At the BCNZ chapel last week our principal Mark Strom gave a great address on William Wilberforce using clips from the upcoming movie on his life and speaking about the need for us as the people of God to take on great social issues of our day as he did with slavery. I asked at the end of the chapel what the social issue of our day is.
On a global scale there are some monster social issues like poverty, human rights, disease, child-oppression, slavery, oppression of women, the legacy of war, global warming and more. Perhaps poverty and the death of a child every 3 seconds is the greatest problem the world faces. On a national level there is the growing divide between rich and poor and the associated problems of illness, life-expectancy, illiteracy, family violence and violence against children and other issues and especially among Maori and Pacific Islanders.
Yet for me perhaps the biggest issue certainly in the west, remains abortion. The Scriptures speak of God working in a human life within the womb and seems to work with the assumption that life begins at conception.
In Genesis 25:23 God says to Rebekah that two nations are in her womb i.e. even though they are unborn, the future nationhood and history exists in vitiro. Similarly Hosea speaks of Jacob and Esau contending within the womb (Hos 12:3).
There are a number of examples of people in the Scriptures who are set apart for their future ministries in the womb. These include Samson (Jud 13:5; 16:17); the servant of the Lord (Jesus) (Is 49:1); Jeremiah (Jer 1:5); John the Baptist (Lk 1:15); Paul (Gal 1:15).
Similarly in Job 31:15 the womb is the context in which God creates humanity. We may question this on the basis of modern understandings of growth; however, I would counter that it is through these natural innate God-given and governed processes that we are all formed by God. It is God who brings David from his mother’s womb (Ps 71:6). This picture of God forming the child in the womb is reinforced in Isaiah’s metaphorical picture of the formation of Israel in the womb along the lines of the formation of a human child (Is 44:2).
In 2 Sam 7:12 the unborn children of David represent the Kings who will succeed him (cf. 1 Chron 17:11).
Then of course there is the incarnation whereby God by his Holy Spirit impregnated Mary and God's own child was found in a woman's womb. It is inconceivable that abortion would be acceptable to a God who became flesh through the womb.
In addition the command 'do not kill' is central to the biblical witness from the ten commandments on. Attempts to say it is not murder are futile; a child is a living human from conception who deserves the right to become an adult as does a 1 year old, a 10 year old or adolescent.
The argument from women's rights is inadequate as they must be seen as subordinate to the rights of the defenseless unborn child. Abortion, although understandable due to the enormous impact a child has on the life of a woman, is in reality selfish. Placing oneself above others is indeed the heart of all sin. To abort a child is robbing not only the child of life but the world of seeing that child bring to it what God has created it for.
To put it bluntly, I have never heard an argument that dents the conservative Christian view that abortion is repugnant.
The figures on abortion are staggering with literally millions of children killed every year in this way. Check out the stats in http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/index.html. According to this website in 2004 alone there were in these nations this many abortions in these nations alone: Australia: 72214; USA: 542286; NZ: 17531.
According to this site's analysis of the figures which come in the main from the last 30-40 years there have been 928,978,112 known abortions. In China there have been 303m alone between 1971-2001! No doubt over all time this figure would blow out enormously!
In terms of the last 40 years there is nothing in the world that by direct and active human agency kills this many people. It is homicide or should I say infanticide on the most disgusting and inhuman scale.
So for me THE issue among all issues for us to stand against in the social realm is abortion. We must do what Wilberforce did and work with all our being for as long as it takes to convince the legislators of this nation to change the law and make it illegal to have abortions.
Having said this, I want to state that there is grace for those who have had an abortion or aided another in abortion. God will forgive and grant freedom to all who come to him seeking his forgiveness.
But I pray in Jesus name that God raises up a William Wilberforce who will find a way to change the hearts and minds of NZers and this whole world and see the most defenseless of humanity given safe passage into the world.
I sense abortion-fatigue around me and the voice against this crime going quiet; it is time to stand again against this horrendous child-abuse, murder which is an offence to God. This voice needs to go to the heart of the powers of this nation enabling them to see. So if you are a bright spark out there with a call to give your life to something... what about ending the greatest crime of this time, abortion.