A NEW JERUSALEM?
Alan Rabjohns reflects on the politics of life
A TIME IS COMING when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.”
So prophesied St. Anthony of Egypt and we don’t have to look far in the world around us today to see how his words have come true. Everywhere, we have those who have lost sense of right and wrong, who have lost the idea of God-given truth, who have lost the idea of moral absolutes. To anyone with even a basic understanding of the truth as revealed by God, they have gone mad. But because they now form - or seem to form - the majority in society it is they who think they are sane and look on anyone holding fast to traditional ideas about God, religion or morality as having lost their senses.
I’m sure lots of you will have played a game with dominoes where you stand them up with a gap between each piece and then push the end one and watch them all topple into a heap. Great fun! and, of course, harmless when you are dealing with bit of wood or plastic.
Over the past thirty years we have seen a similar ‘game’ played with the lives of our brothers and sisters, all made, like you and me, in the image and likeness of God. The first domino to get the push in 1967 was that which protected unborn babies in the womb.
Of course, we were told that David Steel’s Bill on abortion (at first called the termination of pregnancy bill) wasn’t of any great consequence. It was to deal with ‘hard cases’ and stop untold misery. Thirty years on, with four and half million pregnancies brought to all end by taking the life of the growing child in the womb, with abortion virtually available simply for the asking, we can see that this was false information: we were, however unwittingly, pushing that first domino.
And how they have fallen since! New-born babies with handicaps have been denied basic food and care - have, in effect, been starved to death; parliament has made it possible to carry out abortion at any time in pregnancy - right up to birth - if it is expected the baby will be born with a handicap; and people at the other end of life are under threat with the ever increasing call for new laws on euthanasia, wrapped in a similar ‘reasonable’ sounding package to that which accompanied the fall of the first domino thirty years ago.
Why and how has this happened? No doubt we can see many reasons in the changes in society and its understanding of its laws, but Christians cannot stand by and take no responsibility. The sad fact is that far too many of us, for far too long, have been silent.
We might have fallen into the trap of saying that while we are against such things personally we can’t legislate for others, forgetting that the morality of the pro-abortionist is being imposed on the child in the womb to such a degree that he or she is killed.
Too many of us have forgotten what the Bible says about our responsibility for the society in which we live. Read again the ringing words of God uttered through the prophet Amos; listen to Jesus talking about the need to be leaven in the world, salt without which things are useless, the light that must not be hidden under a bushel but set on a lampstand for all to see. Our faith in God and our life in society cannot be put in separate, water-tight compartments. Truth without being put into action is dead just as action without the underpinning of the living God can be empty and sterile.
Again we need to listen again to the word revealed in Holy Scripture where from start to finish all human life is seen as sacred and where the beginning of the human life of the Word made Flesh is celebrated at the time of His conception at the message of the angel Gabriel.
Thirty years and four and half million children is enough! Over those 30 years groups like the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children have worked to bring the nation back to its senses. From the 31 MPs who voted against the second reading of the Abortion Act support has grown to close on 200, even after the loss of many pro-life champions in the last election. That growth, matched by a similar growth in public awareness through education campaigns running alongside political lobbying, has not come easily or cheaply. But it is a growth that must continue and be consolidated.
This is no fringe activity; this is no ‘single issue’ campaign that might appeal to some. This is about the very nature of the world that God has made; about the preciousness of life that he has created; about the Truth that is in Jesus Christ.
Nor is this a campaign of vitriolic negatives; we are not denouncing women who are pressured by men seeking an easy way out of their responsibility, misled by the standards of society, or caught in a trap of poverty or ignorance. We are not in the business of condemnation, of being ‘against abortion’, ‘against infanticide’, ‘against euthanasia’.
We are ‘for’ love, bearing witness to the saying of St. Elizabeth Feodorovna, “It is easier for feeble straw to resist a mighty fire than for the nature of sin to resist the power of love. We must cultivate this love in our souls, that we may take our place with all the saints, for they were all-pleasing to God through their love of their neighbour.”
On the verge of the promised land Joshua challenged the people of Israel to make a choice between good and evil. At a time when at least one new MP has written about ‘Why I want to help build the New Jerusalem’ (Ruth Kelly MP, Guardian, l0 May 1997) all Christian people of this land should say with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24. l5)
Alan Rabjohns is National Chairman of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, secretary of Credo Cymru and Vicar of St. Saviour's, Splott in the diocese of Llandaff.
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