There’s a scene from the film Amazing Grace, about William Wilberforce, that chokes me up every time I see it: a minister in a packed British church begins preaching about slavery and the need for its abolishment. The people in the congregation are frustrated by his message and quickly start to walk out. The sanctuary empties as the camera zooms in on a former slave and abolitionist named Olaudah Equiano who’s sitting in a pew with tears rolling down his face.
The minister bravely chose to speak out against injustice in the face of potential rejection and popular opinion. Early Church fathers did the same when they openly denounced methods of abortion. The Epistle of Barnabas said in 125 A.D., “Thou shalt love thy neighbor more than thy own life. Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion.” Christian leader Tertullian said in 160-240 A.D., “In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we [Christians] may not destroy even the foetus in the womb[.]”
Every generation has leaders who are willing to sacrifice personal comfort to proclaim truth. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a well-known German pastor, was sent to a concentration camp for condemning Hitler’s regime. Dietrich was hanged because he refused to be silent about the killing of the Jews. While most ministers today don’t fear death, they might fear losing support from their members or being labeled as “extreme” and receiving harassment from the media. All of these fears can hinder ministers from sharing the truth that abortion is murder, but as philosopher Edmund Burke said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Thankfully, we have some compelling voices coming forth from our pulpits. John Piper stands out as one of the most vocal pro-life preachers in the Baptist General Conference denomination. He is a very influential and widely respected pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Piper has spoken out against abortion for over three decades. You can view his website’s archives and listen to every sermon he has recorded concerning the topic. Piper is unapologetic when it comes to standing for the lives of the unborn. He doesn’t just condemn abortion; he also supports adoption. He has four biological sons with his wife Noel, as well as an adopted African-American daughter named Talitha. In a 1996 letter written to his wife, Piper shares a few of the reasons he wanted to adopt:
By adopting this child we would embrace and affirm the preciousness of life over the death-dealing industry of abortion. Talitha’s birth-mother chose against abortion. We choose to affirm that choice. By this we put our money and our time and our lives where our mouth is. There are other ways to be real and serious about fighting abortion. But here is one that is necessary and therefore some families must do it. To do it is a good and powerful thing.
Bishop Harry Jackson is the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. Jackson is a registered Democrat, but his strong pro-life views and support of conservative candidates cause him to be labeled a right-wing fanatic. Bishop Jackson stirred up controversy when he openly declared the Obama administration’s mandate for insurance plans to cover contraceptives part of a eugenics-driven agenda that seeks to control the population of the black community. Jackson boldly said that “the black community does not need more birth control. We need men and women who respect their bodies and raise their children to do the same.” The bishop continually calls for the African-American community to raise their voices and declare abortion a major crime.
Walter Hoye is a California Pastor who was sentenced to 30 days in prison after being accused of violating Oakland’s “Bubble Law.” The “Bubble Law” is a city law that provides an eight-foot buffer zone between pro-lifers who minister to women on the sidewalk and patients entering abortion clinics. Walter calmly stood by the clinic with a sign that read, “God loves you and your baby, let us help you.” Although none of the women entering the clinic complained, the clinic workers accused Walter of harassment. He recorded a powerful video message from his prison cell about the need to stand for life. Two years after Walter’s arrest, two Planned Parenthood abortion facilities closed down in the very city in which he was arrested. Walter says of his ministry work, “It is my prayer that God’s name be glorified and the life of His Son Jesus Christ be revealed in me.”
Every church must have leaders who recognize the value of life and seek to protect it at all costs. We need messages that bring healing to post-abortive women, encourage men to become better fathers, and teach young people the value of abstinence before marriage. Churches should also be involved in giving to pregnancy resource centers, voting for pro-life candidates, sidewalk-counseling, and adopting children of every age and race. If your pastor, priest, or minister is not openly pro-life, I suggest you pray for him or her and even talk with him or her about the issue. When all the congregations in America choose life, we will see a drastic change in our nation.