Politics,  Theology/Bible

Joseph Is a Single-Issue Evangelical

In Southern Seminary’s chapel today, Russell Moore delivered one of the most prophetic pro-life messages I have ever heard. You can download it here or listen to it below.


One of the most powerful sections of the sermon comes when Moore makes a comparison between “Christians” of a former generation who tolerated the lynching of African-Americans and “Christians” of this generation who tolerate the atrocity of abortion:

“There are churches, and there are pastors, and there are young evangelical leaders who are saying to us, ‘We ought not be single-issue evangelicals. We ought to be concerned about more issues than simply abortion.’ Which means that we ought to be willing to join ourselves and to vote for and to support candidates who will support legalized abortion, who will deny the personhood of children who are still in the womb, because we are able to support them on other issues . . . Many of them are in a desperate quest to say to their congregations and to people potentially in their congregations, ‘I’m not Jerry Falwell.’ And many of them believe that it is missional to speak to people while blunting or silencing a witness about the life of children so that you can reach them with the gospel. . . Some will tell us there are many other issues: economics, global warming—issues I’m very concerned about too. Previous generations have said that as well. Previous generations of preachers have stood in the pulpit and preached until they were red in the face about card-playing and movie-going and tax-policy and personal morality and tobacco-smoking and a thousand other issues, but would not speak to the fact that there were African-American brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus swinging in the trees! And there is judgment of God upon that. And there is here too.”

This is a message that needs to be distributed far and wide. I hope you will do so.

“Joseph of Nazareth Is a Single-Issue Evangelical: The Father of Jesus, the Cries of the Helpless, and Change You Can Believe In” (Matt. 2:13-23) – by Russell Moore


  • Tom

    I’m certainly against abortion, but Moore’s polemic is hardly a fair representation of these other evangelicals.

    This is most adequately represented in his suggestion that contemporary concerns about global warming, war and economics – all things which can be oppressive to entire populations of people – are somehow equivalent to card playing and movie-going. It’s just an asinine comparison.

    Other than that, I appreciate the comparison between abortion and slavery – it’s a good one.

  • Darius

    I see your point, Tom, except on global warming, which is a scam to give more control to the government. It saddens me that McCain has fallen for this, but it doesn’t surprise me. I do think that the recession is going to be a good thing for conservatives, because it will restrain the liberal spending spree, especially on fluff like global warming (or is it now global cooling, I can never keep up with the fads).

  • Ryan

    It is very unhelpful for evangelicals to call global warming “a scam,” or “fluff like global warming.” There obviously is some evidence out there for some form of global warming, it may not be to the extreme that Gore would have you believe, but at least try and approach the subject with a little more intelligence. You are right, abortion far out weights global warming, but it is only harmful for evangelicals to call global warming “a scam.” From that point on, any argument you make will not be heard because you have been turned off by folks who have strong feelings about global warming and any chance you may have had to show the importance of abortion is for naught.

  • Darius

    Ryan, I have read a few books on the subject and studied it a lot, which apparently you have not. The people who have “strong feelings” are the ones who aren’t approaching this subject with intelligence, not I. Rather than take my word on it, please read the following books: Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg (an economist’s view of the current solutions like the Kyoto Protocol), Climate Confusion by Roy Spencer, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming (and Environmentalism) by Chris Horner. These will open your eyes. Or you can visit my blog and go to all my “global warming” posts and the links to the left if you want more evidence to show what a scam it truly is. It saddens me when a Christian gets bamboozled by the latest scare tactics of the Left; don’t surrender the argument just because the media and politicians tell you to do so.

  • Darius

    Exactly. BIBLICAL stewardship, not the kind of “the earth is fragile and we humans can be gods and save it.” The earth is designed to take our “subduing.” Now, we don’t need to dump toxins into rivers, but this isn’t hurting the earth so much as it is hurting other humans. Change your light bulbs because they will save you energy and money, not because they will somehow “save the planet.” The ridiculousness of that statement should be obvious to all.

  • Ryan

    There are books on both sides of the argument. So you are telling me that all the books with arguments for some form global warming are 100% false? Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying global warming is a very important issue. And you are right in saying it has gained too much focus from the “left.” There is good evidence on both sides of the issue, and like CJ said, stewardship by Christians is important, while calling it an outright “scam” is less helpful..

  • Casey

    I don’t think Moore would say that global warming, war, and economics are equivalent to card playing and movie going. Hence, he says concerning the former issues, “issues I’m concerned with as well.” The comparison he’s making is about the foolishness of ignoring abortion for any other issue. He’s making a biblical case that abortion is the grossest form of evil in God’s eyes and it can’t be overlooked. In his comparison each preacher is tolerating the horrific evil in front of his face, while preaching against other things. The emphasis of the comparison should be on the toleration of evil instead of on the issues preached against. Its foolish to preach against anything by calling it evil when you ignore the most evil issue. When millions of innocent babies are being murdered, I don’t think it really matters what other issues are being highlighted. His point is that this is the single most important issue in the eyes of God. Do you really think that global warming, war, and the economy compares with abortion? War is certainly horrific, but nothing quite lives up to the evil of millions of people willfully choosing to murder their own children so that they can live their lives how they want. I’m afraid that we’ve tolerated abortion for so long, that many of us aren’t shocked by it anymore.

  • tom

    Thanks for the reply.

    Let me just say that even if Global warming is a scam, the people who believe it still don’t see it on the level of card playing. They think it’s genuinely hurting the planet and hurting people. You may disagree with them – and that’s your right – but you cannot deny that they believe the heart of this issue is deeper than wearing red lipstick or dancing.

    Also, whether global warming is truer or false, I still don’t buy your premise that our dumping of toxins only hurts people, not the planet. Animals die and I’d say that’s hurtful to them. And we’re not being responsible stewards when we kill animals b/c of our own wastefulness.

    The Hebrew word for subdue is a word that communicates responsible stewardship. But we’re often raping the environment, not caring for it. I find it hard to believe we’re being responsible stewards and it’s not only hurting us – even if GW is just a political ploy.

    But, alas, this is off the topic of Denny’s post.

  • Darius

    Let’s just throw this out there. We are cooler right now than we were 1000 years ago during the Medieval Warming Period. Were mammoths driving around gas-guzzling SUVs or does that in itself make you skeptical that global warming has anything to do with human involvement? Or consider the fact that the graphs (yes, more evidence) of the temperatures over the last 1000 years go up and down on a very consistent cycle. Or the fact that 1934 is still the warmest year in the last 100; in fact, only one of the last 10 years makes it into the top 10 warmest of the last century. Or the fact that the earth hasn’t warmed at all since 2001.

    Please also consider the minds like Drs Gray and Lindzen (professors at Colorado State and MIT, respectively). Gray is the premier hurricane forecaster in the world, and Lindzen is an atmospheric physicist. Both deny that global warming is happening beyond natural reasons, and Gray suggested 4 years ago that the earth would begin cooling in about 5-10 years (from back then). Guess what? This past year was the coolest in 15 years.

    Furthermore, please think about what the other side would have you believe. The global warm-mongering experts like the Reverend Al Gore, Sheryl Crow, and Leonardo DiCrapio say that to deny global warming is the equivalent of denying the Holocaust and that the debate is settled and anyone who questions it should be excluded from any discussion. Does that reek of a movement confident in the veracity of its claims? After all, if the evidence is so solid, then why the intolerance of others’ beliefs?

  • Darius

    I guess my point is this, Ryan. If you intellectually surrender on the issue of global warming, why would anyone give you the time of day on any other issue? If you don’t fight for truth on that issue, then how do expect others to listen to you about abortion. Truth matters everywhere, and considering that the “solutions” for global warming will kill millions in the Third World, this issue may be just as important as abortion.

  • Nathan


    How has Dr. Moore’s sermon moved to a discussion on global warming?

    His point is that any other concern (global warming, economics, etc) of evangelicals cannot be discussed if that pastor or church is condoning abortion.

    He then contrasts that with previous generations who were attempting to keep their congregations “moral” by speaking of card-playing, movies, etc. as hypocrites because they were tolerating lynching.

    I’m sorry gentlemen, but to turn this post into a discussion on global warming is, in some ways, doing exactly what Dr. Moore warned us against.

    The question is: Can there be another point of concern for evangelicals, if they are tolerant of the culture of death.

    For those of us who have been posting of the last few days, we have seen plenty of examples of people who post who are effectively saying “yes” to that very question.

    Global warming is a scam if we are going to say its takes precedent over this sermon’s point.

  • Darius

    “…card-playing and movie-going and tax-policy and personal morality and tobacco-smoking and a thousand other issues.”

    I believe the economy falls under “tax-policy” and global warming under “a thousand other issues.”

  • tom

    Don’t you see why Moore’s polemic isn’t helpful? Even if Gore and Crow are wrong, they and Christians who agree with them still think it’s absolutely hurtful to people and the planet. So, for the them, and those who agree with them, the issue is just as important as abortion and should not be belittled as if its the same thing as ‘card playing.’

    Tax policy in the 1840’s is not the same thing as the economic reach of American policies today – so, again, I think it’s an asinine comparison designed more for those who already agree with him.

    Again, my point isn’t whether global warming is true – my point is that it’s not fair to characterize people in this way and make their passions seem as silly as card playing.

  • Darius

    I don’t believe he made that comparison. He worked his way from the small things like card playing up to the bigger things like tax policy (even if it is not the exact same thing as today’s tax policy). He’s making the point that people talk about all these other issues, from the small to the very important, yet want to ignore the unborn. He’s not saying don’t talk about those other issues. He IS saying don’t neglect an extremely important issue like slavery or abortion. And plenty of today’s evangelicals are doing just that.

  • Tom

    I know many of these people who think there are other imprtant issues – and they don’t neglect abortion. Many of them work in maternity homes to give people other options besides abortion. They just think that these other issues should not be ignored.

    Over the past decade or so, the abortion issue has not be ignored by evangelicals, while issues like war, economic policy, etc. have been ignored.

    None of the evangelicals I know ignore the unborn. Having other issues to fight for is not the same thing as neglecting abortion. I believe a false dichotomy is being set up – whether intentionally or unintentionally, I do not know.

    Abortion is important – deathly important! But it is not the only issue.

  • Kyle Barrett


    Thanks for your comment. To clarify though, Ryan never said that global warming was as important as abortion. In fact, he said the exact opposite. Ryan’s point was that Darius is not arguing for his position but saying the other side are a bunch of idiots. My sarcastic remark (comment #12) was in response to Darius’ attitude. I actually agree with Dr. Moore in the sense that abortion is the issue of the day. For the church to raise anything else to this level is wrong on so many levels. BUT, in order to change minds and hearts you don’t call the other side stupid explicitly or implicitly. That is what Darius seems to be doing.


  • brian

    I believe the sermon was excellent. He had one central thought and he supported it throughout. He did a great job of showing Christ in the Old Testament. He gave us a plethora of scriptures to support his thesis. We should thank God for his gifts and his willingness to help inform and build up the body of Christ.

  • Darius

    Kyle, you need to learn to read better before commenting again. I said global warming was a scam, so Ryan said I wasn’t being intelligent because I didn’t understand people’s strong feelings. I then pointed out that strong feelings don’t make for good, intelligent debates. I then ALSO gave significant evidence and resources for my side of the debate. And you claim I’m calling people idiots, when it was in fact Ryan who almost explicitly called me an idiot. Don’t be a liar and make yourself look the fool. Learn to read, then comment.

  • Nathan

    Kyle, thanks, but my comments were directed at Tom since he was the one who initiated these “other items” as equally important.

    And, as so often happens with myself and others on this blog, we tend to drift quickly from the main question of the day. After listening to Dr. Moore’s sermon, that just hit home for me.

  • Kyle Barrett


    Before you call someone a liar or say they don’t know how to read, you might actually want to know a little bit about them. If you want to make ad hominem arguments about me that’s fine. My point was not that you were wrong about global warming but that you were wrong in your approach. You are calling people idiots IMPLICITLY when you call it a scam. When you say that you lose people. When you attack someone as a liar and illiterate you lose people – no matter how many facts you muster and how much you’ve read or how much intelligence you have. Your comments make me think you want to win an argument rather than someone’s opinion.


  • Ryan

    Was I wrong in saying, that calling global warming a “scam,” implies that those who argue for global warming are idiots? All I was trying to do was point out that Darius, and others, are mocking global warming. I enjoy good discussion, but Darius’ attitude is horrible. Global warming is not cut and dry issue. Have some humility, and ask yourself before you post, would I say this if the person I am responding to was standing right in front of me? I am done trying to have a reasonable discussion on blogs…

  • Darius

    LOL, you throw around sarcasm and accusations and then project yourself onto me. You obviously haven’t bothered to THOROUGHLY or ACCURATELY read a single comment in this thread. Global warming is a scam, plain and simple. When someone then asked why I would think that, I gave them evidence. That’s called trying to change someone’s opinion. Pretty simple. Ryan called me an idiot, champ. Not the other way around. Though I am getting close to calling you one, liar is too nice.

  • Tom

    I appreciate your desire to stay on topic. I have the same desire which is why I haven’t engaged the GW discussion. In fact, I said twice in my previous postings that we were moving off topic.

    I only made my “other item’s” comment b/c it was relevant – I think Moore is offering an unhelpful polemic. I don’t see how that’s off topic. We can ignore my comments, and that’s okay with me. But I don’t think they’re out of place – it’s not like I started something about Egalitarianism vs. Complimentarianism or anything 🙂

    Cheer, brother.

  • Ryan

    You are right, my word choice was wrong. It did sound like I indirectly called you and idiot, which was not intention. We all need to use better wisdom.

  • Nathan


    Fair enough, but don’t mention Egal vs. Comp too loud or this entire day will fall prey to it as we have seen in the past.


  • Darius

    Tom, I never intended to move off-topic, but unfortunately some decided to go there and it is a very important topic, so I offered them some resources and information which they rejected and called me an idiot and other things as well. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t be more civil, but what can you do? To get back onto your discussion… you said that “none of the evangelicals [you] know ignore the unborn.” I am in the same boat, I don’t personally know anyone who ignores the unborn. HOWEVER, there are significant numbers of Christians who do, primarily in the Emergent/ing community. They have elevated social justice above abortion, and only pay lip service to abortion when pressed on it. They are the ones who make this false dichotomy between voting pro-life and supporting women with unwanted pregnancies. I don’t know any evangelical who doesn’t support both methods.

  • Darius

    Ugh, I got filtered. Ryan, I have one last comment directed to you that will have to be unfiltered. Suffice it to say that you and I are cool, you were generally quite civil.

  • Nathan

    And Darius, Dr. Moore made that point in the sermon. And I do believe that was behind the dicussion of secondary issues taking precedent over primary.

    Excellent point about the “emerging” community. They want so despartely to meld with the masses they tend to shy away from issues that call for a line in the sand, all the while stating they are concerned about them as well.

    And, not to jump back into Global Warming, but the “Green” issues of the day are the talking points that these “emergers” seek to connect on.

    Yet to be honest, as far as I can tell, my church is all about speaking aginst abortion. But, I do not know how much we actually fight against it. Maybe I have missed it, but I have not seen sign-ups for volunteering at clinics, sign-ups for housing young teens who need a place to live until their baby is born, etc.

    Charles Roesel wrote a book called “Meeting Needs, Sharing Christ” in which he said that you cannot truly share the gospel if you don’t do both things in the title.

    Food for thought.

  • Kyle Barrett


    1. My sarcastic remark should have not been said. My point could have been made without that. For that, I am sorry. Also, my comment in #19 should have been directed to you. For that I am sorry as well.

    2. I never called you an idiot. I never called you a liar. I never said that I thought you were wrong about the issue of global warming. My comments were all in response to what I thought was strong language on your part. All I ever stated was my opinion on why I thought you weren’t (wouldn’t be) convincing to those who disagree with you because you use language that I think is overly and unnecessarily strong. There are other ways to marshall your evidence than leading off with words like “scam” and “fluff”.

    3. Again, I should have directed my comments in #19 directly to you so for that I am sorry as well.

    I stand by my point that people will not hear you and take you to heart if you use unnecessarily strong language which in my opinion you did. We can disagree on that but that’s how it comes across to me. Maybe we can blame it on the Interweb. Or maybe there really is an issue with both of us on how we think best to argue a point.

    I won’t comment on this post anymore because I do think that Dr. Moore’s sermon is a good one and deserves a hearing.



  • Darius

    Nathan, I am most definitely not saying that the Church can’t do better. We can do more to get involved in the daily dirty fight against abortion on the personal level. And I’m sure some churches aren’t doing any of that, which is why Moore’s message is so good, because he addresses both the political and personal side of the issue. But I DO know that many evangelical churches are like my own, which supports a crisis pregnancy center with both money and manpower. I have had the opportunity to help out at the center on several occasions. And I know plenty other churches which are likewise engaged in community around them. And we could do more (though in some cases, you have to choose your battles for lack of resources). What Moore is primarily saying is 1) that those who believe abortion is not worth mentioning on the political level compared to the economy or any one of “a thousand other issues” will have God’s judgment to deal with, and 2) that those who ONLY talk about the political part of the abortion fight and don’t get involved in actually helping women in those situations are equally doomed to feel God’s judgment. He’s preaching against a false dichotomy in either direction.

  • Nathan

    Darius: I agree and my comments were not about you and others, but about reflecting on the need for both rhetoric and action.

    I appreciate what your church is doing.

  • Darius

    Kyle, I appreciate your comment. And I know I am not without fault; I got pretty defensive (to say the least). I don’t care so much about people saying or implying that I’m an idiot (which I don’t believe you did, that was Ryan), that’s fine. Maybe I am an idiot. But I’m more riled up when conversations or words are twisted and someone is unfair in their assessment of a debate, which I thought you were. I am sorry I called you a liar or nearly an idiot. That was uncalled for and excessive.

    I guess I don’t see calling the movement of global warming a scam as the equivalent of calling people idiots for believing in it. Besides some of the big names like Al Gore and DiCaprio, who are idiots, most people are just ignorant (which is not their fault), but not idiots. If everyone was given the full information on the issue, most people would realize how silly this issue is. “Scam” is a much more mild word than I could use for it. Vile and evil deceit comes to mind. 🙂

  • Tom

    Thanks for the reply. The spirit of gentleness is beginning to take over in this post, and it is exciting to see.

    I undersand there are emergent/ing people out there who ignore abortion or give lipservice to it. But the poeple I’m referring to would actually fall into the emerging camp, but still care about abortion. So, I think it really has to do w/ individuals instead of the movement at large. The larger movement says there are other things equally important. The individuals are the ones who decide what to ignore.

    But, hey, that’s only my experience. Yours may be different.

    Enjoyed the discussion, guys, but I’m headed out of town for the weekend with the wife.

  • Brian (Another)

    Going back to the sermon (or what I can glean from what is said here, I still haven’t been able to listen yet), most of the issues I hear (that many argue take equal stature with abortion) are comfort issues. They seem to all dwell upon me and us here. And in the end, I suppose, for me, it’s about human dignity. Abortion seeks to completely deny human dignity to a class of people (an abortion denies the most intrinsic value of a right to life). God’s most precious gift (salvation being different here). Other issues are definitely important, but they do not seek to deny dignity, but rather begin to define levels of dignity. For me, that is the defining characteristic.

    I suppose, after reading the comments here (and on some other sites, too……I hope Dr. Burk doesn’t get angry that I read other blogs ;-), the thing that comes back is policy. That so much of that to which we point (our important issues) is a matter of policy. E.g. health care. It’s not that one candidate wants health care for everybody and the other wants to strip health care from everyone that may even have it now (and give it only to the top 1%). Or taxes. It’s not like one wants to tax only the rich and the other wants to tax only the poor. Or it’s not that one wants to always be in a war and the other only wants peace. The two candidates are gradients of one another on a vast majority of issues. With the exception of a few. The glaring one, of course, is that they are polar opposite on abortion. And, hence, why I think many hold it to a defining value (going back to the first part it is a transcendent value).

    PS: DJ Williams, if you’re “around”: Thank you so kindly for the extremely generous words.

  • Gim Anderson

    So how did voting for George W. Bush (Republican) help limit the number of terminations in the last eight years?
    The point against single issue voting on this subject is that conservatives are being used by the Republicans who DO NOTHING.

  • Darius

    Umm, Gim, are you serious? Do the names Alito and Roberts ring a bell? Sure, they haven’t done a whole lot… yet. Their hands are tied since the Court is still moderate left. That’s why this next election is so important, because there should be at least one seat to be filled by the next President, and more than likely it will be a liberal vacating it. So to fill that with a conservative strict constitutionalist could make all the difference in the world.

  • Denny Burk


    Alito and Roberts voted with the majority that upheld the partial-birth abortion ban. This was a huge victory for the cause of life.

    Even Barack Obama agrees that the balance of the Supreme Court is why the Presidency is so important in this debate.


  • Gim Anderson

    Of course patience is required. If they actually did ANYTHING to reduce the number of terminations, or to terminate terminations, then you wouldn’t have to vote for them anymore.

  • Derek

    If Christians would vote for pro-life candidates, both parties would be more pro-life than they are. It is because so many Christians (and Catholics) vote for pro-choice politicians that we aren’t making significant enough progress on the abortion issue.

    You probably weren’t tuned into the news when Alito and Roberts were nominated, Gim, but I can tell you that the battle to get them on the court was absolutely fierce. Pro abortion groups spent millions of dollars trying to derail their nominations.

    Unfortunately, the balance on the Supreme Court is at least 5-4 in favor of Roe v. Wade.

    The abortion groups are breathing a huge sigh of relief now that virtually all of their pro-life opposition is about to get wiped out in the coming election. And they love it when Christians are divided on abortion, because that means they win. That is no exaggeration.

  • Don

    That was a good article by Piper, on disqualifiers. That is the way I vote, I vote AGAINST the worst candidate of the 2 most likely. And their stance on abortion is a factor, as it is a matter of life. There does seem to be an amazing amount of sophistry claiming that one can be against abortion yet vote for “the One”.

  • smithbaptist

    The “disqualifer” point make sense for those evangelicals who would have refused to vote back when many thought the choice would have been between Hillary and Rudy Guliani.

    The evangelicals that refuse to vote for any pro-choice candidate (regardless) can make this argument. However, I heard a lot of hedging back when the choices looked different. Ah, the thin line between one’s religion and one’s politics.

  • Brian (Another)

    Not sure if anyone (‘specially Dr. Burk) comes back to these comments or not, but I finally got to listen to the audio. A few clarifications that I thought I might offer:

    1) About card playing and movie-going (to further Nathan’s comment), I think Dr. Moore’s point was to say that Christians (then) were concerning themselves with trying to eliminate (the immoralities of) card-playing and movie going. Looking into his statement more, it means the people were up in arms about the immoralities of and surrounding card playing and movie-going. My assumption is that means gambling and immoral films. The point behind it is that we were preaching about those items, speaking out against them, probably even demonstrating by bustin’ up a card game or two (non-violently, of course ;-). While people poured their effort into those things (which were moral concerns for a Christian in the same way environment and economics are to us today), men and women were swinging from the trees. Something (lynching) that should have been taking front and center (as it robs the dignity from those men and women, dignity given by God) was put aside and counted as “one issue among many” that was to be discussed (preached about, etc.).
    2) Dr. Moore is a country fan (sorry, Paul!).
    3) Dr. Burk apparently owns all of the Hannah Montana cd’s.*

    * – The veracity of this statement is suspect.

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