We hear the bridge go down during the stormy night. We know what we could do; no, we know what we must do –stop anyone from trying to drive over that bridge! But, we don’t. Instead we pull the blankets close, roll over, and go back to sleep.
“What? Who would be so irresponsible? Not me!”, I hear you say.
Of course if we were to find ourselves in such a situation each of us would unhesitatingly jump out of bed, run out into the dark and rain, stand in the middle of the road, and prevent innocent people losing their lives. Wouldn’t we? Indeed, it would be an honour to be able to do so.
If we believe that we would act bravely to save lives in that hypothetical scenario, why do we not act to save lives in a real, everyday situation? “But when do we have such an opportunity?” you ask.
Every working day! In most major cities around Australia the lives of dozens of innocent human beings are lost each day. I’m not referring to lives lost to disease or car accidents either, but to lives that are deliberately taken. Of course, I am referring to abortion.
100 000 young lives are destroyed by abortion each year in this country; perhaps all up 2 million lives have been taken over the last 25 years since abortion became openly and easily available. And few people have been dashing out to save them. Rather, mention abortion, and many (most?) people just seem to want to pull the blankets close and go back to sleep.
Why is that the case do you think?
For those people who do not regard preborn human life as having any great moral value, it is easy to understand that they may be indifferent to the practice of abortion. But what about those of us who are Christians, who believe that every human being is made in the image of God and is of inestimable value? How could we be indifferent to the willful, wholesale, destruction of such precious lives?
After all, we are told to “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter” Proverbs 24:11, and to “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82: 3-4.
There may be a number of reasons for why there has been such a limited effort- and as the years go by, a diminishing effort- to save the unborn from death at the hands of abortionists. For those of us who believe that every abortion kills an innocent human being, the important question is, do any of these reasons justify what has largely been a low-level response?
Many Christians may have drawn the conclusion that opposing abortion has become a lost cause. They have seen over the years the growth in the number of abortions done and the number of death-houses providing the ‘service’. They see how society generally appears to have accepted abortion on demand – largely paid for by our taxes no less- and they conclude that the culture of abortion is now so deeply entrenched that it cannot be turned around and it is pointless to try to do so. They feel that it is time to move on from challenging abortion and instead put our efforts into battles that we may be able to win, such as opposing euthanasia and the destructive use of human embryos.
Now while it is almost certainly true that everyone gets discouraged at times, such a response as the one above cannot be justified. For Christians, no matter how dauntingly hopeless the situation may appear to be, the option of learning to live with the evil of abortion is not rightly available to us. Even if our best efforts do not appear to be succeeding, that does not permit us to abandon the defenseless to their plight.
Then there are those who believe that abortion is wrong, who do not want to give up the battle, but who just do not know what ought to be done to stop it. They have tried, or have seen others try, seemingly everything and nothing appears to have ‘worked’. The only option left seems to be to continue doing the same things that have not succeeded in stopping abortion. For many that hardly seems to be worth much effort anymore.
However we have not done all that we could do to stop abortion: in fact we have not done that which is the most obvious and normal thing to do. Ask yourself, what would be the obvious and normal thing to do if we woke up tomorrow to a situation where from that day onwards mothers/parents were allowed to take their two-year-olds to openly-operated centres that specialised in killing these children?
Surely, in order to ensure that not even one two-year-old lost their life at such a death-house, it would be right to directly intervene (and I would argue non-violently intervene) at the doors of such places to prevent any children being taken in. Yes, we would also be telephoning and writing to our politicians and the media to try and get this legally stopped and we would set up crisis help centres so that mothers had proper alternatives. But firstly we would immediately and directly intervene so as to rescue the children scheduled to be killed that morning. Wouldn’t we?
We might find the prospect of taking such direct action to be scary and daunting but we would hardly consider it to be extreme or ridiculous behaviour – after all, if the ‘clients’ are allowed to freely enter these places, innocent children will certainly be killed. Rescuing the children would be the normal and obvious thing to do.
But what if despite all our efforts the government of the day was determined to turn a blind eye to the activities of these centres; even perhaps was to legalise these ‘procedures’? What if the police and courts were instructed to arrest, fine and jail anyone who tried to come between the ‘post-natal abortionists’ and their young victims? Would it be right then just to walk away from the doors and confine any further efforts at stopping the killing to petitions, letter-writing campaigns, etc, as each day hundreds more young lives were deliberately taken? Would it be right to allow this to go on for years on end as slowly opposition to the killing withered away and the centres and their function became an accepted part of everyday life?
Or rather, would it be right for those who recognise the precious value of each young life to suffer being sent to jail in preference to standing aside so as to allow even one little one to be killed?
It is not hard to understand why we have chosen not to intervene directly to save the unborn children from abortion. Initially, when abortion began to become openly and easily available it was hoped that the situation could be turned around without it proving too costly for ourselves. But time has shown that there are no cheap solutions to something as enormously serious as the wholesale destruction of human life.
Is it then the case that the reason that we care so little about the aborting of the children is because we care too much about our own interests? Do we not do the obvious thing and block the doors to the abortion death-houses today because we immediately recognise that to do so, and to keep doing so, would be to put all our personal interests at risk?
We can go on doing what we have been doing to try and stop abortion, perhaps forever, while each day hundreds more lives are lost. Or we can act more consistently with the claim that every abortion kills someone, someone of the same value as you and I, and act directly to try and save them – just as we would hope that someone would intervene to save us if someone were attempting to take our life.
If we do this we will assuredly pay a very high price. But perhaps that is what it will take – having hundreds, maybe thousands, of “good” citizens- doctors, pastors, shop assistants, pensioners, truck drivers, teachers, students, lawyers, etc, losing their possessions, sitting in jail, because they will not stand aside and let the little ones be killed. Maybe the sight of responsible citizens actually paying a high price for their convictions will be what is needed for our society to eventually face up to, and repent of, the horror that is abortion. However even that may not bring about the desired change, but even so, perhaps it would still be the case that jail would be the right place for Christians to be, in a society that allows its children to be killed.
While this is a sobering prospect, it should hardly be a surprising one for Christians, given that Jesus told those who want to follow him that they must take up a cross, an instrument for their execution. (But not forgetting the joy and peace that are also promised!).
One writer says of the church today, “Christianity in modern America [Australia?] is, in large part, innocuous. It tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as a love for God. . . .Authentic Christianity and the world are by definition at odds. That was decreed unequivocally and repeatedly by the Founder,” (Thomas Reeves, The Empty Church, 1996)
Will we pretend that the bridge is not down and try to go back to sleep? Or will we do what is obvious and normal and non-violently intervene on behalf of the tens of thousands of innocent, defenceless unborn – no matter what the cost to ourselves may be?
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathised with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”
Hebrews 10: 32-36