Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Christian Clergy Must Not "Fall Silent" on Abortion

Over at his fine blog, Christian author and Director of Eternal Perspective Ministries Randy Alcorn quotes a letter he received from Timothy Eaton, the director of a Verite Studios film called "The Life Project."

Eaton wrote, "Pastors know that roughly one out of five women in their congregations have had an abortion.  Many pastors have had abortions in their families.  Many pastors may not have counseled unwed pregnant women strongly enough against aborting their babies.  It is a subject fraught with pain for any congregation. 'Social justice' issues in the form of helping the poor and homeless have carried the day, because there is little or no guilt associated with them and everyone can feel good at the end of the day.

No question that helping the poor is a Biblical mandate.  But with abortion, there is a tremendous tension between compassion for women and men who have killed their babies on the one hand, and telling the truth to rouse believers to action on the other.  'Compassion' has won the day in most churches.  The problem with that outcome is that the status quo prevails; we have been killing 1.2 million babies every year in America since 1973, and the methods we have tried to stem the tide are an abject failure."

Randy's reply should be read in full. But let me emphasize the remarks that he directs to pastors:

"Let me interject here a word to pastors and church leaders. I plead with you to not play it safe, to not be people pleasers, and to fail to speak prophetically into people’s lives. If we do not periodically allow people the option of seeing what abortion really is (not just hearing about it), will we be held accountable for this before God? “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.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

I wonder how many children’s lives have been lost, how many women’s lives have been horribly scarred, because church leaders feared the criticisms that would come from people if they allowed terrible pictures to be seen in the assembly. People’s preferences to not see photos can be easily accommodated—just as I’m doing in this blog—since they can be warned in advance and told they can close their eyes when the short video or photos are shown. How odd and illogical, then, that we would not show such photos to any of our people, preventing many who could have come to grips with abortion for the first time from even having the opportunity to keep their eyes open and be touched deeply by what they see. The way to respect both groups of people is to show the photos and allow people to choose for themselves.

The same thing applies to showing pictures of starving children. It is unpleasant, it makes us feel guilty about our lifestyles, and we want people to feel safe and comfortable in our church services.  But does God call us to make people feel safe and comfortable, or sometimes to feel profoundly uncomfortable so that we might be moved to obey God? The truth that makes us uncomfortable is ultimately the truth that sets us free. And Satan, the liar from the beginning, wins his biggest victories when God’s people don’t come to terms with the truth—including that he is not only a liar but a murderer. John 8 says it all. It isn’t our job to simply make each other feel good, but to help each other be good. It is our job to prepare our people to stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  And to prepare ourselves as well."