written by Joe Dearman on February 13, 2004.
Over most of the past fifteen years in the Assembly, my view on pro-life ministries and demonstrations was that they were a political and unspiritual method in the context of a great spiritual contest. After all, prayer is a spiritual solution, while picketing is an attempt of the flesh. Picketing and related efforts over this issue are a great waste of time in comparison to "the House of God". Over the past thirty years, while approximately 40,000,000 babies have been aborted in our country, we were taught that we should pray and not protest. That may seem reasonable at first. But did we pray? In my experience of being in two different Assemblies (Fullerton 11 years and St. Louis 5 years), I can only recall the number of times we corporately prayed over this issue on one hand. Other Assemblies may have been different. So in practice, we neither protested, nor prayed (corporately).
There are reasons people donít act. This may seem like an intangible, political issue to some, but the scriptures teach us that children are being killed. Innocent blood is being shed in our land. The goal of this article is not to bash George Geftakys, but to take a fresh look at a critical issue that may have been largely ignored by us in the past. With so many lives at stake, we are called not only to pray, but to speak up and to take action.
In the years preceding 2003, I had a growing awareness and burden on my heart for the thousands of unborn children killed on a daily basis in our country. While I was still in the Assembly in St. Louis, my wife and I met with George Geftakys on his last itinerant visit to the Assembly in 2002. I told him about my burden over the abortion issue and that it was breaking my heart. (I had also just listened to the autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., and was inspired by his activism.) I was told in reply that people involved in these activities are involved less in the assemblies. The obvious implication to me was that we therefore should not get involved in these activities, because if we want to live for the highest values, we didnít want to diminish our involvement in the Assembly. Walking in the light that I had, I believed that Godís will for me was to not be involved in this fight, except perhaps by individual prayer. But I still had this burden.
One and a half years later, I joined with other Christians and visited my first abortion clinic to protest (and pray) with my wife, who was seven months pregnant at the time. After all of the precautions my wife had taken to protect our unborn child, I was about to be shocked. It is one thing to look at numbers and statistics to gain understanding (I am an accountant), but it is another to see real people and real faces (like when you see photos or slide shows of people you have been praying for). When we were driving to the "Hope Clinic" in Illinois, it was quite a sobering situation to understand I was going to a modern death camp. Once there, from the entrance of the clinic I could see the women drive in about every ten or fifteen minutes, usually with another person, and go into the clinic. Statistics are one thing, but to have seen actual pregnant women voluntarily walking into this place to kill their children, while my seven-month pregnant wife was with me hit me very hard. It is difficult to describe how appalling that was. A very painful awareness dawned upon me as I began to realize what the statistics meant. I saw about twenty women walk in to kill their children that morning. This was but a small picture of the approximately 4,000 per day taking place in our nation. I was also fearfully aware of the great judgment our country is incurring upon ourselves. While we were basically ignoring this issue for years, did we know what was happening?
Perhaps you are concerned that you would be getting "political" by getting involved. And since God hasnít called you to be political, then it must not be Godís will for you to be involved. I agree that if an issue is merely political, then it is not a worthy priority. But is it a scriptural issue? Is it an issue with God? We must speak loudly where the scriptures speak loudly. If the Bible says nothing about an issue, then we have nothing but a political issue. But abortion is not merely a political issue. It is a God issue. Every abortion is a sin against Almighty God. Letís see why.
A lot can be said about the scriptural view of what is called "abortion". Here is a summary of some reasons:
1. Every person is created in the image of God. (Gen. 1:26-27) We are not a random group of chemicals.
2. Only God has the authority to take life. ďWhoso sheddeth manís blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He manĒ (Gen. 9:6).
3. It is the opposite of what scripture commands. Proverbs 24:11-12 says, ďIf thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? And He that keepeth thy soul, doth He not know it? And shall He not render to every man according to his works?Ē
4. Children are a gift from the Lord (Ps. 127:3) - even to an unwed mother.
5. Personhood begins at conception. (Ps. 139:13-16) Children in the womb are not as Planned Parenthood would have their clients believe to be just a blob of tissue. Modern embryology exploded such lies years ago.
6. Christ elevated the status of children (Lk. 18:15-16). The Greek word translated "infant" is the word brephos. The same word is translated as baby when "the baby leaped in her womb" in Luke 1: 41, and also to describe the Lord Jesus as "a baby wrapped in clothes lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12 NAS).
7. Under penalty of death, the children of Israel were specifically commanded not to let their child pass through the fire to Molech (i.e., burned alive) (Lev. 20: 1-3).
8. The scriptures clearly say "Thou shall not kill" (Ex. 20:13)
The scriptures also repeatedly warn against the shedding of innocent blood. Deut. 19:9-10 warms "that innocent blood be not shed in thy land . . . and so blood be upon thee." It says to take away innocent blood that it may go well with you (Deut. 19:13). "Whoso sheddeth manís blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man" (Gen. 9:6). Shedding the blood of innocent lives incurs Godís judgment upon us.
I personally witnessed approximately twenty women walk in to have their babies killed at an abortion clinic on a Saturday morning. It is estimated that there are four thousand abortions per day in our nation. For every 1000 live births, there are 305 abortions. There are more than 140,000 second and third trimester abortions each year (1). Babies are sometimes aborted alive, and then left to die (2). The babies are usually killed by dismemberment in the womb, but may also be killed by chemical solution, or by the "partial-birth" abortion method (details omitted). This is sobering and grim indeed.
In view of the greatness of the sins occurring in our country, the innocent lives being lost, and the judgment we are incurring, what should a Christian do? Proverbs 31 says, "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy" (verses 8-9). Notice that we are to speak up. Opening our mouths can take many forms. Some examples are talking to single women considering abortion, or to medical professionals who perform or assist with abortions. The gospel should be preached when there is opportunity at these times.
Proverbs 24:11 also says, "Deliver those who are being taken away to death" (NAS).
These verses call for action, and even intervention. Corey Ten Boom was a woman who took action, hiding Jews persecuted by the Nazis. Was this woman just being political? After all, wasnít the issue of the Jews one of the highest political priorities of Hitler? Yet this woman acted, and from a distance, we lauded her as we watched The Hiding Place. She was probably a woman who also prayed. Prayer is a great place to start, but it is not a place to end. The scriptures call for action.
While many Christians have taken no action over this issue, and perhaps havenít even prayed for change, some liberal "Christians" arenít sitting still. On my second visit to the Hope Clinic, I was in for another shock. There were actually people picketing on the abortion clinicís side with signs like, "Pro Faith, Pro Family, Pro Choice," and "I Pray and Iím Pro Choice." So while many Christians donít bother getting involved at all, these "Christians" are easing the consciences of those who are killing their children.
Please note that most pro-life ministries do not promote violence. The sword has not been given to the church, and we do not have the right to take vengeful action.
Personally, I donít have a problem with my conscience about voting, and I vote pro-life. Why should I contribute to abortion by voting for pro-choice candidates? I may not agree with everything a candidate stands for, and their election may even mean I am worse off economically, but I would rather vote with a good conscience, than let my wallet guide my voting.
One may argue that abortion is a branch of wickedness, and not the root. Preaching the gospel deals with the root, while various pro-life ministries do not. I completely agree that the gospel deals with the root. Preach the gospel. There is a balance though when a branch of wickedness becomes so great, and lives are being taken, that the time comes to deal with the branch. The gospel is preached at various times in pro-life ministries, and prayer is also made at various times. It is wonderful to hear about a woman getting saved, and deciding against killing her child. Is this fundamentally a spiritual issue? Yes. Does this require spiritual solutions? Yes. Is there an imperative to take action? Yes. Christís incarnation and sacrifice for us was the ultimate in intervention! He was not afraid to come into our world, and out of the synagogue to get involved.
Everyone is not called to picket, or counsel single women considering abortion. We must seek Godís will for our lives. But "seeking Godís will" should not be used to excuse ourselves from action. Some Christians in Germany knew Jews were being slaughtered, and they shut their ears to the cries of those being taken to their deaths. One such Christian said, "Now I see it happening all over again in America. God forgive you Americans, for you have blocked out the screams of millions of children. The Holocaust is here. And your response, by and large, is the same as it was in my country - silence!" (3)
While millions of babies are killed in this country each year from abortion, God has called us not only to prayer, but to action. Claiming ignorance will not be enough. During some biblical times, they had to deal with offerings to Molech; the nineteenth century in America had the crisis and division of slavery. Europe and the World War II generation had the Jewish holocaust. And now we have the crisis and division over abortion. There are numerous ways to stand against abortion, and to help women who have had an abortion. We have an opportunity to speak up - whether itís talking to pregnant women considering abortion, writing to legislators, or being able to counter pro-abortion rhetoric with our coworkers. The least we can begin to do is to pray for our nation (and the world) for a riddance of this sin.
Under George Geftakys' ministry we were taught that this was a political issue, and somehow beneath us. We had a terrible indifference to the various procedures called "abortion". We canít assume our thinking on this is now okay. How are we going to respond to this crisis? As a nation, we are incurring Godís judgment upon ourselves. Itís been mounting with the blood of forty million innocent lives. Although numerous Christian groups in America have faced this and done something about it, many of us have not. Will the rest of the Christians in America wake up to what is happening to make a difference, or is it too late? Will the pro-abortion voices and leaders in our country go unchallenged, while those of us who have "spiritual light" say and do nothing? Will the modern-day death camps continue to shed the blood of innocents while we comfortably read our Bibles? May our prayer be, "Lord, what would you like me to say? Lord, what do you want me to do?" And may we respond to do our part. May God have mercy on us and our nation.
(1) From I Am
an American, by the National Right to Life Committee
(2) Aired on Focus on the Family, January 21, 2004 broadcast.
(3) A Black and White Issue in a Graying World by Pastor Dave Greiner (2003). The full text of this quote is printed below:
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I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust, the man stated. I considered myself a Christian. I had attended the church since I was a small boy. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews; but like most people in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. After all, what could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church, and every Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of wheels moving along the track. We became disturbed one Sunday when we heard the cries coming from the train. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews on their way to death camps. Then week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew the Jews would cry out to us as they passed our church. It was terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help those poor people, yet their screams tormented us.
We knew exactly at what time the whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, weíd just sing a little louder. Years have passed, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep; I still hear them crying for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.
The man continued, Now I see it happening all over again in America. God forgive you Americans, for you have blocked out the screams of millions of children. The Holocaust is here. And your response, by and large, is the same as it was in my country - silence!