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Volume 8, Issue 5: Anvil

Moving Beyond "Pro-Life"

Douglas Wilson

More than two decades after the abortion carnage began, biblical Christians remain rather confused and battle weary in the pro-life struggle.

The causes of this are many. The first is that the pro-life movement has been often driven by the sorrow of sentimentalism rather than a zeal for biblical righteousness.
What follows is an introductory statement that admittedly goes against the grain of much current pro-life thinking. It is a view that requires careful exegesis, thoughtful debate, and extensive qualification. But the discussion must start.
We should begin by reviewing what the pro-life struggle has moved us to learn from Scripture. Only then will we be in a position to provide a biblically faithful challenge to our bloodthirsty culture. We should strengthen that which remains before we seek to press on.
First, man is created in the image and likeness of God. Even though the image has been defaced in our rebellion against God and is restored fully only in Christ, still that image is a shield against all lawless bloodshed. In Gen. 9:5-6, the Lord says: " Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man." In this passage, even the animals, are held accountable for taking the life of a man. In the abortion holocaust, we have fallen below the level of the beasts. The judgment of God will not be less than the outrage of this guilt.
Second, the image of God is not given at birth or sometime after. John the Baptist leapt for joy while in the womb (Jn.1:41). The law of God protected the unborn, granting the same rights of protection to them as to anyone else (Ex.21:22-25). The psalmist marvels at the work of God within the womb (Ps. 139:13-16). According to the Scriptures, the unborn are sons and daughters, not bits of protoplasm.
Third, in a nation which has fallen to killing the unborn, the duty of Christians is plain. The required works of testimony, evangelism, charity, and hospitality are many. Regardless of what happens as our civil realm disintegrates, such works remain a central part of our ongoing duty as God's people. We must testify faithfully against the evil. This testimony takes many forms--marching publicly, picketing the death clinics, distributing literature, and counseling participants. We must continue to show charity to women who for various reasons may contemplate abortion. As the gospel, food, shelter, and clothing are offered to these women, we show that Christ is the Lord of the stranger. By these means, many mothers have been drawn back from the brink of a great and unspeakable horror. We also show a profound hospitality as well, as we open the doors of our covenant communities, welcoming children into our midst by means of adoption. In this respect, the work which has been done has been truly honoring to God and should continue and increase. In none of this should we grow weary in doing good (Heb.12:3-4).
At the same time, all is not positive. Our testimony against the evil, while clear in some respects, has been muddled in others. Christians have wanted to think biblically about opposing abortion, but we appear to have allowed the habits of our times to force us into using secular boxes and humanist absolutes. We proclaim the sanctity of human life in the most general, unqualified terms, such as the refrain from the Republican platform: "The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed."
But the real issue is the sanctity of God's law and the resultant dignity of human life. Because of how He created us, we do have a permanent dignity. This dignity is grossly insulted with the abortionists' weapons, but it cannot be removed. The suction tool does not exist which can remove the image of God.
But still, while having great dignity, human life is not sacred. When we speak as though it is, we leave the distinct impression that the foundation of our humanity is the source of our law, and thus the source of our protest. This is how much of our pro-life involvement has become humanistic instead of biblical. Human life has become a god instead of a gift, an idol instead of a valuable creature.
Such pro-life absolutism would force us to charge God with "anti-life" crimes for His destruction of the children of His enemies. As any Bible reader knows, He gave repeated commands to Israel's armies to utterly destroy various rebellious enemies (Josh. 6:21; 7:25; 8:26; Dt. 20:16). Sometimes God wanted His enemies to perish. Their lives were not sacred. God's law alone has this sanctity, and because He is holy, He visited the dignity of punishment upon rebellious creatures.
We have seen the tragic results of this confusion of sanctity and dignity within the pro-life movement. With those for whom the unborn have become the source of law (instead of victims according to the law), they have bombed clinics and shot abortionists. This is not surprising. But the most troubling thing about this is not the actions of a few fanatics, but rather how many responsible Christians, while knowing that such actions are wrong, have been unable to say why. The reason why many pro-lifers are embarrassed when asked why this sort of "pro-life" lawlessness is wrong is that they share many of the premises held by such fanatics, and which gave rise to the reactionary violence. One such foundational premise is the claim that the life of any unborn child places an absolute claim upon us. But only God's law places an absolute claim upon us.
What we need is nothing less than a radical shift in the mentality of those who want to call themselves pro-life. This shift requires that we come to comprehend certain neglected biblical principles. When Christians come to this understanding, they will step beyond the term "pro-life," at least as that term is commonly understood.
First, whenever any descendant of Adam dies, he is receiving nothing less than what he deserves. In Adam we all die. This mortality, this bondage to death, is the result of our collective rebellion as represented in our first father. We are a cursed race, subject to death. The administration of this death, however, is in the hands of the sovereign God alone. The Lord gives life, and consequently the Lord is the only one who can authorize the taking of it.
Second, regardless of our sinfulness, and whether we are Christians or not, God requires that our persons be honored and respected on the civic level. We bear the image of God, and whenever anyone is slain outside of the due process of law, the land is defiled with blood. An individual does not forfeit his civic right to life simply because he is unregenerate. The defilement caused by any such murder occurs whether or not a nation professes to follow the God of the Bible or not. And when the murder is formally approved by that culture, as it has been in ours, the judgment of God is certain and inevitable.
Third, when a culture rebels against this ordinance of God in such a profound way, its days are necessarily numbered. Those followers of God within such a culture must prepare themselves for a deep civic division--a culture war--which will either destroy that nation or rend it to pieces. Wisdom says "all those who hate me love death" (Prov. 8:36). A culture which loves death cannot stand. If any of the godly are present within a culture possessed with such a death wish, the presence of two separate cultural orders will become increasingly obvious over time. At some point, two nations will emerge. Our fellow Americans will become to us Amalekites.
Fourth, when God judges a nation, His judgment does not fall only upon those who are eighteen and over. When God judges America for her contempt for her children, the judgment will fall not only on the adults, but also on the children--children considered so contemptible that even their own parents slaughtered them.
In the hard providence of God, He sometimes allows His enemies to destroy themselves. When the pagan nations outside Israel sent their children into the fires of Molech, Israel wasn't called to blockade the fire and rescue the babies. And when Israelite kings followed Molech, the people were not commanded to revolt. Israelites were to make sure they didn't kill their own children (Lev. 20), but God-haters were left to destroy themselves (Is. 57:13; Jer. 5:19; 6:19,21).
God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ez.18:23) and neither should we. But if they persist in loving death after hearing the truth over the course of decades, then we ought not force this emergent alien nation into external righteousness. Let them kill themselves, for "God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Rom. 1:28), even "murder" (Rom. 1:29). This is the wrath of God.
Fifth, when God judges a nation, He spares those who provided a faithful and consistent testimony within that nation. We can and will face the anger of the humanist state--that tinpot deity!--but we will never have to face the wrath of God. Lot's duty was not to save Sodom, but rather to save himself and his house.
Our duty in providing a faithful testimony has three parts. First, we must continue to preach the holy law of God and the gospel of forgiveness. We provide faithful testimony as we preach the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16:15). Part of this testimony includes the insistence that abortion is murder. In this respect, every Christian must be constantly pro-life. Second, we must flee when we are persecuted, if flight is possible (Matt. 10:23). Third, we must take up arms to defend God's covenant children (Neh. 4:14). But we may not use violence until they come after our children. We ought not take up arms to overthrow the established authorities or to defend the lives of Molech worshippers and their children. This is far more secular than biblical.
We must remember the antithesis. Scripture always remembers that deep chasm between those seeking to honor God and those who hate him. But this has not been a part of contemporary pro-life rhetoric.
The unbelievers are destroying themselves in a frenzy of child-murder and fruitless sodomy. Let them go. These are hard words. But Christians must learn to say them. Paul taught us that the children of God-haters are "foul" or "unclean"(I Cor. 7:14). We must come to the day when the Christian can truly rebuke those who are, "without natural affection"and say--The ancient psalmist blessed the one who would take little ones of those who hate God and dash them against the rock (Ps.137:9). We see by your pro-abortion position that you clearly agree with this kind of treatment. And we in the Church, in a way you cannot truly comprehend, are now prepared to say amen.

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