“There are six thing which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to do evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.” Proverbs 6:17-19
It’s a surprising, and even grievous, twist when a political candidate has to call on the church to be the voice of truth in a nation, instead of the other way around – but that’s what Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has done.
As Live Action News reported this week, Cruz issued an invite to 100,000 pastors to join him in a conference call Tuesday to address assaults on Christian liberty; however, when it comes to abortion, he says the continued choice to be assaulted may be in the hands of American pastors. In the call, he said:
If we cannot speak about this, there is very little that we can stand up and speak about. Preaching from the pulpit biblical values on life and comparing those values, the teachings of Jesus, to this nationwide business of trafficking in the body parts of unborn children is a message that needs to be heard across this nation.
He commented that if the church cannot stand up under a crisis like the Planned Parenthood revelations, then it has lost all its authority to speak on moral issues. As a result, he implored pastors to preach this Sunday on the abortion issue in order to help call the church to action in this dark hour.
I would encourage every pastor on this call to preach the truth about what is happening with Planned Parenthood. I recognize these are topics that are not without controversy, and they invite criticism when faith leaders speak candidly about them.
Cruz also appealed for prayer for the nation’s leaders, and prayer for action against selling human body parts, among other crimes, moral and legal, which have been exposed more blatantly than ever by the Center for Medical Progress and its undercover videos.
Cruz, whose father is a Baptist pastor, understands something many American pastors seem to not comprehend: to be faithful to the Word of God is to stand against the shedding of innocent blood. To preach the Bible and to eschew talking about an issue in which God historically has poured out His judgment on a land is to be irresponsible with the call of God to preach His word.
When a national crisis is exposed and the sin and culpability of a nation is placed in the living rooms of Christians, the leaders must speak out. Just as pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer learned in Germany when Hitler rose to power, a pacifistic attitude would have only led to more culpability, and Bonhoeffer knew it; he not only spoke out but stepped out to help end the reign of evil. He lost his life for it, but he reflected the Christ he preached.
Now, Cruz, a politician and preacher’s son, has shown himself to be a man who stands for life more vocally than some of the church. The church is often wishing for politicians to be more like them, but it is fortunate for the nation that right now, a politician is calling out the church. It would behoove pastors and leaders to listen to the politician in this case.
This is no longer about a selected sermon topic or a special Sanctity of Life Sunday where the local pregnancy center sets up a table and videos of orphans from other countries are shown on a wide screen (and maybe, if he’s gutsy enough, the pastor says that abortion is murder). This isn’t a trend; it’s pure evil which has been allowed, in part, by the mass silence of those who should be speaking loudest: the church.
Maybe pastors don’t want to risk hurting post-abortive women by mentioning the A-word. But instead of cowering, they need to mention it and discuss the hope for healing–and then have a team ready to minister to these women. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away.
Their reluctance also may be a mistaken view of abortion as a political issue, along with the belief that the pulpit isn’t a political vehicle. “My job is to preach the Gospel,” some say. But isn’t this the Gospel? Jesus, born of a pregnancy to a teen mother – surely a candidate for Planned Parenthood’s business had it been 2015 and if Mary hadn’t known better – is how the Gospel began. It is about life, birth, rebirth, and redemption through a man born from an unexpected (for Mary, at least) pregnancy. The Gospel gives the answer to a world under a law of curse and judgment for issues such as shedding innocent blood, and it is the hope for redeeming a people and a land. There are few social and cultural events that reflect the essence of the Gospel so well as this.
To ignore this issue in the pulpits is to ignore one of the greatest opportunities to preach the Gospel – something a poor immigrant who fled Cuba and came to America figured out years ago. Ted Cruz discussed the values and truth he learned from his dad, and he said in the call:
The message that my father delivered at pastors’ conferences all over the country is that no one bears greater responsibility for the condition of this country than do the pastors. The analogy he uses is if the sheep, if the flock stumbles into a ditch, you don’t blame the sheep, you blame the shepherd.
The question Cruz is asking isn’t political – it’s spiritual. It’s not a fundraising quest or a sermon suggestion book. It’s a call to action for those charged with the spiritual leadership of the nation. The fact is, if the pastors won’t speak, the flock may be stumbling into a ditch, only instead of being covered with dirt, they will be covered with the shed blood of the innocent that they were not empowered and encouraged to stop.
There is, perhaps, no more opportune moment in recent history for pastors to stand up and rise into the their sacred calling to speak the truth of the Gospel and lead people to take action against evil. To not speak or act is to commit the sin of silence.