Saturday, May 3, 2008

Child Sacrifice

I was reading Psalm 106 this morning. It's a record of God's faithfulness to Israel inspite of their unfaithfulness to Him. There are a couple of verses (37-38) that caught my attention in the middle:
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.

Child sacrifice is really a low-light of the Old Testament. The nations surrounding Israel and Judah practised it (see for example 2 Kings 3:27 where the King of Moab sacrificed his son), and many of the corrupt Kings of Israel and Judah also practised child sacrifice to various idols (see for example Ahaz in 2 Kings 16 and Manasseh in 2 Kings 21).

I think it is really easy for us to shake our heads and wonder how could they do this to their own children. I think it is really easy for us to think that we are better than they were, that we are a more civilised people and that we would never ever do anything like this.

But I think we have to stop and look at some of our modern practises and look at whether we too practise child sacrifice. The gods we sacrifice to may not have interesting Canaanite names like Baal or Asherah, but I think we do still have gods that we sacrifice our children to. They are called "convenience" or "a woman's right to choose", "no consequence casual sex" etc etc.

Abortion is the most obvious modern day example of child sacrifice within particularly the western world. We have made up excuses for why it's ok, but an unborn child is still just that-- an unborn child. In the first 10-12 weeks after conception, while they still weigh between 4 and 14 grams:
  • The child's eyes have developed their colour
  • Nearly all their organs have formed and are functioning
  • Their fingers and toes have developed
  • Their hair and nails have started to grow
  • Their genitals are distinctively male/female
  • The muscles in their intestinal walls have started to practise the contractions that will allow them to digest food
  • Their vocal chords have begun to form
  • Their liver starts to function
  • The pancreas starts to produce insulin

There is some non-disturbing photos here and some rather disturbing ones here of murdered (aborted) children. Both show how early you can see that they really are human, they are not just "fetuses" or "lumps of tissue".

Abortion is modern day western child sacrifice. But I don't think it stops there. Forms of contraception that are potentially abortive also amount to child sacrifice. Barrier methods that prevent conception are ok, but those that act also in the event of conception to stop the child from implanting in the uterine wall amount to the same as abortion. This means the pill. The normal everyday pill as well as the so-called morning after pill. The normal pill works in two stages, it firstly tries to prevent conception by preventing ovulation. If this fails it uses a secondary method to prevent pregnancy -- and this is where the issue is. The secondary method is to thicken the mucus of the uterine wall so that the child cannot implant. This means that if a child is conceived they die. The morning after pill uses only the second method to prevent pregnancy.

In all of this, I do not mean to point fingers. I have in the past used the pill not knowing, or perhaps not wanting to know, the truth about it. My purpose in discussing this is just to draw attention to behaviours where we might hold one view when it's someone else doing it (i.e. condemning those in the bible who practised child sacrifice) and yet permit the same behaviour under another name, with some more modern reasons (excuses) behind it. I also want to draw attention to the fact that there are also parallels in the motivation. Whenever we do something outside of the will of God, that we think will make our lives better in some way, we are committing idolatry. We are saying that whatever it is that we are doing, will better serve our needs than God. We are placing (in this case) convenience, so-called women's "right to choose", "no consequence casual sex" in the place of Jesus, and sacrificing our children to those gods. When the Israelites practised child sacrifice it was to placate Baal or Asherah, we still sacrifice our children to idols-- the idols just have different names.

Let's return to Psalm 106. In all of this, despite our rebellion and sinfulness, God is still faithful. God still loves us, and there is forgiveness for those who repent. Jesus' death on the cross even deals with this sin of child sacrifice. There is real and total forgiveness, the bible says in Psalm 103:12, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." This is not about condemnation, this is about renewing our minds, and seeing this from God's perspective. It's only when we do that that we have a chance to change our behaviour and our choices. Truth can be hard, and frankly I had a bit of an argument with God about writing this post because it is heavy and rather uncomfortable. But in Jesus truth comes hand-in-hand with GRACE.

God bless,

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