Pastors, Don’t Be Passive on Planned Parenthood

This is my latest piece for Leadership Journal: how pastors can lead their churches to fight for life in this cultural moment: 

Pro-life activism has been a part of Christian witness throughout church history, but has received particularly focused attention by evangelicals and Catholics since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Now, though, we find ourselves in a unique cultural moment. The third in a series of undercover sting videos was just released this week, bringing to light the hideous reality of Planned Parenthood’s macabre abortion enterprise. To hear medical professionals casually discuss the deliberate termination, dismembering, and sale of babies has stirred the American conscience. Congress is opening investigations and voting on legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding. Corporations are distancing themselves from the abortion provider and even progressives not known for anti-abortion advocacy have spoken out against Planned Parenthood.

Millions of people are seeing the brutal reality of what has always been labeled by abortion providers as a safe and clinical practice.

Millions of people are seeing the brutal reality of what has always been labeled by abortion providers as a safe and clinical practice. New technologies, such as ultrasound machines, smart phones that capture video, and social media have converged to cause us to see what we didn’t previously: the humanity of the unborn and the gruesome nature of abortion. As Columnist Ross Douthat puts it, we’re just starting to realize that “an institution at the heart of respectable liberal society is dedicated to a practice that deserves to be called barbarism.”

But how do pastors and church leaders lead their people through the outrage to champion the sacred value of human life? How do we bring the hope of the gospel into the brokenness of our world?

Rightful rage

There are many opportunities for outrage these days, but our people are right to be deeply angry at what they are seeing in these videos. President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Russell Moore points out that “for a Christian, such language ought to trigger in us thoughts of Jesus of Nazareth, who identified himself with human nature, taking on flesh and dwelling among us (Jn. 1:14).”

Our moral indignation reflects the righteous anger of a God of justice. Cain, the murderer, was told by God that the blood of his brother Abel cried to him from the ground. Jesus, upon viewing the lifeless corpse of his friend Lazarus, wept and groaned angrily at the curse of sin and death. When we protest the killing fields of Planned Parenthood, we’re rightfully raging against the Serpent himself, whom Jesus called a murderer (John 8:44).

Expressing sadness, anger, and grief on social media is not a wasted effort. It can mobilize the Christian community and strike at the consciences of those outside the faith. It can nudge public officials and community leaders to act in response.

Pastors should not shy away from stewarding their influence and addressing this issue. They should model for their people how to think and act in this cultural moment. For some pastors this might mean thoughtful engagement on blogs and social media, not only helping their people process what they are seeing in these videos but to saturate the conscience of those outside the faith and point them to redemption in Christ. For others it might mean pursuing conversations with church members and community leaders, helping to localize a national story.

But seeing, grieving, and speaking is only the beginning of our call to defend and work toward human dignity.

Read the full article here: