************ Sermon on Psalm 127:3 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 23, 2000
"Children Are Precious"
Title: Drive a Stake Through the Heart
Once upon a time there was a village where a strange disease afflicted many of the people. It was often fatal, but not always. Anyone who got the disease would lapse into a deathlike coma, with no detectable signs of life. Medical science was not very advanced back then, so there was no way of knowing whether the victim was dead or only in a coma. The people would bury a victim when a certain time had passed and burial seemed fitting, but they feared that several of their relatives and friends had already been buried alive and that they might be next. Somehow they had to deal with this uncertainty.
One group of townspeople suggested that the coffins be well stocked with food and water, that an air vent be drilled into them, and that there be some means of signaling people above ground, just in case some of the "dead" happened to be alive and woke up. This was expensive to do, but it seemed worth it.
A second group, however, came up with a less expensive and more efficient idea. They proposed that each coffin have a long, sharp stake attached to the inside of the coffin lid, exactly at the place where the heart was. Then, when they slammed the coffin lid shut, all uncertainty would cease.
Which idea is better? Well, that depends on what you think is important. If you think it is important that you don't kill people who are still alive, then the well-stocked coffin is the better idea. If you think it is important that everyone you bury is actually dead, then the long, sharp stake to the heart is the cheaper and more efficient way to go.
I Two Options for Unwanted Children
A On this Pro-Life Sunday let's use this story to look at a problem our society faces today: the problem of unwanted kids. This is a very serious problem. The parent or parents of these kids feel unfairly burdened. Sometimes an unwanted kid causes drastic changes in lifestyle: changes like poverty or having to quit school or getting married earlier than you were planning on. The kids are often mistreated, abused, and unloved. As they grow up, they are often a danger on the streets, a disruption in school, and a drain on society's resources. There is no doubt that there ought to be a lot fewer unwanted children. The ideal is that every child is wanted and not a single child is unwanted.
B But now, as we deal with this problem, what do we consider most important? There are two options: we can consider it most important to reduce or eliminate the number of unwanted children or we can consider it most important to treasure and care for each child that is born. Both options, I am sure you see, get rid of the problem of unwanted children.
C If we consider it most important to reduce or eliminate the children we don't want, the solution seems obvious: population programs – like birth control and condoms – and easy access to abortion. When we push population programs and abortion then in no time we should greatly reduce or eliminate the problem of unwanted children.
D If we consider it most important to treasure and care for each child that is born, then we spend time, resources, and emotions on each child. Then we try to change attitudes so that no child is ever considered unwanted. Then we help pregnant teens and single parents with the tremendous load they have taken on. Then we are in favour of foster care and adoption.
II Reduce or Eliminate Unwanted Children
A I think most of you realize that China has taken the first approach. Since the late 1970s China has had a simple rule: the first child is a wanted child; every other child after the first is unwanted and should be aborted.
Topic: ChildrenUnder a recent law passed by China's parliament, any unborn child with genetic defects is, by definition, also unwanted and therefore should also be aborted.
Title: China's One-Child Family Policy
China's one-child per family policy has had a number of unintended consequences.
The first consequence is an increase in the proportion of old people from 7.22% right now to 25% by 2050.
The second consequence is an imbalance in the number of men compared to the number of women. You see, many Chinese want their one and only child allowed under the law to be a boy. So many girls unfortunate enough to be the first-born are quietly killed or abandoned or aborted. The result is that today there are 70 million Chinese men aged 25-49 who have to remain bachelors. This has led to a selling of wives. Chinese Communist Party documents show that in 1999 officials investigated 19,000 cases of women sold as wives against their will; also, more than 60,000 people involved in this trafficking were arrested.
The third consequence is suicide among the young who are single children. With only one child the family is possessive and oppressive. A 1993 enquiry showed that only 5 out of 1000 students admired their parents. Over 90% of those interviewed think parents are too invading and strict.
B Some of you might remember an article published on April 2, 1990 in Newsweek magazine. Noel Perrin offered another approach to getting rid of unwanted children:
Topic: FollyConsider the world Perrin would impose upon us – a society with few or no children to raise. If this system of rewards succeeded even for a few years, there would soon be no maternity wards, no pediatricians, no toys, no tricycles, no schools, no children's literature, no little ones around our feet to love and train and protect, and no baptisms (like we had this morning). All that would remain in a decade or two would be a society of utterly selfish adults, steadily moving toward death with no hope of youthful regeneration. If Perrin had his way, procreation would be but a memory. Indeed, Noel Perrin has given us a prescription for social suicide – all for a mere $114 billion. What a bargain!
Perrin suggests that the federal government pay every girl who has gone through puberty $400 for not getting pregnant for one year. The second year she would receive $500, then $600 the third, and so on until she is 52 years of age. If she chooses to remain barren for life, she would receive nearly $100,000 for her non-productivity!
C Now, I think we all recognize that this view we are talking about is NOT confined just to China and Noel Perrin. This is also the view, the approach, of many in our society. Today is Pro-Life Sunday. It has now been 27 years since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in all 50 states. In that time more than 39 million babies have had their life taken, some 1.44 million on average per year. There is now one abortion for every two live births. We have to fight this dreadful sin because a society that kills its young has taken the first step to killing others too. In fact, with Dr. Jack Kevorkian we have already taken the second step.
Topic: MurderI want you to notice that it started with the attitude that some lives are not worthy to be lived. This is the attitude, I am afraid, that Dr. Jack Kevorkian has. This is the attitude, I am afraid, that also lies behind much of the abortion movement. To get rid of the problem of unwanted children they see nothing wrong with driving a stake through the heart.
Subtopic: Examples of
Dr. Leo Alexander, consultant to the office of the Chief of Counsel for War Crimes wrote about how German physicians started a trend which resulted in the euthanasia of 275,000 people before the war began:
It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. Now, in Nazi Germany what kind of life was not worthy to be lived? It was first defined as those who were severely and chronically sick with no hope for a cure. Gradually the definition was broadened to include those who were socially unproductive and contributed nothing to society (that is, the lazy and those who were sent to prison). Then the definition of those who were not worthy to live included those who thought differently. Then those of other races were included (especially Jews and gypsies). Finally, the definition of those who were not worthy to live was broadened to include all non-Germans.
III Every Child a Wanted Child
A As I already said, there is also a second option, a second approach, to the problem of unwanted children. To get rid of the problem of unwanted children we can make it a point to treasure and care for each child that is born.
I think we all recognize this to be the Bible's position.
In our Scripture reading, the psalmist tells us that "sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him." Notice the two things the psalmist says about children: heritage and reward.
Children are a "heritage." The term heritage is a translation of the Hebrew word that means "property, possession ... that which is shared/assigned." Children are the Lord's possessions, the Lord's property. And, He assigns them to or shares them with parents. From God's point-of-view there is no such thing as an "accidental birth" or a "surprise pregnancy" or an "unwanted child." Each one belongs to Him and is assigned by Him to parents. So Benjamin Mitchell Streutker has been assigned by God to Richard and Corina and Kayla Marie Saroyan has been assigned by God to Mike and Janet.
Children are a "heritage." The Psalmist doesn't say "some children," or even "most children," but simply "children." In other words, all children ... your children, my children ... are the Lord's possession. All children ... your children, my children ... are assigned by Him to parents. It is proper, very proper, to speak of God's children when we talk of little ones.
Wise parents acknowledge that their children – each one of them – belongs to God and is a personal gift from Him. Wise parents acknowledge that each child is "assigned" to them by God. Wise parents acknowledge that each child is a "heritage from the Lord." Wise parents thank and praise God for each of their children.
B Children are also a "reward." The term reward conveys the idea of appreciation, of pleasure, of joy. Children are never to be viewed as a sign of God's displeasure, as His punishment for sin. To the contrary, the fruit of the womb is the trophy of God's love, His choice reward. Wise parents and grandparents take pleasure in children. Children bring joy into our lives. A world without children would be an impoverished world. Their zest, their laughter, their excitement, their unique way of viewing things adds to the fullness of life.
We find this view already in the very beginning of the Bible. I have always been intrigued by the words spoken by God right after He made Adam and Eve in His image. According to the Bible,
(Gen 1:28) God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Notice, God blessed man with the ability to have children and to rule the earth. Returning to the theme of Psalm 127, children are a sign of God's blessing. They are God's reward to His image-bearers.
Early in the last century, Bishop Hall of the Anglican Church or the Church of England wrote,
Subtopic: Esteemed Highly
I remember a great man coming into my house at Waltham; and, seeing all my children standing in the order of their age and size, he said, "These are what make rich men poor." But I gave him this answer, "No, my lord, these are what make a poor man rich; for there is not one of these we would part with for all your wealth."
C Children are a heritage. Children are a reward. This tells us why we value children. This tells us why we treasure and care for each child that is born. Notice, the psalmist does not tell us we treasure and care for children because they are always so much fun or because they are so sweet and cute. For we know that is not always the case. Children are conceived and born in sin and are naturally inclined to sin. Children involve work, lots of work. They involve time, lots of time. They involve energy, lots of energy. They involve money, lots of money. But we invest ourselves, our work, our time, our energy, and our money in children because they are God's gifts.
In a society such as ours where it is so easy to have an abortion we have to keep reminding ourselves and each other that children are a heritage, they are a reward. They belong to God, are entrusted to us, and are a sign of His blessing. For this reason we know we can't kill unborn human life. For this reason we know we cannot simply try to reduce or eliminate the number of unwanted children through birth control and abortion. For this reason we know we cannot be satisfied with simply driving a stake through the heart.
D Children are a heritage, a reward, from the Lord. Every child is a wanted child, a treasured child. Every child deserves our care. For this reason we fight abortion at every turn. For this reason we encourage Christian parents to be involved in foster care and the fost-adopt program. For this reason we offer support and help to single parents and pregnant teens. For this reason we support organizations like Bethany Christian Services and Care Pregnancy Center.
As I said before, we have a big problem in our country with unwanted children. We can try to get rid of the problem by driving a stake through the heart or we can try to get rid of the problem by loving the children.
Those who know that children are a heritage, a reward, a blessing, from the Lord, have no choice. They try to get rid of the problem of unwanted children by showing them love and care.
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