William D. Bontrager, J.D.
1710 C.R. 121, Hesperus, CO. 81326
COMMENTS ON ABORTION PROTESTS
I doubt that there has been, for a long time in this country, a matter which has generated as much discussion, action, and conflict within the Christian community as the issue of how we should respond to the issue of abortion. At the risk of adding fuel to the fire, I want to offer my thoughts.
First, so that you may know my biases, I begin by saying that I believe that which God said and medical science has now established -- that each human being is an absolutely genetically unique being, full and complete in all respects, at that moment in the creation process that the third cell is achieved (really, the equivalent of the moment conception).
Thus, I believe that abortion is the taking of a human life. As such, Christians must stand opposed to the act of abortion.
Second, I believe that the grace of God is sufficient to answer the question of what happens to that child's life after death. I also believe His grace is sufficient for the one who seeks, and the one who performs, abortions, at such time as they may turn to Him in confession and repentance.
Third, I believe that the process by which a person determines to seek an abortion, and the process by which a person assists in the performance of abortions, is a setting of conflict. The conflict is, at a minimum, born out of the rejection of God's word for purposes of self. There may be many more facets to the conflict, of course.
Fourth, I believe that conflicts -- both for the parties and for the observers -- are God's character training schools for us. It is in conflict that we get the opportunity to seek His Word and His Way, and then to practice them, in true faith. It is in conflict that we often learn sacrifice. And it is in conflicts of others that the Church may often learn the lessons of confrontation, confession, repentance, forgiveness, love, grace, mercy, and burden bearing.
In facing the issues presented by the abortion-on-demand philosophy of the world, we will face issues of: individual action vs congregational action; honoring God while honoring the established authorities; rescuing those seeking abortions, those performing abortions, and the children who one of the victims of abortion; and teaching the present and future inhabitants of the earth the things of the Lord.
I doubt that any one strategy may address all of these tensions, let alone address them all righteously. But let us all acknowledge that these tensions do exist, so that we become less critical of our fellow believers who place their emphasis somewhere other than our place of emphasis. And let us acknowledge these tensions so that we may always honestly examine the actions we choose in light of the conflicting areas of concern.
For example, and as my final point of bias, I am biased against mass demonstrations, acts of violence, etc. That is because I cannot find any example from the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I also am unwilling to say that God is against them. We certainly have some examples from the Old Testament which might look like mass protest. I just detest putting God in a box. I prefer to allow Him to be God.
With that as background, let me explore the areas of tension, and offer suggestions. I will begin with the matter of public demonstration, protest, rescue, etc.
My first concern -- and I pray that it is the Lord's as well -- is that we go about matters according to His rules. It seems to me that His rules begin with the proposition that we are to be rescuing sinners who have gone astray -- as He set forth in chapter 18 of Matthew. And, as I progress, I will not be limiting Matthew 18 by whether or not we think the person involved is a believer. Because we are told to be "salt and light", to "go therefore", and to "be ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors for Christ", I want to look at the Lord's process very broadly.
Who are the obvious sinners in the matter of abortion? One is the mother-to-be. Others are those who work in the facilities which perform the abortions. But there are others -- members of boards of directors; stockholders; landlords; newspapers and other media which carry advertisements; etc.
There are several ways to approach mothers-to-be. One would be through education. We can educate through the media, we can educate by offering alternative facilities to come to, and we can educate by approaching the educational community to determine what they are now teaching relative to the matter of when the human life is in full existence. It is true that approaches such as these may seem slow, tedious, impossible of bearing fruit -- but are we not called to do them, leaving the issue of fruit to God?
Another approach to mothers-to-be would be by offering direct assistance at the time they approach the abortion facility. Instead of a picket line baring the gate, we might have one wonderful couple standing there. As a woman approaches the facility, the couple steps forward and says something like: "We do not know what it is that brings you here today. But if it is a need of shelter, food, clothing, finances, or any thing else, we are here to offer to help you in the matter." The help might be physical shelter in their home. It might mean financial sacrifice. It might be taking the woman to minister reconciliation between herself and family, the father-to-be, or whatever else the need may be. Such an approach honors the Lord in that it confronts the sin, yet loves the sinner even unto the point of sacrifice for them.
As to the facility which performs abortions, I would suggest a very time consuming process. I believe we need to try to discover the name and address of every person who is connected with the facility: employees; landlords; members of Boards of Directors of landlords or facilities; stockholders; etc.
Then by ones and twos, we need to quietly and respectfully -- they too are made in the image of God; have knowledge of God; are created to honor God; would be saved by God from their condition of sin as well as from their sinful acts -- and approach them at their homes.
At the time of confrontation we must go with forgiveness and not condemnation in our hearts (we also have murdered, in our heart of hearts -- Matt. 5:21-22). We must offer the medical testimony of creation as well as the Word of God condemning the action. And we must be prepared to bear the burden of any we meet who may wish to leave the doing of abortions. For example, we may meet a single mother -- a nurse -- who can not find work elsewhere which enables her to provide for herself and her children, yet who is being torn apart by what she is doing. Then we must be willing to offer shelter, finances, etc. to bear her burden that she may leave the doing of the sin.
If such confrontation fails as to any particular person, then we must determine if that person is a part of a church. This may mean "tailing" them on a Sunday (don't forget Saturdays -- Adventists) to see if they go to a church. If we find a church connection, we can then approach the pastor of that church, explaining that we have a conflict with "Sam" and asking the pastor to gather Sam and ourselves together to talk (don't start with describing the conflict -- that would be gossip). Depending upon the response of the pastor, we may find ourselves going to an Elder Board, a congregation, or even a hierarchical office.
Until we have taken steps such as this, I fear actions of public protest show the watching world something other than the love, concern and sacrificial burden-bearing which were the hall marks of our Lord's ministry on earth.
Turning to the matter of the tension with authorities, I can only suggest that we are to walk boldly before our Lord. Seeing pictures of limp Christians being carried away from an abortion facility does not display, to me, our calling. And when arrested, using the laws of man and/or the Constitution as our first line of defense also troubles me. We may use the law and the Constitution, but not in a manner as to preclude our giving testimony of the hope that is within us; not in lieu of letting our yes be our yes, and our no be our no. And we must also consider our method of defense -- if it is biting and devouring, rather than being respectful and reverent; if it is demeaning and degrading of others; if it is war-like and wrathful and filled with malice -- then I fear we are not behaving as Christ would behave.
As to tension within the congregation, some of this can be lessened by teaching, and some by careful consideration of a particular "call." The teaching includes medical, confrontation, and burden-bearing approaches. But it also includes speaking to the fact that not all are called to exactly the same manner and style of ministry. The fact that one burns with zeal for a specific cause should not lead them to lay guilt on those without that call -- or visa versa.
And our Christian leaders must be especially wary of creating a sense that there are "the truly spiritual" -- those who participate in a certain action -- and the somewhat less than spiritual -- those who don't. We must beware of creating a sense of the "ins" and the "outs" within a congregation. For example, if the pastor feels called to public protest, it may be right that he give up his pastorate so as not to cause a stumbling within the congregation.
There are, I am sure, other tensions, and other views. I only hope and pray that these thoughts may help one or more others as they struggle with these issues.