I originally wrote this post in September 2015 on my previous blog, The Slasher Pastor. I revised it this morning to address where we’ve come since 2015.
Original Post: September, 2015
“The political goal of making abortion illegal has always been a truncated vision. The real desire has always been to create a world where abortion is not just illegal, but unthinkable. In such a culture, the physical, psychological, and spiritual dangers of abortion are common knowledge. In such a culture, commitment, compassion, and a sense of duty to aid and protect baby and child will be universal.”David Reardon, quoted by John Piper in A Hunger for God
Why is our country so permissive when it comes to abortion? Why is it the the most permission democracy in the world (144)? John Piper believes it’s because we have adopted a worldview that makes it so. The pro-life goal, therefore, can’t just be at the level of legislation or court rulings, but at the level of culture.
What can we do at the level of culture to make abortion unthinkable?
Recognize the baby in the womb as human life: The expansion of ultrasound technology has gone a long way in showing us this reality, as have scientific advances in our knowledge of the life of the baby in the womb. Babies in the womb, even at extremely young ages, feel pain, react to light and darkness, and even dream. It’s getting harder and harder for pro-abortion activists to fight against this stream of public knowledge and common sense. So, mothers-to-be, keep posting the status updates on the development of your baby.
Recognize all life in all its stages as precious: This gets at the heart of the issue. Incredibly, it is possible to believe that the baby in the womb is a human life and yet still argue that it is OK to kill it. It is thinkable to kill the baby only since its life is not see as precious. Christians believe that all life is precious and it is precious in every stage of life.
This means that those who are pro-life can’t only focus on the stage of life from conception to birth. We must make a commitment to come along mothers with unplanned/crisis pregnancies in order to come to their aid and partner with them in caring for the child, before and after it is born.
Caring for life in all stages and forms also means we show compassion to the poor, the homeless, the handicapped, the refugees, and those on the fringes of society. We must see the image of God in everyone we meet.
Promote and live a culture of duty and self-denial: Abortion-on-demand is fueled by an individualistic vision of reality that places the needs of the autonomous self over the needs of others. As a nation we willingly sacrifice the unwanted in order to serve our own vision of reality, and not only in the area of abortion. As a nation we need to recapture the values of having a duty towards the weak and powerless, of being willing to say “no” to self in order to serve our neighbors.
This means we should hold young men accountable. We need men who are willing to say “no” to their own sexual desires and who will say “yes” to fatherhood. If we didn’t have a fatherhood crisis in America, it’s hard to imagine that we would have such an abortion crisis. Great dads would go a long way to making abortion unthinkable.
Finally, for Christians (though there are plenty of non-Christians opposed to abortion as well), we need a commitment to the Word. I’ll conclude with a quote from Francis Schaeffer:
“The only thing that can stem this tide is the certainty of the absolute uniqueness and value of people. And the only thing which gives us that is the knowledge that people are made in the image of God. We have no other final protection. And the only way we know people are made in the image of God is through the Bible and the incarnation of Christ.”Francis Schaeffer, quoted by John Piper in A Hunger for God
P.S. from 2021
I’ve seen massive shifts among my cohort in the way we talk about abortion. In 2015 Piper’s argument, with his emphasis on culture over legislation, felt almost “edgy.” It still is in some parts of the evangelical world. However, in other parts, we’ve become dead silent on the legal aspects of abortion. The reasons for this are simple:
- We see how focusing solely only legislation and the Supreme Court has led us away from a “whole life” ethic and undermined our witness and mission
- We’ve come to believe that the laws will never change
- We’ve come to believe that even if the laws did change, they would have no effect
Each of the above arguments may be valid, but that shouldn’t make us content with the legal status quo or cause us to abandon efforts to change unjust laws.
Here, pro-life Christians should find common ground with those who care about racial justice. In both cases we have both a problem in our hearts (individual righteousness) and in our society/legislation (systemic injustice). We can’t, out of one side of our mouths, say “racism is a problem of the heart, therefore legislative reform doesn’t matter” and then say “but we need to change abortion law.” Likewise, we can’t say “racism is systemic” and then say that Christianity has nothing to say about abortion law.
As you swing from being “anti-abortion” to being “pro-life”, be sure you don’t swing all the way round to being numb to the scope and magnitude of abortion in our country. Just because abortion can’t be dealt with at the level of “mere legislation” doesn’t mean legislation plays no role.