Posted On February 12, 2019

46 Years of Failure

by | Feb 12, 2019 | Evangelism, Missions, Theology

It will be known as one of the most truly wicked and shameful moments in United States history. Cheers filled the legislature as a package of legislation had passed with fawning approval. In a moment, New York became the most lethal state in the nation for pre-born babies. Through this monstrous affront to decency and justice, abortion in New York became legal during every day of pregnancy — effectively for any reason whatsoever. Soon after, the state that once produced Patrick Henry and George Washington sought to render restrictions meaningless on third-trimester abortions.  Their wicked governor went on to explain the new law would permit what can only be described as infanticide. At such news, the world did not recoil in horror but rejoiced!

The World Trade Center lit up to celebrate murdering babies.

46 years. 65,000,000 innocent lives. Landfills full of infant bodies robbed of their organs and tissue which is sold in a thriving burgeoning industry. Abortions no longer shameful but “shouted” and bragged about on social media. BILLIONS of federal and state tax dollars collected and distributed to the very butchers who cover themselves in false virtue as their hands drip with innocent blood. It is of little doubt we quickly descend to the level of wicked bloodstained lands as notorious as Gomorrah, Rome, and the Third Reich. It is but for God’s mercy alone that our wicked society has not been severely judged.

In every way, shape, and form, by every conceivable measure, we are in a worse position now than 1973. America is a nation of murder because America is a nation of abortion. Far from being emboldened, it is lamentably clear our efforts have done no good. Far from confidence in supposed progress, we are in the midst of an unmitigated disaster. What, then, is the answer? From whence shall we find our hope? Without a doubt, the answers to those questions will not come from the movements, strategies, associations, attitudes, passions, preferences, and people that have deceived us and failed us for so long. As child after child is torn apart by a culture numb to the horror, we must plot a new course. To do so, we must realize our greatest need is intellectual honesty and moral courage; particularly when it comes to evaluating ourselves.

Where Judgment Begins

Thankfully, while the world rejoices, the church weeps. We weep over the coming loss of innocent lives, our hearts heavy as we try desperately to grasp the callous depravity of it all. A strange brew of seething rage and resigned helplessness seems to have overtaken many believers. Yet the abolitionists of the eras of Wilberforce and Douglas would be envious of our unity. Unlike the divided and chaotic state of affairs centuries earlier when the chief social moral concern was slavery, the conservative believing church of the late 20th and early 21st centuries has nearly unilaterally opposed and decried abortion. Often with great passion and vigor, our modern church culture is replete with activism, writing, speaking, and political efforts in support of ending abortion. It is almost universally assumed that to be a conservative evangelical in this day and age is to be pro-life. To a man, we declare that abortion must end and the humanity of the pre-born must be recognized. By any reasonable measure, we are more pro-life than we are pro-traditional marriage, more convinced of the humanity of the pre-born than we are of the sufficiency of Scripture, and more apt to participate in a pro-life event than an evangelistic event.

Creative Commons via Max Pixel

This unity of belief is clearly a blessing and even more clearly begs the question: With such resolve, how can something like the atrocity of New York happen? We must not make the mistake of falsely characterizing the problem. Often it is said the local abortion clinic remains open “by permission of the church.” This canard is disreputable nonsense. If it were up to your average everyday Christian in an average evangelical church found in your average American town there wouldn’t be a single legal abortion. People who espouse pro-abortion ideas don’t last long in conservative Christian circles. They either change their minds or they change their churches, opting instead for a more liberal or less serious gathering. We’re unified, and abortion isn’t the fault of Christians. After all, we’re the ones who find the practice abhorrent, not acceptable.

Nonetheless, we are not without problems in this area. The church is indeed unified in the right belief, yet equally unified in the wrong action. We believe the truth fiercely but act upon it dispassionately. Our efforts are preoccupied with changing votes, rather than changing hearts. Pro-life vigor is deep-seated, but unguarded and easily commandeered to suit other purposes. We recognize the sin of the pro-abortion argument and distrust those who champion it, but we unflinchingly trust anyone and anything willing to merely state the pro-life position publicly; falsely equating political calculation with moral courage. By and large, our discernment is too deficient to recognize the perniciousness of sin and Satan’s cunning ability to not only transform himself into an angel of light but also create fraudulent light to shine through seemingly angelic movements.

Most of all, we lack the great fruit of intellectual honesty and moral courage: clarity. A mere few days before New York much of the Christian world readily believed their annual, and mostly ignored, march on Washington meant something. They listened with glee as lost sinners told them confidently the Tinder generation was somehow a righteous “pro-life generation.” They wildly cheered the vice president (elected in no small part because of their votes) as he senselessly assured them abortion would be outlawed in their lifetimes. To most marchers, it was of little consequence that the administration he serves had not taken even the slightest action to push forward such assurances.

Most marchers returned home energized—emboldened in repeating the same fatal mistakes that have plagued us for over 46 years. Most of the church, it seems, is more interested in traveling for senseless ecumenical self-congratulation than facing the grim reality of babies massacred in their own towns.  But after 46 years of marches, petitions, and protests, what have we except our signs and chants? Have we outlawed the butchery? Have we even slowed it down?

Moreover, what have our pro-life beliefs really cost us? How have they changed us? Is the church really marked by Christians who are giving their lives to end the slaughter? Who are the Jim Elliots risking their lives to rescue this people group? Who are the Elisabeth Elliots who follow behind them and build foundations of lasting consequence and stability? Is the pro-life culture in western churches not mostly talk and little action?

In the days of Samuel, God’s people fell into a similar worldly and cultural malaise. Despite the proper teaching of their Holy God through the pleas of His anointed prophet, they demanded a king that they may be just like every other nation. They wanted to fit in with the Gentiles. God judged their wickedness by giving them what they wanted and they languished under one of their own — an albatross of their own creation — until God used David to remind them of what God intended them to be: HOLY. Set apart. Different. IN the world, but not OF it. David was not a perfect man, but through his reign, Israel was restored to the status God always intended it to have: clearly unique and different from the Gentile nations surrounding it. Ready to become a force for good and for God’s truth in the world that surrounded it.

To be clear, the church IS NOT Israel and neither is America. Nonetheless, like Israel, the church must also begin to emerge from the wicked culture around us. If we hope to end this sickening monstrosity that plagues our land and sickens our hearts we must make act in a way altogether different from the world. We must act like Christians.

In Season and Out of Season

If we hope to act like Christians, the Gospel must chiefly define our pro-life ministry. In front of many abortion clinics in this country are well-meaning, tenderhearted believers holding signs; doing their level best to talk with women who will soon become murderers. Near many of these clinics are crisis pregnancy centers where pregnant women considering abortion can get everything from an ultrasound to training on how to change a diaper. Many involved in these ministries mean well and a few among them are indeed setting a good example in preaching law and grace. However, the gospel preaching pro-life activist is sadly the exception and not the rule.

TAU’s very own Michael Coughlin preaching the gospel.

During the last pro-life event I attended—in front of an inner-city abortion clinic—I witnessed the sad reasons we fail to make an impact. To be clear, some in attendance preached the Gospel and preached it well. Yet far more were embroiled in discussions about conspiracies against Donald Trump. It seemed of greater importance to more than one in that group to convince those around them of the “truth” about Hillary Clinton and John Podesta’s secret lair of child sex in the basement of a ping pong themed pizza restaurant than to actually do anything useful. Petitions were circulated to “expose” the deep state and prayers were offered in thanks for the “great Christian man” and “hero” in the Oval Office.

It was also common for a minority to hurl insults and communicate derision to the abortive mothers. It seemed to me they came to the event solely for that purpose. A larger minority spent most of their time deriding the abortion clinic volunteers and workers which, again, seemed to be the focus of their “ministry”. Others were content to gently coax women to talk with them and to offer them help; to be their friend and mentor. They came armed with addresses to doctors and food pantries, coupons for diapers, and ready-made answers about how to get help in raising children. Still others seemed to do little more than take up space; many of whom were content to make and maintain friendships with the Roman Catholics among us who prayed to their false goddess most of the time.

This circus is, sadly, common fare on the doorstep of abortion clinics and is a microcosm of the larger pro-life movement.

But the Bible is very clear: people don’t murder because they’ve never seen a fetus or because they didn’t know how to prepare a bottle. Flat earth level internet conspiracy theories don’t explain or prevent the slaughter. Women don’t murder because they weren’t yelled at enough. Mothers don’t kill because they have no friends and no one to help them. No, people kill their infant children because their hearts are dark and desperately wicked. They lust for blood because “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,” “THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”; “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”; “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD, DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS, AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.” “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” {Rom 3:13-18 NASB}

The only hope for such people is a God who can redeem cursed sinners and make them blessed saints. For most moms entering the clinic, and most moms considering abortion, the Gospel isn’t beautiful. It isn’t hopeful nor is it serious. For those moms, the gospel is non-existent. When they find us, they find a message of condemnation and politics; a strange mythology woven into a glorified charity that is surely the cause of madness and irritability among the fools who preach it. Make no mistake, every baby that is saved is worthy of rejoicing over, and I am overjoyed God would use a gospel-less intervention to save a life. But we lose far more than we save because we trim the branch of sin rather than kill the root, or we waste our time on trivialities and invective instead of what ought to be of first importance (1Co 15:3-4).

The truth is best served by sober accuracy. Therefore, let us be accurate: It ought to be shameful to us that we have reduced ministry to murderers and their victims to a political issue. It should fill us with regret and anger that we have neglected so great a salvation to a people in such great need of it. Yet, let us never forget we serve a covenant keeping God who is faithful to His elect. Let us go to Him, humbled, and wrestle with Him as Jacob did (Hos 12:4). Let us confess our unworthiness (Gen 32:10), recall His promises (Gen 32:12), and ask for His blessing (Gen 32:26). Then, through His power, may we sacrificially care for those in need and boldly declare His truth. Perhaps God will bless us and end this slaughter once and for all. But come what may, a ministry of self-sacrifice and bold evangelism honors our God.

After 46 years of failure, perhaps it’s time we lay aside our comfort, our politics, and our agendas and pick up the lone banner of honoring our God. Indeed, it is the only thing we haven’t tried.

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1 Comment

  1. Josh

    The fundamental flaw with the anti-abortion movement is that you’ve cast your lot with politicians who use the issue for fundraising and pounding on the desk while actually doing nothing of substance. I’ve worked in multiple roles at Planned Parenthood from clinic escorting to health care advocate to lobbying functions. It’s the same on our side. I also think it’s highly unlikely to change anytime soon.


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