In the last issue of LifeDate, I shared that a Pew Research Study had found that 46% of LCMS Lutherans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances. As to what may have contributed to this discouraging statistic, I said that in many cases either a Gospel-centered, life-affirming stance has not been shared with those in the pews (or only very sparingly), or if it has, it’s been forgotten or rejected by its members. We also explored in depth the first point.
Now we’re going to look at the second point. What are some reasons, despite ongoing and strong pro-life advocacy in the parish, that folks might still identify with the pro-choice half?
One reason is that a lot of church members, even many who believe that life begins at conception, feel they have no right to challenge existing decisions or laws which legalize abortion. This may be because of one or more of the following:
Abortion is seen as a political issue. It is something, therefore, that the church shouldn’t be involved in any more than they would other election issues. For example, abortion is seen as being on par with whether Social Security should be privatized.
(Abortion is a sin and a spiritual issue. It involves the destruction of innocent life. Therefore, as Lutherans we should advocate that it be illegal, take action to oppose its practice, and help those affected by it.)
Similarly, some Lutherans feel that to oppose abortion is to violate the “wall of separation of church and state.” Over the past few decades, this phrase has become engraved in the American psyche like it is part of the Gospels.
(Despite all this, you won’t find these words in the Constitution. Nowhere does it say you can’t advocate For Life on religious grounds and to do so would breach a legal “wall.” Even if the Constitution so dictated, the Bible tells us that if we had to decide between the two, “We must obey God rather than men” [Peter in Acts 5:29].)
Also related to this are Lutherans who buy into the argument that while they personally would find getting an abortion abhorrent, they don’t feel they have the right to tell their neighbor what to do. “It’s their own body, after all, isn’t it? Why bother to legislate morality?”
(But is it really “their own body”? A simple test will show that from the moment of conception the baby has a totally different DNA make-up than the mother. That alone says we’re dealing with a separate human being who, like those already born, deserves the right to live.)
In the public arena, one more reason Lutherans may be conceding to the other side is cynicism or (more charitably) heavy skepticism. Abortion has been legal for over 40 years, and after all, “you can’t fight city hall”! So, despite having a legal right to do so, why actively oppose abortion because it’ll never be banned or anything close to it?
(Standing up For Life has made a difference. Abortion rates have been declining for years nationwide. A number of factors figure into this, but certainly advocacy for more restrictive abortion laws and a massive, ongoing, educational offensive by pro-life forces has played no small part in women not having one. An example of the influence of the latter can be found right at LFL where dozens if not hundreds of girls and women have told the ministry that because of something we shared, they decided to have their baby. To God be the glory!)
Finally, let’s look at one more factor which I think probably figures heavily in this statistic: Indifference. Or perhaps a better word: Apathy. Webster defines apathy as “1: lack of feeling or emotion: impassiveness or 2: lack of interest or concern.” In short, maybe they’re not sure if it is a baby in the womb or not. But either way, they just don’t care if it’s aborted or not.
Apathy, of course, is not something that was unknown at the time of the apostles. Saint Paul said in Romans 12:9-13:
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
So where does that leave us when it comes to trying to bring nearly half of our fellow Christians into (or back into) the Christian and Lutheran pro-life camp?
If you are a pastor and your church has been resistant to affirming life, pray for guidance and try again! And, likewise, if you’re a layperson whose church hasn’t shown much interest, try again also. Please know that LFL and its staff are here to help you with consultation, materials, and much more.
If your congregation is For Life but you want to do more, please contact LFL and ask about starting a Life Team or Life Chapter (or see if one may be close by).
Finally, help with the financial side of this ministry. Please send in a gift in the envelope provided or go online. Over 95% of LFL’s operating budget comes from gifts and offerings. This year, we need $1.1 million plus. We are very grateful for your support, because along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, everything we do happens as a direct result of your giving. Many thanks!