by Clay Hall, pastor of Lake City Baptist Church in Grand Rivers, Kentucky
By my count, since our first anti-abortion resolution in 1976, our convention of churches has adopted no less than 51 resolutions condemning abortion. Why do we need a 52nd? What can we possibly say that hasn’t already been said?
As Southern Baptists, we have definitely come a long way since the 1970 Baptist Sunday School Board survey found that 64 percent of SBC pastors believed abortion to be acceptable in cases of fetal deformity and 71 percent in cases of rape.
Haven’t we long since repented of our infamous 1971 resolution which called “upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother?” And, haven’t we sufficiently denounced our disgraceful 1974 reaffirmation of the fifty year old resolution in which labeling all abortion as murder was called extreme?
Haven’t we hung our heads in shame enough since Jane Roe was successfully co-defended by a Southern Baptist lawyer who was a member of the Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, TX at the time?
It is true that we have tried many times to wash the bloodstains from our hands since the days when the majority of our convention leaders vocally supported abortion.
After all, we have passed resolutions calling abortion “genocide” (2015), “immoral,” “gruesome,” “unjust killing,” (2017), a “horrific practice” (2003), “destruction” (2019), the “shedding of innocent blood,” and even “murder” (2018). We have rightly pointed out that abortion is the result of “satanic powers and the ravages of sin” (2009) and that God abhors “those who murder the innocent” (2008).
We have stated over and over again that every human life is created in the image of God (2003, 2018, 2019, etc.), has “full dignity” (2018), and is “sacred” (2003, 2019, etc.) “from the moment of conception” (2003, etc.)
And praise God that in 2003, we clearly stated that “we lament and renounce statements and actions by previous Conventions and previous denominational leadership that offered support to the abortion culture.”
So, I ask again, why do we need another SBC resolution on abortion?
Because so Little has Changed
Well, let’s not forget that as recently as 2015, LifeWay Research reported that they surveyed 1,038 abortive women and found that of the 70% who claimed to be Christian, ⅓ said they were Baptists.
Let’s remember that even though we passed a 2017 resolution calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood which, contrary to campaign promises, our conservative majority House and Senate, in fact, refused to defund the abortion mega-corporation. Why? Only God truly knows, but it is hard not to think the reason was so these “pro-life” politicians could comfortably keep their governing seat on top of the lifeless bodies of their most helpless constituents whom they all pledged to protect. Simply put, as long as legalized abortion is the law of the land, they can continue promising to fight it, but if abortion is outlawed, they have lost an effective campaign promise.
Let’s not overlook the fact that during the 50 years that our convention has been passing resolutions and figuring out where we stand on the issue, an estimated 60 million plus legal abortions have been carried out right under our noses.
To put 60+ million abortions in perspective, this would be the equivalent of wiping out the total populations of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington D.C.
Or to put it another way, if you add up the highest estimated numbers of:
Hitler’s Jewish Holocaust (6 million),
the Ukranian (7.5 million) and Kazakh (1.75 million) Soviet genocides of the ‘30’s,
the Cambodian genocide of the ‘70’s (3 million),
the Armenian genocide of the ‘20’s (1.8 million),
and the Rwandan genocide of the ‘90’s (1 million plus),
Uncle Sam’s pre-natal genocide dwarfs them all, killing more than three times the total amount over the last 47 years.
Let’s face it: while we have been busy making pro-life resolutions, the long train of abortion deaths has been chugging right along.
Because it is Time for Action
I know, I know; resolutions can only do so much. To quote our Southern Baptist Convention website, “A resolution has traditionally been defined as an expression of opinion or concern, as compared to a motion, which calls for action.”
Perhaps it is unreasonable for us to expect our resolutions to create change. Or, is it? Shouldn’t we at least expect our “expressions of concern” to be accompanied by action. If we are truly concerned enough about an issue to express an opinion, shouldn’t we logically assume our actions will reflect our stated values?
Sadly, in this fight against the scourge of abortion in our land, though opinions and concerns expressed through our SBC resolutions are not lacking, there are far too few calls for action in our motions and ministries.
Because it is Time for Consistency
Don’t get me wrong, I know stating opinions and voicing concerns aren’t all we do. I know we’ve given millions of dollars over the years to produce curriculum, support crisis pregnancy centers, and help the ERLC urge our politicians to promote and pass pro-life legislation. I praise God that the concerted efforts of churches, pastors, laypeople, and entity heads have all chorused the importance of the imago Dei in one voice and it has produced passionate labor, and hundreds of loving, godly homes for orphans. But, I also know our actions are all too often short-sighted and not always consistent with our resolutions.
As this new resolution states, “we have consistently stopped short of calling for the immediate abolition of abortion without exception or compromise.”
What if, instead of merely speaking out against our national sin of abortion over the last 47 years, we bear fruit in keeping with repentance beginning with putting forth a resolution that actually states our intention to abolish abortion? What if we repent of the thinking reflected in our 2003, 2005, and 2019 resolutions that we must wait on the Supreme Court of the United States to reverse course before we can truly urge our state and local magistrates to do what is right?
If you agree with our 2017 resolution that “God abhors the shedding of innocent blood and requires His people to do all in their power to rescue persons from such acts…”
If you, like me, agree with our 2003 resolution that we must “we pray and work for . . . the day when the act of abortion will be . . . illegal…”
Then I’m sure you will also agree with this proposed 2021 resolution to abolish “abortion immediately, without exception or compromise.” As Oklahoma SBC Pastor Jay Jones once said, “I cannot imagine standing before the Lord Jesus and telling Him that I opposed the complete abolition of abortion.”
What we need today in the SBC is a willingness to admit that our repentance of the pro-abortion resolutions of the seventies is still lacking. Just as we once saw that the SBC messengers in the early 1970’s demonstrated a major disconnect between their understanding of the doctrine of the Imago Dei and its implications, so we now must grapple with the fact that all of our pro-life resolutions since have suffered from a similar disconnect. If we truly believe what we have said so many times before, then let’s strive for a complete repentance resulting in actions consistent with our resolutions. Let’s truly show our faith by our works and ensure that our actions reflect our doctrinal statements. Are we truly men and women of resolve? Or is “resolved” just something we say?
Because it is Time for Repentance
It is worth noting that our 1971 pro-abortion resolution was passed a mere eighteen months before the SCOTUS Roe decision. Just as we were once complicit in persuading the culture to normalize abortion, let us now, 50 years later, ask the Lord to use our repentance as His instrument to influence others to abolish it.
Why do we need another resolution on abortion? I hope by now you understand the answer to this question: because abortions are still legally carried out under, not only Uncle Sam’s watchful eye, but right under our very noses. We must end abortion. Out of love for God and love for neighbor, we must end it. And we must end it now. I pray you will be emboldened by this admonition from Proverbs:
If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
Hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work? -24:10-12