January 22 marks the 43nd anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court ruling, Roe v Wade. This decision gave American women the constitutional right to have the unborn baby in her womb murdered by the act of abortion. Since that ruling in 1973 it is estimated that upwards of 58.6 million babies have been aborted in the US (over 3,000 a day)! We have grown numb to those numbers. But they should stagger us. 57.5 million is much more than whole countries like our neighbor to the north Canada (34 million); actually a county like South Korea (50 million) or South Africa (51 million) would be closer but still smaller. Whole countries gone! This would be a major holocaust. Let’s say maybe you are not into countries outside of the US, let’s look at cities. If you took 35 of the largest cities in the US it equals 42 million people (equal to the number of worldwide abortions annually). Just imagine: New York, Los Angelos, Chicago; and 32 other cities in the US are gone! So let those numbers sink in. January 22 marks 40 years of a tragic anniversary.
Let me say that all who are reading this probably find abortion as tragic and as horrible injustice as I do. You may not have time to read this so feel free to skim down to the end of the article and be directed to some helpful resources to help us blow the trumpet for the unborn. For others, I hope you will take the time to read this brief article, pray and act.
We may be quick to lament to ask “how did this happen in the land of the free?” A number of answers could be given. Historically, the few days and weeks that surrounded 1/22/73 were loaded with cultural and historical events. Abort73 puts the decision in a timeline of events in a great video that shows and tells what happened:
“On January 30, 1973, former presidential aides James McCord and G. Gordon Liddy were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping for their roles in the Watergate Break-in
- which came just 3 days after the Paris Peace Accord was signed to end the war in Vietnam
- which came 5 days after former president Lyndon Johnson died at his Texas ranch
- on the same day that George Foreman defeated Joe Frazier to become the heavyweight champion of the world
- which was 2 days after President Nixon was inaugurated for his second term in office
- which came 5 days after offensive action was suspended in Vietnam
- which was the day after the Miami Dolphins completed the only perfect season in NFL history
- on the same day that Elvis Presley’s televised concert from Hawaii was watched by 1.5 billion people worldwide.
It was a busy two weeks, and while an entire nation had its eyes on “bigger” things, seven men, non-elected, and appointed for life, changed the course of history for the worse.
On January 22, 1973, the U. S. Supreme Court wiped away every state law that had previously protected human beings in the womb. Without a vote, without due legislation, abortion was made legal in all 50 states. Through all nine months of pregnancy, for virtually any reason at all, more than 50 million human beings (in the US) have lost their lives as a direct result of this one decision.”
Through the providence of God it was an action packed couple of weeks that the Roe V Wade decision happened in, but as Newsweek then stated:
“The end of a war & the death of a president got bigger headlines, But in a quiet way a 3rd event last week may have as lasting an influence on American life. In one of the boldest and most sweeping decisions of the Nixon years, the court ruled 7-2 that criminal abortion laws of almost every state violate a constitutional “right of privacy” and must therefore be struck down. ” Newsweek, 1973
How poignant and prophetic statement it would prove to be when Newsweek claimed “a 3rd event (Roe v Wade)” that took place that week would have such a “lasting influence on American life.”
No matter how it happened, the reality is that: it happened! Did the church or American Christians fall asleep at the wheel leading up to January, 1973? I don’t know. Now, you may be like me and say “I wasn’t around or I was just a kid when Roe v Wade happened” but as Christians who are American citizens that is not enough. We must deal with where we are now and what scripture tells us. In Proverbs 24:11 it says “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”
There is a clear and a specific call here for us to “rescue.” But just what does that mean here in Proverbs 24? Michael Spielman (with Abort73) is helpful here:
“Like almost all Biblical proverbs, the text gives us no indication as to what specific injustice, if any, the author has in mind. It serves as a general guideline for what God’s people are called to do in the face of violent injustice. If innocent human beings are in danger, God-fearing people are to come to their rescue. This proverb becomes even more poignant in light of verse 12. The author anticipates circumstances in which injustice will be cloaked to such an extent that people, with some plausibility, will be able to deny that they had any knowledge of it. We are warned against taking up such an excuse and reminded that God knows our every thought. False claims of ignorance will do us no good on the day of judgment.
Let us ask ourselves then, are there people among us, right here in America, who are stumbling towards the slaughter? Are there injustices in our day that God would have us raise our voices against? Yes, and yes. Abortions occur thousands of times a day, affecting nearly every community in the nation, yet most Christians barely give it a thought. We know it’s happening; we know it’s bad; but we seem content to remain as uninformed as possible, as if a general ignorance on the subject will somehow clear us of moral responsibility. According to Proverbs 24, this is a very dangerous line of reasoning to take.
God knows our hearts, and he will repay each of us according to the work we’re doing (or not doing) to rescue those who would otherwise be slaughtered. And just in case you feel the word “slaughter” is too severe to apply to abortion, think again. “Slaughter” is defined as either “the brutal or violent killing of a person,” or “the killing of great numbers of people.” Abortion fits both definitions. It’s hard to imagine a death more brutal or violent than having your body literally torn to pieces. And if the more than 50 million American children who have already lost their lives to legal abortion don’t qualify as “great numbers of people,” then the term is meaningless. Can any of us point to another injustice, happening in America today, for which Proverbs 24 would be more applicable?”
Some may say, “but it is legal, so what can I do?” Remember the convicting words of Martin Luther King when he said: “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” So we must look to speak and act in such a way to help “rescue” the innocent that are perishing. Proverbs 31:8-9 says:“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” So if you are a Christian you must look beyond this just being a social action to get involved in but see it as a call and command of God that we must embrace!
I emphasize such action words like “speaking” and “rescuing” (in this case the unborn) because the invisibility of abortion can lead to a deep apathy. By “invisibility” I mean that an abortion happens in a alleged “clinic” or doctor’s office it is not the open injustice that has happened with some genocides or terrorist attacks. Take what happened in our country on 9/11/01. It was a terrible tragedy but to not have responded, to do nothing, that would have been absolutely unthinkable! But 50 million more than the amount of people that were killed on 9/11 have been killed in the US “legally” due to abortion! So that invisibility can lead to apathy because for many of us what happens with abortions may not be a leading news headline or something we are dealing with personally. That in and of itself is a tragedy. As Albert Mohler notes that “Abortion is now one of America’s most common surgical procedures performed on adults” and as he notes “the normalcy” of it in America is one of the most chilling aspects about abortion.
My years in ministry though has shown me that abortion is often a hidden sin in more Christians’ lives than most church going folks realize. I will never forget, years ago, sitting in an ethics class in seminary where the professor showed us a shocking video that showed what happens in abortions and to aborted babies. I was moved as I shed some tears over the graphic depiction of little lives snuffed out. As I looked around the room some were moved like I was while others began to openly and almost uncontrollably weep. Soon the weeping turning to confessing as they shared how the had fathered a child that was aborted or helped others in the abortion process. I am grateful to have seen James 5:16 (Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed) lived out that day. But the more memorable thing was that there in that room of dozens of current and future gospel ministers were lives that had come in close contact with abortion. It is a telling reminder to me to always try to handle the topic with much grace as you never now what lives have been directly impacted by abortion.
So how do we respond? Here are some tips for starters:
1) We must pray about the situation. This is spiritual warfare, meaning it is ultimately a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-12). Pray for Christians to get involved in the pro-life causes. Pray for pregnant women considering abortion. Pray for God to close abortion clinics. Pray for pro-life judges to receive Senate confirmation, especially to the Supreme Court. Pray for the horrors of abortion to become obvious to our self-centered culture.
2) Be informed, ignorance is not an excuse. There are a TON of great resources out there. Let me help navigate through some of them:
- If there was only one website you could go to, I would recommend it be Abort73. It is you one stop shop for video, resources, gear, and helpful info that is biblically driven with the goal of stopping abortion and advocating to stop it.
- Know where your crisis pregnancy centers are. If you live in South Carolina here is a list: South Carolina region crisis pregnancy centers . Care-Net is a Christian network of pregnancy centers with lots of good online resources. If you don’t know where pregnancy center is near you, then go here and put in your zip code: http://www.optionline.org/
Meet the staff, become familiar with it, & see how you can volunteer or advocate for them.
(3) We can vote for pro-life candidates. Don’t vote for pro-abortion/pro-choice candidates! This timely as we are facing a presidential election. You ask, “Are you a one-issue voter?” I grant that just being pro-life does not qualify a person as a good political leader. But being pro-abortion/pro-choice should disqualify anyone from public office. For example, if a candidate said, “I believe that Native-American people should not hold public office,” that one issue should disqualify the candidate from office. Why doesn’t favoring killing babies disqualify a candidate? If you don’t know much about the candidates then check out Right to Life.
(4) We can write/email our legislators and the newspaper to support the pro-life causes. Hold them accountable as much as possible! Again, National Right to Life can be helpful to stay abreast of legislative issues and links to help keep you be informed locally.
(5) We can support the pro-life cause with our money and time. Godly women are needed to counsel young women with problem pregnancies, so that they choose life for their babies. Godly families that are able should consider taking in such young women and helping them carry their babies to term. There are many ways to get involved. This is just intended to help us start.
(6) Know the Gospel, Fear God. This is last, but the most important. Never let your driving focus be the Pro-Life causes, but an unwavering commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My hope here is that all reading this know Jesus, truly and have come to a place in your life you have turned from your sins and trusted in Him. If not please consider the dangerous and deadly road you are on and understand that we all have the choice of 2 ways to live. Please leave me a comment if you want to know more about this. But, if you are a Christian, you must know the Gospel and realize that it is not the “good works” of pro-life advocacy that saves us but the instead the grace of God through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). But if we have been saved by God this way we will desire to do these good works.
If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is your driving motivation then you know that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). Let’s unpack that briefly to apply it to our discussion. The reason that people have abortions is ultimately they don’t fear God. So that right and holy fear drives us; but if people seeking abortions or believing it being a “right” feared God they wouldn’t do it because Proverbs 8:13 says “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.” More could obviously be said about the Gospel and the fear of God but may it be our driving motivation.
Conclusion: Rescue & Speak Church!
Let is hear the call from the prophet Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” (Jeremiah 22:3)
Let us speak for the innocent and seek to rescue them. Let us not feel overwhelmed at all there needs to be done and know that we can’t do it and then fall into Satan’s snare and not do anything at all. Pray and see how specifically God wants you to Rescue & Speak up! If we don’t let us remember those words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Let us not betray those precious little innocent lives. Let us weep and repent over this tragic 42 year anniversary and then let us speak church so we can expose this deed of darkness with light. Let us speak about sanctity of life very specifically, consistently, thoughtfully, humbly, biblically, and graciously with Holy Spirit empowered boldness. Let us speak out of an abundance of the love of Christ,with a commitment to expose these evil deeds, and a motivation to love our neighbors by rescuing the innocent.
R.C. Sproul (in his work: Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue) says that “the organized church – more than any other institution apart from the Supreme Court – has neglected its duty to inform the public conscience (about abortion). If the church says that abortion is a horrific injustice, but acts as if it’s no big deal, what is the world going to conclude?” Let it not be true of us, we must speak and we must rescue.
*this is an edited/updated post that was originally posted on 1/21/12.