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By the Numbers

1/21/07

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Numbers make it hard to preach on Life Sunday. Facts and figures are cold and only add to the bleakness. Besides the law is all about numbers. While the law can diagnose the problem of abortion, it sure isn't the answer. The gospel is the answer, and the gospel is not about numbers...or is it?

The number of US abortions from 1973-2006 according to the pro choice Alan Guttmacher Institute is 47,187,000. That translates to 1,287,000 babies dying each year; 3,526 dying per day; 147 dying each hour, and 1 abortion every 24 seconds here in America. Staggering isn't it? But the real devil is in the details.

The numbers convey that there are a lot of abortions but don(t give us a tangible sense of how many. What if I told you that every 4.7 days a school district the size of Pflugerville disappears? That would get your attention. Or what if I told you that every 79 minutes a church the size of ours vanishes? That would make you take notice. Or how about this? More Americans die each day from abortion than we(re killed on 9-11.

You would think with this many dying a lot of doctors must be involved. Not hardly. Only 14% of physicians do abortions. In the US 84% of counties have no doctors doing abortions. Outside of metropolitan areas 94% don't. But still the 14% should bother us. Why? Compare them with executioners in death penalty cases. People who put to death convicted, heinous killers have to have their conscience protected. So more than one pushes the button for lethal injection and more than one throws the switch for the electric chair. The State doesn't want 1 of her citizens to live with the knowledge that they killed a killer. Yet 14% of doctors and their support staff have no trouble living with the knowledge that they kill innocent babies. We ought to be afraid of such hardened, seared, dead consciences.

But the millions of dead bodies or the 14% of the doctors murdering them isn't the focus. The abortions that take place because of rape and incest are, and automatically the feminist movement disqualifies me from speaking because I'm a man. I can't relate to the poor women, the young girls pregnant by rape and incest. Who am I to tell them they have to carry for 9 month the constant reminder of the horrible crime committed against them? Well who are you to tell them that becoming the mother of a dead baby will undo the crime against them or even help them deal with it?

See, you suckered me into the wrong debate. It's not about feelings; it's about numbers. How many abortions take place because of rape or incest? 25%, 15%, 10%? Nope less than 1 %. According to the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute 95% of abortions take place for social reasons. The mother doesn't want to be pregnant at this time. No rape, no incest, no health issues with the baby. The woman, or very often the man involved, doesn't want her to be pregnant. Now, that(s a genuine inconvenient truth.

I know what you(re thinking. Let's do our best to limit the number of abortions. This is becoming the centrist position. In the 90's, the centrist position was, (I(m personally opposed to abortion, but I don't want to impose my morality on anyone else.( This sounds good, wise, moral until you substitute some other crime. (I(m personally opposed to child abuse, but I(m not going to impose my morality on anyone else.( The new wise, moral, reasonable position is, "Let's not focus on ending all abortions; we'll never all agree to that. But we can all agree to limit the number of abortions. Surely it(s worth accepting a mere 1% of abortions to get rid of 99%. So, we'll accept 12,870 dead babies in order to save 1,274,130. What(s wrong with numbers like that?

In 1836 Major Campbell of the British army was faced with a similar proposition. The Khonds in India actually raised like farms animals the Meriahs in order regularly to sacrifice them to their gods. Major Campbell insisted they stop. The Khonds offered to kill only one Meriah per year, for a whole group of villages. Major Campbell rejected the idea. Is he crazy or are we for thinking numbers like that make sense?

If Major Campbell had agreed to the proposition and if we give into the new centrist position, what we are sacrificing is not just some innocent lives, but our whole point. Human life is sacred whether out of the womb or in the womb, deformed, or perfectly formed, whether wanted or unwanted by men. Once we admit that men have the right to take human life for personal reasons, then it(s just a matter of good enough personal reasons not right and wrong. Life in the womb is no longer a moral issue but an opinion issue. Abortion is seen as being on an opinion line with the poles in favor and not in favor. Try putting any other moral issue on that line. Murder in favor - not in favor. Child pornography in favor - not in favor.

You want to know where treating a moral issue as an opinion issue gets us? To insanity. Last year a man in the Dallas area was charged with murder-for-hire for trying to kill his pregnant wife. He was charged with 2 counts not 1, 1 for his wife, 1 for his the unborn baby. Bravo! The pro life view carried the day. That(s right; nothing more than a pro life view carried the day. However, on another day that same woman, through her 9th month of pregnancy, could walk into an abortion clinic and hire someone to kill her unborn baby and be guilty of no crime. How come? Because on that day she and the government viewed her baby as something other than a human life.

In an effort to limit the numbers of abortion, we're really back to abortion being wrong depending on your view. We're trying to get everyone to agree that only babies conceived by rape or incest are to be viewed as parasites, as evil, as disposable. On what basis? Human opinion. Today it's babies conceived in a crime; tomorrow it may be babies conceived in illness or in a color other than white, or brown, or black.

Our talk of numbers provides no answer to abortion. The Lord's talk of numbers does. He says, (See that you do not despise one of these little ones.( What if the Lord had said, (See that you do not despise too many or many of these little ones?( In order to kill a class of people, you have to first despise them. In New Guinea, people to be sacrificed we're called (long pigs.( In Fiji they were called (fish.( Hitler called the Jews parasites in the State; pro-choicers call babies parasites in their mothers. Our Lord says we aren't to despise even 1 unborn child. Therefore, our reasoning that the deformed child would be better off dead must be wrong. Our sinful thoughts leading us to think of children conceived in crime as a burden can't be right. The Lord values every 1 of them.

Think of the sparrows. Did you watch the sparrows in the recent icy weather? Did you see the Lord there? He was. Jesus says in Luke 12, (Not one of them is forgotten by God.( Now we(re talking numbers the way God does. Jesus says that the Father knows how men value sparrows; 1 penny buys 2 sparrows in the market place. In comparison to the cardinals, robins, and doves, we despise sparrows, but man(s valuation is not God's.

Likewise, with life in the womb. Men delight in pointing out how life in the womb looks like a blob, or a fish with gills, or a reptile with a tail. God so loved life in the womb that He sent His Son into the womb to redeem it, to suffer and die for it. We forget that, and I'll prove it to you. There's a sign in the Holy Land that reads (The Word became Flesh Here.( Where is that sign located? No, not in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, but in Nazareth where He was conceived. Yes, God so loved life in the womb, the unborn, the not fully formed, even the deformed, that He sent His only begotten Son all the way into the womb to save it.

2 sparrows are worth 1 penny to men, but to God they are worth His love and care. In that same passage, Jesus says that while the Father watches sparrows, He also knows the number of hairs on His disciples' heads. That's a good thing because the Psalm says our sins are more than the number of hairs on our heads. Who can count all of his or her hairs? Not even I can, yet my sins are more numerous than that. The woman who gets and abortion, the man making her, and the doctor actually doing the abortion, are not guiltier than me.

As we are to view the unborn from God(s Word and not our opinion, so we must view sin that way. All sins, not some, not just the sins of believers, not just the sins people can forgive themselves for were all loaded on Jesus. God(s decided that 1 should die for all. How could that be? Because God was in Christ, it was God the Son suffering, crying, bleeding and dying for the sins of all. Think that was enough to pay for your sins be they against the unborn or born? It doesn't(t matter what you think. It matters what God thinks, and God says in Isaiah that He saw the torment of Jesus' soul and was satisfied. Now you be satisfied. You be satisfied that God was satisfied by Christ's sacrifice on the cross, so satisfied that He put His wrath against sinners away. He's reconciled to them no longer counting their sins against them.

There(s no way that the numbers add up to us: Bazillions of sins, be they the murder of babies or the hatred of others, and the suffering and death of one Man, the God/Man Jesus pays the bill, covers the debt, removes from God's sight all those sins. Well, I'd imagined that if your son paid for something with his blood, whatever he paid for would be forever precious to you. The blood of Jesus paid for you and every single sinner. That means the millions of unborn in the womb, those who murder them there, and you are all, every single one, precious to the Father. How precious? Beyond what dollars, cents, or numbers can express. Amen

Rev. Paul R. Harris

Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas

Life Sunday (20070121)