As I’ve read about Dr. Douglas Karpen in the past twenty-four hours, I could not stop thinking about the horror we are currently witnessing with the abortion issue. Over the past month or so I’ve been writing on abortion a lot. During that time I’ve almost not written anything more because I’ve felt like there was nothing more that I could possibly say about the topic. Yet, as I’ve prayed and thought about this more, I’ve realized there is in fact a lot more to discuss. Furthermore, I believe more Christians need to raise their voices both online and offline to declare that God created life and that life is special to God.
On April 14th of this year I wrote “I think the Gosnell case is going to fundamental change the way abortion is not only talked about in our culture, but also how it is argued” (http://servantsofgrace.org/2013/04/14/gosnell-the-future-of-the-abortion-debate-and-revival/). I also recently said that I think the Gosnell case is a watershed issue in our culture (http://servantsofgrace.org/2013/05/13/a-biblical-approach-to-the-gosnell-verdict/). I now believe what all of this is revealing is a culture of death that is in part being promoted by the United States of America through its funding of Planned Parenthood, an organization that supports pro-choice positions as well as abortion. As I have noted earlier and am beginning to realize all the more, abortion is an epidemic spread across the country and the world and the results of this is a culture of death. I have also noted multiple times now in various posts that the issue of abortion is not going away. All of this has led me to conclude that Christians must not be silent about this tragedy but rather to speak up and speak loudly on this issue.
That last sentence may have you thinking, “Well, Dave, are you only interested in social issues?” The answer to that is an emphatic, “No!” The reason I am deeply burdened by this particular issue is I believe God created man in His image which means I believe all of life is special to Him and should be treated with dignity and respect. This also means I believe abortion is murder. I don’t believe the abortion issue is a Gospel-issue, however, because of the Gospel, I believe Christians should stand up for life and speak out against this culture of death. I don’t believe the social Gospel though I do believe the Gospel compels Christians to speak up on social issues such as abortion.
As I was thinking about this I remembered something that relates to the topic I am addressing here today that I read many years ago in a book called The Interaction of Law and Religion (Nashville: Abingon, 1974) by Harold J. Berman, a professor of Law at Harvard University. In his book, Dr. Berman notes Western culture has had a massive loss of confidence in law and religion. One of the most important causes of this double loss of confidence is the radical separation that has been made between the two. Berman concludes that you cannot have workable rules for behavior without religion, because only religion provides an absolute base on which morality and law can be based. The author fears western society is doomed to relativism in law because of the loss of an absolute. When men break away from the idea of an authoritative religion, and even from the concept of god, they break away from the possibility of absolute truth. Their only remaining resource is existential relativism, a slippery, unstable, and ever-changing base on which no authoritative system or law can be built. “Religionless” law can never command authority.
Professor Berman further noted “Thomas Franck of New York University has observed that law in contrast to religion “has become undisguised a pragmatic human process. It is made by men and it lays no claim to divine origin or eternal validity.” (p.27). This led Franks to observe:
“to the view that a judge, in reaching a decision, is not propounding a truth that is rather experimenting in the solution of a problem, and if his decision is reversed by a higher court or if it is subsequently overruled, that does not mean it was wrong but only that it was, or became in the course of time, unsatisfactory. Having broken away from religion, Franck states, law is now characterized by “existential relativism.” Indeed, it is now generally recognized “that no judicial decision is ever ‘final,’ that the law both follows the event (is not eternal or certain) and is made by man (is not divine or True.” (pp.27-28).
Professor Berman goes on to ask, “If law is merely an experiment, and if judicial decisions are only hunches, why should individuals or groups of people observe those legal rules or commands that do not conform to their own interests?” (p.280).
He is right. Rules without absolutes are rules without authority, except the authority of force and coercion. When God is abandoned, truth is abandoned and when truth is abandoned, the basis for morals and law is abandoned. A consistent coherent legal system cannot be built on philosophical humanism or on the principle that right and wrong fluctuate according to man’s ideas and feelings.
If there is no religious absolute, there can be no basis for real law. People will not respect or long obey laws that are only judicial guesses. An evil, godless society, floating about on a sea of relativism, realizes that it has no foundation, no anchor, and no unmoving point of reference. Law becomes a matter of preference and order a matter of power. A democracy where power is ultimately vested in the people is particularly vulnerable to chaos.
Is there an absolute basis for truth, for law, for morals, for real right and wrong and if so, what is it? Those questions are the essence of what Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:17-20. The absolute He says is the law of the eternally sovereign God. God has laid down His absolute, eternal, abiding law and made it known to man. And as God’s own Son, Jesus declared unequivocally He did not come to teach or practice anything contrary to that law in even the slightest way, but rather He came to uphold it entirely.
What is needed more than ever is a high view of God grounded in the truth of Scripture which teaches man about who God is, what He is like, who Jesus is, what He has done, and how He is coming back to rule and reign on the Throne of David. Having a high view of God and of the work of Christ relates to morality because how one views God will affect how they live. How one understands the work of Christ will affect whether they go to heaven or hell. Furthermore, understanding morality and God is important in order to have a biblical understanding of issues such as marriage or gender roles for example. In other words, morality must be dictated by the Word of God because man left to his own devices has proven he is destructive and unworthy due to his sin and sin nature.
It should not surprise us that we are seeing a culture of death spreading all across our land. Drs. Gosnell and Karpen are not the result of abortion being illegal and inaccessible but the product of a pro-abortion society. Our world is inhabited by sinners and as such we make choices that have consequences that are often disastrous. What we are seeing with Gosnell, Karpen and likely many others should not cause us to be alarmed, but rather to be sobered and awakened from our slumber. Rather than wallowing in our misery and slumbering in our apathy, I pray Christians will awaken to the reality of the culture of death all around us. There are people perishing locked in the prison of sin and what they need the most right now is to be pointed to the One in Jesus who takes sinners locked in prison and frees them through the Gospel. This is exactly what Jesus came to do—to set the captives free, and the charge from our King is to proclaim the good news that sets these captives free.
Since Christians believe in the Gospel that has saved them, we should stand up for biblical morality because we believe God creates and sustains life. God saves sinners by transferring them from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus our Savior does not save people to a culture of death but rather takes sinners from death and transfers them into the kingdom of life. While our world has created a culture of death, the Kingdom of God is a place of happiness and hope with Jesus as our Great Shepherd King. Biblical morality is only possible because of our Savior who saves and who now empowers us through His Spirit to not only be His people but to carry forth a message that calls all people to become His people, for His glory through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is because of that truth that Christians need to speak out and must speak out for life.
Gosnell, Karpen and whoever else is next will come and go but what will remain unchanging is the truth the Gospel saves and sanctifies sinners. That glorious truth ought to compel Christians to not sit on the sidelines but to speak out and declare our God created and sustains life. In the midst of a culture of death, Christians have a mandate from their King to declare the good news of their King.
I pray you will speak out about the moral evil of abortion and join me in proclaiming that God created all of life and saw that it was and is good. Don’t just be saddened and burdened by this issue. Conversely, I implore you to rise up, raise up your voice, and proclaim that the Gospel is the means God uses to open sinners eyes to the Truth, beauty and wonder of all Jesus is and all He continues to do for us now as our King, Intercessor, High Priest and the mediator of the New Covenant.