son. This little one stole my heart from the moment I saw his heart beat on the ultrasound screen. My love for him has only grown over these nine years as I’ve held him, fed him, changed him, kissed him, taught him, and seen him grow more and more into who God is making him to be. I can understand why God would choose to call Himself titles as Lord, Almighty, and King, but He also has freely chosen to call Himself Father to all of those who repent and put their trust in Christ. The Apostle John shares this wonderment that we would be called God’s children and that He would be called our Father in 1 John 3:1 when he states “see how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God.” Now my son has gains from me, but I also gain from him. He was cute and cuddly when born, and in my sincere, humble, and unbiased opinion remains the sweetest nine year old you could ever lay your eyes upon! I, on the other hand, could give God nothing. For Him to be my Father, the gain is all mine, the loss is all His! I wasn’t cute and cuddly nor sweet, all my righteousness being as filthy rags in the eyes of a holy God! Yet out of love He has chosen to give His Son to pay my sin debt, to give His Holy Spirit to live inside me, and to call me, by nature a child of wrath, a child of God if I but repent of sin and put faith in Christ!