Murder in Our Hearts

Murder In Our Hearts

If there is anything Christians should never need a reminder of, it is how much God hates murder – and how close it is to each one of us.

We imagine that there is a grea

t difference between our thoughts and our actions, but God, who sees our hearts as well as our hands, sees little, if any, distinction. We prefer to believe that our coldness, hostility, even our murderous thoughts are somehow separate and distinct from who we are – in our own eyes, but especially in God’s eyes.

But Jesus tells us directly that this is a mere technicality – an artificial human distinction between, for example, the thought and act of murder.

I belong to a denomination that holds aloft the notion that what matters is “a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ”. Every so often I see an actual list of theological propositions that we are to check-off and adhere to.

We are reminded on a regular basis that we are “saved by faith not by works”.

I am not at all convinced that God makes the distinction.

In fact the scriptures (and our practical, everyday lives) say just the opposite.

James 2:14 – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?

James 2:18 – Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2:26 – As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Matthew 7:20 – Thus, by their works you will know them.

In fact the pastor of our church once made a point by emphasizing that the saying ‘knowledge is power’ is inadequate – it should be ‘knowledge applied is power’.

Same with faith.

Faith as a theological abstraction is worse than useless (as James2:14 & 26 put it), but faith applied can change the world (Matthew 17:20).

But our hearts and intellects deceive us. We imagine at the same time that our thoughts of murder will not condemn us at the same time that our grand thoughts about our faith will save us.

Also by Morf: If I Have Cheated Anyone — True Revival and Conversion

But again, I am not at all convinced that God sees a distinction here. We confuse and deceive ourselves, but God, who created us and knows our hearts also knows that our hearts and hands are seamlessly connected.

Here’s one example; some ‘pro-life’ people like to say (or shout) that 21,000 abortions are performed every week in the USA.

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I am not at all convinced this is accurate, and it is certainly not consistent, but for the sake of argument (one reason I don’t believe it is the pure mathematical absurdity of the number. In just a few years this number would equal every female on the planet) let’s assume it is true.

This would mean 3,000 abortions every day.

That means 3,000 young women (the vast majority of abortions are performed on women under 25) each one guilty, ashamed and, statistically at least, abandoned by the man who got them into this situation – and forced them into this decision.

3,000 families in upheaval, relationships in distress and individuals haunted forever with regret and pain.

I may be naïve, but it seems to me that a real ‘pro-life’ position would be to work to lower, if not almost eliminate all of this trauma and pain.

An obvious way to do this would be to ensure that girls and young women have a full range of education and career options. A young woman with realistic focused goals is far more likely to make good choices.

But instead, I see ‘pro-life’ people in my community parading posters of bloody fetuses while yelling slogans.

Does anyone really believe that battering any of us with judgmental slogans, mind-numbing statistics or photographs of a bloody fetus helps assuage anyone’s guilt or shame?

These people call themselves ‘pro-life’ but they glory in the blood and murder they decry.

They are just like the hypocrites Jesus condemned for honoring the prophets – that their fathers had killed (Luke 11:47-48). Jesus knew that, behind all their self-congratulatory righteousness, their core belief was that the only safe prophet was a dead one.

As I am writing this, a scandal has erupted around a ‘pro-life’ politician whose wife had two abortions while his girlfriend had one. In summary, this ‘pro-life’ Republican politician is directly responsible for three abortions.

The level of hypocrisy, cowardice and deception is deafening. This is the kind of person who opposes abortion except in the case of rape, incest, life of the mother or the career of the ‘pro-life’ politician.

Several of the commanding officers of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have observed that we cannot ‘kill our way out’. These officers, schooled in the strategies and necessities of killing seem to know better than many ‘pro-life’ politicians that life and death are not abstractions.

Life is indeed sacred; the life of the mind, the heart, the body and the community. The giver of life entrusts us with a fragile gift we dare not squander.


Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.


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Morf Morford

Morf MorfordMorf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.View all posts by Morf Morford →

  • 22044

    Too bad. Mr. Morford considers the actions of a stupid politician and projects it to be what all pro-lifers are like.
    He has it backwards as well. We can judge actions but we cannot judge hearts. He has attempted to do the latter.

    The 21K figure is a pretty accurate one. The majority of abortions are done for convenience. And all elective abortions are murder.

    • 22044

      Having mentioned the above, we must be willing to be generous in giving grace & mercy to women who have had abortions, and women who will give birth to their children but may need help.

    • Drew

      I actually agree with Morf that a lot of pro-lifers are hypocrites, which is why I have not identified myself as pro-life until this past year, and am still reticent to do so. Being pro-life is so much more than talking about the subject, and so much more than abortion (although that’s the biggest arena where life is being taken). So many pro-life folks are pro-death penalty and pro-war and anti-safety net programs for those in poverty. So many pro-life folks just yell what they believe rather than put their resources behind what they believe. I think as a Church we have a responsibility to continue to lessen our hypocrisy on this issue and other issues, because they are worthy issues.

  • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

    Waiting for Frank to post about abortion…

    • 21st C. Episcopalian

      Frank’s approach is direct and cold. It lacks the warmth of gospel love and therefore sadly doesn’t move any hearts towards the love of God in Christ…. But the content of his message about abortion is dead on.

    • Frank

      Your wish is my command. And I would argue to those that think posting the truth does nothing, everyone here now knows the facts and even Morf has now posted it. Thanks Morf!

      Of course Morf has made himself the fool again by calling into question the facts. Only shows his ignorance. If he cannot even look up the facts available from a simple internet search why would anyone take him seriously about anything.

      Meanwhile over 21,000 innocent unborn children are murdered each week mostly due to reasons of convenience.

      And to those who disagree with my method in regards to changing hearts: its not in my power to change hearts. That’s the HS job and he is working as the younger generations are more strongly pro life and anti abortion than ever.

      • Jonathan

        Your wish is my command. LOL.:)

  • Jonathan

    Be careful of what you hate too strongly.

  • 21st C. Episcopalian

    Yes, abortion is wrong. The taking of any innocent life is sin. No eisegetic twist to scriptures can change that and one day, we will stand before our Lord when he says, “Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me”. Secular humanists and scripture-ignoring progressives alike have a shock coming to them. If you don’t agree now, you will then. See details on secular medical info site: http://www.thevisualmd.com/videos/result/day_of_conception

    Having said that, YES, we do need to address the root problems that cause family dysfunction, unwanted pregnancies, and brokenness that causes sin patterns that eventually lead up to abortion.
    The only answer is Jesus. Not the cartoon progressive “I love you, you love me” Barney Jesus who is cast in our image of self, or the “I hate you, you hate me” uber-restrictive “fundy” Jesus who is also cast in our image of self, but the real Jesus. The perfect manifestation of God on Earth: The one who came to self-sacrifice for sin, our sin, and offers a new life of fullness and joy in Him.

    • http://www.facebook.com/todd.bellemey Todd Allen Bellemey

      So have you every paid taxes?

  • Allie

    Back when they still took statistics on this in Canada, researchers discovered that between 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 abortions were performed on Christian girls who lived in fear of the shame, abandonment, and judgement they would face from their Christian communities and families if they revealed they were pregnant out of wedlock. I remember there was a home in our community where girls were sent to hide them away while they were pregnant, and I met girls from all over the country there. Can you imagine the thousands of lives saved if the church had opened their arms to these girls, and extended love instead of condemnation, hope instead of despair, support instead of abandonment? I am strongly pro-life, and I have always believed that historical attitudes of the “church” towards single moms has been, and still is, directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of babies. Christian schools with policies that pregnant girls be expelled or suspended from school for the duration of their pregnancy only exacerbate the problem, as this deprives the girl of education and Christian community required to help build a life for her and her child.

    • Drew

      Thank you for adding value to the conversation. I have also heard of similar stories where Christian parents find their daughter is pregnant and kick them out of the home. As a parent of two daughters myself, that is disgusting. Ever hear of the prodigal son? Ever hear of the 99 Sheep/1 Sheep? We should be loving these women.

  • Drew

    I thought this was a pretty good article.

    The nuances in the faith and works discussion seem to be trivial, but they certainly are not. You have to study a little bit of Church history to appreciate this. When you elevate works too high, you get a situation such as the one in the Catholic Church where indulgences were sold. This is where Sola Fide comes in. However, Sola Fide, while truthful, is incomplete, as you mention. Faith alone, but a faith that is not strong enough to put into action what it claims is not faith at all; it’s dead. Again, it seems semantical or trivial, but it is important to get this process correct.

    One of the reasons I listen to Dr. Campolo and visit this website is precisely because of the point you brought up. What does “pro-life” look like? Is supporting trigger-happy military intervention or expansion of the death penalty constitute being “pro-life?” Does posting every hour on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs that you are “pro-life” make you pro-life? Does voting every four years make you pro-life? Or does being pro-life require you to spend your resources – time, money, prayers – with pregnancy crisis centers, or other venues of supporting women?

    Jesus had tough, unloving words for those who talked a good game but didn’t back it up. “I never knew you.”

  • Frank

    At least you admit you are naive. The first thing you have gotten right.

    Meanwhile over 21,000 innocent unborn children each week are murdered, 97 % due to reasons of convenience. Look it up. I suppose you don’t believe in the holocaust either?

    At least everyone knows that nothing this guys says can be trusted, Thanks Morf for the confirmation.

  • Jonathan

    Reading things to look for something to agree/disagree with is a symptom of consumer Christianity. Also see Spiritual avarice/Spiritual Greed. We call scouring for right and wrong living out of the tree of knowledge and good and evil. You can be right, but you can be dead right.

  • Jonathan

    I wonder why people don’t hang around blogs that would more edify them in their community, inspire them with purpose and love for Jesus.

    • Frank

      Sadly people mostly hang around blogs that simply tell them what they want to hear or already want to believe. That makes for an extremely boring, insular, biased and dangerous blog.

      • Jonathan

        I hear that from your types over and over. It just isn’t true. Does it make you feel good to say that about other people? In fact it is almost ironic coming from people who are known to be extremely boring, insular and biased. It’s like short man’s complex magnified by Christianity.

        • jonathan

          Are you compensating for something?

        • Frank

          My types? Really? I think you need to do some introspective prayer if you do not see what you are guilty of here.

          And what I said is true. People are much more comfortable in places where everyone believes in the same thing. Its human nature. Not sure why you take issue with it unless it exposes something in you that you don’t like and are simply transferring it over to me.

          • Jonathan

            Yes, it’s a standard comment made by your types. Everyone here (all democratic christians) just want to be liked they’re all insecure so they will adjust what they view of scripture to please society. Am I right?

          • Frank

            There you again clueless about your using “types”. How sad.

            I am glad you finally see the truth about many here, not all but many.

          • Jonathan

            Frank you do fit into a stereotype. This is an accusation about “your types” No self awareness. Talk about a need for self reflection and interior prayer.
            —-Gotta go Happy Thanksgiving.

          • Frank

            Ok if you say so.

            Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Frank

    Some good news:

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. abortions fell 5 percent during the recession and its aftermath in the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade, perhaps because women are more careful to use birth controlwhen times are tough, researchers say.

    The decline, detailed on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, came in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Both the number of abortions and theabortion rate dropped by the same percentage.

    Some experts theorize that some women believed they couldn’t afford to get pregnant.

    “They stick to straight and narrow … and they are more careful about birth control,” said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.

  • billy

    also how about the number of pro life folks that support capital punishment? huh…. apparently it is kosher for our govt to go half way around the world and kill little born or unborn kids. where did jesus tell us to kill anybody? billy

    • Frank

      I am not for anybody killing anyone but there is a difference between an innocent unborn child that has made no choices and has done no wrong and a post born person who has.

      Even if wartime killing and the death penalty were appropriate it would not change the fact that over 21,000 innocent unborn children are killed each week mostly due to reasons of convenience.

  • SamHamilton

    This is a challenging blog post, thanks. Morf makes good points about being consistent and our faith spurring us to works. It’s challenging because it causes those of us who are pro-life (i.e. believe abortion is morally wrong and should be restricted by law) to do more than simply vote the right way. Morf is exactly right in this regard. Our faith needs to compel us to works.

    But Morf, along with many other commenters on this subject, does the pro-life movement a disservice. The pro-life movement is multi-faceted. It’s not simply composed of people protesting with signs of dead fetuses and politicians who mouth the right words. There are thousands of Christians (and others) in the movement who donate time and money towards assisting those facing unwanted pregnancies or who might find themselves in that situation in the future. Morf is writing as if the pro-life movement is stuck in the 1980s.

    And then he uses that Congressman from TN as his example… That’d be like using Al Gore with his jets and mansions as the poster-boy for the anti-carbon initiative. It’s simply not representative, nor does it make his point less legitimate. We can point out inconsistencies all day in every movement. Does that discredit the movement? A bit, but there’s more to it than that. When is the blog post going to be written taking “creation care” Christians to task for their lack of works when it comes to reducing carbon consumption? Or the blog post about Christians who care about poverty who show how much they care by voting and protesting… You could do this with every movement Christians are involved in. Why is this point only ever made about pro-life Christians?

  • Daithí Duly

    I really find it hard to read many of these articles on this website as so very often, the people who condemn the “judgmental” are the ones who seem to do nothing but. I have yet to find an original article on this site. The content and manner usually being decipherable upon reading the first few sentences.

    Morf really has nothing too deep to say. “Faith Works” etc We know this, the Bible makes it clear that it is through Faith we are saved and that that faith is made evident through works that our faith propels us, under the guidance of God’s word to do. Yawn, please sir something new.

    Next Morf lays into THE Pro lifers, pasting a judgmental blanket over all those who believe as the early church did that murder is wrong. Once again this article seems to me to be loaded with a covering that will appeal to those of a leftist persuasion. Nice and easy, made to offend and enrage the conservative.

    So it is easier to condemn those who oppose the murder of infants, than take the risk to condemn them. Abortion pictures are what they are regardless of who’s holding them or who’s trying to cover them up.

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