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As many Christians yesterday sat at their computer and watched a casual dinner conversation over the price of dismembered children, a lot of us probably thought: “But what can I do about this?” This is a question I hear often from pro-life evangelicals. Many Christians are utterly convinced in their heart of the personhood and dignity of the unborn, yet don’t know how to faithfully effectively advocate for life.
It’s important to understand that the cultural battle for human dignity doesn’t begin on Capitol Hill or on CNN. It begins in your family, in your local church, and in your neighborhood. In fact, many of the people we know most vulnerable to the abortionist’s rhetoric are not actually pro-choice, they’re just scared, scared to scandalize a church with their secret. The false gospel of the abortion clinic, which says, “We can make all your trouble go away for you,” is overwhelmingly seductive.
What these people need more than a lesson in embryonic development is to have the Gospel preached to their conscience. This means much more than simply offering “The Romans Road” or prompting a sinner’s prayer; it means speaking directly with the message of Jesus’ complete sovereignty of the universe, his righteous indignation on the murder of the unborn, and most importantly, his complete absorption of God’s wrath on the cross, and his invitation to mercy and fellowship and the imputed righteousness of the Son of God.
The Gospel disarms the appeal of the abortion clinic because it offers truth with love, judgment with mercy, and righteousness with grace. The consciences around us don’t believe what they’re telling themselves. They’re scared and confused. Shine a light on their conscience, and then present the Gospel of reconciliation.
Moreover, the pro-life movement has set an example worthy of our imitation when it comes to practical, holistic mercy ministry. For over 40 years since Roe v. Wade, those committed to defending unborn life have done much more than preach and teach; they have welcomed the scared, the vulnerable, and the wounded and loved them. This has looked like the establishment of crisis pregnancy centers all around cities. It has looked like adoption advocacy and building a culture of adoption in local churches. It’s true that our pro-life witness has a long way to go, but we do not, thankfully, conform to the caricature that says we believe life “begins at conception and ends at birth.”
Questions like these are why I am excited to be a part of the Evangelicals For Life Conference in January. This conference exists to help evangelicals articulate a truly Christian doctrine on the dignity of all human life. Being pro-life, after all, means much more than being against abortion on demand; it means believing in the dignity of the elderly and infirm, and advocating for compassion and inclusion of the poor, the orphan, and the widow. No doctrine of human dignity that fails to speak to these cases is fully “pro-life.”
Sometimes Christians are encouraged to leave issues like this behind. Sometimes the fight for human dignity is portrayed as “culture war” baggage. For those of us that watched an executive from Planned Parenthood talk about the most valuable anatomy of dead children, we know this to be false. The stakes for human life and human dignity could not be higher, and the plight of those ignored by the world does not go unnoticed by our heavenly Father.
We have a Gospel word to speak to the abortionist and the unborn, to the orphan and those not considering adoption. Will you join me in Washington, on January 21-22, as we seek to speak this word?
–Russell Moore serves as the eighth president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention