Ancient Road Publications


“Above My Paygrade”

By Kyle Pope


nly three days after taking office, President Barack Obama quietly, with no media attention signed an executive order striking down President Bush’s ban on federal money going to international “family planning” organizations which offer and counsel abortion as an option. As a result of this action not only can taxpayer dollars now be used to promote and carry out abortions, but groups which lobby to further legalize and promote abortion as a means of contraception will receive federal funds. The President has also promised to sign the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), which, if it passes Congress, will remove State and Federal prohibitions against abortion, including bans on partial-birth abortion and measures requiring parental notification of minors who seek abortions. FOCA will also seek to compel all medical facilities to offer abortions in that it would grant individuals the right to sue facilities which refuse to provide abortion. This measure would essentially write into law the infamous 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling which has allowed abortions to take place since that time. In spite of President Obama’s claim that he “has no desire to continue the stale and fruitless debate” over abortion, his aggressive moves to promote it will force those who value human life into a vocal opposition which is neither “stale” or “fruitless.” 

           Some who supported President Obama may have been surprised by these moves. The fact is, his actions should come as no surprise. Before the election, in a televised discussion with the presidential candidates and the denominational preacher Rick Warren, both men were asked the question—“when does life begin?” The then, Senator Obama skirted around the question, by responding, “that’s a question that’s above my pay-grade.” I’m sure to some who heard these words, the Senator appeared to be open-minded, intellectual, and willing to yield to those who knew more about such matters than himself. However, the actions of his first days in office make it clear that he felt that the answer was well within his “pay-grade!” His actions clearly show that he holds the conviction that either life does not begin at conception, or that a child within the womb is not “life.” While many Christians find themselves moved to a state of despair over the unfolding of these events, perhaps it would be fitting for us to remind ourselves of a few things.

1. The Bible condemns abortion. The Bible makes it clear that it is God who forms a child in the womb (Psalm 139:13-14). This divine formation is described as a “child” or “babe” whether in or outside of the womb (Luke 1:41; 2:12; Matthew 1:18). The Law of Moses taught that the child in the womb was life. Exodus 21:22-25 addressed injury to a pregnant woman and her child. If she “gives birth prematurely”[*] yet “no harm follows” (i.e. to mother or child) only a fine was to be charged. If harm to mother or child occurred the penalty was to be determined “life for life.” The Bible throughout condemns the taking of innocent life (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12; Matthew 19:18; Revelation 21:8). As such, it is no wonder that in some of the earliest Christian writings after the New Testament it was affirmed that Christians teach, “you shall not murder a child by abortion, nor shall you kill it when it is born” (Epistle of Barnabas 19.5; also Didache 2.2).     

2. The fact that a government may fund something which is sinful does not excuse the Christian from paying taxes. Whenever a government moves to financially support sinful and unscriptural behavior, Christians struggle with whether or not that makes us complicit in sin through the taxes we pay. Some years ago this came up when anti-religious and pornographic artwork was produced under federally funded grants through the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Now, the same question rises over federal funds supporting abortion. We are blessed in the United States to live in a democratic republic in which we can voice our convictions. Yet, the example of Jesus answers once and for all whether payment of taxes constitutes cooperation in sin. When Jesus was questioned about payment of taxes, Jesus raised no reservation about the distribution of such monies. He called attention to Caesar’s portrait on the currency and declared powerfully, “render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). When these words were said, Roman tax dollars supported pagan idolatry and as time went on ultimately supported emperor worship. Yet, Jesus still taught that taxes must be paid (cf. Romans 13:6).

3. It is not the role of the church to engage in politics—but it is the role of the church to declare the truth. We must stand in opposition to the moves made by the denominational world to use the pulpit and the local church to promote political causes, candidates, or parties. Paul told Timothy that the church is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The church has a spiritual focus which (frankly) is more important than geo-political forces. Daniel prophesied the establishment of this realm of Christ’s rule over His church promising, “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). The church is a spiritual kingdom which exists independent of who is in office, which nation we live in, or what issues man values at the time. Yet, we must realize that as the “pillar and ground of the truth” it is absolutely our duty to speak boldly and openly with regard to what Scripture teaches regarding sin and righteousness. Isaiah 5:20 proclaimed, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Abortion is sin! Homosexuality is sin! Just as adultery, sexual immorality, dishonestly, unscriptural divorce, and remarriage, or even vulgar speech is sin. We do not uphold the work of the church if we remain silent in proclamation of truth.

[*] Some translations incorrectly render this “has a miscarriage.” That communicates the wrong idea. This is not the usual wording for miscarriage or still birth, as seen in Genesis 31:38 or Job 3:16. Instead, it literally means, “her children come out.” Job 3:11 uses it in reference to “when I came out of the womb.” This makes it clear that the “harm” to both mother and child fall within the “life for life” penalty.

Pope, Kyle. "Above My Paygrade" Biblical Insights 9.6 (June 2009): 19  

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