Canadian churches and individual Christians are often silent on the issue of abortion. The implications of this phenomenon are troubling. As Christians, we need to take seriously the whole counsel of God.
Christians’ Deafening Silence
One of the troubling realities I have encountered during my involvement in pro-life and pregnancy support ministries in Toronto has been the staggering number of Christians who are complicit in abortions. Amongst non-believers, the practice of aborting children is not actually surprising, considering the secular humanistic and increasingly pagan philosophy which has pervaded the culture, and the god of individual autonomy which rules peoples’ hearts. However, for Christians who not only know the Author of Life (Acts 3:15) but also have His law as an objective standard by which to act ethically, it is shocking that abortion is taking place frequently among them. Too many churches in Canada are often silent about abortion, and the tragic reality is that there are Christian women who have aborted their babies; Christian parents who have required or even paid for their daughters’ abortions; and church leaders who have referred women from their congregations for abortions. Additionally, we have been repeatedly surprised at the Ezra Institute to come across Christians who are not able to articulate a defensible argument in favor of life, and who are ill-equipped to effectively oppose pro-choice rhetoric.
Silence on Abortion is Unfaithfulness
Whether it be general apathy, fear of controversy, or compromise with the world, abortion and the complex issues surrounding it are not being adequately addressed in Canada’s Christian community. I have heard of Christian leaders who will not address abortion from the pulpit because it is “too controversial” or “too political” or it “destroys the peace.” This is reminiscent of Ezekiel 13:10 and 19, “Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace…You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to my people, who listen to lies.” There is an urgent need in the Canadian church to recover a robust philosophy of life which is grounded in Scripture and to implement life-promoting practices according to the law of God.
The Need for Clarity and Compassion
Furthermore, Sunday after Sunday, there are people who sit in church pews riddled with guilt or deep pain because of their participation in abortion. Because the issue is often ignored, many of these people have not been taught that they can repent, be forgiven and find healing and renewal in Jesus Christ. Let us not “heal the wound of My people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). In an attempt to be irenic in our own strength and by our own standards, we can leave people in deep despair, for sin has not been exposed and dealt with. Ephesians 5:11–14 admonishes us:
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them… But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’
Encourage the Faithful
It bears mentioning the truth that, while many churches have been lacking in a thoroughly biblical understanding of this crucial issue, there are many people who have been and continue to be very active in the defense of life. There are those who have taken a stand publicly and politically, others who have labored to educate and inform, and countless more who have compassionately cared for mothers, babies and families. Their courage and faithfulness are an example for us all.
As we live in repentance and faith, and urge repentance to those who have been complicit in abortion, we are reminded in the scriptures that the Lord not only forgives our sin but remembers it no more (Is. 43:25; Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:12, 10:17) and He heals us from our wounds (Ps.103:2–4, 147:3; Jm. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:24).
As we protect and nurture life in the body of believers, we will model to our culture the love endowed by our creator and back up our public proclamation to society in defense of life. We often assume that there is a morally neutral public space that we share with people of other beliefs and we must try and accommodate our views with theirs, so as not to offend anyone. However, in terms of the Lordship of Christ, there is no such space; rather every opinion expressed belongs to a specific worldview, religion or belief system of some sort, the fruits of which are eventually seen in practice. For this reason we are to defend the Biblical worldview publicly and proclaim it to the world so that they can see the forgiveness and liberty found in the gospel of the kingdom. In defending life in both word and deed, we point to the character of God and show the world there is an alternative to their bondage and slavery to sin and death.