Today marks 38 years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its infamous ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade, a decision which legalized abortion nationwide via judicial fiat. Since then a political war continues to be waged with the pro-life side having the goal of electing pro-life candidates and eventually overturning Roe. Much has been said about the political aspect of abortion, but I don’t think Christians often see the real root of the problem.
As R.C. Sproul recently said in an interview, the biggest problem we have when it comes to abortion is with the church. Many individual churches and pastors have exercised a selective antinomianism when it comes to issues like abortion. They value a comfortable position in the world more than they do the Word of God. As Sproul said, it’s all about what’s politically expedient. I agree with him that we ought to picket churches which accept and accommodate abortion rather than the abortion clinics themselves.
The church universal has always condemned abortion down through the ages. When God says, “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13), he didn’t make any exceptions–inside or outside the womb. The unborn child was always recognized as a human person. In his commentary on Ex. 21:22, John Calvin wrote the following:
This passage of first sight is ambiguous, for if the word death only applies to the pregnant woman, it would not have been a capital crime to put an end to the foetus, which would be a great absurdity; for the foetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a foetus in the womb before it has come to light.
In affirming the personhood of the unborn child, Calvin was being thoroughly consistent with Scripture. The early church fathers (e.g. Tertullian) were also in line with Scripture and taught this view. There is no room for ambiguity and so these liberal “mainline” denominations are without excuse. But it’s not just your run-of-the-mill Episcopalians and Methodists who have capitulated. Even within Evangelical circles, there are pastors who just don’t care anymore. They don’t see it as an important issue to tackle.
Or worse yet, some pastors have sold out entirely for the sake of politics. Just down the road from me, the First Mount Zion Baptist Church is a perfect example of this. Their pastor, Luke E. Torian, is simultaneously serving as an elected official (in the Virginia House of Delegates). I have spoken to Torian personally and he has openly admitted his pro-abortion stance, telling me to my face that he would want his own daughter to have that choice if she became pregnant. I was thoroughly disgusted.
I have serious problems with a pastor who serves at the same time in an office of civil government. However, I have an even bigger problem when that same pastor promotes antinomianism for the sake of obtaining political power or influence. Perhaps Torian’s church needs to be picketed. After talking to some folks within his congregation, I highly doubt that most of them even know of his pro-abortion stance. Either way, it should be made known publicly.
At the end of the day, ending the form of murder known as abortion must start with us–the church. This is not about politics and I’m not writing this to get the church the become political. Quite the opposite. The church shouldn’t treat this as a political issue at all, but an ethical one informed by the Word of God. We need to be a beacon of truth and light, not compromised by politics in the least. It all starts with us, individually and corporately, as the Body of Christ.