Rev. VanBaren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Loveland, Colorado.

A Shameful Death, Indeed!

Time Magazine, December 11, 1995, has a cover story with the title “A Shameful Death.” The account is shocking indeed. Though one comes to expect the most awful crimes, this one seems almost to top them all. The account tells of a cute little six-year-old. She seemed popular with her schoolmates and teachers. She had been taken under the wing of Prince Michael of Greece, who promised to finance her full private-school education up to college. But this little girl was brutally murdered. Murdered by her own mother. Time states, “When the police arrived, she confessed to killing Elisa by throwing her against a concrete wall. She confessed that she had made Elisa eat her own feces and that she had mopped the floor with her head. The police told reporters that there was no part of the six-year-old’s body that was not cut or bruised. Thirty circular marks that at first appeared to be cigarette burns turned out to be impressions left by the stone in someone’s ring. ‘In my 22 years,’ said Lieut. Luis Gonzalez, ‘this is the worst case of child abuse I have ever seen.'”

Horrible though the above may sound, is it not to be expected — given the lack of value placed upon human life in our society? Each year, so we are told, there are at least one and a half million abortions in this country. That’s a total of over 30 million since abortion was legalized by decree of the Supreme Court of our land. That does not even take into account the many very early abortions caused by medications or physical devices.

If a small baby is killed just before legal birth, that is considered a matter of “choice.” The fetus is only a bit of “tissue.” But if the mother should kill the baby immediately after birth, the country is horrified. The details of this murder are broadcast for all to hear. One is a “shameful death,” the other is merely the removal of tissue.

In December 4, 1995 there appeared a full page advertisement in the New York Times by the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund (reprinted in Christian News). Here is presented a “shameful death” indeed:

In September, 1993 Brenda Pratt Shafer, a registered nurse with thirteen years of experience, was assigned by her nursing agency to an abortion clinic. Since Nurse Shafer considered herself “very pro-choice,” she didn’t think this assignment would be a problem. She was wrong. This is what Nurse Shafer saw. 

“I stood at the doctor’s side and watched him perform a partial-birth abortion on a woman who was six months pregnant. The baby’s heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen. The doctor delivered the baby’s body and arms, everything but his little head. The baby’s body was moving. His little fingers were clasping together. He was kicking his feet. The doctor took a pair of scissors and inserted them into the back of the baby’s head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall. Then the doctor opened the scissors up. Then he stuck the high-powered suction tube into the hole and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp.

“I never went back to the clinic. But I am still haunted by the face of that little boy. It was the most perfect, angelic face I have ever seen.”

A “shocking death” indeed! Perhaps the description is too much for sensitive stomachs. But it points out the callousness evident in our day toward life. Why should the brutal killing of a little six-year-old gain the attention of Time magazine, on its cover, no less — and the brutal killing of the unborn be a routine “procedure” carried out thousands of times every day in our land?

The Congress of the United States, according to reports, has passed a law outlawing “partial-birth abortions” such as the one described above. The same reports indicate that likely the Senate will be unable to override the threatened presidential veto.

But Scripture speaks concerning all of this in Romans 1:29-32, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whis-perers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

New Questions Concerning Divorce

In the Denver Post I have read of an attempt to make divorce more difficult to obtain. The writer of the article is obviously opposed to the attempt, but it is of interest to hear what she has to say.

In the nightmare scenario of big government, where states and federal agencies generate sprawling regulations whose tentacles reach into the most private areas of our lives, nothing is so sinister as the movement to legislate family values.

The latest tactic, grinding its way through state legislatures in Iowa and Washington, is the effort to prevent unhappy couples from getting divorced.

The theory is that kids are better off with two parents in the house even if they hate each other.

It’s not what we might call enlightened public policy….

…The problems caused by divorce are undeniable. One-third of the single-parent families headed by women in the U.S. live below the poverty level. And study after study suggests that children of divorce bear psychological scars even in the best of circumstances. 

But before we invite state legislators into the delicate area of marriage mediation, we might ask them to apply themselves more earnestly to the tasks we already have assigned them, namely providing high-quality public education, equal opportunity, enforcement of court-ordered child support, protecting the quality of our air and water, and maintaining safe neighborhoods….

It has become apparent to many outside of the church that “no-fault” divorces, marriages quickly made and as quickly broken, have contributed to the unrest, instability, vulnerability of families and especially is dreadfully hurtful to children. The writer, above, would place much of the blame on government for not providing “high-quality public education,” though good education ought to be provided by parents, not government. But there are some state governments, obviously, which rightly recognize the terrible toll that easy divorces have made on society. The drama of movie and television has promoted the ungodly attitudes evident in society towards marriage. Many will doubtless resist, even to the death, the attempt of governments to return to the older “morality” of marriages for life, and divorces which can be obtained only on provable grounds of adultery.

The church, though in many instances it has adopted the same worldly attitudes towards marriage, knows what God’s Word requires. It forbids, of course, in the seventh commandment all forms of adultery. And Christ clearly taught in Matthew 5 and 19 that marriage is permanent — for what God has joined together let no man put asunder.

But all of this represents another sign of the end of the age. Where families are effectively destroyed, the consequences will be seen in all of society. Where God’s Word is ignored, the consequences threatened by His Word will surely follow. It would seem too late for any governmental body to turn back the clock.

Persecution on a Grand Scale

The Christian Renewal, January 8, 1996, quotes from Frontline Fellowship News concerning the plight of Sudan’s Christians. Perhaps it is well to remind ourselves that Christians in many places of the world face severe persecution, slavery, and death. It is another of the signs of the end of time.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese Christian men, women and children have been kidnapped and sold as slaves by government soldiers and Arab militias. A recent research trip by Christian Solidarity International to the Nuba Mountains gathered shocking evidence of the ongoing Islamic slave trade in Sudan.

An Arab slave trader openly described how marauding gangs of soldiers have regularly swooped on villages of Christians — killing, looting and capturing as many slaves as possible. This campaign was part of the Islamic government’s attempt to capture the South of Sudan for Islam. “The slaves, in most cases children and young women, are taken north where they are forced to provide agricultural labor, domestic work and sexual services against their will,” reported one CSI team member. “Slavery is used to debilitate the Christian communities; they are forcibly dispersed and/or imprisoned. They have to surrender and submit to becoming Muslims or they are killed.”

An Arab slave trader, Ibrahim, described how he resold 162 African children and young women back to their families. Ibrahim claimed that the raids are organized by the government of Sudan which arms the Arab militias and encourages them to attack African villages in the South — keeping booty and capturing slaves.

The research team estimates that 1.5 million people have perished and more than 5 million have been displaced out of a population of 8 million South Sudanese….

Christ Himself foretold, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matt. 24:9). It is now occurring with increasing frequency across this globe. Nor is it impossible that soon those who are Christians in this land will have to face some of the same atrocities for Jesus’ sake.