Martin Luther King Day and Personhood

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Today is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and I have just returned from the SC Tea Party Coalition Convention, where the keynote speaker today was presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. I was asked to give the invocation at the convention this morning and I would like to share with you the gist of what I said before leading in prayer.

Two-hundred and thirty years ago when the Constitution was written, Ben Carson probably would have been denied personhood under our Constitution. Slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of congressional representation, but the fifth amendment protection of a person’s liberty and due process of law simply did not apply. It was an enormous flaw in the Constitution that the founders did not deal decisively with the issue of slavery.

All of us who call upon Christ as our Lord realize that our nation is in deep need of spiritual revival and awakening. There is really no other hope if our nation is ever again to be the shining city on a hill that we aspire to be.

In the past, we have had two Great Awakenings in American history and they both affected the destiny and direction of our nation. The First Great Awakening took place over a period of about 30 years leading up to the American Revolution. Historians have noted that it was a movement that created a shared experience throughout the colonies, a unifying event that helped make the Revolution possible. In fact, among the British the American Revolution was often thought of as a Presbyterian rebellion, and encouraging ministers were known as the Black Robe Regiment.

The Second Great Awakening took place over the first half of the 1800s. In addition to multitudes of personal conversion experiences, it resulted in manifold social reform movements. The one thing the Second Great Awakening did not accomplish, however, was the abolition of slavery. In fact, the failure of the Christian church to deal decisively with slavery presaged the division of the nation. Three of the major denominations split into Northern and Southern denominations over slavery, the Methodists in 1844, the Baptists in 1845, and the Presbyterians in 1857.

Fast forward to our generation. Since 1973 we have killed 60 million unborn babies because they do not have Constitutional protection as persons. We all know that we need a Third Great Awakening, but it must be an awakening that deals decisively with the personhood of human beings in the womb. We can accomplish all manner of reforms in our nation, but it will count for naught if we fail to end the destruction of life in the womb, for God will not overlook the shedding of innocent blood.

At the dedication of Solomon’s temple, the Lord spoke to Solomon, saying, “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people, and my people, who are called by name humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we pause to commit ourselves anew to humble ourselves, to pray and seek your face. We commit ourselves to turn from our wicked ways, and rededicate ourselves to bring an end to the killing of the unborn. We ask for mercy and grace, for courage to fight this battle for Christ’ sake, for we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

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