Sunday, August 23, 2015

Planned Parenthood, Abortion, and Christian Faith

As you may notice, I took down my post regarding how Christians should approach the abortion issue. That blog centered around some specific comments my friend, Justin Edwards’ made regarding the church and abortion. Having spoken to Justin and reached a better understanding of where he was coming, I thought it best to remove my post. There are some things that I think need to be said about the recent revelations of some practices of Planned Parenthood.

First, as a Christian, it seems impossible for me to accept that one can be reasonably mature, intellectually and spiritually healthy Christian and consider abortion to be anything less than murder. I may understand how a newly born Christian could have some misunderstandings in this area. But I cannot understand how it could be possible for any responsible, mature believer, to actually condone abortion or even consider it to be a social issue about which the Church has nothing to say.

Abortion is murder. The unrepentant sinner that defends or practices the murder of babies abides under and one day will experience the wrath of God. The law of God is expressly set down in the conscience of men as well as in Scripture: You will NOT murder! The Church cannot mince words when it comes to the issue of abortion. She must call it precisely what it is without compromise and without sensitivity to those murderers who do not want to be called murderers. Someone who practices abortion and who defends abortion is not an ounce different from a deranged serial killer. Now, before you get worked up about this, we are all guilty before God and apart from Christ, we stand condemned. Paul said, “and such were some of you!” Yes, we ought to see the abortionists as murderers but we ought also to see ourselves as murderers. Jesus said the one who hates his brother is a murderer. And which one of us has not at one point in time over the course of our lives not been guilty of hating our brother or neighbor? The Church has no choice but to speak out against the sins of the culture in her message of repentance for it is in the indictment and the guilt that the good news can be brought to bear. We do no one any favors by relegating abortion to a social issue about which the Church has nothing to say.

On the flip side of the coin are those who think that unless the Church is routinely preaching about the sin the abortion, sanctioning an evangelistic team to go down to the abortion clinic on a regular basis, and calling on their local and state civil leaders to change the law, that she is guilty of complacency on the issue. But there are a host of problems with such a view. First of all, we must be very careful in how and why we extend rebukes to fellow believers in Christ. And we must be extremely guarded in how we speak to those who hold the office of elder in the Church. If a correction is needed, then it ought to be given. But the question is, is a correction or rebuke appropriate?

There are three basic groups of people in the Church, the real Church I mean. There are those who are less involved with the abortion issue. They condemn it as a sinfully wicked practice and speak against it, calling it what it is: murder. There are those who are moderately engaged in some sort of activism around abortion. They may hand out tracks, provide counseling, etc. And then there are those who go to the clinics, hold up signs of aborted babies, and preach to women going into those clinics.

The problem I see with these groups is not their activities but more often, their attitudes. The first group may consider preaching outside an abortion clinic embarrassing, offensive, and even primitive. They may condemn the act entirely and criticize those who are involved in it. On the flip side, the latter group, being far more aggressive and emotion about the subject has a tendency to be judgmental about anyone that does not share their passion. I think both attitudes are wrong. There is nothing in Scripture prohibiting preaching or demonstrating publicly against abortion. If done with the right motive and with good taste, using wisdom, I support the approach. In addition, there is no principle of Scripture that dictates to Christians that they have to become abortion activists either. The “love your neighbor” answer is a misuse of Scripture and ought to be abandoned by those who use it. It is activist propaganda and unhelpful rhetoric. Additionally, if one is using evangelism to stop abortion, that would constitute a misuse of the gospel and an illegitimate use of evangelism. Essentially, that isn’t evangelism. If your purpose for being at an abortion clinic is anything other than the supernatural conversion of these expectant mothers, then perhaps you have your cart before your horse. Moreover, if you read some websites, it is clear that abortion is first and everything else is secondary. That simply will not do. We are to make disciples, not mothers.

Often, abortion activists will claim that they are interested in conversion, and that their activities really are mainly focused on the gospel. They will claim that they do not look at non-activists with judgmental, self-righteous contempt. But deep in the recesses of their heart, they know they are not being honest. The message to all Christians is the same. You are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Do you need to be an activist in order to be the light God called you to be? Do you need to seek out cultural and social change in order to be the light God called you to be? Jesus didn’t. Jesus was uninterested in external change. And He was the light of the world. Jesus did not seek to end Roman oppression and mistreatment of the poor. He was not an activist. He preached the gospel. His mission was spiritual.

The reality is that abortion existed in Paul’s day. Yet, we do not read one word about the practice in the New Testament writings. Of course it was abhorrent to Paul and the other writers of Scripture. That is beyond dispute. But if activism is required to avoid the sin of complacency, then I suppose the New Testament Church was also guilty of the sin of complacency when it came to the practice of abortion in that culture.

In summary we would say to all groups involved to love one another and allow Scripture and Scripture alone to guide your practices. It amazes me that the issue of abortion is elevated above the issue of love and unity in the body of Christ. We are quick to separate simply because someone’s methods differ from our own. And believe it or not, disharmony in the body of Christ is every bit as tragic as the tragedy of abortion.

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