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Today I was thinking about heroes.  So often our favorite super heroes can save everyone.  Doc Ock tosses six different people six different directions, and destroys the brakes on a speeding train.  Spider-Man shoots his webs to save the stragglers, uses his super strength to stop the train, and saves the day.

In that same movie, Spider-Man decides to come out of retirement to save a little kid from a fire, and is disheartened to hear afterwards that some “poor soul” on a higher floor didn’t make it out.  But this isn’t shown as an inevitable edge to the protagonist’s reach; I get the impression that we’re supposed to believe that if only Spidey hadn’t been taking some time for himself, both victims would have made it out alive.

Sometimes the crisis of the plot is the hero deciding whether to save one dear friend or to save a larger group of people (and somehow, predictably now, the dear friend  heroically sacrificed is saved in the nick of time anyway).  Other times, the super hero makes a glance at the crushing weight of collateral damage: fighting evil is a destructive war.

How often do the heroes in our tales face the fact that their powers are, however impressive, limited, and they cannot save everyone?  What if we saw heroes not only facing this, grieving this, but standing slowly – like a weight-lifter, only the weight is borne in the heart, bending shoulders –  standing, straightening, squaring those shoulders, and going out with all the zeal they had yesterday, to save the ones they can, to face defeat again and again, to still care about every one they can’t save the same as they care about the ones they can, and still to try?

Today I was driving to an abortion clinic, to stand outside among such heroes, who spend day after day watching most of the moms they encounter go right on ahead and end most of the lives the sidewalk counselors are trying to save.  This is a heavy burden.

It is not all discouraging failure.  Yesterday, a couple changed their mind, and rejected the violence they had intended.  Would Spider-Man bear up against those odds: one rescued for dozens lost?  These people do.  By the grace of God, they are real heroes.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Under the Colorado government heretofore, the constitutional rights of unborn persons in Colorado have not been upheld.  

 

Colorado State Constitution: Article II, Section 3: Inalienable Rights

 

All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

 

Colorado State Constitution: Article II, Section 6: Equality of Justice

 

Courts of justice shall be open to every person, and a speedy remedy afforded for every injury to person, property or character; and right and justice should be administered without sale, denial or delay.

 

Colorado State Constitution: Article II, Section 25: Due Process of Law

 

No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

 

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According to the definition for “person” found in Part 1, homicide specifically does not refer to unborn children in Colorado at this time.  Therefore they are not protected under criminal law in Colorado.  This could potentially be changed with a redefinition of the word “person”.  

 

Colorado Revised Statutes: Title 18, Article 3, Part 1: Homicide and Related Offenses

18-3-101. Definitions

As used in this part 1, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Homicide” means the killing of a person by another.
(2) “Person”, when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who had been born and was alive at the time of the homicidal act.

 

18-3-102. Murder in the first degree
(1) A person commits the crime of murder in the first degree if:
(a) After deliberation and with the intent to cause the death of a person other than himself, he causes the death of that person or of another person; or
(f) The person knowingly causes the death of a child who has not yet attained twelve years of age and the person committing the offense is one in a position of trust with respect to the victim.

(4) The statutory privilege between patient and physician and between husband and wife shall not be available for excluding or refusing testimony in any prosecution for the crime of murder in the first degree as described in paragraph (f) of subsection (1) of this section.

 

18-3-104. Manslaughter
(1) A person commits the crime of manslaughter if:
(a) Such person recklessly causes the death of another person; or

18-3-106. Vehicular homicide
(1) (a) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another, such person commits vehicular homicide.
(b) (I) If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another, such person commits vehicular homicide. This is a strict liability crime.

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There is a law known as the Wrongful Death Act that guarantees the right of heirs or close family to receive damages for deaths resulting from negligence:

 

Colorado Revised Statutes: Title 13, Article 21, Part 2: Damages for Death by Negligence

13-21-201. Damages for death
(1) When any person dies from any injury resulting from or occasioned by the negligence, unskillfulness, or criminal intent of any officer, agent, servant, or employee while running, conducting, or managing any locomotive, car, or train of cars, or of any driver of any coach or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire while in charge of the same as a driver, and when any passenger dies from an injury resulting from or occasioned by any defect or insufficiency in any railroad or any part thereof, or in any locomotive or car, or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire, the corporation or individuals in whose employ any such officer, agent, servant, employee, master, pilot, engineer, or driver is at the time such injury is committed, or who owns any such railroad, locomotive, car, or other conveyance operated for the purpose of carrying either freight or passengers for hire at the time any such injury is received, and resulting from or occasioned by the defect or insufficiency above described shall forfeit and pay for every person and passenger so injured the sum of not exceeding ten thousand dollars and not less than three thousand dollars, which may be sued for and recovered:
(c) (I) If the deceased is an unmarried minor without descendants or an unmarried adult without descendants and without a designated beneficiary pursuant to article 22 of title 15, C.R.S., by the father or mother who may join in the suit. Except as provided in subparagraphs (II) and (III) of this paragraph (c), the father and mother shall have an equal interest in the judgment, or if either of them is dead, then the surviving parent shall have an exclusive interest in the judgment.

 

13-21-202. Action notwithstanding death
When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another, and the act, neglect, or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who or the corporation which would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable in an action for damages notwithstanding the death of the party injured.

 

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Currently there is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution, that if the petition process is successful, would be on the Colorado ballot in 2014.  It is meant to apply the protections and justice for “persons” in the Colorado Criminal Code (all of Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes) and in the “Wrongful Death Act” which is C.R.S. Title 13, Article 21, Part 2.  The wording of the amendment, known as the Brady Amendment, is: 

In the interest of the protection of pregnant mothers and their unborn children from criminal offenses and negligent and wrongful acts, the words “person” and “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act must include unborn human beings.

 

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Until 2013, there were statutes on the Colorado books restricting abortion (though some have been ruled unconstitutional), many of which have been repealed by a bill signed into law on June 5 this year.  This law is very similar to the stated intentions of the Brady Amendment in giving rights of damages to families of unborn children killed through negligence.  In other respects its intentions are directly opposed to the equal justice goals of the personhood-like Brady Amendment.  July 1, 2013, the law so far denoted by “H.B. 13-1154” took effect.  It is summarized on the official state web page

 

H.B. 13-1154 Crimes against pregnant women – unlawful termination of a pregnancy – repeal criminal abortion statutes – appropriations. 

The act creates a new article for offenses against pregnant women. The new offenses are unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the first degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the second degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the third degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the fourth degree, vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy, aggravated vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and careless driving resulting in unlawful termination of a pregnancy. The act excludes from prosecution medical care for which the mother provided consent. The act does not confer the status of “person” upon a human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any stage of development prior to live birth. The act repeals the criminal abortion statutes. The act makes the required 5-year statutory appropriation as required by section 2-2-703, Colorado Revised Statutes. 

 

APPROVED by Governor June 5, 2013 EFFECTIVE July 1, 2013

 

To read the full text of this new law, you can go to the Colorado legislature’s website

 

Particularly relevant to abortion are these parts: 

HB13-1154 Section 1:

(i) Additionally, nothing in this act shall be construed to permit the imposition of criminal penalties against a woman for actions she takes that result in the termination of her pregnancy; and

(j) Finally, nothing in this act shall be construed to permit the imposition of criminal penalties against a health care provider engaged in providing health care services to a patient.

 

C.R.S. 18-3.5-101: Definitions

(5) “PREGNANCY”, FOR PURPOSES OF THIS ARTICLE ONLY AND NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER DEFINITION OR USE TO THE CONTRARY, MEANS THE PRESENCE OF AN IMPLANTED HUMAN EMBRYO OR FETUS WITHIN THE UTERUS OF A WOMAN.

 

(7) “UNLAWFUL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY” MEANS THE TERMINATION OF A PREGNANCY BY ANY MEANS OTHER THAN BIRTH OR A MEDICAL PROCEDURE, INSTRUMENT, AGENT, OR DRUG, FOR WHICH THE CONSENT OF THE PREGNANT WOMAN, OR A PERSON AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO ACT ON HER BEHALF, HAS BEEN OBTAINED, OR FOR WHICH THE PREGNANT WOMAN’S CONSENT IS IMPLIED BY LAW.

 

18-3.5-102. Exclusions

(1) NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL PERMIT THE PROSECUTION OF A PERSON FOR ANY ACT OF PROVIDING MEDICAL, OSTEOPATHIC, SURGICAL, MENTAL HEALTH, DENTAL, NURSING, OPTOMETRIC, HEALING, WELLNESS, OR PHARMACEUTICAL CARE; FURNISHING INPATIENT OR OUTPATIENT HOSPITAL OR CLINIC SERVICES; FURNISHING TELEMEDICINE SERVICES; OR FURNISHING ANY SERVICE RELATED TO ASSISTED REPRODUCTION OR GENETIC TESTING. 

(2) NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL PERMIT THE PROSECUTION OF A WOMAN FOR ANY ACT OR ANY FAILURE TO ACT WITH REGARD TO HER OWN PREGNANCY.

 

18-3.5-111. Construction

NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO CONFER THE STATUS OF “PERSON” UPON A HUMAN EMBRYO, FETUS, OR UNBORN CHILD AT ANY STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT PRIOR TO LIVE BIRTH.

 

HB13-1154 SECTION 3: In Colorado Revised Statutes, repeal part 1 of article 6 of title 18, 12-32-107 (3) (m), 12-36-117 (1) (b), 25-1-1202 (1) (ee), and 30-10-606 (1) (d).

[See the abortion-relevant parts of these laws and links to them in the next section of this post.] 

 

13-22-105. Minors – birth control services rendered by physicians

Except as otherwise provided in part 1 of article 6 of title 18, C.R.S., Birth control procedures, supplies, and information may be furnished by physicians licensed under article 36 of title 12, C.R.S., to any minor who is pregnant, or a parent, or married, or who has the consent of his parent or legal guardian, or who has been referred for such services by another physician, a clergyman, a family planning clinic, a school or institution of higher education, or any agency or instrumentality of this state or any subdivision thereof, or who requests and is in need of birth control procedures, supplies, or information.

 

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The laws repealed in the preceding 2013 law include: 

Colorado Revised Statutes: 

18-6-101. Definitions
18-6-102. Criminal abortion
(1) Any person who intentionally ends or causes to be ended the pregnancy of a woman by any means other than justified medical termination or birth commits criminal abortion.

18-6-103. Pretended criminal abortion
18-6-104. Failure to comply
18-6-105. Distributing abortifacients

12-32-107. Issuance, revocation, or suspension of license – probation – immunity in professional review

(3) “Unprofessional conduct” as used in this article means:

(m) Procuring, or aiding or abetting in procuring, criminal abortion;

12-36-117. Unprofessional conduct

(1) “Unprofessional conduct” as used in this article means:

(b) Procuring, or aiding or abetting in procuring, criminal abortion;

 

25-1-1202. Index of statutory sections regarding medical record confidentiality and health information
(1) Statutory provisions concerning policies, procedures, and references to the release, sharing, and use of medical records and health information include the following:

(ee) Sections 18-6-101 to 18-6-104 C.R.S., concerning a justified medical termination of pregnancy;

 

30-10-606. Coroner – inquiry – grounds – postmortem – jury – certificate of death

(1) The coroner shall immediately notify the district attorney, proceed to view the body, and make all proper inquiry respecting the cause and manner of death of any person in his jurisdiction who has died under any of the following circumstances:

(d) From criminal abortion, including any situation where such abortion may have been self-induced;

 

All of those laws were repealed by the 2013 Colorado legislature.  

 

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In 2003 a similar law was passed, focusing on “unlawful termination of a pregnancy.”  It was known as an “unborn victims of violence act“, and it actually strengthened the legality of abortion in the state, by including professional medical and surgical abortions in the specification of which terminations of pregnancy are legal:

Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 18, Article 3.5: Unlawful Termination of Pregnancy

18-3.5-101. Unlawful termination of pregnancy

(1) A person commits the offense of unlawful termination of a pregnancy if, with intent to terminate unlawfully the pregnancy of another person, the person unlawfully terminates the other person’s pregnancy.

18-3.5-102. Exclusions
Nothing in this article shall permit the prosecution of a person for providing medical treatment, including but not limited to an abortion, in utero treatment, or treatment resulting in live birth, to a pregnant woman for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which consent is implied by law.

 
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Other parts of the Colorado Revised Statutes that apply to abortion include: 
Colorado Revised Statutes: Title 12, Article 37.5: Colorado Parental Notification Act
(1) The people of the state of Colorado, pursuant to the powers reserved to them in Article V of the Constitution of the state of Colorado, declare that family life and the preservation of the traditional family unit are of vital importance to the continuation of an orderly society; that the rights of parents to rear and nurture their children during their formative years and to be involved in all decisions of importance affecting such minor children should be protected and encouraged, especially as such parental involvement relates to the pregnancy of an unemancipated minor, recognizing that the decision by any such minor to submit to an abortion may have adverse long-term consequences for her.
(2) The people of the state of Colorado, being mindful of the limitations imposed upon them at the present time by the federal judiciary in the preservation of the parent-child relationship, hereby enact into law the following provisions.

12-37.5-103. Definitions
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Minor” means a person under eighteen years of age.
(2) “Parent” means the natural or adoptive mother and father of the minor who is pregnant, if they are both living; one parent of the minor if only one is living, or if the other parent cannot be served with notice, as hereinafter provided; or the court-appointed guardian of such minor if she has one or any foster parent to whom the care and custody of such minor shall have been assigned by any agency of the state or county making such placement.
(3) “Abortion” for purposes of this article means the use of any means to terminate the pregnancy of a minor with knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the minor’s unborn offspring.
(5) “Medical emergency” means a condition that, on the basis of the physician’s good-faith clinical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of a pregnant minor as to necessitate a medical procedure necessary to prevent the pregnant minor’s death or for which a delay will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

12-37.5-104. Notification concerning abortion
(1) No abortion shall be performed upon an unemancipated minor until at least 48 hours after written notice of the pending abortion has been delivered in the following manner:
(a) The notice shall be addressed to the parent at the dwelling house or usual place of abode of the parent. Such notice shall be delivered to the parent by:
(I) The attending physician or member of the physician’s immediate staff who is over the age of eighteen; or
(II) The sheriff of the county where the service of notice is made, or by his deputy; or
(III) Any other person over the age of eighteen years who is not related to the minor; or
(IV) A clergy member who is over the age of eighteen.

 

12-37.5-105. No notice required – when

12-37.5-106. Penalties – damages – defenses

12-37.5-107. Judicial bypass

12-37.5-108. Limitations
(1) This article shall in no way be construed so as to:
(a) Require any minor to submit to an abortion; or
(b) Prevent any minor from withdrawing her consent previously given to have an abortion; or
(c) Permit anything less than fully informed consent before submitting to an abortion.
(2) This article shall in no way be construed as either ratifying, granting or otherwise establishing an abortion right for minors independently of any other regulation, statute or court decision which may now or hereafter limit or abridge access to abortion by minors.

 

25-3-110. Emergency contraception – definitions

 

25-6-101. Legislative declaration
(1) Continuing population growth either causes or aggravates many social, economic, and environmental problems, both in this state and in the nation.

25-6-102. Policy, authority, and prohibitions against restrictions
(1) All medically acceptable contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information shall be readily and practicably available to each person desirous of the same regardless of sex, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, disability, age, income, number of children, marital status, citizenship, national origin, ancestry, or motive.
(10) To the extent family planning funds are available, each agency and institution of this state and each of its political subdivisions shall provide contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information, including permanent sterilization procedures, to indigent persons free of charge and to other persons at cost.

 

25-6-201. This part 2 to be liberally construed
This part 2 shall be liberally construed to protect the rights of all individuals to pursue their religious beliefs, to follow the dictates of their own consciences, to prevent the imposition upon any individual of practices offensive to the individual’s moral standards, to respect the right of every individual to self-determination in the procreation of children, and to insure a complete freedom of choice in pursuance of constitutional rights.

25-6-202. Services to be offered by the county
The governing body of each county and each city and county or any county or district public health agency thereof or any welfare department thereof may provide and pay for, and each county and each city and county or any public health agency or county or district public health agency thereof or any welfare department thereof may offer, family planning and birth control services to every parent who is a public assistance recipient and to any other parent or married person who might have interest in, and benefit from, such services; except that no county or city and county or public health agency thereof is required by this section to seek out such persons.

 

25-6-203. Extent of services

25-6-205. Services may be refused
The refusal of any person to accept family planning and birth control services shall in no way affect the right of such person to receive public assistance or to avail himself of any other public benefit, and every person to whom such services are offered shall be so advised initially both orally and in writing. County and city and county employees engaged in the administration of this part 2 shall recognize that the right to make decisions concerning family planning and birth control is a fundamental personal right of the individual, and nothing in this part 2 shall in any way abridge such individual right, nor shall any individual be required to state his reason for refusing the offer of family planning and birth control services.

25-6-207. County employee exemption

To God be all glory, 

Lisa of Longbourn

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Ending the life of an innocent human being is wrong!
So.  Some analysis:
Pro-choice people cannot legitimately say that
the “product of conception”
is not alive
or that he is not innocent
or that he is not a human being.
All are quite obvious facts.
By definition they are ending whatever-he-is through an abortion or “termination”. 
The only thing left is to doubt the assertion that the act is wrong.
But if ending the life of an innocent human being is not wrong,
then how am I safe
from having my life ended?
How are you safe?
Who decides?
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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As a sidewalk counselor, I encounter various arguments for abortion.  One of the arguments is that a woman has a right to self-determination.  She has the right, they say, not to be pregnant.  A person has the right to eliminate consequences of their own choices and actions.

 

Of course the real world doesn’t allow us to erase causes – or effects.  When we deal with effects, we are making more choices leading to more causes of more effects.  The initial choice is never un-made.  Likewise abortion does not un-make a child; it kills him.

 

When faced with an unwanted pregnancy, it is useful to counsel a woman about where to go from here rather than what would have been ideal.  She has a baby.  Now what?  Murder that child, give that child away, or keep that child and receive its love.  Each of those will have consequences, for the mom and the baby.  So we try to focus on those facts about the real world, when we’re out sidewalk counseling.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Biblically, married couples should not use birth control. The Bible does say that children are a blessing, and commands us to be fruitful and multiply.  Barrenness is in a list of curses that will come on a people or a country that disobeys God.  God controls the womb.  Do we also forbid attempts to get pregnant (in vitro fertilization, for example)?  What about Natural Family Planning – no chemicals, surgeries, or other medical devices?  Is the issue taking control?  Avoiding blessings?  Or not valuing children?  Do we make exceptions for certain couples, for those with dangerous health  problems associated with pregnancy?  Yes, children are a blessing, but God describes many things as blessings, and we do not pursue them all.  Singleness is a blessing.  That blessing excludes parenthood in most cases.  Can you really choose and the blessing still be a blessing?  Who gives blessings?  Wasn’t the command to be fruitful only given to Adam and Eve and repeated to Noah?  It may be our right to pursue blessings, but as Christians, aren’t we supposed to lay down our rights in deference to God?  The Bible describes children as arrows in the hand of a warrior; if Christian couples are declining to have kids, are they shirking their responsibility to further the kingdom of God as best they can?  Our worldview has shifted, even in the last century, to see large families as abnormal or even undesirable.  Before this century it was the common teaching of Catholics and Protestants that birth control was wrong, that God wanted them to accept as many children as He granted.  We have biblical examples, if not mandates, of people regarding blessings.  Did anyone good ever refuse something that was a blessing?  What about the story of Onan where he acted the kinsman-redeemer but specifically avoided the possibility of conception in the union?  He was condemned.  But maybe he was condemned for the motives and implications of the act?

Christians become more like the world as they withdraw from the world. In what way would you describe those prime examples of religious seclusion: Amish and monks in a monastery, as being more like the world?  Worldly is defined as self-centered, reluctant to share our faith.  Though that is not particularly world-like, as they are eager to share their beliefs.  Perhaps it could be argued that Christians withdrawing from interaction with the world are growing less godly or less obedient (are we not called to be salt and light?) rather than more worldly.  There are many monasteries that, while pursuing a life apart, still engage in ministry to the community, to the “world.”  They do teaching ministries and nursing, for example.  Has not the US church become a club, withdrawing from the world in their exclusivity, because we are neglecting the command to reach out?  What made it become a club?  Maybe that itself was a consequence of becoming like the world, and inviting the world in on its terms.  If the world wants to come to church, shouldn’t they want to come for the truth?  Christians are commanded to be somewhat separate: more hospitable to other Christians than to nonbelievers; also to know who is “in” and who is “out” in order that outreach might be a definite, stand-out activity.  We as Christians are known by our love to one another.  Being so separate that the difference is obvious is a witness.  The Bible teaches Christians to engage in BOTH discipleship AND evangelism.  1 John instructs us NOT to love the world or anything in the world.  Those Christian leaders most recognized for being engaged in the world and having a large impact or effect on the world – are they having an impact for the Kingdom of God?  Billy [Graham], Joel [Osteen], and Rick [Warren] are “ruining the kingdom of God.”  Our interaction with the world should be one of confrontation.  And perhaps “Christians” in the US aren’t real Christians, so withdrawing from responsibilities to love their neighbors is a natural reaction.

(First Ever 2 Minute Debate!)  The Sun will go out before Jesus comes back, so we should colonize other solar systems. Jesus said He was coming back soon.  At that point the world had only existed for 4,000 or so years, so the absolute maximum that could have meant would be A.D. 4,000.  There is no way the Sun is burning out in 2,000 years.  If we’re still around then, though, and He hasn’t come back, maybe then we’ll look into colonizing other solar systems.  Plus we have better things to do than worrying about the survival of humanity after the earth.

Confessing sins to fellow disciples is essential for healthy community. Don’t we already confess sins to each other?  It just starts out with, “It was SO cool…”  Seriously, isn’t there a danger of confession turning into bragging?  If I tell you my sins, doesn’t that encourage you to gossip about me?  Disciple is defined as one who is pursuing godliness, trying to grow spiritually.  So the discretion used in confessing to disciples can guard against some dangers.  Another danger is the power of suggestion introducing a type of temptation to others.  But confession could – and should – be made without details.  The benefit of hearing sins confessed is to realize that other Christians are struggling with sin – maybe even the same sin – too.  That gives assurance that the temptation and failure is not a sign of being unregenerate.  Should confession be private (accountability partner) or communal?  History has recorded many times where revival followed public confession.  Pastors often set the example of public confession, apologizing for faults during sermons.  It is probably more important for leaders to confess publicly.  So what?  Now everyone knows that everyone else is a mess just like them.  How does that build healthy community?  Congregations can pray for each other when they know the need, support each other, and rejoice in the victories.  But people don’t have to wait until they’ve conquered sins to start confessing.  And a meeting could involve some confession and some victory reports.  Confession invites intimacy.  Public confession facilitates repentance, whereas not having to tell anyone about it lets a person “get over it” without being truly sorry.  Isn’t God sufficient pressure to invite true repentance?  Being one with God is tied to being one with others.  The Christian response to confession is forgiveness, especially if you were wronged by the sin.  But the Bible does record times when men confessed their sins and received judgment.  Take Achan, whose whole family was stoned with him even after he confessed.  Still, a case can be made that the stoning of Achan’s household was good for the community, which is the wording of the resolution.  Reality has Christians experiencing consequences even though we’re forgiven.

The way Protestants teach salvation by grace alone/faith alone/Christ alone leads people to faith in intellectual assent, not to faith in the Spirit of Christ (true salvation). So we shouldn’t teach that gospel?  Or we need to be very careful how it’s explained?  Christians tend to use terms with people who don’t know what we mean, like faith; in our culture it is understood as intellectual assent.  So if that isn’t what we mean, we need to define our terms or use words that anyone can understand.  Sometimes there aren’t words for concepts (some tribes have been discovered with no word for mercy or forgiveness): in such cases, longer explanations and even demonstrations may be necessary.  Part of the cause of false conversions in America today is that salvation is sold as a ticket out of hell…  But if it is true that we are saved by faith alone, why does it matter how an evangelist explains the gospel?  The gospel of intellectual assent is a Holy Spirit-less gospel; it doesn’t lead them to God.  Isn’t the Holy Spirit capable of using weak words to nonetheless convert hearts?  It is the Christian’s responsibility to be as clear as he can.  When we talk about salvation, we rarely mention that the choice brings a cost: lordship of Christ, sacrificing, how much easier it is to live without morals.  We say “God has a wonderful plan for your life” but look at Paul’s life.  Are we being dishonest?  What about using a word like “mistake” instead of sin?  Doesn’t that give the impression that your rebellion against God was an accident?  But that could be an attempt at using an understandable word when no one knows what sin is anymore.  Are there better words, though, like “wrong”?  Originally it was understood that converting to a certain religion, with its doctrines, had consequences.  It meant a conversion to that lifestyle as well.  How do we know when people are understanding us?  If our lives back up our message, we become our own visual aid.  Even the word saved can be misleading.  Most people don’t experience a feeling of danger because they were born spiritually dead.  They are not presently in Hell, so they don’t realize the importance of being saved from it.  But if you use the word “changed,” that implies that something happens to you but also that you are different.  And you are not only changed, but also changing.  Some people do get saved out of fear of Hell.  But the Great Commission was to make disciples.  To make changed people.  Aren’t Justification and Regeneration equal and indivisible parts of salvation?  Hearing the message of salvation from Hell gives people an appreciation for God’s grace, because they have a concept of His wrath.

Are you tired of being buffeted by your fan?  (Did you even know you were being buffeted?)  Try the new and fantastic Dyson* Air Foil Fan.  It works like a jet engine.  Some people have noted that wind is naturally, uh, well, buffeting, so that style of air propellant might be preferred by some people.  But when is the last time someone invented a new fan?  Start saving now!  *Dyson, the inventor, is now “Sir Dyson.”  He was knighted by the Queen.  That’s how cool his fan is.  (The preceding paragraph should not be taken as an endorsement of Dyson or any of its products or ideas.)

Christians, for efficiency, should focus on saving kids dying of natural causes than the much more difficult task of keeping other people (parents) from killing them, as in pro-life work. Both victims want to be saved.  There is less resistance from authorities and parents to saving people who are starving or without clean drinking water.  Aren’t both causes of death the result of hardened hearts and sinful people?  Maybe even the result of our sin?  So the task involves overcoming hard hearts either way.  But the resolution was about saving lives, not changing hearts.  It is easier to save people – physically – from natural threats.  But the reason to save either children is to give them a chance to hear the spiritual message of salvation by grace in the future.  Don’t pit two good things against each other.  Doing something here in your spare time is easier than packing up the family and moving to Africa to dig wells for drinking water, and corresponds better to a lot of peoples’ callings.  The Bible talks about blood guilt for a nation that commits the shedding of innocent blood; doesn’t that put some priority on us addressing the deaths in our OWN nation?  But our influence isn’t just national anymore; it is global.  And blood guilt is a global phenomenon.  Shouldn’t we start at home?  Don’t do something just because it is easier.  But we weren’t talking about easy; we were talking about efficient.  And efficiency implies limited resources; our God who is sending us to care for the weak and needy is not limited.  Unless you consider that He is limited by human willingness (our willingness to obey or others’ willingness to receive).  Are we going for results?  The biggest number of people helped?  Shouldn’t we just be trying to glorify God in whatever we do?  Is it wrong to use wisdom, taking efficiency into consideration, to make that choice?  Jesus said that thousands were starving but Elijah was sent to only one widow.  So one needs to take into account personal conviction and direction from God.  Have God’s values.  Whatever you do, do it heartily.  Efficiency is a worthy consideration, but not the sole motivator.  We need God’s direction.  And what if those we save by using our energies efficiently end up transforming the world and saving people from other kinds of death as well?  Are we not furthering the kingdom of God by saving multitudes from starvation and disease – thus ingratiating the world to us and our message?

Institutional Church is fundamentally neither worse nor less biblical than any other form of church. Institutional Church is defined as that typical of the United States, including an order of worship, a building, pastors and elders.  Though theoretically the models may have equal ground, consistent tendencies suggest a flaw in the institutional model.  Are home churches any better?  Institutional Churches have the record for longevity.  House churches don’t usually last hundreds of years.  But maybe that isn’t the goal of a house church.  Where size is concerned, Institutional Churches tend to be larger, which guards against false doctrine and gives greater accountability.  Is that true?  Doesn’t the larger congregation provide anonymity, and so hinder accountability?  In denominations, a characteristic of Institutional Church, individual congregations are accountable to the denomination, particularly for their doctrine.  Jim Elliot said the Church is God’s, and it is important to Him, so if He has a way He wants the Church to meet and worship Him, we should do it that way.  [and this is my blog, so I can edit history and give the quote for real: “The pivot point hangs on whether or not God has revealed a universal pattern for the church in the New Testament. If He has not, then anything will do so long as it works. But I am convinced that nothing so dear to the heart of Christ as His Bride should be left without explicit instructions as to her corporate conduct. I am further convinced that the 20th century has in no way simulated this pattern in its method of ‘churching’ a community . . . it is incumbent upon me, if God has a pattern for the church, to find and establish that pattern, at all costs” (Shadow of The Almighty: Life and Testimony of Jim Elliot)  See also my website: www.ChurchMoot.wordpress.com]  The Bible describes a model of church that the Institutional Church does not match.  That is what makes it inferior.  For example, 1 Corinthians 14 says that when the Church gathers, every one has a teaching, psalm, prophecy, tongue – not just a pre-scheduled pastor.  But the Bible also teaches that there should be order, that everyone should not be talking over each other.  Isn’t that an “order of worship”?  The Bible does talk about pastors, though!  What is the role of a pastor?  When the New Testament talks about pastors and apostles and evangelists giving attention to teaching and preaching, doesn’t that suggest the sermon?  Preaching is primarily for evangelism.  Christians are to honor those elders especially who minister in the Word.  Shouldn’t a Christian convicted about these matters try to reform the Institutional Church?  How can he, when the means at his disposal are the very thing he wants to change?  You could keep the same people, the same congregation, but you would have to tear the whole structure down and start over.  The issue isn’t problems in individual congregations or even necessarily those “tendencies” to which Institutional Church is prone; it is the description of the Church meetings given in the New Testament.  Where did the New Testament Church meet?  How did they facilitate the Church in Jerusalem at thousands of members if it met in houses?  They didn’t all have to meet at once in one place.  Is it wrong to meet in buildings?  Buildings cost money to maintain.  The Early Church and House Churches can use that money for other things, not needing to budget for light-bulbs and parking lots.  And the money was administered not by a church fund, but entrusted to the apostles.  Would it be best to return to an Apostolic Model, then, or even recognize Apostolic Succession as in the Catholic Church?

What Americans call consumerism isn’t consumerism; it’s collecting and hoarding, so we should stop maligning consumerism. Why do we think of consuming as bad?  Everyone consumes.  But isn’t that the threat behind “carbon footprints” of every organism?  Hoarding is entrapping; it’s worse than cigarettes.  We store all this stuff in our houses and then we lose it by the time we “need” it.  But people find security in having backups for things they use a lot.  And the reason we need a backup is because our society has manufactured (or demanded the manufacture of) consumable products, things that break or wear out.  When something breaks, we have easy access to stores, which store replacements for you.  We don’t just throw out broken things, though; we get rid of things to make way for the “new” thing, the upgrade.  What should you do with things you’re not using?  You shouldn’t keep it unless you are highly efficient at your storage and make your supplies work for you, your neighbors, and friends (hospitality: see Pigfest February 2010).  Isn’t this hoarding just the “building bigger barns” as in Jesus’ parable?  Then again, maybe it is the responsible thing to do, to work hard now and save up (not just money) for later, like the fabled ants in The Ant and the Grasshopper.  But is consuming really bad?  If you’re really using something up, and people are able to keep producing it, go ahead and consume.  Stores aren’t always as accessible as efficiency would require.  Consumption doesn’t just cost money; it costs lives and freedom.  There are some economies purposefully enslaved, where the people are kept dependent and forced to manufacture that which we consume.  Consumption is not acceptable, then, at every cost.  Isn’t the hoarding we’re talking about a sign of a lack of trust that God will take care of us in the future?

The End.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I don’t know how to start this subject.  Let me try to tell a story.  We’ll see how that goes.

There is sunshine, but the air is thin and cold.  A wide open street on the edge of the old Stapleton Airport campus in east Denver invites the wind.  I stand a few feet into the street, for several reasons.  From there I can see past the cars parked on the curb, to quickly profile cars coming down the block from either direction.  I’m away from unwelcome shade provided by the black tarps draping the encircling fence.  And I can see my friends’ faces from their perch at the top of a couple ladders.
Cars parked on the curb function as easels to signs bigger than I am.  The wind sneaks under the vehicles, between tires, and swirls to drag down larger-than-life graphic images of aborted children.  The pictures show blood and entrails.  Decapitation.  Tongs holding body parts.  Tiny feet and hands held in the gloved hand of a medical professional.  Still babies curled up, skin blackened by unnatural death.  I don’t like to look at those signs.
But I pick them up when they blow down.  I help set them out each morning I sidewalk counsel.  Without them those who drive by wonder what we’re doing.  We don’t look serious.
In my few years’ experience sidewalk counseling, I have noticed that men and women planning to abort their sons and daughters are not very rational.  We can take any verbal approach to explaining why abortion will not solve their problems, and they walk in anyway.  Sometimes they even respond, revealing the level of their irrationality.
They’ll tell us to go save starving children in Africa, for example.  As if the fact that children are dying somewhere else makes it ok to intentionally kill them here, and I should say nothing about it.  Pro-choice people will argue that if a baby was conceived through rape, the baby should die.  But if a 20-year-old was conceived in rape, they should not be aborted.
We talk about heartbeats and fingers and toes, DNA, and blood type.  Abortion has been linked to increased risk for breast cancer, depression, and infertility.  Planned Parenthood wants their money, and we’re out there as volunteers, offering free help.  If they can’t keep the baby, they could choose adoption.  Women are made to nurture, not murder their kids.  Men are made to protect, not destroy life.  Why get your healthcare from people who think it is healthy to pull the arms and legs off of babies?  God hates the hands that shed innocent blood, and without turning to Jesus, the parents and staff must give an account to God for the lives they took.
But before they hear any of that, they see the pictures.  For a moment their irrational thoughts cannot even pretend to refute a picture.  It wakens an instant emotion: disgust, fear, compassion – that no words can wipe away.  Faced with images of death, no desperate thoughts of boyfriends or fathers or college degrees or finances can compare.  They drive on by.  They get out of their cars.  They hear sidewalk counselors through tarps and from ladders.
Honestly, the words we say are only the follow up.  We make eye contact and speak up to plead for the lives of the babies.  Sidewalk counselors cry out the warnings women will not hear inside.  Those women who think they have no other choice hear our voices letting them know that we offer help.
This week a woman rode by our signs, instantly crying.  She and her partner pulled into the parking lot but stayed in their car.  We stood on the ladders, trying to make eye contact in their rear-view mirrors.  And then the couple drove out, stopping for a moment to let us know they had changed their mind.  We gave them information on where to get free help, and sent them on their way.
Some pro-life groups and even sidewalk counselors protest the use of graphic signs.  But those that use them report that more people have testified that they changed their minds because of those pictures than for any other reason.  They see the pictures and cannot go through with an abortion.
Four kinds of people see those graphic signs, our strongest argument against the choice of ending a brand new human life.
  1. Pro-lifers see them.  We are reminded of the reality sterilized by large brick buildings prettily landscaped.  It is hard sometimes, watching staff drive in nonchalant and unconcerned by the carnage a few rooms away, to be convinced that cruel murder takes place behind those doors.
  2. The staff sees them.  Some of the staff witness actual abortions.  I wouldn’t imagine the signs have much effect on them (except in that they expose to the world what they do every day).  But other staff does paperwork and counseling and escorting.  Perhaps their hearts will be softened when they see what they are supporting.
  3. Customers who are not pregnant see them.  A few women stop by for birth control or STD testing or other gynecological procedures.  Before they are in a desperate situation, pregnant and emotional, they have been exposed to the gruesome facts of “choice.”
  4. Mothers and fathers with appointments see them.  There are a lot of efforts to prevent them from even reaching this point.  Government programs attempt to teach people what they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies.  Christian ministries offer help to pregnant moms with counsel and physical aid.  Friends are out there offering support for keeping the baby, praying for the women they know or don’t know.  But if this mom slipped through the cracks or chose to come anyway, there are two last efforts: unmistakable graphic signs and people who care enough to try to stop her up until the last minute.
A lot of people in these groups think illogically.  They don’t understand consequences.  They act on emotional impulses, and practice very little self-control.  That’s why graphic signs are more effective: they bypass reason and appeal to emotion.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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It seems to me that if there is a law, however silly, and if a person is accused of breaking that law but goes to court and a judge agrees that their behavior did not trespass the law, that such a precedent should serve as a guide to that person and all in the district for acceptable behavior. These people should not be repeatedly accused of breaking that law for the same offense ruled to be legal in prior cases. I would call that harassment.

Those are my opinions, but they do not seem to be shared by our local government. For Planned Parenthood, who is trying to shut down the pro-life voices outside their clinic, has been pressuring the government in every possible means (save making brand new laws; Obama is a bit to busy to keep his promise of passing FOCA, thank Jesus) to harass us. The latest, from Wednesday last week, was to call code enforcement about our ladders. Now pro-lifers look pretty extreme a lot of times not only because we have the unpopular belief that people have a right to life, but because we are trying to be law abiding behind ridiculous restrictions. To save lives we are not allowed to enter a medical facility, or its property. We cannot peacefully sit in the driveways or roads, or in front of the doors. Politics has found us inconvenient. So have police*, it seems.

So we have to yell at women, because we can’t get close enough to them to talk (8 foot bubble law within 100 feet of an abortion clinic). And we have to have big signs because kids aren’t taught the truth in school, at home, or through media. We wear t-shirts because no one else is talking about it. And we use ladders because, unlike any other medical facility in the country, these have tarps surrounding their parking lot. Men who practice wickedness like to hide. They want to block out the light and the truth. So we put up ladders and talk over the black tarp fences. (Yelling is certainly not preferable. If they park close enough, or walk by, we do talk to them. And we try to make eye contact with the mothers.) We heard one account from this past year where a baby was saved partly because of ladders. The girl couldn’t believe the man talking to her was so tall!

Code enforcement came by Wednesday. He rolled down his window and addressed me at my perch on top of a ladder. “You can’t have those on the sidewalk,” he said.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked, with naivety. I mean, I’ve been doing this a year and a half. The people who own the ladders have been coming out for decades. I’m sure if it was illegal, they would have been stopped already.

He added, “They can’t block the sidewalk.”

“People can get by.” I looked down at the three feet of space between my ladder and the road.

“You can’t have the ladders on the sidewalk.”

I then directed him to the owner of the ladders, whom I knew would know what to say. “Yes I can,” was the thing. “We’ve been to court 100 times, and we’ve won every time about the ladders.”

“I can take them,” he said.

“No you can’t,” she replied. I mean, this is hard for Christians. Because in a constitutional republic, where we have laws that guide our behavior and not arbitrary men telling us what to do, we have the right to act in accordance with those laws. But bossy little people with no real authority try to tell us what to do, and they are working for the government, so should we comply? Do we have to comply every time they talk to us, until we look up the law again and go back to doing it until they stop us again? The court told the sidewalk counselors they could use ladders on the sidewalk. So that’s what she stood for. And she threatened to call 911 if he tried to take her ladders.

So he drove away, and as we suspected he would, he called the police.


Three squad cars and an SUV came shortly, and told my friend to move her ladders. Same story. Except they could ticket her, and they had big sticks and probably guns. (They always remind me of when Jesus asked, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.”) She tends to remind policemen* that babies are about to be murdered just a few yards away, instead of sticking to their topic. Men should know what they are doing, she feels, and which side they are serving.


During her argument, one or two of the police officers went to chat with the abortion clinic security guard. A third, Catholic, chatted with a woman who had been praying her rosary before they arrived, when she spoke up. I went to find my camera and start taking pictures and prepare to video whatever was going to happen. My friend kept talking to the fourth policeman. Eventually she said that she knew the name of their commander, had spoken with her about the ladders, and that she would back her with permission to keep the ladders.

“You can move them into the street,” one officer suggested.


“Why didn’t you just say so?” With evident frustration, she descended her ladder for the first time and tugged the first one into the road. But once she had both of them in the street, they were going to cite her for having had them on the sidewalk. As you may imagine, this was met with further resistance. For one thing, after the last time they had been to court for the same legal action, my friend and her husband had warned the government that if they had to deal with the issue again, they would be in a federal first amendment lawsuit. This was brought up to reinforce the seriousness of her next statement: “I’m calling Commander –“ she said, and took out her cell phone. The station did not pick up my friend’s call, and the officers raced her to speak with their commander first. While the ladder-woman continued to wait on hold, the commander informed her people that as long as the path was not obstructed in a way in which pedestrians could not get by, the ladders could stay.

 
With a short apology, three of the patrol packed up and left. She returned her ladders to the sidewalk, and spent the next half hour or so talking with the Catholic policeman who was the friendliest to begin with.

I would like to point out that during the whole incident the street was rather blocked with patrol cars, including two parked facing the wrong direction.

  • Police, I imagine, got into their line of work because they wanted to defend innocent lives. To be reminded that the law protects murderers and that their official job restricts their involvement in saving lives has to be frustrating. My friend likes to invite them to join the cause, even if only when they’re off duty. And she likes to point out that they will answer to a higher authority.
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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