My children and I were reading about American Slavery just yesterday. Their history book brought up an interesting point:
The Declaration of Independence said that ‘all men are created equal.’ If Americans truly believed that, then you would think slavery had no place in the United States. The puzzle, then, is how slavery became strong, and how some white Southern Americans (even if they did not own slaves) came to believe it was the very foundation of their life. If we can understand this, then we may understand why there had to be a war against slavery in order to save the Union. (1)
As we read this passage together, the answer became very clear in my mind: the reason that some white Americans could accept enslaving other human beings of another skin color–even though they believed that all men are created equal–was because they did not believe that black people were “men.” They did not see them as fully human; they saw them as inferior. Because of that, white people felt justified in using them as property.
We talked about this very important concept. I thought it was crucial for my children to understand that when one group of people starts to view themselves as superior to another group of people, the vilest expressions of hatred and wickedness are then loosed upon humankind.
Can you think of another time this happened?
How about the Holocaust? Adolf Hitler was successful in convincing many people that they were a superior race, and that the Jews were so far below them as to be hardly human at all. And neither were people with Down Syndrome or other types of disabilities. All they were fit for was to be eliminated. As a result of that mindset many concentration camps were constructed, and many gas ovens and various other tortures were invented to get rid of the unwanted.
Have you ever read about things like that and thought to yourself, “If I had been alive during that time, I would have helped those poor souls. I would have stood up for them, even if it cost me my life.” Would you have?
The fact is, the very horrors of genocide are happening today. The evils of racial discrimination are happening today. And most of us don’t do anything about it.
People are being mass murdered under our very noses, and what do we do to stop it?
What is this thing I’m talking about? Abortion.
Babies are being ripped apart and are suffering excruciating pain (and death) in the clinic down the street . . . and we sit in our recliners sipping coffee. How are we any better than the complacent folks who did nothing to help the needy during the time of slavery or during the time of the holocaust? Would we really be any different than they? Or would we be the same? I think our actions defy whatever claims we might make to the contrary.
Speaking of our culture as a whole, we are essentially no different than the slaveholders and the Nazis because of this: we, too, have labeled a whole generation of people as inferior and below us; we have disregarded their rights because we choose not to think of them as human. As a result, many human beings that deserve our protection are being mass-murdered.
Do you see how everything we do is linked to everything we think?
If we think of other people as being less then human, that is how we will eventually treat them.
If we think of embryos as “lumps of tissue” and “clumps of cells” instead of thinking of them as human beings (however small and immature), we will treat them as dispensable. It’s all in our mindset.
Another intriguing thing I read the other day was this:
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. (Ruth 4:13)
Many of you will remember the story of how Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi, after Ruth’s husband died and Naomi decided to return to her homeland. Ruth was loyal to her mother-in-law, who had also lost her husband, and helped her by gleaning grain in a nearby field. That field happened to belong to Boaz, a close relative of Naomi’s. Ruth and Boaz ended up getting married through a curious set of events, and afterwards, Ruth became pregnant with the grandfather of King David.
The point I hope stands out to you as much as it did to me is this: Ruth conceived because God made it happen.
I think most of us have heard that conception happens because a sperm cell from the male penetrates an egg cell from the woman, and if the conditions are right, voila!–a baby starts growing! (Wait a minute, or was that a “lump of tissue”?) We have been conditioned to view the baby as nothing more than a clump of cells. Unless we want it, of course; in that case, we view it as a baby.
So, if the lumpy cluster is not really human, we reason, than it is dispensable. But what if it is? Have we considered the enormity of what this could mean–if we’re wrong? Because if we’re wrong, and that lump is really human–just as human as any of the rest of us–then what does that make us? Wouldn’t it be true that in that case, we would be no better than the raping, back-whipping, cruel-hearted slave owners? And no better than the sneering, gas-chamber-loving, cold-hearted Nazis? Perhaps we would be worse, because our victims can’t run away or plead for help: we would be slaughterers of the most vicious species, we ourselves becoming so inhumanly devoid of mercy and love that we would be the ones who are less human than our victims.
Because of our mental conditioning, we’ve also come to assume that since this clump is just a clump, we somehow have the right to keep it from being a clump in the first place. We have the right to make the choice if we want to have a clump to care for. Do you see the logic of this?
Start at the beginning: if the embryo is within our right to “allow” or “disallow” to come into existence through the use of birth control, then it is also within our right to eliminate, isn’t it? Doesn’t that sound logical? If we view conception as being within our sphere of stewardship, then what’s to stop us from viewing the child already conceived as also being within our right to keep or get rid of as we see fit? The thinking is quite logically consistent. Just not with Scripture.
According to Scripture, and specifically the verse we just looked at above, conception is not ours to control; it is God’s. Just as God gave Ruth conception–meaning, He not only facilitated it, but was the One Who created the baby and had a destiny for it–He also gives us conception. As long as we don’t get in the way.
I know there are those who say that even though they use birth control, they are still within God’s will since God could give them conception if He wanted to. That’s foolish. That’s like Pharaoh saying, “I’ll let God have his way when I’m done having mine. For now, I refuse to let the Israelites go; let God break my hard heart if he wants to, and ‘convict’ me of what He wants me to do. Until then, I’m going to do what I think is best. For, who can resist His will, right?” (See Romans 9)
Even though God has given us the free will to choose our own way, and even allows us–as part of His sovereign plan–to go against His will, we are still accountable for our rebellion! So, when people choose to reject God’s control over conception and wrest it from His hands in order to grasp it in their own, God might let them have their stubborn way–but that doesn’t mean they’re off the hook. There is a divine law that they are transgressing, the law of the sanctity of conception. Godly folks of Bible times understood this concept; we, however, don’t. We don’t understand it when it comes to conception at the very beginning stages, and therefore we don’t understand it when it comes to the embryo at more advanced stages. We don’t see how the rejection of conception through birth control is synonymous with the rejection of a human being. We have lost touch with the truth, and because of it–because we as Christians, the “lights of the world”– don’t even understand this crucial concept, millions of babies are right now being torn apart from limb to limb.
While we drink our coffee.
(1) Page 3, The Landmark History of the American People for Young People: From Charleston to the Moon, by Daniel J. Boorstin with Ruth F. Boorstin. Published by Avix, Inc., 2013.