Friday, August 28, 2015

The Church, Complacency and Abortion

A friend of mine recently told me that he thought the church had been complacent about abortion over the years. We didn't have time to get into his measuring stick for what I think he really meant by complacency, but I wanted to share a few more of my thoughts here. The word complacent means self-satisfied, smug, content. Has the Church taken a stand against abortion? The true Church? Please understand that I am not talking about those churches where everything is challenged from Christ's deity to eternal damnation to the inspiration and authority of Scripture and even the exclusive nature of salvation. I am talking about the true Church of Jesus Christ. Has she been complacent on the issue of abortion? If you were to ask secular culture, they would surely say that the Church has been anything but complacent, refusing to mind her own business on the subject. They would affirm that religious nuts have been far too outspoken on the issue. So what does my friend mean when he and others who think like he does claim that the Church has been complacent on the issue of abortion?

I think what he really means is that the Church has been complacent on the legality of abortion. I think he means that we have not done enough to change the laws that protect and allow for abortion. And that is really a very different accusation. You see, if I accuse the Church of being too complacent when it comes to basic bible teaching, or to holding firmly to core doctrines, I am saying that the Church has a God-given responsibility that many of her members are ignoring. But what is it that I am saying when I say that the Church has been complacent about the laws that protect abortion? Is my friend saying that the Church has been complacent about the structure of the American legal system? And if so, based on whose standards? Do the NT authors issue clear mandates for the Church to go out and change the legal system in their respective culture? Is there even the slightest hint that the authors of the NT even implied that the civil government was to come under the guidance and direction and yes, the authority of the Church? That is after all what many anti-abortion activists are advocating whether they say so or not.

You see, dear Christian, there is a remarkable difference between being complacent about our God-given responsibilities and being complacent about the standards that others wish to place around our necks. Would it be a good thing if abortion were illegal? Of course it would. So my friend would say that we ought to work toward that end then. But this would leave the Church in a very awkward position, seeking to impose divine law on her respective cultures. For instance, would it be a good thing if homosexuality were illegal? Of course it would. Would it be a good thing if taking God's name in vain were illegal? Yes it would. Would it be a good thing if it were illegal to violate the law of God? I think it would. Does that mean Christians have a responsibility to work toward that end? If you think so, then you would be classified as a theonomist. My friend denies any links to theonomy in his thinking. Does the New Testament advocate for such action? Does a single apostle or any one of their associates, under divine inspiration, instruct or command a single local Church to engage in such political activism? The answer is clear. There isn't a single incident in the NT where God directed the Church even once to engage in activities designed specifically to change the civil codes of their culture. Not one!

Where abortion is concerned, the Christian is not complacent about the issue so long as we stand in opposition to it the same as they stand in opposition to any other sin. They are not complacent when they refuse to practice abortion. They are not complacent when they share the gospel with women considering abortion, urging them to repent and place their faith in Christ. They are not being complacent when they take those opportunities to speak out against it. But when the goal shifts to restructuring the laws, and when we infer that God has laid the responsibility of changing existing laws in a culture, on the Church in order to conform that culture externally at least, to Christian values, we have stepped outside the mission of the Church given by Christ Himself. The Church has a responsibility to preach the pure gospel. She has the responsibility to make disciples. She has the responsibility to do good deeds and to let her light shine into this dark world. She has the responsibility to expose and reprove the sins of her culture. She does this by living a peculiar lifestyle. She does this by preaching the gospel. She does this by preaching the biblical doctrine of repentance. She does this when she helps unwed mothers navigate through their pregnancy. She does this when she helps these mothers find loving homes for their children.

I realize that the anti-abortionists will think this tone is far too soft. They will think that it does not go far enough. Some will probably claim that I am part of the problem...just one more complacent member in a complacent Church. Others will even accuse me of not loving the unborn children and not showing mercy. And some will question my devotion to Christ and the legitimacy of my conversion. That is unfortunate. I only hope that they can do a better job of managing their emotions when it comes to this issue rather than allowing their emotions and passion about the issue to consume them.

The Church of God will continue her stand against abortion. Some of her members will work with young mothers through ministries like Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Others will hand out tracks and speak with women entering abortion clinics. Some will preach at abortion clinics. Some will simply teach, preach, and write about the sins of abortion. But the Church of God does not have a mission to end abortion in the world. She cannot possibly accomplish such a lofty goal. Some may retort we just want to end it in America. Really? Why? How dare you stop with America! Abortion, in case you have not noticed is a worldwide problem. And babies that are being aborted in Asia and Europe and Africa are just as much your neighbors as those being aborted in America. The Church of God remains in the earth not to stop abortion. She remains in the earth to preach the gospel and make disciples. Let us NOT be complacent about that!

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