The last 27 years I’ve been with Eternal Perspective Ministries. Before that I was a pastor for 14 years, and I have a number of close friends who are pastors. I feel like I understand their worlds.
I understand why pastors struggle with the many political issues people want them to address in church. In my opinion, most issues that are only political have no place in a local church, as it’s the place for solid Bible teaching and sound doctrine, not pitting social conservatives against liberals and thereby dividing the church. (See my article Conservative, Liberal, or Christian?) As a result, there’s been increasing push-back against having any petitions in churches because they appear to politicize the church.
Frankly, when it comes to marginal issues I sympathize with this—we don’t need to make our churches more political. But there’s no sense in which the killing of children is a marginal issue that Scripture is indifferent to! Long before it was ever a political issue, it was a moral issue, and one which God has a clear and emphatic position on. I encourage you to take a look at what God’s Word says about unborn children, and what the people of God throughout history have said about abortion.
I also understand almost no topic is as guaranteed to offend some church members as abortion. But we’re not dealing here with “one more social/political issue.” We’re dealing with a unique and focused evil in which Satan has deeply vested interests. There are demonic forces behind child-killing. Abortion is Satan’s attempt to kill God in effigy by destroying the little ones created in God’s image. We can’t afford to simply look away or sweep this issue under the rug.
The desire to avoid people’s disapproval is a common reason for church leaders to hold back in prolife efforts, including making petitions available to reduce the number of abortions. But for every reason or excuse we have, we must be ready to answer a question on the last day: “Was that reason more important than the lives of all those children I created in my image and the lives of the men and women involved in this life-altering decision?”
In one year alone, taxpayer funds paid for the deaths of almost 4,000 unborn children in Oregon. The Oregon Health Authority reported that $2.42 million in state money was spent on abortions in 2016, the highest amount in the past 14 years. During the fiscal year 2015-2016, money was paid to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers for 3,769 abortions covered under the Oregon Health Plan.
That breaks my heart. It also raises the question: what are we, as individuals, and collectively as the church, doing to help pregnant women and save those unborn children? I firmly believe that hearts are changed, women helped, and lives saved through God’s people reaching out and ministering to those in need, one at a time. But many lives can also be saved through judicial reform and legislative action, and for that we should rejoice. The jobs of personal intervention, education, and political action will all continue for decades to come, requiring great perseverance.
I highly encourage prolife churches to get involved with circulating petitions in an effort to help stop taxpayer funding of abortion in Oregon. Yes, I’m well aware that many, both church leaders and members, insist that it isn’t the job of the church to get involved in prolife activities. But what is the job of the church?
I appeal to believers to come to grips with the fact that loving God cannot be separated from loving our neighbor (Matthew 22:34–40). To a man who wished to define “neighbor” in a way that excluded certain groups of needy people, Christ presented the Good Samaritan as a model for our behavior (Luke 10:25–37). He went out of his way to help the man lying in the ditch. In contrast, the religious hypocrites looked the other way because they had more “spiritual” things to do. (I recently spoke on this topic of “ProLife Issues: Distraction from the Great Commission, or Part of It?” You can watch the video here.)
Here’s more about the petition headed up by Oregon Life United:
Initiative Petition 1 — known as the Stop Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act — would prohibit state funds from being used for abortions, except when medically necessary or if required by federal law.
This is a pro-life petition drive for an Oregon ballot initiative to prohibit our state tax dollars from funding abortions. In order to qualify for the next general election we’ll need to gather signatures from more than 117,000 registered voters.
Hundreds of volunteers and churches are needed for this petition drive to be successful. We’ll provide training and resources to make it easy for you to:
- Gather signatures from your friends, family, and neighbors
- Gather signatures at your church or school
You can order petition sheets (for free) and get more information at the petition drive website: www.StopTheFunding.org.
Let’s join together to “love our neighbor” by protecting the youngest human lives in our state. Pastors and church leaders, if you place these petitions in your church for people to sign, it would be a great opportunity to explain from the pulpit why you are doing so. You can say it’s not to bring politics into the church; rather it’s to obey God’s Word which says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).
(Some have genuine concerns whether circulating petitions in church is legal; the answer is yes. According to the IRS churches may engage in legislative activity, which includes sharing petitions, and retain their tax-exempt status as long as it’s not more than an “insubstantial” part of its overall activity in terms of time and money. This document provides more information.)
A fitting conclusion is a quotation that many, including myself, have attributed to Martin Luther. While Luther said some similar things, it appears the author of these actual words was a nineteenth century novelist named Elizabeth Rundle Charles who wrote about Luther and other reformers. But regardless of who said it, it’s true and has application to whether Bible-believing churches are willing to speak up in defense of unborn children, and whether God’s people are willing to unite to oppose the taxes they pay being used to support Planned Parenthood, and thereby to fund child-killing:
If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.
Browse more prolife articles and resources, as well as see Randy's books Pro-Choice or Pro-Life: Examining 15 Pro-Choice Claims, Why ProLife? and ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments.
Also see his articles Pastors, You Must Speak Up on Abortion; Let’s Reach Out with the Gospel to Women Victimized by Abortion; and The Evidence Doesn’t Lie: The Unborn are Children (which includes a special note to pastors and church leaders).
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.