Jesus Expounds upon “Doe v. Bolton” and “Roe v. Wade”
This anniversary of our present American Holocaust is addressed in Scripture by none other than the LORD of lords, Jesus Christ Himself – for those who think: “Abortion was never addressed by Jesus!”
Jesus’ own words as they apply to this vast shedding of innocent blood can be found in Matthew’s gospel in the context of what follows the “blessedness” or “beatitudes” of chapter five. Having defined those who will find themselves “blessed” in the kingdom of God, Jesus moves on in verses 21-22 to correct the common understanding of the Law which had been corrupted by the traditions of “the ancients” – rabbinical and social leaders whose reasoning served to weaken the power of God’s Law by substituting their own convenient interpretations – even beginning with “hard cases” (Lev 24:10-14) – and justifying their own opinions, accepting bribes and so forth, so that justice had become a matter of deep confusion for God’s people.
Jesus put it this way:
You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (Mt. 5:21-22)
Jewish law taught that if a person lifted his hand to murder another, he was subject to the full force of the Law. The Sanhedrin (of seventy-one leaders) could impose a death sentence as required in Scripture (Gen 9:6).
But if murder was done by proxy – that is you hired somebody to do your killing for you – the one who acted to kill was subject to the death penalty, while the one who hired him was left to God’s judgment in heaven.[i] And the one who diminished the dignity of his brethren by arguing they were of no value, worthless as a “fool” set for hell, well, his spin on law didn’t offend one way or another.
So Jesus goes out of His way to correct such twisted applications of the Law. He asserts that the one who killed, as well as the one who may have hired him, was subject to the “Council,” the full body of the Sanhedrin. There were no “Get out of Jail Free” cards or a pass on the Death Penalty for those who held murder in their hearts and had the necessary power and money to do murder, even at a distance. Both the actual murderer and the one holding murder in his heart and a fat purse to pay for it to be done are guilty of the crime of murder. Both are to be put to death.
And so, by extension, the brother who merely wishes his brother to be dead is also guilty, and may “be liable to the council” if thoughts turn toward actions. And further, the one who hated in his heart, even failing to act out his murderous inclinations, would also be held to account, not before the full Council, but more fearsome than that, they are guilty before God who sees all and weighs the heart (Prov. 24:12). This was intended to bring about a quick reconciliation since humble-pie repentance is easier to swallow than the burning, exacting judgment of God. This addressed those who thought their secret hatreds were safe from scrutiny and accountability.
And then there is the final offender, the one whose hatred of his brother is such that he sees him, not in light of God’s great creation; not as one made in the image and likeness of God, but as one having no value at all except the value of an object subject to cheap disposal. Scripture uses the word “fool” to speak of God’s estimation of those who utterly reject Him – a judgment only He can make. So for the average Jew to call another a “Fool” would be to make a judgment reserved for God alone.
In other words, this would be like comparing a man to the refuse carried out to the valley just outside of the city of Jerusalem, to the trash heap that was kept burning day and night so all of the city’s “garbage” would be destroyed by fire – the same valley where Molech worship had been advanced at the cost of infant lives given in sacrifice to false gods. (Indeed, the location was so defiled by this injustice that this portion of the land could never be cleaned enough for Jewish habitation.
And so it is that Jesus declares that those who hold their brothers, referring to any of mankind, in such a state of hatred that they declare against the very humanity they hold in common, consigning others humans to the trash-heap of history – the garbage dump known as Gehenna – those will simply reap as they have sown; they too will be thrown into the fires of hell where all things that are contrary to God are set for destruction.
God is consistent in His righteous judgments. And so the text applies just as truly to the powerful over-thinkers of today who twist or reject God’s Law in favor of their own judgments.
Yes, this text applies just as much to the “saved” of today as it applied to those Jews to whom Jesus preached – those who were confident of their salvation.
Consider that, you who would twist the word of God to suggest that the persons dwelling in the womb are just so much “tissue” and “waste.”
Consider it also, you who would tolerate such twisting of God’s Law and negate His love for the weak and helpless. If you end up in hell, it will be precisely because you diminished an entire class of people created in God’s image and likeness, consigning them to murder-by-others, certain of your own superiority over those who are created to be your very brothers and sisters!
Hell will be full of such self-righteous traitors. There will be those who in life who hate Jews; some will hate Blacks; some will hate Indians or Mexicans or Whites; some will hate Republicans, and others will hate Democrats; some will despise the French, while others will despise Americans, Russians, Arabs, Chinese, and any other people groups that have been denigrated in history. All will be set aflame in good company, whether they like each other, or not.
O what a union that will be! All the wicked, all the God-haters, the Law-despisers together at last. And that time together will last forever.
[i] Maimon. Hilch. Rotseach, c. 2. sect. 2. “if a man hires a murderer to kill his neighbour, or sends his servants, and they kill him, or binds him, and leaves him before a lion, or the like, and the beast kills him, everyone of these is a shedder of blood; and the sin of slaughter is in his hand; and he is guilty of death by the hand of heaven, i.e. God; but he is not to be put to death by the house of judgment, or the Sanhedrin.”