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The Imago Dei in a Culture of Death

20 Oct The Imago Dei in a Culture of Death

imago-dei-baby-1024x1024In the Church, there is a tendency—and rightly so—towards relational evangelism, seeking to tear down unnecessary walls between people and the Gospel through loving relationship. This is good and necessary. But there is also a need to bring the Gospel into conflict with the culture in order to wake people up to their great need for salvation and forgiveness and restoration and renovation. This oppositional evangelism was the ministry of the prophets, of John the Baptist, often of Christ, and of the Apostles in many cases, and we must not forget it. Today is a day for that kind of approach.

January 22, 1973. This is a day that should live in infamy in our history. It’s a day that I pray will soon be remembered with the same shuddering with which we remember the events of the Holocaust. On this day, the US Supreme court established the “freedom” to end a pregnancy with abortion at any time, for virtually any reason. Since then, abortion has destroyed upwards of 55 million lives in the US alone. That’s over 1 million lives ended each year.

Abortion is the greatest evil in American history. It’s worse than Jim Crowe. It’s worse than any war crime we’ve ever committed. It’s worse than any other evil in terms of total lives lost and total number of people who know it’s happening who do nothing to stop it. That makes it worse than Naziism as well, as fewer knew about the death camps than know of this evil.

How many of us have thought that, if we had been there when American slavery was was at it’s peak, we would have been a stop on the underground railroad? Or, had we been there during the Holocaust, we would have stood with our Jewish neighbors, even at the cost of our lives? How many of us have often thought that, had we been around for the civil rights movement, we would have joined in the marches with Dr. King? I’m sure many of us have had those thoughts. The born-again heart is stirred and moved towards justice, and rightly so. The reality is that we face today a greater evil than any has ever faced in our nation. Will we stand? Here are nine reasons we should.

Abortion is an affront to the image of God in all people.
In Genesis 1:26-27, God tells us that people are created in the image of God.  This is the source of human rights.  The Bible is also very clear that life begins in the womb, calling John the Baptizer a “baby” when he was still in the womb (Luke 1:44), and saying that God knits the person together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  People are inherently more valuable than animals, plants, or stuff because of this special place in creation.  Abortion defaces the image of God in mankind by destroying human life cheaply and unjustly.  God gave man very specific situations under which a human life can be taken justly, including capital punishment for murderers and just war.  Killing children in the womb is not one of those instances.

Abortion is an assault against the glory of God.

What is the purpose of the Imago Dei, the image of God in mankind? Simply put, it is to reflect and display the glory of God in a way that non-image-bearers can’t. People can glorify God in ways animals can’t, rocks can’t, and stars can’t. Why? Because we are able to love. In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus taught that the entirety of the Law can be summed up in loving God and loving neighbor. Only people can truly do this, because only people are image-bearers. It follows, then, that destroying an image-bearer unjustly is an assault on an instrument of God’s glory. You are destroying something that had the capacity of glorifying God uniquely among created order. This is a grievous crime.

Abortion does violence to the notion of human rights.
Conceiving of abortion as a human right ironically obliterates the foundational right from which all others flow: the right to life.  Don’t let this be a science debate.  The science is in, and has been for a long time.  Biologically speaking, a unique human life begins at the moment of conception.  A fertilized egg is a living cell, fully equipped with a distinct DNA blueprint which is neither it’s mother’s nor it’s father’s.  This means that the abortion debate shouldn’t be about a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body.  Abortion isn’t about her body, but that of another human being.  This being the case, it should be protected under the most foundational human right: the right to life.

Abortion is viciously racist.
Abortion disproportionally targets the underprivileged, especially racial minorities and those trapped in generational poverty.  Did you know that 78% of Planned Parenthood clinics are in minority neighborhoods? African Americans only make up 12% of the population of the US, yet 35% of all abortions in the US are black babies. This is not accidental.  The founder of the largest purveyor of abortions in America, Margaret Sanger, was unabashedly racist.  She envisioned abortion as a means of targeting those races she deemed “inferior.”  In America today, over 47% of pregnancies to black women end in abortion.  In other words, only about 1 in 2 black children make it to birth. Sanger’s vision is alive and well.

Abortion is the logical outflow of thoroughgoing materialism.
If human rights come from the image of God in man, where does the atheist get the notion of human rights?  The only way a thoroughgoing materialist (someone who believes that the physical world is all that exists) can get universal and objective human rights is by living inconsistently with their worldview.  Under atheism, people are simply a conglomeration of atoms arranged by blind chance and nature into a particularly lucky combination.  They are not fundamentally different than animals, plants, rocks, or stars.  If an atheist, then, says that eating beef is ok but that eating people is not, they are living inconsistently with their worldview.  There is no objective reason for believing that people are inherently more valuable than the animals we turn into McDonald’s nuggets every day.  You can see why abortion is no problem for the typical atheist.  The destruction of human beings is entirely consistent with a materialist worldview.

Abortion is a product of demonic activity.
Satan hates people, and he doesn’t wait for them to grow up to show it.  He has orchestrated countless infanticides throughout history.  For example, look at the infanticide carried out by Pharaoh on the Israelite babies in Exodus.  Was that simply Pharaoh’s idea, or was it an outflow of Satan’s plan to destroy God’s chosen people?  If you think it was just his idea, look at the events surrounding Jesus’ birth.  Again, a despotic king (this time his name was Herod) attempted to destroy the Messianic line by destroying all the male babies in Jewish communities under a certain age.  Satan hates kids, so he inspires their slaughter.  This is happening in our legislature today, where it is legal to kill a baby in the womb for no greater reason than convenience.

Abortion says that not all people are created equal.
Abortion advocates argue that you’re not a person if you can’t fulfill certain functions, such as decision-making, taking care of yourself, higher thinking, etc. In fact, Richard Dawkins recently claimed that any fetus is less human than an adult pig. That’s right, for the abortion advocate, personhood is defined not by being biologically human and alive, but by what you can do.  While the studies have been mostly local and smaller in nature, it looks like somewhere between 80 and 90% of women who discover their unborn child has Down Syndrome opt to abort their baby. I dare you to go up to the parent of a child with Down Syndrome and tell them their child is not a person. That is what abortion advocates are saying.

Abortion destroys the notion of women’s rights.
Abortion is often categorized as an issue of women’s rights.  When President Obama made this claim in a speech in 2009, Pastor John Piper famously responded, “No, Mr. President.  You are not ‘protecting women.’  You are authorizing the destruction of 500,000 little women every year.” It is laughable to claim abortion as an issue of women’s rights when women in China are forced to abort 13 million children per year, the vast majority of which are sex-selective abortions targeting unborn girls.

Abortion destroys the right of fathers to protect their children.
In the United States of America – the land of the free and home of the brave – a father has no legal right to stop the mother of his unborn child from killing him or her.  Absolutely zero.  It is difficult to conceive of a greater injustice than the legal withholding of a father’s right to protect the life of his kids. My wife and I have personally known a man who had to stand by as his girlfriend killed their unborn child because he had no legal recourse. This is an evil thing.

HOW DO WE RESPOND?
If you, like me, are saddened and angered by the insanity of abortion, don’t lose hope.  There is work to be done.  Jesus came in declaration of war on suffering and injustice, and we have the great privilege of joining in that mission as His kids. Here are 7 things we must do:

Be Gospel-Obsessed.
Christian, you must remember that you deserve Hell apart from Christ. It took the same blood of Jesus to save you as to save the worst abortionist. Do not forget that. Don’t forget that God’s grace in Christ is deep enough and wide enough to redeem everyone, even those with blood on their hands and on their conscience. Remember that Romans 8:1 is true. Condemnation is powerless for those in Christ. That goes for the woman who has ended the life of her unborn child and the father who encouraged her to do so.

Be praying.
God created human government to restrain sin and evil in the world (see Romans 13).  Paul calls us to intercede in prayer on behalf of our leaders.  My wife reminded me today that many Christians who hate abortion also never pray for their leaders.  This shouldn’t be the case.  Pray that God would save the leaders in our country and change their hearts, leading to a change in laws.  Jesus told us to pray that the will of the Father be done on Earth just as it is done in Heaven.  If we pray this, we will see fruit.

Be on mission.
If we are in the business of seeing people saved and discipled, we will impact this world for God’s Kingdom.  God’s mission isn’t to make the world moral, but to save people and give them new hearts that desire to please Him.

Be giving.
Give sacrificially of your resources to organizations that combat abortion through the Gospel. There are awesome ministries that offer abortion alternatives at low to no cost in the name of Jesus. Look for a Gospel-centered crisis pregnancy center in your area and donate to keep them alive.

Be pro-adoption and pro-fostering.
Christians who stand against abortion should be lining up to adopt unwanted children.  If you know someone considering abortion, you should be willing to offer your home to that child before you see him or her killed.  This is messy, inconvenient, expensive, and difficult, just like the Cross was, but it’s the Gospel made visible.  If you know a couple adopting a child, I’d encourage you to anonymously give them whatever dollars you can, because adoption is obscenely expensive. We see Satan’s hatred of the unborn in the fact that an abortion costs $400 while an adoption costs $20,000 or more.

Be an abolitionist.
Don’t just be pro-life.  Pro-life simply means you disagree with abortion.  Be an abolitionist.  During the Holocaust, there were many who disagreed with what the Nazis did to the Jews without doing anything more.  During American slavery, many found it distasteful and did nothing more.  In both cases, however, there were brave men and women, driven by Gospel-fire, who stood up, raised their voices, and loved God and neighbor courageously enough to do something.  So do something.

Have an ironclad hope.
The same King who once came as a baby is coming again as a Conqueror.  He will put an end to abortion along with all the other sick things we’ve thought up. He will right the wrongs and set the crooked things straight. Our King is a justice-maker, and He is coming soon. So join in with the voices of the Church from the days of Peter to now, saying, “Maranatha! Come quickly!”


This article was originally published and written for Deeply Rooted Magazine’s online blog.