From a concerned SBC pastor
As an apologetics-minded Christ follower, the consistency in the Christian worldview brings me comfort and peace. After all, it is only the Christian worldview that can lay true claim to consistency. This short article is to call not only a brother in Christ (Bart Barber), but also the single most powerful evangelical organization in the world (the SBC) to consistency on their view of not only abortion, but what is the Christ-honoring way to fight it.
In the last two years, there has been a wave of methodological and ideological differences that have rocked the proverbial boat of the SBC. This wave has been about how the SBC should fight to end abortion. Like a tidal wave, the vote to take an abolitionist stance on ending abortion hit the floor of the convention in 2021 as Southern Baptist descended on Nashville. Southern Baptist saw committee members beg the crowd to vote down the resolution that would call for the outright abolition of abortion. Members of the committee didn’t really want the vote to happen in the first place, but because of parliamentary rules, a vote was forced to the floor, where Southern Baptists made their voices heard and passed the resolution. On a personal note, I was in the room for this vote and it was a blessing to see those yellow voting ballots raised high.
Fast forward to the 2022 convention in Anaheim, CA, where a meeting of Christ-loving brothers and sisters that cared about the future direction of our beloved SBC began.
At the 2022 convention, Bart Barber was elected president of the SBC. He wasn’t my choice for president, but I would never doubt his love for the Lord, his intentions, or his overall character. This article isn’t meant to attack him as a brother in Christ, but to point out the inconsistencies in not only his view of the abortion fight, but also the ERLC’s.
Bart’s view on abolition has been no secret, and his pushback against it shouldn’t catch anyone off guard. But on September 15, 2022, Bart tweeted in response to a tweet from a dear brother, Dusty Deevers, that read as follows:
“In Louisiana this spring and at SBC annual meeting this summer, Brent Leatherwood sided against the innocent proborn, now he leads the ethics and policy arm of the SBC. We glory in our shame.”
While someone not familiar with the relationship between abolitionists and the ERLC might be slightly put off by that tweet, I’d encourage you to understand the back story. Not only has Brent Leatherwood publicly stated that he doesn’t agree with the abolitionist ideology, without ever offering a biblical rebuttal to said ideology, he also signed off on a letter sent to lawmakers all over the country to not support any state or federal bill would call for the outright abolition of abortion and make the act itself a crime.
This letter just so happened to have the perfect timing of getting to Louisiana lawmakers the day before a vote to end abortion in that state was to happen. Make sure you read and process that last sentence correctly. It wasn’t NARAL or Planned Parenthood Action Fund that killed a bill to end abortion–it was the ERLC (which is supposed to be under the direction of the SBC) along with NRTL, Susan B. Anthony, and others.
The abolitionist movement often gets misrepresented, and more of straw man is offered than a factual position. The abolitionist movement isn’t trying to hunt women down. They don’t want to throw mothers in prison and hand out death sentences at wholesale rates like a bulk discount at Costco. We simply want equal application of our already-existing laws to protect the most vulnerable among us. Saying that women are always victims is a lie. I can personally attest to this, because I have spent hundreds of days standing for hours upon hours at a time in front of abortion clinics.
The emotional appeal to making all women victims is misguided at best, and a blatant lie meant to take the easy way out at worst. The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of abortions are nothing more than convenience. I’ve borne witness to hundreds, if not thousands, of women arriving at a clinic to exercise their moral agency in an $80,000 SUV, with a $2500 purse in tow. The helpless mother that “has no other choice or doesn’t know any better” is nowhere near the majority. Are there women who fit the emotionally charged example Brent and Bart use to make their appeal? Yes, and those women should be treated fairly in a court of law. But make no mistake about it, they are exercising moral agency to call and make an appointment to kill their God-given child and then show up on time, with cash in hand to pay a doctor to extinguish the life that was sovereignly placed in the womb.
Our laws already have provision in them to account for what is called in the legal world “totality of the circumstances.” The abolitionist stance is not to throw every mother that kills her child in federal prison or worse, give her the death sentence. First and foremost, a DA would have to see provable criminal charges to even uphold an arrest of a mother. If the DA did see the evidence needed, they would then equally and justly apply the criminal code already on the books. If that mother was coerced into the abortion or even threatened into the act of killing her child, she would not see anywhere near the same punishment as the mother who simply didn’t want to have a baby right now. This would also apply to father who was part of paying for or pushing toward the abortion.
Bart and Brent are fine with going after the abortion doctor (rightfully so), but why would you only go after the hitman and not the person who ordered the killing? If this was seen as any other murder for hire (like it should be), Southern Baptists would look at each other with a “What’s wrong with you people?” kind of look (think RC Sproul meme), as we treat all women like victims.
This article was started with a plea for consistency, and that plea hasn’t changed. We are asking our leaders to be consistent with their view of abortion. Now back to the claims made by Bart Barber on Twitter.
1. The claim is made that the SBC is proud to support crisis pregnancy centers, and foster/adoption services, to which we say, AMEN! But why does the SBC refuse to support sidewalk counselers who actually go to abortion clincis and evangelize in the darkest of places, as they offer the hope of Christ Jesus? We are in no way anti-pregnancy centers. They serve a vital role and God bless them for fulfilling it. But we are talking about two different kinds of women. The kind of woman that reaches out to a CPC is not the same kind of woman that shows up to the abortion clinic screaming curse words and using universal “sign language.” So why does the SBC turn their mission/evangelistic noses up at the people who are doing local missionary work at abortion clinics?
2. Bart makes the claim: “This is the only pro-life approach that has actually saved any babies at all.” I take personal offense to this tweet, and I publicly call Bart Barber to repent of this lie. There have been over 400 babies saved, just in front of middle Tennessee clinics alone, by abolitionists who stand for our preborn neighbors made in God’s image. The truth about Bart’s methodology of fighting abortion is that states pass “fluff” bills that don’t actually stop abortions. A good example of this came from Indiana when it was celebrated that mothers would have to pay for a death certificate if they have an abortion. As noble as this legislation may sound, why are we more concerned about requiring death certificates for the murder victims than we are protecting them from murder?
3. The claim that abolitionists refuse any kind of compromise is true, but the same applies to Bart and the ERLC. We have yet to see them adopt anything that hasn’t already been in their playbook for the last two decades. So this is literally the pot calling the kettle black.
4. The talk of exceptions keeps coming up and ectopic pregnancies seems to be the gold standard of argument killers from their side. This exception is a categorical error, because an ectopic pregnancy isn’t viable to begin with. Using the ectopic pregnancy argument is nothing more than a smoke and mirror redirection trick, no different than a low-budget Vegas magician. The only acceptable exception would be a true life-of-the-mother situation, where both would die if the baby is not taken, but this scenario is less than 0.5% of every abortion in our land.
For the sake of time, I will stop at four points in contention with Bart’s tweets, but I want to make the point clear again: this is not a personal attack on Bart or Brent. This is a call to examine their arguments and ask if they are biblically consistent. I love the SBC and am not part of the “burn it to the ground” crowd. Its rich heritage of biblical consistency, mission-minded focus, and church planting is inspiring. I hear stories of the conservative resurgence in the 80s and it’s like listening to tales of knights over-throwing wicked kings in medieval times. My call isn’t for Bart or Brent to step down, but to step up. Be bold men of God that follow the words of Isaiah and call this nation to hear the words, “Woe to those who call evil good, good evil.”