January 16, 2000

BLOODY HANDS

They have committed adultery and blood is on their hands… They even sacrificed their children. Ezekiel 23:37

A cannibal would be delighted at the items on the menu, though the prices might be a bit high: Skin $100. Limbs (at least 2) $150. Spinal cord $325. Brain $999 (30% discount if significantly fragmented). The list offers body parts of every kind and states a price for each.  A brochure brags about offering “the freshest tissue available.”

The body parts of aborted babies are being marketed like items on a restaurant menu or parts in an auto shop.  This is not happening in a jungle tribe; it is happening in North America.  It is not the work of criminals breaking the law; it is being done as a legal business.  In fact, the government itself is involved in the business.  The American government’s National Institute of Health has been advertising its ability to “supply tissue from normal or abnormal embryos and fetuses of desired gestational ages between 40 days and term.”  The baby parts business took off a few years ago when President Clinton lifted the ban on experimenting with tissue from aborted babies.  Since then a number of companies have set up shop in abortion clinics, slicing babies into pieces, putting the parts on ice, and shipping them to eager customers.  This is all described and documented in World magazine (www.worldmag.com).

The clients for this booming business are researchers.  Some want to find cures for diseases and think it might work to use various parts of dead babies.  Others have different goals, such as the researcher who requested livers from unborn babies to help in his project of creating chimeras, new kinds of organisms which in this case would blend human and monkey characteristics.

Customers for baby parts can be choosy, and there are detailed instructions for proper cutting and shipping: “Dissect fetal liver and thymus and occasional lymph node from fetal cadaver within 10 (minutes of death).” “Arms and legs need not be intact.” “Intact brains preferred, but large pieces of brain may be usable.” Most researchers want parts harvested from fetuses 18 to 24 weeks old, and some are in the market for parts from babies at the most advanced stage possible, all the way to full term.

Cannibalism is back, and many people haven’t noticed or don’t care. Oh, we don’t chew the baby with our teeth and then swallow the tissue.  We’re more polite than primitive cannibals! We have people with white coats and scalpels acting as our chefs and slicing up the babies and feeding the tissue in through tubes and transplants and injections. But the reality is the same: unborn babies are killed and used for human consumption.  Rather than face reality, we plug our ears and close our eyes.

We plug our ears by avoiding unpleasant words.  We don’t want the word cannibalism applied to fetal tissue experiments.  We don’t want abortion to be called murder.  We don’t want doctors and researchers to be called baby butchers.  We prefer polite, clinical language.  Abortion advocate Kate Michelman doesn’t speak of babies being killed; she speaks of “fetuses” “undergoing demise.”  “Undergoing demise” certainly sounds better than being murdered and cut up for experiments.

We close our eyes by never looking at what actually happens in the abortion industry.  Have you ever seen the corpse of an aborted baby on TV?  Have you ever seen a lab worker cutting up dead babies and packing the parts for shipment to researchers?  Does your TV ever show you what all of this actually looks like? Do you ever see it in a newspaper?  That would be too offensive! It’s considered unacceptable for mainstream media to show the bloody remains of aborted babies.  It’s okay to kill the baby, but wrong to show the corpses or to show what researchers are doing with the parts of butchered babies.  We’d rather stick with abstract concepts like choice and privacy and not look at the horrors that happen under those nice, bland labels.

Facing Reality

The reality of abortion is this: adults are deliberately killing babies.  But for some reason, abortion is considered a basic right, while anyone who kills a child outside the womb is widely considered horrible.

Think of the woman who was accused of deliberately dropping her Down Syndrome child off the suspension bridge in Vancouver.  The child somehow survived the fall, and the mother denied wanting to kill her little one.  Whether or not the accusations are true, one thing is certain: most of us were horrified at the possibility that a mother might have tried to kill her child.  But what if a pregnant woman finds out her unborn child has Down Syndrome and pays an abortionist to kill her baby?  That isn’t considered horrible; it’s considered the woman’s right.

According to surveys, the vast majority of people believe that unborn babies are human beings–and yet a great many of these same people are pro‑choice.  If you thought an unborn baby was just an unwanted blob of tissue, you might not see any reason to oppose abortion.  But if, like most people, you believe that a human life is growing and developing, and you still think people have a right to kill unborn babies, then how can you possibly condemn those who kill children after they are born?

A well-known actress who had an abortion doesn’t think it was just a blob of tissue.  She says, “A fetus is alive from the moment of conception.  I don’t think we should say it isn’t alive until such and such a week or month… it’s always alive…  You’re not a little bit alive, and you’re not a little bit dead.” In short, she believes that unborn babies are fully alive human beings, but, she says, “The position is not about whether or not it’s alive; it’s about whether or not someone wants to give birth and have the responsibility of another human being with them for the rest of their life.”  Sound like a good pro-choice statement?

Well, put those same words in the mouth of someone who wants to trash a baby in a dumpster or drop a child off a bridge: “The position is not about whether the child is alive; it’s about whether or not I want the responsibility of another human being with me for the rest of my life.”  Pro-choice logic can excuse killing children after they’re born as well as before.  In fact, some important people have been moving in that direction.

The U.S. Senate was debating partial-birth abortion.  In this procedure for killing late-term babies, the baby is delivered feet-first until the entire living baby except the top of the head has emerged from the birth canal.  Then the skull is collapsed by puncturing it at the base and sucking out the baby’s brain.  During the debate, two pro-choice senators were asked: Suppose the baby slips all the way out before the doctor can kill it. Then does it have a right to life? Both senators said no, it was still the mother’s choice.  Even if a baby were born alive and able to survive outside the womb, they say the baby should be killed if that’s what the mother wants.

One prominent person who declared his agreement with the two senators is Peter Singer, recently appointed professor of bioethics at Princeton University.  Professor Singer has suggested that perhaps it should be legal for parents to kill a baby until a month after the baby is born.  An animal rights advocate, Singer also says a happy cat has a greater right to life than some babies.

Singer’s appointment to his prestigious position at Princeton was approved by Princeton President Harold Shapiro, who also chairs the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. In short, the man who chairs the U.S. government’s top bioethics group has approved the appointment of someone who teaches that a baby’s life might be of less value than a cat’s.

In both Canada and the United States, January marks the anniversary of Supreme Court decisions that declared abortion a right instead of a crime. With each passing year, millions of unborn babies keep perishing, and respect for human life keeps fading.  Our top institutions of government and education are deeply involved in the bloodshed.  Ordinary people continue having abortions and cooperating with cannibalistic research.  And all the while, citizens who aren’t directly involved act like it’s not their problem.  They plug their ears and shut their eyes to the horrors that are happening.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. What God says in the Bible in true of us.  God says,  “They have committed adultery and blood is on their hands… they even sacrificed their children” (Ezekiel 23:37).  We have bloody hands, and the only way to cleanse the blood from our hands is to forsake the culture of death and get in touch with the Lord of life.

We desperately need God to forgive us and heal us.  But that’s not going to happen as long as we think we’re fine the way we are.  Abortion continues because so many of us have ignored what’s happening to helpless children, and we’ve ignored God.

Christianity Against Abortion

The vast majority of people in North America claim to be Christians, but many ignore what Christianity says about abortion.  Maybe that’s true of you.  You consider yourself a Christian, but you think abortion isn’t a big deal. Think again! Real Christianity clearly stands against abortion.

The Bible speaks of the marvelous way God forms us in our mother’s womb.  Psalm 139 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…  your eyes saw my unformed body” (v. 13, 16).  When the Bible speaks of a great people like Jeremiah and John the Baptist, and even of Jesus himself, it speaks of them even before birth, not just after.  Clearly, the Bible treats unborn children as sacred human lives being shaped by God.  And God protects all human life in the command, “Thou shalt not kill.”  The Christian church, living in the light of God’s Word, has always understood that abortion is a horrible offense against humanity and against God.

Two of the earliest Christian documents, dating to less than a century after Jesus’ resurrection, are the Didache, and the Epistle of Barnabas.  The Didache, a Greek title which means “The Teaching,” says explicitly, “You shall not murder a child by abortion.”  The Epistle of Barnabas says the exact same thing: “You shall not murder a child by abortion.”

The Church Fathers declare the same message.  Clement of Alexandria writes, “Those who conceal their immorality by taking drugs to bring on an abortion completely lose their own humanity along with the fetus.”  Athenagoras says, “Women who induce abortions are murderers, and will have to give an account of it to God.”  Tertullian says, “To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroys one that is coming to birth.”  The Apostolic Constitution declares, “You shall not kill your child by causing abortion…  For everything that is shaped and has received a soul from God, if it be killed, shall be avenged.”

When the Christian leaders of those early centuries talk about abortion, they make it clear that men are just as much at fault as women.  John Chrysostom thunders against men who sexually exploit women and then pressure them into abortion.  Chrysostom denounces what he calls “murder before birth” and says, “Adultery leads to murder, or rather to something even worse than murder.  For I have no name to give it, since it does not get rid of the thing born, but prevents its being born.  Why then do you abuse the gift of God, and fight with his laws… and make the chamber of life [the womb] a chamber for murder, and arm the woman who was meant for childbearing unto slaughter? … For even if the daring deed be hers, yet you are the cause.”  Chrysostom knew all too well that for every woman who aborts a baby, there’s a man who is at least as much to blame.

The Christian consensus against abortion is expressed by Protestant Reformer John Calvin when he writes, “The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy.  If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.”

All through the centuries, God’s people have applied the teaching of the Bible to the matter of abortion and have denounced it in the strongest possible terms.  Michael Gorman researched the early church’s attitude toward abortion, and found three main themes that come up over and over: “the fetus is the creation of God; abortion is murder; and the judgment of God falls on those guilty of abortion.”  That’s the Christian position on abortion.  Any other position just isn’t Christian.

A Bloody Mess

Up until the last few decades, this was understood by all nations with a significant Christian influence.  Even Planned Parenthood used to oppose abortion. A Planned Parenthood pamphlet from 1963 said, “An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun.  It is dangerous to your life and health.”

So, then, what changed?  Planned Parenthood changed, and public morality changed, but the truth hasn’t changed.  God hasn’t changed.  Christianity hasn’t changed.  The Bible’s revelation that life is sacred from womb to grave hasn’t changed.

What changed is this: people fell back into the most ancient and horrible of all religious errors.  Many ancient religions, not acknowledging the one true God, made gods of sex and death their ultimate realities.  They put orgies and human sacrifice, sex and death, right at the center of their religious practices. They saw sex as the source of everything good.  They also saw death as a great power, and they thought that it was sometimes necessary to sacrifice a child in order to appease death and improve their own future.

Today the ancient error is back.  People see sexual indulgence as the greatest good.  But even with all our contraceptives and sex education, sex still does what God designed it to do: it still makes babies.  Indeed, the sexual revolution has produced millions of babies that the parents didn’t want.  The only way to worship sex is to give death its due as well.  If you want sex to come before all else, the price is that you have to be willing to kill a baby once in a while–or forty million, if necessary.

In ancient times, when people killed a baby to improve their own status, it was called child sacrifice.  Today we call it “choice.” In ancient times, when people ingested the flesh of a dead child, it was called cannibalism.  Today it’s called fetal tissue research.  We don’t like repulsive words like cannibalism and child sacrifice.  We close our eyes and shut our ears to everything except the polite, clinical jargon of our authority figures.  Just as the ancients would sacrifice their children with the approval and help of men in priestly robes, so today, we sacrifice children with the approval and help of judges in black robes and doctors in white robes.  Somehow, that makes it okay.

The Bible says: “Hear the word of the Lord: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.  There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed…  my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:1-2,6).  When God says that, he’s not just talking to people in ancient times.  He’s talking to us.  Lack of knowledge, ignoring reality, lying to cover murder–that’s why bloodshed follows bloodshed in abortion clinics across this continent and around the world.

We’ve turned away from God, we’ve idolized the glory of sex and the power of death, and we’re right back with those ancient people, wallowing in the same immorality and bloodshed.  God is talking about our culture, he’s talking about us, when he says in the Bible, “They have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; …they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent” (Jeremiah 19:4).  “They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters” (Psalm 106:38).  “They have committed adultery and blood is on their hands.  They committed adultery with their idols; they even sacrificed my children” (Ezekiel 23:37).

I know, I know.  It’s not polite to talk this way.  We’re supposed to use calm, clinical language.  We’re not supposed to use harsh words or disgusting pictures, and we’re not supposed to drag religious convictions into the abortion debate.  But God isn’t so polite.  He sees the idolatry, the adultery, the child sacrifice, and the cannibalism for what it is, and he declares his wrath against the whole bloody mess.

Bloody Hands Made Clean

But that’s not the whole story.  If you’ve got bloody hands, God’s wrath blazes against you, and you will burn in hell forever if you remain unchanged.  But the Lord offers you an opportunity to change, and he promises to forgive you if you trust in him.

Norma McCorvey is the woman who was once identified as “Jane Roe” in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade.  Norma’s legal action was the occasion for making abortion a nationwide right, destroying millions of babies.  She was very proud of this and once told a reporter, “I live, eat, breathe, think everything about abortion.”

But one day Norma McCorvey accepted a child’s invitation to go to church.  There she broke down crying and kept saying, “I just want to undo all the evil I’ve done in this world.  I’m so sorry, God.  I’m so sorry.”  Finally, she stopped crying and started smiling.  “I no longer felt the pressure of my sin pushing down on my shoulders,” she says.  “The release was so quick that I felt like I could almost float outside.”

Norma came to understand what abortion really does.  “It’s as if the blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth–‘that’s a baby.’  Abortion … was about children being killed in their mother’s wombs.  All those years I was wrong.”  How could she be forgiven for her bloody past?  Only through faith in Jesus’ blood poured out for sinners when he died on the cross.  Now, says Norma McCorvey, “I’m one hundred percent sold out to Jesus and one hundred percent pro-life.  No exceptions.  No compromise.”

Dr. Bernard Nathanson is another person who had dreadfully bloody hands.  He once aborted one of his own children, and as director of the world’s largest abortion clinic, he presided over the killing of more than 60,000 babies.  He was also co-founder of the most powerful political lobby for abortion.

But Dr. Nathanson, a Jewish atheist, eventually became convinced from watching ultrasounds of unborn children that abortion is murder, and he quit doing abortions.  However, that didn’t take away the guilt of his past.  “I felt the burden of sin growing heavier,” he says.  This atheist began to believe God is real, and that made him see his past, he says, as “a vile bog of sin and evil.”  At the same time, though, the thought of God “held out a shimmering sliver of Hope to me, in the growing belief that Someone had died for my sins and my evil two millennia ago.”  Though once an atheist abortionist, Dr. Nathanson put his faith in Christ and was baptized.

Bernard Nathanson and Norma McCorvey had bloodier hands than most, and yet they discovered that God’s grace is greater than any sin.  If they could be forgiven and changed, so can you.  Jesus came to save sinners.  If you’ve sinned by committing abortion or by supporting policies that permit and promote abortion, you don’t have to perish in your sin.  Jesus gave his blood to save people with bloody hands. But Jesus doesn’t forgive those who refuse to change and think they don’t need forgiveness. He cleanses only those who admit their guilt and ask for his forgiveness and new life.  In the Bible the Lord says,

“Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean.  Take your evil deeds out of my sight!  Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!  …  Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.  If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:15-20).

By David Feddes. Originally broadcasted on the Back to God Hour and published in The Radio Pulpit.