Friday, January 20, 2012

A Gospel-Shaped Pro-Life Passion

If you put overturning Roe v. Wade to a popular vote, I'm in line early ready to vote in favor of protecting the approximately one million unborn babies killed each year, and if you're a politician, the best way to lose my vote is to align with the pro-choice agenda.

Nevertheless, I don't believe laws -- or the protests and petitions and politicking that seek to achieve them -- are the primary way we are going to eradicate abortion. Overturning Roe v. Wade is a win -- and it's a win we should work for, hard -- but in my way of thinking, it is not the win.

The emancipation of the slaves and ensuing civil rights legislation was necessary. But none of it ended racism.

I am not proposing an either/or. What I'm proposing is that evangelicals take the harder route, adopt the harder cause, that we pray for and aim for Spiritual change of hearts more than we aim for legal stay of hands.

Here are some thoughts on how we may do this:

1. Gospel-centered preaching. Here's the thing: Pastors who preach culture war receive Amens from the already convinced and almost nothing from everybody else. At its worst a steady dose of this creates an unhealthy "us vs. them" mentality that has us thinking of our enemies in ways the Sermon on the Mount strictly forbids. But pastors who proclaim the freedom from sin and abundant life in Christ lay groundwork for zeal for life, not just for winning political battles. A gospel-driven pro-life agenda means hating abortion because we love women and we love the unborn. That sounds like a no-brainer but so many of our evangelical countrymen just sound like they hate abortion. And preaching isn't just for pastors. In general, more evangelicals need to talk Jesus more than they talk politics, or else we unintentionally communicate that our greatest treasure is "getting our country back" and that our chief message is political. We are great with the good news of the kingdom of the founding fathers. Let's return to the good news of the kingdom of God.

2. Reframing the abortion discussion. Lots of others have said this better than I can, but I think we've dropped the ball on how we frame the abortion issue. It is a matter of human rights, of civil rights, which is a perspective I first heard from my deeply pro-life friend who voted for Barack Obama. (I know, figure that one out.) But this is how we will best win in the political arena, I think. In many cases, this involves merely shifting from arguing against selfish moms (or whatever) and arguing for an appropriate definition of when life begins and becoming advocates for the voiceless unborn, exploited and commoditized. We can steer the discussion into the same rhetoric of the abolitionist and civil rights movements and end up stirring more hearts, I think.

3. Creating cultures of adoption and rescue. Human trafficking is the emerging danger. It's been going for a long time, but the Church is recently (and awesomely) stepping up efforts to combat it, even here in America. My friend Justin Holcomb and his wife lead efforts of Mars Hill Church in Seattle to rescue sex workers, sex abuse victims, and runaways in their city. Others are working hard to rescue young girls from the sex trade. On the other front, the Church is exponentially embracing the beauty of adoption. It has become a bona fide movement, thank God. The reactive culture of rhetoric and protests must give way to these proactive missionary movements. We will begin changing hearts and minds on these matters of life and death as we create cultures of adoption and rescue. But only communities can create cultures, so churches have to buy in corporately. More families adopting, more families serving and taking in pregnant teens, more churches helping families do those things, more churches loving families and kids, more churches finding ways to minister to the exploited and marginalized and to support missions and organizations and crisis pregnancy centers that already are . . . these are the pro-active, missional steps to creating truly pro-life cultures.

4. Prophets, not pundits. I don't know how else to put this. We need an MLK for the pro-life movement, a unifying and prophetic voice. We need intellectually strong but charming, powerful, winsome statesmen. We need people who aren't just jockeying for time on FoxNews. I don't even know if this is possible today, given the nature of media exposure and the divide between political parties -- whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans marched with King; I wonder if we haven't so aligned the pro-life cause with conservative Republicanism that that kind of unity would be impossible for our cause -- but we need a peacemaker with a powerful voice. We need prophets willing to speak truth and rebuke to power while able to speak peace and comfort to the powerless and broken.

5. Technology, technology, technology. The increasing advances in technology, particularly ultrasound technology, is catching up with the abortion industry. Women are seeing their babies. Technology is catching up with abortion. Smart churches will support their local crisis pregnancy centers, which are often frontlines on the struggle for the unborn, and help them get ultrasound equipment. No, they're not cheap. But life isn't either.

6. Love. I'm coming full circle, here, but if we were to outlaw abortion tomorrow, we'd still have 500,000 women a year who didn't want their babies. You have probably already had unwed teenage girls get pregnant in your church, and if you haven't you probably will at some point, and besides all that, there are plenty in your community and city. Before and in addition to removing abortion as a legal option for them, we have to love them, welcome them, teach them, serve them. Only the love of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ can change hearts. Let that be the ammunition of our war.

This is a slightly edited version of a post I ran last year at this time.


Stacy Furlow said...

Thank you for such a well thought out post on a critical human rights issue. Preaching the gospel instead of culture war . . . what a crazy, Jesus-like idea.

Sherry said...

Amen and amen. Have I ever told you, Mr. Wilson, that you think and write both fluently and persuasively?

Spike said...

Your argument is extremely true and ever so important, yet falls so short of reality. The vast number of abortions are committed by christians and non-christians, concerned parents, and both free choice and prolife people alike, because almost all of the birth control methods that are legal allow conception to take place, but do not allow the new life to attach itself to the womb. That's how we do it in America, and how the devil is deflecting us from the bigger problem. Preach an anti-abortion sermon and you're a hero to your church, but try and tell people that birth control is murder, and a good many people will shut you right off. No one wants their daughter to get pregnant before marriage. Now let me ask this question- How often do you even hear anyone talk about christians (in particular, Protestants) and birth control as murder, or do you ever even see statistics on how many Protestants use IUDs or the many many birth control pills that all allow conception. So how come no one talks about birth control, if life truly begins at conception? Just food for thought.... If there's a million clinical abortions a year, how many additional 10's of millions from BC? No stats on that... and no conversation on Christians and birth control.

Jared said...

Spike, that's not true. Randy Alcorn has a widely distributed booklet on that subject. Driscoll talks about it. Christians on different sides have been discussing it for a while. The RCC is well known on the subject.

Maybe some have difficulty discussing it b/c it is framed from the beginning as murder. Immediately puts people who don't view all contraception that way on the defensive and poisons the well from the beginning.

Thanks for your comment.

Spike said...

An Alcorn widely distributed booklet; Driscol... That almost makes my point for me... Sorry for the grittiness of my comment!

Your post is the perfect (and probably ONLY) solution to the problem of birth control, yet I stand on my comment, witness that even in your post, you did not even mention birth control. Separating abortion and birth control allows the issue of women's rights, and privacy in general, to easily trump abortion by contraception and we lose. (How many lifes? 50 million per year? I don't know, as I said in my previous comment, there's no stats easily attainable as there is for clinical abortion).

The supreme court has made it perfectly clear, even as far right as Roberts is, that they will never take up abortion as a constitutional issue (and overturn RvW), because it is a states issue. And the farther right they might get, the more they will see it as a states issue.

So I humbly disagree, and believe I am not wrong, and there is no conversation in the protestant church about death by contraception. In your defense, there is ONE recorded show on Al Mohlers blog about about a good Christian couple that is married now, and realize that they need to address the issue of birth control, but I really had to dig for it. My request is for the movers and shakers in the church (such as yourself) to be aware that to separate abortion and birth control only makes each issue lose, and to combine them at all times, is to give your solution a chance to work. God's proper use of the Law can expose birth control for the abortion that it is, and Gospel power is life itself.

Jared said...

Spike, I didn't mention it in my post because I don't agree with you that (all forms of) contraception are/is murder.

bullets said...

i like what you said. i've got many friends who are followers of Jesus Christ and are different on their approach in handling the issue. my mom works as the childrens pastor at our church. she is the most pro-life individual i know. even when i have made a more liberal stance against the ultra-conservative perspective i was raised in she and i have had our discussions. however, i have found an "idol" in the making of the church's fight against abortion. the 3rd solution to abortion in your post frames a situation my mom finds our church facing sometimes. a church that loves to be the "pro-life advocating, baby adopting, red tape wearing, political marking church" more so than we love instilling and stewarding gospel centered character in the children in our own communities. she has run into many many many issues with the parent who has the wheels off "in-house" child while the church continues to hold rally after rally to bring in the adoption advocates who genuinely and practically illustrate the simplicity of an adoption process and call people to it. stirring the church for adoption is part of the answer, in my opinion as well as yours. how would you respond to this dilemma? a church that seems to slowly neglect the children's character within the community because they are so excited to be apart of an adoption solution to abortion. in essence loving adoption more than jesus. does my question make sense? how would you address this in your church?