Winter 2015 Volume 1, Issue 2
Joy Allmond on Southern Baptists' Path to a Pro-life Position Mike Cosper on Abortion Language Garrett Kell on Finding Forgiveness after Abortion
S E XUA L BRO K EN N ESS A N D
WOMEN ON OLIFE: A GOSPEL CALL TH E HO PE F THE TO LOVE THE UNBORN, b y R USS ELL M O O RE UNLOVED, & NEGLECTED
edited by TRILLIA NEWBELL UNBORN, UNLOVED,
EDITED BY TRILLIA NEWBELL
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E N G AGE: A C HRISTIA N ENGAGE: W I T N ESS O N LIN E SEXUAL A CHRISTIAN b y DANI EL DARLI NG WITNESS ONLINE by DANIEL DAR LI N G
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BROKENNESS AND THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL by R U SS E L L MOO R E
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FROM THE PRESIDEN T
IS PRO-LIFE WINNING? Russell Moore
S THE PRO-LIFE CAUSE winning? On the one hand, it certainly seems so. Recent polling indicates that young Americans are considerably more pro-life than their parents. Sonograms and other medical technologies have made it increasingly difficult to see an unborn body and dismiss it as a “lump of tissue.” The release of undercover videos depicting the dissection and possible sale of infant body parts has mobilized a strong and vocal pro-life contingency in the country. Several states have responded by voting to cease government funding for Planned Parenthood as did the U.S. House of Representatives. But it would be a mistake to sound triumphant right now. Yes, it’s a win that the concept of “pro-life” is still alive. The abortion rights movement probably assumed that 40 years after the Supreme Court legalized abortion, the issue would be as settled as school integration or women’s suffrage. It’s still a controversy, and the pro-life side hasn’t been sidelined by history. That said, we must remember that the large numbers of self-identified pro-life people might itself, in some instances, be an indicator of just how embedded the abortion rights culture is in American life. It’s easy to identify as “pro-life” when one sees nothing really at stake. For 40 years, legal abortion has been securely anchored in American law. Even after the rise of the conservative coalitions and pro-life presidencies, abortion is legal everywhere in the United States. With this the case, it is easy for Americans to see the debate as a matter of theory rather than a matter of policy. I remember having a discussion with friends about what side I would have taken on the Vietnam War had I been alive in the 1960s. That’s an easy coffee shop discussion to have because I don’t have a draft notice in the mail. I’m not a Cambodian farmer or a south Vietnamese shrimper in danger of being murdered by the Khmer Rouge or the Vietcong. Unfortunately there are all sorts of politicians who have identified as “pro-life” when all that meant was casting relatively symbolic votes.
I’m afraid the same is true on the individual level. A feminist leader once said that most Americans are pro-life with three exceptions: rape, incest and “my situation.” When the teenage daughter is pregnant, the theory is abandoned and bloodthirsty pragmatism rules. I fear this feminist is all too right. I’ve had conversations with many professional counselors and crisis pregnancy workers who report that many of the women (and men) who walk into abortion clinics don’t even consider themselves “pro-choice.” They are scared and unwilling to “scandalize” a church with their secret. Pharaoh was pro-immigrant until the Israelites threatened what he wanted. The first Herod administration was pro-Messiah until the actual Messiah threatened his throne. The second Herod administration was fine with desert prophets until one meddled with his “adult entertainment.” Lots of people are pro-life and pro-child until the lives of children become personally inconvenient. Does that mean that I am pessimistic about our prolife engagement? Not at all. As the national response to the Planned Parenthood videos demonstrated, the country’s conscience is still speaking. But we must have a realistic view about how ingrained the abortion-rights worldview is in our culture. Knowing the persistence of the abortion culture shows us what we’re up against, but it doesn’t sap our spirit. The cause of the unborn will triumph, ultimately, not because pro-life politicians are alive, but because Jesus of Nazareth is. Justice will reign in the end. Until then, polls go up and polls go down. We advocate for life, whether “winning” or not, because life isn’t a government grant or an act of charity granted by the “choice” of another human being. I am an optimist in the long-run, and by “long-run” I mean the next 5,000 years. Until then, we work, we plead, we stand, whether we look like winners or not.
I AM AN OPTIMIST IN THE LONG-RUN.
Dean Inserra offers five ways pastors can cultivate a pro-life culture in their churches.
We asked four female pro-life leaders to discuss the real "war on women" and the truth about abortion in this ERLC roundtable.
In recent months, the horrors of abortion have been put on display. Does that place us at a unique "prolife moment?" Karen Swallow Prior answers this important question.
POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Barrett Duke advocates for an incremental approach in the fight for life.
THE GOD WHO REDEEMS: FINDING FORGIVENESS AFTER ABORTION Garrett Kells tells the story of God's grace after a dark season.
THE ERLC THROUGHOUT THE YEARS: In 1997, Governor Bob Casey spoke to the ERLC about the sanctity of human life.
Josh Howerton gives three ways we can develop a whole-life, pro-life ethic in our churches.
Mike Cosper discusses the connection between our culture's adoption of diluted language concerning abortion and its widespread acceptance. 2
The SBC wasn't always a staunch defender of the unborn. Joy Allmond traces the transformation of the denomination.
The ERLC provides a brief video highlighting the dignity that the Imago Dei gives to all people.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
Aaron Cline Hanbury writes about the Christian vision for life and how it runs deeper than any political party.
FROM THE EDITOR
Steven Harris talks to Congressman Diane Black and Senator James Lankford about their fight for pro-life legislation in D.C. Winter 2015 Volume 1, Issue 2
Joy Allmond on Southern Baptists' Path to a Pro-life Position Mike Cosper on Abortion Language Garrett Kell on Finding Forgiveness after Abortion
Editor in Chief RUSSELL MOORE
Editor DANIEL DARLING Light Magazine is a publication of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission 505 2nd St, N.E. , Washington, D.C. 20002 901 Commerce St, Ste 550, Nashville, TN 37203 www.ERLC.com
Managing Editor LINDSAY SWARTZ
Creative Director JASON THACKER Graphic Designer JACOB BLAZE
Jeremy Booth, illustrator, captures the persistent and growing voice of the pro-life movement in our nation. ERLC. com
The Gospel, Religious Liberty, and Human Flourishing The 2016 ERLC Leadership Summit will explore how religious liberty is a bedrock principle for human flourishing. Learn how the gospel reshapes our cultural engagement so that it leads to the welfare of civil society. Through plenary addresses, panel discussions and interactions with key leaders and government officials, this Summit will prepare you to advocate for religious freedom for all.
MAY 23-24, 2016
FROM THE EDITOR
AWAKENING THE CONSCIENCE OF A NATION T
HERE IS A POIGNANT moment in the life of William Wilberforce, the tireless abolitionist who dedicated his life to the elimination of the British slave trade. The exchange of human capital was embedded in the British economy; very few of Wilberforce’s colleagues in Parliament had the courage to stand against this barbaric practice. But there was a turning point in his crusade where, in a surprise trip to the docks, Wilberforce exposed the members of Parliament to the actual condition on slave ships. This was a pivotal moment in the campaign against slavery. Wilberforce challenged Britain’s leaders: “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” It sure feels like we are at a similar place in the long and tiring crusade for the sanctity of unborn human life. The Planned Parenthood videos released this year by The
WILBERFORCE CHALLENGED BRITAIN’S LEADERS: “YOU MAY CHOOSE TO LOOK THE OTHER WAY, BUT YOU CAN NEVER SAY AGAIN THAT YOU DID NOT KNOW.”
Center for Medical Progress seem to have awakened the American conscience. And yet, there are still many who refuse to watch or who want to pretend that what is happening in abortion clinics is not as gruesome and macabre as we know it is. So, are we at a unique “pro-life moment?” Christian thinker and ERLC research fellow, Karen Swallow Prior, answers that in our cover story. Prior would know, having written a well-received biography of Wilberforce’s fellow abolitionist, Hannah More. She’s joined in this issue by pastor and writer, Mike Cosper, who explores the ways we are tempted to dehumanize the vulnerable through creatively vague words like “tissue.” Pastors Josh Howerton and Dean Inserra coach us on how to be thoughtfully pro-life in a culture of death, while Joy Allmond traces the surprising history of the Southern Baptist Convention and the pro-life issue. Our team was also able to find a powerful speech by the late democratic Governor, Bob Casey, who courageously spoke to the dignity of the unborn at an ERLC event in 1997. To get a sense of the legislative front of the pro-life movement, we talk to a U.S. senator and a U.S. congresswoman about their experiences on the Hill. Finally, we ask female leaders of pro-life organizations about the oft-repeated charge that to be for the unborn is to be against the interests of women. As the story of William Wilberforce reminds us, the fight for human dignity is long, difficult and often discouraging. But perhaps we are in a moment where the conscience of the country is being awakened to the reality of abortion and will soon choose not to look away. -daniel darling ERLC. com
BOOK REVIEWS Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Influence of Carl F. H. Henry edited by MATTHEW HALL AND OWEN STRACHAN Essential Evangelicalism investigates several aspects of the late theologian Carl F. H. Henry’s storied career. Among the nine stand-alone essays are top-notch contributions by friends, heirs and students of Henry including Russell Moore, Greg Thornbury and Albert Mohler. Essential Evangelicalism hopes to encapsulate and retrieve the Henryian legacy and vision. The future of American evangelicalism is a story that remains unwritten and is subject to dissonant voices vying for evangelicals’ attention and affection. Essential Evangelicalism, then, is a welcome contribution for helping advance Henry’s theological program into the 21st century. -aw
The Quiet Man: The Indispensable Presidency of George H.W. Bush by JOHN SUNUNU The Quiet Man is an inside account of the Bush 41 presidency by the then-Chief of Staff. One comes away from the book even more convinced of what seems obvious: President Bush was not just a wise and experienced leader, guiding the nation through the end of the Cold War. He is also a decent and honest man. -rm
How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem by ROD DREHER Rod Dreher’s new book How Dante Can Save Your Life is a fascinating, joyful, sobering and at times deeply moving testimony of power, not only to the The Divine Comedy, but to literature in general. Rod calls himself a “witness” and not a scholar. I would nonetheless urge literary scholars to read his book and savor the way a medieval text can speak so pertinently into a 21st century soul. Dreher’s books is a tale of how the The Divine Comedy came into his life at a time of personal crisis and, through its parable of ascent to God and love from death and darkness, healed his soul. The book isn’t just about Dante. It’s about the healing power of literature and the tether between our imagination and our souls. -sj
THE ROAD TO CHARACTER Josh Wester
E LIVE IN A culture that demands success and esteems achievement. Constant pressure to perform, compete and excel shapes nearly every aspect of our lives. Yet in the end, our greatest desire is for friends and family to remember, not what we did, but who we were. In The Road to Character, David Brooks offers a fascinating reflection on the decline of moral virtue in the Western world and contrasts our present condition with the (comparatively) better days that lie behind us. The book is built around three sections. The core consists of eight chapters of biographical sketches that provide real-life examples of the kind of character that is noticeably absent from our society. The opening and conclusion feature the author’s incisive cultural assessment and critique. The following paragraphs highlight a portion of each section.
1. ADAM II At the outset, we are introduced to Adam I and Adam II, a concept borrowed from Rabbi Joseph Soloveitis’ book Lonely Man of Faith. Brooks contends that our natures are divided, and he adopts this paradigm to make sense of that division. Adam I is the part of us focused on the external. He looks outward, is driven by ambition and battles others to succeed or be recognized. But Adam II looks inside and is concerned with internal success. His goals are self-mastery and selfrespect. Whereas Adam I cultivates his strengths, Adam II confronts his weaknesses.
2. A CHARACTER REPOSITORY According to Brooks, “example is the best teacher.” Thus, almost the entire book is made up of the stories of real people whose lives were marked by character that most would regard as noteworthy. The examples span across the ages and display closely related traits. Among them are love, dignity and self-control. The cultivation of Adam II in each life was the key to their character.
practice of a bygone age, Brooks would have us look backward as we make our way ahead. He shows that history often guides us better than we guide ourselves.
APPLICATION FOR THE CHURCH
This book is of distinct importance to the church because it provides perspective. Christians should read this book to exit the echo chamber and hear the voice of a seasoned cultural observer from outside of their own tradition. So often our pulpits and tweets decry the 3. CURBING THE “BIG ME” The conclusion confronts what Brooks downfall of a culture we know discernibly little about. The Road to Character brands the “Big Me—” the pervasive provides scope and insight that is often mentality of modern culture that places unavailable in our limited spheres. self at the center of everything. At the same time, Christians should To remedy the long-term effects of this read this book in order to confirm what issue, Brooks offers a single proposition: humility. If society has been taken up with they already know. Our natures are marred an overinflated view of self, the needed by sin, and this shapes the world in which course correction is to “reassert a balance we live. The Bible instructs us to master between Adam I and Adam II.” In order ourselves over against a culture that conto promote a more balanced moral ecol- stantly screams, “Embrace yourself !” In ogy, Brooks offers “The Humility Code—” this regard, Brooks is exceedingly helpful 15 observations derived from the lives and to point out the follies of cultural wisdom. Finally, I would recommend this character of the persons considered. book to believers because the road to character looks, in many ways, like THE ROAD AS BROOKS SEES IT sanctification. Perhaps unknowingly, Brooks is a perceptive cultural critic. He writes for The New York Times, which Brooks provides some helpful tools demands a certain soundness of thought. and vocabulary for discussing spiritual growth. The traits he surveys are often Brooks confesses that he wrote this book to save his own soul, realizing that intel- the result of the Spirit’s work in the life of the Christian (Gal. 5:22-24). lect alone is not enough to fend off the We certainly don’t agree at every erosive forces of culture. Brooks recogturn, but I am deeply indebted to David nizes that we are in need of more than Brooks for the wisdom and insight he better thoughts. We need better loves. displays in this book. “Most of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character,” he writes. Because character is the JOSH WESTER is a research assistant at the ERLC. ERLC. com
THE CULTURE OF DEATH v s . JESUS CHRIST Russell Moore
EVERAL YEARS AGO, I heard a
womb is dependent indeed upon his or life on an adopting father who was willing lecturer talking about church ministries her mother, and cannot survive without to sacrifice his own life-plan to protect him and to provide for him (Matt. 2). He lived of mercy to the poor and the vulnerable. her. But that is not unique to the fetal stage of development. A newborn is just as as a migrant refugee in a foreign land, a land The crowd in the room, all evangelical long hostile to his own. He died helplessly Christians, seemed to be in agreement with dependent upon a mother’s care, which is the lecturer because, as one respondent put why the Psalmist speaks of learning to trust convulsing on a cross, dependent on others for hydration. Even in death, Jesus counted it, social ministries give us the opportunity God at his mother’s breast (Ps. 22:9). Jesus quoted a line from this same Psalm as himself with thieves, and was laid in a borto share the gospel and to give credibility to our verbal proclamation. The lecturer agreed he was being crucified, with his own mother, rowed grave. Jesus, in his humanity, wasn’t from whom he had nursed as an infant, look- “viable” on his own either. that this was true, but then he stopped ing on. We aren’t self-existent gods. Caring The kingdom tells us what matters—and and talked about a group home near his for those who don’t seem to “matter” takes a it’s not raw power and force of will. The congregation, filled with severely cognikingdom tells us who matters—and that’s tively disabled children. This man’s church kind of compassion that tells us that life is went to this home every day to brush the not about instinct and gene-preservation and not defined by power and force of will. The church is to embody these realities, and hair of these children, to sing to them, and the will to power. We aren’t animals. Abortion, torture, euthanasia, unjust war, the mission sets out to teach and persuade sometimes just to sit quietly and hold their racial injustice, the harassment of immigrants, the outside world of a gospel that honors hands. The children, he said, are probably not even aware of their presence. “They can’t these things aren’t simply “mean” (although and protects life. To deny human dignity they are that). They are part of an ongoing then is to kick against Christ himself, since hear or respond to the gospel,” he said. “So guerilla insurgency against the image of God he brings with him nothing of the sort of is our ministry to them worth it?” Of course himself, as summed up in Jesus of Nazareth. power or wisdom the present age craves. it is. This ministry is “worth it” for the same Jesus identified himself with humanity—in When we care for the vulnerable—the reason it was “worth it” for Jesus’ friends to all of our weakness and fragility. He did unborn, the aged, the poor, the diseased, the wash and to anoint his body with spices not arrive fully mature, on a white horse in disabled, the abused, the orphaned—such after his crucifixion. It was honoring him, Jerusalem. He took on a human nature at is not “charity. These are not “the disadvanloving him, recognizing him. He tells us when we stand with those who are margin- every stage of development—from “embryo” taged,” at least not in the long run. These are alized—the poor, the unborn, the orphaned, to “fetus” to infant to child to man. He was the sorts of people God delights in exalting conceived as an orphan—without initially a as the future rulers of the universe. It takes the widowed, the diseased, the abandoned, human father, and was dependent for his very more than American values to see that. the disabled, the poor, the elderly—we are standing with the “least of these, my brothers” (Matt. 25:45). And when we care for his brothers, Jesus tells us, we will recognize him there, too. READ MORE The presence of the weak, the vulnerable, and the dependent is a matter of spiritual warfare. The womb reminds us that we are not self-existent. None of us are “viable” apart from others and from the eco-system Russell Moore (Nashville: B&H, 2015) God has built around us. The infant in the
ONWARD: ENGAGING THE CULTURE WITHOUT LOSING THE GOSPEL
WOMEN ON LIFE: A CALL TO LOVE THE UNBORN, UNLOVED, AND NEGLECTED Trillia Newbell
HEN WE THINK OF the word “life,” we must begin with the
One who created life, sustains life and gives life. Life was God’s idea. In the beginning, God created living organisms that would sit at the bottom of the oceans. He created plants that would live and receive sustenance from another creation of his—the sun. And, as the pinnacle of his work, he created male and female, made in his image. Man would sin, ushering in death, so God sent his son to die on a cross. Jesus’ death and resurrection brings eternal life to those who trust in him. Life is important to the Christian because, first and foremost, it is important to God. Women have a vested interest in the area of life. God created us, in part, to produce and give life to others. Every man and woman walking this earth came about by the means of a woman. Yet it’s not only the beginning of life that matters—it’s all of life. Throughout the Scriptures, we see God caring for people in every stage of life and calling Christians to do the same. God cares for those whom society disregards. He cares for the unborn, unloved and neglected. God cares for the orphan, widow, elderly, the woman struggling with temptation and sin, the confused teenage girl, the one who hurts, and the shut-out. Because all of life is important to God, we are compelled to talk about it. Whether it’s addressing purity and teaching our children about sex, teens and pregnancy, caring for the woman with a high-risk pregnancy, children with special needs, caring for the single mother, or getting involved in the pro-life movement, how we interact with God’s image-bearers matters. We cover these topics in Women on Life, and it’s our desire that this book will inspire you to care deeply about issues of life, equip you for prayerful action and begin a conversation in your churches and homes.
WOMEN ON LIFE: A CALL TO LOVE THE UNBORN, UNLOVED, AND NEGLECTED Trillia Newbell, Editor (Nashville: Leland House Press, 2016)
TRILLIA NEWBELL is an author and the director of community outreach at the ERLC. ERLC. com
SAVING THE UNBORN, ONE STEP AT A TIME BARRETT DUKE
BORTION IS ONE OF the most gruesome acts humans have ever devised against each other. It is the evidence of the prophet Jeremiah’s dictum that the human heart is desperately sick ( Jer. 17:9). Ending this atrocity must remain the top moral priority of all who love God and who seek to be faithful to his command to love our neighbor. The United States is one of the world’s worst violators of life in the womb. Here, abortions are legal for practically any reason, from the moment of conception until seconds before birth. Since 1973, more than 55 million unborn babies have been killed by abortion in this country alone. Worldwide, the number is in the hundreds of millions. Most of the world limits abortion to the first 20 weeks. While that still leaves millions of babies without any protection from the abortionist, at least it’s a limitation that saves many 10
others. An effort to enact the same limitation on abortion in this country has been underway in Congress. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would prevent most elective abortions on babies more than 20 weeks old, the age at which modern medicine has determined children begin to feel pain. Some pro-life people cannot support a bill that doesn’t end all elective abortion. I can understand their reluctance to leave many other babies without protection from the abortionist. Every child is equally precious to God. They are all human beings, created in the image of God, and of inestimable worth. Others worry it will relieve the pressure on Congress to come back at another time to protect the rest of the unborn. Again, I sympathize. It would be tragic if we couldn’t find the will among elected officials at a later time to take up another bill that saves the rest of the unborn. While I respect these arguments, the alternative of an all-or-nothing strategy is very likely going to leave us where we are, and that is not acceptable. I believe an incremental approach to ending the current on-demand abortion culture in our nation is a legitimate strategy. For the first time since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision in January 1973, more Americans consider themselves to be pro-life than pro-choice. They aren’t ready to end all abortion, but they are open to certain restrictions. Evidence that children in the womb beginning at 20 weeks of age feel pain is persuasive to the majority of Americans. They are at the place in their own thoughts about abortion that they can accept this as a reasonable point at which abortion should no longer be allowed in most cases. Polls reveal a two to one margin in favor of a ban on late-term abortions. We should act on this.
Just because we cannot, at present, save every unborn child, does not mean we shouldnâ€™t try to save as many as we can as soon as we can. A ban on late-term abortion will save thousands of babies every year. If we can pass a law preventing the abortion of these babies, we should. Imagine youâ€™re in a small boat and you come across a shipwreck. But there are more people in the water, on the verge of drowning, than you can possibly save. Would you abandon them all because you cannot rescue them all? Of course not. Neither should we leave any children unprotected if we have the means to protect them. It seems to me the Golden Rule applies here. If I have the means to help another person, I should. I would expect the same treatment if I were in that situation. An incremental approach to ending abortion does not have to lose steam. The Bible itself gives us examples of successful incrementalism. God took an incremental approach to ending slavery, for example. While the Bible accommodated the practice of slavery, nowhere does it encourage or condone it. In fact, from the benefit of hindsight, we can see that God was slowly changing hearts and minds about it all along. It seems God ordained that ending slavery was a long-term effort that required more than a simple command to stop. By regulating its practice, putting certain restrictions on it, and slowly maturing his people, God began to instill in them an understanding of the dignity of all humans, including slaves. In doing so, he was laying the groundwork for the eventual overthrow of the very institution of slavery. In the end, stalwarts like William Wilberforce, convinced by Scripture of the dignity of every person, led the West to end this horrific practice. We can do the same on the abortion front. By continually revealing the personhood of the unborn and making the case for restrictions, we lay the groundwork for the eventual overthrow of the entire practice. Such an incremental strategy is not without its doubters. They argue that it communicates a tacit approval of abortion and that the focus becomes making abortion less gruesome rather than ending it. Some say Wilberforce recognized the same problem with his efforts to use incrementalism to end slavery. I acknowledge the strategy poses risk. We must not let abortion supporters use regulation to make abortion less objectionable. We cannot do anything
that even suggests elective abortion can remain legal. Our goal must not be to make elective abortion less gruesome or rarer, but an unthinkable assault on a fellow human being that is intolerable. With this goal as the objective, an incremental approach can succeed. With each win, we create a new starting point from which to work toward the next goal. While we should continually support efforts to pass legislation that ends all elective abortion, we should also be working incrementally, asking ourselves what can be accomplished now and working to achieve it. From there, we should take another determined, planned step, followed by another until we have convinced enough of our fellow countrymen to end this barbaric practice altogether. This is a worthwhile goal, one that we should all commit ourselves to achieve. The lives of millions of children hang in the balance. With Godâ€™s help, we can save them, even if only a step at a time.
BARRETT DUKE is the vice president for public policy and director of the Research Institute at the ERLC. ERLC. com
Finding Forgiveness After Abortion
HEN I WAS 20 years old, I loved my life. It was carefree and full of good times. School, sports, parties and girlfriends filled my mind on most days. That is, until one day that changed my life forever. A girlfriend and I discovered we were pregnant. We had not planned to get pregnant, but we were. When she broke the news to me, I was a little nervous, but reassured her we’d figure out a way to make it. My empty assurance was followed by a question that would push me to a place I’d never been before. With fearful eyes, she looked at me and asked, “Are you going to be with me — are you going to marry me?” I was young. I had hopes and dreams and plans. I had my whole life in front of me, and I wasn’t ready to be married or to be the father of a child. But, I’m not sure I would have thought about it exactly like that in those days. I didn’t know how to think about serious realities. I only operated in the moment. I told her I wasn’t ready to get married. She knew that, but my words confirmed it. A friend gave her the $400 we needed to have “the procedure,” as they called it. I was there when she took the pill. I was there when we flushed our child down the toilet. I was there when we cried, even though we didn’t know why. And some days I’m still there. 12
I think about the fact that I never heard my child’s laughter. Never locked eyes for the first time. Never saw his smile or cheered her first steps. I never heard him read or endured her endless questions about why the world is the way it is. Sadly, I missed all that because I didn’t value my child’s life. My child would be 18 today. I’d be looking forward to him coming home from college for the holidays and to his calls about how life away from home is going. Sometimes I think about those things. But I don’t dwell on them, because God intervened. A year after my girlfriend’s abortion, a friend shared the good news of Jesus Christ with me. I began to read the Bible and was convinced that Jesus was indeed who he claimed to be. I learned that he is the Savior of sinners, who died to take our judgment and rose to extend forgiveness. By God’s grace, I believed those truths. One of the events the Lord used to awaken me was this abortion. Through his Word, he showed me that I was not the good person I once thought I was. Rather, I was a person so in love with myself that I agreed to end my own child’s life in order to keep my life going in the direction I wanted.
WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT JESUS GIVES PEACE WITH GOD, HE ALSO GIVES THE PEACE OF GOD TO ALL WHO TRUST HIM.
But this is where the gospel shines light into the darkness with rays of life-giving hope. Isaiah 53:4 says of Jesus, “He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Jesus stepped down from his throne of glory to enter into our world of perversion and took the judgment we deserved. He was pierced for my transgressions so I can be free from guilt. He was crushed for my sins so I no longer stand condemned. He was punished so I can now know peace with God. While it is true that Jesus gives peace with God, he also gives the peace of God to all who trust him. He brings healing to the scars that sin left behind. Through Christ, God says to us, “Comfort, comfort, my people,” and provides a peace the world cannot give (Isa. 40:1; John 14:27). So today, when I look back to what I did, I may still feel grief, but there is a comfort that the Father of mercies gives in the midst of it. It is a comfort that does not say, “It’s OK, don’t feel bad.” Instead it says, “Do not fear, it is forgiven.” And it is from this comfort that I write these words. By God’s grace, Jesus doesn’t just forgive sinners like me, but he delights in using them to help others.
Second Corinthians 1:3-4 says it this way, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” You see, Jesus entered into my broken world and gave comfort when I deserved condemnation. He gave love where I withheld it. He gave mercy where I acted murderously. Why? One reason is so I can share it with others who have faced similar sorts of brokenness. Friend, I do not know anything about you. But the Lord Jesus Christ does. He knows where you have been and what you have done. You may have a story like mine, or you may be someone who boasts that you have no such sin. Either way, God’s grace is enough to cover your transgression and give comfort in its place. Look to Jesus and find comfort, and then give that comfort to help others who need it, too.
GARRETT KELL is the pastor of Del Ray Baptist in Alexandria, Va. ERLC. com
The ERLC Throughout the Years
1997 Bob Casey on human life.
"I want to talk to you about the keystone and the arch of this cultural mosaic we seek to build in America. The issue of life, human life. If we can’t protect life what’s left? The words of the Declaration [are] meaningless unless there’s life. We are a people of life. The American experience speaks life not death—the preservation of life. We move heaven and earth to save life, enhance life, improve the quality of life, and we are being told it is not that way at all. The objective is not life but death for young people—those who haven’t been born—and the elderly. We simply say, “America, we’ve read the Declaration. The right to life is inviolable. It comes from God. It cannot
THE ERLC THROUGHOUT THE YEARS
be taken away by governors or legislators or the Supreme Court or the President or anybody because they didn’t confer it in the first place. They are not capable of conferring life; only the Lord can give us life. And only the Lord can take it away.” That’s written right into the foundation of this country, and isn’t it something to behold when you think about it—that all of the great ones down through our history understood the overriding importance of that Declaration? It’s time, now, in America for this country to come together and bring all of God’s children, born and unborn, forward and give them a seat at the table, because if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re not in the family—and that’s the challenge I want to place before you.”
In 1997, Governor Robert Casey Sr. was an honored guest at an ERLC (then the Christian Life Commission) gathering on the campus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Casey urged Christians to maintain a consistent witness for the sanctity of life, a fight he waged all the way until his death.Governor Casey was a courageous champion for the sanctity of human life. A New Deal Democrat, he wasn’t allowed to speak to the 1992 Democratic National Convention because he defied party orthodoxy on abortion rights. Casey never wavered on this, despite humiliation at the DNC and beyond, refusing even to endorse his party’s pro-choice nominee Bill Clinton. The landmark Planned Parenthood vs. Casey Supreme Court decision is named because of the governor’s commitment to restrict abortion and protect women and children. In this issue of LIGHT, we thought it appropriate to include a portion of Governor Casey’s speech. – Russell Moore
1997: Democratic Governor Bob Casey Sr Urges the Christian Life Commission (ERLC) to Stand for Life. 14
ABOUT IT 1 TALK
PASTORS, YOU CAN CULTIVATE A PRO-LIFE CULTURE IN YOUR CHURCH Dean Inserra
BELIEVE THE CHURCH is compelled and called to actively care about issues of justice. As Christ’s ambassadors, we have no option but to love our neighbors, especially those experiencing oppression. While there are many issues of social justice to address—and thankfully more Christian organizations exist to address these needs—the greatest need in America today is the protection of an unborn child from an abortion. In fact, I would argue we have no moral basis to care about any other area of social justice if we do not first care for life. We cannot claim to care about life outside the womb and call for being pro “all of life” without first caring about unborn life. In the post-Roe v. Wade, pro-abortion society where we minister and live, the church has learned that legislation alone cannot be our strategy in fighting abortion. The greatest strategy the local church has is to create a culture where this great social justice cause matters and where real action is taking place to make a true difference. If a local church is seeking to be pro-life in daily ministry, as well as in worldview, debate and voting, there are proactive ways to accomplish this.
We actually have to talk about social justice issues to see real change happen. Some will not talk about the unjust, barbaric practice of abortion because they believe such talk will only be perceived as political. But, caring for the unborn is a spiritual issue, and a pastor cannot shy away from speaking about injustices the Bible clearly opposes. If we believe God knits babies together in their mothers’ wombs, we cannot be silent about those who want to dismember what God has formed. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue; it is a Christian issue. It’s essential to instill confidence in your congregation when talking about this because they will face the temptation to shrink back due to cultural pressures. The pastor and leadership of the church have a responsibility to equip people for mission, and pro-life confidence and clarity is a must for the church’s mission.
WITH JUSTICE 2 SPEAK AND JUSTIFICATION
There are multiple people in your congregation who have been affected by abortion. There are women who have had an abortion. There are men who are affected by the emotional aftermath of an abortion and are not exempt from experiencing feelings of guilt, shame and condemnation. There could also be an abortion-providing doctor or nurse sitting in the back of the church, fearing people will know the truth about their “work.” The church must speak boldly and clearly about the evil sin of killing an unborn child and, at the same time, proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no condemnation in him because he died in the place of the men and women who have experienced abortion. God’s justice in punishing sin, alongside the justification found in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, must be the theme of your preaching in all areas, especially in speaking to abortion. ERLC. com
CREATE A CHURCH CULTURE THAT RESPECTS AND REVERES WOMEN
This is a critical component of leading an actively pro-life church. The accusatory rhetoric spewed in the direction of pro-life individuals is that we are leading a “war on women.” Sadly, this ridiculous claim is believed by many who form their opinions on sound bites and the latest tweets.The church must change perceptions by displaying cultures in our congregation that model a high regard for women. This goes beyond complementarian theology to environments where women flourish, mothers and wives are honored, and single women are valued as sisters in Christ with much to offer. If the women in your church feel as if they are sub-par, then pro-life efforts may be viewed with skepticism in the midst of misinformation and lies that are being funneled from the pro-abortion crusaders to your congregation.
INVOLVED AT A LOCAL 4 GETPREGNANCY CENTER
The number of options a church has to get involved in its local community can become overwhelming. There truly is only so much your congregation can be involved with and still be effective in ministry. If protecting the unborn is the greatest social justice issue of our time, then joining existing pro-life efforts should be at the top of any church’s priority list. The most pro-women organizations on the planet are Christian pregnancy centers, which exist to serve women facing unexpected pregnancies and to support them through the process of carrying their children. The pregnancy center in my hometown shares the gospel, loves and cares for each woman who walks in the door, provides for physical needs, and offers expert counseling to many who feel they have nowhere else to turn. Expectant mothers and fathers can see an ultrasound picture of their baby, coming face-to-face with the reality that there is a child, not just a lump of tissue, inside the mother. These centers are the pro-life answer to pro-abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood and must be supported by the church. All Christian pregnancy centers depend on external financial and volunteer support. Host a fundraiser, call on people to volunteer, encourage the pregnancy center staff, and look for ways that your church can be a best friend to the center in your area.
BE PRO-LIFE IN ALL OF LIFE
If we are not valuing human life in the womb, the justification to value life outside the womb is confusing, at best. Because we love the unborn, we desire to see human flourishing and fight injustice after these babies are born. From combating hunger and disease, to helping our senior adult neighbors live with dignity, the church must care about it all. We do this, first, in response to the gospel as “Christ’s love compels us.” We also do it to show the world that we care deeply about the unborn because we care deeply about our neighbors—the image bearers of God—in all phases of life. The local church is the vehicle to carry a pro-life mission to the world. To do so effectively, we must think beyond endorsing pro-life candidates as a strategy. We must create a culture of life and give people confidence in the value of life in order to change perceptions and empower others in ministry. I am hopeful that we will see abortion fall in my lifetime and that the Lord will use the local church as the means to see that happen. DEAN INSERRA is the lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Fla.
IF PROTECTING THE UNBORN IS THE GREATEST SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE OF OUR TIME, THEN JOINING EXISTING PRO-LIFE EFFORTS SHOULD BE AT THE TOP OF ANY CHURCH'S PRIORITY LIST. 16
WOMEN’S R O U N D TA B L E
The Real War on Women FEMALE LEADERS’ INSIGHT INTO THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT ROUNDTABLE CONTRIBUTORS JEANNE MANCINI
is the president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.
K E L LY RO S A T I
is the vice president of Community Outreach at Focus on the Family where she oversees the Adoption & Orphan Care Initiative and the Sanctity of Human Life department.
he pro-life movement is often framed in the media as a war on women. As female, Christian, pro-life leaders, what is your response to this charge?
JM: Nothing could be further from the truth. The real war that many women are battling is confusing messages about their vocation and identity (for example, to be pro-woman one must be pro-choice). Being pro-life is about embracing an authentic understanding of the human person and the beauty of the dignity and vocation of a woman. A woman’s capacity to be a mother is inherent; it is part of her God-given nature. Regardless of if she becomes a mother biologically, it is wrong to try to separate that incredible aspect from who she is as a person. CH: When I think of pro-life people interacting with women who are considering abortion, I think of compassion, hope and
C I N DY HOPKINS
is the vice president of Center Services & Client Care at Care Net.
CHARMAINE YO EST
is president & CEO of Americans United for Life (AUL), the legal architects of the pro-life movement.
help. I believe the real assault on women takes place when they are told abortion is an easy answer to their complicated problems; when they are not given opportunity to explore realistic alternatives to abortion, including single parenting, adoption and marriage. Ironically, the real war on women is lived out every day in abortion clinics across our nation—places where carnage and casualties are the norm. CY: The abortion industry wages a true war on women and the children they carry. This money-hungry industry is fundamentally a business. These profiteers in human misery show great gall in telling people that they are somehow victims of “war” when they are profiting from women’s pain. KR: Our movement is passionately pro-woman and pro-child. We reject the false premise that pits the interests of women ERLC. com
against the interests of children. And as Christians, we follow the One who radically demonstrated the value of both. Often forgotten in the credo of “a woman’s right to choose” is the damage done to women by the abortion industry. Can you speak to this? CY: What’s interesting about a “right to choose” is that Big Abortion wants women to choose without having all the facts. Anyone who has a medical procedure knows that you are given detailed information to read, and then you have to schedule your procedure and a follow up appointment. But with abortion surgery, the abortion industry offers little information and no follow up care. You can learn more details about the health risks of abortion for women at aul.org, but approximately 10 percent of women will suffer complications from abortions, and about one in 50 women will face complications that can be life-threatening. The risk of suicide is three times greater for a woman who aborted her child compared to the woman who delivered her child. And sadly, 10 percent of mental health problems women suffer can be directly linked to abortion. JM: Abortion is never good for women. In addition to taking the life of a precious child, abortion hurts women, psychologically and physically. Many studies have revealed this sad reality. That’s why, as Christians, we must always share the message of hope and healing in Christ when addressing the topic of abortion. One of the other charges by the pro-choice lobby is that to be pro-life is to care only for the baby up until the moment of birth. Planned Parenthood claims to offer needed services (beside abortion) to women in crisis. How can the pro-life community address these concerns? CY: We need to educate people that Planned Parenthood is Abortion Inc. Under Cecile Richards’ leadership, life-saving health care has been cut, while Planned Parenthood’s abortion business went up, even while the overall number of abortions declined. In fact, far from emphasizing healthcare, Planned Parenthood Federation of America decreed that as of January 2013, all of its affiliates must perform abortions. In contrast to its growing abortion business, during the era of mega-center expansion, Planned Parenthood’s overall client base has declined by 10 percent. Simultaneously, cancer screening and prevention services at PPFA’s centers have been cut by more than 50 percent. JM: The reality of the situation is that our country is home to well over 2,000 pregnancy care centers, which provide resources to women who have chosen life. These resources include clothing, shelter, counseling, medical testing, baby diapers, formulas, cribs, etc. Compare this to the approximately 700 abortion clinics. 18
"WE REJECT THE FALSE PREMISE THAT PITS THE INTERESTS OF WOMEN AGAINST THE INTERESTS OF CHILDREN." - K E L LY RO S A T I
KR: Some of the preventive health services that Planned Parenthood provides are important for women. But under no circumstances should the government finance those services through an organization that destroys pre-born life. That’s why community health centers, federally qualified health clinics and, in particular, the Christian community health center movement are so important. It’s also crucial to care for the children after they’re born, and we have more work to do. The Christian community has led the way on this front in so many ways, but many modern day orphans in foster care— more than 100,000—are still waiting for adoptive families to come for them. With more than 300,000 churches in the United States, we ought to do better by these children. CH: James 1:27 reminds us that religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is about looking after orphans and widows. In today’s culture, a widow is a woman without a husband, and an orphan is a child without a father. Since
85 percent of the more than one million women who have abortions in the U.S. every year are unmarried, our society is replete with cultural widows and orphans. In light of the church’s mandate to minister to this demographic, I believe the church is the solution to our abortion culture. How important are the series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos to the pro-life cause? JM: The Center for Medical Progress videos focus public attention on Planned Parenthood. They also provide a startling snapshot of the abortion industry and raise legal questions. By December 2015, five states have defunded Planned Parenthood since the videos began to be released, with 12 additional states investigating that possibility. The videos also offer an opportunity to dialogue about life and human dignity with those who normally are not open to having such conversations. KR: I think they are significant but not as significant
as they should be. Unfortunately, the impact wasn’t what we would logically expect from the horrific revelations. What we need is spiritual, and continued prayer and perseverance is necessary. We have to maintain our hope in Jesus as we continue in the cause. CH: While the video content is ugly and evil, we can trust that God will use it to change hearts and minds. In fact, more than 65,000 people participated in an August 2015 protest in front of Planned Parenthood facilities across our country. As attention mounts and investigations continue, we can be hopeful that the exposing light of truth will overshadow and destroy the darkness of abortion. CY: The abortion industry has hidden behind words like “war on women” and “choice” to camouflage the deadly truth of what goes on behind closed doors. But the videos have breathed life into the debate because the facts are these: abortion ends lives, which the abortion industry treats as a product and with contempt for human dignity. The abortion industry doesn’t care about women; it cares about money. Most importantly, the videos have illustrated a fundamental truth our culture has wanted to avoid: Planned Parenthood is harvesting baby parts because they do have value—and that monetary value is rooted in the fact that those babies are human.
center is worth exploring. Care Net can help you find one near you. Also, educating yourself on how to talk to someone who is facing a pregnancy decision is important because words matter. Telling a friend that abortion is sin and murder, while true, is not likely change her mind. Instead, you could tell her that you are glad she told you, she’s not alone and you will walk with her. Never be afraid to say abortion is wrong, but say it with a hefty dose of compassion. CY: Carefully reading this article is a great start. Become informed and get involved. At Americans United for Life, we work on legislation and political issues, and we’d love to have you join our #TeamLife, which is a way of engaging with policy. We also partner with 40 Days for Life, which is a prayer ministry. Can you point us to some of the most helpful pro-life resources? JM: Two of my favorite general pro-life resources were written in part by former colleague, Cathy Ruse—Top Ten Myths of Abortion and The Best Pro-Life Arguments for Secular Audiences. Some of my favorite go-to organizations for pro-life information are the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Americans United for Life, and Family Research Council.
What are some of the most helpful and practical ways that Christians can be an advocate for life in their communities?
KR: At Focus on the Family, we have pro-life resources to help you be a voice for life in your church, community, school and family. Most are downloadable and available at beavoice.net. Also, Randy Alcorn’s book Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Questions is a classic.
JM: The possibilities range from coordinating a small pro-life group at your church, to writing pro-life opinion pieces for your local newspaper, to staying educated on current events as they relate to life issues, to praying in front of clinics, volunteering at a pregnancy care center, attending the March for Life and last, but not least, financially supporting a pro-life organization to enable its particular work.
CH: Care Net has a tremendous resource titled, Before You Decide designed for millennials considering abortion. We have a companion piece for men called Before She Decides. I am also excited that in early 2016 Care Net will be launching a video-based training curriculum to equip church members to provide for the needs of women who are brave enough to say “no” to abortion.
KR: Support your local pregnancy resource center or pregnancy medical clinic. Pray for the staff, their clients and the babies whose lives are in jeopardy. Pray for those involved in the abortion movement—for their eyes to be opened and their hearts converted to Christ. Being truly pro-life means understanding the dignity and value of every single human life, being a conduit for the extravagant love of God for every person and being willing to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. CH: Christians can recognize that even if they have never had an abortion, they can be a voice of influence to someone who thinks abortion is their only option. Volunteering at a pregnancy ERLC. com
Is This Our Pro-life Moment?
Karen Swallow Prior
“IT’S A BABY. . . . THE HEART IS RIGHT THERE.” THE DOCTOR SPEAKS THESE WORDS, CAUGHT ON A HIDDEN CAMERA, AS SHE SIFTS THROUGH A DISH HOLDING THE REMAINS OF A FRESHLY ABORTED CHILD. “WAS THAT CRACK THE LITTLE BITS OF THE SKULL?” AN OBSERVER ASKS. The abortionist answers affirmatively, continues her probing, then points out, in a tone as casual as that of a store clerk helping a shopper locate items on the shelf, “Here’s some organs for you. Here’s a stomach, kidney, heart, adrenal . . . ” She continues her foraging in the dish, searching for the legs. When she finds them, she exclaims giddily, “And another boy!” This is a scene—one of many such grisly episodes—from a series of undercover videos recording Planned Parenthood officials doling out fetal body parts and haggling with fake buyers over the sale of fetal tissue. As the shocking videos were rolled out one by one this past summer, a movement swelled—despite scant media attention—calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Enough momentum had built by the fall to bring about what before seemed unthinkable: Illustration by Jeremy Booth
several congressional hearings to investigate Planned Parenthood along with state-level inquiries into the organization’s practices. An attempt by lawmakers to eliminate federal funding, while unsuccessful, was nevertheless a landmark effort in the history of legalized abortion. It’s been more than 40 years since abortion was legalized across the United States. More than 40 years since the prolife movement birthed by that decision has been fighting for legal protection of the lives of unborn children. After all these years, is this our prolife moment? It may well be. Consider the steady decline in public perception of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortion. Following the release of the videos, an October Gallup Poll found that 23 percent of respondents reported a “very unfavorable” view of Planned
Parenthood compared to four percent in 1989. While 79 percent of those polled had an overall favorable view of Planned Parenthood in 1989, that number fell to 59 percent in 2015. Likewise, attitudes toward abortion in general have shifted over the years. According to another Gallup Poll, after Roe vs. Wade, the percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be legal under all circumstances generally increased until the 1990s and has steadily declined since then. Even more importantly, according to a February 2014 report by The Guttmacher Institute, the rate of abortion has declined since it peaked in the 1980s, from 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44 to the current rate 16.9 percent, the lowest rate since legalization. Despite these positive trends, the truth is that we are a culture steeped in abortion. In the years since abortion was legalized by Roe vs. Wade, our culture has become socially, sexually and economically dependent upon abortion. According to data on johnstonarchive. net, approximately 20 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, and 30 percent of women in America will have an abortion at some point in her life. Some economists who have studied ERLC. com
Is This Our Pro-life Moment?
the impact of abortion on the country claim that legalized abortion has led to decreases in crime and poverty and higher living standards for children who are born, according to What Economics Can (and Can’t) Tell Us About the Legacy of Legal Abortion, published at The Atlantic on January 23, 2013. Such conclusions have been convincingly contested, as in a four-part debate between Steven D. Levitt and Steve Sailer, yet the surface-level logic leads many to embrace unquestioningly bumper sticker philosophies purporting that legal abortion (even if it isn’t very nice) makes the world better: • Every child a wanted child • Pro-woman, pro-child, pro-choice • If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?
The underlying assumptions of these sentiments suggest that abortion helps create a world where children who are born are wanted, safe and loved. While ample research demonstrates the invalidity of such easy conclusions, the assumptions remain stuck in our cultural imagination. The picture of a woman faced with an unwanted pregnancy conjures up images of poverty, abuse and despair. Legal abortion fills in the blanks, offering a blurry picture in which those problems mysteriously disappear—along with the pregnancy. Yet, the Planned Parenthood videos—along with various technologies that give us a window into the fascinating world of the unborn— have brought that once blurry picture
D E E P LY E M B E D D E D C U LT U R A L AT T I T U D E S A N D B E H AV I O R S
C A N C H A N G E—A N D CAN EVEN BECOME UNIMAGINABLE OVER TIME.
more into focus. It is harder now than ever before to deny or ignore what abortion—even those done early in pregnancy—entails. Recognizing what abortion truly is is a start. But it’s not enough. What remains is to reform the cultural imagination—the collective narrative—in such a way that together we envision life, hope and joy as the result of even unexpected or problem pregnancies. Yet, it is difficult if not impossible to imagine a nation—or even a world—that rejects abortion. But to create such a world begins with imagining such a world. For those of us who have lived most or all of our lives in a post-Roe world, it seems unimaginable. Perhaps we need better imaginations. A 1960 photograph of Jackie Kennedy seated in a yacht, casually smoking a cigarette while pregnant with John F. Kennedy, Jr., is shocking to our sensibilities today. It’s hard to imagine now the days when smoking was allowed everywhere: in office buildings, restaurants, airplanes, and, astonishingly, doctor’s offices. But, no more. Even the economy of the regions formerly dependent upon tobacco have managed to flourish through other agricultural and entrepreneurial enterprises. Likewise, at one point, it seemed everyone in America was on some kind of diet. Yet, in recent decades, more of us are choosing healthier lifestyles over dieting, according to various news reports. Similarly, those of us who grew up in a certain era could not imagine consumers preferring water over soda.
But health practitioners and producers of bottled water did imagine such a thing, and now soda sales are falling while bottled water is the beverage category showing the fastest growth. While less dramatic than abortionon-demand, these examples show that deeply embedded cultural attitudes and behaviors can change—and can even become unimaginable over time. Stronger parallels yet can be drawn from the abolition of the British slave trade. At the height of the trade worldwide, the British Empire’s military, economy and way of life (including the sugar that sweetened countless cups of English tea) was seen as entirely dependent upon human trafficking. To abolish the slave trade, many feared, would be to abolish the country. Some even argued for slavery on humanitarian grounds, asserting that slaves wrested forcefully from their native lands were better off in “civilized” colonies, even as slaves, than they would be in their native lands. Christian leaders, in their endeavors to end the slave trade, appealed to biblical principles of compassion, liberty, justice and morality as they sought to effect legislation, first, to regulate and then to abolish the trade. But they didn’t stop there. In addition to legislative efforts, they paid their own money to buy freedom for slaves, took them into their homes and schools, and promoted notions of freedom and human dignity in the arts. The efforts to end slavery took decades. And as tempting as it is to think victory came as a result of
WE NEED TO IMAGINE WAYS TO MAKE ABORTION OBSOLETE BY FILLING THE NEEDS IT MEETS WITH SOMETHING BET TER.
abolitionists’ tireless efforts against slavery, there is more to the story. The fact is that the slave trade ended in Great Britain at a time when slave labor was seen as less necessary because of the Industrial Revolution. Machines made slave labor obsolete. What will it take to make abortion obsolete? It is not enough to expose the horror of the abortion trade for what it is, as the Planned Parenthood videos have done. We need to imagine ways to make abortion obsolete by filling the needs it meets with something better. We must challenge the assumptions that portray abortion as a “necessary evil” with research, stories, art and real lives that offer countering visions. In so doing, we can refashion the image held within the cultural imagination
of pregnancies as problems to be solved into one that envisions all children as blessings to society and all mothers as worthy of honor and support. We can replace the narrative that says women need abortion in order to flourish, that the economy needs abortion in order to reduce crime, and that children who fit into our lives according to plan are better off than those who don’t with a life-affirming narrative. How do we cast such an image? By embodying it in our own lives, churches and communities.
KAREN SWALLOW PRIOR is an author, a professor of English at Liberty University, and a research fellow at the ERLC.
A Changing of the Guards—and of the Hearts
A CHANGING OF THE GUARDS— AND OF THE HEARTS
TRACING THE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS’ PATH TO A PRO-LIFE STANCE
HIS GENERATION OF SOUTHERN BAPTISTS CAN’T IMAGINE A TIME WHEN THEIR DENOMINATIONAL LEADERS DID NOT FIGHT FOR THE UNBORN, BUT THERE WAS A TIME — IN THE NOT VERY DISTANT PAST — WHEN SOUTHERN BAPTIST LEADERS WERE, AT BEST, APATHETIC CONCERNING SANCTIT Y OF LIFE ISSUES. READ ABOUT THE EVENTS AND PEOPLE THAT WOULD CHANGE THE COURSE OF DENOMINATIONAL HISTORY — AND LITERALLY SAVE LIVES.
In Tallahassee, Fla., City Church is at work in the pro-life trenches of their college town. Through a local crisis pregnancy center, they minister to women who find themselves with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy— many of them Florida State University or Florida A&M University students. But they are doing more than ministry to young women who find themselves in crisis—they minister to the unborn. They save lives by helping to fund the purchase of ultrasound machines. From January to June 2014, 120 women were given ultrasounds. Of those women, 53 were abortion-minded before they saw their unborn child on a screen and heard a heartbeat. After the ultrasounds, 35 of those abortion-minded women changed their minds and chose life. Similarly, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission sponsors the Psalm 139 project, which has been placing ultrasound equipment in every corner of the United States since 2004. This ministry has saved lives by “opening a window to the womb,” as its slogan states. Then there are the countless other efforts within Southern Baptist churches and agencies, like walks-for-life and the annual Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, observed the third Sunday of each January. Today, sanctity of human life—inside and outside the womb—is one of the most intensely focused ministry areas
within the Southern Baptist Convention. And it’s one of the most talked about issues within the denomination. Yet, just one generation ago, none of these life-saving efforts would have been in place; sanctity of life was not on the radar of most Southern Baptist leaders. In fact, some Southern Baptist leaders were actively pro-choice.
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW: A PRO-CHOICE DENOMINATION While the average mid-20th century Southern Baptist churchgoer believed life begins at conception, abortion was not a widely discussed issue across the denomination. At least, there were no established theological or biblical arguments defending the sanctity of human life—let alone a resolution set forth. In general, the mindset of Southern Baptists on abortion seemed to suggest that it was more of a Catholic issue. The 1960s brought the sexual revolution, which ushered in a greater demand for abortions. Even still, Southern Baptists generally avoided the topic from the boardrooms, pressrooms and classrooms. In 1970, a Baptist Sunday School Board—now known as LifeWay Christian Resources—poll revealed around twothirds of Southern Baptist pastors supported abortion in the following cases: when the mental or physical health of the mother was at stake, when the fetus is deformed, and when the pregnancy is the result of rape. A year later, the SBC set forth a resolution that affirmed laws should be in place to uphold the sanctity of life. But
“ EVANGELICALS WERE HORRIFIED THAT ONE-THIRD OF ALL BABIES WERE BEING ABORTED. IT WAS THE SHEER NUMBERS THAT DROVE EVANGELICALS TO JOIN WITH CATHOLICS TO OPPOSE ABORTION.”
what disturbed denominational conservatives was the language found upon further reading: “We call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” After the Roe v. Wade ruling legalized abortion in 1973, Southern Baptists were divided on the issue. Some criticized the ruling, yet supported the 1971 resolution. Others fully affirmed the Supreme Court decision. But across the board, the reaction of Southern Baptists to the ruling was—at best—a non-reaction. The rest of the 1970s would see increased support of abortion rights from Southern Baptists, particularly denominational academics and agency heads. The Christian Life Commission—now known as the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission—published literature in 1981 that supported abortion rights: “It is questionable that Christian love and justice would be served by extremely restrictive laws which do not give conscientious people with proper medical advice the opportunity to choose when they are faced with very grave moral dilemmas related to abortion.” However, years before abortion was controversial in the SBC, a future leader in its pro-life movement and future ERLC head was being molded in Texas—the very state where a Baptist Standard poll showed 90 percent of readership felt that state abortion laws were too restrictive.
A FOOT SOLDIER IN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT By 1963, young Houstonian Richard Land sensed a call to ministry—and to be a voice for the unborn. The high school sophomore sat in his biology classroom as he watched and listened to his classmates’ project presentations. One of Land’s classmates did her project on human fetal development. Her father was a doctor—an OB-GYN. One element of her project was a 12- to 14-week-old fetus. It was in a display container, casually propped up against a wall. “It really bothered me. What was obviously a human being was sort of stuck there without a covering. I then told my teacher I was bothered. She sent me to talk with the principal,” he recalled. “I told him my concern. He looked at my file and said, ‘You’re not Catholic are you?’ Even in 1963 they (Catholics) were identified with that. I just told him I wasn’t Catholic; I just thought it (abortion) was wrong. “From that moment on, I was pro-life.” ERLC. com
A Changing of the Guards—and of the Hearts
TODAY, SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE—INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE WOMB—IS ONE OF THE MOST INTENSELY FOCUSED MINISTRY AREAS WITHIN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION. Land would spend the second half of the 1960s as an undergraduate student at Princeton University, where a mentor, Paul Ramsey, affirmed and grew his pro-life conviction. “The issue wasn’t being discussed in Baptist circles, but it was at Princeton. Dr. Ramsey was an ethicist, and he was very prolife. He confirmed what I believed,” said Land of his professor. “The most significant thing he did for me was open up the rich world of Catholic social thought. He took a personal interest in me, and he further sensitized me to the sanctity of human life.” Ramsay did more than affirm Land’s pro-life conviction. He, almost prophetically, warned Land and his fellow students (before Princeton was co-ed) of things to come: “Men, you will deal with unprecedented things in your lifetime— genetic engineering issues, cloning, in vitro . . .” As the 1970s began, Land was a graduate student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. During that time, what shocked him was not what the culture outside the school was doing; rather, he was shocked and dismayed that many of his fellow seminarians were pro-choice: “One of them even said to me, ‘Life doesn’t begin until you draw breath. And we can get control of welfare (if women get abortions).”
selecting conservative presidents—presidents who would do their part in fighting for the lives of the unborn. And in 1988, Land was selected as president of what was then still known as the CLC—the very Southern Baptist agency that once overtly advocated for abortion rights. By end of the 1980s, it became clear that Southern Baptists were on a clear path to pro-life advocacy. In 1989, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday became an annual event on the SBC calendar. This is a day set aside to remember the lives lost to abortion, reignite pro-life passion in the pew and the pulpit, and to affirm theology that supports the Southern Baptist view of life. Also during Land’s tenure, the CLC advocated pro-life legislation and influenced Southern Baptists toward a biblical view of abortion and other human ethical issues.
THE FIGHT FOR LIFE CONTINUES
Land’s work did not stop when he left his post in 2013. Russell Moore, current ERLC president, speaks into the culture as well as the church on sanctity of life matters. As a respected voice—even among those with whom he disagrees—there is now more attention than ever to the plight of the unborn. A TURNING OF THE TIDE In 2016, under Moore’s leadership, the ERLC will partner with Although Land lived overseas completing his doctoral Focus on the Family to host an evangelical pro-life conference in program at Oxford University when Roe V. Wade was decided, conjunction with the March for Life. Christians from all over the he hit the ground running in his pro-life efforts when he United States—Southern Baptists and other denominations— returned to the United States in 1975 and became a profes- will gather in our nation’s capital January 21-22 to affirm their sor at Criswell College. pro-life stance and get equipped to take action and save lives. He, along with other passionate pro-life individuals, began As someone who has an audience outside of Southern Baptist making strong Scriptural pro-life arguments. Their work was circles, Moore is hopeful that this conference—like the induction instrumental in the shift from general apathy toward sanctity of of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and the Psalm 139 Project— life matters to an overtly pro-life stance among Southern Baptists. will be another stepping stone on the path to a culture of life. But it wasn’t the Roe V. Wade decision that set off alarms “This is a gathering of committed, born again believers in the hearts of Southern Baptists, Land said. It was the from all over the country who are saying the issue of life is aftermath of that decision: “Evangelicals were horrified that a gospel issue,” Moore said. “And we need to make that very one-third of all babies were being aborted. It was the sheer clear about how this is preached, about how this is counseled, numbers that drove evangelicals to join with Catholics to and then how this is worked out in the public square.” oppose abortion.” As the 1970s came to a close, the efforts of Land and his many co-laborers proved fruitful: Baptist messengers began JOY ALLMOND is a writer and editor for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. 26
Gospel for Life SERIES
Edited by Russell Moore & Andrew T. Walker The Gospel for Life is a series of short, accessible books on a range of urgent topics facing the church, intended for church members everywhere.
Available in Summer 2016
Developing a Whole-life, Pro-life Ethic in Our Churches
illustration coming DEVELOPING A WHOLE-LIFE, PRO-LIFE ETHIC IN OUR CHURCHES Josh Howerton
S ERIC METAXAS AND others have noted, what is happening right now with the Planned Parenthood videos is a “William Wilberforce moment” in the culture. Wilberforce was the Christian man who looked into his Bible, saw that racism and slavery were evil reverse-images of the gospel, and dedicated his life to accomplishing what seemed culturally and politically impossible in late-1700s Great Britain: the abolition of the slave trade. In a decisive moment that now lives in history, Wilberforce commanded the floor of British Parliament for over three hours doing nothing but reading gruesome horror stories of the African slave trade to the men that politically protected its continuation. He concluded with this sentence: “You may choose to look away, but you can never say again that you did not know.” On his deathbed in 1833, after a lifetime of being told abolition was impossible, he Illustration by Jen Sullivan
received word that Parliament had passed the Slavery Abolition Bill, granting freedom to all slaves in the British Empire. In the last several months, videos of Planned Parenthood officials (the organization that performs over 40 percent of our nation’s abortions) harvesting and selling the body parts of dismembered infant corpses have surfaced to national outrage. But why are these videos causing such upheaval in a nation that has been legally pro-abortion since 1973? It’s because the reality of what abortion is (the murder of a human infant) is being thrust before us in a way that is hard to ignore. This is our William Wilberforce moment. The stories have been viscerally told, and people may choose to look away, but nobody can ever say again that they did not know. While it’s surprising and encouraging to see hashtags like #PPSellsBabyParts, #DefundPP and #UnplannedParenthood overrun the youth culture of social media platforms, wise pastors will realize we need more than hashtag activism. If we desire that his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, we need more than hashtags; we need church cultures that vibrantly embody a whole-life, pro-life ethic. For pastors to cultivate this, I see at least three indispensable practices.
1. IN THE WORDS OF COLLIN HANSEN, WE MUST “SPEAK TO PERSUADE, NOT JUST TO RALLY.” The temptation is to preach the fist-pounding, us-versus-them sermon against “all the wicked baby-killers” because we know it rallies a base and will earn us back-pats for “boldness”. But our calling isn’t to rally a base; it’s to persuade men (2 Cor. 5:11). When you preach an angry us-versus-them sermon, it alienates any of “them” that are present with honest questions. Pastors who dismissively brush past questions will themselves be dismissed. Here are a few
of those questions or justifications and how the recent videos have equipped us to address them: •
“Women’s rights.” Abortion advocates have long justified abortion by framing it in terms of women’s rights. One thing these videos are doing is making that defense seem childishly naive, at best, and intentionally deceptive, at worst. A person can point to video three and say, “What about the rights of the woman laying dismembered in a pie dish?”
“It’s just a clump of cells.” Abortion was legalized in 1973 before any technology gave a clear look at the child inside the womb. “It’s just a clump of cells” was the lie we were told, and we believed it because we wanted to believe it. It was soothing to a screaming conscience: We’re not killing infants, we’re just removing clumps of cells. After these videos, no one can say this with a straight face. “Clumps of cells” do not have organs that can be harvested to save human lives. Lab technicians don’t point at “clumps of cells” and exclaim, “Another boy!”
“These babies are just like organ donors.” No they’re not. Organ donors get to choose to be organ donors after their natural deaths. They are not killed and chopped up without their consent in order to harvest their organs. “My body, my choice.” Again, these videos expose this statement as absurd. It’s not just a woman’s body. We’ve now seen the other bodies involved.
“They’re not all the way human.” The first step in committing any largescale human rights atrocity is to linguistically dehumanize the victims. “They’re not all the way human” is what the Nazis said about Jews, nicknaming them “Untermenschen,” or “the subhumans.” The Colonial Slave Trade said black Africans were only three-fifths of a person; and now Planned Parenthood says that unborn children aren’t really babies until they emerge from the birth canal.
The label “extremists.” Planned Parenthood—in sheer terror at the national outrage—is trying to frame opponents as “extremists.” This is increasingly comical for three reasons. First, an estimated (and growing) half of our nation believes what Planned Parenthood is doing is wicked. Second, Planned Parenthood’s abortion policy would be illegal in 93 percent of the world. And third, Planned Parenthood said they wouldn’t continue to do what they said they weren’t doing in the first place—receive money for harvested fetal organs. So, who’s the extremist?
2. WISE PASTORS MUST CONVINCINGLY COMMUNICATE A PRO-LIFE ETHIC AS A GOSPEL ISSUE, NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. My experience as a pastor of a millennial-dominated church in an urban area is that many younger people are secretly suspicious I wear two hats: local church pastor and local recruiter for the Republican Party. If pastors are not careful to root our pro-life ethic in the gospel (and not a political agenda), we risk confirming the suspicion and our reasoning being dismissed as driven by a political ulterior motive.
Developing a Whole-life, Pro-life Ethic in Our Churches
In a radical politically polarized culture, one of the most validating aspects of the gospel is that it’s politically confusing. A deep care for the poor, racial reconciliation and love for the immigrant and sojourner—issues typically politicized as progressive—are embedded into our souls by the gospel. The belief in the sanctity and definition of marriage; the intrinsic value of all human life, including the unborn, elderly and disabled; and biblical sexual ethics—issues typically politicized as conservative—are equally embedded into our souls by the gospel. It is exactly the fact that it surpasses the existing categories that moves people to consider the possibility of the Christian gospel’s transcendence. It’s remarkably persuasive to show that the same gospel that moves a person toward a “liberal” passion for racial reconciliation moves them toward a “conservative” pro-life ethic. Christians don’t oppose abortion because it’s a political issue, but because it’s a gospel issue. Abortion is the evil reverse-image of the gospel. Instead of saying, “I’ll die for you,” it says, “You die for me.” To discern whether your church culture has a biblical pro-life motivation or merely a political pro-life motivation, a helpful diagnostic question might be, “Is the message of our church consistently pro-life
Our second adopted daughter is a black female with a birth defect born to a collegiate single mom. If you converted Planned Parenthood’s victims into a most wanted list, “black female with birth defect born to collegiate single mom” would be public enemy number one. The abortion-rights narrative for Felicity was, “All she can be is 3. WE MUST AFFIRM WITH OUR CULTURE a burden, all she’ll do is ruin someone’s WHAT WE DECLARE WITH OUR MESSAGE. life prospects, and all she’ll have is misery.” But experiencing Felicity cruciIt’s possible to simultaneously preach fies that lie, putting it to open shame. true doctrine with our lips and utterly The other night my heart almost deny that doctrine with our culture. Think of the church that worships a man exploded out of my chest as our gorwho was a homeless refugee but in which geous infant nestled her cheek against everyone avoids the homeless man that my shoulder, looked up into my eyes, and sighed “dada.” Yesterday, our family stumbles into a worship service. We can couldn’t post the pictures fast enough deny with our culture what we declare with our message, rendering the message as she imitated her big sister’s dance moves. Despite three surgeries and almost impossible to believe. However, when a compelling culture affirms a clear countless nights struggling to breathe through her birth defect, when we message, even skeptical onlookers are moved to think, “I may not believe it yet, walk into her nursery each morning, but if it produces this, I wish it were true.” she invariably greets us with a smile that could wake the dawn, flails her Vibrant church cultures will show arm in an attempted wave, and squeals, a pro-life ethic not just to be mor“haaaaaa!” (translation: “hi!”). ally right, but existentially beautiful. I assure you, once you’ve experienced Our churches, as “living epistles” and that, you’re forever inoculated from a outposts of the kingdom of God, can host of chillingly hollow abortion-rights become places in which the beauty of a narratives. Churches teeming with pro-life ethic can be experienced before adoptions and foster parents, sacrificial it is even believed. compassion for pregnant teenagers and single moms, bestowed dignity upon the disabled, and honor for the elderly will be culture-shaking churches. May the Lord raise up more churches with a gospel-saturated, pro-life culture that proclaims this from the rooftops, lives this in the everyday, and changes the cultures around them. or only vocally pro-life when it intersects with a conservative (or liberal, depending upon your context) political agenda?” For instance, is it consistent to declare boldly, “We are pro-life!” in one sentence and, “send those non-American-speaking immigrants back to the country from which they came!” in the next?
CHURCHES TEEMING WITH ADOPTIONS AND FOSTER PARENTS, SACRIFICIAL COMPASSION FOR PREGNANT TEENAGERS AND SINGLE MOMS, BESTOWED DIGNITY UPON THE DISABLED, AND HONOR FOR THE ELDERLY WILL BE CULTURE-SHAKING CHURCHES. 30
JOSH HOWERTON is the lead pastor of the Bridge Church in Spring Hill, Tenn.
the BANALIT Y of ABORTION Mike Cosper
In the Spring of 1961, Hannah Arendt sat in a courtroom in Jerusalem observing the trial of Adolph Eichmann. Eichmann was a notorious war criminal, an S.S. officer responsible for coordinating the transportation of millions of souls to death camps across Europe. Israeli Intelligence agents tracked him to Argentina, kidnapped him and flew him to Israel for a trial. ERLC. com
The Banality of Abortion
Arendt, a German-Jewish philosopher who
had fled the Third Reich, was one of the world’s foremost thinkers on the politics of the 20th century. Her first book, a massive tome on The Origins of Totalitarianism, described its mechanisms—terror, fear, propaganda—and its origins—nationalism and imperialism. She saw it as the embodiment of what Immanuel Kant called “radical evil.” But sitting in that courtroom, she felt something in the foundations of her thought crumble. Eichmann wasn’t a vicious monster, eager to shed blood and lick it off his hands. He was a bureaucrat. A paper-pusher. Not Dracula, but Mr. Magoo. This shocked Arendt and sent her in search of language that could adequately describe the phenomenon. She landed on the phrase “the banality of evil,” which doesn’t dismiss the depths of evil itself as banal, but—far more terrifying— exposes the possibility that social and political realities can make the stomach-churning horrors of Nazi death camps a mere function of the state. They can happen without passion, without malice, with indifference. Not only that, as Eichmann himself testified, these social and political conditions can make someone believe that the horrors they commit are for the greater good. While comparisons to Nazism are often overblown, I couldn’t help but hear the phrase “the banality of evil” as I watched each video exposing the trade of aborted children’s body parts by Planned Parenthood. A woman sips wine and munches on a salad while describing “less crunchy” techniques for extracting a baby from a womb. Another haggles over the prices of children’s organs and jokes that she wants a Lamborghini. Another shouts, “It’s a boy,” and proceeds to tear it limb from limb. Another recounts a woman who thought it was cool that she can stop and start a baby’s heart before cutting through his face to extract his brain. These would be unspeakable horrors in any other context, but somehow, in our world today, these are acceptable. As Arendt described it in The Life of the Mind, “Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence.” In other words, by manipulating language, we can insulate ourselves from reality. This happens all the time in politics and war. In Soviet Russia, dissidents weren’t “executed.” They simply became 32
IN OTHER WORDS, by MANIPULATING LANGUAGE, WE CAN INSULATE OURSELVES from REALIT Y. “non-persons.” In modern war, we don’t talk about the “death of innocents.” We talk about “collateral damage.” Young black men are “thugs.” People seeking refuge from despotic governments are “illegals,” and their children are “anchor babies.” Such insulating language makes it easy to talk about mass deportation—ignoring the conditions those souls would be subjected to once they returned—or as one presidential candidate suggested, bombing the caves along the border that immigrants use for shelter. Likewise, in the practice of abortion, we don’t talk about “dead babies,” we talk about “aborted fetuses” and the “products of conception.” We don’t talk about “organ harvesting,” but “tissue donation.” We don’t talk about “heads,” but “calvarium.” For Eichmann, the death camps were not about mass murder, but about “manufacturing corpses.” The “Final Solution” was couched in thick layers of jargon, masking its sinister purposes in the dull language of bureaucracy. This kept the stark, murderous reality at a safe cognitive distance, enabling (as Arendt described it) a “remoteness from reality” and “thoughtlessness.” Arendt’s account of the trial was titled Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. After its publication, some misinterpreted Arendt, believing that her
assessment of Eichmann as a banal and bumbling bureaucrat was too dismissive of the horrors of his crimes. But that misunderstands Arendt’s point. She means to take nothing away from the horrors of what Eichmann had done. Rather she means to root it not in the persona of a cartoon villain—a move that makes Eichmann something other than ordinary and human—but in the actions of an unimpressive man who chose not to judge, not to think about what he was doing. He wrapped himself in the comforting insulation of official language, in following orders, in a sense of inevitable progress and “history,” and went about his business of coordinating the schedule of dozens of trains as they crisscrossed Europe, carting men, women and children to their deaths. Later, Arendt wrote of Eichmann, “I was struck by a manifest shallowness in the doer that made it impossible to trace the uncontestable evil of his deeds to any deeper level of roots or motives. The deeds were monstrous, but the doer—at least the very effective one now on trial—was quite ordinary, commonplace and neither demonic nor monstrous. There was no sign in him of firm ideological convictions or of specific evil motives, and the only notable characteristic one could detect in his past behaviour as well as in
THE BURDEN for OUR CULTURE
his behaviour during the trial and throughout the pre-trial police examination was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but thoughtlessness.” We make a mistake if we see the monstrosity of the videos and label the doctors themselves (or their supporters) as monstrous. Instead, we need to see their first crime—the root of all the others—is a bland acceptance of the dehumanizing stock phrases and clichés of the prochoice movement. Deborah Nucatola and her Planned Parenthood colleagues are not stupid. Nor are they cartoon villains—as villainous as those videos might make them seem. Rather, they have imbibed the language of the prochoice movement, the disenchanted language that looks at bodies and refuses to assign them any meaning beyond being “products of conception.” Again, don’t mistake me. These language games are nothing less than an attempt to be like God, to make meaning with our words other than the meaning assigned at Creation when God said “Let us make humanity in our image.” Accepting these language shifts doesn’t mean you’re a sociopath, but it does mean you’re thoughtless. One must refuse the plain observation that a dead human being lies before them. They must choose not to think, wrap themselves in delusional language and carry out their murderous acts. The burden for our culture starts on this ground: Are we willing (to borrow another phrase from Arendt) to “think what we are doing?” Are we willing to cut through the cloud of jargon and re-examine something most of us have become comfortable living with? Are we willing to judge? Because maybe, if those of us who are pro-life are right, our culture has committed a colossal moral outrage, and the bloodshed needs to stop.
STARTS on THIS GROUND: ARE
MIKE COSPER is the pastor of worship and arts at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky.
WE WILLING to “ THINK WHAT WE ARE DOING?” ERLC. com
Why Christians Can’t Just Let Go of the Pro-life Issue
WHY CHRISTIANS CAN’T JUST LET GO OF THE PRO-LIFE ISSUE The Christian vision for life is about more than political chatter Aaron Cline Hanbury
Y N O W, I T ’ S O L D N E W S . L A T E L A S T S U M M E R , A P R O - L I F E G R O U P C A L L E D T H E C EN T ER F O R M ED I C A L PRO G RES S REL E A S ED A S ERI ES O F ST I N G -
ST Y L E, U N D ERCO V ER V I D E O S T H A T REV E A L H I G H - L EV EL E M PLOY EES F ROM T H E P L A N N E D PA R E N T H O O D F E D E R A T I O N O F A M E R I C A D I S C U S S I N G T H E M O N E TA R Y VA LU E O F B O D Y PA RT S F R O M A B O RT E D B A B I E S — O F T E N W I T H S W I F T I A N D E TA I L . 34
THE CHRISTIAN HEART BEATS FOR JUSTICE, BECAUSE JUSTICE GROWS FROM THE HEART OF GOD HIMSELF. THE OPERATION FALLS IN line with similar efforts by pro-life activists to shed light on abortion practices—and in so doing undermines the credibility of groups like Planned Parenthood. If nothing else, these videos pushed the topic of abortion back into the national spotlight. The videos prompted the United States Congress to open investigations into Planned Parenthood, a large-scale movement of hashtag activism (#DefundPP) and numerous investigations into the funding of the federation itself. Some of Planned Parenthood’s highest profile corporate sponsors, like Coca-Cola, distanced themselves from the nation’s largest provider of on-demand abortions. All this culminated with the The New York Times observing that even though what the videos reveal is unclear—which, well, they’re not unclear—“What is clear is that Republicans and
anti-abortion groups are giving no signs of letting the issue fade quickly.” This observation places pro-life activism, perhaps even beliefs, in the hands of Republicans. As far as it goes, that could be true. Though, notably, the Planned Parenthood scandal may be shifting political lines, too. In the same breath, the Times cites democratic representative Gerald Connolly saying, “Democrats will not abandon their support for women’s reproductive rights, but ‘nor are [they] going to defend the indefensible.’” Regardless of reasons Republicans don’t plan on “letting the issue fade” and Democrats defect from party lines, for Christians it doesn’t really matter. Followers of Jesus promoted a culture of life and human dignity a long time before abortion became such a partisan issue. And the Christian concern for life neither begins nor ends with strictly legal concerns. These convictions run deeper than political platforms, and they come from an authority higher than D.C. The Christian heart beats for justice, because justice grows from the heart
of God himself. In Generous Justice, Timothy Keller explains that this characteristic of God represents one of the defining aspects of Christianity. “From ancient times, the God of the Bible stood out from the gods of all other religions as a God on the side of the powerless, and of justice for the poor,” he writes. And among various expressions of the justice—causes and concerns, from environmental care to animal protections—human dignity takes center stage. After all, in the Christian vision, we as humans are endowed with the image of God, making us the prize of his creativity. “All human beings owe their ancestry to a set of common parents, according to the Hebrew Bible. These parents, Adam and Eve, were made in the image and likeness of their Creator (Gen. 1:27), and thus all their progeny bear that image (i.e., the imago Dei),” write the editors of the (incredibly helpful) treatise, Legatees of a Great Inheritance. “From these beginnings we inherit the concept of human exceptionalism—the belief that human beings are unique, possessors of
Why Christians Can’t Just Let Go of the Pro-life Issue
THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT WAS NEVER A MERELY REACTIONARY POSITION. FOR CHRISTIANS, THE ENTIRE MOVEMENT DRAWS THE EARLIEST CHURCH’S WITNESS TO HUMAN DIGNITY. inalienable rights.” And the Scriptures teach clearly that God’s love extends to all humans, including those not-yet born (Exod. 21:22-25; Ps. 139: 13-16; Ps. 51:5; Judg. 13:3-5; Luke 1:35 [cf. Heb. 2:17-18]). This belief fueled the earliest Christians who, beyond simply condemning abortion, provided alternatives, adopting children who were destined to be abandoned. Legatees points to Callistus who took in abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes and Benignus of Dijon who offered nourishment and protection to children, including those disabled by failed abortions. Of course, ever since the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the Christian response took a different, more political tone. But the pro-life movement was never a merely reactionary position. For Christians, the entire movement draws the earliest church’s witness to human dignity. And since then, care for the unborn continues as a major theme in the
story of Christianity. Among the most famous Christians who stood against bloodshed is German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who represents a figurehead of modern-day social justice. Bonhoeffer, who famously conspired to assassinate Adolf Hitler because of his gross anti-human actions, saw the Christian fight for justice extending to abortion, too. “Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life,” he said. “To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life.” From our earliest days to 2015, Christians see the lives of unborn children as valuable creations by God. And as such, they deserve protecting. So in the Planned Parenthood scandal,
we watched a cultural conversation fall right into a central conviction of Christian teaching. Quite possibly, the Planned Parenthood scandal will fade sooner than later. And you can bet that talking heads jockeying for political high-ground will eventually squawk off to some other subject. You can bet prominent political discussions will shift to other issues. And who knows, maybe in a few years the pro-life platform will land with the other political party. But, for the Christian community, moving on from human life and dignity isn’t an option. We’re more than 2,000 years in, and the Christian conscience (and voice) against abortion isn’t going anywhere.
AARON CLINE HANBURY is the editorial director of RELEVANT. 36
INFLUENCING PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION
A Conversation with Congressman Diane Black and Senator James Lankford PART 1: STEVEN HARRIS AND DIANE BLACK C O N G R E S S M A N D I A N E B L A C K , U. S . R E P R E S E N TA T I V E OF THE SIX TH CON GRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE. STEVEN HARRIS: You have sponsored a bill, HR 3134, The Defund Planned Parenthood Act, which would establish a one-year moratorium on federal funding for Planned Parenthood so that investigations into illegal matters could proceed. For individuals who are just engaging for the first time, why the effort to defund Planned Parenthood? DIANE BLACK: Many people have seen the undercover films that were produced by a group called The Center for Medical Progress. They show us some pretty horrendous activities— what happens behind the closed doors of Planned Parenthood. There are very
large concerns that laws are being broken. Now, Planned Parenthood receives taxpayer dollars. They are the largest abortion industry in the country, doing about 327,000 abortions a year and receiving over $500 million dollars of tax payer funds. So if there are laws being broken, it is part of our job as legislators to blow the whistle and say let’s do investigations. During that time, we believe you should withhold money until we can verify whether there are actually illegal actions that are being taken by this organization. SH: One of the consistent talking points that you hear from the opposing side
is that this particular effort is a war on women’s reproductive health and rights. One of the things stated is, particularly for minority and low income women, these efforts would have a disproportionate effect on their access to health care. From your vantage point as both a legislator and someone with a nursing background, what is your response to these arguments? DB: Let me address that in two different ways because there is a war on women when women don’t get all of the information. Women are being told that this is just a blob of tissue, that this is not a life. Well you don’t get a liver, a kidney, a brain from a blob of tissue — this is a baby. ERLC. com
Influencing Pro-Life Legislation
And to not have full disclosure about what’s going on would be one thing that I would say is a true war on women. But Planned Parenthood also tries to deceive women in saying that you’re not going to have good preventative health care if they are not in existence. Even in our own state, Tennessee, we defunded Planned Parenthood, and as a result, there were health care clinics that were community clinics, federally qualified clinics, those that are faith based, that will take up that slack. My bill provides an additional $235 million dollars given to women’s services that will be given to those organizations that do not provide abortions.
By the way, if Planned Parenthood were really serious that women’s health issues were their major priority, the bill also provides that they can continue to be funded during this year as long as they don’t do abortions. So it’s up to them to decide. Is your priority truly helping women with health care issues, or is your real priority being the biggest provider of the abortion industry in doing 327,000 abortions a year and selling fetal tissue?
DB: I want to encourage them, first of all, to call their representative’s office or their senator’s office and find out whether they are supporting these actions that we are taking in HR 3114. Thank them if they are supporting and standing up for life. Thank them for being bold and coming out and supporting the legislation. One of the things I would encourage them to do if their representative is not supportSH: What would you say to those indi- ing the legislation is ask the office viduals who are incited to action and if their member has watched the asking, “What can I do to be engaged? The films. If they haven’t watched the pro-life legislative efforts that are going films, encourage them to do so and forward, how can I participate in that? then to vote for this legislation.
PART 2: STEVEN HARRIS AND JAMES LANKFORD J A M E S L A N K F O R D I S T H E J U N I O R U. S . S E N A T O R F RO M O K L A H O M A . STEVEN HARRIS: The Center for Medical Progress released their first undercover video on Planned Parenthood in July. Since then, subsequent videos have been released. What do you believe these videos have accomplished? JAMES LANKFORD: The key thing they have done is allowed America to zero in on what is really happening
in Planned Parenthood—in abortion clinics all over the country—and zero back in on the child. This is about one thing—little girls and little boys whose bodies are literally torn apart; [medical professionals] will reach into the womb, turn the child around, crush the head and pull the body out so they can sell the organs. That’s not who we ever thought we would become as a nation, but we are there. So now it’s
the conversation of what are we going to do about it. SH: In past speeches, you opened up talking about animal rights and the kind of activity people engage in in order to protect the interests that they are concerned about. Could explain that inclination? JL: I want people to have to think about this because there is a whole group of
"EVERY MAN SHOULD LEAN INTO THIS. THE RUNNING LINE THAT THE WORLD WANTS TO USE IS THAT THIS IS A WOMEN’S ISSUE AND SO MEN SHOULDN’T BE INVOLVED."
Americans that would have no problem with the death of an infant, but they do have a problem with the treatment of orca whales at SeaWorld or medical testing on chimpanzees. There are even certain time periods now that the federal government will not allow construction because the endangered American burying beetle lays its eggs. Why would I care more about the eggs of beetles than I would about children in the womb? And tell me exactly what the difference is there? We know, as Christians, what the difference is: People are stamped with the image of God, and they have a greater value.
"TO NOT HAVE FULL DISCLOSURE ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON WOULD BE A TRUE WAR ON WOMEN."
SH: In August 2015, you were on the senate floor giving commentary on this issue, looking to defund Planned Parenthood. In response, Senator Boxer made the comment that she didn’t care much for men lecturing her on this topic. I think that kind of objection gets traction as this whole debate is framed as a women’s issue. What would you say to encourage the Christian man who is seeing these realities and wanting to speak up but is concerned about that push back?
is a life in the mother’s womb, there was a guy involved at some point, as well. So, men should step up and take leadership to say this is a life that is valued, not only to families but valuable to our country as well.
JL: Every man should lean into this. The running line that the world wants to use is that this is a women’s issue and so men shouldn’t be involved. The perspective they have is that it is a woman’s body, and there is only one life there. Well, we don’t agree. There are two lives that are there. There is a child, and there is a woman. We don’t see just one life and one set of tissue; that child has unique DNA and already has a unique finger print unlike anyone else in the world. They have their own eyes, their own beating heart, ten fingers and toes. That is a unique life. And quite frankly, if there
JL: Let me give you two tracks. One is as a fellow Christian; one is as a senator. Second Corinthians 5:20 is clear that we are Christ’s ambassadors. We are reconcilers, which assumes we are going to a broken place that needs his message. Washington, D.C., is not a place from which you can change the nation; the nation actually changes Washington, D.C. The way that happens is on the family level. The biggest issue that faces the country is not a D.C. issue, it’s a family issue. The key place to start is in mentoring families, helping the younger generation and reaching out from there. I remind the
SH: I think many individuals have been awakened and stirred by these Planned Parenthood videos, and they want to engage. What would be your advice on how to engage pro-life legislative agendas?
church all the time: She is the only one that carries the gospel. If we get distracted in other things, no one else is going to carry the gospel of the church. Once we are investing in families and the community and sharing the gospel, I encourage people to get engaged in what’s happening nationally. Keep in communication and show up at town hall meetings of elected individuals. Meeting staff is extremely important— make a phone call, try to find out who’s the staff member that has responsibility for all the social issues, get to know them, and ask what we’re doing, how things are going, and how you can help in the process. That gets past the initial filter into how can you actually make a difference and get to know the person that is the influencer around that senator or around that representative. I encourage people to not lose hope, stay engaged in the conversation, and do it God’s way; you don’t fight God’s battles man’s way.
STEVEN HARRIS is the director of advocacy at the ERLC. ERLC. com
IMAGO DEI: THE IMAGE OF GOD
BOOKS The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture Scott Klusendorf Crossway, 2009
Women on Life: A Call to Love the Unborn, Unloved, & Neglected Trillia Newbell, editor Leland House Press, 2016
All people are made in the image of God and have worth and dignity, regardless of their age, race, ability and social status.
VIDEO The Life of Julia Psalm 139 Project
Jesus Loves the Little Children: The Pro-Life Movement and Racial Reconciliation Robert P. George Russell Moore on the Planned Parenthood Videos Russell Moore
ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments Randy Alcorn Multnomah Books, 2000
Activist Faith: From Him and For Him Dillon Burroughs, Daniel Darling, and Dan King NavPress, 2013
Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader's Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert Tyndale Momentum, 2011
Three Approaches to Abortion: A Thoughtful and Compassionate Guide to Today's Most Controversial Issue Peter Kreeft Ignatius Press, 2002
Articles, Podcasts and more at ERLC.com/equip 40
There are many ways to be a champion for life. One of them is by providing a woman in a crisis pregnancy a “window” into the world of the child she is carrying. This is the intent of the Psalm 139 Project—to aid pregnancy resource centers in securing ultrasound machines. Donate online at Psalm139Project.org
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Winter 2015 Volume 1, Issue 2