In light of the political nature of the debates surrounding them, why should churches become involved in matters such as abortion and euthanasia?
Certainly there is the matter of our obligation to provide a prophetic voice within the world, the Kingdom of the Left. But, just as importantly, there is a need for the Christians in those churches, to become informed and to be provided with an objective moral standard by which to make decisions regarding the sanctity of human life. God’s Word, both Law and Gospel, must be the final authority for Christians in making ethical decisions. And it is especially important that the Gospel be clearly proclaimed.
Any time we deal with those who have sinned in the matters of abortion and/or euthanasia, the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for those sins must come through loud and clear. So, while proclaiming the truth and extending the call to repentance and faith, our approach must be one of showing the love of Christ, rather than coming across as wild-eyed radicals, fulfilling the portrayal of pro-lifers the media love to present.
Our witness on these issues is compelled by God’s life-giving Word. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matt. 25:37-40 NIV).
There are still many people who do not realize the status of laws regarding abortion in our country. The Supreme Court decision 1/22/73 (Roe v. Wade, et al) virtually legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. It has resulted in over 55 million deaths, continuing at a rate of close to one million per year and 4,000 per day. To remain silent in our churches about this is to condone the killing. By not informing our members, we put them and their children and grandchildren in jeopardy of falling victim to the lies of our culture and it’s prince, the devil. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8-9 NIV).
For pastors to simply declare that this is a matter for the government, into which we ought not to interject ourselves and get entangled in a “political issue,” is to ignore the fact that it is first and foremost a spiritual matter. As I mentioned before, ethical decision making must be made in the context of Law and Gospel. Thus the call from God’s Law must be the basis upon which a determination is to be made regarding abortion. And it is the call from Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself that compels us to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
While it is unlikely that any Christian, much less any Christian pastor, would deny that a mother experiencing a crisis pregnancy is our neighbor who is in need of our loving care and support, what about the baby she carries? Is the fetus, or embryo, or blastocyst, or zygote a neighbor deserving of our love, and thus one to whom the protection of the Fifth Commandment applies? If the unborn are people, then they are our neighbors- right?
In spite of attempts by pro-abortion advocates to dehumanize the unborn by hiding the truth of human development in the womb, new technological advances have made it difficult for anyone to deny that it is a little human person developing in her mother’s womb. The wild-eyed fanatics are the ones who demand that it be legal to kill her through abortion even after she is fully formed in the womb.
Many pastors say that they will not address this issue because they are afraid that there are women in the congregation who have had abortions and they don’t want to cause them pain. They are almost certainly in pain already. If the sin of abortion on demand is not addressed, how can the healing balm of the Gospel message of forgiveness in Christ be applied to these neighbors of ours, who need our protection and support? Many of them are certain that their sin of abortion is so terrible that God could never forgive them.
Pastors need to recognize that our silence about the issue will merely reinforce that conclusion. These neighbors of ours who have been deceived into having their unborn children killed are susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse as they seek to deal with the pain and regret. And they are in danger of falling into despair which leads to suicide.
Silence from their pastors leaves them in that despair. As we serve the Lord of Life, it is vitally important that we all be diligent in fulfilling the obligation to protect the sheep of the flock from the wiles of the wolf who hates life and would seek to keep all from being brought to faith, and who would seek to lead mothers and fathers to despair, after duping them into offering their children on his altar of self-centeredness. First, it is necessary that we teach our youth and adults to recognize unborn children as our neighbors, fully deserving of our love and protection. In that way, we can protect them from falling for the lies of the abortion industry should they ever face a problem pregnancy.
Likewise, we are speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, those for whom Jesus suffered and died to redeem them from their sin. Right to Life and Elizabeth’s New Life Center/Women’s Center Sidney are resources for educational material to assist pastors in their work of preparing and protecting their flocks, and they provide opportunities to assist mothers experiencing crisis pregnancies. May we provide support and assistance to those neighbors experiencing problem pregnancies, recognizing that there are not always easy answers. May we find ways to bear one another’s burdens in addressing all sanctity of human life issues, rather than seeking the easy way out.
But, especially, may the message of forgiveness and new life in Christ ring forth as we seek to be faithful to our calling. This Sunday at 2:30 pm there will be an opportunity for a peaceful, prayerful witness to the sanctity of life, as Christians gather around the court square for Life Chain. Invite your pastor to join you.
The writer is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, LCMS.