Jan 24, 2013

Why I Hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

"Don't get me wrong, the call to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ is a joy. Nothing is more thrilling than opening the Word of God to the people of Christ week-by-week. But it provokes my spirit to preach the Sanctity of Human Life (SOHL) emphasis on a Sunday morning.

I don't hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I think it, somehow, unbiblical. No, indeed. The entire canon throbs with God's commitment to the fatherless and to the widows, his wrath at the shedding of innocent blood. I don't hate it because I think it's inappropriate. Just as every Lord's Day should be Easter, with the proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus, and Christmas, with the announcement of the Incarnation, so every Lord's Day should highlight the worth and dignity of human life.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I'm reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn't have to say.

>>Mothers shouldn't kill their children.

>>Fathers shouldn't abandon their babies.

>>No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, economic status.

The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.

One SOHL Sunday morning as I opened the Bible to preach, I looked out and caught the eye of my sons. I prayed that their children wouldn't have to hear a sermon against abortion and euthanasia. I prayed that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren would grow up in an age when abortion is, as the Feminists for Life organization put is some years ago, not just illegal but unthinkable. I prayed for my (yet to be conceived but not yet to be conceived of) great-grandchildren that a Sanctity of Human Life Sunday would seem as unnecessary to them as a "Reality of Gravity" Emphasis Sunday.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I'm reminded that as I'm preaching there are babies warmly nestled in wombs who won't be there tomorrow. I'm reminded that there are children, maybe even blocks from my pulpit, who'll be slapped, punched, and burned with cigarettes before nightfall. I'm reminded that there are elderly men and women languishing away in loneliness, their lives pronounced to be a waste.

But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday when I think about the fact that I serve a congregation with ex-orphans all around, adopted into loving families. I love to reflect on the men and women who serve every week in pregnancy centers for women in crisis. And I love to see men and women who have aborted babies find their sins forgiven, even this sin, and their consciences cleansed by Christ.

We'll always need Christmas. We'll always need Easter. But I hope, please Lord, someday soon, that Sanctity of Human Life Day is unnecessary."

Russell Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. Dr. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective (Crossway, 2004) and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Crossway, May 2009). Visit his website at RussellMoore.com.

Jan 2, 2013

Recovering Lost Disciplines

As I write, I am looking out over the vast and cold Atlantic Ocean as I come to the end of a short family getaway at the beach. I have shut off my mobile phone. I have closed all unnecessary programs on my computer. I have turned off the music I had been listening to while I read a few articles online, and, as is my habit before sitting down to write, I prayed and asked the Lord to grant me the discernment as I strive to write for His glory and for the edification of His people.

The missionary and martyr Jim Eliot (1927-1956) wrote, "The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds...Satan is quite aware  of the power of silence." It is difficult to escape the busyness, noise, and crowds of life. We are bombarded by a host of amusements and contraptions, most of which we have enthusiastically welcomed into our lives, home, communities, and churches. We have conditioned ourselves to distraction, and we are leading the next generation down the same path in a hurry. C.S. Lewis wrote, "We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private." We stand at a crossroads, and we will either rediscover the lost virtues of listening, meditating, and thinking,  or we will amuse ourselves to death.

However, our problem lies not in our twenty-first-century tools and toys, but in our inability to use them without them using us. Every gadget we own was invented to make life more easy and simple, and, in God's providence, every device, network, and program is given to us by God to use for His kingdom, His gospel, and His glory. God has called us to subdue the earth, and we do this by listening intently to His Word, meditating on it, carefully thinking through how to apply it, and being doers of it as we commune with God and live in community with one another in the family, the church, and the world. We are made for family, we are made for worship, we are made for community, and we are made to engage the world as we follow Jesus Christ, bringing the light of His gospel to a dark world. But in order to do this well, with biblical discernment, ancient wisdom, and enduring passion, we must recover the disciplines of listening, meditating, and thinking as we live Coram Deo, before the face of God.

Article by Burk Parsons, Editor of Tabletalk Magazine and Co-Pastor of St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford, Florida