In my last article, “Our stories aren’t the same Frank Schaeffer,” I discussed Greg Rubottom’s guest post along with Frank Schaeffer’s article on the Patheos blog. I also shared my personal story of becoming pro-life – a decision which, I believe, was inspired by the calling of God. In part two of this article, we’ll dig into Rubottom’s assertion that the act of abortion is in the will of God.
Rubottom starts off with this statement:
When this procedure was unexpectedly legalized in 1972 many struggled to understand it. There were no centuries old church decrees concerning abortion in existence. The responsibility therefore fell on all believers to decide for themselves what the “will of God” might be concerning abortion.
I’m not sure how Rubottom missed Tertullian (160-240)’s striking words: “In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the foetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man – killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in the seed.”
Rubottom also neglected to mention the Bishop of Arles’s sermon from (470-543) in which he states: “No woman should take drugs for purposes of abortion, nor should she kill her children that have been conceived or are already born.”
After Rubottom published his guest post, he received comments from those familiar with the early church fathers who’ve spoken against abortion. Greg later released an updated version of the article on his own site. This sentence was changed to “There were no centuries old church decrees concerning abortion that were widely known in lay circles in existence” (emphasis added).
A few words can’t change the fact that Rubottom is wrong. He continues:
Of all the special interest groups licking their wounds after the 2012 presidential election, I can’t imagine there’s a more disappointed group than America’s pro-life advocates – the true believers in their cause. If there ever was an election where the fate of the pro-life cause hung in the balance, this was it. But it was not to be. In the end, God did not deliver the votes necessary to advance the pro-life world view further in America. … It seems God has spoken once again concerning his will and abortion in America. And loudly.
What a bold statement. Is God is the one responsible for not “delivering” the votes necessary to elect one man over another? Can we judge God’s will by the decisions of the American people? When a man or women is put into office, does that mean it’s always God’s “will” for such people to be there? What about voters who don’t believe in God? Where do they fit in the equation?
In the biblical book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 8, we see the Israelites demanding that the prophet Samuel give them a king to rule over them. Prior to this, the Israelites were ruled by judges God appointed. The people wanted a king so they could be like the other nations. First Samuel Ch. 8, v. 6, says:
But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day; with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods; so they are doing to you also.”
Those verses show that the Lord’s heart was grieved over the people’s decision, but he still gave them what they wanted. Oftentimes God will give people over to the desires of their own hearts, even if their decisions are not pleasing to him.
Popular Baptist preacher John Piper wrote a fascinating article that tackles the subject of the will of God. In it he declares that there are two very different meanings for the term “will of God” in the Bible. One is God’s will of decree, or sovereign will, and the other is God’s will of command. Piper writes:
Knowing the difference between these two meanings of “the will of God” is crucial to understanding one of the biggest and most perplexing things in all the Bible, namely, that God is sovereign over all things and yet disapproves of many things. Which means that God disapproves of some of what he ordains to happen. That is, he forbids some of the things he brings about. And he commands some of the things he hinders. Or to put it most paradoxically: God wills some events in one sense that he does not will in another sense.
Piper references Matt 26:39 when talking about God’s sovereign will. In that verse we find Jesus praying in the garden before his crucifixion. Jesus prayed for this cup to pass him but said nevertheless not as I will but your will be done. Piper declares that this verse refers to the sovereign plan, or the “will of God” that Jesus should die.
The second type of “will” is God’s will of command. An example is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” This is the will of God given through his commandments. I believe that the issue of abortion fits into this category. Although the word “abortion” is never mentioned in the scriptures, God’s thoughts on murder are made clear. The Lord condemned the killing of Israelite children who were offered to the god of Molech for prosperity (Lev. 18:21). He spoke through the Psalmist David, telling him that he was known in his mother’s womb and was fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139). The scriptures declare through the life of Hannah, Elizabeth, and Mary that God is the one who opens and closes women’s wombs. The shedding of innocent blood is considered an abomination to him (Prov. 6:16-19).
Rubottom further claims:
Most people of faith understand at some level that a “good” God can not possibly desire children be born with unhealthy bodies or into environments that would be toxic to the awakening human soul.
Rubottom thinks aborting babies who are unhealthy is one of God’s tools to promote our “evolution toward perfection.” He also states the greatest sin of the pro-life worldview is that we “unwittingly assert that God often wills that newborn human souls awaken in the hell of un-wantedness or severe physical deprivation, a place extremely rare for a person to survive, let alone thrive.
Pro-lifers are distraught when children are born into situations where they are unwanted or sick with debilitating diseases. We work to help needy children because we realize that our world is broken. Should we believe that it’s God’s will for us to take matters into our own hands and rid the nation of unhealthy or unloved children? If so, many of us wouldn’t be here today. Jesus’s message in the gospels included healing from sickness, love for the weak, value for those who felt unworthy. He said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
When it come’s to God’s sovereign will, he allows people to make their own choices. In Deuteronomy, Chapter 30, the Israelites were told to chose between life or death, blessings or curses. God allows people to abort their children, even if those decisions break his heart. He also allows us to suffer the consequences of our choices. As for his will of command, Exodus 20:13, “Thou shall not kill,” and Psalm 127:3 make it clear: “Behold, children are a gift from the Lord.” If you wouldn’t want the gifts you give to your kids to be destroyed and rejected, neither does our heavenly Father.