Cut to the Heart
by Andy Diestelkamp

We have all found ourselves suddenly in the possession of knowledge that stuns us and forces us to reconsider what we have always thought about something. It is often an uncomfortable feeling that is sometimes punctuated with a rush of adrenalin. It is good that we have these feelings, that we are capable of being "cut to the heart" by truth that we had not heard before or by applications that we had not considered.

The gospel of the kingdom of heaven, though ultimately good news, begins with the bad news that we are sinners who need to repent (to reconsider and change). Those who heard Peter preach on Pentecost after Jesus' death were told by witnesses of Jesus' resurrection "that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Ac. 2:36). Three thousand on that day received this stunning information in such a way that it moved them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (vss. 37-41).

Of course, that is not always the response to truth. We don't know the number that heard the gospel that Pentecost day, but estimates of how many would have been in Jerusalem to potentially see and hear the apostolic witness would make the number that responded positively an extreme minority out of all who could have. 

The application of truth is dangerous business in more ways than one. Firstly, the applier of truth must be very diligent to correctly handle it (2 Tim. 2:15) because there is a stricter judgment for those who presume to teach (Js. 3:1). Secondly, the correct application of truth does not guarantee its reception and often makes enemies (Gal. 4:16). When Stephen addressed the Jewish council with bold application, they too were cut to the heart; but instead of repenting, they resisted and finally stoned him to death (7:51-60). Indeed, as Stephen and others soon found out, following Jesus is not a path to popularity but to persecution. This observation is not made to discourage teaching and applying the truth. On the contrary, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.... Blessed are you when they revile... and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven..." (Matt. 5:10-12).

Many see the importance of being receptive to truth when it comes to convincing others of their need to reconsider and change. For example, we think it important to point out to those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord that they must "Repent, and ...be baptized...for the remission of sins." That truth may stun those who for years have been convinced of their personal 
relationship with Jesus. It may cut them to the heart. And even though more people will resist that truth than will receive it, we preach and apply it anyway. But are we as receptive when confronted by truth that challenges what we have believed or practiced as we expect others to be? 

Long time readers of this paper know that I have periodically addressed the subjects of abortion as well as widely-accepted artificial methods of birth control that have the potential of acting as abortifacients (i.e. The Pill). Such subjects arise and require our consideration because our culture has largely rejected the truth of God's word to which we strive to hold fast. In this world we are supposed to live as "blameless and harmless, children of God without fault" and "shine as lights" (Phil. 2:15,16). Yet, we are subject to being deceived and following the ways of the world without giving adequate thought to the truth and its application to those worldly ways. When someone dares to question ways in which we may have naively followed the unethical ways of this world, how do we respond? Are we cut to the heart? Do we ever consider that maybe we acted without due diligence? Are we willing to reconsider and change?

For example, did you know it is estimated that there are approximately a half-million human embryos warehoused in various clinics throughout this country? I didn't get that figure from conservative, pro-life, religious-right sources. Notice this headline from Mother Jones magazine seven years ago: "Souls On Ice: America's Embryo Glut and the Wasted Promise of Stem Cell Research." The sub-title reads, "How 500,000 frozen embryos are forcing us to rethink life, choice, and reproductive freedom. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2006/07/souls-ice-americas-embryo-glut-and-wasted-promise-stem-cell-research).

Many sources (liberal and conservative) have acknowledged the growing problem created by the common practices of fertility clinics using in vitro fertilization (IVF). The typical practice of fertilizing more eggs than are wanted is to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy. Freezing the left-over embryos enables parents to save time and money and come back for them when they are ready for more children. Of course, this explains why there is a glut of unclaimed frozen lives. Life happens: sickness, divorce, death, or other inconveniences interfere; minds change. Of course, parents should do the responsible thing and come pick up their kids, but they don't. (And some can't.)

The solutions offered to alleviate the surplus vary from simply discarding them to using them for research to adopting them. How could any who believe human life is valuable from conception consider the first two "solutions" as possibilities? 

Of course, a first step would be to stop the practice of fertilizing more eggs than a mother is presently willing to carry. The problem is not with the technology of IVF but with the typical practices that attempt to ensure "success."

A second step would be to no longer allow the freezing of human life. The cryogenic process subjects embryonic human life to risk such that from 20 to 40 percent will not survive the freezing and thawing. (http://www.ivf.net/ivf/embryo-freezing-is-it-safe-o335.html). Of course, the IVF industry sees little concern with this since it typically fertilizes more eggs than it needs. However, Christians should not be so cavalier toward the lives they create.

A third step would be to use the technology of IVF to rescue these hundreds of thousands of "souls on ice." Instead of couples using IVF in a way that contributes to the glut of embryos, they could choose to adopt those embryonic children who have been orphaned by their naive or negligent parents.

Too much information? Hopefully it is enough to cause Christians to reconsider and change their approach to infertility in ways that honor all life created in the image of God. Cut to the heart? If you have used these freezing methods naively, don't defensively resist the truth; repent. Go pick up your children from the clinic and give them the opportunity to finish their lives. God loves repentance, and "He is faithful and just to forgive us" (1 Jn. 1:9).

_____
323 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764
e-mail: adiestel@frontier.com

http://www.thinkonthesethings.com/