May 22, 2015

Order Life Issues and the Pew

Download Life Issues and the Pew

When I was active on the National Pro-Life Religious Council, we did a workshop every year at the National Right to Life Convention entitled, “Here are the sheep! Where is the shepherd?” It was an effort to help people in the pew encourage their pastor to address the life issues from the pulpit. Some time ago I authored a brochure with a similar goal called “Life Issues and the Pulpit.” (You can read it and order printed copies here.)

One year, during the discussion following our workshop, a pastor spoke up. “Hey! Here’s a shepherd! Where are the sheep!” He was expressing his frustration with people in the pew not supporting him when he did address life issues from the pulpit. So as a sequel to “Life Issues and the Pulpit,” I offer “Life Issues and the Pew.”

I do not hear it often, but even that is too often. A couple of examples: A young pastor just out of the seminary called me and said when he arrived at his congregation, an elder told him that he must never preach on abortion. Recently a pastor shared that at one of his congregations, the treasurer told him that if he ever preached on abortion, he would not get paid. This causes me great concern. (Which is the politically correct way of saying, “This makes me angry!”) But in an effort to be be righteously angry and not sin, allow me to share three thoughts about this attitude.

Conformed vs. Transformed
First, it tells us just how much secular thinking can permeate the church and how we can so easily be “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2a) without even realizing it. We conform to the worldview that abortion is “a political issue” or “a social problem” or “a woman’s right to choose.” This conformity arises because the devil uses language to disguise the true nature of abortion. We hear good-sounding words like “choice” and “rights” and “compassion.” These words go into our ears and blind our eyes to the evil of abortion’s reality. Abortion is shredding and dismembering tiny bodies. Abortion is “murder.” And suggesting that this is the best way to help women in difficult situations is anything but compassionate.

When we look at abortion with “transformed” and “renewed” minds, we will “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2b). When we see abortion for what it really is, the brutal murder of a child and the heartless treatment of a mother, the “never-preach-about-abortion” mentality becomes undeniably nonsensical. Do we tell our pastors never to preach about murder? Do we tell them never to preach about protecting the vulnerable or loving and showing compassion to people hurting and struggling? “Never preach about abortion, Pastor,” is not the voice of a mind transformed by Christ. It is the voice of Satan.

Helping Satan
So, why doesn’t Satan want us to preach about abortion? That brings me to my second point. “Never preach about abortion” implies a lack of understanding of preaching. I do not know any pastor who preaches about abortion as if it is some kind of “right to life” speech. Preaching is the proclamation of God’s Word. When appropriate, that word can and should be applied to the sin of abortion as we apply His Word of Law and Gospel to any other sin.

That is why Satan does not want us to preach about abortion. He does not want this wrong thing called wrong. No one else is calling it wrong. Indeed, the world calls it good. If the church does not call it wrong, Satan knows such silence affirms it as right and good in the minds of many, including many Christians. “Never preach about abortion” helps promote Satan’s favorite line, “Did God really say … ?” (Genesis 3:1) “Did God really say abortion is wrong? You never hear anything about it in church, do you?”

Satan also does not want us to preach about abortion because he does not want us to tell people what God, in Jesus Christ, has done about this wrong thing. Jesus suffered God’s wrath over the sin of abortion! Satan hates that! He loves to burden hearts with guilt and regret and hopelessness. He loves to make people feel separated from God. That’s why Satan loves abortion so much. Because of its nature, abortion makes the women and men involved in this sin feel as if it is too big to be forgiven. So the evil one is delighted when it never comes up in a sermon. Again, it helps with that favorite line of his, “Did God really say you can be forgiven for this sin? You never hear anything about it in church, do you?”

For or Against
Finally, “never preach about abortion” reveals what I call an “against mentality.” “I don’t want my pastor railing against abortion.” We stated above that it is necessary to call this sin a sin. However, such preaching is not predicated upon being against what society is for. It derives from being for what God is for. In other words, we do not affirm life because we live in a society that doesn’t but because we serve a God who does. We are not for life just because life is precious. Anybody can do that. We are for life because life is precious to God.

We have a positive message to proclaim. As I love to say, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most powerful and positive For Life message in the universe. It is tailor made for these issues of life and death and pain and suffering, regret and guilt and hopelessness. So we are against abortion because we are for the life of that unborn child. We are for the life of that unborn child because God is. That child is handmade by God (Psalm 139:13; Job 10:8). Jesus Christ shed His blood for that child since His sacrifice was once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). The Holy Spirit desires to call that child into an eternal relationship with God (1 Timothy 2:4).

“Pastor, never preach about abortion.” My prayer is that I will not hear that anymore. I also pray it will not be replaced with “Preach against abortion, Pastor.” What I’d love to hear more from the pew would be, “Preach about God’s love for life and the value He gives to life. Preach, Pastor, so I am moved to love and value and defend every life.”