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The Heart of the Matter is a Matter of the Heart

January 2000
By: David O'Leary

We are in danger of letting our hearts become self-righteous in the face of the obvious sin of others. We can be prone to condemnation, impatience, hypocrisy, superiority, and perhaps even animosity.

As I write, the news is filled with the controversy around the Miss America Pageant. New rules proposed by the board of directors would require contestants to sign a document asserting that they are unmarried, not pregnant, and have no living children. It did not take long for many to see that this means that a contestant may be divorced, widowed, the mother of a child who has died, or a woman who has had an abortion. Perhaps unwittingly, the pageant has decided that women who abort their children are better role models than those who allow them to live. What does this sad irony tell us? Something has become twisted in the American heart. That heart of America, which long stood for what is right, is now failing. America's moral pulse is weakening. It is a spiritual heart condition that we cannot afford to ignore.

We think of the heart as the organ of life. When the heart stops, life is gone. So, too, when we hear or feel the throb of a heart, we know there is life.

For a long time, life advocates have recognized the enormous impact that ultrasound technology can have on a woman's decision to keep her child. The impact of hearing her child's heart beating is nearly impossible for her to disregard. Women who undergo an ultrasound are often profoundly moved by witnessing the evidence of life within the womb. After the experience, they choose life in overwhelming numbers. The objective technology uncovers the matter of the beating heart. It is a matter for all of us to consider.

Consider your own heart, as you work for the cause of life. We are in danger of letting our hearts become self-righteous in the face of the obvious sin of others. We can be prone to condemnation, impatience, hypocrisy, superiority, and perhaps even animosity. Working hard, working long, working against much opposition, our hearts may become weary in the well-doing to which we are called. We may become resentful and antagonistic toward our clients. We are confronted with a matter of the heart. How appropriate are the words of the psalm: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me ..." (Psalms 139:23, 24).

Then consider the hearts of those women and men who enter our centers -- lost, lonely, misled, and deceived women and men. Do we not know the impact that our sin has had on our own hearts? How our hidden sins have hardened us and caused us to suppress what truth we know? We know that "the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick ..." (Jeremiah 17:9). We know this because we have seen it in ourselves. We are told that the effect of sin is such that people are "excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:18).

We must rekindle the compassion which first motivated us. It was that compassion that caused us to care about women with crisis pregnancies and their children. It caused us to want to help them choose life and to find life in Christ. The issues these women face, whether alone or alongside their partners and families, are matters of the heart.

But the heart is an issue beyond the walls of our centers. The heart of society is influenced when it is subjected to the deceit and euphemisms used when some speak of matters of life. People avoid the clear language that tells the true story. Instead, they use phrases like: "a woman's right to choose," "a part of her own body," and "a product of conception." As a result of such persistent delusion, the heart of society has changed. We have become more brutal, more willingly deceived, more given to expedience rather than to what is right. America's heart has grown harder and harder.

You might at this point wonder, "What about the heart of the unborn child?" That is, to say the least, a matter of the heart. These little ones are the reason we are involved in the cause of life. We are told, "Blessed is he who considers the helpless ..." (Psalms 41:1), and we are warned, "Deliver those who are being taken away to death... Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?" (Proverbs 24:11, 12). When we consider the tiny heart inside the unborn child, life within life, we are concerned for God's right over the life of this child. We look forward in hope to the blessing that God will bring to our world and the glory He will bring to Himself in the beating of this heart. We know that He made this heart for Himself. And so, we will not neglect the matter of this small heart.

And, at the last, we will consider the heart of our God. God seeks to glorify Himself in the obedience of His children and in the glory of the lives He has made. He desires that women and men know the need of their hearts and come to Him. He calls men and women to Himself saying, "... you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13). He calls for men and women: "... Return to Me with all your heart" (Joel 2:12). You see, He wants the hearts of His people.

The issue of life is an issue of the heart. What will motivate you and me to continue our endeavors, what will change the decisions of countless women, what will reform the actions of many men, what will save the small hearts that beat within their mothers is that we recognize the heart of the matter. It's a matter of the heart.

David O'Leary is married and has four children. He lives in Reading, PA where he is the pastor of Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He holds degrees from Tufts University (B.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.A.R., M.Div.), and Covenant Seminary (D.Min.). He can be reached at (610) 374-7277 or

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