It is indeed a wonderful life!

This coming Sunday is “Pro-life” Sunday at my Fieldwork church in St. Louis. My fieldwork pastor recently asked me to prepare a short devotional to give on Pro-life Sunday on the question, “How would the world be different without me?” I thought I would share what I wrote:

When this question was first given to me for pondering, I didn’t even know where to start. “This is a tough question to answer,” I thought to myself. So I decided to call my mother to see what this world would be like for her if I wasn’t in it. I thought of all people, she would know. Her initial response was, “Wow….I really don’t know. If you weren’t here, I don’t know what I’d do. I miss you enough as it is when you’re away in St. Louis. That is tough.” At first I thought her answer was a bit unexpected, where was the “Without you this would never have happened?” Or the “I never would have made it through that trial if you weren’t here?” You know, the Bette Midler Wind beneath my wing speech? Where was it? This caused me to wonder about my life, had I ever done anything for my family or friends that was extraordinary? I couldn’t recollect any dramatic moments where I swooped in on my “white” horse and rescued anyone from impending doom, and I don’t remember any real humanitarian efforts. This question had become all too hard for me, it forced me to ask that tough question, “Who am I?” As far as I was concerned, at that moment I was a nobody. But then something dawned on me, I meant more to my mom than actions or deeds. I am her child, the object of her love and affection. The one she raised, the one she played games with, the one she dressed up in cute Halloween costumes, the one who always made sure Christmas’ were special for me, and the one she loved no matter what. She had an unconditional love for me that would never stop. There’s nothing I can do that would make my mom think more of me. She loves me because she and my father decided to love and give of themselves. Who am I? I’m somebody’s son, I am loved. I’m special because my family thinks I’m special, because I’m a part of them, I was brought forth from their love.

In many ways, that’s how it is for all of us as Christians. We can get so worked up in trying to please a God who already loves us with a love that gave up everything; trying to prove our love with actions or deeds to a God who loves us for the sake of His son Jesus. We are the object of His affection. He didn’t want to be without us, so He brought us into His family through His son. Who are we? We are His children. We are special and unique; we mean so much to our Heavenly Father that he thought His son’s life was worth it to save us. So if that question “How would this world be different without me” stumps you. Maybe you should ask yourself a different question, “How would this world be without Jesus?” How could we ever get on with our lives if we were always as St. Paul said, “Being busy hating others and being hated, with doom hanging over our shoulders?” Remember then, our Savior who in great kindness, tenderness, and mercy came forth and saved us from our wretched state so that we would be free to love our neighbors as His children, free as his children to exclaim, “I don’t want to live in a world without my neighbor!” That is what being pro-life is all about!


Did anyone see Rick Warren’s interviews with the Presidential candidates? The transcript is here if you are interested.

The forum was revealing on many counts:

The candidates: In the coming weeks, I think we will find that McCain did himself a lot of good with the so-called “evangelical” portion of the conservative base. Both candidates looked and sounded good, but I think McCain demonstrated a gravitas that far outweighed Obama. There was a definite contrast. Compare their answers to Pastor Rick’s question about the “most gut-wrenching decision you have ever had to make:”

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think the opposition to the war in Iraq was as tough a decision as I’ve had to make. Not only because there were political consequences, but also because Saddam Hussein was a real bad person, and there was no doubt that he meant America ill. But I was firmly convinced at the time that we did not have strong evidence of weapons of mass destruction, and there were a lot of questions that, as I spoke to experts, kept on coming up. Do we know how the Shia and the Sunni and the Kurds are going to get along in a post-Saddam situation? What’s our assessment as to how this will affect the battle against terrorists like al Qaeda? Have we finished the job in Afghanistan?
So I agonized over that. And I think that questions of war and peace generally are so profound. You know, when you meet the troops, they’re 19, 20, 21-year-old kids, and you’re putting them into harm’s way. There is a solemn obligation that you do everything you can to get that decision right. And now, as the war went forward, there are difficult decisions about how long do you keep on funding the war, if you strongly believe that it’s not in America’s national interest. At the same time, you don’t want to have troops who are out there without the equipment they need.
So all those questions surrounding the war have been very difficult for me.

Nevermind that Barack Obama never had to cast a vote against the Iraq war in the Illinois State Senate. Compare this McCain’s answer:

MCCAIN: It was long ago, and far away, in a prison camp in North Vietnam. My father was a high-ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. And we had a code of conduct. It said you only leave by order of capture. I also had a dear and beloved friend, who was from California, named Ebb Alvarez, who had been shot down before me. But I wasn’t in good physical shape. In fact, I was in rather bad physical shape. So I said no. Now, in interest of full disclosure, I’m happy I didn’t know the war was going to last for another three years or so.
But I said no, and I’ll never forget sitting in my last answer, and the high-ranking officer offered it, slammed the door and the interrogator said, “Go back to your cell. It’s going to be very tough on you now.” And it was. But not only the toughest decision I ever made, but I am most happy about that decision, than any decision I’ve ever made in my life. (APPLAUSE).

To his credit, Pastor Rick did ask one question about that thorny subject called abortion: “Forty million abortions, at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion, because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention. So that would be point number one.
But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members. And so, for me, the goal right now should be — and this is where I think we can find common ground. And by the way, I’ve now inserted this into the Democratic party platform, is how do we reduce the number of abortions? The fact is that although we have had a president who is opposed to abortion over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down and that is something we have to address.

Here is McCain:

MCCAIN: At the moment of conception. (APPLAUSE). I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies. That’s my commitment. That’s my commitment to you.

Compared with Obama’s hemming and hawing, that is an outstanding answer. It is interesting that Obama talks about reducing the number of abortions, yet has opposed every effort to do so. Indeed, he has promised to reverse the Bush administration’s moratorium on federally funded abortions once he takes office. How will that reduce the number of abortions?

Finally, let’s talk about Pastor Rick for little bit. Do you think this was an appropriate thing for him to do as a pastor?

How the abortion issue was handled was revealing. I guess I should be thankful it was brought up at all, but isn’t there something unsettling with the fact that it was treated as just another issue, especially by this reknowned “evangelical pastor.” Obama’s equivocation on this point could be forgiven or overlooked if one agreed with his position on every other point? Right? He even noted how many abortions there have been since Roe v. Wade (though I think he underreported it a bit).

George Will wrote a column a while back in which he noted that we can no longer call abortion, the most common medical procedure, murder. This offended a lot of pro-lifers, but I wonder if he is right.

Have we lost our sense of outrage over abortion? Even in the pro-life community, abortion seems to have become one more of many “life issues.” If we really believe abortion to be murder, why aren’t we doing more about it? Maybe, the truth is that we no longer think it is murder and that is why accept so many accommodations with it. It is just another issue, to be balanced with all the others.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to suggest that abortion is not murder. Instead, I am questioning our commitment to that proposition and its consequences.

If that is so, what more can we do?

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a front page piece on Planned Parenthood’s efforts to rebrand. It is enough to make your skin crawl.

Some excerpts . . .

Two elegant new health centers have been built, and at least five more are on the way; the largest, in Houston, will be 75,000 square feet. They feature touches such as muted lighting, hardwood floors and airy waiting rooms in colors selected by marketing experts — as well as walls designed to withstand a car’s impact should an antiabortion protest turn violent.

. . .

Planned Parenthood has also opened more than two dozen quick-service “express centers,” many in suburban shopping malls. Some sell jewelry, candles, books and T-shirts, along with contraception. “It is indeed a new look…a new branding, if you will,” said Leslie Durgin, a senior vice president at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

. . .

. . . Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, reported a record $1 billion in annual revenue in its most recent financial report — about a third of that coming from federal and state grants to care for low-income women. The nonprofit ended the year with a surplus of $115 million, or about 11% of its revenue, and net assets of $952 million.

. . .

“It is high time we follow the population,” said Sarah Stoesz, who heads Planned Parenthood operations in three Midwest states. She recently opened three express centers in wealthy Minnesota suburbs, “in shopping centers and malls, places where women are already doing their grocery shopping, picking up their Starbucks, living their daily lives,” Ms. Stoesz said.

The mall sites promise walk-in convenience and “clothes-on” care, with services limited to birth-control counseling and tests for pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Most patients are in and out in less than half an hour.

“I like to think of it as the LensCrafters of family planning,” Steve Trombley, the top executive in Illinois, said as he toured an express center a few doors down from a hair salon and a Japanese restaurant in the well-to-do suburb of Schaumburg, Ill.

. . .

In Oregon, clinics are updating to a “contemporary, fun and lively look” with a new color palette that includes pink, orange and teal, said Mr. Greenberg, the regional executive. In Texas, a dingy downtown Austin clinic got a $40,000 upgrade that struck patient Hannah Powell, a 21-year-old college student, as long overdue. “It wasn’t necessarily that you hesitated to go there, but you could definitely tell they needed help,” she said. “Now it looks a lot cleaner and safer.”

In Massachusetts, Dianne Luby, the affiliate’s president, also talks up a new “green” clinic, to be built with recycled and eco-friendly material.

. . .

Most people associate Planned Parenthood with abortion, Ms. Luby said, so “we’re trying to reposition ourselves as caring about their health, about prevention, about a sustainable planet.” Or, as she later put it: “So much more mainstream.”

Mainstream? Exactly the point. So, now we are going to get abortion mills with a “contemporary, fun, lively, look.” Remember when Bill Clinton used to talk about wanting abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. Does this look like a business plan meant to reduce abortions?

Your tax dollars at work.

An article on by Dinesh D’Souza describes the views of his opponent, Peter Singer, in a recent debate:

…perhaps atheism has found an able advocate. But unbelievers may want to think twice before lining up behind Singer, who argues in favor of infanticide, euthanasia and (this is not a joke) animal rights! One of Singer’s interesting proposals concerns what may be called “fourth trimester” abortions, i.e. the right to kill one’s offspring even after birth!

Here are some choice Singer quotations on the subject which I get from his books Rethinking Life and Death and Writings on an Ethical Life.

On how mothers should be permitted to kill their offspring until the age of 28 days: “My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of twenty-eight days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others.”

On why abortion is less morally significant than killing a rat: “Rats are indisputably more aware of their surroundings, and more able to respond in purposeful and complex ways to things they like or dislike, than a fetus at ten or even thirty-two weeks gestation.”

On why pigs, chickens and fish have more rights to life than unborn humans: “The calf, the pig, and the much-derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy, while if we make the comparison with a fetus of less than three months, a fish would show more signs of consciousness.”

On why infants aren’t normal human beings with rights to life and liberty: “Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness…make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings.”

He contends that God is dead and we should recognize ourselves as Darwinian primates who enjoy no special status compared to the other animals. In the animal kingdom, after all, parents sometimes kill and even devour their offpsring. Singer argues that the West can learn from the other cultures like the Kalahari where children are routinely killed when they are unwanted, even when they are several years old.

Given the connection that Singer draws between atheism and child murder, using the former as his premise to recommend the latter, I wonder if our atheist friends are going to rush to embrace this guy as one of their heroes. Is Singer showing us where the road to complete secularism actually leads?

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, is taking a lot of heat for suggesting the the opposition groups like Planned Parenthood present against federal funding for abstinence education is financially motivated.

National Review Online has an article on the subject. It quotes Wright.

Interviewed for a Dec. 31 Fox News segment on the debate over federal funding for abstinence education, Wright claimed groups that oppose funding for such programs really want teens to choose sex.

“In fact, they want to encourage that,” she said, “because they benefit when kids end up having sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, and then they lead them into having abortions. So you have to look at the financial motives of those promoting comprehensive sex ed.” Although Wright didn’t mention any specific abstinence opponent in the interview clip, there is little doubt she meant Planned Parenthood.

Ah, “Planned Parenthood,” could there be a more sinister name for an organization? I say, sinister because their name has absolutely nothing to do with their business: killing babies. Planned? Anything but. Indeed, abortion is the ultimate ending to an unplanned pregnancy. Only the termination of the child is planned (BTW, they performed a record 264,943 “terminations” last year). Parenthood? One would think PP would offer a variety of parenting classes, etc. Well, a whopping 3 percent of its services focus on something other than killing.According to the article, PP is a $908 million “non-profit” business that generated $55.8 million in income over expenses in 2006. $300 million of their funds came from taxpayer dollars (still think the only thing Presidents can do about abortion is appoint good judges?).

But, Wright’s point is that PP is using “sex education” to develop new business (i.e., new abortions). For this, she has been called the “Worst Person in the World” by Keith Olbermann. She’s been called crazy, delusional, and a disservice to women. Yet six in ten women having abortions experienced contraceptive failure. That’s not exactly a winning percentage. Meanwhile, PP does everything it possibly can to block funding for abstinence education. Why? What is inconsistent about “planned parenthood” and abstinence? Follow the money.

Critics of abstinence education always proclaim it to be completely unreasonable. The mantra is that all these teenagers are incapable of being responsible: they are going to have sex! You are an idiot if you do not think so! Therefore, we must teach them how to have sex “safely.” Please. If they going to be irresponsible about sex, what makes it so likely that they will be responsible when it comes to condoms, birth control, etc.?

What they need are parents and peers willing to set the example and give them leadership and support. They need to know what God expects of them and the blessings he has planned for them in marriage and family. If they fail, they need to know they are forgiven and that their response to that failure cannot be the death of an unborn child.

HT: Gene Veith

We have quite a discussion going on one of the abortion posts below (17 comments so far). It all started with a question about whether or not voting for a pro-choice candidate is sin. I posed this question over at Gene Veith’s blog and received the following answer from one of his readers:

“Finally, he declared that to vote for a pro-abortion candidate in any election is a sin.”

On that the pastor is correct. It is a sin to support a pro-abortionist for public office, because such a politician legislates and supports actions consisting of the brutal and wicked murder of our nation’s unborn children.

As Luther explained in the Large Catechism (Part 1, para 188-9) :

“Therefore the entire sum of what it means not to kill is to be impressed most explicitly upon the simple-minded. In the first place, that we harm no one, first, with our hand or by deed. Then, that we do not employ our tongue to instigate or counsel thereto. Further, that we neither use nor assent to any kind of means or methods whereby any one may be injured…

“Secondly, under this commandment not only he is guilty who does evil to his neighbor, but he also who can do him good, prevent, resist evil, defend and save him, so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him, and yet does not do it… So also, if you see any one innocently sentenced to death or in like distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him.”

The citation from the Large Catechism was particularly insightful. I figured I would highlight this discussion on the blog because of its timeliness and import for the coming presidential election.

Someone else is seeing pro-life themes on the rise from Hollywood. Remember, you read it here first!

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