By Kevin Freeman
WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the Evangelicals for Life Conference, I observed as multiple session speakers claimed that “we’re winning” in the fight to end abortion, going so far as to claim that the Roe v. Wade decision will be overturned. Among those making the claim were Brian Fisher of the Human Coalition and Tim Goeglein, former White House staffer who now represents Focus on the Family. As far as the claims go, I pray they are right. To God’s glory, I, too, look to the day when the unborn have the legal protection asserted in the Declaration of Independence and in the truth of God’s Word.
Pro-life cannot be synonymous with anti-abortion
But what happens after the decision is reversed? What will America look like? To put it mildly, we will still have our work cut out for us. We cannot equate the pro-life position simply with being anti-abortion. It includes more. If and when abortion ends, here is what will still remain:
The poor and needy will still be with us.
Human trafficking will still exist.
Right to die legislation and persuasion will still pressure the elderly and terminally ill.
Immigrants will continue to need help.
The prison population will still leave a black mark on society.
People with disabilities will still feel marginalized.
Children will still be in limbo in the foster care system.
Unwed mothers will have real needs that can never be met by a government program.
The gospel mandate will still be on every believer.
In other words, ending abortion is not the ultimate end.
When we look at the various facets on this gem we call LIFE, rescuing lives in utero is not the only area needing a polish. Our mandate is to uphold the dignity and worth of every human life. We can’t focus on the unborn and turn a blind eye to the immigrant. We can’t claim victory in the right to life if we won’t address the dangerous idea of the right to die. We can’t do any of it without leaving the comfort and safety of the pew.
One day we might see news coverage of the final woman who was able to have an abortion. I envision a human interest story that addresses all of the stress this mom faced with her pregnancy that led to her decision to terminate in order to secure a more certain future for herself. That’s how the media tends to work. Will there be a story after that? After the cameras turn off, what will happen to the next mom who thought abortion was her only option but discovered she arrived too late to the clinic? I pray that she will find a caring Christian there who says, “I will walk this path with you and support you. Let’s get a bite to eat and talk about it.”
Pro-life must not be untethered from the gospel
Tim Goeglein shared the optimistic news that younger generations are more pro-life than their predecessors. He said that today “it’s fashionable to be pro-life.” Despite the celebratory tone, that scared me a little. Fashion changes. That’s why you can find corduroy at your local thrift store. Millennials may indeed be more pro-life, but their basis is found not in the gospel but in the shifting whims of culture. They are one argument away from shifting positions. They need the foundation that grounds this position in conviction.
We can end abortion. We can reform immigration. We can fight trafficking. We can help the poor, encourage the disabled, and visit the prisoners. While legislation is a central component in all of these issues, it will have no effect on either the change that comes through relationships or the lasting change that comes through the gospel.
God loved this world so much that he sent his Son into the squalor of humanity to redeem it. God’s rescue plan legislation was coupled with a Rescuer who walked among us. The One who calls us to follow Him walked into some rough places. To truly be pro-life requires the inclusion of eternal life. Our desire to preserve the lives of the unborn must be coupled with the effort to bring the gospel to them, the ultimate message of hope that the child, mother, and father desperately need.
So if and when legal abortion is ended, I do plan on celebrating the win, but I want to make clear what we will be celebrating. This will not be the end of the war. It will be one important battle on one particular front of a much bigger war. That war is for the souls of a lost humanity. Our mission is to bring the ultimate words of hope to all of them in every situation.
The Christian Life and Public Affairs Committee of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware exists where Christian faith and life intersect. Our 2018 theme is “In His Image.” We affirm that all people are made in the image of God. That means they are worth the effort it takes to stand for them when they are weak. It also means they – and we – need the power that comes from the gospel.
Kevin Freeman, chairman of the Christian Life and Public Affairs committee of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, is the associate pastor for discipleship, youth, and families at Redland Baptist Church in Rockville, Md.