Fleeing from the Battle


 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.  Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.  Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs!  I will not listen to the music of your harps.  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

- Amos 5:21-24




Now that we realize how terrible our national situation truly is, and how the power to change things is within the grasp of pro-life persons, we must have the courage to evaluate our performance.  How has the Christian church responded to date to the crisis of abortion?

My brethren, the Church has failed

There is no other way we can phrase this without misrepresenting the facts.  In the face of the largest, most heinous crime ever perpetuated by one group of people on another, and in a nation where Christianity remains the dominant organized religion, the overwhelming number of Christians have sat back and let abortion continue without so much as a whisper of protest.  We are NOT here talking about the many “pro-choice” churches that exist nowadays (UMC, PCUSA, UCC, Episcopal, ELCA, etc).  We are talking about those Christian eklesia constituted of persons who confess that abortion kills an innocent human being, yet do not respond as if this were true. 

Do you think we paint too dark of a picture?  Find out for yourself.  Ask any pro-life Christian you meet what they themselves have done in the past 40 years to combat the plague of abortion, and they will probably stare at you blankly, as if they don’t even understand the question.  Perhaps they will tell you that they pray and/or vote for pro-life politicians.  At most they may point out that their pastor sometimes mentions abortion from the pulpit, or that the church donates to a Pregnancy Help Center (a place where abortion-minded women can go to learn how to choose life and care for their babies).  Considering the depth of the problem, and what we are capable of, this is absolutely unacceptable.  Unfortunately, it is par-for-the-course in churches across this nation.  Most Christians blithely assume that they are already doing everything that can be reasonably expected of them, and this misguided sentiment is reinforced by pastors and church leadership each and every Sunday.

Long time pro-life champion Mark Crutcher ruefully comments on this fact:

“After almost thirty years of effort, no one can rightly claim that the pro-life movement has not done everything humanly possible to make America’s clergy and politicians do the right thing.  But it is increasingly obvious that our resolve is no match for their cowardice.”

Joe Lapsley Foreman, a leader in the Rescue Movement of the 1980s and 1990s, writes:

“We could not lose our lives in order to find them even if we tried.  This is the tragedy which [the pro-life rescues of the 1980s] uncovered in the church.  It showed us we could not even cross the street to save a baby . . . The fact is, America, we do not want to put ourselves in a position where, for God’s victory, we must die to our own agendas.”

Randall Terry is a famous veteran of the fight to end abortion.  He has been denouncing Christian apathy for years, but it has usually fallen on deaf ears.  He writes:

Most Christians tend to refuse to take strong public action on a controversial issue.  You would never catch them taking a public stand against child-killing, sodomy, school condom give-aways, or intrusion by social services into families’ lives.  They wouldn’t want to appear at a prayerful protest with a bunch of radicals.”

Even some who are not deeply involved in fighting abortion themselves sense that the church has neglected its duty.  R.C. Sproul, author of many books and the director of Ligonier Ministries, has said: “If I know anything about God, I’m absolutely positive He hates abortion on demand . . . And I would think that the Christian church would literally be screaming bloody murder about that issue in our culture...I don’t understand, I just don’t get it.  I don’t understand how we can sit back and watch that happen.”

 

Even worse, the greatest cowards have proved to be clergy.  In a time when we need leaders, most of our pastors seem to be hiding behind their congregations instead of becoming an example to be emulated.  Most won’t even mention abortion from the pulpit.  Royce Dunn, the director of the annual pro-life roadside witness known as Life Chain asks, “How long must lay pro-life leaders strive vainly for a breakthrough that only the pulpit can achieve?”  In his book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, Pastor John Piper (not a pro-life activist himself) has said that “The cowardice of some pastors when it comes to preaching against abortion appalls me.” 

These sentiments express only a fraction of the continuous disappointment and sense of helplessness which anyone seriously involved in fighting abortion endures year after year.  We watch children get murdered on Saturday and Christians laughing and enjoying life on Sunday.  We sit in prayer meetings where Christians ask for help with their job search, safety while they go on vacation, healing from disease and “spiritual growth”, yet forget to ask that the inhuman carnage of abortion be ended.  We hear pastors preach on the Good Samaritan but fail to see how it applies to the unborn.  We listen to person after person agonize over “what God wants me to do with my life” and it never occurs to them that He wants them to stop this wretched abomination!  We know of abortion clinics that operate literally on the same city block as houses of worship, yet continue their grisly work unchecked, anonymous, and undeterred for years on end.

Human language is not enough to fully express the heartbreak which God must feel as He witnesses His people, His very sons and daughters, ignoring the desperate plight of the most innocent and helpless persons on the face of the earth. 

No doubt many of you think we are being too hard on the church.  Perhaps you think we are being judgmental and legalistic.  We suggest, however, that your objections are based on a very common error, an error made by almost all born people, pro-life as well as pro-choice.  Simply put, we forget that the Unborn are valuable human beings like us.  

It is now that we wish to introduce the concept of Moral Consistency.  Moral Consistency means treating every human being the same way, given the same circumstances.  While it often seems difficult to evaluate what the church should be doing in regards to abortion, the answer becomes much more clear when we train ourselves to think of the Unborn as valuable humans with exactly the same rights we enjoy.

On this website, we encourage our readers to evaluate Moral Consistency using an illustration called Situation X. 

Situation X

Imagine that abortion, instead of killing nameless, faceless, relationship-less Unborn babies, instead targeted born men, women and children.  Every day 3,000 - 4,000 such people are mercilessly murdered by armed gangs, licensed by the government and hired by their unfriendly neighbors, and no one is lifting a finger to help them. Many of the victims are your own friends and relatives. Someday it could be you. Secular culture condones this holocaust, and has done a good job of covering it up. Yet you know that most people would reject the practice and put a stop to it if there was someone to lead them.

Now be perfectly honest.  If Situation X were real, how do you think the church would respond? 

  • Would pastors fear speaking out because someone in the congregation might be offended or feel judged?
  • Would churches fear that fighting gang violence detracted from the work of evangelism?
  • Would Christians respect the legal rights of gangs to kill people, so long as they were properly licensed?
  • Would Christians hesitate to offer up prayers for the victims who might be killed in the coming week, because we already did that last week?
  • Would Christians feel no obligation to work against the violence?
  • Would churches spend a greater amount of their funds on saving the victims of gang killings?
  • Would Christians go en-masse to where people were being murdered and try to prevent it from happening?

I think you get the point.  A church which decided to become morally consistent towards the Unborn would literally be turned upside down.  Or rather, right side up. 

So what accounts for the church’s failure to do its duty?

It's not as if we don't have the people.  A recent Pew survey reports that 26.4% of Americans belong to Christian “evangelical” congregations, almost all of which are solidly pro-life.  While this is a minority of the US population, it is more than enough to surround
every abortion clinic in America 24/7, carry out pro-life activism at every college campus, outside every high school and on most downtown street corners, force the government and businesses to defund abortion providers and convince every “pro-life” politician in the country to make the abolition of abortion one of their top priorities.  But instead, people are diverted into such lesser things as music, youth ministry, hospitality ministry, thespian ministry, building committees, etc.  100 years ago, these ministries, if they existed, were performed by volunteers, or carried out by pastors in the normal course of their duties.   But today we demand they be done by professionals.  Meanwhile, the work of saving babies from death is totally neglected. 

It’s not as if we didn’t have the funds.  American churches generate millions in revenue yearly.  That’s enough to support thousands of full time pro-life activists, the sort of people who could organize rallies, go door to door everyday, carry out focused campaigns against local abortion clinics and manage pro-life petition drives.  But instead, massive amounts of money are spent on building projects, insurance, short-term mission trips, expensive sound equipment, and paying the salaries of all the various professionals employed to “make Church happen”.  We donate a few dollars to a Pregnancy Help Center and consider that good enough.  

No, we have the people and we have the money, and furthermore we have all the skills and connections necessary to set the nation on fire, break down the Gates of Hell and prevent practically every single baby from being killed.  What we lack is the will.

Case in Point: The Rescue Movement

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Rescue Movement?  The Rescue Movement was a very important period, spanning approximately 10 years, during which some Christians finally began to take abortion more seriously.  They took their cue from Christian author Francis Shaeffer, who wrote in his book A Christian Manifesto,

“At a certain point, it is not only the privilege but it is the duty of the Christian to disobey the government. I hope the Christians across this country and across the world will really understand what the Bible truly teaches: The final bottom line!”

Across the country, ordinary people started to protect Unborn children by getting between the victims and those who sought to kill them.  They blocked the doors of abortion clinics, chained themselves to the cars of abortionists and otherwise deterred the clinics from operating.  These “Rescues” grew larger and more organized until they crested with large events such as the 1991 Summer of Mercy in Wichita, KS and the 1992 Spring of Life in Buffalo, NY.

When we say “large”, we are speaking relatively.  Considering the number of pro-life Christians who lived in each city where a rescue took place, the actual turn out at each event was pitiful.  The overwhelming majority of Christians and their pastors remained at home, busy with their lives.  If they noticed the rescues at all, it was from the comfort of their living rooms.

Rescue captured the attention of the media, but it never achieved the degree of coverage given to economic concerns, foreign relations and pop culture (just like today).  As a result, they were never more than a mild irritation to the abortion industry at large, and when that industry struck back with lawsuits against the Rescue leadership, and Congress passed the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act, severely increasing the penalties for conducting rescues, the movement fell apart.  Rescue simply did not have the political and social clout to defend herself.  Had the churches of America stood up for Rescue and fought back against the draconian policies of our government, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened.  But they never did. 

The pro-life movement has never again exhibited the same degree of self-sacrificial service achieved during that singular time period.  Most subsequent pro-life advocacy has been quiet, non-confrontational, and carried out almost exclusively by small groups of hard-core professionals.  We no longer expect very much from the Christian community, and to a great degree we are trying to solve the problem without them.  There has been some success in passing laws that restrict abortion, and slowly more people are beginning to self-identify as “pro-life”.  But by and large the movement has gone no where and accomplished very little.

American Christians, especially pastors, have many spiritual-sounding reasons for not fighting harder to end abortion.  For each objection there is an answer that is Biblically sound and morally consistent.  If the following concerns apply to you, please ask yourself, "Would this be a concern for me if abortion killed born people such as my own friends and family?" or even better "If someone was threatening to kill me soon, would I accept this as a good reason for why Christians did not fight to defend me?"

  • The Church’s duty is to preach the Gospel, not fight abortion.
  • You’re so worried about abortion; what about all the people who are dying without hearing about Jesus Christ?
  • Only God can end abortion / we must fight with “heavenly means” not “worldly means”
  • How can it be possible that you guys are right and the rest of the Church is wrong?
  • Unborn babies go to heaven anyway.
  • The end of the world is near.  Things are only going to get worse until then, so it’s pointless to try and fix things.
  • Our church is too busy with our other important ministries / as a pastor I am personally way too busy to take this on.
  • Our church supports a Crisis Pregnancy Center, so we’re adequately contributing to the pro-life battle already.
  • We’re against abortion, but we care for the entire person.  Fighting abortion is not a holistic approach

If we have done our job well, this section has probably been very painful for you.  But if we want to end abortion, we must first realize why we have failed.  If we don’t summon the courage to admit this, rest assured abortion will continue. We can't change the world unless we first change ourselves. 

Christians have blood on their hands for not doing what is necessary and possible to end abortion.  Where are our priorities?  We get so busy in life and in "spiritual activities" that we forsake children being led to the slaughter.  How can we live and act like there isn't a vicious Battle being waged?  How can we ignore the cry of the children murdered each and every day?  How can we think that we can hold onto a 'normal' life, doing what we want and indulging in everything the world makes available to us while our little brothers and sisters in the womb are being killed?

It is time for Christians to wake up, understand the times in which we live, educate themselves and act to end abortion

This is the subject of our next section.


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