Monday, January 23, 2012

God and the Sanctity of Life

Yesterday, January 22, 2012, was the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized abortion. Many Christians, Pro-Life supporters, and Abortion-Abolitionists observe January 22 as Sanctity of Life Day.
I think that abortion is murder. I am distressed that abortion has been tolerated in the United States of America for 39 years. Around 54 million abortions have occurred in the United States since the Roe vs. Wade decision. Murder on such a scale is difficult to comprehend.
In this post, I will not debate whether abortion is wrong. I don’t want to argue what can or should be done in the event of rape or other special circumstances that are often used to justify abortion. Those issues are not the topic of this blog post.
This blog post is about how I, a Christian, adhere to two fundamental Christian values: God made us and God loves us. Most Christians oppose abortion because abortion kills a living human: murder. Most Christians believe that murder is wrong, and that killing children is wrong.
But God kills children in the Bible. That troubles me.
In the Bible, many children die either by God’s command, or through divine acts of judgment. Children die in the Flood, in the Israelite invasion of Canaan, and in the apocalyptic judgments prophesied in the Book of Revelation. There are more Biblical events,, but those three come readily to mind.
I think the most unsettling verse about killing children is Psalm 137:9, which talks about judgment against Babylon, who conquered Israel. The Psalmist writes, “How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.”
My conscience shirks back from the killing of any children—American, Canaanite, or Babylonian. I don’t want to see any little ones dashed against the rocks. That violates my every conception of right and wrong. Therefore, it frightens me that God occasionally commands the killing of children, and it frightens that a Psalmist would want to seize little ones and dash them against the rock.
This blog post is simply an acknowledgement of my sadness, confusion, and terror. I know that am not God. If I am a painting, I did not paint myself. The Painter is obviously smarter, wiser, and more powerful than I am.
A time may come when I am no longer disturbed by these killings. Or, I might live my entire life with this issue troubling my conscience. Either way, God gave me my conscience. It is healthy for me to reason with my conscience, and to understand my own limitations and ignorance. Struggle is necessary.
I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I am a Christian. God loves me, and He confuses me, and He terrifies me, and He is God and I am not. I love God.
Feel free to comment or correct any information that I’ve presented her. I’m sure that many of you have good responses for me. I’ve already talked with some of you about this topic, but I wanted to preserve my thoughts in a blog post.
Thanks for reading.


  1. Good post, gets the mind-juices flowing. I suggest that your repulsion has much to do with your modern American sensibilities. We have things like war crimes now, where we have convinced ourselves that the only way to wage war is within certain narrow parameters. In the Old Testament, God called for the complete annihilation of entire nations at the hands of a conquering Israel. I too find that shocking, but there was certainly a reason for such heavy-handed measures. The destruction of children is something that happens for a reason, either as a judgement on a civilization (death of the first born in Egypt) or as a scorched-earth method to remove the stain of sin (the conquest of Canaan).

    Thank the Lord that we have better way of being released by sin now.

  2. Psalm 137:9 is talking more about the justice that needs to be served Babylon for the destruction of Jerusalem and how cutting off the Babylonian line is an element of that.

    That being said, I can't offer any comfort for your sadness. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and I'm encouraged by your trust in him. I can offer reassurances though.

    I think it's good to be sickened to see the death of children and people in general. I think it's healthy to e distraught over the death of anyone created in the image of God, especially children.

    But God doesn't occasionally command the death of some children. He commands the life and death of all people all the time. And all people deserve death from a holy God, even children. When I die, whether it be because my body fails me, or I'm murdered, or I get in a car wreck, God commanded it and it is just and good from him to do so.

    Anyways, just my drive-by thoughts. Hope you're doing well.

  3. One of the things that's worth pointing out is that in this present dispensation, the church age, there is never any justification for any human being killing a child. In the old testament, Israel was a Theocracy, directly ruled by God. They were his instrument of warfare and justice. Therefore they had the unique responsibility of directly carrying out God's punishment on the nations. We do not live in a theocracy under the law now, we live under human government appointed by God (Romans 13). You're right, it is intensely disturbing for us, and it should be, because none of us will EVER be called upon to do something like that.

    I cannot relate to David rejoicing in the killing of infants any more than you can. We know he did it, when he was fighting under the philistine King against Israels other enemies he killed every "Man woman and child" so that there would be none left to tell the Philistines what they had done. The entire book of Judges examines the results of Israel not cleansing the land of Caanan of every person, which led to "every man did what was right in his own eyes." being repeated many times throughout the book. They suffered serious consequences because they didn't follow God's orders, climaxing with a horrible civil war that destroyed an entire tribe. Or how about in Exodus, when the Israelites worshiped the golden calf, and the Levites were the only ones to stay faithful, Moses told each man (with God's authority) to "Kill his brother and friend and neighbor." There were multiple times in the OT where entire families were stoned because of the father's sins.

    These things are difficult to understand. But, I have to believe that the Israelites tasked with carrying out this judgement were given a special grace (I know, it sounds messed up to our ears to use that word in this context) to trust in God and do what he commanded. They were given peace to do that, but you and I NEVER will be. And that's a good thing. These acts sound atrocious to us because it would be absolutely horrific if we commited them today. We aren't made for that. Some of the Israelites were, but we aren't.

    As Francis Chan has said, I believe that God has a higher, more developed sense of justice than I do. Therefore there are some things that do not, cannot, make sense to me. Obviously we can understand some of it, we know that the cause for all of this is sin, and we knowthat man is responsible for his own sin. But knowing those facts doesn't make everything better in our minds. The thought of God commanding the deaths of babies, and even worse, the thought of God sending people to Hell for all eternity, is frankly, terrifying to me. It's something I have lost nights of sleep and shed tears over. But I trust God because I know that He is good. I trust God because I know that He is loving, as he proved on the Cross. Some things we will never understand here on earth, but we will someday when, in our glorified bodies, He will "wipe every tear" from our eyes. That includes tears shed over the deaths of babies, and tears shed over all of the other issues we cannot fully understand yet..

    Hope that all made some semblence of sense.

  4. Thanks for replying, all. I appreciate it.

  5. "The two things one must not do are (a) to believe on the strength of Scripture or on any other evidence that God is in any way evil (in Him there is no darkness at all) (b) to wipe off the slate any passage which seems to show that He is. Behind the shocking passage be sure lurks some great truth which you don't understand. If one ever does come to understand it, one sees that it is good and just and gracious in some ways we never dreamed of. Till then it must just be left on one side. But why are baffling passages left in at all? Oh, because God speaks not only for us little ones but for the great sages and mystics who experience what we can only read about, and to whom all the words have therefore different (richer) contents. Would not a revelation that contained nothing that you or I did not understand, be for that very reason rather suspect?" ~ C.S. Lewis