Life, Unity and the Church Rising Up Against Abortion
In churches across the country, the season of Advent has ended. The nativity scenes have been put away, the advent candle wreaths have been stored for next December, and parishioners are trying to recuperate from the busyness of Christmas pageants, plays and celebrations. The whole month of December centered on the Christ-child, and we reflected on how God chose to send His son as a baby—incarnate—to identify with us and ultimately to bring salvation to the world.
Isn’t it a marvel? God chose to send His only son as a baby into the womb of a very young, unmarried teenager. God orchestrated this miracle of this planned birth for the world, yet it was surprisingly unplanned for both Mary and Joseph. And every December—in churches all over the world—we celebrate the season of Advent centered on the miraculous setting of that protected womb and God’s gift to the world—Jesus Christ.
I recently read a statement on a Facebook post. It read, “The place and situation where our world justifies the shedding of innocent blood is the same place and situation that our Savior chose to enter the world and redeem it.” It further stated, “Christmas itself is in conflict with our culture of death (abortion).” I would take that statement a step further. Christianity itself is in direct conflict with our culture of death. You cannot call yourself a follower of Christ, celebrate the season of Advent, and then justify the killing of innocent life in the womb.
Unfortunately, there is a silence in many churches over the killing of innocent life through abortion. A recent survey found that four in ten women were attending a Christian church once a month or more at the time of their first abortion. Even more tragic is that 76% of the women surveyed say the church had no influence on their decision to terminate their pregnancy. The church has failed to reach a margin of people who separate their decision to end the life of their child with the Gospel of the creator and sustainer of all life—Jesus Christ.
The church has always been the moral compass of any society since the days of the first Apostles. It’s the church that takes on the obligation to feed and clothe the poor, to pray and care for the sick, and to meet the physical as well as the spiritual needs of a community. Christ calls the church to be His hands and feet to reach out to the hopeless and the persecuted. Most recently, the church has taken a stand against the social injustice of human sex trafficking.
Evangelical churches and well-known Christian celebrities have profoundly influenced a movement to end sexual slavery in the name of the redemptive power of the Gospel. They have created a mainstream platform through documentaries, campaigns, Sunday school curriculum, and various other ministry-related venues to abolish the sexual bondage of innocent women and children. The church has unified, rising and declaring an end to human trafficking. They are taking the message of the gospel and reaching out to the persecuted to help and heal innocent victims.
What if the evangelical church were to unify in the same way over the ending of abortion? To become a movement, not just for pro-life groups and organizations, but to unify and stand up against the injustice of abortion; to declare a moral obligation to both the mother, the father and the unborn child. A movement where the message of life is so widely embraced and practiced—both inside and outside the walls of the church— that the influence of Christian followers would reach around the world in abolishing abortion. And the gospel of Jesus Christ and the church’s influence would directly influence a woman’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy.
Several years ago, I doubted the church’s influence over abortion. I walked in my very first March for Life and grappled with my sin of apathy. I prayed and felt the tragedy over the lack of the church’s influence over our culture of death. My heart grieved because I knew how silent the church had become over abortion. However, I have been encouraged by recent events and stories of Christ followers being a voice and influencing a culture to stand against the injustice of abortion and embracing God-given life.
The most recent event came out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Love Life Charlotte was a 40-week pro-life initiative where over 100 churches all over the city of Charlotte came together for a prayer walk around one of the busiest abortion clinics in the Southeast region. For 40 weeks (based on the time-frame of a baby in the womb), an average of 200 people and three churches would walk and pray around the abortion clinic each Saturday. These were churches of all different denominations coming together to impact their city in embracing the life-giving message of the Gospel and the sanctity of life of the unborn.
The churches not only participated in these prayer walks but they offered counseling services, preached pro-life sermons to their congregations, fasted in prayer over abortion, and partnered with organizations to offer resources and adoption services to families who chose birth over abortion. Men and women came to know the saving power of Jesus Christ, babies were saved, and many who felt the shame and guilt over past abortions found healing and forgiveness. The collective church of Charlotte, North Carolina boldly stood up, united in the cause for life and the hope of Jesus Christ.
David Benham of the Benham Brothers real estate company was involved in this pro-life initiative. He remarked, “If we begin to replicate this in other cities, it’s just a matter of time. It’s not that we are trying to end abortion, although we want to. We are trying to make abortion unthinkable because of the amount of help and resources that the church is providing.”
On the last Saturday of the 40-week campaign, every church involved—with nearly 5000 people of all denominations—walked around the abortion clinic. They prayed, they sang, and offered a message of unity. It was not a protest but a reflection of the gospel of Jesus Christ in loving their neighbors and meeting the physical and spiritual needs of a community. If only more churches in cities across America understood what an impact they could have in creating a community where abortion does not have to be an option.
It is a joy to witness the churches in Charlotte be a unified voice for life. I am also thrilled that more pro-life organizations are connecting with local churches to offer resources to train individuals to reach out to those in their congregation who face unplanned pregnancies. Care Net has developed Making Life Disciples, a ministry tool to train and disciple congregants to offer hope and compassion to women and men facing pregnancy decisions. Care Net understands the significant role the church has in helping men and women to choose life and how that role impacts the moral obligation of protecting life in the womb.
Will 2018 be the year that the evangelical church unifies and rises up against abortion?
Imagine if churches everywhere, influenced women to not choose abortion as an option for an unplanned pregnancy? What if every church acted as a crisis pregnancy center and offered the resources to help women in need? What if religious denominations boldly took a stand and adopted a movement where—even if abortion remains legal—it never has to be an option for a mother?
On January 21st, 2018 is the National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It’s a national day to commemorate the over 60 million lives lost since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. It’s a Sunday to enter your place of worship, pray, and declare an end to abortion in America. The church cannot be silent anymore over the persecuted lives of preborn babies. Let’s not embrace the blessing of a baby in the womb only at Christmas. The gift of life is not about a season but about a way of life through the salvation of Jesus Christ. May we embrace it all year long and be the church Christ has called us to be.