Choose Life

Proverbs 14:12 makes a simple statement that is not only profound but is applicable to many facets of life: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  There is a great divide between a way of living that promotes life and that promotes death.  One would think that the stark difference would make decisions and choices obvious—but that, unfortunately, is not the case.

The Garden of Eden had within it two trees representing two opposing ways of life—the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).  Genesis 3:1-6 records the event when the course of mankind was set to head down the path leading to death.  Adam willingly ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, bringing death to the human race.  Death has been beaten by Jesus Christ because of His perfect life and shed blood for our sins.  In John 10:10 He Himself said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  These two ways of life couldn’t be more different, but the enemy who took down Adam and Eve is still cunning, crafty, and incredibly intelligent.  He is extremely capable of mixing good and evil in such a way that they are very, very difficult to differentiate.  This is the problem we face, but with God’s wisdom and guidance we can learn to discern the difference.  However, only we can decide to use our free will to make the right choices. Right choices require the application of God’s wisdom in conjunction with human reasoning.  Human reasoning without God’s wisdom is woefully inadequate to guide us through the complex dilemmas we face.

Learning to Choose Life

God, through Moses, laid out the choice we face along with the consequences in Deuteronomy 30:11-19: “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’  But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.  See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.  But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.  I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

Within these profound thoughts of God there is the basis for making wise decisions during the course of our lives—decisions that if made correctly lead to a more abundant life now and to eternal life later.  A method for making wise decisions is simply this:  Whenever faced with a choice, make absolutely certain our decision falls on the side of promoting life and life more abundant.  Keep in mind that almost every major and many minor decisions, if made incorrectly, lead to death, or destruction, or at the least to life less abundant and more tragic.

Putting Choice to the Test

Now we will go through actual life decisions that face humanity putting the choice through the crucible of promoting life or not.

The use of alcohol is a good one to start with.  The Bible speaks of wine and strong drink in both positive and negative terms.  I Timothy 3:8 is a verse that exemplifies the proper use of alcohol: “Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money.”

This verse shows a balanced approach to wine.  Let’s apply wisdom to the choice to drink alcohol.  Wine with a meal is good for you.  That’s why Paul also tells Timothy in I Timothy 5:23 “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.”  It’s proven scientifically to be good for the heart.  It is relaxing and promotes a cheerful atmosphere among friends and family.  A decision to drink a glass or two with family and friends promotes life and life more abundant.

On the flip side, too much to drink promotes death.  Drinking and driving is an obvious example.  Overuse of alcohol promotes addiction leading to death through liver damage and certain cancers.  It also promotes the death of marriages, families, and relationships.  Serious abuse leads to unemployment and the loss of privilege such as the right to drive, thus leading to a far less abundant life, indeed, to a life of tragedy and sorrow.

I Timothy 3:8 also mentions greed.  Greediness is a choice that also ruins relationships and does very grievous harm to other people, their families, and even whole nations, as evidenced by the recent “great recession.”  The greediness of a comparative few nearly destroyed the economy of the United States.  Millions of people lost their homes, their jobs, and their savings.  The wrong decisions of a minority lead to countless deaths from heart attack, stroke, and even suicide.  Millions are now living lives much less abundantly because of fear, anxiety, stress, and depression, let alone financial difficulty.  For those who decide to lend money through mortgages, loans, or credit cards from now on, it would be wise to apply the life and death test.  The same applies to hedge funds, stock brokers, and investment houses.  Do all in your power to do no harm and promote better lives for all.

Our nation is at a crossroads at which it is making several major decisions that will impact our nation—decisions that are literally life and death and therefore must include the wisdom of God in order to assure future national blessings.  We ignore God’s advice to our own peril.  National laws and policies that are not based upon godly morals and ethics will have dire and severe consequences, some of which can already be clearly seen.

A case in point is the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, which opened the floodgates of abortion.  This nifty way of negating the consequences and responsibilities associated with conception and child birth seemed so liberating.  But as Galatians 6:7 says, “God is not mocked.”  Forty years later the dire consequences are becoming very apparent.  We need to look no further than our national fiscal crises.

Social Security and Medicare are both headed toward bankruptcy, as are many pension plans across the country.  Over the years we have seen the ratio of workers to retirees diminish from double digits down to 3:1.  How different this picture would be if the estimated 55 million aborted children had been allowed to live!  Not only that, but those aborted in the 1970s and the 1980s would now be rearing the next generation of workers. We are talking about somewhere on the order of 75 million more Americans to help shoulder the load.  Experts on demographics like to point to China’s inevitable train wreck due to its one-child policies.  Yet we don’t notice the other three fingers pointing right back at us.

Economics is not the only negative associated with abortion.  Millions of women carry the emotional scars of guilt and recrimination, and some live with nasty health problems associated with abortion procedures. A few have even died, as has recently hit the news with the sensational Dr. Kermit Gosnell trial.

Speaking of Dr. Gosnell and his “clinic of horrors,” a few other controversies have once again come under the moral and ethical spot light.  It is now absolutely clear that politicians, doctors, and ideologues are incapable of correctly deciding such thorny issues as:  when does life begin, when is a “fetus” viable, and up to what month is it okay to terminate life?  By modern traditional standards, even John the Baptist could have had his pregnancy terminated at 6 months.  But we see in Luke 1:41 that he was able to react when Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, came into close proximity.  (Request our free CD, “The Scourge of Abortion.”)

When we use our free will to play God and shut our ears from hearing the wisdom in His word, we can rest assured that there will be plenty of negative consequences.  All the cute arguments for pro-choice have failed to take into account the negative consequences of abortion.  The laws of demographics, economics, and emotional distress are serious, but pale in comparison to God withholding His blessings.  Once again we see God’s wisdom in “choosing life.”

Another thorny issue confronting our society is that of gay marriage and homosexual rights.  First, let’s be clear.  Everyone has the right to life and free will.  If one chooses a course that is sinful, that is up to them as long as that sin does no harm to others.  Having said that, however, it must be stated that “gay marriage” is absolutely wrong, and the term itself is an oxymoron.  Marriage is a concept right out of the mind of God, and involves the “joining of a man and a woman” consummated by the two becoming “one flesh” physically through intercourse and emotionally with the bonds of love in matrimony.  This is not possible by two people of the same sex, and therefore the term “marriage” cannot and does not apply to them.  It is incumbent upon the homosexual community to come up with their own definition of the bonds they espouse, such as “civil unions” or whatever definition they choose.  No one has the right to redefine marriage as God has envisioned it.  (Request our free CD “Defining Marriage.”)  National and individual blessings from God depend on making this choice correctly.  Obviously “gay marriage” is not a choice that promotes life.

God established the proper use of sexuality.  The Bible clearly states in Romans 1:26-27 that we are not to deviate from this. The subjects of abortion and “gay marriage” lead me to the final area of serious concern I would like to address—the assault on family.  The family is the building block of society.  As the family goes, so goes the nation.  This is a maxim proven over and over throughout history.  The success of the state requires solid families.  Conversely, the state is not “the family.”  The concept of family—father, mother, and potentially children—is as old as marriage itself and also springs from the mind of God.  Once again, it would be wise to consider the wisdom of God before any redefinition of family is espoused.  The life of the nation depends on the lives of families.