By guest columnist, Les Riley
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty. (1 Corinthians 1:27, NKJV)
With all the bad news we see, like Republican party leadership officially, publicly giving up on defunding Planned Parenthood, it would be easy to become cynical or to despair that the tide cannot be turned. After all, both political parties give hundreds of millions to Planned Parenthood. The abortion industry is firmly entrenched in the culture and becoming more and more emboldened. The media, entertainment industry, academia, political powers, and most large corporations are openly hostile to the pro-life cause in general, and Christianity in particular. Even the mainstream pro-life organizations have given themselves over to merely regulating abortion and conceding to federal judges who act outside their legitimate authority and overturn the laws.
So where does this leave you and I?
We give our money, our time, and our prayers to send “pro-life” Republicans to Washington in hopes that, one day, we will have enough Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v Wade (even though over 75% of votes affirming abortion since Roe belonged to Republican-appointed justices). Despite having control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency over the last 2 years, Republicans couldn’t even muster enough courage to deny taxpayer funding to an organization that kills over 320,000 unborn children every year and profits from selling their body parts.
Enough is enough. When Christians decide to give up this failed, pragmatic strategy of relying on top-down changes from the federal government, we can return once again to the path God has used throughout history to work in and through His people. And we can realign ourselves with the truth that, with Him, all things are possible through faith.
Some historical motivation
By the mid 1800s, chemical and surgical abortions were common in Americas cities, and the scourge of pornography was spreading, along with the evils of chattel slavery. But the Lord sent a revival across the Northeast in the late 1850s that not only drove the well-known Christian involvement in the abolitionist movement, but the passage of the Comstock laws in 1873. These laws pushed back against pornographers and other sex traffickers and forbid the dissemination of information about the very elements that allowed these evils to flourish—birth control and abortion. At the same time, a variety of mercy ministries and hospitals sprang up, in which Christians reached out to the poor with shelter, food, medical care, and other services that the Church has since abdicated to the State.
This revival produced anti-abortion efforts that looked remarkably similar to the ones Christians lead and participate in today. George Grant and Greg Wilbur recall a remarkable example in the Christian Almanac.
Leslie Princtice, The NY Parent and Child Committee
“Leslie Printice was a young widow in New York City when she first became active in the pro-life movement. A member of Gardiner Spring’s congregation at the prominent Brick Presbyterian Church, she was encouraged by his sermons on child-killing to take a bold and active stand.
She organized several meetings in her midtown Manhattan brownstone of doctors, lawyers, politicians, judges, and community leaders to hear the facts about the abortion trade. Under the auspices of the Church, she set up the New York Parent and Child Committee. The committee established prayer networks, sidewalk counseling shifts, and even alternative care programs with Christian doctors. It also organized regular protests in front of Anna Lohman’s five area abortion franchises. Known professionally as Madame Restell, Lohman was the boldest, richest, and most visible child-killer.
Tenacious and unrelenting, Leslie led a rally outside Lohman’s lavish home on December 4, 1862, that was emotional, physical, and fierce. When Lohman went to trial the next year, Leslie was there—despite innumerable threats on her life from a number of the gangsters on Lohman’s payroll—to testify with several children ‘saved from the butcher’s knife.’
Nearly half a century later, her efforts were recognized in Albany by Governor Theodore Roosevelt as the primary catalyst for the state’s tougher legislation and stiffer enforcement of protections for the essential right to life of all New Yorkers.”
As a result of Leslie’s efforts, and many other courageous Christians of that time, chemical and surgical abortions were no longer legal or acceptable in America at the turn of the 20th century. Not surprisingly, overturning the Comstock laws (through the courts, of course) became a specific goal of Margaret Sanger, as she worked to advance eugenics through her birth control empire, Planned Parenthood. Her efforts eventually paid off when the Supreme Court granted a bubble of privacy surrounding birth control for married couples in 1965 and then unmarried couples in 1972, which led directly to the legalization of abortion in 1973.
Let it also be said of us
Today, Christians must approach the battle for life with the same spiritual fortuity. We must act politically and serve graciously at the local level to bring about equal justice in the law and to show mercy to the poor, the lost, and the broken. These local efforts become all the more urgent and real as we watch our national leaders continue to abdicate their responsibilities to bring an end to the funding and legality of abortion.
My prayer is that the Church will rise up once again and be salt and light in this generation.