So I spent one Saturday on the sidewalks in front abortion clinic pregnant. The following week my husband and I left town for a vacation. While on our vacation, I suffered a devastating miscarriage. Upon returning to town, my husband and I took a few weeks off from the sidewalks. We weren’t quite sure we could handle it. But two Saturdays ago, I returned to the sidewalks. It was a rough day on the sidewalks, but probably not for the reasons you think. I learned a hard lesson. Let me explain.
One of the most difficult things I’ve had to continually face in the three years I’ve been out on the sidewalks is how to relate to the escorts. During my 1st year or so out there, I struggled and failed in many ways in regards to them. I even repented and sought forgiveness from one escort I had shoved in retaliation to her shoving me. She laughed in my face. But let me set the stage for those of you who have not encountered the escorts on the sidewalks. Most of the time most of the escorts do not even speak to us, which is a more recent trend and is actually better than the alternative, which consists of them belittling, degrading, yelling, and mocking the sidewalk counselors and our beliefs. In addition to the verbal assaults we have endured, they typically stomp on our feet, shove, push, and elbow (to the neck even) us as we sought to peacefully talk to women considering abortions. But despite all of this, I sought to have some sort of friendship with any of the escorts who were willing. There was really only a very few who were willing. My thinking was this: I work with, socialize with, and am related to others who do not share my beliefs on religion, abortion, politics, etc. I basically sought to treat them as I would any coworker friend with whom I do not agree. I’ve tried to hold to that philosophy, with great difficulty, throughout my stint on the sidewalks. I’ve even shared that strategy with others at trainings. I was determined to make this strategy work. I did not and still do not quite understand how I am to relate to the escorts.
Despite my awkward friendship with them, I came to care deeply for them. But during the last few months, it has gotten more and more difficult to maintain any kind of civil relationship with any of the escorts. And at this point, there were really only three that I considered friends (K, P, and F). My weird and sometimes tumultuous friendship with K has always had its many ups and downs, mostly downs these days. P has always been really nice while keeping her distance. But I have always had a pretty good-as-it-can-be friendship with F, who is a friendly, fun-loving young lady. She and I have always had great conversations.
This brings me to the reason for this blog posting. On my 1st Saturday back on the sidewalks, I was surprised and excited (despite her escorting status) to see her. The last time I had spoken to her a few months ago, she was heading off to do volunteer work up in the Northeast somewhere. I walked across the street to see her and hug her neck. Well, our friendly reunion quickly turned sour. After a few minutes of catching up, F said she wanted to ask me a question, a question she had never asked anyone with my beliefs. I responded positively, so she trudged ahead. She basically asked me what my take on homosexuality is. Now here’s a bit of information you need to set the stage for this conversation. F is gay, and, while seeking to talk about the Lord Jesus Christ in conversations, I had deliberately avoided the issue of homosexuality. But here it was hitting me in the face. I sought to respectfully and gently explain what the whole of the Bible says about homosexuality and immorality in general. Despite this, my response did not go over well with F. Not only did it not go over well, she immediately accused me of devaluing and degrading her as a person. I was shocked and hurt by her response. I challenged her by asking her when I had ever treated her as if she had no value or as if I did not care about her. She did not have a response to my question mainly because by God’s grace I had not treated her that way. But she continued to accuse me of these types of things, which I just indicated were false accusations. I was instantly deflated and discouraged, and it was a heart-breaking experience for me. I had really liked and cared about F. But in the end, she lied about me just like all the other escorts. During this whole conversation with F, P was right there with us. By the end of my morning on the sidewalks, I was not speaking to F, P, or K. What discouragement!
Pretty much immediately after my conversation with F, I went and talked to A, a fellow sidewalk counselor about it. A had previously come to hold to a different philosophy than I had had in regards to the escorts. I told him everything that had transpired. He kindly reiterated his approach with the escorts to me. The Lord showed me the truth in what he was saying. I cannot befriend escorts; I cannot treat them as I treat others in my life with whom I disagree. No one else in my life leads women to death; no one else in my life openly mocks the Bible and Christ Jesus himself; no one else in my life spews hate towards me; no one else in my life lies about me. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of the sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” Psalms 1.1 Although by God’s grace I have not “walked in the counsel of the wicked,” I had sought out some sort of friendship with mockers, sinners, and what the Word calls the wicked. But the Word says blessed is the man who does NOT do those things. Despite the deep care and affection that I have for these escorts, there is a great chasm between the escorts and the sidewalk counselors, a great chasm that cannot be mended by my philosophies and approaches. It is a chasm that can only be healed by the Lord Jesus Christ. And until the Lord moves on their hearts, which I hope and pray is soon, to show them their deep need of him, no friendship or companionship can be found; there is no common ground to be found. This has been a hard, disappointing, and yet beneficial lesson for me to learn. Praise the Lord for his grace in my life!
This morning, Russell Moore penned an article to his newborn son Taylor explaining the meaning behind his name. The entire letter is beautiful and most certainly worth the read. I wanted to highlight a few paragraphs here.
Dr. Moore begins the article by saying his son is named after former United States Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi. He then states:
But, more importantly, your name is about something we thought was true about you.
Early on in your unborn life, a doctor told us he thought you would have Down Syndrome. He turned out to be wrong, but we didn’t know that until you were born. Sadly, you probably won’t meet a lot of kids with Down Syndrome because so few of them ever make it to birth these days, so you might not even understand what that is.
When the doctor told us this, your mother and I looked at each other and knew right away that you would be a gift: Down Syndrome or not. Your worth and your value wouldn’t be in whether or not this age saw you as having “power” or “success,” but instead based on your bearing the image of the God who made you and who loves you.
Now, this is all bound up in what your mother and I believe about the gospel. We believe that the kingdom long promised came to us in a Son who took on human nature, was executed in weakness, and was raised by the power of God. He has put together a reign made up of people who don’t meet this world’s expectations of what it means to “count.”
But that basic Christian conviction crystallized for me, in a unique way, while working with Gene Taylor. He consistently and holistically believed that human dignity matters, matters for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, the unborn.
The letter is a great honor to a great man who cared about the dignity of all life. Read the whole thing here.
Why the heck are you bothering?
It’s obvious that it’s nothing to do with babies to your church. It’s the threat of there being less Christians, women gaining complete autonomous bodily freedom and keeping them subservient to the church, just like way back in olden times, when they stoned people to death for adultery. The dogma matters more than the babies, you wouldn’t care about that baby unless they can adopt one or two and use it to guilt-trip more women into keeping their baby, regardless of the baby’s state (such as the baby being dead and septic/being born of rape). Your church is NOT “Pro-life”, they are pro gender-inequality and Theocracy, so stop pretending you are looking out for baby’s welfare! You’re making the real pro-lifers look bad, and making the pro-abortionists look good!
And you’re all being far too extreme. What happened to peaceful protest? I’ve seen and heard of women being horribly harrassed and tricked by fake doctors thanks to the members of this campaign. Why are you causing them more pain than they’re already going through just by giving up the child? An abortion is actually scarring emotionally, but sometimes it really is necessary – many women cannot love a child because they fear they might grow up to be just like their rapist, and rape is even worse than an abortion – it’s been called “worse than death”. And what if the child is already dead? Or if the child will be born with a disorder that will make them never see the age of 5? Wouldn’t it be kinder to get an abortion rather than just watch a baby die, thus scarring the mother more?
And finally, do you really think God will approve of this? God knows all and sees all. Do they think he would be happy knowing that your campaign is not only being violent to other people, but there is no genuine benevolence behind your church’s actions? That the Church is notdoing this for his glory, or to actually aid the woman or the child, but for it’s own benefit?!
I am truly disgusted and glad that I am not a Christian. Well, not your kind of “Christian” – I respect only true Christians, who believe in being good to people and respecting others decisions and beliefs. Your church has none of these characteristics.
My initial gut response to this email is to weep. My second response is anger. My third response is compassion. My fourth response is hope! Let me briefly tell you why I respond these ways.
Why do I weep at this email? I weep very sad tears at the hardness of heart that would write such things. I weep that anyone would have such obvious vehemence against actions and beliefs that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. I weep at the hardness of heart and spiritual blindness that clearly blocks you from seeing yourself rightly. You say that you respect “only true Christians, who believe in being good to people and respecting others decisions and beliefs.” Clearly, you don’t respect our decisions and aren’t “being good” to us as you write with such anger and venom. Clearly, you aren’t interested in “being good” to the unborn child who is living, real, and growing in a mother’s womb. What you love is your beliefs and those who believe like you. Anyone (especially those who love Jesus and see God’s Word as authoritative and beautiful and are willing to speak those words in love to others) are treated equally as poorly as the helpless child growing in a mother’s womb who doesn’t want her child. By what you wrote, you display your own spiritual blindness to your own sins. You say that you like the kind of people who “do good to others and respect others decisions and beliefs,” yet, how are you “doing good to others” and “respecting others beliefs?” You’re hating others who don’t cling to your creeds. There is no question that you are hating the unborn baby! You do worse than stand aside and let it happen-you give yourself proactively to encourage it and praise those who murder. You also attack those who seek to protect, love, and speak on behalf of those who are weak and cannot speak for themselves (yet). I weep when I encounter such high levels of spiritual blindness.
My second response is anger. Why? Well, Biblically, anger can be a sin, and I fear edging close to that line. Yet, in some cases, to NOT get angry would be sin. When gross injustice, murder, outright rejection of God, and hostility against Jesus doesn’t “work a person up” emotionally, something is wrong. I am angry that you (and others who believe like you) rejoice to see babies murdered and radically malign and slander us and assign false motives to our actions. That angers me! I’m angry because I believe God is angry at these things! He hates to see children, created in His image, discarded like old clothes. God is holy and He does not “tolerate” those who hate Him, hate others and practice sin and lawlessness. God is a God of vengeance. He will one day judge every person, according to their deeds and the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment (hell). Whether you believe these things or not doesn’t change the reality of these truths. Hell is real, and it is reserved for those whose deeds/lives are marked by wickedness. Those who “not only do wicked things, but give approval to others who do them” (see Romans 1:21—33) will one day stand before Him and be forced to give an account for everything that they have done (2 Corinthians 5:10). On that day, unless you repent and believe in the good news of Jesus, then you will face an eternity of wrath. You will pay for your rebellion against a holy God who made you, gave you life, sustains you even today, and sent His perfect Son for you.
This leads to my third response, which is compassion. While I do believe (because of the tone of your letter mixed with the actual treatment I receive from abortion clinic escorts on the sidewalks in front of the abortion clinic), that you hate me and “my kind,” by God’s grace I do not return the favor. I do not “hate” you. I do not despise those who believe like you do. Quite the contrary, I am filled up with love for you! I don’t want you to spend an eternity paying for your sins in hell. I want you to be saved. I want you to receive grace. I want your life to go well! I want you to have joy, peace, and abundant life! I want you to receive mercy! My primary motive for engaging with you through this letter and engaging with you and others on the sidewalks in not hatred, but love! By God’s grace, I am controlled by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:13). I labor because I want you to receive God’s love for you.
This leads to my last response: hope. Your letter fills me with hope! I am confident that even your heart is not so hard that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not able to soften it. God is much stronger than all of your rebellion. I have hope because God loves to give unfair mercy! By right, you (and I) completely “deserve” to go to hell because of your hatred of others (especially unborn babies and conservative Christians), which is ultimately hatred of God. The gospel (good news) that we preach is for all kinds of people just like you. In fact, we believe that everyone (certainly me included) deserves “by right” hell (eternal punishment). In fact, the Bible says that “none are righteous, no not even one.” (see Romans 3). Jesus himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners unto myself. It is not the well who are in need of a doctor, but the sick.” This is very good news for you, for me, and for the whole world! Jesus loves sinners. Jesus laid down His perfect life to purchase you. While you deserve wrath from God, Jesus—when He died on the cross—took all of God’s wrath that you deserve and died in your place. By simply repenting of your sins and believing in Him alone, He takes your sins and you take His righteousness. Jesus’ perfect righteousness is freely imputed (counted/credited to your account) to you. That is scandalous and marvelous! Jesus’ divine love is generous, sacrificial, and lavishly kind. I have great hope for you because Jesus died for sinners just like you and me and everyone else. To receive His love, you must repent and believe.
The reason that I (and many others beside me) engage in speaking for the unborn is because we actually believe that life is precious and that the gospel is real. We believe that babies are created in the image of God. We believe that they should be defended and loved not hated and killed. We believe that God is busy saving sinners like you and me. It is our pleasure to speak His truths into the world!
If you want to explore this wonderful gospel more and genuinely want to know my/our motives for speaking for unborn children, and for engaging those who reject these truths with words and sacrificially loving actions, then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org It would be a delight to walk you through the Scriptures and tell you more details about our tremendous God who deserves all praise and glory!
Because of Jesus’ Grace,
Jeff King, Discipleship/Counseling Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church