Molech and the Canaanite Child-Killers
"Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech" . . .
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God forbid Israel's participation in the Molech worship and forbid them from adopting similar "offerings" sacrificed to the name of Yahweh. But Israel did both -- repeatedly. Those who did not participate did nothing to stop the practice as the law demanded. The prophets cried against Israel for this evil and the nation was diminished and nearly destroyed because of the atrocity.
Besides child-sacrifice, many early, though not necessarily "primitive," cultures had abortion as an overtly non-religious practice. But the motives were nearly the same as those of the Molech worshipers. The dead child in hard times would result in future prosperity, a later "wanted" child could be had if this inconvenient one were destroyed now, and national prosperity could be gained by lowering the population. 1
All of these motives for child-killing are comparable with those we hear today. Likewise, the response of the Church is much the same as that of Israel -- participation in the evil or apathy (which incurs the same bloodguilt).
But the American Church squandered its heritage in apathy and self-centeredness. No humanist conspiracy lies behind the all too successful assault on morality we see today. Rather, the secularists just filled a vacuum left behind by the pietistic American Church of the late 19th century up through the present hour.
In the arena of abortion, the American Church has literally and completely capitulated. I realize that the only real and significant opposition to abortion comes from Christians, but this is largely without Church backing and their numbers are a mere remnant.
We have in substance and by silence condoned abortion in our midst. Studies show that fully one in six women going in for abortions is self-described as an "evangelical" Christian. 2 Those calling themselves Catholics have abortions at the same rate as agnostics and atheists. But there are few people who are "nominal" evangelicals. Those who are no longer practicing their evangelical faith rarely identify themselves this ways -- as the converse is often true of non-practicing Catholics, for instance. This is not to demean Catholics. It is just that Catholics believe they are born into their church and cannot depart from it where evangelicals only identify themselves as such after a born-again experience.
In an exit poll after an election with two pro-life measures on the ballot in Oregon -- one for parental notification, another banning abortion except in documented cases of rape, incest, and threat of death to the mother -- 40% of those identifying themselves as "fundamentalist" voted against them. Catholics voted against the measures at a higher rate than the general populace.
Yet, where is the outcry in evangelical and other churches? A "Sanctity of Human Life Sunday" in January and abortion mentioned casually in a list of other sins twice a year is not sufficient. There are 250,000 evangelical babies are dying each year in the United States -- not to mention the hundreds of thousands of babies of other Christian groups. The American Church has yet to even attempt to stop the killing among believers, much less to address abortion in general.
The American Church has been largely absent from all phases of the debate. Eschewing what we have called the "unloving" methods of the activists, we failed to fill the gap with what things we considered appropriate. We excused themselves from battle because we disagreed with the tactics of others. In fact, it was merely a way of legitimizing our apathy.
When some did become involved it was often as Wolf Wolfensberger, of Syracuse University, said of Church opposition to the Holocaust:
Even the rare experience of near-revival in Wichita, Kansas in the summer of 1991 ended with capitulation as soon as people -- particularly Church leaders -- realized that their precious material assets might be taken from them. But the Wichita revival was an anomaly. The response from most of the American Church is tepid, at best. This, while a quarter million babies of evangelicals die each year.
How long, oh, Lord, will these little evangelicals be unavenged?
A chilling question, since it is the very Body of Christ that bears ultimate responsibility for their deaths. The blood is upon our heads through our "we only preach love" excuse for avoiding sin within the Church. Bloodguilt, as the Scripture says, can only be cleansed by the blood of the guilty.
Death by Desire, Not Intent (1997)
All these years, I was fully aware that birth control pills (all forms) have a method of operation which chemically aborts children who have already been conceived. This is the only function of the intra uterine device (IUD). The Pill first attempts to stop ovulation (non-abortive), then, failing that, thickens the mucous plug to prevent sperm from reaching the egg (also non-abortive), then, failing that, it prevents the fertilized child from implanting in the uterine wall (abortive!).
My sin was that, knowing this, I did not take issue with my brethren who were killing their own babies with chemicals and devices (IUDs) while I castigated the pagans who went to abortion clinics and killed their children with surgical means (not that some Christians did not also do this).
For this I have deeply repented. There is blood on my hands. However, I am still responsible to warn the brethren about the evil in which they are engaged. Perhaps most Christians are not aware that the pill and the IUD are abortifacient -- it was never their intent to kill a child. It was only their desire to limit or "space" their children. This, in Scripture, is not the point. The Old testament Law had specific sacrifices for "unintended" sin. In addition, the shedding of innocent blood is so serious to God, that sacrifices had to be made even where no one was aware of how a death had occurred (Deuteronomy 21: 1-4).
Look at the first chapter of Isaiah. The prophet went to a perfectly good church service with all the praises and sacrifices being offered according to God's command. Yet the prophet tells them that He hates their evil assemblies! Isaiah tells them that they are an evil assembly because they have blood on their hands. This must have shocked the congregation Isaiah spoke to as much as it would shock your congregation if a prophet came in to your Sunday worship service and said the same thing. But this is the truth of the American Church -- it is comprised of evil assemblies.
What else can be said when millions upon millions of Christian women (some even are pro-life activists) continue to use abortifacient birth control? How can God bless any of our efforts to stop abortion or even preach the gospel when we are so intent on avoiding the unqualified blessing of God -- children -- that we are using methods that kill them.
It is estimated that abortifacient birth control methods kill between 9 and 13 million babies in the U.S. alone. Any bets on how many millions of those dead babies are Christian babies?
To Bite the Bullet or To Dodge the Bullet
Another common dodge was the "hard question." Anyone who has read the New Testament can see that the Jewish leaders tended to use the Socratic method in reverse. The Socratic method of teaching or debating is a way of stimulating the search for truth by asking questions and bringing reason to bear on the issue. But the Jewish method was to take a hard piece of truth and find a "difficult" question on the issue or to present a circumstance that would -- to all appearances -- be an exception to that truth. This would, in their eyes, call the truth itself into question.
Remember when the Sadducees questioned Jesus' teaching against divorce by presenting the case of the woman who married -- in turn -- each of seven brothers? Here was the Jewish leaders' version of the "ethical dilemma" game. "Whose wife will she be in the resurrection," they asked confidently knowing that they had stumped the Master. Jesus pointed out that they had arrived at their contrived little scenario only by falsely representing other truths --their question was invalid. They had presented faulty conclusions as givens in their hypothetical tale. This is a common usage whether done with devious intent or through ignorance.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that the lawyer who asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor" was up to the same thing. He was trying "to escape by raising moral difficulties." 4 This form of escape is not limited to those of Jesus time. Human beings -- ever the artful dodgers -- have finely honed this method. The idea is to engage God -- or His messenger -- in a debate over a minute point of potential ethical violation that might occur if we were to actually obey God.
"Why, that wouldn't be a good witness," we say as if Jesus hanging publicly stark naked on a cross between two thieves was a manifestation of glory during the time it was happening. "My calling is to preach, not get involved in social issues," another says conveniently forgetting that the second half of the Great Commission is to "teach them to do all the things I commanded you."
It is astonishing how closely this parallels the "ethical dilemma" school of debate over today's moral issues. "If Not Abortion, What Then?" queried the 1983 Christianity Today headline article. 5 This was the first -- ten year late -- article on abortion in this magazine. And it did not even actually address the morality of but rather focused on extrinsic "complicating" issues such as money and convenience.
The tradition of this article was carried on by such Christian notables as D. Gareth Jones who wrote, "Nevertheless, there may be situations in which abortion is the regrettable, and perhaps undesirable, solution to human problems." Jones' list of "human problems" includes rape, incest, the health of the mother, the mental health of the mother, genetic reasons, marital breakdown, financial stringency, and unemployment. 6 Sorry, kid, but at least your blood solved a lot of "human problems."
Carl F.H. Henry posed the ethical dilemma of when and whether some of the unborn actually attained "the imagio Dei " -- the image of God. If they hadn't because of "extreme deformity," he argued, abortion might be justified. 7 Some of these excuses for shedding innocent blood fit well with the "blessings" sought from Molech.
I recently received a letter objecting to pro-life rescues on the grounds that rescuers "unlawfully position themselves between the parent's will and the child" thus undermining "God's ordained authority." The Scripture tells us plainly to "love our neighbor as ourselves" and to "do unto others as we would have them do unto us," yet this writer had discovered -- in the penumbra of the Word, I suppose -- an irresolvable ethical dilemma between saving our unborn neighbor's life and interfering with the God-given authority of parents. But this is only the most outrageous of many much subtler escapes from God's command through ethical dilemmas.
With Christian apologists like these, the unborn have nothing to lose from being in the hands of the modern Molech worshippers. In fact, some pastors go even further. One pastor assists with third trimester abortions by being on call for those mothers who have pangs of religious conscience. If it will soothe the conscience of the mother-to was, he will even baptize the aborted baby. 8
However, the all-too-human dodges of responsibility to God's Word did not fool Jesus and, with His blunt words, He stubbornly refused to let us fool ourselves. And, in the end, He will not let any of His people fool themselves. Nor will our protestations of being pro-life avail us. Our fruit is disobedience and dead babies.
Gregg Cunningham, a prophet to the Church on this issue, says that evangelical pastors often tell him that their "calling" is the Great Commission. He points out, however, that we focus only on the first verse of the Matthew 28:19-20 passage -- the part that entails preaching and baptizing -- but neglect verse 20, ". . . teaching them to do all I command you." Cunningham says we like to preach the good news of salvation but recoil at teaching the bad news of obedience because that would make people uncomfortable.
"In an atmosphere where churches compete for people to attend," he notes, "Churches will not afflict the comfortable." And if there is anything true about the churches in America it is that we are competing businesses -- and that the comfortable are not disturbed. People unwelcome in one church because of their sin will be gladly accepted (with their tithes) by the church down the street.
Even when some Christians begin to take abortion seriously, the Church backs away and leaves them, to use the idiom, "hanging out to dry."
But the handling of abortion is not isolated, just look at any other major issue: divorce, homosexuality, drug use, teen sex, education, greed, and, even that favorite hidey-hole, evangelism. How much do American churches or Christians actually devote to any of these?
Joseph Foreman, a missionary to the pre-born, says, "The tragedy is not that the American Church did not join Operation Rescue, but that they would not lay down their lives for Christ doing anything at all.
"How long, oh Lord?"
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The judgments against Israel should serve as a warning to the American Church. (1 Corinthians 10:11) If such things befell Israel for their bloodguilt, how shall we escape?
Already the open bloodgates have numbed our thinking. Euthanasia is already widely practiced in hospitals with little resistance from the Church. There are only two active exceptions to date: first, the attempt by Joseph Foreman of Missionaries to the Preborn and about a dozen others to get to the starving Nancy Cruzan in order to feed her and, second, Andrew Burnett with Advocates for Life Ministries trying to stop the serial suicide assistant, Jack Kevorkian.
Medically dependent people are "allowed to die" while the Church occasionally discusses the "complex questions" involved. The living are stripped of their organs for the benefit of "those who can put them to better use." The comatose are ignored by American Christianity -- and they die.
There is little difference between "passive" and "active" euthanasia. In both cases the goal is a dead person. 9
Who will the American Church abandon to death next?