Abortion: The “Woe” of Self-Justification (for immoral decisions and behavior) (Isaiah 5:20)
BECAUSE IN GOOD CONSCIENCE I NO LONGER IGNORE IT, I WILL PREACH ABOUT THE DEPRAVED SIN OF ABORTION TODAY. Neither do I believe we as a church should any longer ignore it. My words “depraved sin” tell you immediately what I believe about it morally and theologically.
IT PRESENTS A SERIOUS, MULTI-FACETED PROBLEM… far bigger than any Sunday sermon can address. To give you more information, I have prepared a document that is available on foyer tables with information not in the sermon. Even with that, I’ll only touch the hem of the garment as to what information you can find. As for the sermon, I will speak with Bible in hand and let the connected politics fall where they may. In no way do I intend a “fire and brimstone” sermon, rather one that is confessional, spoken with deep contrition.
WITH AN ESTIMATED 65M ABORTIONS PERFORMED LEGALLY IN THE U. S. SINCE 1973, I’M SURE SOME OF US HAVE EXPERIENCED THEM: women who’ve had them, involved men and panicked families who’ve pushed for them.
SOME FEEL NO GUILT – the act has been rationalized away. I pray you will be jolted – there is redemption in being jolted when one runs to grace afterwards.
I KNOW I ADDRESS OTHERS WHO ARE CRUSHED WITH WHAT SEEMS TO BE ETERNAL, INESCAPABLE GUILT. My heart hurts as I know this sermon will cause you pain. But hear this… Heaven longs to give you grace! I pray I can show you the sunshine of God’s love and help you believe His grace offers chances for new starts. Grace heals us if we’ll let it! Refuse to allow past brokenness to fill the future with pain. Like Paul, “forget those things that are behind” (Philippians 3:13). Abortion is not an “unpardonable sin” beyond the power of Jesus’ blood to wash away. God told His Old Testament people that their “scarlet” sins would be “white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
“SCARLET” IS A PERFECT DESCRIPTION OF THE SIN WE ADDRESS, BUT GOD CAN CLEANSE. One of the psalms says God’s people “sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons; they poured out innocent blood…” (Psalm 116:37-38). But God forgave them this sin and others: the psalm echoes with “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.”
SOME FALL INTO NEITHER OF THESE GROUPS. To these I say… let’s commit together to give the matter more than simple lip-service. Psalm 106 also says, “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness all the time” (v 3). We must see abortion as more than a political campaign argument where our main concern is that our debate point ducks are all in a row. Instead, we must see all the aborted children – and their mothers – as the “least of these” we’re commanded to serve self-sacrificial, Christ-like “hospitality” (Matthew 25:31-46). Perhaps as we find and live out God’s perspective on this sin, we can then address our culture’s view of sex in general – the accepted looseness that removes it from its God-given place in marriage – which always brings physical, emotional, and spiritual carnage.
NOW, HEAR ISAIAH, GOD’S PROPHET TO JUDAH AND JERUSALEM IN 750 BC. HE PREACHED: “WOE TO THOSE WHO CALL EVIL GOOD AND GOOD EVIL, WHO PUT DARKNESS FOR LIGHT AND LIGHT FOR DARKNESS, WHO PUT BITTER FOR SWEET AND SWEET FOR BITTER” (5:20). He pronounced God’s dark “woe” over His “pleasant vineyard” (Judah/Jerusalem), His favorites, His chosen, the apple of His eye.
LOOK AT THE WORD “WOE.” SYNONYMS FOR IT ARE “MISERY” AND “DOOM.” It signals that a curse of grief, regret, deep distress, and affliction are near; groaning, enormous trouble… from which escape is impossible. It’s judgment signaling other remedies have failed and His patience is gone. It means “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” It’s “alas,” it’s “oh no!” It’s “horror of horrors.” It means someone has come face to face with his total undoing.
WHY DID GOD PRONOUNCE DOOM ON THEM? They had been given every possible advantage… tenderest grace … and had produced evil, no good: “[God] looked for justice and saw bloodshed, for righteousness but heard cries of distress” (v 7). Evil was good, darkness was light, bitterness was sweetness. So much compromise with evil had reversed their moral poles.
ABORTION IS AN “EVIL” OUR PRESENT CULTURE CALLS “GOOD.” It’s one proof that we live our lives in Isaiah 5:20… and a proof that we live under the curse of its “woe.” We are witnessing in life the illustration of thieves sneaking into a department store and switching all the price tags so that merchandise of small value is marked with enormous price tags and precious items are marked to sell for nearly nothing.
HUMANITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN SKILLED AT CONFUSING EVIL AND GOOD. Adam and Eve were confused about it. David was. Uzzah was. I think Judas was. And us? Our culture glosses over evil by giving it a good-sounding name: cowardice = “caution,” rashness = “courage,” greed = “thrift.” And “good things” are given bad names: peacemaking = “cowardice,” meekness = “weakness,” sincerity = “rudeness,” and commitment = “bullheadedness.” The reversed moral poles are a sign of deep moral rottenness that fully deserves God’s judgment.
ONE PRESENT CULTURE RULE IS… “WHAT’S RIGHT IS WHAT THE MAJORITY SAYS IS RIGHT.” That’s moral relativism that “fits behavior to the occasion”; it’s living out “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” These days we’ve added a corollary: “What I say is right for me is right for me and it’s nobody else’s business.” Our standards shift from year to year with the whims of the people! It the days of the Bible’s judges all over again when “there was no king in the land and every man did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). One-hundred-eighty degrees out of phase, we change our moral code to fit our behavior when we should change our behavior to fit our moral code. But God has not changed. Neither has He lowered His standards nor redefined sin; His judgments of it (now or later) are as sure as ever.
WE HAVE A COMMAND FROM PAUL: “HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE UNFRUITFUL DEEDS OF DARKNESS, INSTEAD EXPOSE THEM” (EPHESIANS 5:11). Passive, by-standing Christians are being called to vigorously engage and expose all “works of darkness.” We are placed by God as the conscience of our culture… its light and salt.
NOW FOR A FEW PARTICULARS:
GOD ALONE IS THE CREATOR, THE GIVER AND TAKER OF LIFE
We call abortion a “women’s right.’ But the Bible says, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away…” (Job 1:21). This verse declares the truth that God has sovereign rights over births and deaths. It’s not for man to say who is born. It’s not for woman to say who is born (though we erringly claim to have sovereign rights over our own bodies). Job’s children were created at conception and born by God’s acts and they were taken by God’s act. We cannot usurp God’s place.
“You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb,” wrote David (Psalms 139:13). It is God who forms persons in the womb; the word “formed” evokes a picture of God’s own Potter hands molding every person.
A BIBLE LOOK INTO TWO WOMBS (LUKE 1:24-45).
TWO MIRACLE BIRTHS ARE IN JESUS’ NATIVITY STORY. One miracle was John the Baptist’s birth to parents who were physically too old to have a child. Nevertheless, God chose Zachariah and Elizabeth to be John’s parents. John was born to announce the arrival of Jesus, the Savior into the world.
IN THE SAME CONTEXT, LUKE TELLS OF JESUS’ MIRACULOUS BIRTH, this birth miraculous because Mary, Elizabeth’s cousin, Jesus’ mother-to-be, was a virgin. God told her that her Son was Savior of the world. Now follow… Mary, because her pregnancy appeared sinful, left home to stay with Elizabeth for six months. Here’s the fact that we must not overlook… as Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house and greeted her, “[Elizabeth’s] baby leaped in her womb” (v 39). Elizabeth explained the cause of the leaping: “when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (v 45).
This text wasn’t written about abortion, but the details of the story teach us some important things about it still. THE WORD “BABY” IS THE COMMON WORD FOR ANY INFANT, DESCRIBING IT WHETHER IN OR OUT OF THE WOMB. We should notice that the same word describes John the “baby” in Elizabeth’s womb and Jesus the baby, born and out of the womb and lying in a Bethlehem manger: “And [the shepherds] hurried and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). Unborn babies and born babies are all babies. The baby in Mary’s womb and the baby lying in the manger were both the Son of God.
LUKE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, REGARDED BOTH UNBORN JOHN AND INBORN JESUS AS PERSONS. John, still in the womb, sensed Who was coming and felt and expressed joy! One baby thought the other baby was SOMEBODY! It fits… the angel told John’s father Zachariah, “he [John] will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:14-15). Only persons are filled with the Holy Spirit.
OUR TECHNOLOGY TO LOOK INTO THE WOMB GIVES AFFIRMS LUKE. We know that unborn babies at eight weeks are sucking thumbs, reflex from pricks, and respond to sound. They have all organs present with the brain working, the heart pumping, the liver manufacturing blood cells, the kidneys filtering, and unique DNA and fingerprints.
WE ALL KNOW WE’RE KILLING CHILDREN
REMEMBER THE NAME CHANGES I MENTIONED EARLIER? What we are speaking about is not “murder” but rather “abortion.” It’s not a “baby” but rather a “fetus” or an “embryo.” “Abortion” has become unsavory, so now it’s “choice” and “women’s rights.” In the view of women’s rights proponents, it is “the lesser of evils.” Doctors who provide abortions choose to call it “termination of pregnancy.”
IF A CHILD IS “WANTED” AND SOMEONE KILLS IT, IT’S MURDER; IF IT’S “UNWANTED” AND IN THE WOMB, HAVE AT IT (and now out of the womb, too). We also call unwanted babies “tissue” and some women’s rights groups have called unwanted or unexpected pregnancies a “disease.” A well-known adage says, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” God’s Word tells us that sin by any other name we give it will still be a work of darkness.
Laws treat killing the unborn (except by mother or abortionist) as “murder.” Doctors treat the unborn as children/patients. Does anyone really believe that a simple seven-inch journey down a birth canal suddenly means what was a non-person becomes a person?
Dependency does not negate personhood. Really, we operate on the opposite principle: the more dependent one is, the more responsibility we have for their care and protection.
When two rights clash (for the sake of argument… say women have rights to their bodies), the lesser right gives way to the greater right. The baby’s right to life trumps the mother’s right to convenience.
I TAKE US BACK TO MATTHEW 25 AND THE RESPONSIBILITY WE SEE LAID ON US THERE TO CARE FOR “THE LEAST OF THESE.” Infants in the womb surely qualify. Many mothers, too, often not murderous at all. Two basic more understandable reasons women have abortions are (1) they fear they cannot handle the financial and/or physical demands of the child, and (2) they fear that having the child will destroy important relationships.
There are things we can and must do!WHEN WE SEE THESE “LEAST OF THESE,” CHRISTIANS/THE CHURCH HAVE RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT – NOT JUST TO STAND OFF TO THE SIDE AND SCREAM “DON’T,” BUT STEP IN WITH MEANINGFUL HELP (MAYBE LONG-TERM, BURDENSOME)… WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO BE JESUS TO THEM.