Sheep, Shepherds, and Wolves

nazareneMuch has been said this week, some of it here, about ISIS and the Christians of Mosul. It is right for us to weep, and gnash our teeth over the fate that is overtaking our brothers and sisters. Many of us lay much of the blame at the feet of our politicians, I think that also correct. But understand this, we, especially in Britain and America, elected them, they are our representatives, and they act, or don’t act, in our names.

We have other leadership though, and that is the leadership of our churches. And where are they? These are our brothers and sisters, literally in Christ at risk. We are taught, all of us, to turn the other cheek, yes. But they self identify as the shepherds of the flock. I grew up around, not so much shepherds, per se, but around cattlemen, who are not very different. One thing I know, is that cattlemen detest wolves, there is a reason why it is nearly always an open season on wolves and coyotes in our societies. they are destructive of our herds and flocks. And so, they must be destroyed.

That is part of the role of the shepherd. usually and ably assisted by the sheepdog, and I think nearly all of my readers will know who self-identifies in that role. They are there, and they are ready, but it is not their decision to make, that is for the shepherd, and if they vacillate, and prevaricate, and attempt to placate and live with the wolves, the flock shall suffer the losses.

Usually, I find Judge Jeanine Pirro, a bit strident for my taste, which is why I don’t usually run her videos here, and also I like to lighten-up a bit on the weekends when her videos become available. But this week she is correct. She is Catholic, and faults the Pope, I don’t disagree but her net is too narrow, where is the Church of England, where are the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Evangelicals, the Fundamentalists, and yes, the Orthodox as well, all the rest who comprise what was once called Christendom, and was the force that made men not only Holy, but free?

We can speak of The Church of the East, that never believed in earthly power, it was a glorious church, spreading from Nineveh (close to Mosul) all the way through China and India, as well as Eastern Russia. But it is gone, lost nearly even to history, and now we in our time, are perhaps witnessing its final destruction. In many ways, it is comparable to the fall of Constantinople, except that the Orthodox faith was able to continue.

And so, as you watch Judge Jeanine, ask yourself if this is what our faith teaches, or if our shepherds, and yes, our sheepdogs, are meant to protect the flock, or merely to lie down with wolves, and coyotes. I know my answer. What is yours?

 

As my co-author, Jessica, so eloquently reminds us this morning on her blog. We are not condemning all of Islam here. Like any large group of people, Islam has its bad actors, wolves and coyotes if you will. The problem seems to be that the predators have taken over their sheepfold and are attempting to take over ours as well.

 

This is from the old version of the Lutheran Service Book, as printed in the old Lutheran Hymnal, from General Prayer I

All who are in trouble, want, sickness, anguish of labor, peril of death, or any other adversity, especially those who are suffering for Thy name’s and for Thy truth’s sake, comfort, O God, with Thy Holy Spirit, that they may receive and acknowledge their afflictions as the manifestation of Thy fatherly will.

Islam’s War on Women

sharia freeGood News First

I would guess you remember Meriam Ibrahim. She’s the 27 year old Sudanese, married to an American, who gave birth a few weeks ago while shackled in a Sudanese prison. That sentence was averted some time ago but she was denied permission to leave the country. Yesterday after belated efforts by the Department of State (pressured by Congress) and with a huge assist from the Italian government, she received a blessing in Rome from the Pope, himself. Reports say she is resting up and soon will be traveling to the United States. Thanks be to God.

Apparently, not so, at least right now…

There was a report yesterday that made the rounds very quickly, and appeared to be legitimate, that ISIS had issued a regulation (or Fatwa, depending on source) requiring all females in Mosul to undergo FGM by Saturday. Apparently, it was a fake report, which is fine. Thing is, though, the fact that it was picked up so widely (I first saw it on “the Other McCain”) basically means that we have become so accustomed to the Islamic War on Women, that we assume the most horrendous rumors are true. I know that’s true for me.

When I read that report, the one reaction I did not have was that it was so barbaric that no government would do such a thing. To me it’s of a piece with Hamas hiding behind women’s skirts and carrying infants on fire missions (both confirmed) in Gaza. But still the media (especially the European media, including the BBC and The Telegraph) wants to blame Israel for the deaths of children, notwithstanding the thousands of rockets that have rained down on Israel, and the missiles taken from schools by the UN and returned to Hamas.

And along that line: This

My friend, Isabella Rose, on her site Reclaiming the Sacred, wrote yesterday on her experience, living amongst Muslims, in Europe. It is a story that should shock and dismay you. Here is an excerpt.

I really could not believe that the Muslin religion was definitely intended to be one of violence and war.

After all, in undergrad school, I had met a very kind Muslim girl, who was beyond polite to me, and I never had any thought but that she was but a good person, devoted to God, only under some different “path” than what I had come to know.

Yet during the course of one of my first few weeks abroad, a Coptic Christian from Egypt, who worked for a group of local Muslims, separate from the ones that I lived with, invited me out for a drink one night.

As we sat across from one another, in the dimly lit pub, he explained to me how much he supported my country.

I was shocked.

Aren’t all Europeans against America? I thought.

That was what I had always been told, at any rate.

But no, to him we were anything but the bad guys.

“You have no idea what the Muslims have done to my people,” he explained, as he recounted his family history and that of many others.

In so many words he went on to say:

“These Muslims that I work for here – they are nice people. They will be polite to you, and very kind. But if they could, they would me and they would kill you.”

via Reclaiming the Sacred

She will also tell you about, and show you, if your stomach is strong enough, the fate of this girl, actually a young Christian woman..It is not for the faint of heart. Isabella also quotes her Coptic friend as saying

They were only prevented by the laws of Christian nations – at least, until one day they could overturn those laws, and convert them to the laws of a Muslim state.

I completely agree with her, and if we are correct, there are three, and only three solutions.

  1. Surrender. You can if you want to. I and many others will not.
  2. Quarantine/Embargo Essentially cut off all contact between civilized people and Islam, this is essentially what we did from the repulse at Vienna until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. It is a difficult, and wearying method of life
  3. Conquest. In a war of biblical horror, It would be very like the war in the Pacific during World War II, because we will be able to take very few prisoners.

The day before yesterday, here, I spoke of the end of Christianity in Mosul, which will for the first time, since the time of Christ, Himself, be free of Christians in the next week or so.

Some of my friends in the United Kingdom think that this should be a common war for us with Russia, I don’t really disagree with them but, I find it unlikely that Russia will see it. Russia, like Europe, is a dying society, it is no longer reproducing itself, most likely, within 50 years it will be owned by China, just as within a hundred years, Europe will be part of Islam. Unless we change it. Demography is after all, subject to change by the people being studied themselves. But I see no sign of it.

Crossposted to The Conservative Citizen

For the First Time in the History of Iraq, Mosul is Now Empty of Christians

nazareneOne of the most horrific stories to come out of the ISIS conquest of central Iraq is the story of the Christians in Mosul (and the rest of the conquered area). There is no good parts of this story. Mafqud wa-Mawjud tells us some of the history of Christianity in the area. If you aren’t familiar with “The Church of the East” you will be amazed.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS has consolidated its hold on the city of Mosul in northern Iraq and is busy converting the metropolitan center to its own extremist brand of Sunni Islam.  Last week the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now styling himself Caliph Ibrahim, issued an order for Christians in the city to a convert to Islam, b pay the jizya tax on non-Muslims at an unspecified rate, or c be killed, although some awareness of the option to leave was displayed in the order as well.  Reports that a church was torched are of uncertain veracity see a careful analysis of the photos circulating around the web at this blog, but images showing an Arabic ن for نصارى, nasara, meaning “Christians” spray-painted on various houses indicate that these houses were available to be seized.  Nor are Christians the only ones to suffer: reportedly some Shiite men have disappeared, Shiite families have been told to flee or be killed, and Shiite homes have been emblazoned with another Arabic letter, ر for رافضي rafidi something like “heretic scum,” while reports are also circulating that ISIS has destroyed the Sunni shrine and tomb of Nabi Yunus the biblical prophet Jonah in the ruins of ancient Nineveh to the east of the Tigris.  In this climate, most Christians chose to leave Mosul for the comparatively tolerant lands of Iraqi Kurdistan to the north, although refugees have reported being robbed of all their belongings at the checkpoint leaving the city.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Sako, who is presently the highest ranking ecclesiastical official of any denomination in Iraq, commented on the expulsion of the Christians, “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.”

This comment may strike many Americans as odd, because they presume that Iraq and the Middle East more generally are necessarily Muslim regions, and Christianity there must be a recent European importation.  But that is far from the case.  Since the study of Iraqi Christianity is an area of expertise, I thought I would present here a brief timeline of Mosul and its Christians.

In antiquity, whatever settlement or fortification existed on the site of the center of modern Mosul was overshadowed by Nineveh, the old Assyrian capital.  It is unknown when Christianity first arrived in Nineveh, although it had an important bishop by 554, when its bishop was one of the signatories to a council of the Church of the East.  At that time, the bishop was under the authority of the metropolitan archbishop of Arbela modern Erbil to the east of Nineveh, and the patriarchate was in the capital of the Sasanian Persian Empire, south of modern Baghdad.  By the early seventh century, there were also Syriac Orthodox Christians in the region we know of as Iraq, with their regional headquarters in Tagrit modern Tikrit, and an important monastery of Mor Matay outside Mosul.  There was also an important monastery of the Church of the East outside Mosul, the monastery of Mar Gabriel and Mar Abraham, also called the “Upper Monastery,” which later became an important center for liturgical reform in the Church of the East.

via The End of Christianity in Mosul | Mafqud wa-Mawjud.

I also note that Jessica’s co-author Chalcedon451 has written on this as well, here, and here. In addition there is a category there that deals with the history of The Church of the East, if you would like to know more of its history, it is quite fascinating, that category is here.

A short quote from Chalcedon451 will explain the symbol that is illustrated with this article. This is from his first linked article.

Upon the walls of the houses in Mosul, the Islamic symbol for ‘N’ (Nazarene) has appeared, (see the picture at the top of the piece) used, just as the Star of David was by the Nazis, as a sign that this place can be looted and its people attacked. The forces of ISIS have confiscated more than thirty churchesburning down one which goes back to antiquity. There were no twenty four hour news channels when the forces of Mohammed swept through the region in the seventh and eighth centuries, but even his forces were not this brutal. Across the whole of the Middle East, Christian communities as old as any that exist in the world are being exterminated.

I have come to have some doubts about the second war with Iraq, although I was a strong supporter of it. But, notwithstanding my, or your, beliefs on the validity of the war, it happened. What also happened is that America ran away from what we had wrought, thereby causing all the death and injuries to our soldiers and those of our allies, like the British who stood with us to be in vain. In addition, I see no reason why the martyrdom of the Iraqi Christians should not also be laid at the door of those who decided we should, in the inelegant military phrase, “bug out”. May God have mercy on their souls.

Frankly, at this late date there is little to do other than pray for our brothers and sisters in Iraq, while sadly noting that many have been martyred and no doubt more will be.

Legitimate Government, Evangelical Lutheran Style

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Hermann Sasse.

‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Hermann Sasse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I will shortly be posting an article at All Along the Watchtower (Jess’ site) on Luther’s Two Kingdoms doctrine. [It is now up, and is here.] In it I am talking about the interference we are currently seeing in our churches, both here and in the UK, from the secular authorities. I think you should read it. I will update with a link when it is available.

In any case, while researching that article, I came across an essay by Hermann Sasse entitled: THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE AUGSBURG CONFESSION AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE PRESENT This essay was originally published in the Kirchlich-soziale Blätter in 1930. In April 1928 he was called to be pastor at St. Marienkirche, Berlin, and Sozialpfarrer in Innere-mission (“social pastor in inner mission”).

[...]The assertion “The power of the state arises from the people” is false according to Lutheran doctrine, if it would be more than a formal description of the proceedings in a modern state, by which a government is formed. The power of the state proceeds from God. One last reminder of this lives on in the religious formulas and forms with which modern peoples still surround the state and civil life.

Any political power which has arisen out of anarchy may become a God-given governing authority, if it fulfills the tasks of the office of governing authority. This task is the assurance of peace and the maintenance of law through external power, the symbol of which is the sword. The governing authority is a “Servant of God, the avenger for those who do evil.” [Rom 13:4] Legal governing authority is distinguished from religious power in that it not only (as does the latter) possesses power [Macht] but uses its power in the service of law. Both belong to the essence of the state; Power and law [Macht und das Recht]. A governing authority which bears the sword in vain, which no longer has the fortitude to decisively punish the law-breaker, is in the process of burying itself [gräbt sich selbst das Grab]. A state which removes the concepts “right” and “wrong” from jurisprudence, and replaces them with “useful” and “injurious”, “healthy” and “ill”, “socially valuable” and “socially inferior”, [a state] which in the place of the principal of remuneration places the principal of inoculation [Unschädlichmachung] a state which in its civil law dissolves marriage and family, ceases to be a constitutional state and thus the governing authority.

A governing authority which knowingly or unknowingly makes the interests of social position or class the norm for the formation and definition of law, or which allows the norms of the law to be dictated by the so-called “legal consciousness” of the time, sinks to the level of raw power. This danger exists now—and this is not addressed by the Augustana—for all governing authorities, and shall for all time. It exists especially in the modern democratic forms of government and in the dictatorship. For the result of the secularization process of the last century has been that the consciousness of eternal legal norms which are not determined by man, has nearly perished. But where this consciousness ceases to exist, there God-given power is changed into demonic power, resulting in its ruin among peoples and states. But wherever on earth a governing authority—irrespective of which form—is conscious of a [civil] righteousness independent of its will, exercises the power of its office, upholds the law and guards the peace, there it is “God’s good gift”, there it is “by the grace of God.”

The essay (PDF) is available here. The paragraphs and emphasis are mine.

The German statement of where legitimate power comes from may be jarring to Anglo-American readers, after all we have been taught that the people are sovereign. I don’t find them mutually exclusive, however. God established the family for man before the fall, and government after the fall, to provide a semblance of justice in the world. It’s easy enough to see how, under God’s direction, families got together to form first cities and then states to protect themselves. It is also important for us to remember that all the revolutions in the English-speaking world (and only there, strangely) have been more counter-revolutions, than anything else, always the goal has been the restoration of “The Good Old Law“. That is also why we have never gone into the stage of anarchy that has followed all the other (French, Russian, et al) revolutions. We were going back.

The other thing here is that you see how Weimar manged to delegitimize itself. How close are our governments coming to doing the same? I’d say very close, indeed.

A Most Conservative Revolution

pic_giant_070314_AToday we celebrate for the 238th time, something the Founders did not want. Independence. What they wanted was restoration of their rights as freeborn Englishmen. Our revolution was in direct line of succession from Magna Charta, The English Civil War, and The Glorious Revolution (and its Bill of Rights upon which our own was mostly based).

Washington’s Army was very nearly the Roundhead army of Parliament reincarnate. And it was stood up for the very same reason. The “long train of abuses and usurpations” by the King which Jefferson documented, could have been written by the leaders of the Civil War. Lets look at that document, shall we.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Often we read Jefferson’s prose in the beginning and end of the Declaration and skip the “Bill of Particulars”. We shouldn’t. There written in plain English is the quest of the English Speaking people, for a stable, free and representative law. It is a quest that hearkens all the way back to Saxon times, and continues today.

We must note that this view was one that was very current in the England of 1776 as well. Edmund Burke said this:

We also reason and feel as you do on the invasion of your charters. Because the charters comprehend the essential forms by which you enjoy your liberties, we regard them as most sacred, and by no means to be taken away or altered without process, without examination, and without hearing, as they have lately been.

Charles James Fox said, in a famous speech, “I say, that the people of England have a right to control the executive power, by the interference of their representatives in this House of parliament.” And he even took to wearing the Buff and Blue colors of Washington’s army on the floor of Parliament itself.

William Pitt the Elder unsuccessfully attempted to have Parliament offer the Colonies what would be later called Commonwealth status.

So we see that we today celebrate a reluctant Independence but one that the Founders found necessary to maintain their rights, and they have passed on to us the responsibility to maintain them. It is no small responsibility but it one we must take seriously to be able to hand our freedom down to our posterity.

Enough preaching, How about a couple of videos? I like this one

I’m one of those curmudgeons who don’t think the National Anthem should be messed with but, I happily admit to loving this version. Consistency is overrated!

And finally, I would remind you that of all the nations in the world, only the Star Spangled Banner ends with a question.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

How that question is answered is up to us.

 

Decisions: Good and Bad

English: Ameren lineman practicing a rescue.

English: American lineman practicing a rescue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right and wrong. Often we think of them as the two sides of a coin as it were, and often they are, but are they always? Let’s dig a little deeper here.

As a power lineman, and as an electrician I often deal with power that is concentrated enough to kill you quick. Not that it’s always in the line of duty.

Many years ago, a woman friend of mine had a TV fall into the bathtub with her child. The child was killed. It was called a horrible accident, and it was. Or was it? She knew, or should have known that you don’t let electrical appliances get anywhere near the bath, yes some, such as hairdryers are less dangerous because of safety regulations but still, you are taking a risk. And a CRT television (which was the only kind then) is very high on the list, risk wise. There are very high voltages and some are stored for a time. Bad news. She lost the bet. Sadly, although nothing could replace that child, neither could she have another. And so a woman who by most measures was a pretty good mother, is now childless. But it really is her fault, because of her carelessness. But I did and do feel sorry for her as well as the child.

Another story which I’ve told before

They were lucky but, every time Chris looks at his buddy, he’s reminded. Just as that woman in the first story is every time she sees a small child. We say it so often but do we believe it Actions have consequences. Believe it, they do.

And as a responsible supervisor, it is entirely my responsibility to make sure my crew is safe, from hazards known and unknown. Acts of omission can be (and often are) just as bad as acts of commission

I’m very glad neither of those accidents are on my conscience, I’ve been in a measure lucky but I was also taught to be careful, and what can happen when you are not. And yes, I do have some scars from near misses, both physical and mental. We do our best, that’s all we can do.

Church-of-EnglandWhat started me thinking about this now was that yesterday, my co-author Jessica’s fiancé was ordained a priest in the Church of England. And yes, I am extremely happy for them, and even more for the congregations that will have their services over their lifetimes. But what made me think about those stories above is this.

A few months ago, a young woman came to his rectory because she had heard she didn’t need an appointment to talk to a curate. She was in trouble, she was single, and she was pregnant and she didn’t want to be. But let us let Jess tell the story herself, because she was there and she shared with us then. Please do read it, it is here.

It is a remarkable story isn’t it? Especially the part about how she knew she had done wrong, what we would call grievous sin, although that term had no meaning to her.

And that is something that Jess and I have talked about with each other. In the United States, nearly everybody has some passing familiarity with Christianity, it may be entirely wrong, and yet, as a rule people, while they may think us judgemental (and sometimes we are) and with our noses in other people’s business (ditto), they have an idea of what we believe. In Britain, I gather that is not nearly as true. It is entirely possible to grow up and live your life without ever once coming in contact with Christianity. How that interacts with having a state church, I have no idea but, in any case it’s sad.

Most of you know that I consider abortion to be nothing less than infanticide, a fancy name for murdering your child, and I do.

But here’s the thing. In my examples above the actors knew what they were doing, they made an informed choice. In the case of Jess’ friend, she really didn’t. [As an aside here, she has become a stalwart member of the congregation, helping to run a homeless shelter, and very happy in her new-found faith, or so Jess tells me. I admire her greatly, and pray for her often.] But in Britain as in America, for a large part of the population, abortion is a convenience, used to avoid problems in your career and in your love life. In truth that was the case here.

But here, God in some hidden recess of her told her that she had sinned, and from what Jess said, I would guess that she was close to the point of adding suicide to her list of sins. I don’t know if you have ever been close to that black place of despair, I have, a couple of times, and one does not come back without help, of a friend, of a counsellor, or a pastor, and /or God himself. But if you do, you tend to come back stronger.

And that, my friends, is why I don’t condemn people. I do not know what they know, nor do I know how they reached their decision. This young woman reached out to those who were supposed to help her, and they were too busy, but she persisted and found a willing ear in a CofE curate. he listened and sympathised, as was right because he couldn’t make the decision for her. He moved her enough for her to want to see him after her abortion, and in that meeting, the three of them, plus God himself, saved that woman’s life. But reminding her that while those of us that are guilty (and that is all of us) must not cast the first stone, Jess’ friend as well as the woman at the well was instructed (as are we) “Go and sin no more“.

And the way I remember that is to always remember that one can only make decisions based on the knowledge that one has, if we have more complete knowledge, and they ask us, we must share our knowledge (and belief) but we may not, and even God does not, force them to use our knowledge. We all answer individually.

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