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One of the most significant internal struggles of a movement occurred over a century and a half ago as the anti-slavery movement evolved from a sleepy crawl to a full sprint. Much like the debate raging over the illegal-immigration crisis of today, tensions developed between the “gradualists” and the “immediatists.”
All were anti-slavery, but there were distinctives both in principle and in strategy. The American Colonization Society “… since 1817 been promoting a polite form of antislavery … gradual emancipation – solely at the discretion of the slaveholder. …” (“Arguing About Slavery,” Miller)
Notable among its adherents were Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln (until he became president), James Madison and Daniel Webster.
On the other side of the ring, launched in 1833, the American Anti-Slavery Society came out swinging against such gradualism. Their fervor was birthed in the Second Great Awakening, and their zeal was grounded in a moral outrage that not only the institution but its premise of “black inferiority” violated basic principles of both Christianity and its protégé, the Declaration of Independence.
Names like John Greenleaf Whittier, Theodore Weld, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Louis Tappan and legions of “ordinary” men and women – largely forgotten names in the national memory, were the “field generals” in the latter.
This tension has existed in essentially every major social movement throughout our young history, including Prohibition and the civil-rights and pro-life movements. Some say to take it slow, cautiously and diplomatically; others assert that an evil cannot be given quarter and must be eradicated NOW.
As a form of confession, I am an “immediatist” by nature, particularly in regards to the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. Abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, eugenics, etc. are vile, evil and have no place in a civilized nation, let alone one that claims to be founded in Judeo-Christian principles.
No issue transcends this if you accept any sort of Judeo-Christian ethic, even if not a believer. God’s design of marriage and family are next – go to His book and study where He places the greatest emphasis and penalties next to our worship of Him.
Here is the dilemma we now face in dealing with the plethora of social ills that plague our homes, cities, states and nation. We want solutions to symptoms but really don’t want to hear the root causes.
Does this sound familiar?
There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also the fish of the sea disappear (Hosea 4:2, 3 NASB).
There are many critical issues of our day. However, after the “grand opening” in Houston, Texas, of Planned Parenthood’s latest Mega-Murder center – a 78,000 square-foot building with a full floor dedicated to ambulatory facilities for the taking of unborn life up to at least 26 weeks – I am convicted again to the depths of my soul that as long as the most innocent and defenseless are slaughtered at the rate of 3,500 a day in the United States, we can only expect more chaos, more crime, more economic instability and more invasion by (in the words of one of our local Hispanic pastors who is a legal immigrant) “modern day conquistadors” who come to take not build.
I am thankful for the incredible work and sacrifice of so many over the last 37 years since five U.S. Supreme Court justices unleashed death on our land through Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
We have not done enough.
After 25 years in the battle, I am also appalled at the complacency in the evangelical church and the “colonizationist” mindset that is dominant in dealing with this all-important issue. While every baby who is saved through a sidewalk counselor’s presence is a victory, every mother who decides to keep her baby is a miracle … it is not enough. Nothing else in our nation will be right until this is right.
The Lord our God calls from heaven, and the blood of 50 million legally murdered babies cries out from the ground for justice. I appeal and urge every pastor in America to commit to accepting the role given you as prophet in our land to lead in the following actions:
- Pray pro-life – visibly involve yourself in prayer walks and vigils at abortion facilities in your city.
- Preach pro-life – you MUST connect the dots in Scripture to impart the value that God Himself places on every innocent human life from conception until natural death; you must also appropriately but graphically teach what abortion is – brutal murder.
- Proclaim pro-life – Get outside your church walls to stand with other pastors and leaders visibly in your community through every form of public awareness campaign.
- Politic pro-life – No Christian of any color, denomination or culture should ever vote for a candidate who does not unequivocally commit to fighting and voting for policies that restrict and/or prohibit the taking of life without due process from conception until natural death. Their support of or opposition to Roe v. Wade is the acid test.
How many more babies will die on our watch before we fall on our face and then rise up with the same fervor as those who have stopped evil before us?