There is nothing good Satan cannot pervert, and that fact extends to the Christian public witness against abortion just as it applies to everything else. As a Christian who has written, marched, and picketed against legalized abortion since 1970, I have been saddened to see the development of the anti-Christ counterfeit of Christian witness in this area. This counterfeit has been developing since about 1980.
The essential character of the counterfeit anti-abortion position is that it absolutizes “life” and creates a religion around being “pro-life.” Because saving lives is the ultimate good of this religion, everything else becomes relative. For the Christian, the worship and service of the true God of the Bible is ultimate, and this relativizes any anti-abortion activities we may engage in.
Prolifism is a form of humanism that treats human life as the ultimate good; thus, the preservation and “rescuing” of human physical life is central to it. Christianity makes the glory of God central, and what glorifies God is carefully defined in the Bible.
Let me lay out some contrasts. The pro-life religion says that capital punishment is wrong because “all life is sacred.” Christianity, however, says that capital punishment is right because God says so, and because the execution of a murderer brings glory to Him. We see this diffierence when a Prolifist is asked about the death penalty for abortion. “If abortion is murder, which you Prolifers say it is, do you believe in the death penalty for abortion?” Most Prolifists will say no, but the Christian, of course, must (carefully) answer yes.
The question becomes even more dramatic if phrased this way, “Since the mother is the chief culprit in an abortion, do you believe in putting the murdering mother to death?” Here the Prolifist counterfeit witness becomes almost unanimous: “Of course not!” But the Christian would have to answer this way: “Once the laws have been changed, abortion should be treated like any other form of murder. If a mother kills her 5-year old child, she should be put to death; and if a mother kills her baby in the womb, she also should be put to death.”
Second, Prolifists link being against abortion with being against family planning, two things that are completely different, but which both have to do with their false god, “Human Life.” From a Christian standpoint, neither sperm nor eggs are alive, and God does not prohibit birth control or family planning.
A third contrast is that Prolifists refuse to recognize that abortion may be God’s way of removing Canaanites from our land. A Christian must consider that if the wicked want to murder their children, that will only lessen the number of evil people our own children will have to contend with. Thus, the Christian witness against abortion is a part of the Christian witness in general. Our message is, “Don’t kill your baby, because there is a better way to live. Come into the kingdom.” But because Christians recognize that abortion is not the ultimate sin, the Christian is willing to relax in his or her witness and to do only those things the Bible authorizes in fighting abortion.
Thus, the prophets condemned those who offered their babies to Molech, but they did not organize “rescues.” I have written that “trespassing for dear life” is legitimate if it is a way of bearing public witness, if it is “prophetic theater.” For Prolifists, however, it is a way of saving babies. When you think about it, though, there are lots of more thorough ways to save babies: kill the abortionists, bomb the clinics, etc.
And why stop there? The babies that are born will be raised in pagan homes. We should kidnap them and put them into Christian homes, and thus “rescue” them from hell, which is far worse then mere death! You can see that from a Christian standpoint, the Prolife religion is very inconsistent. They are more concerned about saving babies from the knife than saving them from hellfire. They worship and serve “Human Life,” not God.
Fourth, the Prolife religion rapidly moves into false confrontations. For one thing, they seem more concerned about abortionists than about mothers, but abortion is market-driven and it is the women who are the chief culprits. The abortionist is only a hired gun. This fact, which the Prolifists refuse to face, is why wicked excommunicated heretics like Paul Hill can advocate killing abortionists, while saying nothing about killing mothers. (Of course, if you kill the mother in order to save the baby, you kill the baby too; and this fact puts a damper on killing as an option, something that does not sit well with men of violence.)
Another form of false confrontation, seen in connection with “rescues,” is that the Prolifist winds up in confrontation with the police. A Christian may confront those committing these evil deeds, but the Christian has been told to “go the extra mile” in order to avoid confrontations with those God has placed in authority over us.
Prolifists generally refuse to listen to anyone who has not been “bloodied in the fight,” that is, who has never been arrested. The measure of committment to their false humanist god is the degree of punishment you have sustained from the authorities. Christians must, of course, be ready to undergo punishment when spreading the gospel, but saving the babies of Canaanites is not at the heart of the Christian’s work and witness–it is a part, but it is not at the center.
Finally, the Prolifism has pretty much destroyed the original Christian anti-abortion witness in America. It started in the 1980s when certain fruitcake charismatics began moving in and taking over anti-abortion activity all over the country. (Please note: There are plenty of non-fruitcake charismatics.) These people know nothing about the Bible and theology, and many of them worship a false god who does not even know the future (the god of Youth With A Mission [YWAM], and other cults). In the late 1980s, an as-yet-unsorted mass of loony and normal charistmatics moved into “rescuing,” and initially drew a lot other other people with them. Sometimes orthodox Christians became involved, generally seeing “rescuing” as an opportunity to bear witness. Eventually, however, Biblical Christians moved away from “rescuing.”
Meanwhile, the “rescue movement” began to divide up, like the New Left did in the late 60s, and for the same reason: many of its leaders were unstable, ambitious drifters who wanted to become heroes and martyrs. (Such is Paul Hill.) Thus, each would-be hero wound up with his own group.
Most recently, charismania has hit these groups again, as the bizarro type of charismatic churches have gone into their most idiotic and moronic phase yet: services that consist of “holy laughter,” in which people get together and laugh themselves silly “in the Spirit.” Every time you think the degradation of Christianity in America has hit rock bottom, these people excavate another cellar to move it into.
As a result of all this, the older, responsible anti-abortion Christian voices have been overwhelmed, and their organizations left in the dust. You cannot hear a string quartet if a rock band is playing in the same room. This is probably for the good, if it forces us to channel our efforts into rebuilding the Church. The fact is that it takes an act of faith to believe that the baby in the womb is a human being, because you cannot see it. In our time, only Christianized cultures have regarded abortion as murder and criminalized it. Thus, apart from a revival of genuine Biblical Christianity, the present situation will not significantly change. We should do what we can, bearing witness and helping unwed mothers, but more and more it will be necessary for Christians to separate publicly from the heresies of the Prolifist religion and its false humanist god.
I conclude with an analogy I have found helpful. In the early and mid-19th century, both Christians and Abolitionists said that chattel slavery was wrong. Both opposed it, and sought to end it. After a while, the Abolitionists developed a violent wing (John Brown) that embarrassed the pacifist wing. The religion of Abolitionism was a form of humanism: “Human Freedom.” The Christians believe in human freedom also, but not as the ultimate good.
In the providence of God, the Abolitionists helped provoke a bloody war over the issue, and slavery was indeed abolished. The situation may become similar today. Both Christians and Prolifists oppose abortion. As time goes along, we are going to see more and more violent action by Prolifists, would-be John Browns like Paul Hill. The result may be a bloody civil war that will end abortion. If God brings this to pass, we may well rejoice at the outcome, but we cannot as Christians approve of the means.
God is taking world history through various stages of growth; in the midst of it all, He calls us to have a consistent, Biblical witness.
James Jordan is scholar-in-residence at Theopolis. This article originally appeared at Biblical Horizons.