The Conscience of the Commonwealth

Today I got word that Del. Bob Marshall and Sen. Chuck Colgan are introducing a bold piece of pro-life legislation into the Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate, respectively.  Normally I don’t talk about politics on this blog, especially legislative matters.  However I don’t consider the murder of unborn children to be inherently political.  Abortion certainly manifests itself as a political issue, but its root cause is fundamentally a spiritual problem.  I write about this subject only to gauge the sentiments of the people in the Commonwealth.

Last month we saw a similar measure in Mississippi overwhelmingly repudiated by voters in a referendum.  And Mississippi is considered the most pro-life State in the Union.  While the proposed bill in the Virginia General Assembly won’t be subject to a popular referendum, its outcome will nevertheless indicate how pro-life the people of Virginia happen to be.  After all, elected representatives are ultimately a reflection of their constituents or at least a majority of them.  The sentiments of society at large may also tell us something about the church as well.

To be sure, this bill may not ever see the light of day on the house floor.  The next session of the General Assembly hasn’t even started yet.  It may be killed in committee or otherwise destroyed through some parliamentary maneuver.  Regardless of how the bill may die, what will be the church’s reaction if it does indeed go down in defeat?  Will Bible-believing churches across the Commonwealth pay any attention?  Are they even paying attention now?  If people in general aren’t paying attention and don’t express outrage that their elected leaders have failed to protect the lives of unborn children, then I’d say we have a pretty good idea about what a majority of Virginians believe and think.

I’m certainly not suggesting that pastors turn their pulpits into a political platform.  They need to be preaching the Word of God, not giving weekly updates on what’s happening on the political landscape.  There are places to go for political news and the church isn’t one of them.  Yet the church has the essential role of being salt and light, both in preaching the Gospel as well as being a beacon of ethical truth.  This is our duty and responsibility as the church.  Once again we see the tension of being in the world but not of the world.  The church expresses a biblical standard of ethics, not in order to change the culture, but because this is who we are.

When the church stands up and proclaims that abortion is murder, this is not an attempt to change hearts and minds.  Only the sovereign grace of God can do that.  What’s happening is the intrusion of the Kingdom of God into this fallen world.  God uses His church to reveal His will to the world, yet without sacred Scripture the church has no voice at all.  The church in Virginia must boldly preach the Gospel to the lost in our land while at the same time providing the common grace of moral clarity in the midst of chaos, the latter being to the benefit of believers and unbelievers alike.

Put another way, the church must be the conscience of society as a whole.  I pray that the church in Virginia will be the conscience of the Commonwealth.

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