How do we wage war against atrocities that leave us paralyzed in silent devastation? How do we rise up against injustice that cripples us under its unspeakably heavy burden? These are questions I have grappled with in the wake of what is now five videos that clearly and undeniably implicate top level Planned Parenthood in the sell-for-profit of God’s image bearers whose lives have been sacrificed on the altar of convenience.
My wife is pregnant with twins. Being pregnant with twins, we get to see our babies every four weeks in the ultrasound room. It is a joy that I too often diminish. Still, each month I am amazed at God’s handiwork—the intricacy of the design of their little fingers, the complexity of their little hearts, the wonder of the provision of God to sustain their little lives. Even if you reject the testimony of Scripture that recognizes the unborn as a person—one whom God has fashioned, endowed with His own image and dignified with life—is it really possible to reject the experience of an ultrasound visit that testifies to the humanness of the unborn?
As image bearers, we share solidarity with one another, even with the unborn, and we sense the weight and the wrongness of the death of other image bearers.
The humanness of the unborn is an innate truth. We don’t just know it. We feel it. We feel it when Planned Parenthood executives speak of the unborn as commodities to be harvested for profit and a deep, restless violence quakes in our soul. As image bearers, we share solidarity with one another, even with the unborn, and we sense the weight and the wrongness of the death of other image bearers. When you drive by a horrible accident and see the EMT zip the body bag closed, your stomach drops. Someone has died. No one with a soul drives by a dead body without missing a beat. And no one with a soul can endure a discussion about the commodification of “fetal body parts.”
The atrocities of Planned Parenthood—atrocities that exceed the bounds of simply abortion—that have come to light over the past several weeks wreck me. The thought of my unborn son and daughter not only being aborted but then being dissected in the name of scientific progress and profits cripples me. Words fail. Words seem so feeble not only to express my emotions but to wield as a sword to pierce the darkness of such injustice. And so I remain silent.
If we fail to war against the darkness that seems so near, how are we to rebuke evil that seems so distant, so removed from our personal experience? How are we to march the banner of truth down the streets of neighborhoods of which we have only heard and to which we have never been? These also are questions I have wrestled with in light of the persistent racism that continues to bear its evil head in our culture.
Whether it has been the (repeated) news of a white police officer gunning down an unarmed black man or the debate over the Confederate flag, there is no more denying that the roots of racism run far deeper in this county—even in our own hearts—than we care to admit. This racism is a personal and/or a systemic injustice that refuses to recognize and appreciate the dignity of another’s humanity based upon the color of their skin. Racism resides in the human heart and in the systems of human culture—business, education, law enforcement, etc.
The way of Christ rejects authority in favor of service, so if we find ourselves desiring to win authority over others, we will prove to be those who have yet to pay the price of our life to follow Christ.
Therefore, not only is racism an explicit refusal to recognize the dignity of all persons whom God made in His image, it is also for the Christian a refusal to obey Christ’s call to humility. The way of Christ rejects authority in favor of service, so if we find ourselves desiring to win authority over others, we will prove to be those who have yet to pay the price of our life to follow Christ.
But I have no idea what it is like to be dismissed for the color of my skin. I have no idea what it is like to be taken into the custody of white police officers because you “resemble a suspect in a crime.” I have no idea what it is like to be walking down the sidewalk and have people change course at the sight of me. These are all experiences external to me. They are the stories of others. They are not my own. And so I remain silent.
If no voice rebukes evil, if no words are wielded to pierce its darkness, does not such silence become the greater evil? Does not the silence of those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, who have been commanded to fight for justice for the oppressed become a voice in support of evil? In the face of the unspeakable evil of abortion and Planned Parenthood, in the face of the heinous evil of racism, is not our silence the greater evil?
In the face of the unspeakable evil of abortion and Planned Parenthood, in the face of the heinous evil of racism, is not our silence the greater evil?
So how can we crawl out of the shadows of our silence? How can we rise up against the injustices that seem too overwhelming to overcome? These questions demand biblical reflection and prayerful consideration. Too much is at stake to craft quick responses that cause unintended consequences. Such has been the case with the church’s typical response to the evil of abortion that has rightly advocated for the unborn while wrongly failing to advocate for the women victimized by sexual abuse or traumatized by the termination of their pregnancy. Nonetheless, the difficulty of answering these questions does not excuse or dismissal of them. We must answer them lest we be content to approve evil. The questions we must answer are so broad, there is no single answer. The responses will be as broad and deep as the questions they seek to answer. But for one who is no longer content to linger in the dark shadows of silence, to leave these questions unattended, I offer the following answers as an encouragement to join me in breaking our silence.
Search the Scriptures. Learn what God teaches regarding the dignity of all His image bearers—those unborn, those whose skin is a different color, those whose language is foreign to us and those whose culture is unfamiliar to us. The biblical narrative clearly, unapologetically and without distinction dignifies all humans because they are made in the image of God himself. Sit under the testimony of Scripture and let its weight humble you.
Pray. Pray for the Spirit of God to stir up a humble love for the oppressed and marginalized. Pray that the love of Christ would so constrain God’s people that we could not help but pursue the good of others because Christ, even when we were His enemy, pursued our good. Pray that the light of the hope of the gospel would shine forth into the darkness of injustice and bring healing.
Build relationships. Seek out the pregnant teenage girl and display the care of Christ to her. Seek out the single mom who works a minimum wage job to support her three kids and is expecting a fourth who she can’t financially support and reflect the provision of Christ to her. Seek out the woman who is terrified of getting to know anyone because the last man she was with abused her and forced her to have an abortion and proclaim the hope of Christ to her. Seek out your neighbor who seems to be different from your family in every way and invite them over for dinner to display the hospitality of Christ to them. Seek out the immigrant worker who cleans your corner office every night and reflect the humility of Christ to them.
Get involved. Volunteer your time, talents and/or resources to support organizations like the Pregnancy Resource Center of Gwinnett and Atlanta Pregnancy Resource Center that extend the love of Christ to pregnant women and their families. Prayerfully consider pursuing adoption. The church as a long history of caring for abandoned and unwanted babies, even collecting them in the middle of the night off porches where they were left to die in ancient Rome. The church today should be so eager to exhibit the same Christ-like care. In doing so, we can afford mothers of unwanted pregnancies a gospel-displaying alternate to abortion.