Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Friday, November 13, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
1 Timothy 2:11-12: 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)
There is possibly no topic more hotly debated within the church than that of women in ministry, more specifically whether or not women can hold a pastoral position within the church. I did as much research as I could to see what the most authoritative people had to say on this topic, and below I figured it most convenient and efficient to quote what these men have to say. (And please don’t be put off by the fact that these authorities all happen to be men. I am not merely trying to show “one side of the argument”, it just so happens that the men most qualified to tackle the subjects are men.)
The very first place I went to has quickly become my favorite and most trusted resource for insight to biblical interpretation and learning; the ESV Study Bible. The author of the study notes for 1 and 2 Timothy is Dr. Ray Van Neste, who obtained his Ph.D at the University of Aberdeen and is an Associates Director of Christian Studies and the Director at the B.C Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. Here are his notes on the above passage:
1 Tim. 2:11 Women are not to teach men in the church but are to submit and defer to male leadership (see notes on vv. 12, 13, 14).
1 Tim. 2:12 I do not permit. Paul self-consciously writes with the authority of an apostle (e.g., 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 3:6), rather than simply offering an opinion. This statement is given in the context of Paul's apostolic instructions to the church for the ordering of church practice when the church is assembled together. In that context, two things are prohibited: (1) Women are not permitted to publicly teach Scripture and/or Christian doctrine to men in church (the context implies these topics), and (2) women are not permitted to exercise authority over men in church. (The reference for both “teaching” and “exercise authority” here is within the context of the assembled church.) Women teaching other women, and women teaching children, are not in view here, and both are encouraged elsewhere (on women teaching women, cf. Titus 2:4; on women teaching children, cf. 2 Tim. 1:5). Nor does this passage have in view the role of women in leadership situations outside the church (e.g., business or government). The presence of the word or (Gk. oude) between “to teach” and “to exercise authority” indicates that two different activities are in view, not a single activity of “authoritative teaching.” “Exercise authority” represents Greek authenteō, found only here in the NT. Over 80 examples of this word exist outside the NT, however, clearly establishing that the meaning is “exercise authority” (not “usurp authority” or “abuse authority,” etc., as sometimes has been argued). Since the role of pastor/elder/overseer is rooted in the task of teaching and exercising authority over the church, this verse would also exclude women from serving in this office (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2). Thus when Paul calls for the women to be quiet, he means “quiet” with respect to the teaching responsibility that is limited in the assembled church. Paul elsewhere indicates that women do speak in other ways in the church assembly (see 1 Cor. 11:5).
It has often been argued that Paul’s meaning in these verses is merely a reference to a specific event to a specific people at a specific point in time, and thus not applicable to us today, but if we venture further in the text we see that Paul justifies his refusal of permission with a timeless and eternal justification, making his “decree” just as timeless and eternal:
1 Timothy 2:13-14: 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
So what does this mean to us, exactly? Here is what Dr. Neste had to say:
1 Tim. 2:13 For introduces the biblical basis for the prohibition of v. 12. Paul indicates that the prohibition is based on two grounds, the first being the order of creation (Adam was formed first), and the second being the deception of Eve (v. 14). “Formed” (Gk. plassō) is the same term that the Septuagint uses in Gen. 2:7, 8, which evidently refers to creation (cf. 1 Cor. 11:8–9). Paul's argument indicates that gender roles in the church are not simply the result of the fall but are rooted in creation and therefore apply to all cultures at all times. The meaning of this passage, however, is widely contested today. Some interpreters argue that the prohibition of 1 Tim. 2:12 does not apply today because: (1) the reason for Paul's command was that women were teaching false doctrine in Ephesus; or (2) Paul said this because women in that culture were not educated enough to teach; or (3) this was a temporary command for that culture only. But Paul's appeal to the creation of Adam and Eve argues against those explanations. In addition, the only false teachers named in connection with Ephesus are men (1:19–20; 2 Tim. 2:17–18; cf. Acts 20:30), and no historical evidence exists of women teaching false doctrine in first-century Ephesus. Moreover, ancient inscriptions and literature speak of a number of well-educated women in that area of Asia Minor at that time (cf. also Luke 8:1–3; 10:38–41; John 11:21–27; Acts 18:2–3, 11, 18–19, 26; 2 Tim. 4:19). Finally, some have claimed that this passage only prohibits a “wife” from teaching or exercising authority over her “husband,” since the Greek words gynē and anēr (translated “woman” and “man” in 1 Tim. 2:12) can also mean “wife” and “husband” in certain contexts. Given the immediate context of vv. 8–9, however, the most likely meaning of the Greek words gynē and anēr here in vv. 11–14 would seem to be “woman” and “man” (rather than “wife” and “husband”).
1 Tim. 2:14 Adam was not deceived, but the woman was. Paul's second reason (cf. v. 13). Though Eve sinned first as a result of being deceived, Adam's sin was conscious and willful, with devastating consequences for the whole human race (see Rom. 5:12).
While the comment on v. 14 is pretty simple, the notes on v. 13 are very thorough and important as they refute many arguments at once:
• Women teaching false doctrine in Ephesus
• Women of the culture not educated enough to teach
• Temporary command only for that culture
• Only refers to a wife and husband situation, as the Greek words gynē and anēr can sometimes mean that
Dr. Neste makes it abundantly clear that these verses do apply today and it holds that women are not to hold pastoral/authoritative positions over men in the church.
The next reference I found myself reading was John MacArthur’s Bible Commentary. John obtained his Master’s of Divinity from Biola University’s Talbot Theological Seminary, graduating with honors, and has served as pastor/teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969. Clearly a well qualified man, having written literally hundreds of Bible based works, and complete list and timeline of which can be found at http://www.gty.org/Meet/JohnMacArthur. Here I will only focus on verse 12 and 13, since this is the basic area that discusses the topic at hand.
1 Timothy 2:12- I do not permit. The Greek word for permit is used in the NT to refer to allowing someone to do what he desires. Paul may have been addressing a real situation in which several women in Ephesus desired to be public preachers. to teach. Paul used a verbal form of this Greek that indicates a condition or process that is better translated: “to be a teacher.” This was an important, official function in the church (see Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11). Thus, Paul if forbidding women from fulfilling the office and role of pastor or teacher. He is not prohibiting them from teaching in other appropriate conditions and circumstances (cf. Acts 18:26; Titus 2:3, 4). to have authority over. Paul forbids women from exercising any type of authority over men in the church assembly, since the elders are those who rule (5:17). They are all to be men (as is clear from the requirements in 3:2, 5). [Blogger’s Note: I can’t say I agree with his choice of words, referring to the elders as those who “rule”, but rest assured, it is not meant to sound as it does.]
1 Timothy 2:13-14- A women’s subordinate role did not result after the Fall as a cultural, chauvinistic corruption of God’s perfect design; rather, God established her role as a part of His creation (v. 13). God made woman after man to be his suitable helper (see note on Genesis 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:8-9). The Fall actually corroborates God’s divine plan of creation (see notes on Genesis 3:1-7). By nature Eve was not suited to assume the position of ultimate responsibility. By leaving Adam’s protection and [assuming] his headship, she was vulnerable and fell, thus confirming how important it was for her to stay under that protection and leadership of her husband. Adam then violated his leadership role, followed Eve in her sin, and plunged the human race into sinfulness- all connected with violating God’s planned roles for the sexes. Ultimately, the responsibility for the Fall rests with Adam, since he chose to disobey God apart from being deceived (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22).
Since his notes on verses 13 and 14 are a bit tough to follow, I want to try and make it clearer here. Basically what he is saying is that man and woman are each pre-programmed to fulfill certain leadership roles, and when we as humans try to go against or even reverse the planned roles, bad things happen, and while the consequences were obviously more immediate and noticeable here, this doesn’t mean the same will be for every situation where the church decides to elect a female pastor.
The third and final reference source I am going to use in this blog is a ministry called GotQuestions.org. GotQuestions has become well known for their authoritative biblical interpretation and their easy to understand articles on tough subjects. Since it is already very easy to read, I am merely going to reprint the article here, or if you want, you can read it yourself at their site at http://www.gotquestions.org/women-pastors.html.
Question: "Women pastors / preachers? What does the Bible say about women in ministry?"
Answer: There is perhaps no more hotly debated issue in the church today than the issue of women serving as pastors/preachers. As a result, it is very important to not see this issue as men versus women. There are women who believe women should not serve as pastors and that the Bible places restrictions on the ministry of women, and there are men who believe women can serve as preachers and that there are no restrictions on women in ministry. This is not an issue of chauvinism or discrimination. It is an issue of biblical interpretation.
The Word of God proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:11-12). In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created and the way in which sin entered the world (2 Timothy 2:13-14). God, through the apostle Paul, restricts women from serving in roles of teaching and/or having spiritual authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors, which definitely includes preaching to, teaching, and having spiritual authority over men.
There are many “objections” to this view of women in ministry. A common one is that Paul restricts women from teaching because in the first century, women were typically uneducated. However, 1 Timothy 2:11-14 nowhere mentions educational status. If education were a qualification for ministry, the majority of Jesus' disciples would not have been qualified. A second common objection is that Paul only restricted the women of Ephesus from teaching (1 Timothy was written to Timothy, who was the pastor of the church in Ephesus). The city of Ephesus was known for its temple to Artemis, a false Greek/Roman goddess. Women were the authority in the worship of Artemis. However, the book of 1 Timothy nowhere mentions Artemis, nor does Paul mention Artemis worship as a reason for the restrictions in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
A third common objection is that Paul is only referring to husbands and wives, not men and women in general. The Greek words in the passage could refer to husbands and wives; however, the basic meaning of the words refers to men and women. Further, the same Greek words are used in verses 8-10. Are only husbands to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger and disputing (verse 8)? Are only wives to dress modestly, have good deeds, and worship God (verses 9-10)? Of course not. Verses 8-10 clearly refer to all men and women, not only husbands and wives. There is nothing in the context that would indicate a switch to husbands and wives in verses 11-14.
Yet another frequent objection to this interpretation of women in ministry is in relation to women who held positions of leadership in the Bible, specifically Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah in the Old Testament. This objection fails to note some significant factors. First, Deborah was the only female judge among 13 male judges. Huldah was the only female prophet among dozens of male prophets mentioned in the Bible. Miriam's only connection to leadership was being the sister of Moses and Aaron. The two most prominent women in the times of the Kings were Athaliah and Jezebel—hardly examples of godly female leadership. Most significantly, though, the authority of women in the Old Testament is not relevant to the issue. The book of 1 Timothy and the other Pastoral Epistles present a new paradigm for the church—the body of Christ—and that paradigm involves the authority structure for the church, not for the nation of Israel or any other Old Testament entity.
Similar arguments are made using Priscilla and Phoebe in the New Testament. In Acts 18, Priscilla and Aquila are presented as faithful ministers for Christ. Priscilla's name is mentioned first, perhaps indicating that she was more “prominent” in ministry than her husband. However, Priscilla is nowhere described as participating in a ministry activity that is in contradiction to 1 Timothy 2:11-14. Priscilla and Aquila brought Apollos into their home and they both discipled him, explaining the Word of God to him more accurately (Acts 18:26).
In Romans 16:1, even if Phoebe is considered a “deaconess” instead of a “servant,” that does not indicate that Phoebe was a teacher in the church. “Able to teach” is given as a qualification for elders, but not deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9). Elders/bishops/deacons are described as the “husband of one wife,” “a man whose children believe,” and “men worthy of respect.” Clearly the indication is that these qualifications refer to men. In addition, in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9, masculine pronouns are used exclusively to refer to elders/bishops/deacons.
The structure of 1 Timothy 2:11-14 makes the “reason” perfectly clear. Verse 13 begins with “for” and gives the “cause” of Paul’s statement in verses 11-12. Why should women not teach or have authority over men? Because “Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived.” God created Adam first and then created Eve to be a “helper” for Adam. This order of creation has universal application in the family (Ephesians 5:22-33) and the church. The fact that Eve was deceived is also given as a reason for women not serving as pastors or having spiritual authority over men. This leads some to believe that women should not teach because they are more easily deceived. That concept is debatable, but if women are more easily deceived, why should they be allowed to teach children (who are easily deceived) and other women (who are supposedly more easily deceived)? That is not what the text says. Women are not to teach men or have spiritual authority over men because Eve was deceived. As a result, God has given men the primary teaching authority in the church.
Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, and helps. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5), only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. The Bible nowhere restricts women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15).
God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers, or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is not the case). It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are to take a less authoritative role. Women are encouraged to teach other women (Titus 2:3-5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching men or having spiritual authority over them. This logically would preclude women from serving as pastors/preachers. This does not make women less important, by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them.
So here it has been shown that every objection to this stance that I know of can and has been refuted, that women are not to take an authoritative role over women, and that women do have a special place in ministry (just not as pastors or other positions over men). I know that there are many who object, but if this is the case, then please present an argument that shows that I, along with these very smart, very authoritative resources, are wrong. Don’t simply complain about how my position is outdated or how chauvinistic or politically incorrect I am being. Nothing is more annoying than such useless and un-intelligent responses (no offense is meant, but that’s really all that those are). If you know of an objection to this stance that was not dealt with here, please let me know, so I can find what needs to found.
I also want it to be mentioned that I am good friends with many people who hold to the opposing position and even a woman who, under her denomination, holds the title of pastor. I still love them all with the love of Christ, just simply don’t condone nor agree with their stance. Thank you for reading, and God bless.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
So why not agree with the pacifist idealism? I guess it should be stated that I have a great deal of respect for pacifists and if they want to live that lifestyle, I have no objections whatsoever. But, where I have a problem is when pacifists try and drag the Bible, Jesus, and God Himself into the mix and claim that these things support their ideals. That, if I may say so, is ridiculous for the following reasons.
As was rightly recognized has been many times over, God in the OT approved and even commanded and/or caused the destruction of countless people, including many cultures that opposed Him and were a threat to His people and His will. Now, should this make us think any less of the Christian God? Many pacifists try to avoid the OT as a whole because it seriously contradicts their position, and make it seem like their God of love really isn’t such. What happens is that they fall into a party of Christians that try and take only parts of God that they like (love, mercy) and ignore the parts they don’t like (wrath and judgment). And when coupled with the fact that God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6) the idea that God is a pacifist or now promotes pacifism is totally without merit. God is a God of love, but He’s a God of judgment as well, and always shall this way remain.
In Matthew 5:39 Christ says: “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
So doesn’t this make a good case against violence then? Mmmm, not so much, because the reader who thinks that is ignoring the context and meaning of the words that Christ used. So let’s examine them piece by piece, and then look at the context of the times.
The Greek word translated resist, or oppose here is anthistēmi (ἀνθίστημι) which literally means to set yourself up against or create unwarranted trouble, such as responding insult with insult. This is further recognized when one understands what Christ meant when he talked about getting slapped and turning the other cheek. In the culture of the day, a slap of the right cheek was a backhanded slap signifying a great insult, and Jesus was simply instructing that if one insults them in such manner, let them do it, do not be like them and respond with insults, but instead let them have their fun and even maybe help them out by “turning the other to them also”. Indeed this is even a good tactic for getting a bully to stop, simply because it robs them of the pleasure of belittling another. So in reality, Jesus was not talking about violence in any sense of the word, but instead teaching on how to deal with a bully or insulter, telling them not to deal insult for insult (thus the eye for eye, etc justification beforehand) but instead to just be the bigger person and let it go.
To further demolish the idea that Jesus is and never was a pacifist, Daniel had this to say: "Blessed be the LORD my Rock, Who trains my hands for war, And my fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1). It would take quite the imagination to make that sound pacifistic, praising God for helping him to be able to defeat His foes.
Further, Jesus Christ Himself used physical force to get the gamblers and thieves out of His holy place.
Mat 21:12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
The Greek word here translated “drove out” or “cast out” is ekballō (ἐκβάλλω) which literally means “to cast out, drive out, send out with notion of violence.” See that last part there? Notion of violence. Guess what that means? Means that Jesus had to sue physical force to get the people who were doing wrong in His temple to leave. Not very pacifistic of Him.
So how does the non-pacifist deal with Romans 12 verses 14 and 17?
Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
In order to refute the idea that these verses suggest a pacifistic way of life, one must first understand the meaning of the words used, as in any argument. So let’s take a look and see.
The Greek word for bless here is eulogeō (εὐλογέω) which literally means to praise, invoke blessings, or to consecrate with solemn prayers. Really has nothing to do with any physical action that pacifism would deal with.
The Greek word translated evil is kakos (κακός) which literally means of bad nature, and this seems to be where pacifists and non-pacifists really differ. It’s in defining what is and is not of a bad nature. Both parties agree that starting a fight is wrong, but is defending yourself using violent means bad? Most people who witness a man being mugged would not say that the man is in the wrong for defending himself, and some, including myself, would do what we could to help make sure the man got away safely. If this happens to be a woman or child, our efforts to keep them safe multiply, and ultimately little to no person can say that that is wrong, or in any way evil.
However, unwarranted or unnecessary violence is indeed evil, and thus sinful, and as such, these verse warn us against revenge, or unwarranted or unnecessary violence, but not self defense, very warranted and very necessary violence. Furthermore, defense of ourselves and others has always been held as a high honor in history and even in today’s cultures. Sure there are few who would consider such things dishonorable, and even so they are completely without merit or warrant to do so.
Many other verses have come to my attention concerning pacifism and at this point in time, they are: Romans 13:9, 1 John 3:15-16, Matthew 5:7,9, Matthew 5:38-48, Matthew 18:33, Luke 6:36, James 2:18, Luke 6:29-30, and there are to be more to come in some time.
But here’s a pattern that I see that revolves around each and every one of these passages/verses. For every single one, a person has to read their already decided ideas into the passages. Not once in any commentary, and never before in church history has it been decided that pacifism is the biblical means by which we all should live. No authorities have ever come to this conclusion, and the idea is relatively recent. This would lead me to believe that, since no current authorities nor past church Fathers assert such, the idea of pacifism is simply an idea not mentioned, not asserted, not implied, just “not” in the Bible. It’s a fine idea, it really is, and anyone with enough patience to live such a lifestyle is quite the person, but it’s simply not a biblical issue, so please, keep the Bible out of it. God used violence, Jesus used violence, God commanded violence, that’s just the way it is. Trying to pretty things up by asserting pacifism is biblical is simply contradicting Scripture, and making Scripture contradict itself. A big no-no. Hopefully I will receive more verses as promised, but I honestly expect the same result to occur, but I’ve been wrong before. I hope you all enjoyed the read. Leave comments and questions if you have em!!!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Something that I have been thinking about latelyare the gray areas of life. What I mean are the areas that the Bible takes stances for or against, but then we, in our human knowledge, begin to wonder where that line ends.
As Christians we simply allow the “line to end” wherever the Bible allows it, and in these areas specified below I hope to help everyone reading this to see what the Bible does and does not say about these topics and hopefully help create a better understanding of the arguments and issues at hand.
Below are some of these areas and if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to share. I want to challenge my thoughts and beliefs to grow closer to a Biblical understanding on these topics.
Challenging your own ideas on certain things is indeed a great way to learn and understand the issues at hand and what the Bible as to say about them, and as I write what my thoughts are on these issues and what the Bible has to say, please understand that everything that I say is said with the utmost respect and with the love of Christ.
1) Abortion: Christians are typically anti-abortion, however my question is this – what about incest and rape? Is abortion okay in those instances or is it not okay? Why or why not? (Another question presented by a friend: What if the life of the mother is in danger if the child is born or the life of the child is in danger if the mother gives birth?)
These old canards are nothing new and have been dealt with by the Christian and scientific community many times over, but there are many people out there determined to stick to their own ideals and not let go of them to push a hidden agenda instead of accepting facts as facts and letting the matter drop. But in order to answer these questions we must first tackle why it is Christians believe abortion to be wrong, and then address the issues that have been brought up here.
First we as Christians firmly believe that it is wrong to murder as God had commanded us in Exodus 20:13, the Hebrew word murder here being râtsach (רצח) which literally means to slay or kill an innocent human life, so in order for this to hold any ground, Christian then need to assert that an unborn life is a human life and thus an abortion is in fact murder. Here are what some abortion advocates have to say to that:
"I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don't know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus." - Faye Wattleton, president of Planned Parenthood in a 1997 interview in Ms. Magazine.
"Clinging to a rhetoric about abortion in which there is no life and no death, we entangle our beliefs in a series of self-delusions, fibs and evasions. And we risk becoming precisely what our critics charge us with being: callous, selfish and casually destructive men and women who share a cheapened view of human life...we need to contextualize the fight to defend abortion rights within a moral framework that admits that the death of a fetus is a real death." - Naomi Wolf, a prominent feminist author and abortion supporter
When looking at these statements it is easy for the pro-choice camp to argue that these are merely referring to the fetus, which is not in fact a human, and that a human life is not formed at conception. For that, we go to the most authoritative embryology and prenatal development books out there to see if this is really indeed the case:
"Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo developmentn) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."
"A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo)."
Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.
"[The zygote], formed by the union of an oocyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being."
Keith L. Moore, Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2008. p. 2.
"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte."
Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.
"The two cells gradually and gracefully become one. This is the moment of conception, when an individual's unique set of DNA is created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated."
In the Womb, National Geographic, 2005.
These are just a few of the many resources I have access to, but for the sake of your time and the space available here, I limited it to these few, but the message is made clear by them. Human life begins when conception occurs within the mother, but, for the hardcore skeptic, here are a few more professional testimonies that you may want to read and see what even many abortion advocates have said on the issue:
"When fertilization is complete, a unique genetic human entity exists."
C. Christopher Hook, M.D.
Oncologist, Mayo Clinic, Director of Ethics Education, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine
"Science has a very simple conception of man; as soon as he has been conceived, a man is a man."
Jerome Lejeune, M.D., Ph.D.
In 1981, a United States Senate judiciary subcommittee received the following testimony from a collection of medical experts (Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981):
"It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive...It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception."
Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth
Harvard University Medical School
"I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception."
Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni
Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania
"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion...it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."
Dr. Jerome LeJeune
Professor of Genetics, University of Descartes
"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."
Professor Hymie Gordon
"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception."
Dr. Watson A. Bowes
University of Colorado Medical School
All of these testimonies are completely in line with what the Bible hints at towards Gods attitude towards unborn life:
Jer 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Psa 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
Psa 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psa 139:15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Psa 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Exo 21:22 "When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.
Exo 21:23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,
Exo 21:24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Exo 21:25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
So we see that God makes plans for those not yet born (Jer), that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image in conception (Psa), and that He had strictly penalized one who killed a pregnant mother’s child with death (Exo). These strongly imply that God views inborn life in the same as he does born life.
So now we’ve built a nice strong case in opposition to abortion both scientifically and biblically, but what about if the mother is raped, or the child is the product of incest (does this even happen anymore?)? What are we to do now? It seems cruel to make a mother carry to term a baby that she didn’t want and had no say in the process of making the baby. So how are we as Christian to respond?
First of all it is important to note that this argument is one specifically built to create the worst possible case scenario and force the person being asked the question to get emotional in their response, and this is called the fallacy of argument from pity. It’s also important to note that rape/incest (really?) cases only account for less than three percent of all abortion cases, the rest simply being girls who couldn’t keep their legs shut and didn’t like what inevitably resulted.
But to prove a certain point, let’s add to this argument and see where it leads us. Let’s say the mother decided to not only carry the baby to term but also raise the child herself. As time progresses, the boy grows to the age of five and she decides that he has become too much of a burden to her, and looks too much like his father and this haunts her, so would it be permissible to then kill the child? Of course not, but the argument is still the same. The child was brought on by rape, and is too emotionally hard for the mother to take, so why not let her kill her son? It’s because the argument has nothing to do with the rape aspect, but the birth aspect, as in where the child is when it’s killed, in or outside the womb.
So, to end on the point of rape and abortion, here is the testimony of a young lady who was raped and chose to keep her child as written in an email to Abort73.com:
I am the single mother of a beautiful, fun-loving, bright young woman of 16 years of age. This Easter we celebrated the 17th anniversary of her conception. Raped by an acquaintance, my first consideration was abortion even though I had spoken out against it all my life... I considered abortion until I [determined it wasn't] the right thing. I perused adoption and chose parents to give my baby to. I changed my mind and chose motherhood. I have provided, educated, clothed, fed, nursed, counseled, encouraged, and loved with all my heart the daughter of a man who violated the last virtue I was cherishing, my virginity... When interviewed about my experience several years ago, I was asked what I would a tell a young woman contemplating an abortion. After some careful consideration and a determination never to water down the truth I replied, "It is the hardest thing in the world to choose what you know is right. Being a single parent is no more easy than living with the haunting memory of aborting your child. No matter how hard you wish, either way your life will never be the same. Both have their pains and their struggles, however, only one choice afforded me a profound peace... Never have we been in want. Never have I regretted my choice. The scars of my experience have been healed... we show no signs of lack nor neglect...
Just for the record, I have to assume that as incest always finds itself tied in with the rape argument, then so it should fittingly be tied in with the rape response, and so I will not bother to write another complete response to incest as the previous response should satisfy.
Now, for the hardest part of the question, what if the baby is a danger to the mother and if she does not the abortion, then both the baby and the mother will die. Before answering this, it is important to note that this occurs about one tenth of one percent of all abortion cases.
Ultimately, it makes sense that the mother need not die and have an abortion if both her and her child are going to die should she not. This is a rarity in which an abortion would be morally permissible, even though it may not be pleasant. We should not condemn a woman for saving her life instead of throwing it away needlessly. If there is a risk factor and death is not guaranteed, then the parents should pray for wisdom from the One who knows all and then decide accordingly.
In closing, it is most important to note that abortion is not unforgivable. If you are a woman who has had an abortion, and are struggling with your decision, I would encourage you to bring it before God and let Him handle it. He is not above forgiving you, and to maybe encourage you, here is the testimony of a woman who did just that:
In regard to the person who wrote that they were offended about your use of the term “baby killers”. This person was concerned about the offense someone might take who had an abortion. I am such a person. I killed my first child. B.P. said “This sort of ignorant propaganda is the type that encourages people to stand outside abortion clinics and tear into the poor women who have been forced to make this terrible choice.” I wish someone had been standing outside with such “propaganda” when I went into the abortion clinic. My child would now be 21 years old. But the fact is that I am a murderer. And the greater fact is that I can have forgiveness through Jesus Christ. My sins are forgiven, not because of what I’ve done, but in spite of what I’ve done. Though I shed innocent blood, His blood was shed for me. While I was His enemy—Christ died for me. We are truly trophies of His grace. And like King David, I will one day be able to see that child in heaven!!– God’s mercy is so great!
2) Violence: One of the more controversial topics since not all Christians agree on what exactly the Biblical stance is, but here we go anyway. For pacifists – How can we read in the New Testament “love your enemies” yet look in the Old Testament and see that God caused the Flood (a violent act since it ended the life of many) and read about the killing God commanded? For non-pacifists – How can you “love your enemy” and “love your neighbor” yet still kill them? How do we rationalize, in eitherpoint of view,mercy killing and assisted suicide?
Well, I for one am not a pacifist, but I find it interesting that the writer implies or asserts that non-pacifists are all for killing our enemies. This is ridiculous to say the least, and ultimately has nothing to do with not being a pacifist, but more to do with being, well, a murderer or sadist. It is important to realize that the non-pacifist position really has no organized set of beliefs like pacifism does, and so no one person can speak for all non-pacifists. And instead of making a case as to why pacifism is not biblically supported here, I am instead going to just present my personal view and create a whole new blog post later providing evidence against the biblical argument for pacifism, not pacifism itself, and it will deal with how Christians should view violence, the death penalty, and war, since these all seem to somehow tie into pacifist idealism.
Keep in mind that non-pacifists do not delight in violence or killing, but simply view it as sometimes being a necessary yet un-pleasurable means to a favorable end. If a man is attacked, no person that I know, minus pacifists, would look on it and condemn the man should he decide to defend himself and his own life even at the risk of the life of his assailant. If I were watching on and could identify who the assailant was, I’d “love my neighbor” by helping keeping him safe, even if his assailant has to be carried away in a body bag. And despite what some believe, there is no real biblical evidence that would put me and the man in the wrong for defending against this assailant. And if a woman or child were ever to be in similar danger, the my efforts to defend them would multiply, even if it means the assailant loses his life. He made the choice to threaten the life of another, and as such has thrown away his own right to life. Is this unloving towards that person? Not really. He made a choice and I am lovingly giving him what he justly deserves.
As far as mercy killing and assisted suicide, well, assisted suicide is not loving but instead aiding in a person’s cowardess and aiding in the intentional ending of a promising human life. Now as for a mercy killing, something different can be said. Instead of allowing one to suffer in agony, it is often thought of as being merciful to end that person’s life suddenly, so as not to permit suffering. This is why hanging is no longer considered a humane method of carrying out the death penalty, and why there are certain laws that regulate international interrogation so as to protect a person from things like torture or persecution. Killing someone in irreversible and deadly pain is merely preventing that person from suffering in their final moments, which, in my personal view, is loving.
3) Political Patriotism – I’m writing this post on Memorial Day, not a day typically set up for a Biblical understanding to life, it’s more about America and America’s military, and that’s exactly why I brought it up. We in America get consumed by the pro-America holidays (Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and the biggest one Independence Day), but how are we, as Christains, suppose to respond to those days? I know I enjoy watching the fireworks (I more enjoy lighting them and then watching them) on July 4, but should we participate at all?Howshould our allegiance to the Biblical Kingdom interact with the kingdoms of this world?
I find it hard to equate honoring those who have died for our country as something that is a statement of our allegiance to our country over our allegiance to our God, or celebrating the day our country became free. These are truly things to celebrate, as they honor not only those who have died for us in the past, but also what they died for. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, Romans 3:1-7 says:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
So on these days, we are paying the respect and honor that is well deserved by those who fought for our country and gave us the rights and privileges we have now.
4) Easter – Okay, now for some more controversy. Easter is one of the two most important holidays for the Christain religion, but some the fun Easter activities for kids are not in the Bible (Ex: Easter Egg Hunts, the whole Easter bunny thing, etc.). I love the Biblical Easter, but how do we look at Easter and not see all the non-Biblical Easter stuff that comes with it?
I agree with what a friend of mine said in regards to this and am thus going to quote him for it to lighten my load a bit:
“…As for holidays, I can't help but think of Colossians 2 where it speaks of festivals, that we should not let anyone pass judgment on us based on a festival (amongst other things). In the context, this would speak much more ... specifically to religious ceremonies related to our religion rather than the religion of others or non-religious festivals/holidays (covering the bases for both those who view patriotism as religious expression, and those who don't). Therefore, I think we should be careful calling into question the ethics of much surrounding Easter. I think that even if many of the modern Easter traditions are pagan in origin (they are), they can still be redeemed…”
5)Austin Powers vs. Pearl Harbor- The Bible is pretty clear to stay away from sinning and for a lot of people sex (and all of it’s not so wonderful baggage) is where that gets a little weary. For that group, sex issomething to stay away from, but what about violence? We try to avoid movies and games with sex in them, but what about movies and games that have a lot of violence in them? We can play Halo in multi-player and kill each other, but aren’t we, in a way, taking out some kind of aggression toward one another? What about art like the statue of David and the Sistine Chapel in Italy… how are those different than the nudity in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? (This point was also brought up by a friend, but it made me start to think about it as well.)
This seems to confuse the effects that sex in a movie has with the effects that violence in a movie has. Is sex wrong? No, not really, unless it is premarital. Is viewing sex wrong? Yes. Is violence wrong? Yes, unless it’s justified. Is the viewing of violence wrong? No, it is not, and here is why.
Viewing sex causes the viewer to lust after the persons and events occurring in the movie, which is wrong. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, "But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart." So therefore the viewing of anything that causes us to lust is wrong. Philippians 4:8 says Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, and porn or any kind of sexual interaction in a movie does not fit this bill.
Now what kind of effect does violence have on us? Does it impress upon us the unrestrained desire to go commit violence? No, I have never heard of such a case. Regardless of what the media may say, video games, movies, or any other form of entertainment that presents violence has never and can never be tied in with the violent acts of human beings. So there really is no correlation between violence in movies and sex in movies. One merely uses their own discretion in what they feel appropriate for themselves to watch and what they can enjoy when it comes to violence, and children are to obey their parents if they decide a movie is too violent for them, but sexual interactions in a movie are sinful in themselves and aid in the committing a sin of others, and are thus a stumbling block, and thus immoral and sinful.
These are the topics that I have questions about and would love to engage in conversation about. What are your thoughts?
Those are my personal thoughts, and like I said more will be written about on the question concerning pacifism dealing with whether or not the Bible really does take the stance that pacifism is the only right idealism for living. I hope you learned a little something, and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me. Thank you very much.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
It is important to note that anything and everything I say on here is meant with the utmost respect, and for the purpose of educating and informing those of you who read. It is meant with the love of Christ. That said, please, enjoy my blog.
Oh, and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org for those of you who want to send in a question.