The Right to Life

From the Pastor’s Study  (1/22/23)

So familiar and so profound are the words of the Declaration of Independence identifying the self-evident and unalienable rights of men that most think that they form the opening statement in this celebrated document.  Actually, it is the second paragraph of our nation’s founding pronouncement which identifies the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as bestowed upon every man by God.  After identifying these rights, the Declaration of Independence then states plainly that governments are instituted by men, with their consent, to secure these rights.  The founders of this nation believed that human government exists to guard the rights of men – with the first of these rights being the right to life.  This certainly makes sense.  How can a man exercise liberty or obtain and hold property if he is denied the right to life?  Should there not be some vehicle to protect these rights if a man cannot secure them by himself?

What the founders declared in 1776 was not original with them.  The idea that government exists to protect life goes all the way back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis.  Following the Great Deluge, in which God judged the world because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth,” God gave Noah and mankind something new: law.  Before the Flood men were governed by their consciences.  But men failed to restrain themselves.  The whole world was “filled with violence,” and every imagination of men’s hearts was only evil continually.  So, after the flood, God gave the first law – “whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.”  God did not advocate vengeance.  He legislated justice.  And he specifically identified the fact that man was made in the image of God as being the reason just retribution must be exercised on those who take the life of another.  Human beings are invested by God with a special dignity and worth possessed by nothing else in creation.  God was securing the right to life for human beings by establishing law and government.  From that ancient time to this day, God intends governments to protect human life.

Earlier this month the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a bill designed specifically to fulfill the main purpose of government – protect human life.  The Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act is not, as the mainstream media claims, an anti-abortion bill.  It does nothing to limit access to abortion.  (Which is not to say that legislation to that end should not be pursued.)  This act, if made law, would ensure that infants who are born following a failed abortion are afforded the same legal protections as all other living, breathing human beings.  The bill passed by a vote of 220 to 210.  Unfortunately, it is not expected to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.  

During debate over the bill on the House floor, freshman congresswoman Hillary Scholten, who represents much of West Michigan including Grand Rapids, cited the Bible when explaining why she opposed the bill.  “I’m guided by passages like Jeremiah 1:5, which states, ‘I knew you before I formed you and placed you in your mother’s womb.’  It doesn’t say the government’s womb or the speaker’s womb.  It says the mother’s womb.  I believe life is precious, but I reject the idea that if I embrace the sanctity of life, I must also be forced to invite the federal government in to regulate it.” 

The comments from this congresswoman, who claims to be “evangelical,” were evasive and ill-informed.  Again, this bill was about the life of a child no longer in its mother’s womb.  The bill in question would bring criminal penalties on health care workers who fail to provide a born-alive child with appropriate medical care to preserve its life.

Rep. Scholten, who identifies as a Christian, has a severe lack of understanding of the Bible.  In voting against the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act, she also displayed a gross lack of appreciation for the value of human life made in God’s image.  Of all people, those who serve in government should understand and respect the very thing the government was designed by God to protect.