Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work? – Proverbs 24:11-12
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are the well-known words in the Declaration of Independence that affirmed the inalienable rights God bestowed upon humankind—rights that The People assigned to the government to protect. The role of government in preserving human life is legitimate because without the right to life, no other rights apply. It is precisely this role that the Christian pro-life movement repeatedly and rightly calls upon when it asks elected officials to end the injustice of legalized abortion.
At the same time, the Christian’s call is also outside the government; in pregnancy resource centers, sidewalk advocacy ministries, post-abortive healing programs, homeless and domestic abuse shelters, crisis nurseries, adoption, and sex trafficking rescues. Both levels—the political and the grassroots; the justice and the mercy—are necessary in the battle to defend human life. Naturally, the political level is expected to solve the legal problem, while the grassroots is expected to solve the heart problem. So what has happened? Why is abortion so embedded in America’s conscience and in her laws? There’s an answer that’s difficult, but necessary to consider for such as time as this.
For nearly 50 years, the political level has worked almost exclusively to regulate the killing of pre-born children or to make it less convenient. Since the early 1980s when it abandoned its Human Life Amendment effort (the movement’s immediate, unified response after the Roe decision in 1973), it hasn’t directly challenged the lie that a baby in the womb is not a person who has value and deserves equal protection. Yet, throughout the last five decades, the grassroots level has put its trust in politicians and influential pro-life organizations to do what they say they will do: End legal abortion. As a direct consequence, much of the Church has come to see the sanctity of human life as a political issue to be dealt with by presidents and congressmen, not a spiritual issue that requires relationships and sacrifice.
Of course abortion won’t end overnight. Of course this is a marathon, not a sprint. Any spiritual attack on the image of God is, by nature, difficult to uproot and cut off. But after all this time, shouldn’t we be further along? To the detriment of our culture, our political strategies have not aligned with our stated beliefs—that life begins at conception and must be protected. Arguably, these strategies will cripple us even further as pro-abortion forces march across the states right now embedding the unjust rulings of Roe and Doe. Even in this bold new era, politicians and pro-life leaders have clearly signaled that their answer to abortion-on-demand and legalized infanticide will be yet another 20-week ban, full of exceptions for the rape-conceived, the disabled, and babies with poor medical prognoses. Abortion advocates are pulling out all the stops. Why aren’t we?
As Christians, we are beholden only to Christ. We are His constituents. And while our biblical mandate applies in the halls of government and out in the streets, we cannot and must not give our spiritual authority away on either level. In other words, our Christianity must define and shape our politics, not the other way around. We vote pro-life (as we should!), yet we don’t demand that our political leaders actually end legal abortion—not through man-made strategies that contradict God’s Word, but through God-inspired strategies that align with the sanctity of life ethic woven clearly throughout it.
The allegiance of politicians wavers. With very few exceptions, their support of the Christian pro-life movement is dependent on polls, headlines, and election cycles. Our allegiance is to the Lord, and it must be immovable, faithful, and steadfast—just as immovable, faithful, and steadfast as those who are actively working against Him.
He has shown you, O people, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8
If early Church history is any indication, moral atrocities such as abortion and infanticide will become unthinkable long before they’re illegal. The next post in The Way Forward series will examine the critical role of outreach and mercy ministries in shifting the culture, despite the existence of unjust laws.
Get caught up
Read the first post in this series, The Awakening, to see how the battle for life is quickly changing and how some in the Church are beginning to rise up.