The Bible, of course, as we all know who are Christians, sets a very, very high pattern for a woman, and a very beautiful pattern. In all cases in biblical revelation, women are always exalted and usually – well, truly all through the revelation of the Scripture. It was an exaltation that was totally foreign to the world at the time when the Bible was written. Throughout the time of the Old Testament, for the most part, in the cultures that we know about historically, women were demeaned; and the same is true in the New Testament.
The Greeks, for example, could serve as an example. They were told by Aristotle that real love is male homosexual love, and that alone can satisfy a man’s highest and noblest aspirations. And the love of a man and a woman is inferior, purely physical impulse for the object of procreation. That was Aristotle. In Sparta, women were breeders, cultivated selectively to produce warriors. And the Greeks prided themselves that they had – they called hetairai – for the sake of pleasure, concubines for the requirements of the body, and wives to bear legitimate children and guard the house.
Today all we hear about is everybody screaming about women’s lib, and everybody wants to be free. I’m not too sure what they want to be free from. I should say they certainly do want to be free from what they used to know in history. But what they know now today is not quite like that. But the Bible does not treat women in that fashion, that’s merely a simple illustration. I want to draw your attention to several passages. To begin with, Proverbs 31. And this I’m sure is a passage you’ve studied, but it is a choice passage and a very definitive passage on the place of a woman. And we’ll look at this rather quickly.
Proverbs 31 is an important text, and from verses 10 to 31 we have the characteristics of a godly woman. This is a really beautiful text in the Hebrew. It is so poetic that it is an acrostic. Each verse begins with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet all the way through, and so what it is is like a poem. It’s an ode to a godly woman. It’s very poetic and very beautiful. To you who are married, this is the ideal. To you who are unmarried, this is what you would want to become for the sake of whoever would marry you.
Verse 10: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” That means a chaste, upright and so forth kind of woman. “Her price is far above rubies,” – or perhaps could be pearls. Verse 11: “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her,” – and here you have the idea that the husband is confident that she’ll handle things correctly, discretely, and so forth when he is gone – “so that he shall have” – and this means – “no lack of gain.” In other words, here is a woman who does not waste what her husband earns, and bring about a lack.
One husband complained to me the fact that his wife had overdrawn their bank account $400.00. And this does not happen in this case. There’s no lack of gain with this woman; and the husband can go away working, not have to worry about coming back and picking up the pieces. She doesn’t mess up everything.
Verse 12: “She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Her pursuit is for the good of her husband. She always pursues his best interests consistently, through the spring of romance to the winter of love – and that’s as prosaic as I’ll get. Her love knows no change, always selflessly, lovingly seeking what is best for her man. It’s a beautiful characteristic.
“She seeks wool, and flax, and works willingly with her hands,” – verse 13. And here we enter into the enterprising woman. This is a woman who is not only involved in the home, but she works hard and she loves it. She works willingly with her hands to please her husband, to please her family; most of all, to please the Lord.
And I like this one in verse 14: “She’s like the merchants’ ships; she brings her food from afar.” You know what that means? She chases down the best bargains. She gets the best deal if she has to walk a long way. She’s frugal. And I think it’s good to remember that.
I mean you don’t want to be ridiculous, you know, like the woman who took all the ads out of the paper and went and bought every sale at every store in the county, and ate up all the gas money, you know. That’s not the idea. But the idea is that every penny you have belongs to God, down to that very penny; and the more careful you are and the more frugal you are with that.
And this involves, you know, finding out where the best bargains are. If you like the total better at Alpha Beta and it’s legitimate, go to Alpha Beta. If you like the karate chops at Vons and you find that you get the slashed prices, go to Vons. This is the Lord’s money and you need to be frugal with it. She’s like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She goes a long way for a bargain.
Verse 15: “She rises also while it yet night,” – oh, that’s a practical one – “and gives food to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” She serves. She’s up before dawn; she’s stirring about. A lamp is always burning in Eastern homes at night. It’s a small lamp, and they always leave it burning, so that the careful housewife can see in the dark when she rises. She gets up and she begins her housework by grinding the corn and preparing those things for the needs of the day. This is a woman that is the godly woman, the woman who cares for her family, even to the sacrifice often of her own rest.
Verse 16: “She considers a field, and buys it.” Imagine that; she’s in business. I thought women weren’t supposed to work. Well, it says, “She considered a field and bought it, and the fruit of her hands she planted a vineyard.” She earned the money to buy the things to plant on her own. It is not wrong for a woman to be enterprising. She wisely saved that which she herself earned is what the verse is saying: a little business going on the side. That’s probably why she had to rise before dawn.
But you want to notice all the way through here that none of her enterprises were for any other purpose than the good of the family. And if the enterprise stood in the way of the good of the family, it didn’t exist. In other words, the first priority was the husband, then the children; and if she could assist in that priority by business on the side, she did it. If that would take her away from the priority of the husband and the children, she didn’t do it. So it was in addition to and for the support of the others.
Verse 17: “She girds her loins with strength and strengthens her arms.” In other words, she works energetically: physical labor. “She perceives that her merchandise it good; her lamp goeth not out by night.”
You say, “What’s she doing every night?” Well, it says in verse 19, “She lays her hand to the spindle and her hands hold the distaff.” That means the staff to which flax was tied, and she spins thread, and then she weaves clothing for her family. And that’s how she made a little money on the side apparently doing some of that for others, as well as purchasing a field with the money she made from that enterprise.
Verse 20: “She stretches out her hand to the poor.” Now, you know, this is a beautiful thing. She’s earning all of this money and has this enterprise for two purposes: for the good of the family and the good of the needy. I think that in any woman’s enterprise motive is a very important thing. If a woman works for independence, she works in an unbiblical way. If a woman works to aid the family and the needy, she works in a biblical way. Motive. Okay.
Verse 20 then: “She reaches forth her hands to the needy.” With all of her success the motive is never selfish, and the motive is never luxury. You know, it’s the idea, “Well, I’m going to work so instead of having a Chevy we want a Buick.” Not legitimate. “I’m going to work so that we can have some of the nicer things.” You’ve got the nicer things compared to everybody else in the world, right?
Dr. Ryrie was saying the other night that, “We think about rich people as somebody else, and the rest of the world thinks about us as rich people.” So we find this godly woman stretching out her hands to the poor. She works to give, and that’s godly, that’s good motive.
Verse 21: “She’s not afraid of the snow for her household,” – why? – “for all her household are clothed with scarlet.” You know, when winter came in those days, you didn’t just whip down to the local store and buy a bunch of coats. If you hadn’t been making them long in advance, you wouldn’t have them ready for winter, right? She planned ahead.
I think it’s proper planning in a home for the woman to plan ahead some things. I think part of the budgetary problems that we have and the reason that we always find ourselves in hoc to Sears and Penney’s and whatever else, Bullock’s, or Broadway, or wherever you happen to go, is because we wait until the moment of the need; and then we have to get in hoc. You know, it’s the old story. You know when it’s the best time to buy Christmas presents? Right after Christmas. And the best time to buy winter clothes, just at the end of winter; summer clothes at the end of summer. You know, frugality. And just amazing how much more you’d have to use for the Lord’s good.
“She makes herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is” – that says silk. It’s white linen; it’s not silk. And that’s unfortunate translation, because it’s sort of a justification of indulgence. Her clothing is white linen and purple. In other words, it’s nice. You know, it doesn’t say that she goes around and never combs her hair and wears rags, not at all. She makes coverings of tapestry: pillows, cushions, rugs, anything. Whatever she can make, she makes for the good of her family. Her dress is very simple – linen, somewhat simple – and purple, which was – and you get cheap purple or expensive purple. Remember Lydia? There was the rich kind and there was the common kind.
“She makes herself tapestry, and her clothing is linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates.” I like that. You know who her husband is? The husband of the lady. You get that? She’s not the wife of him, he’s the husband of her. He’s the guy with the wife no one can believe. “Oh, you know that guy over there? You ought to see his wife.” Old dad is known as the husband of the wife, and every guy in town is jealous.
Verse 24: “She makes fine linen and sells it; delivers belts, girdles” – meaning belts – “unto the merchant.” She is really an enterprising lady; it’s amazing. “Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” She’ll be blessed.
Verse 26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Chased, kindness, grace; her speech is tempered with graciousness. You say, “This is a perfect woman.” That’s the idea. Now you know what the standard is. Verse 27: “She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness.” No wasted time, the bread of active labor.
You know, it’s amazing. Somebody asked the question, “How do I get everything done that I have to get done?” I think the first thing to do is capture the idleness and get rid of it. All of us suffer from idleness, don’t we; and it’s a matter of establishing where the idle moments are and maximizing. The first priority in trying to organize time – and you know we have a lot of things going – but most of it is piddly stuff. It’s to get rid of all of the idleness, all of the business. Instead of going shopping five times a week, go shopping once a week, and make a list and know what you’re doing. And I think these are things that we need – and if you had to walk from here to wherever you go to get your stuff, you’d go once a week. And I think we need to get that kind of planning back in vogue.
“Her children rise up, and call her blessed.” Wouldn’t you like that? That would be the great joy of satisfaction. What do your kids call you when you tell them to get up in the morning? Hers rise up and call her blessed. “Her husband also, and he praises her.” I guess he would, right? Man.
Oh, “Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Favor means physical form. Beauty has to do with the face. “Your figure is deceitful, and the beauty is vain – or the face is vain,” – there’s nothing there to really indicate what’s going on inside – “but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
You know, all the men used to congregate at the gates. You know who they talk about? Women like this. See, her own works praise her in the gates where the elders meet and talk about the women. So there’s a picture of a godly woman.
Now you say, “What about the appearance of a godly woman?” We’ve got a little hint of what a godly woman is to wear; and she’s modest, but nice. The question came up, and I’ll answer it at this point. Deuteronomy 22:5 deals with an important issue at this juncture that needs to be dealt with in regard to the clothing that a woman wears. And there are several things in the Bible about what you wear as a woman.
Where is the line drawn when it comes to women and how they should dress? Well, that’s an important questions, and the Bible has a few things to say about it. Deuteronomy 22:5 is one thing it said: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man.” I guess I’ve said enough, right? Read it and everybody got convicted; how about that. “Neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”
I’ll just give you a couple of illustrations. Number One: I have a real dislike of men wearing women’s clothing; and I’m not just talking about transvestite – that’s what a transvestite is. And from some statistics – they’re rather staggering, you know. Some reports have been as many as one out of ten people have that problem. It’s a sexual fantasy problem, and it may relate to homosexuality and so forth and so on. But transvestite is somebody who wears a woman’s clothes.
But there’s more to this than that. I even react negatively to that when it’s done in jest or when it’s done in a Halloween fashion. I have very negative response to that. It isn’t funny to me, and I guess it’s because I’m so biblically oriented that I don’t even like to see a man wearing a woman’s clothes in jest. I just think it cheapens the whole thing. So that’s for your next Halloween party; file that. And I feel strongly about that; nor the other way around: women dressed like men.
But the verse is saying more than that. The verse says that “A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man.” And there is implied in the phrase “that which pertaineth unto a man,” much more than just clothing. It can be tools, or implements, or weapons. And I’ve often wondered how the Israeli Army gets by this particular statement in the Old Testament by having women in their army who dress in the same khakis that everybody else dresses in. Obviously, the circumvent this, because it is in the Old Testament, and it is a part of law. But the statement “that which pertaineth” has direct reference really to the apparatus of a man in terms of clothing, tools, implements, weapons – anything that would tend to change roles.
Now, a woman is distinctly to be a woman. You say, “Does this mean” – and this is what people always ask, you know – “Does this mean women can’t wear pants, slacks, whatever you call them?” Well, no, it does not mean that; and the reason it doesn’t mean that is this: because in those days men didn’t wear pants, they both wore dresses. True? So that is not the issue of this verse. It is not prohibiting men. And I’ve heard guys say this, that, “Women are never to wear pants, because of this verse.” Men didn’t wear pants. So if women would have worn pants, it certainly wouldn’t have been that which pertain to a woman; it would have been that which pertain to nobody.
And, in fact, if you were to go to an Arab country today and try to tell a woman from a man, it is very difficult, because all they wear is a whole pile of stuff all over them, just all kinds of wrapped up stuff, you know. They wear this great big – well, they throw over three or four deals, and put a big shawl over their head, and it’s very difficult to tell. And the women even veil their faces. And the men, very often in the heat or even in the cold, kept everything but their face covered. And so we have to be very careful as to how we interpret this.
What it’s really saying is that nobody should ever allow themselves to purposefully try to alter their appearance so that they appear like the opposite sex. I believe that what it’s saying is, that according the culture, the woman should appear in the role that is consistent with her femininity and a man that is consistent with his masculinity, and there should never be a willful exchange of those. And, really, I think that’s an important point make today, because I think there are an awful a lot of people today, you don’t know who they are until you get out in front of them, and then you’re not sure; and I think that’s bad. And I think this is part of Satan’s thing: unisex.
I was in Guadalajara, Mexico, and there was a big unisex store downtown. You know, you’ve heard of all that unisex store, where you go in and buy all kinds of things that all look alike. And then everybody, you know, that gets their hair kind of either all – well, you know, some women get it short and some long, and some men short and some long. You know, it’s very hard anymore. I just think that there needs to be in our own minds the effort to be what we are and not consciously attempting to pattern ourselves after the opposite sex. And maybe this is transvestitism, and maybe it’s something less than that. Maybe it’s just the idea of women’s lib, which attempts to make a woman look like a man, so that they obliterate any obvious distinction. And I think many of the women’s lib people have done this. But I do think that there should be something feminine about a woman and something masculine about a man that is evident.
Textually, we certainly can’t make a case against women wearing pants. Obviously, as I said, that wasn’t even a problem then. But anything that tends to obliterate the distinction, God frowns on seriously. Women, make every effort to be a woman in the way you dress, that’s important, to appear feminine.
In 1 Corinthians, you know, Paul makes, in chapter 11, that big issue about hair, that women’s hair should be distinct, and men’s hair should distinct. Again, there’s no reason to obliterate. Now, that isn’t saying that everybody should have short hair or everybody should have long hair. But the point being this, that there should be a conscious effort on our parts to appear to be what we are.
Let me take you to a passage, Isaiah 3, that really get down to the nitty-gritty. Isaiah 3. We’re just going to see how far we get. This gets very, very practical. This is a condemnation of Israel’s women. Listen to what they get it for.
“Moreover, the Lord said,” – this is Isaiah 3:16. “Moreover, the Lord said, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,” – that means proud. And, you know, the problem was all the females in Jerusalem were dolled up to kill, and God was angry; and He was so angry, He was angry to the point of judgment.
Back in verses 8 to 11, He says, “Jerusalem is ruined; Judah is fallen.” I mean He was angry. Verse 11: “Woe to the wicked!” I mean He was angry and He was angry about the way they dressed, because it reflected their hearts.
“Moreover, the Lord said, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,” – or proud – “and walk with stretched forth necks” – you know, that shot, see – “and wanton eyes.” You what wanton – you know what that really literally means? Painted eyes. Woo, that’s what it says; there it is. Have to call up heaven; I didn’t write that – “stretched forth necks and wanton eyes,” – or painted eyes literally – “walking and mincing as they go.”
Here were some women who appeared seductive. Now the idea of their eyes is not so much just that they put some stuff on their eyes, but that they did that to appear seductive. I mean if you need – like one old preacher said, “Every barn needs paint now and then.” That isn’t the issue. Well, I didn’t personalize that; you do what you want with it.
But the point is that when it was purposely designed to draw attention and to create a seductive response, then God frowned seriously on it. Desiring to attract men’s attention shamelessly and immodestly: they were proud, they were vain, and they were flaunting. And, you know, a man’s reacts – and I speak obviously from my standpoint – but a man reacts physically. And a man can be stimulated by the appearance of a woman much more than a woman is stimulated by the appearance of a man. And that is obvious to all of us. It’s not obvious from just the statement itself, but relates to your own mind.
It’s obvious from the proliferation of magazines with girls pictured in them in all kinds of nude and all that – all that, just gobs of material. And the almost total absence of any equal type of publication in regard to men, until recently. I understand there’s some kind of magazine that does that now. But, basically, this is just the way it is. This is the way men are. And so for a woman to have preyed about in an effort to attract a physical interest of men is to be used by Satan to tempt; and it tempts men at the point of weakness. And maybe some women don’t understand that, because they don’t relate that to their own response to men physically.
Look at the phrase, “walking and mincing as they go.” This is a special walk adopted for affect. And it says, “making a tinkling with their feet.” You know what they actually did, these women in Israel? They wanted the attention of the men so bad they put bells on their feet to attract their attention.
Listen, if you were dressed like those women were dressed, you’d have to have something to attract attention, because they were covered up, you know. They didn’t wear form-fitting clothes, they were covered up. And so they would put bells on their feet that would make a tinkling sound, and that became the trademark of a wanton woman. And then they would color their eyes and their face would be exposed. You see, a woman was veiled normally and her eyes were exposed. But when you saw a woman with painted eyes and a woman with tinkling bells on her feet, you knew what kind of woman she was.
The Bible isn’t simply saying to us don’t wear bells on your feet, it’s saying don’t do anything that attracts men purposefully to yourself physically; that’s wrong. It is wrong to do that. Now it doesn’t mean to say that it’s wrong to want to look presentable and nice, but it’s wrong to dress purposefully to attract the attention of the opposite sex. And there aren’t any tinkling bells, but there are, you know, super short skirts, and low necklines, and tight clothes, and flashy goodies, and all this kind of thing; and this not consistent with God’s standard.
Verse 17: “Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion,” – boy, I mean that’s a serious statement, serious statement. And he says – “and the Lord will uncover their secret parts.” God will strip them bare and show their true ugliness.
And then God just really talks about all the little things: “In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling anklets and their headbands and their crescents” – like the moon – “the pendants, the bracelets, the veils, the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, the amulets, the finger rings, the nose rings, the festival robes, the mantles, the cloaks, the handbags, the hand mirrors, the linen wrappers, the turbans, and the veils.” The linen wrappers were the undergarments. That’s interesting: wrappers.
Verse 24: “And it came to pass, instead of sweet fragrance there shall be rottenness; instead of a girdle, a rope; instead of well-set hair, baldness; instead of robe, a girding of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty, branded.” Now, you think God is serious about how women dress? Very serious. Very, very serious statements. There’s no place for all that vanity. In the Old Testament, and even New Testament days, it was customary for a woman to be veiled in modesty; and when this occurred, God was very, very upset.
The New Testament gives a comparative passage that would be helpful to us, 1 Peter 3:3. And I’ll hasten just to share this with you. First Peter 3:3 says, “Whose adorning” – it’s talking about women here, clothes – “let it not be that outward adorning of braiding the hair.” And you say, “Is the Bible against pigtails?” No, that’s not what it’s saying. What they did was plaiting or braiding the hair. They wove into the hair all manner of jewelry and gold and silver. In other words, they put their treasure on their head and put it on display – vanity, just vanity. “And wearing gold, and putting on of fancy clothes. But let it be the hidden man of the heart and” – I like this – “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” That what God wants.
In 1 Timothy 2 there’s another New Testament passage that hits on this, 1 Timothy 2:9. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel.” The word “modest” means with a certain sense of shame. It doesn’t mean you’re ashamed of yourself, it means there’s a certain sense of – what shall we call it? – modest shame. Just a sort of a genteel kind of spirit. You know what a brazen person is; with no sense of shame, just flaunting. Well, this is the very antithesis.
“So in modest apparel with godly fear; not braided plaited hair, and pearls and costly array.” There’s no sense in spending a lot of money on the same clothes you can get cheap – “but that which becometh women professing godliness with good works.” And it should be that that characterizes a godly woman. Not the outward fancy clothes, stuff that draws attention, but modest apparel.
Now, God doesn’t want you to look like Wanda Wallflower obviously. And a little principle that I shared last time that I think maybe fits here at this point is, in terms of fashion, I think a Christian woman should not be the first to try it, nor the last to give it up, but somewhere in the middle. I think we should be presentable. I think sometimes our good is evil spoken of if we come across as so saintly that we look, you know, sickening. You know, there’s some people who equate spirituality with crummy clothes and out of style and all this kind of thing. And there are other people who feel there’s no relationship, so they’re on the leading edge of new fashion. But I think that’s an indication of a weakness, and certainly spending a lot of money that is needlessly spent.
So modesty is a balance between not being the first to try it and not being the last to give it up. And usually the more godless people are, the more extreme. You have super glamour and super slop today, you know, and you wonder where the median is. I think Christians should be somewhere in the propriety, somewhere in the middle. A godly woman’s balanced.
Okay, that covered some of the factors that maybe are sort of basic for us. There are other features of the behavior of a godly woman and some of her the responsibilities, and we’ll get into those in a question and answer. Okay? That’s a foundation, and you can go back to those passages at your own leisure. Let me dive into these questions at this point.
The first question I’d like to answer deals with abortion and birth control. Were some of you here when Dr. Ryrie spoke on that? Okay, only just a few. Let me say a few things about abortion and birth control, giving you a scriptural view.
Klaus has said this: “Some advocates of change speak about the fetus as just a piece of tissue, or an insensible blob of tissue, or vegetating unborn matter. The opponents charge them as murderers.”
Now in the issue of abortion you have two sides. You have the idea that, first of all – and the whole argument is over whether the person is a person, or at what point the person is a person, right? That’s the whole thing. Because whenever that thing becomes a person, whenever that fetus becomes a person, then it’s murder morally. And so the issue then must be decided as to whether or not that fetus is a person at any point in time. And if after so many days it becomes a person, then it is wrong to abort – at least it’s wrong for moral people. For some unethical people it is never wrong.
One theologian who says he represents Christianity made the statement that people should have the right to abort their child because that’s their prerogative under any conditions. In fact, he’s a teacher at a seminary in this area, and he made a statement that even if the parents decide after finding out from certain testing that it’s a girl and they wanted a boy, they have a right to abort the child at any point before birth. Well, he doesn’t reflect the biblical attitude, but he reflects what I think is the extreme attitude toward abortion, and he’s a Christian, which is rather strange.
The other side of the thing is the super conservative view that at no time under no circumstance can that life be taken. Now, what does the Bible say about this? Let me define abortion. Abortion is this – and once we get a definition we can work with we’ll go from there – the expulsion of a human fetus from the uterus prematurely with the stoppage of life, the expulsion of a human fetus from the uterus prematurely with the stoppage of life. When this occurs spontaneously it is called what? Miscarriage. And God has a wonderful way of carrying out His own abortions. So a miscarriage is abortion spontaneously. Abortion is the expulsion of the fetus from contrived means.
Now the real question is not regarding miscarriages, because that’s not anything we can do anything about anyway; but whether or not a doctor or a parent or somebody else has the right to terminate embryonic life using chemical of physical means. Some say therapeutic abortion is legitimate, that there are cases where abortion is all right due to factors that are medical.
For example, I’ll give you three. When continuation of the pregnancy may threaten the life of the woman therapeutic, abortion can be done in the event that the mother may die if the child was to go full term. Two: When pregnancy is resulted from rape or incest this is classified as therapeutic abortion. This you can get done today almost anywhere. But it’s interesting, Joe told me today, 54 percent of all abortions are married women; that’s interesting. Number Three is a therapeutic abortion is permitted when continuation is likely to result in the birth of a child with grave physical deformities or mental retardation.
So today you can get an abortion, one, if it impairs your health; two, if it resulted from rape or incest. And how in the world could you ever determine that? You know, you could say anything you wanted and get an abortion, right? You could say it was rape; you could say it was incest. And, thirdly, when it’s likely to result in the birth of a child with grave physical deformities or mental retardation.
Interesting thing, this gets in to the whole area of eugenics. And there are some interesting things going on nowadays where they are having some children which are actually born – I saw a film on it Sunday night: the child was born, the parents looked at the child, the child was totally a healthy child, except that it was a mongoloid. And it was not what we would call a super severe mongoloid, but it did have mongolism. Now the interesting thing about it was that the child had a – its stomach was not attached to its intestine. In other words, it was an incomplete connection. A very simple surgical technique would repair that in no time at all. All that needed to be done was the baby needed to be operated on right away, the attachment made, and the baby would live a full life.
Under the new patterns of eugenics – and this occurred at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore – the parents were allowed to decide whether or not to do the operation; and they decided not to do the operation because the child would be a mongoloid, and so they put in the corner and let it die. Fifteen days later it was dead. And the amazing thing about that is this is what eugenics is telling us today, this is what B. F. Skinner says: “If we don’t start controlling whose born we’re going to lose control of our whole world.” So these parents were given the right to choose whether they wanted to even operate on that child – a simple technique. In other words, the child had no right to live because it had a physical deformity.
You want to hear another interesting thing? There are committees now forming in various hospitals to make these decisions. And Al Warren who teaches at UCLA Med Center told me they call these committees God committees. That’s interesting, God Committees, because that’s what they are.
So this is the whole area. The early Romans permitted abortion; the early church rejected abortion. If you study the early church history, the first centuries right after Christ, they totally rejected abortion. In The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, which was one of the earliest writings, it says this: “Thou shalt not slay a child by abortion, nor what is begotten shalt thou destroy.” That was early Christianity. And they were close to the Lord, right? They were closer to what the attitude of Christ and the apostles was.
Tertullian said, “To hinder a birth is merely a speedier way of killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in the seed.” Now, Tertullian was an early church father, so that’s the attitude of the early church. The Apostolic Constitution said, “Thou shalt not slay a child by causing abortion.”
Now the Bible says nothing directly about abortion, but the Bible does say, “Thou shalt not kill.” That’s clear, isn’t it, in Exodus, a commandment. The question then is to determine whether when you abort you are killing, right?
Now the Bible conveys some definite attitudes toward fetal life, and let me see if I can show you some of those in Exodus 21. And I don’t want to belabor this thing, and yet I want it to be complete; but Exodus 21 will give us a shot at it. The Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about abortion, but there are some passages.
Exodus 21:22, “If men strive” – that is if people have a fight – “and hurt a woman with child” – that’s a pregnant woman there, and somehow she gets mixed in this thing and gets injured – “so that her fruit depart from her” – in other words, she aborts the child – “and yet no mischief follows, he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follows then thou shalt give life for life.”
Now this is interesting. Mischief; what is that? Well, some say – there’s two interpretations – that mischief is the death or injury of the mother, and gets a much more serious penalty than the death of the fetus. Verse 22 says, you see, “The fruit depart from her, but no mischief follows.” In other words, if she loses the baby but doesn’t die herself, then what happens? The husband has to what? Pay. But if mischief occurs – and then they would say this means if the woman dies, then the man dies who did it. So if you take that view then you have a more serious punishment for the death of a living adult than you do for the death of a fetus, right?
But interestingly enough, Keil and Delitzsch, two very astute Hebrew scholars, take the view that the word “mischief” means the death of the unborn child; that what it’s saying is this: if men strive and hurt a woman with child so that her fruit depart from her, that means not abortion, but premature birth. You see what I’m saying? If she gets into a struggle somehow and the baby is born prematurely and it doesn’t die, then the man has to pay for the inconvenience, and the problem and the whole – in other words, if the baby came prematurely due to some struggle and the woman has the baby, and it’s such an awkward situation and many extraneous things had to be done to take care of her, that man would have to pay a penalty, because that was not cared for in the proper way with the proper people. Who knows who would have to be hired and what would have to be done to get her to a place where – so forth and so on.
“But if that baby dies, if that baby dies, that fetus dies,” – verse 23, if that’s what mischief means – “then he loses his life. Now if you take that view then the fetus has equal value to the living man, right? Have you got all that? So there’s two ways to interpret it; and, personally, I tend to lean toward the second way. And I think that it’s certainly a possibility to go that way with it.
All right, Psalm 139. Psalm 139:13. Now here is a picture of God forming the fetus, and that I think is very important. You say, “Why is that important?” Because if God formed that fetus, then I’m not too sure anybody has a right to do anything with it – right? – if God did it.
Psalm 139:13, and here is the expression of David, “For Thou hast possessed my inward parts, Thou hast covered me” – where? – “in my mother’s womb. I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Verse 15: “My substance was not hidden from Thee when I was made in secret.” See, David is talking about his conception, isn’t he? And he relates it to God: “and intricately wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unformed,” – is that word – “yet being unformed.” In other words, God made David before he was ever formed humanly, right? This leads me to believe that God is active in the creation from the moment of conception. If that is true, then I cannot allow for anyone to take that life which God has ordained at conception. The only thing you could possibly do would be to stop the conception. Okay.
“And in Thy book all my members were written,” – isn’t that good? All of his parts of his body were all planned by God – “which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.” It was the preplanning of God. It’s really amazing. Well, that’s a good passage to show that God is actively involved in conception in the forming of the fetus initially.
Now, there are several other passages I’ll call to your attention quickly. Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee.” That’s pretty great, isn’t it? And listen to this: “And before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” When you would allow an abortion to take place you’re tampering with the sovereignty of God. What if somebody had decided Jeremiah should have been an aborted child? God had sanctified him from the time of conception and set him apart as a prophet to the nations.
You see, I just don’t think that we have the right to take a life that God ordains, and I think God ordains that life from the point of conception biblically. You say, “Are you saying then that there’s no justification for abortion?” Yes.
There may be in the case of a mother who is going to die if the child is born a justifiable abortion therapeutically. For some would then say that the child constitutes a disease injurious to the life of the mother. And, you know, there you have a real moral question. You can prevent the death of the mother. By taking that unborn child, you can choose between that life and a life not yet lived. It’s a difficult question. It’d be one that each family would have to really just work over themselves. But I do believe that there may be cases in that situation where justifiably a therapeutic abortion could take place. But other than that, not in the case of rape, or the case of incest or anything like that; not certainly in the case of a child that would be malformed or retarded, because therein lies the greatest blessing that you would ever know, as God would use that life to reshape a whole family.
How many times have we heard stories, testimonies about children being born who were not whole children as we think of whole and how blessed they were? And who are we to measure the impact of such a life in the world? So I can’t see anybody playing God other than the fact where it is therapeutic to the salvation to the life of the mother. All right.
So Jeremiah was known before he was born. And it’s true of John the Baptist as well. “He was filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb.” That’s Luke 1. And the Apostle Paul also: “when it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb, called me by His grace.” I mean, I wouldn’t want to fool with abortion, I might be fooling with one of God’s choice servants; you just don’t know. But that’s where God is sovereign.
Now, I believe too – and I’m going to give you a little medical shot here. I believe that personhood begins at conception; that’s a biblical view. But let me give you just – I think a person is a person at conception. You say, “Well how do you support that?” Listen, I’ll read this to you.
The basis for human reproduction is the fact that the organs involved, ovaries and testes, produce special gamete cells which contain only half the normal adult number of chromosomes. In other words, you’ve got half and the partner has half – one of each pair. In other words, the whole chromosome thing comes together in pairs; but we each have only one, and we have to come together to produce the life. Thus each of the many sperms produced in the testes of a man contain a nucleus with a total of only 23 chromosomes. Likewise, the egg cell released each month from the ovaries of a woman contains 23. The egg or sperm cells are simply portions of the adult body which are particularly capable of uniting to form a new individual. Before such union has taken place, however, the egg cell or the sperm is not a separate being, but it is a cell of the parent’s body with exactly half the general number of chromosomes. So, the particular chromosome count, the particular chromosome feature that’s in my body is not an individual, it is not a person. It cannot be until it joins with those of a woman, see.
Following the process of fertilization, a membrane is quickly formed around the egg cell. This covering immediately renders the fertilized egg impervious to other sperm which still surround it in great numbers. Soon the nucleus of the one sperm unites with the nucleus of the egg at which instant the number 46, twice 23, is restored among the chromosomes. This fertilized egg so formed can no longer be viewed as a mere portion of the man’s body or a portion of the woman’s body. It is a separate cell for the first time, and it is a cell with the usual chromosome number: 46. Therefore, it is the first cell of a new human being. From this point on that single cell passes through a sequence of changes that would stagger the wildest visions.
And I think this is basically what we’re talking about. Descriptions of these events fill thousands of pages in embryologic textbooks. By repeated division, the first cell becomes two, then four, then eight; finally yields a delicate living sphere of many cells called a blastocyst. Attaching itself to the rich nutritive lining of the mother’s uterus, the blastocyst continues to grow. A portion of this cell mass becomes the placenta, a nutritive link through which food and oxygen pass in the mother to the developing child. Another cluster of cells in the blastocyst form layers which mysteriously cooperate in the synthesis of organs in the tiny body. A twentieth century knowledge of embryonic growth would
have added to the awe which the psalmist felt as he contemplated God’s role in governing the formation of a living fetus and quote Psalm 139.
So the point being that I’m trying to make here is that it is a time when that first cell is formed that that becomes a person on its own. Life is there; identity is there. That’s the physical. The theological is God has formed that person who in His own mind is already a person, right?
So there are approximately 90 trillion cells in the body of an adult. Different kinds of cells vary in structure, but each one is a living sac covered by cytoplasmic membrane surrounding cytoplasm. Although the cytoplasm is a fascinating region of the internal structure – and then he goes on. In the typical human nucleus, let’s see, there’s actually only 23 different types of chromosomes, so that two of each type provide the final tally of 46. And I think that’s really a key to this whole thing.
Let me add another little thought on it from a physical standpoint. This is interesting. A Canadian physician has foreseen that abortion is presently practiced in the family by choice may lead to surprising reactions on the part of those who survive such selection. You know, if people happen to survive the abortions that are going on – and they’re killing a lot of them all the time. It says once you permit the killing of the unborn child, there’ll be no stopping. And isn’t that what I just told you.
Now the next thing is eugenics. Gets away from being prenatal and it becomes after birth eugenics, where
if you don’t want the child when its born you let it die, see. That’s the next step. Following that is what Crick and Minot and Skinner are talking about where you make everybody impotent. Instead of everybody taking birth control pills, just as you will, everybody is mandatorily commanded to take birth control pills, and they select who breeds, see. And that’s not so far away.
So once you start permitting the killing of the unborn child, there’s no stopping. There’ll be no age limit. You’re setting off a chain reaction eventually making you the victim. Your children will kill you, because you permitted the killing of their brothers and sisters. Your children will kill you, because they’ll not want to support you in your old age. Your children will kill you for your home and estate. If the doctor will take the money for killing the innocent in the womb, he’ll kill you with a needle when paid by your children. This is the terrible nightmare you are creating for the future.
Whether or not a particular child in a marriage was decidedly planned, it has a right to live. Family planning is one question, but to kill a developing embryo in deference to this plan or simply out of convenience to the parents is an entirely different matter. One can easily visualize the ridiculous extremes to which the logic of abortion by choice would lead if they were constantly applied. Although euthanasia was proposed long before therapeutic killing, mercy killings of all imaginable types could be planned. Irresponsible social schemers might ultimately recommend for such groups as the aged of the infirmed, for anyone who appeared to face on-going difficulties. Therapeutic abortion rulings may just possibly have served as the door to the frightening Pandora’s box of legislation against which may eventually affect all Americans.
Congressman John G. Schmitz of California has announced a recent attempt in Florida to legalize the killing of older people. If the unwanted young are to be killed and the unwanted mothers sterilized, the unwanted old are next on the list. This was introduced in 1969 in the legislature of the state of Florida, H.R.3184 bill. If passed, this would have established as a matter of law that all natural persons are equal before the law and have inalienable rights. Among them: the right to enjoy and defend life, liberty; to be permitted to die with dignity; and that in the event any person is unable to make such a decision, to die because of mental or physical incapacity, a spouse or person or persons of first-degree kinship shall be allowed to make that decision. So that’s just a little idea of where that whole kind of thing leads. Well, that will give you some idea of what we feel about it.