Are We Consistent in our Pro-Life Profession and Practice?

By Dusty Deevers, Pastor, Grace Community Church of Elgin, OK.

The State of Oklahoma has become “ground zero” in the fight for social justice on behalf of the most vulnerable in our world, preborn children. Oklahoma is regularly awarded as the “most Pro-life state in the Union” in Americans United for Life’s annual rankings. Every single county voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.[1] The legislative makeup in Oklahoma overwhelmingly is within the Pro-life movement: Senate: 38(R), 9(D); House of Representatives: 77(R), 23(D). Many Republicans receive a “100% Pro-life” rating. Over the past decade, there have been numerous Pro-Life Movement bills passed in Oklahoma. And yet, for the past four years, amidst this litany of legislation, reported abortions in Oklahoma are on the rise, even while the number of births is declining.[2] In 2018, over 5,000 abortions were reported in Oklahoma. If, in 2019, the four-year upward trend continued, there could have been over 5,500.

How can this be? How can abortions be on the rise while Oklahoma is the most Pro-life state and has the governing authorities in place who proclaim to want to end the unjust murder of the preborn in our state? Without a doubt, from pulpits to nonprofits to governing seats, our problem is simply stated: many of us Christians are not ordering our lives, churches, ministries, and the way we govern according to God’s Word. Period. Full stop. Whereas God’s Word is consistent, we are inconsistent in our faith and practice. If pro-lifers in Oklahoma were consistently Biblical, abortion would be over because the state is overwhelming pro-life and pro-lifers have supermajority control of the Oklahoma State government. Our pro-life beliefs work out in pro-some-life practice. Stick with me here. Let’s first consider God’s consistent ethic of life from His Word; second, examples of inconsistencies in pro-life faith and practice; third, the current, major paradigm shift taking place; and, last, the fruits of a consistent ethic of life in faith and practice. Come, let us reason together.

GOD’S CONSISTENT ETHIC OF LIFE

As Christians, we must seek to order our lives according to God’s Word. What does this mean for us to call ourselves “pro-life.”

God’s Commanded Position on Life

Christians affirm that from the moment of fertilization, all humans are created in God’s image by, through, and for Jesus to the glory of God, and that all souls belong to Him.[3] This is why Christians often use the term “image-bearers” to refer to all humans. We also affirm that as God’s image-bearers, all humans inherently and equally are valuable in God’s sight.[4] Because all humans bear God’s image, and because this image reflects God’s divine attributes (even if only in part), all humans inherently, and consistently, by nature of divine creation, have a value that transcends incidental characteristics, or things that change from one person to the next. So, attributes like ethnicity, gender, age, size, mental development, physical development, means of conception, potential, or contribution to society, do not determine human worth, instead being created in God’s image does.[4] The Bible declares that all human life is a sacred gift from God and that the highest governing authority over all life and law is God’s Law, not man’s.[5] Therefore, to murder any preborn image-bearer not only is sin but also, is ultimately an assault on God’s image, a treasonous attempt to usurp God’s sovereign rule as Creator.[6] This is the consistent God-centered, God-glorifying, life-protecting, life-honoring Christian position on the sanctity of human life. This is standard teaching. It’s not novel or niche. All Christians agree. So, what are we to do with this doctrine, this faith? How do we practice biblical justice for preborn image-bearers?

God’s Commanded Practice of Justice for the Preborn

Through His Word, God tells us how we are to uphold His justice for our preborn neighbors. To the Christian, God commands we “rescue those who are being taken away to death” and holds us responsible and without excuse when we fail to do so (Prov 24:11-12). Further, God establishes all governing authorities as His avenging servants to carry out His wrath on the evildoer; and commands these authorities to judge justly, neither showing partiality to the wicked, nor using unequal standards, which are abominations (Psa 82; Rom 13:4). Governing authorities at every level have a duty before God to uphold justice, asserting their God-ordained and constitutional authority to establish equal protection under the law for all, born and preborn.[7] This means that at times, governing authorities will have to resist, ignore, or nullify iniquitous decisions or laws when other authorities approve of or give legal approval to such injustices as the legal, intentional taking of innocent human life.[7] So far, so good. Nothing controversial, yet.

WE AGREE. SO WHAT? WHERE’S THE INCONSISTENCY?

Now, most Christian readers will agree until this point. Here’s where the inconsistency lies. The facts: over the past 47 years with 60+ million abortions, traditional pro-life laws, though well-intended and passed in every state, have not established equal protection and justice for the preborn. As hard as this may be to hear, appallingly, pro-life laws have established incremental, regulatory guidelines for when, where, why, and how to obtain legal abortion of innocent, preborn children. You read that right. Pro-life laws serve to create the very precedents that establish legal sanctions for abortions. Instead of establishing God’s equal justice for the preborn, Pro-life laws have established the legal guidelines for murdering our preborn neighbors who are God’s image-bearers. Pro-life bills, like grim-reaper-schoolmasters, teach abortionists, mothers, fathers, families, and the public when, where, why, and how legally to kill preborn babies.[8] The result is Heartbeat Bill-supporting State Senators who now believe life begins at a heartbeat, professing pro-lifers walking into abortion clinics proclaiming, “It’s okay, my baby won’t feel any pain,” and rape-conceived image-bearers feeling devalued and dehumanized by pro-life legislation which allows for abortion in the case of rape.[9] Pro-life laws establish the exceptions to and compromises with God’s Word (and, therefore, true social justice) which authorizes the legal bounds for injustice, unequal protection under unjust laws. These laws do not establish God’s justice on earth. They do not uphold God’s objective standard of equal dignity, and value, and worth for all humans. They do not love our preborn neighbors as ourselves. They do not glorify God. They are, objectively, unjust.

Abortion cannot be regulated. Abortion must be abolished to establish true social justice on earth as it is in heaven. God’s Law must not be compromised for justice to reign down. God’s glory must be honored for human life properly to be valued. There’s a problem with the system. Something is not right. Many are finding out that what you and I, pastors and church members, think our pro-life establishment leaders are doing to fight on behalf of the unborn doesn’t correspond to what is being done. Let’s now turn to a few examples of how the pro-life movement is fatally flawed and why God’s Word provides a better way.

THREE LEGISLATIVE & TWO NON-PROFIT PRO-LIFE EXAMPLES IN OKLAHOMA

There are numerous examples from every state over nearly 50 years to provide content for our discussion, but let’s just look at a few recent injustices in Oklahoma. While considering these, keep in mind the Christian position on the sanctity of human life and the question of whether these bills and organizations are upholding God’s standard and commanded practice.

Three Pro-life Legislation Examples in Oklahoma from 2019-2020

First, HB1182, by Republican Representative Jim Olsen. This bill labels abortion “unprofessional conduct,” not murder. It aims to strip the abortionist’s medical license for performing an abortion that is still legal, and potentially fines them up to $500 with a one-to-three-year prison sentence. It is biblical and legal nonsense. Is this how we would treat a dentist who sexually abused a child under anesthesia? Is this equal justice for all? Sit out and pay us $500, and you can get back in the game. Further, the bill legalizes abortion for and protects mothers who perform do-it-yourself murders, thereby regulating abortion, not abolishing it, and not glorifying God.[10]

Second, SB1859, Republican Senator Paul Scott’s Heartbeat/Brainwave bill, would entrust abortion-minded doctors—with the intention of murdering a child—to make a good-faith effort to find brainwaves or heartbeats. If they cannot, then they can murder the child. So, the abortionist gets to determine when life begins and when it does not. SB1859 does not define life as God does from fertilization. It does not recognize or provide equal protection under the law for all life as God demands, nor does it interpose between the innocent baby and abortion participants by challenging, ignoring, or nullifying the unjust Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade. It is, by definition, an iniquitous decree (Isaiah 10:1-2).[11]

Third, Republican Senator David Bullard’s SB1728, “Checklist Bill,” allows mothers, fathers, and grandparents to sue the abortionists they hire to murder their babies if the abortionist fails to jump through all their previously passed abortion permitting regulations. The bill literally teaches abortionists and mothers when it is acceptable to murder a baby, namely, after complying with all previous abortion regulations. Parental consent of a minor, check. Screening the mother for impaired judgment or coercion to abort, check. 72-hour waiting period, check. Ultrasound, check. Clinic requirements, check. Under 20-weeks (unless it’s to save “the life of the mother”), check. All checks? Okay. Now, you legally can kill the baby. If that is not enough, SB1728 does nothing to protect the living preborn. It only takes effect after the baby is murdered. This is not biblical justice. It does not call abortion murder. It does not recognize life from fertilization. It upholds and codifies into law the unjust murder of babies under 20-weeks.[12]

Neither these three nor any other Pro-life establishment bills have established true, biblical justice for the preborn according to God’s righteous standard: equal protection, equal rights, equal justice under the law. All have stopped short. None of these bills uphold the objective worth of all God’s image-bearers, and thus do not glorify God. What’s further, none of these bills or governing authorities have interposed themselves as God commands between the abortionist, those seeking to murder their baby, and the innocent child. So, abortion remains legal, and injustice is codified into law, but legislators are still awarded the badge “100% Pro-Life.”

Two Pro-Life Non-profit Examples in Oklahoma 2019-2020

Oklahomans for Life

Oklahomans for Life (OFL) is the state affiliate of the Catholic-led National Right to Life, the oldest and largest pro-life organization. OFL hosts Rose Day every February at the Oklahoma State Capitol, the pro-life establishment’s day to tout their accomplishments and plans on behalf of the preborn. Tony Lauinger, a Roman Catholic, is the Vice President of National Right to Life and the President of Oklahomans for Life. There are numerous, documented examples of Mr. Lauinger and OFL undermining the biblical standard for faith and practice in his lobbying for the aforementioned pro-life bills and against bills of equal protection.[13] Mr. Lauinger argues that the throne of the land, to which we owe unconditional submission, is the one occupied by the Supreme Court, not the Constitution, not God’s Word, and not King Jesus. “We have to have five pro-life justices on the court before we can protect the unborn children again.” This is dualism in faith and practice. Are God and His Law supreme? For Christians to submit unconditionally to anyone other than Jesus Christ is idolatry. We stand with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and declare to any setting themselves up as and against God, “O king, we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).

OFL’s pro-life questionnaire asks governing authorities if they will “oppose attempts to repeal existing pro-life laws, even by entities purporting to oppose abortion, except as part of a comprehensive restructuring of pro-life laws designed both to withstand court scrutiny and to save the lives of unborn children as supported by Oklahomans for Life.” Friends, the only way abortion will be abolished is to repeal all the pro-life laws that codify into law when, where, how, why, and which preborn image-bearers you legally can murder. These laws are keeping abortion legal. They establish injustice to our preborn brothers and sisters. When a bill of abolition is passed, and abortion is classified into the existing homicide codes, these iniquitous decrees will be cast aside and revealed for what they are.

Oklahoma Faith Leaders

Oklahoma Faith Leaders has over 10,000 followers on its Facebook page.[14] Recently, its leader, Paul Abner, threw the group’s endorsement behind Republican State Senator Greg McCortney, Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee: “We are thankful for Senator Greg McCortney’s brave and tireless leadership on behalf of preborn children in our state. Oklahomans want their Legislature to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and Senator McCortney has been steadfast in his resolve to do so.”[15] Senator McCortney, MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary, a Methodist seminary, single-handedly undermined the political process and blocked SB13, “The Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act,” from receiving a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in February 2020. Further, he, alongside Pro-life Republican Senators Greg Treat, Pro Tempore, and Kim David, Majority Leader, orchestrated the killing of SB13 after a motion to hear was brought to the Senate floor on March 11, 2020.[16] Consequentially, Senator McCortney also received a glowing recommendation from National Right to Life and Oklahomans for Life.

Friends, these pro-life Senators and organizations have the command of God, the Constitutional justification, the support of hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma Baptists and Oklahoma Free Will Baptists, and are self-professed pro-lifers. Why are they not charging the gates in the strength of the King of the universe to abolish abortion in Oklahoma? Why is equal justice for the preborn not being established? Why is abortion being kept legal in our state? 

In supporting Senator Greg McCortney, Oklahoman Faith Leaders cannot uphold its stated goals for ALL Oklahoma citizens, principally the most vulnerable among us, preborn image-bearers, to “identify the needs of the people of Oklahoma in the areas of morality, religious liberty, education, and human and civil rights; create and advance policy positions . . . which affect the common good of all residents; work with other institutions and organizations, including the denominational conventions of Oklahoma, to promote the spiritual wellbeing of the people of Oklahoma, and to prevent or eliminate conditions that threaten the moral fabric of our state.”[17] I have reached out to Paul Abner twice on Facebook messenger, asking about his endorsement of McCortney. He’s not responded. Messenger shows he has seen both of the messages. As a pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Oklahoma, I am appalled by Oklahoma Faith Leaders’ endorsement of Senator Greg McCortney, as are a great number of my fellow Oklahoma Christians and pastors.

BUT, WHAT ABOUT THE CHURCH?

By God’s grace, we are in the midst of a major paradigm shift, which actually is a revival. God is bringing repentance and faith. Among the notable fruit is consistency in doctrine and practice regarding the sanctity of human life. In Oklahoma, we are seeing hundreds, even thousands, of pastors and church members rise up more than ever before in repentance and faithfulness applied to the sins of abortion and abortion apathy. Among God’s many means for bringing repentance, He has used SB13–and the subsequent opposition to SB13 from the pro-life establishment–to awaken many of us to the inconsistencies in what we say we believe, and what we see various leaders doing incongruously with biblical conviction. We’ve begun questioning whether we’ve been apathetic to the slaughter of our innocent, preborn neighbors, whether we’re obeying God’s commands to rescue, to protect, to interpose, to intercede, to stand on our day, or whether we’ve simply assumed our pro-life leaders were doing all they could.

Oklahoma Baptists and Oklahoma Free Will Baptists

On November 12, 2019, Oklahoma Baptists–a group of Oklahoma churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention comprised of over 579,000 members and 1,785 congregations–overwhelmingly passed a resolution on ending abortion at their annual gathering, to applause and cheers.[18] The final line of “Resolution 7: On Ending Abortion and the Sanctity of Human Life” reads, “Finally, we call upon the Oklahoma State Legislature to enact legislation that calls for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise.” Oklahoma Baptists President, Blake Gideon, has preached from his pulpit, “I’m tired of kicking the ball down the field. I’m tired of incrementalism. It’s time we end the game. . . . It’s time we end abortion in the state of Oklahoma.” Further, he tweeted on February 19, 2020, “As pastor of EFBC [Edmond First Baptist Church] it is my conviction that all bills with the intent of ending abortion should at least receive a hearing from Oklahoma Legislators this includes SB13.”

At their annual meeting in 2019, Oklahoma Free Will Baptists unanimously adopted a strong resolution formally demanding abortion’s abolition and the rejection of Pro-life industry’s compromise. Free Will Baptist Pastor Kelly Greene (Hope Baptist Church, Shawnee) wrote to Senator Greg McCortney, “As long as abortion is legal in Oklahoma our state is in violation of the U.S. Constitution, natural law, and God’s Word.” The last portion of their resolution reads:

“WHEREAS, traditional pro-life laws do nothing to abolish abortion and, in fact, merely establish regulatory guidelines for how to obtain a legal abortion and, in so doing, simply facilitate the murder of innocent unborn children; and,

WHEREAS, Roe v. Wade will never be overturned unless a state enacts a law abolishing human abortion; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Oklahoma Association of Free Will Baptists, call upon the Legislature, Governor, and Attorney General of Oklahoma to pass, sign, and enforce legislation abolishing the practice of human abortion at all gestational stages and for all reasons in Oklahoma.”

We praise God for His kindness in grace that has led to repentance and bearing good fruit in these two collections of churches. These two Baptist groups represent hundreds of thousands of members and over 2,000 churches. Now, we should be under no delusion that each of the groups monolithically are consistent in their faith and practice. But, what this represents is the reality of God’s Spirit bringing revival in our state among the pulpits and pews and repentance for apathy and unBiblical doctrine.

Pulpits and Pews

Could it be that we have further to go? That more repentance and good fruit is left to bear? Of course, abortion is not yet abolished in our state. “As go the pulpits, so goes the nation.” Now is the time, where appropriate, for Christians to confess our sins of apathy, faithlessness, and injustice, and bring our practice in line with our profession of faith. Many of our pulpits and churches are still inconsistent in our profession and practice when it comes to establishing justice for God’s preborn image-bearers. Have we unwittingly, unknowingly been entertaining the doctrine of demons unawares? Do we need to repent? Does not judgment begin at the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17)?

Consider my own affiliation, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Our confessional statement, The Baptist Faith and Message, according to Article XV, affirms that children “from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord”; and further affirms that Southern Baptists are mandated by Scripture to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.” This is a good affirmation.

Since 1980, the SBC has passed many resolutions reaffirming the importance of human life at all stages of development; however, we consistently have stopped short of calling for the immediate abolition of abortion without exception or compromise, submitting resolutions making exceptions for abortion “to save the physical life of the mother.”[19] Friends, no mother seeking to keep their child, who is not under coercion and threat of life and limb, goes to an abortuary for healthcare. Abortionists, by definition, do not provide healthcare. They provide death sentences and death certificates.

Doctors operate according to the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” Most doctors, especially those in emergency care, which an at-risk pregnancy would fall into, are skilled in medical triage, aiming to save all lives before them. Mothers who have no intention to murder their baby, never go to abortuaries for healthcare. They go to their OBGYN or the ER.

Maybe you’ve never been told this fact. Maybe you’ve also been told that governing authorities are doing everything they can to end abortion. Maybe they have and do not understand a biblical position. But, this is where the church must speak loudly, clearly, boldly, and without compromise.

CONSISTENT PROFESSION AND PRACTICE OF SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE

Fellow pastors and Christians, if this is all news to you like it was to me over a year ago, please, for the sake of your soul, the innocent preborn, and the glory of God, consider how God is calling you to respond in faith. It is time. Let us labor in the strength God provides to see abortion abolished in Oklahoma and in our nation.

We must state unequivocally that abortion is murder, and we reject any position that allows for any exceptions to the legal protection of our preborn neighbors, compromises God’s holy standard of justice, or promotes any God-hating partiality.[20] We must resolve that we will not embrace an incremental approach to ending abortion. Incrementalism challenges God’s Lordship over the heart and the conscience and rejects His call to repent of sin completely and immediately.[21] Together, let us affirm that the murder of preborn children is a crime against humanity that must be punished equally under the law. We humbly must confess and repent of our complicity in recognizing any exceptions that legitimize or regulate abortion, and of our apathy, in not laboring with the power and influence we have to abolish abortion. We must engage, with God’s help, in establishing equal justice and protection for the preborn according to the authority of God’s Word as well as local and federal law, and call upon pastors and entity leaders to use their God-given gifts of preaching, teaching, and leading with one unified, principled, prophetic voice to abolish abortion. Finally, because abolishing abortion is a gospel issue, we will call upon governing authorities at all levels to repent and “obey everything that [Christ] has commanded,” exhorting them to bear fruit in keeping with repentance by faithfully executing their responsibilities as God’s servants of justice, and working with all urgency to enact legislation using the full weight of their office to interpose on behalf of the preborn, abolishing abortion immediately, without exception or compromise.[22]

Christians are known and should be known for our love for God and all our neighbors. We should be marked out as a people full of grace, preaching forgiveness for all sinners at the cross of Christ where His blood was shed, and the record of sin-debt that stood against us was nailed to His cross and thereby canceled for all who repent and believe on Jesus alone (Colossians 2:14). No sin is so great that God’s grace in Christ isn’t greater still.

Christians are also known and should be marked out as a people full of truth, preaching God’s righteous Law and holy Word, seeking to establish His justice on earth as it is in heaven. We were created by Him and for Him to glorify God and love others. If we fail to establish God’s justice, we fail to establish justice.

We are a people full of grace and truth for all: each other, our neighbors, mothers who have aborted their children, abortionists who have killed thousands of children, fathers who have been accomplices in their child’s murder. We neither compromise grace nor compromise truth. Let us repent together and be consistent in our profession and practice of the sanctity of human life, for God’s glory and our joy and the joy of our preborn neighbors.

Read, sign, and share the Southern Baptist Resolution on Abolishing Abortion here.

—————————

[1] Screenshot: https://www.nytimes.com/elections/2016/results/oklahoma-president-clinton-trump

[2] Oklahoma Health Department https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/2018%20ITOP%20Report.pdf and Charlotte Lozier Institute https://lozierinstitute.org/abortion-reporting-oklahoma-2018/

[3] Genesis 1:27; 4:1; 21:2; Isaiah 7:14; Colossians 1:16; Romans 11:36; Ezekiel 18:4

[4] Rom 1:19-20; Gen 1:28; 9:6; Matthew 18:6

[5] Psalms 127:3-5; 139:13-16; Rom 2:15-16; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 1 Corinthians 4:5

[6] Gen 9:5-6; Exodus 20:13; Proverbs 6:17

[7] Daniel 3; 1 Kings 12; 2 Kings 11; Jeremiah 26:10-16; 36:9-31; 37:11- 21; 39:7-10

[8] As opposed to Galatians 3:24

[9] https://freethestates.org/2020/03/five-reasons-abolitionists-oppose-incremental-pro-life-bills/

[10] https://legiscan.com/OK/bill/HB1182/2020

[11] https://legiscan.com/OK/bill/SB1859/2020

[12] https://legiscan.com/OK/bill/SB1728/2020

[13] Tony Lauinger: https://theresurgent.com/2019/02/17/three-men-keeping-abortion-legal-oklahoma-sb13/; Videos of Senator Joseph Silk’s mother, a Southern Baptist, pleading with Mr. Lauinger to stop fighting against SB13 which would abolish abortion in Oklahoma https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4GtVXwqEes&feature=youtu.be&t=38; Letter detailing his political maneuvering to keep SB13 from being heard https://theresurgent.com/2019/03/09/uncovered-letter-exposes-plan-to-keep-abortion-legal-in-oklahoma/

[14] https://www.facebook.com/OKFaithLeaders/.

[15] http://www.gregmccortney.com/platform

[16] https://www.muskogeepolitico.com/2020/03/how-will-oklahoma-senate-republicans.html

[17] https://oklahomafaithleaders.com/

[18] https://www.oklahomabaptists.org/about/

[19] http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/search/results.asp?query=abortion

[20] Psa 94:6; Isa 10:1-2; Prov 24:11; Psa 82:1-4

[21] Gen 3:1; John 8:44; Rom 2:14-15; 2 Corinthians 11:3

[22] Mark 6:18; Matt 28:18-20; Rom 13:4, 6

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