There’s a curious suggestion among some self-attested pro-life Christians that we need to be measured in our response to Roe being, finally, overturned. The Gospel Coalition published an article that stated
But as we welcome this ruling, we must be measured in our response. Now isn’t the time for the church to beat its chest in celebration of a victory in the culture war. This is a moment for us to step up in love.
Now, on one hand, of course love should never be absent from our actions, words, or hearts. Being unloving is the antithesis of the Christian ethic. Perhaps we should be “measured,” though I wonder how helpful such an admonition actually is. It seems like pitting being “measured” and “loving” against celebrating sets up a false dilemma: is it unloving, always and without exception, to celebrate openly, loudly, and without apology something that scares, troubles, or angers another group of people?
I vehemently disagree with my fellow pro-life Christians who suggest this. We are not in danger of excess celebration on this issue. We’re in danger of not praising God for the work He did here. We aren’t in danger of being a stumbling block by being too loud in this praise, we’re in danger of letting people believe lies to earn favor with man.
One such lie, for instance, is that pro-life Christians have not cared about the child after they’re born. That if we’re going to advocate for banning abortion, now it’s the time for us to “step up.” The implication is that up until now we haven’t been stepping up, and all we cared about was the legal status of abortion.
This is an obvious lie, and one we should not acquiesce to. Christians are more than twice as likely to adopt as non-Christians in the US. Christians who attend weekly services make up over 60% of foster families as well. This is to say nothing about the fact that the vast majority of all hospitals, adoption agencies, pregnancy centers, women’s shelters, and foster-support programs were founded by Christians in this country. Far from being pro-life only prior to birth, we were womb to tomb pro-life the whole time. Is there more to do? Always. Is it time for us to finally “step up”? Brothers and sisters, we’ve been stepping up this whole time.
Naming Evil, and Rejoicing in Good
Beyond that, however, there is also a theological problem: Is it not an unqualified good to rejoice in the displays of God’s justice?
Let’s take a Biblical example. When Elijah set up a competition with the prophets of Baal, and they failed to summon the power of their false god, what was his reaction? Did Elijah meet them (the prophets whose religion was known for child sacrifice) with winsomeness? Was his primary concern to cater to the fact that they were distraught over their failure? No, he mocked their false god. Poor prophets! They must have been so dejected, and Elijah was just rubbing salt in their wounds!
Was he wrong for doing so? This seems to be the suggestion. But let me suggest another way to consider this: Elijah had more on his mind than the feelings of those who wished to do evil. He had in mind to celebrate God’s work, and to cater to the hearts of those who might be watching who needed to be reminded of it. There are many people whose consciences are too seared to recognize the difference between good and evil. Being overly concerned with such people’s feelings is foolish. By refraining from forcefully lamenting evil when it is present or refraining from celebrating good when it wins the day, one is denying God the praise He deserves and places evil on an equal footing with good.
In other words, we should loudly celebrate to signal to those who might not realize it as God’s work. How we celebrate will depend on those we wish to see this profound truth. Conspicuous silence (I won’t name names, as it’s not the point, and I’m sure you can guess), or an avoidance to talk about it for fear of generating outrage is not just a mistake, it’s wrong.
The Uniquely Evil Act of Abortion
The fact is that the number of children in the US who have been murdered since Roe v. Wade is estimated to be over 60 Million. Such numbers would make the Aztecs and Canaanites blush, and yet this is the country and culture we have been living in. But the church is called to stand out from the culture when the culture deviates from God’s will. That will necessarily include celebrating things the culture deems evil, and denouncing things the culture considers good. And, what’s more, we should do so corporately. We ought to make it known that the Church stands for life. If the only statements that people see from “churches” support the killing of the unborn or condemn crisis pregnancy centers, what message will the culture hear? If we do not speak up, are we really being salt and light?
Many men and women, who have been lied to about the nature of abortion, would have committed a grave sin. It is not the time for pro-life Christians to pull back from public witness. We need to help point those whose hearts are not yet hardhearted toward the light and help them in their journey along the way. And, yes, point to God’s forgiveness for those who participated in this great evil.
How Shall We Celebrate?
Now, one might say “I understand that celebration is a message to those watching it, and not celebrating could be seen as indifference. But should we not tailor our celebration to make it most effective? Could we not turn off some who might otherwise be sympathetic to our cause?”
To that I say: Yes! Need we make our church services into a political rally? God forbid! But should our pulpits be silent on this? Absolutely not!
What would be my suggestion? Well, were I to write a hypothetical statement to be read by the celebrant on Sunday, it would be something like this:
Brothers and Sisters, we want to address the momentous occasion that we have witnessed, where by God’s grace we are able to rein in the evil that is the killing of unborn children. Our denomination has been clear that this is a great evil, and we rejoice that many children of God will be saved.
We also know that having a child can be frightening in this fallen world. This is exactly the reason we continue to support our local crisis pregnancy centers. We urge those suffering from such anxiety to visit these centers and to join church communities who can help walk alongside them in raising their beautiful children. We do not wish anyone to walk down this path in isolation. Indeed, this is the very reason the Church engages in this ministry. Our priests are ready and eager to meet with you without hesitation and assist you, so please reach out to us if you are in need.
Finally, we urge those in our congregation to assist us in supporting these ministries with your time, treasure, and prayer. Let us rejoice in the work God has done here. And let us also realize that our job is not yet complete, and we have the opportunity to further minister to those men, women, boys and girls. God help our hearts remain as fervent about ministering to these families as we were about preventing the killing of the unborn.
When a grave injustice is done, it’s necessary to oppose it, openly and loudly. When God delivers to you justice, it’s a theological necessity to celebrate it, and meet and right so to do. The Church ceases to be a city on a hill if it turns out the lights and blends in with the darkness around it. Let us celebrate, loudly and without timidity, the work that God has done here.