Friday, November 27, 2020

Prophetic Blind Spots (5) New standard of Righteousness

Many modern prophets have introduced a new standard of righteousness, in which abortion is prioritised above all other sins. Consequently, they support a presidential candidate who has committed adultery because he claimed that he would make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions. These prophets claim that the thousands of abortions being carried out each year is preventing God from blessing the United States. They believe that Christians should use their political power to make abortions illegal, so God will send revival again.

This is not an issue of whether abortion is sinful or not, but about prophets prioritising abortion as the great abomination and making it the sole criterion for deciding political issues. Some used the candidate’s attitude to abortion to determine their vote and ignored all other issues.

The strange thing about the enormous emphasis on abortion in the American political process is that the Bible is totally silent about it. Abortion is not directly mentioned once.

The Old Testament law gives detailed lists of crimes and specifies the correct punishments, but abortion is missing from these lists. Abortion is not mentioned in the ten commandments; a strange silence.

The prophets challenged Israel with detailed descriptions of the sins that were upsetting God, but they never mention women having abortions as the big obstacle. They never suggested that abortions be banned, so God's blessing could return, whereas they did complain about mistreatment of the poor. The prophets criticised people who offered their children as sacrifices, but these practices were significantly different from abortion, because the perpetrator, the age of the victims, the method and the seriousness of the outcome are all different. Babies and young children were tormented by being burned while alive and the sacrifice was directed towards a false god representing demonic powers, which exposed the nation to their spiritual dominance. Worse still, these sacrifices would usually have been managed by men.

John the Baptist called on the people to repent and turn from their sins, but he never mentioned abortion.

Jesus challenged the behaviour of the people listening to his preaching, but he never criticised any of the many women that he met for having had an abortion (although either the woman at the well with six husbands or the well-known sinner who anointed his feet quite likely had). Jesus did not condemn the sins of ordinary people, because he expected them to sin, and he knew his death and resurrection would be a solution to the mess they have made of their lives. He got stuck into the people who claimed to know God’s will, but passed judgment on other people while continuing to sin themselves. Christian prophets should take note that God is far more upset by the sins of the church than by the sins of the world.

Paul gave detailed lists of behaviours that would keep people from entering the Kingdom of God. In 1 Cor 6:9-10, he mentions adulterers, thieves and drunkards, but he does not mention women having abortions, although they would have been common in Corinth. A final list of people who cannot enter the Kingdom of God is given in Revelation 21:8. Cowards, sorcerers and fornicators are listed, but there is no mention of women who have had an abortion.

It is odd for prophets to make abortion the worst possible sin when it is never mentioned in the Bible (not once). If God hated abortion as much as the church does, you would expect Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles to have frequently condemned it. Modern prophets get around this problem by describing it as murder. They speak frequently about “baby murder” even though that expression is not used in the Bible.

The problem with this is that the Bible defines murder quite precisely. We cannot claim that any death at the hand of another human is murder. Killing a thief who has broken into a house during the night is not murder (Exodus 22:2). People who kill soldiers attacking their community are not guilty of murder. God put clear boundaries around what constitutes murder, so we cannot decide a murder has occurred without reference to his standards.

Since abortion is not specifically mentioned in the scriptures, it can only be defined as murder by a deductive process that people can disagree about. If abortion is the sin that offends God more than any other, we would expect him to have specified it more clearly in his definition of murder.

A prophet with a distorted Pharisee view of sin will often get a distorted understanding of what God wants to do in the world. If they put too much emphasis on a particular sin of the people of the world, they can become obsessed with using law to eliminate it, when God is far more concerned about the sins of the church that are hindering the gospel and disrupting the advance of his Kingdom.

Prophets with a confused view of sin get agitated about abortions that send unborn babies straight to the presence of God, but don't seem to care about the millions of civilians who have been killed or had their lives wrecked by America's continuous, but pointless military adventures. They seem to be more concerned about unborn children in their own nation than they are about the suffering and deaths of people living in other nations, which is hypocritical.

The irony is that abortion is the outcome of other sins. Most abortions are the consequence of adultery or casual sexual relationships. I am sure that God is more concerned about the men who engage in careless adulterous or casual sexual activity than he is about the unloved and abandoned women who choose to have an abortion because they believe their situation is desperate. Condemning people who have messed up their lives, or had their lives messed up by irresponsible men, makes Christians seem callous and undermines the witness of the gospel.

The huge pressure to tighten the abortion laws does not deal with the underlying problem caused by the social and sexual revolution. Using law to deal with a social and moral problem is pointless. I am not in favour of abortion, but I understand that trying to ban it is dealing with the symptoms of a deeper underlying problem. It is a sad reflection on the state of our society and communities that so many women do not want to carry their babies, but trying to eliminate the problem by passing laws is just papering over the cracks.

People who think that legally banning abortion would bring the Kingdom of God closer do not really understand the nature of the Kingdom of God. God wants people to freely do his will because they love him, not because they are forced to obey with threats of retribution. Using threats of punishment to prevent abortion is not the way of God’s Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God will only come when parents no longer see pregnancy as a disaster due to their faith in Jesus and hope for the future inspired by the Holy Spirit. It will come when men and women freely stop engaging in irresponsible sexual activity because they love Jesus and walk in the love peace and joy of the Spirit. Abortion will only disappear when every pregnant woman feels loved and supported by a husband and a wider community. The best way to bring about these changes is to preach the gospel of Jesus. This will not be helped by condemning women who have abortions or trying to ban them.

Prophets who have elevated abortion into the great abomination, contrary to the scriptures, will have difficulty hearing God’s voice clearly. God is more concerned about the sins of the Church than about the sins of the world. Sinning is normal for people of the world but the failure of the church to fully obey Jesus weakens the gospel and holds back the advance of his Kingdom. Prophets should be asking if their wrath against abortion has prevented them from the hearing about what really frustrates God?

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