Abortion and the Church's Responsibility


Reynolds Wood


It has long been my contention that the primary responsibility for the perpetuation of abortion in the United States lies not with our elected officials, our Supreme Court justices, or even with abortion advocacy groups such as Planned Parenthood or the National Organization for Women. I have become quite convinced that the main reason unborn children continue to be "legally" murdered in the womb is because the Church has allowed this horror to continue.

I am afraid that we, the Body of Christ, are reluctant to own up to the reality of our sin the sin of neglecting to do all that God has called us to do in defense of the unborn. A proper understanding of God's Word, which is our ultimate authority and guide for any critical issue we face, will clearly reveal that our efforts to end abortion have fallen far short of what is required of us by our Lord.

In every epoch of Biblical history, God has primarily revealed His commandments, prophecies, judgments, and His warnings to His covenant people. God has always used His covenant people to reveal His will for all humanity, and to reveal His truths and His statutes to those outside of the covenant relationship. Throughout the Scriptures, God's anger is manifested most evidently when His covenant people fall to proclaim His will, execute His will, and live according to His will. When God's people fall to do the will of God, then idolatry, licentiousness, immorality, cruelty, injustice, inhumanity, and evil flourish unchecked. When God's people refuse to carry out God's will, then they suffer the same repercussions as the pagan peoples around them. This is as true today as it was six thousand years ago.

The fundamental problem that must be addressed is that we as Christians do not sincerely believe that we are responsible for the atrocity of abortion continuing in our land. We do not really believe that abortion is a sin in which we share guilt. We do not believe we are truly guilty because we vote for pro-life politicians, we teach our children that abortion is wrong, and we put pro-life bumper stickers on our cars. We don't believe that we share in the guilt of abortion because sometimes -- though extremely rarely -- our pastors will denounce the evil of abortion as a side note in a sermon. We really believe that we are good pro-life Christians who are doing good things to fight abortion. …

But are all these things what God means for us to do when He commands us through the psalmist to "Defend the poor and the fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and the needy; free them from the hand of the wicked" (Psalm 82:3-4).

If the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was legal for non-Christians to kill Christian children under the age of five, would we be content to simply pray for our government? Would we have an annual day of fasting and prayer for the "precious Christian children" being legally murdered in our nation? Would we go about business as usual while shaking our heads and declaring what a tragedy it was that so many Christian children were being slaughtered? Would we allow 40 million of our children to be slain before we realized that we needed to do more?

Brethren, unborn children are as important to God as are our own children. If we would not allow such a gross injustice to be committed against our own children, then why are we allowing it to be inflicted upon thousands of unborn children every day?

Micah chapter 6, verse 8 makes it very clear what God requires of us. This verse was written to the people of God first and foremost. Rather than wait in expectation for ungodly governments to implement justice and act mercifully, God has told His people to do such things. It is required of us to love mercy, to do justice, and to walk humbly with our God.
Every time a woman [or a twelve year old girl] walks in to an abortion clinic without God's covenant people being there to stop her, then we have failed to do what is required of us. We have failed to demonstrate mercy because a helpless, defenseless child will die a tortuous death with no one there to try and stop it. We have failed to be merciful to the mother of that child, for that abortion will scar her physically, mentally, and spiritually for the rest of her life. Statistics indicate that she will likely have a second and possibly a third abortion in the future.

Every time a woman walks in to an abortion clinic without God's people being there to stop her, then we have failed to do justice. The only hope that the unborn children have is that we will physically and verbally stand up and speak out for the little babies whose bodies can't be seen, and whose voices are silenced by saline solutions, scissors, and suctions. Doing justice means more than voting and praying. It means doing.

The Bible states clearly that, " to him who knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin" [James 4:17]. Dietrich Bonhoeffer asks in his classic work The Cost of Discipleship, "What use are all these orthodox preachers and expounders of the Word, if they are not filled with boundless pity and compassion for God's maltreated and injured people?" We know who the most unjustly treated members of our society are today: they are the unborn. We have specific instructions from God about what our responsibility is toward the afflicted, the fatherless, and the needy. Sadly, we are neglecting this responsibility. We are sinning.

The first and most important step toward eradicating abortion in our land is the genuine repentance of God's people on a corporate and individual level. We must confess that we have grossly neglected to bring justice and mercy to all the victims of abortion [the unborn, their mothers, the men involved, and even those working in the abortion clinics]. We must acknowledge our apathy and ask God to awaken us. We must beg for God to give us broken and contrite hearts. We must weep for the unborn who are slain. We must weep for ourselves, for we have allowed babies to be slaughtered in our community week after week while we sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Rise Up O Men Of God" Sunday after Sunday.

God does not need us to end abortion. In fact, God does not need us to accomplish anything. Yet, God has chosen to work through His covenant people to bring about His will. It is time for us to echo Isaiah's obedient words: "Here am I Lord, send me" [Isaiah 6:8].

Moses did not wait for Pharoah's heart to soften. Instead he obeyed God and demanded that Pharoah release God's people from slavery. David did not pray for the Philistines' hearts to change, but rather he acted in boldness and in faith, executing justice by slaying Goliath and glorifying the God of Israel.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer left the security of seminary in New York and returned to his native Germany in order to preach against the horror of Hitler's holocaust. Bonhoeffer had mercy on the Jews and sought their justice. He did so at the expense of his life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazis.

Mohondas Gandhi did not wait for the British to develop a conviction about the evils of colonialism. Gandhi instead led masses of Indians in non-violent, self-sacrificial demonstrations against injustice and inhumanity. He did not call for a day of fasting, but instead himself often went on month-long fasts. Gandhi almost died twice from fasting for so long. Because of his commitment to justice and his willingness to sacrifice for its cause, India was granted independence from British rule.

A few decades later in the United States, Martin Luther King led a movement that changed the laws, and also changed the hearts and minds of America's citizens. King did not wait for the government to change, but by loving mercy and exercising justice he changed the government. As a white man married to a beautiful black woman, I am very thankful that Dr. King and others decided to do a lot more than just pray.

As Christians, we possess the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We have fellowship, strength, and power that comes from the Church of God, the body of Christ. We have the means of grace - the sacraments. We also hold the gospel message, a message that will afford women the forgiveness, hope, and the eternal life that they will never find inside an abortion clinic. Romans chapter 10, verse 14 reads, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" If God's people are not present to proclaim His truth, then what else will possibly deter a woman from walking into an abortion clinic to kill her baby?

I truly believe that God will bring about a swift and dramatic end to abortion in our land when His people -- who are called by His name -- are willing to make a swift and dramatic change in their lives. Abortion will cease in our land when we become willing to alter our lives in order to stand up for justice and reach out with mercy to women in need. Christ has called us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Him -- daily! [Luke 9:23]

True repentance and true obedience may yield suffering. Self-denial for the sake of the unborn and for the cause of justice may cost us status in our community. According to Scripture, desiring to live godly lives will definitely bring about persecution [2 Timothy 3:12]. Being merciful and acting justly will offend the world and infuriate the devil. God may bring about an end to abortion at the expense of our own security, our own comfort, our own rights, maybe even at the expense of our own blood. But in every Spirit-guided social revolution there have been martyrs, and the blood of the martyrs has been the seed of the Church.

Now, we must be honest with ourselves. Do we really abhor abortion? Do we really believe in the sanctity of all human life? Do we take the commandments and exhortations of God's Word seriously? Do we really believe that the unborn are as valued by God as our own precious children? Do we really believe that God desires to use His Church to bring about an end to abortion? Do we really want Him to use us? Are we willing to forsake our comforts, conveniences, goals, and lifestyles - our very selves - in order to be obedient to the requirements of God? Before we complain about abortion, we must honestly analyze our response to these questions.

Biblically and historically, whenever God's people sacrificially and obediently pursue His will over and above all else, then powerful and tremendous results ensue. This is the key to revival.

Right now brethren, we are priests and Levites on this Jericho road called America. We are rushing to our jobs, to our worship services, to our diaconate meetings, but there are thousands suffering and dying from abortion all around us. The Samaritan stopped his daily routine and demonstrated mercy and justice toward the man who lay suffering on the side of the Jericho road. Jesus called this Samaritan a righteous man. Let us not assume that he had plenty of time to stop and help this victim of injustice. Let us not assume that the Samaritan was not as busy as the priest or the Levite. Jesus does not let us off that easily. No, the Samaritan simply did what God said was required of him: he loved mercy, he acted justly, he showed that he was walking humbly with his God. The Samaritan obeyed God at his own personal expense.

We must either repent and wholeheartedly obey God by standing up for the defenseless and speaking out for the voiceless, or else we must accept the fact that all we are doing is merely playing a Christian game. All of us will one day stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We will then encounter Him in all of His holiness and awe. We will not dare then to utter any excuse, for we will know clearly then that none is sufficient. So why do we try to excuse and exculpate ourselves now from the responsibility at hand? Twenty-seven years. Forty million lives destroyed. Rise up, O Church of God!

"What right have we to blame the government when we do not do that which is good ourselves? "
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Reynolds Wood is from Jackson, Mississippi