Because I write a weekly message, by God’s grace, on a Saturday morning, I wasn’t planning to watch Meghan and Harry’s wedding. At least, not live. But I decided to take a ‘ peep’ when my wife got up and turned on the TV, which I could hear in my study.
And that was it! So a couple hours later, here I am writing and reflecting how, were it not for providence, we would not have witnessed, together, such a beautiful act of love and charm, flowing from the source of all love, Almighty God. The main point made by the homilist, The Primate of the USA, Bishop Curry. The only kind of love that can rescue this ‘ old world ‘, and set it afire again.
I would have missed hearing, together, a revised and so beautifully performed, and energetically directed, version of Ben.E. King’s ” Stand By Me”. A signature tune of our era, and one to which we used to ‘ dance the night away’, as the soulful culture of Black America invaded the hallowed halls of The Church of England’s most famous Chapel.
Check out @keithboykin’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/keithboykin/status/997806027532840962?s=09
And I would have missed, watching together, as two baptised children of God, listening to the Name of Jesus being lifted up, as millions from across the world tuned in, to a Christian wedding. Where ” every knee “, Royal and ‘Commoner’, bowed literally and metaphorically, to the precious Name of my God and my Redeemer.
What a joy! What a reason to celebrate in a world where so many have become so ‘ wise and powerful’, that they have elected to ‘ do their own thing ‘, and ignore the will of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The One who gives life, and takes life; Blessed by the Name of the Lord.
But if in the highly controversial issue of Abortion, a very topical issue in my country, they would ignore the Word of God, contrary to the acceptance and public recommendation of it by Harry and Meghan, it would be bad. But to add insult to injury, some have become so inflamed and aggrieved by those with a contrary and ‘ religious’, viewpoint, that, they not only heap derision on the ‘ offending ‘ party, but, in my view, descend into the gutter by adding expletives. Censored and uncensored! In a rage, especially provoked, they claim, by insensitive religious zealots who suggest that, even in the case of rape, abortion is ‘ murder’.
Such was my experience on Facebook this week, as I attempted to ‘ temper’ the rage of a colleague who is very popular on Social Media. And having drawn his ire, some of those who follow him, employed the most foul and completely uncensored language to describe the Lord Jesus.
The point is that, were it not for my faith in a Creator and Redeemer God, it would be difficult to mount a credible defense against a deeply held view that, ‘ It is the right of a woman’, to carry or not carry an unborn child to term. And in fact, in my early developing years as a physician and Christian, I referred several women to a ‘ specialist ‘ for abortion after ‘ careful ‘ consideration of their circumstances. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa! But thank God for Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit who, as promised, leads us into all Truth, my position gradually shifted. To a point where I do not refer anyone for abortion, even after the most careful and compassionate time of listening and counselling.
Do I believe in Therapeutic abortions? Yes. In principle! What about rape? That one is a serious challenge? And the fact that I have seen more than one woman who elected to carry that child to term, does not make it easy. Nor that so many ‘ brownings’ are products of violation of slave women by their ‘ Masters ‘. Nor the famous story in the Bible about Joseph, ” You meant it for evil, but God used it for good”. To save Israel from starvation! For the truth is that the great majority of victims cannot bear the thought of carrying such a public and permanent manifestation of wickedness being visited upon them. And God in His Mercy will decide how to deal with them. And those who facilitate their desire for an abortion. Not me! But since I did not create life, only God, even in the midst of evil, at this time in my walk with God, though sensitive to the situation that these ladies, I cannot recommend death for that which I did not create. Nor begin to understand the mind of the Creator. Except what He reveals through the Holy Spirit; the giver of all Truth. And whose coming on all the Baptised, we will celebrate tomorrow on the Day of Pentecost. And wear the #FireRed about which Bishop preached.
REV. JOHN STOTT
As I contemplated these issues last night, my eyes caught hold of a book written many years ago by one of my favorite theologians. John Stott!
I share with you his opening, and very profound comments, on this issue. Words that challenge us to ” come off the fence”, to stop ‘ drinking tepid lukewarm tea”, as in the famous movie ” The War Room”, and join the battle.
DECISIVE ISSUES FACING CHRISTIANS TODAY : THE ABORTION DILEMMA
The debate over abortion is admittedly complex. It has medical, legal, theological, ethical, social and personal aspects. It is also a highly emotional subject, for it touches on the mysteries of human sexuality and reproduction, and often involves acutely painful dilemmas.
Yet Christians cannot opt out of personal decision-making or public discussion regarding this topic merely because of its complexity. Instead, two factors should bring it to the top of our agenda.
First, what is involved in the abortion issue is nothing less than our Christian doctrines of both God and humanity, or, more precisely, the Sovereignty of God and the sanctity of human life. All Christian people believe that Almighty God is the only, giver, sustainer and taker-away of life. On the one hand ” he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else “, and ” in him we live and move and have our being”.
On the other, as the Psalmist says to God, ” When you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust”…...To the Christian then, both life-giving and life-taking are divine prerogatives………
Hence Mother Teresa’s strong feeling about the evil of abortion:
……only God can decide life or death…..That is why abortion is such a terrible sin. You are not only killing life, but putting ( your) self before before God; yet people decide who has to live and who has to die. They want to take the power of God into their hands. They want to say, ” I can do without God. I can decide.” That is the most devilish thing that a human can do…..
Later in the chapter Stott shared this experience:
“…….a group of women started chanting – Not the Church, not the State, Let a woman decide her fate.
I went over to talk to them, and quietly remonstrated that it was not the woman’s fate we were concerned about in our rally and march, so much as her unborn child’s. Their only reply was to shout unprintable obscenities at me, and make the point that I would not be able to give birth to a child on a million years. I am not saying that they were wholly wrong. For I recognize abortion is more a woman’s issue than a man’s. It is she who has been made pregnant, perhaps without her consent…
It is all too easy for men to forget these facts. But we should remember them. …….Once she has conceived, her child has independent rights both before and after birth, and it was those rights which those young women in Whitehall ( the seat of British government) did not acknowledge”.
Final Comment: As with Stott and his experience in 1984, so too the Christian experience with those who would elevate the ” rights of women” over the Sovereignty of Almighty God. So this very emotional charges issue, which provokes even seemingly civilised people to wrath and the use of gutter language to defend women’s rights, is never going to solved in my lifetime. Nor I would suggest in the next century. For the Holy Spirit of God, sent by the Risen and Ascended and Glorified Christ, and whose coming we will celebrate tomorrow, has already warned us in Holy Scriptures that : ” If they hate me ( Jesus) they will hate you too”.
Therefore the vitriol and abuse which is being directed at the Church in general, because we take a stand for the Almighty God, and really provide the only resistance to those who would place self above God, as observed by Mother Teresa has to be met with love and mercy and peace.
It’s a challenge to the World and its culture that the late Ian Boyne warned about regularly. And the World will never accept that God in Christ is Sovereign. As Harry and Meghan publicly declared today as they got married according to the commands of a loving and faithful God who loves the World in Christ and Him Crucified. The challenge for the Christian community is to continue to preach Christ and Him Crucified through the power of the Holy Spirit. And He will as promised convict the World of Sin, Righteousness and Judgement. And lead us, and the Royal family and all people into all Truth. That in all things, whether life or death, God is Sovereign and full of mercy and love to all He has made. And this we know in and through Jesus Christ.