People are pro-life for many different reasons. Recent statistics evidence a slight tilt in public opinion to a more conservative position on the issue of abortion in this country. While the results of such polls can fluctuate, what is sure is that a large number of Americans identify themselves as “pro-life” to some degree. Yet, with such a large cross-cultural demographic comprising the pro-life movement, inevitably there is a wide range of belief systems represented as well. In many cases, religious differences are set aside for the common goal of the rescue of the unborn. Here one’s personal religious convictions are said to be divisive, and therefore out of place in the discussion. Yet, I would suggest that separating biblical doctrine from pro-life ethics is a damning dichotomy.
Let me state up front that I am thankful for those who speak for the sanctity of human life. The defense of the helpless in any culture is an evidence of God’s common grace upon a people. Governments that uphold righteous laws and punish wickedness are instruments of God’s justice (Romans 13:1-7). Likewise, those who champion the cause of life are, in some sense, agents of God’s restraint of evil in a society.
That being said, I think that it is a fundamental misstep to try to divorce one’s theology from one’s pro-life ministry. I have said many times on the sidewalk that the only reason I am pro-life is because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Indeed, if Jesus has not been raised from the dead, I could not care less what a woman does with her body and/or family. But in the resurrection, Jesus defines what it is to be truly human. The problem is not ultimately unfavorable legislation, but rather, global rebellion against the sovereign king of kings. An honest look at one day of your life betrays your guilt before God. The Apostle Paul says that the God’s Law speaks “so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God” (Romans 3:19). None are exempt from his verdict. No one can get off the hook without serving the just sentence for cosmic treason.
It is just at this point that the person and work of Jesus comes clearly into view. When one understands how dire their situation is, they begin to grasp the necessity of a savior. Jesus came into the world to stand in the place of his people, bearing the full punishment of sin in order that they may be reconciled to God by faith and repentance (1 Peter 3:18). Or as the author of Hebrews says, “Consequently, [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). This is truly glorious news for sinful people who come to Christ: he takes your punishment and keeps you secure in him for all of eternity.
When the pro-life narrative is set in context of a biblical worldview, primary and secondary issues emerge. Though a 5 second interaction outside an abortion clinic may consist of pleading for the life of a child, the ultimate aim of a truly pro-life ministry should be the salvation of souls. This is of primary importance. Any call to choose life that does not include a call to repentance is part of a culture of death that stretches all the way back to Genesis 3. There are many on the last day who will say, “Lord, Lord, did we not sidewalk counsel for years in your name, and legislate abortion restrictions in your name,” as though a pro-life badge is an entry card into the favor of God. Yet, all those who would cling to their righteousness on the day of judgment will be found without refuge. This is a hard truth, but one clearly delineated in the Bible (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).
I would implore you to discern the motivation for your pro-life ministry. Speaking for the unborn is necessary, but it is not enough in and of itself. Our ministry here is first and foremost about the gospel. We are pro-life because God has caused us to be born again to new life in Christ. We seek to rescue the unborn in obedience to the God who saves. But ethics, however right, without sound theology is deadly. Both pro-life and pro-choice proponents are unified in this: both are desperately in need of the forgiveness of sins. The good news is that Jesus is very much a pro-life savior.