I love Christmas, at least after the decorations are all in place and the hard work is done in getting ready for the celebration of the incarnation. During Advent, believers love to focus on the miracle of the virgin birth. The idea of God being clothed in human flesh and the deity of the babe of Bethlehem staggers our imagination and defies all description. We love to sing, “Joy to the World, the Lord has Come.” We bask in the warmth of the very name “Emmanuel.”
However, there is a dark side to the Christmas story. The Magi who had seen the star in the East journeyed immediately to Jerusalem and inquired of Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” The question of the Magi “troubled” Herod and submerged him in the slew of suspicion, but the star appeared again to the Wise Men and led them to Bethlehem where they found the infant Messiah, worshipped him, and returned to their country another way without reporting to Herod the location of the child.
Herod was incensed that his scheme to find the Child had not been successful, and he issued an edict that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and the surrounding area be slaughtered. Herod thought his insidious plan to eliminate all the boy babies would certainly result in the death of the Holy Child, whom he considered a rival. Byzantine liturgy estimates that 14,000 boy babies were killed in the massacre of the innocents. It would be impossible to comprehend the weeping and sorrow that invaded the homes of the slain children.
Recognizing life as sacred
Life is a sacred treasure. At the dawn of creation, before the devil had disclosed his diabolical plan to spoil creation and before the forbidden tree had produced its fateful fruit, God scooped up a handful of dirt and fashioned the first man made in His own likeness (imago dei) and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. When God viewed His created handiwork, He saw that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God’s designing and shaping of that first human being was a mighty miracle.
However, since the creation of Adam, the miracle of conception and the fashioning of each and every child is also a miracle of unfathomable proportions. Every human life is a sacred treasure, because it is a wondrous treasure from the hands of an omnipotent God. Furthermore, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God gives, advocates for, and blesses life, but hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:16-19).
I believe we have the solemn responsibility of protecting and preparing all children for a meaningful and productive life. Our very Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. . . . That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a New Government.” The first unalienable right mentioned in the Declaration is LIFE!
Interestingly, a Venezuelan actor, Edgar Ramirez, a Catholic, stated the life issue about a well as I have heard it. He declared, “For me, no ideological or political conviction would justify the sacrifice of a human life. For me, the value of life is absolute, with no concessions. It is not negotiable.”
Consequently, every child of God should have an unalterable conviction that inspires him/her to be a passionate advocate and a zealous defender of life and that every Christian pastor should be in front of the pro-life cause leading the charge to promote and preserve life from conception until natural death.
Recognizing reckless slaughter
Since life begins at conception there is no fundamental difference between the diabolical extermination of those precious infants under Herod’s regime than the reckless slaughter of millions of children by the abortion industry in America today. Yet, Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Planned Parenthood endorsed politician, running for the United States Senate, declares that his support of abortion without any restrictions is consistent with his philosophy as a Baptist pastor.
You can no more justify abortion than you can justify slavery. Seth Gruber writing on LifeSite states, “As slavery was a litmus test of our republic in the 19th century, so is abortion today. Abortion is evil for the same reasons that slavery is evil: It denies the personhood of its victims to justify their mistreatment. As long as our country continues to deny the natural right to life to an entire class of human beings, our own rights will constantly be endangered by modern jurists and a ruling class whose jurisprudence is completely foreign to that first generation of judges.”
Pastors at the forefront
While most conservative Christians are pro-life, the fundamental question is not whether the pro-life position is based on religion. There are religious people who are both pro-life and pro-choice. The fundamental issue is whether or not abortion is morally acceptable? Are people taking the moral high road when they embrace the pro-choice position? The answer is “No”! In fact, when we vote for a pro-choice politician, we are taking a decisive step toward an amoral, antinomian society, which is so foreign to the intent of our founding fathers that it is alarming, even reprehensible.
And may I add that pastors need to be in the forefront of this battle for truth and justice. Life and liberty are at stake in the upcoming election in Georgia and pastors who shrink from their duty to sound the alarm for those values most akin to the Bible are not being true to their calling.
Martin Luther stated, “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides the mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
I believe the sanctity of life issue is critical in the January 5 election and needs to be addressed from the pulpits of our churches.
I fear that many American pastors are fearful of addressing what God has to say on the major issues in our culture today. The Apostle Paul said, “(We must cast) down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
We need to revive the Black Robed Regiment of the American Revolution, the spiritual minutemen of days gone by to arouse the sleeping church and populace to the crisis of the hour and the disastrous future that awaits the church that sleeps through the battle.
David Crary, writing for the Associated Press stated, “Most members of the clergy, including foes of abortion, steer clear of overt endorsements or denunciations of political candidates. Numerous denominations try to frame their stance of abortion in ways that respect multiple viewpoints.”
I believe that a pastor must be a minister of grace; and for a woman who may be thinking about abortion the pastor should be able to provide for her other options. And for women who have already had an abortion the loving pastor must tell her about God’s love and forgiveness.
Truth over tenderness
I honestly believe in diplomacy and kindness, and I have found it possible to love those with whom I disagree, but there are times when truth must win out over tenderness. I doubt if Elijah watered down his convictions with a milquetoast demeanor when he approached Ahab in I Kings 18.
The Bible also says, “If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for the battle” (I Corinthians 14:8). Dr. Leo Green, an Old Testament professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, used to say, “We have too many preachers who are sounding out God’s message with a piccolo instead of a trumpet.” Stand up, Pastors! Be warriors for the truth lest the dark side of 2020 is followed by the darker side of 2021!