77%

77%The advertisement to your left is from the “Pro-Choice Public Education Project.” As you can see, the picture comes with an assertion about those who are anti-abortion (pro-life). I say assertion because it is not backed up with any statistics or research (though I am persuaded, without need of research or statistics, that the latter part of the statement is factually true). Now granted it is an advertisement meant to draw one’s attention rather than an essay intended to argue one point or another based on an unbiased study. Nevertheless it has to be accepted at face value and, as such, it is someone’s opinion and not factual.

But let us, for the sake of argument, take it as a fact. Let us consider, first of all, how many people we are talking about. Since the advertisement is from the United States, we can safely assert that the amount of leaders who are against abortion would be in the thousands who, in turn represent millions of American. Yet even if only 23% of all anti-abortion leaders are women, this is a sizable amount of the female population. And the advertisement does not ask but I posit: what do they have to say about women’s rights and abortion in particular? Are they to be marginalized because they agree with these male anti-abortion leaders (assuming that the men are in charge)? Do they have a choice to be against abortion or must they side with the pro-choice movement because they are women? Do the authors of the advertisement oppose these women (and ironically their choice to be pro-life) since, according to the ad “it’s pro-choice or no choice”? Do they realize that one of the most prominent female leaders of the anti-abortion movement is Norma Leah McCorvey who is better known as Jane Roe, involved in the landmark abortion case of Roe vs. Wade which overturned states laws against abortion? Why is this woman now against abortion when before she supported it?

But who are these men that are against abortion? According to the picture, literally taken at face value, they are all white, older, and well dressed, thus presumably rich or at least fairly wealthy. As we all know older white men with plenty of money are the bane of the existence of women, minorities and differently sexual oriented persons. A convenient scapegoat to be sure. Now perhaps I protest too much but it is hard to see anything other than a blatant stereotype staring me in the face. Yet the fact of the matter is that all kinds of people are for abortion and that it has little to do with race, sex, or any other trait that we tend to divide and subtract people for our own purposes.

Now ads like these assert that, in contradistinction to the anti-abortion movement, that they are all about choice. But that is simplistic because these choices are multifaceted. Some are for abortion simply because they make money off of it. For them it is a business and they will protect their business at all costs. Thus some of them are, like the men in the ad, older white men who are fairly wealthy. Some of them are white women. Others do not fit into either category because all kinds of people are paid or in some way profit from it. Many states pay for the abortions of women who live in poverty or want. Many companies also fund, for example, Planned Parenthood with their profits. Other organizations raise millions of dollars per year for abortion providers.

Even now there is legislation to require the public, in one fashion or another, to subsidize the industry in the near future. And in Canada our tax dollars, both federal and provincial have gone to support abortion for years. So it is publicly funded, or less politely, extorted from us on a daily basis. And yes from one perspective this allows women to be ‘free’ or unburdened with something that they did not want or for which they cannot properly care. However, in the vast majority of cases, such persons were not violated by a man. They chose to live the life they wanted which included having a child with the man they chose to sleep with. No one put a gun to their head; no one took away their right to express themselves sexually. Many married women have abortions as well; no one forced them to marry that man, or take it upon themselves to force them to stop going to work and instead raise a family. All of these choices were theirs. But note that if they were really free, or if they and those who supported them really believed that, according to the advertisement, that “it’s your body” and thus “it’s your decision,” all public funding of such organizations would cease. So it is not only an individual choice but a publicly funded industry (and increasingly so) which allows people to make money on the basis of decisions for which I am not only not directly responsible for but also those to which I am directly opposed. So let us take choice out of the equation.

The other reason that people support abortion is rarely talked about but it is just as responsible for it as the people who support the right for a woman to do what she wants. And yes here I am talking about men. But again, it has little to do with race, age or any other distinction. Simply put, is men who impregnate these women who want nothing to do with the child. Sure, many women may wish to have an abortion, but how many do so because their boyfriend, lover, husband do not want to burdened with the child? I won’t insult your intelligence by quoting a statistic because I do not know what the number is. But I do know, for a fact, that a man is a least 50% responsible in each case of unwanted pregnancy. He was there; he is responsible. Where are the men who are willing to step up and to be held accountable for their actions? But you see they don’t have to if abortion is readily available. It allows them the easy way out. After all, they don’t have to go to the clinic and undergo the procedure. They don’t have to be burdened with the physical, psychological and emotional effects of an abortion. It may be labeled as a ‘choice’ for a women, but truly she is the shackled one. The man is free to go as he pleases and can even do it again if he wants (and not necessarily with the same women). So where are those within the pro-choice movement who are willing to say something about these men? Are they just let off the proverbial hook?

And you know what? To be perfectly honest, as a man, I can say I feel for the women in these situations. Who or what is a man to say what it feels like to be pregnant or to bear a child? What do we know? But just because a man cannot be pregnant does not mean he does not have a right to support the pro life movement anymore than the 23% of those in the anti-abortion movement who are women. Why? Because they are against choice? That is one way to look at it. But on a deeper level they are men who understand it is their calling as men to love the women and the children that are in their life. Men who understand that life is already given at conception and not rob these children of something for which they cannot make a choice. Men who understand their duty and responsibly as men to protect the weak and defenseless. We are not just the 77%; we love women and we love the children God has given us.

These are just a few arguments which undermine the argument made by this advertisement. There are more to made and there is more to be said. But what I wish to end with is this: it is a choice. A choice with life changing significance. It’s just that the choice has farther reaching implications than placing the blame on men who will never have to bear a child. It affects the child, the woman and the man who was involved from the very beginning. In the end, it really doesn’t matter who supports what movement. In the end what matters is: do I have good reason(s) to support the movement to which I belong? And can I see past the rhetoric that is often used to understand that this issue is not about men or women but about the 100% of children (female and male) who are killed every time an abortion takes place. 

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Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners

In a previous post I recommended a few resources for you to pick up and read. One of these resources is a book written by a Reformed pastor’s wife (Rosaria Butterfield) who previously was lost but has been found (hence the title of this post). Recently I found a video link to an interview with her. Though I don’t encourage you to bypass the book by watching the video, you may find it engaging and helpful. Enjoy. 

Bible Reading Plans (2013)

Being New Year’s Day, it would be a good time for you to review where you are in terms of reading God’s Word. We have noted some Bible reading plans in the past and so I won’t belabor that point here. 

But I will encourage you to read our last post on this subject here.

Second, I would also recommend that you read this post on “How Not to Read Your Bible in 2013″ (emphasis mine). I have included the five points of the article below to encourage you to follow the link and examine the article for yourself. Enjoy!

1. Don’t Overextend
2. Don’t Do It Alone
3. Don’t Just Do It Whenever
4. Don’t Live as if Paul Lied
5. Don’t Turn a Means of Grace into a Means of Merit

Religion, Reality & the Written Word

In eighth chapter of  his “Reformed Dogmatics” (Volume 1), Bavinck is discussing “religious foundations.” He notes “the three main views… about the place of religion in the life of the soul” (page 254). They are: 1. religion as knowledge 2. religion as morality and 3. religion as feeling (or religion corresponding to the mind, will and heart). Though he notes that there are strengths to each approach, he ultimately concludes that “religion is not limited to one single human faculty but embraces the human being as a whole” (page 268). Bavinck understands that each approach to religion, taken in isolation from the other two, is incomplete simply because it would not live up to the command of our Lord to love God with all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength. 

Rightly then Bavinck criticizes those religious approaches that only take one of the views as the sum of religion’s goal and intent. In his section on religion as feeling or religion based on the heart he notes the danger of confusing religion with “aesthetic feeling” or religion with art. Bavinck notes:

Religion is life, reality; art is ideal, appearance… Reality itself does not change on account of it. Though art gives us distant glimpses of the realm of glory, it does not induct us into that realm and make us citizens of it. Art does not atone for our guilt, or wipe away our tears, or comfort us in life and death. It never turns the beyond into the here and now. Only religion does. It is and conveys reality. It bestows life and peace. It poses the ideal as the true reality and makes us participants in it (Volume 1, page 267)

What Bavinck notes here is especially important for the modern church. When the preaching of the Word (which is at the heart of true religion) is supplanted by other media (especially the visual arts [1]) we face a situation where our faith is now based upon feeling or the heart. This is part of the reason why Christians will argue with those who quote Bible texts by saying “that is not how I feel” or “I know in my heart that is not true.” 

But Bavinck notes that art does not change reality or usher in the kingdom of God.  It cannot forgive or comfort us.  It only points us to what is to come without actually ensuring or acquiring eternal life. Most certainly it ought never to replace true faith in Jesus. The danger is that, for some, their worship or conception of God is changed by the visual and yet this experience is not based in scripture.

Indeed our Lord did not merely point His disciples to what they felt or experienced in their heart, but what they knew to be true based on what they read from the Word of God and had heard from His lips:

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:16-21

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[1]
Consider Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 98:

Q. But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?
A. No, we shouldn’t try to be wiser than God. He wants his people instructed by the living preaching of his Word-(1), not by idols that cannot even talk.(2)

(1) Rom. 10:14-15, 17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19 [2) Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-20

Religions All, But Not All Are Equal

“One who… calls all religions equally true or equally false, in principle takes the position of the sophists who saw man as the measure of all things.” (Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 1, page 249)

One might think the quote above was written for our day and age but Herman Bavinck wrote these words in the early 20 century. But they do apply to the time we live in, don’t they? We really shouldn’t be surprised though, since this kind of philosophy has been around for a long time. 

According to Bavinck, those who believe that all religions are equally true or false, take the position of the sophists (the wise men of ancient Greece). And apparently the statement “man is the measure of all things” dates back to Protagoras, a Greek philosopher who lived in the 5th century BC. Since, then, this seems to be a common or repeated problem for more than just one generation, it must not be the analysis or diagnosis that is the most significant but the criticism of it that must not fail to expose it for what it really is.

Well, Bavinck notes the preconceived (or presupposed) thought in the minds of those who adhere to this kind of thinking: namely, the religion of humanism. So though it may take many different forms in different times, it always and relentlessly submits everything to the mind and heart of man. Instead of being neutral or diffident about religion, these critics of religion have, in fact, simply put themselves in the driver’s seat and declared, to the world, that their judgment of these matters is final and undebatable. 

In other words, they are just as religious as the next man: they simply won’t allow anyone to have a corner on the truth because they themselves believe they have complete monopoly over the market by their wares. But their wares are vain and worthless.

So the next time someone says “all religions are the same,” or “all religions are false, so your religion is just as foolish as the rest” tell them: “But that is just a man’s opinion. All you have done is toss your hat in the ring with the rest of mankind. But you and I are lost. So it is God, who as the measure of all things, must tell us what is true and what is false. Let us then listen to God’s Son who said: ‘I am the light of the world.’ John 9:5 & ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’ John 14:6″