Ask Father Paul 03/23/11
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people we meet and from people in our congregations. Here are a few that I have gotten over the years of my ministry and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: Where do you, your church and your denomination stand on the abortion question and why? — D.E.
Dear D.E.: We are all strongly and unapologetically “pro-life.”
The Bible is the standard of faith and practice for godly living, and I (we) find the clear teachings of the Bible and abortion incompatible ... simple as that. Basically, the Bible teaches that abortion is wrong, that it is a sin. When one considers that 93 percent of all abortions in America are done for convenience ... only three percent for the health of the mother ... three percent for the health of the baby ... and one percent because of rape or incest, plus the tens of thousands of infants who are killed in their mother’s womb annually in America, abortion becomes especially troubling.
There are far too many verses and passages in the Bible in opposition to abortion for me to list in this limited space. I suggest that you Google “The Bible And Abortion” then carefully and prayerfully study the many sites given. Two Bible passages, that I especially like on this subject are: Jeremiah 1:5 and Proverbs 6:16-19. The Jeremiah passage says this, (God himself is speaking to the Prophet Jeremiah), “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” And the Proverbs passage lists “six things the Lord hates,” and listed among the six is “hands that shed innocent blood.” I submit that you can’t get much more “innocent” than a baby in it’s mother’s womb.
The really good news in this holocaust of the unborn is that God, in his unfathomable love, stands ready to forgive and make new all those who have had an abortion and those (dads) who have advised or urged an abortion.
Dear Father Paul: Why did Jesus have to be baptized? He is God. And, how can God still remain just (act with justice) when he pardons the sins of those whom he declared must die for their sins? — Lou
Dear Lou: When Jesus came to John the Baptist (in Matthew 3) and asked to be baptized, John objected with words to the effect of, “Lord, you should be baptizing me, not I baptizing you.” To which Jesus replied (and answered your question) ... “it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Perhaps a clearer way to say this would be, “we need to do this in order to perform completely what is right.” Jesus was a good Jew, and he observed all Jewish rites and rituals ... he was circumcised, the Passover, etc. He was (that day) publicly beginning his ministry as high priest of the human race. The Jewish High Priests were ceremonially washed and anointed at their consecration. Jesus’ baptism by John was a similar act of obedience. As Jesus came up out of the water of baptism, God himself spoke and affirmed this act by Jesus and his priesthood.
In answer to your second question ... remember God had declared in Genesis 2:15-17 “death” to Adam and Eve and all who would follow them if they disobeyed (sinned) and ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. When they ate and sinned, death indeed followed and is still with us today. All of us must understand this about God ... he is “just” in keeping his promises, even ones like this one with a bad outcome. God had given his word and (since he is God, and cannot lie) his word must come to pass ... i.e. there must be a death penalty, as a consequence for sin as God had declared.
But God, because of his love for us ... and in his mercy and grace, decided that, Yes, I have spoken, and yes the penalty of death must indeed be (justly) paid ... but, I’m going to pay the penalty of death myself, for all humankind. So he (as Jesus Christ) became a man like us and paid the penalty we owe by dying on the cross for us ... in our place. In all this God is and remains just. That’s the Good News of the Gospel. All we have to do in return is accept Jesus’ sacrifice (his gift of life and pardon) for us, and love him as our Savior. Yes, it really is that simple.
Do you have a question? Send it to me via email and I will try to answer your question in the paper. firstname.lastname@example.org