When I graduated from college, I was too spiritual to worry about abortion. I was pro-life—no question about that. But I could see no reason to get all bothered about it. I had bigger fish to fry. After all, the abortion issue was for people who like to mix Christianity with politics. It was not for people like myself who were into theology and the gospel. I would leave the pro-life cause to those who didn’t know the difference between Christianity and the Republican Party. I had all but washed my hands of it. How short-sighted and foolish I was.
As I have written in this space before, beginning in 1998 God used John Piper to awaken me from my dogmatic slumbers. It was “Extreme Makeover: Theological Edition,” and it required me to rethink some things—not the least of which was my attitude toward the abortion issue. What provoked me most was when I heard Piper tell his story of spending the night in jail after protesting at an abortion clinic. I was astonished that this man that I admired so much thought enough of the issue to get his own skin in the game. I had to reconsider all my priorities at that point, and I haven’t been the same since.
I’m writing about this now because Piper just released an interview today in which he discusses the effort that he participated in during the late 80’s that landed him in jail. It was Piper’s narrative of that experience that motivated me to get involved, and perhaps it will do the same for some of you. If you have some minutes, I recommend that you listen to this. You can download it here, or listen below.
“Arrests and Imprisonments in Opposing Abortion”
I also recommend that you read or listen to Piper’s sermon from January 15, 1989, “Rescuing Unborn Children: Required and Right.” It’s a message on Proverbs 24:10-12 in which he makes the case for the rescue ministry that he was a part of at that time. The Friday after Piper delivered this message, Piper and four staff members from Bethlehem Baptist Church were arrested outside of Planned Parenthood in Minneapolis. You can read the sermon here, download it here, or listen below.
“Rescuing Unborn Children: Required and Right”
Paula Bolyard (@pbolyard)
Thanks for sharing this, Denny. I think there are also parallels to MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” where King makes the moral, biblical, and historical case for rescuing the oppressed. To my shame, I had never read the letter in its entirety, having only been exposed to the sound bites quoted by civil rights advocates that leave out what (I think) are the most important parts. He expressed his disappointment with the “moderate” church, imploring his brothers and sisters in Christ to emulate the early church:
“By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.
“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”
We need to take those words to heart and as Piper said, we need to “remove the excuses.”
A friend of mine was the only pastor arrested defending Terri Schiavo’s life, trying to bring her some water.