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FIRST-PERSON: Our endangered species

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–No single issue facing the American family today has produced more heartache or tragedy than abortion. In the 30 years since the Supreme Court handed down Roe v. Wade, more than 42 million American babies have been legally aborted. Incredibly, women who identify themselves as Protestants (43 percent) and Catholics (27 percent) obtain the majority of abortions.

Although the justifications given for abortion are many — finances, lifestyle, family size, etc. — the root cause is simple: As a culture, we have chosen to ignore the value God places on each human life.

We have strict federal laws in the Endangered Species Act that protect the snail darter fish and the spotted owl. In California it’s a crime to disturb a seagull’s nest because the unhatched eggs represent the potential for life. And yet abortion remains legal and commonplace in this country 30 years after Roe v. Wade.

I still have a jarring and vivid memory of the first time I realized the full humanity of a human fetus. I was a sophomore in high school, and it was the day our biology class projects were due.

One of my classmates, a girl whose father was an obstetrician, had prepared a project on the development of the human fetus. She had on display what I now know was a 12-week-old human fetus. From my lab table only a few feet from the storage shelf, I could see it was a perfectly formed little boy curled up in a glass jar filled with formaldehyde. The little baby was so undeniably human that I was deeply disturbed to see him displayed in such a casual, callous, disrespectful way.

When I finally mentioned it to my teacher, she sent me down to talk it over with the principal. When I explained my concern, his immediate response was, “Well, Richard, you’re not a Catholic are you?” (The Roman Catholic Church had maintained a witness for the unborn when many others were uncertain or just plain wrong.)

“No, sir,” I answered, surprised by his response. “I’m a Baptist, but that’s terribly wrong. That’s not just a science experiment. That’s a human being, and it should be shown proper respect.”

A couple of hours later the fetus was removed from the stack of presentations and placed out of sight in a storeroom until that girl made her presentation.

From that day forward I’ve never seen how anyone, Christian or not, could deny a fetus was as surely a human being as you and I, based on physical evidence alone. I don’t see how anyone can view a photo or a film of human fetal development and dismiss those tiny children as anything less than fully human.

The Bible’s teaching on the sanctity of each human life is unmistakable. Even so, the most endangered species in our culture is the unborn human being. At present, some turtle eggs have more legal rights than a healthy, full-term child the moment before it’s born.

Sad as it seems, this news doesn’t even make a ripple in the public debate anymore. We’ve been brutalized, desensitized and paganized by an ever-rising flood of the unborns’ blood as our nation continues to abort a baby every 20 seconds. That’s three babies a minute, 180 babies an hour, more than 4,000 babies a day.

My own awareness at an early age of God’s perspective on human life underscores the importance of children being taught scriptural truths. When we hide God’s Word in our hearts as children, we can more easily discern right and wrong as adults.

God judges us, I believe, in large part as a society, on how we deal with the most helpless and defenseless among us. Our nation has misplaced its moral compass. We’ve come unhitched from our God-fearing foundation. As a result, there are going to be those around us — doctors, nurses, family members, even members of the clergy — giving us conflicting advice, conflicting opinions. And there is no longer, as there was 20, 30, 40 years ago, a presumption in favor of life, particularly for unborn babies.

Death has invaded the nursery and the retirement home, too. We must oppose the barbaric, lethal combination of technical expertise and spiritual ignorance that would deny there is a spirit in man that is not in the animal kingdom and would abort and experiment on the preborn, harvest fetal tissue, allow death into the nursery for our mentally and physically handicapped infants, and encourage euthanasia in hospitals and retirement homes.

As followers of Christ, we have abdicated our prophetic calling to protect human life in favor of “just getting along.” Many have interpreted our silence to be support for the culture of death in which we now find ourselves. God’s perspective is clear: As man is created in his image, human life is sacred, distinct in nature and design from all other life.

It is incumbent upon Christians to frame the debate in the public square using God’s rule: Human life is precious. Abortion is wrong because the Bible says, repeatedly and categorically, that it’s wrong. We have a right, in fact an obligation, to carry our faith-based views into the marketplace of ideas. Jesus commands us to actively engage the “world,” preserving as “salt” and illuminating as “light.” Christians are to be good citizens of the state and trustworthy witnesses to the King of kings and the unbending truths of Scripture.

Christians, in particular, have an obligation to confront these moral and ethical issues with a scriptural response. These are hard questions, but God’s Word gives the simple but indisputable answer: Human life from conception onward should be protected, not endangered.
Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, addresses the sanctity of human life and other key moral and ethical issues is his book, “For Faith & Family: Changing America by Strengthening the Family,” available by visiting www.familybookstore.net or calling 1-800-475-9127.

    About the Author

  • Richard Land

    Richard Land, D. Phil, is the Executive Editor of the Christian Post, having previously served as president of the ERLC (1988-2013) and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (2013-2021). He also serves as the chairman of the advisory board at the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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