“All they that hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:36)
Sadly, because all men without exception are sinners, the most fundamental factor in understanding anthropology is the Thanatos factor. With entirely non-Freudian implications, the Thanatos Syndrome is simply the natural sinful inclination to death and defilement. All men have morbidly embraced death (Romans 5:12).
At the Fall, mankind was suddenly destined for death (Jeremiah 15:2). We were all at that moment bound into a covenant with death (Isaiah 28:15). Scripture tells us, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
Whether we know it or not, we have chosen death (Jeremiah 8:3). It has become our shepherd (Psalm 49:14). Our minds are fixed on it (Romans 8:6), our hearts pursue it (Proverbs 21:6), and our flesh is ruled by it (Romans 8:2). We dance to its cadences (Proverbs 2:18) and descend to its chambers (Proverbs 7:27).
The fact is “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18). And, all those who hate God love death (Proverbs 8:36).
It is no wonder then that abortion, infanticide, exposure, and abandonment have always been a normal and natural part of human relations. Since the dawning of time, men have contrived ingenious diversions to satisfy their fallen passions. And child killing has always been chief among them.
Virtually every culture in antiquity was stained with the blood of innocent children. Unwanted infants in ancient Rome were abandoned outside the city walls to die from exposure to the elements or from the attacks of wild foraging beasts. Greeks often gave their pregnant women harsh doses of herbal or medicinal abortifacients. Persians developed highly sophisticated surgical curette procedures. Chinese women tied heavy ropes around their waists so excruciatingly tight that they either aborted or passed into unconsciousness. Ancient Hindus and Arabs concocted chemical [contraceptives]. Primitive Canaanites threw their children onto great flaming pyres as a sacrifice to their god Molech. Polynesians subjected their pregnant women to onerous tortures—their abdomens beaten with large stones or hot coals heaped upon their bodies. Japanese women stood over boiling cauldrons of parricidal brews. Egyptians disposed of their unwanted children by disembowelling and dismembering them shortly after birth. Their collagen was then ritually harvested for the manufacture of cosmetic creams.
None of the great minds of the ancient world—from Plato and Aristotle to Seneca and Quintilian, from Pythagoras and Aristophanes to Livy and Cicero, from Herodotus and Thucydides to Plutarch and Euripides—disparaged child killing in any way. In fact, most of them actually recommended it. They callously discussed its various methods and procedures. They casually debated its sundry legal ramifications. They blithely tossed lives like dice.
Abortion, infanticide, exposure, and abandonment were so much a part of human societies that they provided the primary leitmotif in popular traditions, stories, myths, fables, and legends.
The founding of Rome was, for instance, presumed to be the happy result of the abandonment of children, [Romulus and Remus]…Oedipus was presumed to be an abandoned child who was also found by a shepherd and later rose to greatness. Ion, the eponymous monarch in ancient Greece miraculously lived through an abortion, according to tradition. Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire, was supposedly a fortunate survivor of infanticide. According to Homer’s legend, Paris, whose amorous indiscretions started the Trojan War, was also a victim of abandonment. Telephus, the king of Mysia in Greece, and Habius, ruler of the Cunetes in Spain, had both been exposed as children according to various folk tales. Jupiter, the chief god of the Olympian pantheon, himself had been abandoned as a child. He, in turn, exposed his twin sons, Zethus and Amphion. Similarly, other myths related that Poseidon, Aesculapius, Hephaistos, Attis, and Cybele had all been abandoned to die.
Because they had been mired by the minions of sin and death, it was as natural as the spring rains for the men and women of antiquity to kill their children. It was as instinctive as the autumn harvest for them summarily to sabotage their own heritage. They saw nothing particularly cruel about despoiling the fruit of their wombs. It was woven into the very fabric of their culture. They believed that it was completely justifiable. They believed that it was just, good, and right.
But they were wrong. Dreadfully wrong.
Life is God’s gift: It is His gracious endowment upon the created order. It flows forth in generative fruitfulness. The earth is literally teeming with life (Genesis 1:20; Leviticus 11:10; 22:5; Deuteronomy 14:9). And the crowning glory of this sacred teeming is man himself (Genesis 1:26-30; Psalm 8:1-9). To violate the sanctity of this magnificent endowment is to fly in the face of all that is holy, just, and true (Jeremiah 8:1-17; Romans 8:6). To violate the sanctity of life is to invite judgment, retribution, and anathema (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). It is to solicit devastation, imprecation, and destruction (Jeremiah 21:8-10). The Apostle Paul tells us, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
But the Lord God, Who is the giver of life (Acts 17:25), the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9), the defender of life (Psalm 27:1), the prince of life (Acts 3:15), and the restorer of life (Ruth 4:15), did not leave men to languish hopelessly in the clutches of sin and death. He not only sent us the message of life (Acts 5:20) and the words of life (John 6:68), He sent us the light of life as well (John 8:12). He sent us His only begotten Son, the life of the world (Joh 6:51), to break the bonds of death (1Corinthians 15:54-56)…“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)…In Christ, God has afforded us the opportunity…to choose between fruitful and teeming life on the one hand, and barren and impoverished death on the other (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Apart from Christ, it is not possible to escape the snares of sin and death (Colossians 2:13). On the other hand, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Corinthians 5:17). All those who hate Christ “love death” (Proverbs 8:36), while all those who receive Christ are made the sweet savour of life (2Corinthians 2:16).
The implication is clear: The pro-life movement and the Christian faith are synonymous. Where there is one, there will be the other: for one cannot be had without the other. Further, the primary conflict in temporal history always has been and always will be the struggle for life by the Church against the natural inclinations of all men everywhere.
Conclusion: Death has cast its dark shadow across the whole of human relations. Because of sin, all men flirt and flaunt shamelessly in the face of its spectre. Sadly, such impudence has led to the most grotesque concupiscence imaginable: the slaughter of innocent children. Blinded by the glare from the nefarious and insidious angel of light (2Corinthians 11:14), we stand by, paralyzed and mesmerized. Thanks be to God, there is a way of escape from these bonds of destruction. In Christ, there is hope. In Him, there is life, both temporal and eternal. In Him, there is liberty and justice. In Him, there is an antidote to the Thanatos factor. In Him, and in Him alone, there is an answer to the age-long dilemma of the dominion of death.
By George Grant: pastor of Parish Presbyterian Church, church planter, author, president of King’s Meadow Study Centre, founder of Franklin Classical School, and chancellor of New College Franklin.
This commandment forbids that barbarous and inhuman sin of murder, the first-born of the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:48). It forbids the first branded crime that we read of, wherein natural corruption, contracted by the Fall, vented its rancor and virulence: the sin of Cain that great instance of perdition who slew his brother Abel “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1John 3:12). The murdering of another is a most heinous and black sin, a sin that God doth detect and bring to punishment, usually by some wonderful method of His providence. Murder dogs the consciences of those who are guilty of it with horrid affrights and terrors and hath sometimes extorted from them a confession of it when there hath been no other proof or evidence. The two greatest sinners that the Scripture hath set the blackest brand upon were both murderers: Cain and Judas. The one was the murderer of his brother; the other, first of his Lord and Master and then of himself.
God so infinitely hates and detests it that, although the altar was a refuge for other offenders, He would not have a murderer sheltered there. He was to be dragged from that inviolable sanctuary unto execution according to that law: “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die” (Exodus 21:14). Accordingly, we read that when Joab had fled and taken hold on the horns of the altar, so that the messengers who were sent to put him to death durst not violate that holy place by shedding his blood, Solomon gave command to have him slain even there, as if the blood of a willful murderer were a very acceptable sacrifice offered up unto God (1Kings 2:28-31). Indeed, in the first prohibition of murder that we meet withal, God subjoins a very weighty reason why it should be so odious unto Him: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man, shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:6). So that Homicidium est Decidium: “To slaughter, a man is to stab God in effigy. “ Though the image of God’s holiness and purity be totally defaced in us since the Fall, yet every man even the most wicked and impious that lives bear some strictures of the image of God in his [mind], the freedom of his will, and his dominion over the creatures. God will have every part of His image so revered by us that He esteems him that assaults man as one who attempts to assassinate God Himself.
Murder is a crying sin. Blood is loud and clamorous. That first blood that ever was shed was heard as far as from earth to heaven: “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). God will certainly hear its cry and avenge it.
But, not only he, whose hands are embrued in the blood of others but those also who are accessory are guilty of murder. As
(1) Those who command or counsel it to be done. Thus, David became guilty of the murder of innocent Uriah; and God, in drawing up his charge, accuseth him with it: “Thou hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon” (2Samuel 12:9).
(2) Those who consent to murder are guilty of it. Thus Pilate, for yielding to the clamorous outcries of the Jews, “Crucify him, Crucify him” (Luke 23:21), though he washed his hands and disavowed the fact, was as much guilty as those who nailed Him to the cross.
(3) He that concealeth a murder is guilty of it. Therefore, we read that in case a man was found slain and the murderer unknown, the elders of that city were to assemble, wash their hands, and protest “Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it” (Deuteronomy 21:6-7), intimating that if they had seen and concealed it, they had thereby become guilty of the murder.
(4) Those who are in authority and do not punish a murder, when committed and known, are themselves guilty of it. Thus, when Naboth was condemned to die by the wicked artifice of Jezebel although Ahab knew nothing of the contrivance until after the execution yet because he did not vindicate that innocent blood when he came to the knowledge of it, the prophet chargeth it upon him. “Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?” (1Kings 21:19). The guilt lay upon him, and the punishment due to it overtook him, although we do not read that he was any otherwise guilty of it than in not punishing those who had committed it.
And those magistrates who, upon any respect whatsoever, suffer a murder to escape unpunished are said to pollute the land with blood: “Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it ” (Numbers 35:31, 33).
From “A Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments” in The Works of Ezekiel Hopkins, Vol. 1.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost?” (Luke 14:28)
Ponder, my soul, over this very striking image of your Lord’s, concerning the divine life. The picture of a builder is most aptly chosen; for the Christian builder is building for eternity. And the figure of a warrior, which our Lord also joins to it, is no less so, for the battle is for life, and that life is eternal. Have you counted the cost? Have you entered upon the work? Is the foundation-stone, which God hath laid in Zion, the rock on which you are building?
Pause and examine. Be the cost what it may; the loss of earthly friends; the parting with every worldly pursuit; the scorn, contempt, and derision of all mankind; indeed, the loss of life itself: if these come in the way of competition, are you ready to give them all up?-When you have answered these inquiries, go on, and see that your foundation be really fixed on Christ.
If so, it must have been previously sought for, by digging deep into the natural state in which you were born. Jesus must have been first determined to be most essentially necessary, and most essentially precious, before the spiritual building of the soul was made to rest upon him. And, when found, unless the whole of the building rests entirely upon him, it will, as a column out of its centre, still totter. Oh! it is blessed to make Christ the all in all of the spiritual temple; blessed to make him the first in point of order; blessed to make him the first in point of strength, to support and bear the weight of the whole building; blessed to make him the grand cement, to unite and keep together, in one harmonious proportion and regularity, every part of the building; and blessed to bring forth the top-stone of the building, by his strength and glory, crying, “Grace, grace unto it.”
Precious Jesus! May it be found that I have so sat down, counted the cost, and formed my whole plan, in your strength, and to your praise; that whatever oppositions, like the Tobiahs and Sanballats of old, I may meet within the work, I may feel the sweetness and encouragement of that blessed Scripture, and exult with the prophet: “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, you shall become a plain!” Zech 4:7
The death of Dr Gordon Wilson, former leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, who took a public stand for Christian moral values in society, was mentioned in the BCN (7 July).
A memorial service for him was held in St Peter’s Free Church, Dundee, on 5 July. It was conducted by the minister, the Rev David Robertson. Prominent figures in the Scottish Parliament were present, including the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the Deputy First Minister, Mr John Swinney, who gave the eulogy. The service followed the modern fashion of fulsome praise of man, informality and a degree of humour and laughter. Hymns, readings and prayers were intermingled with the tributes from the family and others but there was no sense of solemnity.
The most disturbing aspect of the proceedings was the participation in the service of a Roman Catholic clergyman, Bishop Vincent Logan. He began his read prayer by praying for the soul of the departed. Towards the end of the service, Mr Robertson spoke briefly on Christ as the only way to the Father but later, on his blog, he had to give a kind of an apology for the contribution of the Bishop as follows:
‘The Roman Catholic view of salvation is not as full as the Protestant (Biblical). Bishop Vincent Logan is a lovely man who has served Christ for many years but in his prayer, he reflected something that was really quite sad. He prayed that Gordon being called from this world would be brought safely home to God’s kingdom and that he would be cleansed and given a place at the heavenly banquet. In this he was reflecting the Catholic doctrine of purgatory and that believers don’t go directly to heaven. But the biblical view is “today you will be with me in paradise.” He was praying for something that Gordon already has. When he came to believe in Jesus he was given eternal life.’
This sad incident calls for several observations: (1) How was a Roman Catholic clergyman permitted in the first place to take part in the service? In this year of the commemoration of the birth of the Reformation in 1517 are we saying it was all a mistake? (2) How can the Bishop be described ‘as a lovely man who has served Christ for many years’ when by his teaching he has been dishonouring Christ by withholding the glory due to Him as the only Saviour of Sinners? (3) This is not the first time that Mr Robertson has revealed his ignorance of the nature of the papacy. On the 16 September 2010, on BBC radio Scotland, he welcomed Pope Benedict to Scotland as ‘a fellow Christian’ (see What Would John Knox have to Say to Us Today? (2014 p4). When will Mr Robertson’s associate ministers and colleagues in the Free Church of Scotland recover from their apparent laxity in dealing with those who deviate from the Westminster Confession? (5) The entire proceedings lacked a vertical dimension and therefore virtually no impression of the things of spiritual and eternal could have been left on the minds of the state dignitaries and others. Oh for a John Knox-like voice in Scotland again!
(By permission of the author: Rev John Murray, Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)