Abortion is not an issue, but an evil. Fighting it is not a movement, but a calling on all who bear God’s image.
by R. C. Sproul Jr.
Forty-two years ago, US involvement in Vietnam was winding down. War in the Middle East broke out during Yom Kippur. But all was quiet on the evangelical front when a graver, bloodier war was declared in the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court of these United States. January 22 the Supreme Court released their decision in the infamous case, Roe v. Wade. That decision, purportedly flowing from the unseen penumbra and emanations of the Constitution, ruled that no state could prevent a woman from destroying her unborn child up until the moment of birth.
While the issue had been in the public eye since the beginning of the sexual revolution, the evangelical church was not only less than outspoken, but less than certain on the issue those forty-two years ago. Two years before Roe the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling for legal abortion to protect the life of the mother, including “her emotional life.” Paul Jewett, professor of systematic theology at Fuller Seminary, was committed to the pro-abortion perspective.
The evangelical pro-life movement began quietly, I would, suggest in 1975, two years after Roe v. Wade, when Dr. Harold O.J. Brown, working with C. Everett Koop, opened the Christian Action Council. What woke the evangelical conscience, however, was Francis Schaeffer, also with Dr. Koop, releasing a video, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, in 1979. Over six million were already dead. In 1984, then-sitting President Ronald Reagan published Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation. Six million more were dead.
In the mid 1980’s evangelicals began getting more aggressive, joining with Roman Catholics in “rescues” across the country, blocking access to abortion mills. Federal legislation, RICO and FACE, and perhaps Paul Hill put an end to rescues. Not long after the Crisis Pregnancy Center movement exploded, growing into the 1990s. By the time George W. Bush took office over thirty million babies had been murdered. Under President Bush the political planets aligned such that the White House, the House and the Senate were all under the control of Republicans. At that same time, seven of the nine Supreme Court judges were appointed under Republican presidents. Eight years into the new century and ten million more babies were dead.
It is not my intent to challenge the effectiveness of any particular organization, to speak ill of any particular strategy, or any particular party. I have, in one way or another, been deeply involved in all of them. Rather, my intent is to highlight the deep gap between how we think about abortion forty years later and the reality. You see friends, we think in terms of strategies, movements, parties, and we avert our eyes from the body parts. Strategies, movements, parties – these are all just abstractions. The babies are real, and they are really dead.
The anniversary is just a date on the calendar. But the babies are real, and they are really dead. The anniversary is just a date on the calendar. The babies are dead. Not fifty-million of them, but one of them, fifty million times.
Our calling, friends, is to be politically active. We’re supposed to serve moms in crisis. We are called to speak prophetically to both the world and to the church, remembering that one in six abortions in these United States is procured by an evangelical. First, however, what we’re called to is to weep. First, our hearts must be broken lest our pro-life activities lead us to forget.
In our repentance we begin with repenting because for a generation we have thought and acted like a movement while every day babies are being murdered. We must recognize that the problem isn’t how many were killed over the past forty-two years, but is instead how many will be killed in the next forty-two minutes. We must pledge not to not forget what has happened, but to not forget what is happening. And finally we have to remember that there is only one thing that can wash the blood that is on all of our hands off of our hands, and that is the blood that flowed from His hands when He was nailed to the cross.
Friends, in the coming days, this week of Roe v. Wade’s anniversary, I will be talking every day about this issue. But when Monday comes, it is going to hurt me to turn my attention to something else, because Monday more babies will be killed. This horror will not end until we recognize that it is a horror, that we are called to end it, and until we repent for our own guilt, and for our forgetting, and for our moving on.
This, friends, is the issue of our day. It is the issue of our day, and everything else is a distraction.