A look at some of the reasons Christians give for not getting involved.
Page Summary: These nine objections reflect the legitimate concerns of many in the church who fear the socialization or politicization of the gospel. Our responses aim at answering these concerns, so as to demonstrate why actively opposing abortion is both biblically appropriate and necessary.
The following objections are representative of many of the concerns that biblically minded people have with taking on what they deem “social issues”. While the objections below apply to social activism in general, our responses are specifically aimed at justifying (and compelling) real and expressed Christian opposition to abortion. Why? : because abortion stands paramount in today’s so-called culture war. Homosexuality, pornography, the removal of the Ten Commandments, etc… these issues, important though they be, cannot come close to matching the urgency or injustice of abortion. None of these competing immoralities directly result in the massive slaughter of innocent human beings. As Albert Martin says, abortion is the “Rocky Mountains” amidst the hills of America’s sin (“God’s Word to Our Nation”, July 4, 1983).
#1: Cultural Morality is Not Our Commission
We do not disagree with this statement in the least. Abort97’s ultimate aim has nothing to do with creating a more “moral” South-Africa, nor do we have any delusions that external morality is akin to godliness. Our efforts are about physically saving the lives of unborn children who would otherwise be slaughtered. Such efforts are both biblically justified and biblically necessary.
<#2: Social Activism Wastes Church Resources
This accusation, as it applies to abortion, is dishonest and unfair. The South African church is not short on money. To suggest that we can’t afford to spend money to save the lives of children is simply not true. If there is a shortfall in the church budget, it is because believers are spending far too much money on houses and cars and vacations. It is not because we’re spending too much on pro-life causes. Pro-life giving need not compete with money designated for missions or the needy, but it should compete with all the money designated for malls and movies. Fulfilling the biblical mandate to preserve the lives of those being “led to the slaughter” is not a waste of money (Proverbs 24:11). At the end of the day, we’re all accountable for how we spend what God gives us. But is the church today more concerned with better sound systems, softer pews and greener landscaping than we are with rescuing the weak and downtrodden? When it comes to meeting the needs around us, we needn’t be (nor should be) “either/or” believers. We’re called to be “both/and” believers. By God’s grace we can spread the gospel, sufficiently maintain our church facilities, and rescue unborn children.
#3: God is not Honoured by the “Morality” of a Pagan Nation
This statement is largely true, but it misses a crucial point. Consider the words of John Piper.
“Justice is God’s creation. Honesty is God’s design. Integrity is the work of God – even in unbelievers – just like their head and heart and hands and feet are his work…The honesty and justice of unbelievers is like a seashell washed up on the beach. There’s no life in it. But it does have a kind of beauty…Since the partial external conformity of unbelievers to God’s designs of justice and honesty does in one way delight the heart of God, it was right for William Wilberforce to devote twenty years of his life in Parliament to the abolition of English slave trading, even though the great majority of those merchants who gave up the trade did it under constraint and not for any holy reasons at all. It was the work of God’s grace that rid England of the barbarisms of the African slave trade. And therefore the Lord looked down with delight on February 22, 1807, when the House of Commons passed the decisive bill. The same will be true when persevering pro-life forces bring an end to wanton, legalized child-killing….My prayer is that the truth of God’s pleasure in public justice will inspire many in our day to take up the mantle of William Wilberforce and wear it into battle against the manifold injustices of our day.” Pleasures of God, 263
Proverbs 11:1 tells us that, “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.” Proverbs 14:34 proclaims, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people”. Though external morality apart from a regenerate soul will account for nothing on the day of judgment, there is also a clear sense in which God is honoured when people and governments deal justly and rightly with one another. Justice is God’s work and when it is on display, it points to His glory. That is a good thing. God will receive a measure of honour and delight when the abomination of abortion is wiped off the books. We do not make this end our chief aim (as stated in Response #1), but we do recognize the “delight” that God takes in the “just weights” of a land.
#4a: The Only Biblical Way to Oppose Abortion is to Preach the Gospel
This objection mainly has in view the soul of the aborting woman. It recognizes that even if you convince this woman to keep her baby (or place if for adoption), she will be no more qualified to stand before God on the day of judgment than if she had aborted ten children. Without hearing and responding to the gospel, she will perish. This is true (as it applies to the woman), but it fails to consider what’s at stake for the baby. While changing a woman’s mind about abortion will do her no eternal good (if she dies in unbelief), it will make a world of difference for her child. It is the difference between life and death. When physical life hangs in the balance, our first priority is to intervene for it as quickly and most effectively as possible. If any of us were to witness a young child being kidnapped and assaulted by a sexual predator, we wouldn’t try and save her by sharing the gospel with her attacker (under the confused notion that conversion is the only way to stop the violence or that “forcing our morality” on them will do no real good). With regards abortion, there are masses of unsaved, unrepentant people who still know enough about abortion to oppose it. If we only share the gospel with the people around us, then those who reject it will see no reason to ever curb their abortion-minded lifestyle. But if we share the gospel and educate people about abortion, then thousands, even millions, of children will be spared, even if their parents live their whole lives without submitting to Christ.
#4b: People Will Not Change Without Being Regenerated
This premise is similar to the last, but speaks more to possibility than responsibility. Whereas 4a argues that reformation without salvation is worthless, 4b argues that reformation without salvation is impossible. Such a claim ignores significant historical precedent. Slavery, segregation, child labour… these are all examples of massive injustices that were largely eliminated through secular means, apart from widespread spiritual renewal. The souls of the “reformed” gained no benefit for their change, but society (and particularly the victims) certainly did. Where certain behaviour is prohibited by law (and met with punishment), that behaviour goes away (not completely, but significantly). God ordained government to restrain those who would not restrain themselves. Change through law is indeed possible, and changing the law starts with changing individual minds.
#5: Being Salt and Light Refers Not to Moral Influence but Rather Gospel Witness
This accusation seems to compartmentalise the Christian life in a wholly impossible fashion. The commendation to be “salt and light” must influence and inform every aspect of our life. Let’s turn again to the words of John Piper. “Jesus says, in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world.” And in Ephesians 5:8, “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” So both of them say, Christians are light. Not only that, they both agree that, “The fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.” The shining of your light as a Christian is bearing practical fruit in “good deeds” – “what is good and right and true.” But Paul stresses a function of light that Jesus does not mention here – although he is really good at doing it in many other places: light exposes the dark. When light gets near a dark thing truth happens. Things are seen for what they are. The deceptions and half-truths are blown away.”
Abortion is one of the darkest works of the human race – it is child sacrifice. And the only way it can survive is for darkness to survive. Wherever the light of truth and love comes, darkness flies away. Therefore it is one of the great callings of the followers of Jesus to let their light shine in both ways: to do good deeds and to expose darkness. The aim is partly negative: reveal the error hidden in the darkness, but mainly positive: to bring people to love the light and be made light in the Lord Jesus.
This gives us some clear guidance in the Christian church. Let there be both the light of good deeds – like all the manifold ministries of crisis pregnancy centres and adoption and sidewalk counselling and education and political engagement. And let there be the light of loving analysis and critique and exposure – in reading and thinking and conversing and writing. And of course the two cannot be separated. The doing of truth in loving acts of sacrifice for the sake of life will in the end expose the darkness as much as all talking and writing. “The Darkness of Abortion and the Light of Truth” – January 26. 2003
If all we do is pursue social change and secular solutions, apart from the gospel, then clearly we’re misapplying the mandate to be salt and light, but if we’re working to end abortion in the broader context of a Christ-cantered life, then we needn’t worry that such efforts are beyond our mandate. When light comes face to face with darkness, it exposes whatever is there (by default). It cannot (and should not) be any other way.
#6: Social Activism has no New Testament model to follow
Even without a specific New Testament pattern, the general biblical mandates are so clear that we cannot shirk their application simply because the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly where to fulfil them. Often times, inaction towards abortion is justified with the argument that Christ and the apostles never specifically dealt with the prevalent injustices of their day (like slavery). This may or may not be true (since the Bible presents only a small portion of all they said and did), but we can be certain that the “injustice” of slavery in Christ’s day doesn’t exactly compare with the injustice of abortion in our day. When Paul commends believing slave masters in Ephesians 6:9 to care for their slaves, it should become immediately clear that such New Testament slavery was qualitatively different, and far less heinous (even legitimate), than the slavery we’re familiar with in our modern world. Could Paul ever commend a believer to be a “good abortionist”?! Absolutely not. Therefore comparing the early church’s silence about slavery (if they were indeed silent) and our silence about abortion is a mismatched comparison. If we make this supposed pattern of “silence” our standard, then all expressed opposition to any “secular” injustice (the Holocaust, lynching, child abuse) would also be unbiblical. Corrie Ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and William Wilberforce would have all wasted their lives in vain and unbiblical pursuits. Clearly, this is not the case.
#7: Social Activism Creates Unholy Unions Across Divergent Faiths
Don’t get us wrong, doctrinal distinctives matter. There is no biblical evidence to support the notion that a sincere faith is all that matters on the day of judgment. There is only one name under heaven, given to men, by which we must be saved… Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). We firmly reject the heretical notion that all faiths lead to heaven. Having said that, the fact remains that we are not going to prevent those who disagree with us on specific matters of theology from ordering our t-shirts or using our resources. We are who we are, and if people who do not agree with us on doctrine are still willing to use and distribute our resources, Praise God!
The bottom line is this, there are certain instances in which it is perfectly right to link arms across differing faiths in pursuit of a common goal. If you see a child being assaulted or you see a child stumble into an icy river, and if someone is there and willing to help you rescue the child, would you refuse such assistance if that person did not believe as you do? Surely not. While a union between Hindus, Mormons, Moslems, Protestants, Catholics, Scientologists, or Atheists (Do we agree with this? Would we be willing to partner with Muslims or atheists?) would be devastating for evangelistic ends, surely it is no compromise for such unions to take place in the attempt to save the physical lives of dying children.
#8: Social Activism Invites Hatred and Persecution Upon Christians for the Wrong Reasons
To argue that Christians should be persecuted for their faith and not for their opposition to abortion, is like arguing, “Christians should be persecuted for their faith, not for sharing the gospel.” If you are a Christian, how can you do any less than share your faith? And if you are a Christian, how can you do any less than speak out for the dying children around you? We are painfully aware of the arrogance and self-righteousness that often exists in the pro-life movement. We know there are ”pro-lifers” who are mean and vindictive, who are hated not because they condemn abortion, but because they’re simply obnoxious and combative people. They have no sense of Christ’s command to love their enemies. At the same time, it is very easy for those outside the fray to unfairly criticize those who are in it, those who are suffering for their decision to do something about abortion (and who genuinely love God and love people). The cost for claiming Christ is still relatively low in this country. The cost for actively opposing abortion is much higher. If you see abortion as a “glory of God” issue, which everything in the world is, then it is precisely because you love His glory and you love His creatures that you enter the fight on their behalf. If your faith compels you into something, then any of the persecution that results is nothing less than a suffering for your faith.
Adapted by Abort73.com. Used with permission.