January/February, 1998 Volume XII Number 10

No further appeals

by Cathy Ramey

How many of you have heard of the Year 2000 ("Y2K") problem, or the "millennium bug" as some call it? If you haven't picked up on the computer crisis subject through industry journals, your first response may be something like my own. Cynical. But a little bit of research proves that something is brewing. It may not be the cause of global disaster that some predict, but on the other hand it has already had global implications. There is a problem.
To bring this down to where you live, how many of you have credit cards that expired in 1997? A few of my friends did. Credit cards are generally issued for a period of three years once a credit reputation has been established. My friends awaited the anticipated replacement cards that arrive automatically, but they had to wait until long after their old cards had technically expired. One friend finally got his card extended until 1999 instead of the year 2000. Another had hers arrive only to have it swallowed up in an ATM machine the first time she attempted a withdrawal. Apparently the last two digits on the year date, 00, created some confusion that the credit card company had failed to correct before generating year-2000 cards. She is still waiting for a replacement months later.
These are small problems in the grand scheme of things, but imagine the magnitude of the problem if government, industry, and institutions using large, old, and expensive mainframe computers fail to come up with a "fix." It isn't as easy as turning in your old PC for a new one. Estimates are that the problem will demand billions of dollars in the United States alone as programmers scurry to correct millions of lines of computer code. Many of the original computer "artists" who built COBAL systems and other programs simply created as they went along; they didn't record all of the steps they incorporated in order to make computers that would store billions of files and spew out millions of pieces of data every single day. Worse yet, understandably most of these artists no longer remember the particulars that went into establishing code for each operation and the networking of one operation with another. Some of these artists have even died. There aren't enough technicians available to do all of the work necessary to unravel and retest systems, and the computer industry cannot simply build replacement systems. At least not at present.
So, is the Y2K a judgment from God?
It may be premature to say that God is visiting us with a judgment by technology, but indications are that He is certainly not stepping up to the keyboard to supply a quick fix either. Y2K has the potential to bring about enormous political and social change, but perhaps the cynics are correct when they predict that the problem will find a resolution.
Despite all of the hype that points to January 1, 2000 as the date of revelation, other dates will likely serve to indicate how well the problem is moving toward a solution. Many agencies and governmental units (counties, states) operate with calendar years that turn over to the year 2000 six, twelve, even eighteen months in advance. New York City, I have read, has a calendar year change to the year 2000 in April of 1998. The city will either have to arrive at a solution or reorganize in the same way that my friend's credit card company seems to have done; pulling their calendar in so that it goes no further than 1999 when it turns over.
But why is a pro-life publication delving into the mysteries of the computer world? Don't we have enough problems of our own to deal with, apart from taking on the concerns of an entire computer industry?
It seems to me that Scripture points toward a pattern. When a nation sins, God sends out a call for repentance. Prophets go forth and act as prosecuting attorneys who bring God's case against His people to court, in a manner of speaking. There are charges brought and proofs presented. Along the way there are also settlement appeals made with the hope that those in the defendant role may be brought to a point of confessing their wrongs, acknowledging that God has a rightful case, and submitting to His authority. The appeals are an attempt to turn the hearts of God's people toward Him before the case has reached a point where justice can no longer be tempered with a ready abundance of mercy.
America--I am speaking of those who profess faith in Christ here, not the great and ignorant masses who lack such faith--has had her day in court for 25 years now. Believers have been presented with every conceivable reason to care about those who have no ability to care for themselves. And we have, by and large, chosen to remain apathetic.
If we could have fooled ourselves that the unborn who are slaughtered in this country every day represent a barbarism borne merely out of simple ignorance, we have been presented with the promises of a Baptist president that abortion will be protected, even when its inhumanity is blatantly demonstrated upon a baby who is nearly birthed, warm and wiggling until it is stabbed at the base of the skull. In the face of such evidence, we have failed to demand even limited ecclesiastical accountability from those who claim faith in Christ and then vote to protect and promote such savagery. We have inured ourselves with the idea that abortion is really not our problem.
To this defense God has raised the accusation that Christians themselves abort as many or more children than do those outside of the faith. "Contraceptive" killing is peddled by pastors who counsel in favor of popular birth control methods. It is furthered by "Christian" physicians who have invested in such drugs and devises, and by other leaders who have a greater investment in maintaining the world's disdain for children than in adopting God's loving perspective. Behind it all is the willful decision on the part of those individual Christians who have bought into a "choice" argument of their own. While God has reserved creating and ending life as His own Divine prerogative, Christian men and women insist that they will be the ones who decide when and if a baby is to be welcomed.
God's case in court, over the past 25 years, has given believers an opportunity to change the direction we are headed; to care about the powerless and protect them; to stand against those who would kill an innocent child; and to act in our own lives in such a way that we might properly represent a righteous God and receive from Him those that He considers to be a blessing.
It seems to me that there is little more that God should have to do to fully, justly prove His case against a rebellious people. We are experiencing what may be the last appeal; the one where God enjoins us to deal with the child-killing that has become so much a part of the Christian way of life (we call it "stewardship") in America. Believers are exhorted to examine their own birth control practices and their own attitudes about children.
It is one thing to point the finger at the world and say that we have no way to make them right their wrongs. There may be some truth in that. But it is another thing to say, when confronted with abortion in the Church, that we refuse to give up our own practices that, ignorantly or not, destroy unborn babies and restrain God's hand of blessing. When we do this last thing, it seems to me that there is no more appeal that can be made on our behalf. We have, in effect, said that no settlement offer will be accepted. And we leave God with no other choice than to judge us without the abundance of mercy that could have made a return to Him less painful at some other point along the way.
I hope the Y2K situation does not merit the doomsday warnings that some like Gary North are predicting. I hope that Steve Gregg's advice (cover story) about how to survive a Y2K catastrophe finds no emergency warranting its use. I do not know that God will use our technology to bring us low in the year 2000, but I believe that unless we examine our hearts and lives, reject spoon-fed theology and search the Scriptures ourselves for wisdom in every area of life (including reproduction), and commit to doing that which honors Him, God is well justified in judging us harshly for the great evil that we in the Church have unquestioningly tolerated and embraced.