What We Think We Know
After over 15 years of preaching on abortion, I have more facts and figures on this subject than any other. My abortion file is 10 times thicker than the others. In preparing for this sermon, I couldn't even make it through the whole thing. I've come to the conclusion it's not what we don't know that's the problem. It's what we think we know. God tells us in our text there are 3 things we don't know: the path of the wind, how the body is formed in a mother's womb, and the activity of the creator God. Of course, this sounds like nonsense to modern ears, doesn't it? Don't we have the sciences of meteorology and obstetrics? Doesn't meteorology tells us the path of the wind and obstetrics tells us how babies are formed in the womb?
Watch the weather report. You can see graphics showing the path of the wind hour by hour. Weather people use to give you a tonight and tomorrow forecast; then it was 3 day forecasts; then it went to 5 days; and now some will give you a 7 day forecast. God says we don't know the path of the wind, but modern man believes he does.
And modern man certainly believes he knows exactly how the body is formed in a mother's womb. On day 1 all 46 human chromosomes are present, and a unique human life begins. On Day 6 the embryo begins implanting in the uterus; Day 22 the heart begins beating. During week 5 eyes, hands, feet develop. During week 6 brain waves can be detected; mouth and lips are present. I could go on mapping exactly how the baby is formed in the womb. I could even show you actual pictures of almost every stage. God says we don't know how the body is formed in a mother's womb, but modern man believes he does.
God goes on to say just as we don't know the path of the wind and how a baby forms in the womb, so we can't understand the work of the Creator God. But we say we do know the path of the wind through meteorology, and how the baby grows in the womb through obstetrics. Therefore, we also think we understand the work of the Creator God. Consequently, we're not afraid to play God particularly in the area of life in the womb.
For example, though Scripture says God is the One who gives conception, we've decided that some babies in the womb are unwanted. We decide this in spite of the fact senate hearings have revealed that for every child adopted in this country there are at least 60 homes. But what about deformed babies in the womb? For down syndrome babies there were 100 couples on the waiting list. Still I have to admit some studies do show that when a handicapped child is discovered in the womb 75 % of parents abort the child. But what does this prove? Nothing except that modern man is not afraid to decide that God made a mistake when He allowed a handicapped child to form in the womb.
It always starts with the handicapped. That's where Hitler started too by the way, but it doesn't stop there. Once men think they know more than God, no group is safe. Ironically, the group that suffers the most in abortion, women, is also targeted by men who know better. In some places in the United States you are allowed to abort babies of the "wrong sex." 70 percent of the time that will be a female. A study done in 1989 Bombay found that of 8,000 abortions 7,999 were female. After women, the next group that men determine to be unwanted is minorities. There are 2 non-white babies killed for every white one. 1.3% of the total black population is aborted annually. Well what about abortions to save the life of the mother and those for rape and incest? Abortions to save the life of the mother are almost non-existent in today's advanced medicine. As for abortions for rape and incest, they account for less than 1% of the abortions each year. The plain truth is that over 9 out of 10 abortions occur for birth control reasons. Just because someone thought they knew better than God.
Want more facts and figures? Want to hear what disgusting things have been done to aborted babies in the name of research? Want to hear what some think can be done with the cells from aborted babies to aid mankind in their quest for the best life possible? Well, I don't want to tell you. I just want you to consider this: Why is it is illegal and immoral to conduct experiments on convicted murderers before, during, or after execution and yet no such laws protect unborn babies in the womb? Why would a society give more protection to the bodies of convicted murderers than they would the bodies of unborn babies?
Enough, enough, enough. The facts and figures that we know aren't the problem. The problem is that we think we know what God tells us we cannot know, and, therefore, thinking we know as much as God does, we start playing God. But the worst way we do this is not in the realm of meteorology or obstetrics, but in the realm of theology.
Churches play God when they declare abortion not to be a sin. This is what many mainline Protestant churches including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America do. Not only do they declare that abortion is a tragic choice to be made, but their health plan pays for abortions. But that's not how we play God. We boldly declare abortion to be a sin. We march on our capital and around clinics declaring loudly that abortion is a sin. However, what we need to do is confess that abortion is our sin. Rather than playing God by standing against those involved in abortion we need to stand with those who have committed this heinous sin.
You know who first said something like this? CFW Walther, the first president of the Missouri Synod. Speaking at the beginning of the Civil War he said, "Let us not then idly wait perhaps for a general repentance of our whole American Nineveh but rather remember our own great part in the general guilt and ourselves heartily repent." We gather every year on Life Sunday not to accuse others but ourselves. We have sinned against life maybe against life in the womb but certainly against life outside of it. We are guilty of giving women, girls and men who struggle with this great sin the same impression the Church of Judas's day gave to him when he confessed his sin of betraying Jesus. Remember what they said? "What is that to us? That's your responsibility."
Where will those who have committed sins against life, even unborn life, go, if they can't come to us? Who will tell them that the Blood of Jesus is able to cover even the blood of babies if not us? Don't you see all the world agrees on this: that the God who loves life does not, cannot forgive those who sin against life in the womb? This is what everyone thinks they know about God. Yes, He can and does forgive our slips of the tongue when we say, "Damn." Yes, He can and does forgive our wayward eyes and our lustful thoughts. Yes, He can and does forgive overeating, overdrinking, and oversleeping, but when you come up against real sin, real disgusting sin, the sin of a mother turning against her child, a father killing his child, or a friend, parent, or grandparent helping, well that's just too much to forgive.
And that's exactly what the woman, the girl, the boy, the man believes in his heart too. He or she is certain that God does not forgive their sin. Maybe every other sin in the whole wide world but not their sin. So you know what these poor burdened souls do? They keep their sin locked in their heart rubbing it raw by constantly going back to it. What they think they know is killing them slowly, softly. They correctly know they have sinned. They incorrectly know that neither God nor His Church can or will help. So they carry their sin to their grave hoping that somehow, someway they can still squeeze into heaven.
Do you know what Luther said you should do once the Law has made a person feel the weight of their sin? Show them that their sin is nothing but the common failing of mankind. People trapped by the sin of abortion, particularly those trapped with this sin while still in the Church, are sure that no one but them has ever committed such an evil deed. Friends, I don't want to go back to the facts and figures, but here again, what someone thinks they know is killing them.
Killing life in the womb has always been a temptation to the people of God. The difference is that today it's totally legal, relatively inexpensive, and now it's as easy as taking pills. Furthermore, there is nothing in our society to encourage you not to do it. In fact, some clinics will make you feel as if you're donating an organ. You're loss is really going to help someone else out through research. So, the wonder is not that so many abortions happen, but that anyone at all in a difficult pregnancy carries the child to term. That's how common this sin is.
What is the Church's message to be? That abortion isn't a sin, so just don't feel guilty. No, that's the message of the world, but that just tells people stained by the sin of abortion that there really is no stain there. Okay, so the Church's message is that abortion is a great big humongous stain. Yes, but that's only the first part of the message. That's not the main message. The main message is God so loved those stained by the sin of abortion that He sent His only begotten Son into the womb to take their stain on His conscious.
Yes, Jesus went through life with the blood of a baby on His conscience. Everyday He thought of that precious little life; everyday He felt guilt press His heart and shame color His face; everyday He bore the torture that people guilty of sinning against life, unborn and born deserve. And then on the cross He bore the depths of hell such sins deserve. All of God's wrath swept over Him for the sin of abortion. By His suffering you, we are healed. What was the message proclaimed on Easter: Christ is risen so now really feel bad about your sins? No, Christ is risen, your sins have all been paid for! So then what sins do you have left to feel bad about?
The world, and sinners trapped in it, think they know the truth about God when they paint Him as unforgiving. The Church, on the other hand, knows what God thinks. He has thoughts of peace not war towards sinners for Christ's sake. He does not reward us according to our sins at all, but forgives them for Christ's sake. He doesn't deal with us based on what we or others can forgive us for. God deals with us based on what Christ has forgiven us for on the cross. Though we might not be able ever to erase our heinous sins from our minds, don't think that's how it with God. He tells us in Jeremiah that the New Covenant, the New Testament is that He will remember our sins no more. Rest assured that even if you can't forget your sins, God in Christ most certainly has.
Friends, despite meteorology and obstetrics do we really know the path of the wind or how babies are formed in the womb? And can any of us say we really understand the work of the Creator God? Remember it was just this point that God drove home to Job to show him how much he really didn't know. We may not understand the work of the creator God or the work of God in weather or the womb, but we do know the work of God on the cross: It was to redeem sinners not just from sins they thought He could, but from the very ones they thought He couldn't. Amen.
Rev. Paul R. Harris
Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas
Life Sunday (1-20-01) Ecclesiastes 11:5