Most Christians seem to misunderstand where the frontline in the abortion battle is. It is not, as one might suppose, with the pro-choicers. Why? Because “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” No matter how new-and-improved our sanctity-of-life arguments may be, few pro-choicers are going to change sides. Every time we get within scoring distance they’ll simply move the goalposts. They always have.
No, the real battle is with the staggering number of “pro-life” leaders — pastors in particular — who fail to translate their belief into meaningful action calculated to lead the tens of millions of people within their sphere of influence to demand the entire and immediate outlaw of abortion on the grounds that it is murder.
These “epistles” (abbreviated, real-life exchanges) reveal “Pastor Al”* to be a prime example . . .
Pastor Al: What are some practical ways we can show Christ’s love in our community?
Mr. H: How about we all show up in front of the local Planned Parenthood next Saturday? It’s an abortion day.
Pastor Al: I’m not sure those dealing with crisis pregnancies would interpret that as love.
Mr. H: But wouldn’t their victims?
Mr. H: Something’s bothering me. I went through several years’ worth of prayer requests from church missionaries and ministry leaders and found nothing about abortion. In hundreds of prayer requests, there were no prayers requested for the pre-born.
Pastor Al: Probably because that was outside the scope of their ministries.
Mr. H: That’s what’s bothering me.
Pastor Al: Our people are some of the most polite, gracious, and caring folks you’d ever want to meet. Sometimes the way you talk makes it sound like you think otherwise.
Mr. H: They are indeed as you describe — to everyone except the pre-born. My prayer and work is to see them become just as “polite, gracious, and caring” to the unborn as to everyone else.
Pastor Al: You might want to rethink always calling abortion “murder.” Most don’t automatically think of abortion as “murder.” It can be upsetting to those who have had an abortion.
Mr. H: I hear you. God designed us, for a reason, to recoil at the thought of murder. But the revulsion we feel is only the faintest approximation of His own. We will never succeed in abolishing abortion so long as we think of it as anything other than murder. Words have meaning. To use different words is to assign different meaning, and anything less than what is conveyed by the word “murder” makes abortion less heinous and more acceptable. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons abortion still flourishes all these decades after the infamous Roe decision is because we refuse to consistently call it, and think of it as, what it is.
Pastor Al: I only address social issues if and when they come up in the biblical text I’m preaching from.
Mr. H: You found it appropriate to talk at length about the recent forest fires.
Pastor Al: I could hardly do differently. That was a local emergency that affected a number of members of this congregation and a great many people right here in our own backyard.
Mr. H: With all due respect, Pastor Al, isn’t the abortion holocaust “an emergency affecting members of this congregation and a great many people right here in our own backyard”?
Pastor Al: Holding graphic signs, confronting men and women in public — I fail to see the sensitivity, grace, and Christian love in such actions.
Mr. H: On the other hand, not confronting, not telling the whole ugly truth about abortion –doesn’t that manifest a lack of sensitivity, grace, and Christian love for the pre-born? We mustn’t forget who the real victims are. Regardless of any suffering the parents might be going through, they at least come out of the clinic alive. Not so their victims. Don’t you agree that above all we need to show sensitivity, grace, and love to them?
Pastor Al: Interesting point.
Pastor Al: You need to take a realistic view. Unfortunately, abortion is going to be with us a long time. We’ve already been trying for over four decades to end it.
Mr. H: I think it is truer to say abortion is still rampant not because we have been laboring hard to end it, but precisely because we have not. Surely we aren’t okay taking another 44 years and another 60 million innocent lives to end this holocaust?
Pastor Al: I don’t believe it will take that long. We’re making real progress.
Mr. H: I respectfully disagree. In 2008 there were around 600 abortion-performing facilities in America. Since 2009 there are in the neighborhood of 67,000. Demand for, and availability of, abortion is vastly on the increase.
Pastor Al: How’d you come up with that figure?
Mr. H: Chemical abortion via “Plan B” (the “morning-after pill”) can be obtained at virtually every one of the 67,000 retail outlets in America that sell pharmaceuticals, like CVS, Walgreen, and even Kroger and Safeway — any store that has a pharmacy department.
Pastor Al: I’ve been told Plan B doesn’t cause abortion.
Mr. H: And no one would lie about such a thing, would they?
Pastor Al: I just don’t think they could get away with something that egregious.
Mr. H: They get away with murder, Pastor Al. What makes you think they can’t get away with lying? But don’t take my word for it. Look at the research.
Pastor Al: By continually challenging folks at church with the question “what are you doing to oppose abortion,” you’re sending the message that nobody desires it to end as much as you do. Of course they do. They just go about it in a different way.
Mr. H: Pastor, most are doing virtually nothing. I wouldn’t call that “a different way.”
Mr. H: What does “loving our pre-born neighbor” look like?
Pastor Al: I can’t give you an exhaustive list.
Mr. H: I’d settle for the top three things you think best represent the kind of practical, meaningful, agape love these helpless little ones need.
Pastor Al: First, pray for women facing crisis pregnancies; second, give to the local crisis pregnancy center; and third, show up at events like the annual March for Life.
Mr. H: That’s it?
Pastor Al: You said just “the top three things.”
Folks, this is why abortion is still with us after half a century. Merely having pro-life sentiments, like Pastor Al, will never result in the abolition of abortion. There must be meaningful action. Only when sufficient numbers of us consistently demand the entire and immediate outlawing of abortion on the grounds that it is murder will we see it abolished.
* “Pastor Al” is not a single individual but a composite of Christian leaders who call themselves pro-life but, by their spare and half-hearted advocacy for the pre-born, might as well be pro-choice. “Mr. H” is not always the present author. Remarks and incidentals have been altered to conceal true identities. Grateful acknowledgement is made to my dear friend “LeeQuod” for the felicitous title.
Image courtesy of Mike Flippo at Thinkstock by Getty Images.
Rolley Haggard is a feature writer for BreakPoint.