After becoming a newly recognized face, at least among the Missouri Baptists, for the abolition of abortion and sharing the news on my personal Facebook timeline that South Carolina Baptists had stood inline with the national convention, I was asked a question by a fellow Missouri Baptist. The question was: “What role does making contraceptives more readily available play in your movement?” My reply, in good faith, was:
“That is irrelevant, red herring, to the abolitionist’s case. The killing of the innocent, murder, should not be — plain and simple. We are calling out to end legalized murder, immediately — without exception or compromise. Instead of contraceptives, how about calling our fellow brothers and sisters to adopt (another failure of Resolution 5) if the situation would arise. That would be a great thing. We can’t change hearts (what only the triune God can do), but we can do the Gospel and do justice as we have been called to do. We must be consistent with the ‘once for all delivered faith,’ walking worthy of our callings.”
What I provided was just a fact-of-the-matter answer. The issue of making contraceptives more readily available is a moot point. This may be something the incrementalist would join up with, but not an abolitionist that stands on the Law and Gospel — the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The law here would be not to teach anyone, believer or unbeliever, to commit any form of adultery (Matt. 5:17-20, 27-30, Jms. 2:10-11). This is analogous with the law that we are not to murder (Ex. 20:30, Dut. 5:17, Matt 5:21) and not write injustice into law (Lev. 19:15, Dut. 1:17, 16:19, Jn. 7:24), just as the Law and Gospel are not mutually exclusive but co-equal (Rom 3:30-31, 1 Tim. 1:8-9).
I did add two honest questions to consider after my reply to which I must assume brought on his accusation of amping up my rhetoric; being the one responsible for starting a social media debate. To this all I can say is: Sir, it does take two to tango, tango here being dialogue. A simple reply could have been a “thank you for answering the question;” acknowledging that I provided that the abolitionist position would not be for making contraceptives more readily available, and that it is an irrelevant — distracting — argument to put forth against the position. And though that’s the case, it should have been acknowledged that I stated that abolitionists would be for calling our brothers and sisters to something higher (ie. adoption, not just helping the abortion-minded who repent with their situation) than what had passed at the most recent Missouri Baptist Annual Meeting,* acknowledging that abolitionists are for more than the criminalization of all abortions.
Instead of that, my brother did engage and is therefore responsible for the continuation of the dialogue — nothing to be ashamed of. The first question that I asked, “how are contraceptives not already pretty darn available,” went unanswered. The second, “Why would Christians support a general handout from the civil magistrate or hand them out themselves?” is apparently what made the secular pro-life mind came out with guns blazing.
My brother replied:
“Why wouldn’t you be for preventing unwanted pregnancies that currently lead to abortions?”
“Wouldn’t better education and awareness lessen the desire for unwanted pregnancies?”
“It seems like your only goal is to end abortion.”
The first question and last assertion, straw man argumentation, exposes that my questions hit a nerve. If my brother were willing to have a good faith conversation I would not have been accused by prejudicial conjecture that I don’t care about “unwanted pregnancies” — a euphemism for unwanted humans — and it wouldn’t have been said that ending abortion is the abolitionists “only goal.” In the second question, another straw man, bad faith is also evident when the “better education and awareness” issue was added as if we were already talking about it and as if better contraceptive availability and better awareness must go together. My brother did end up asking what abolitionists would be prepared to do about the euphemism “unwanted pregnancies” once the goal is attained. This is a great question if it was left at that — but good faith was broken a priori.
He continued with his false assumptions, though admitted abolition is a good goal — thank you for that — and clutched his pearls and dropped his Bible after piggybacking off my doing the Gospel and doing justice while relying on God for the heart change. We do both agree on this, but there are four issues between us: first, of standard; second, of sufficiency; third, jurisdiction; and fourth, responsibility.
First off, is not our belief that the Holy Spirit’s use of the preached Gospel is the sufficient means to repentance and faith: salvation? Yes! Should we always, as we already do, seek to speak, preach and do more, and impartially so? Yes and Amen — abolitionists are “Great Commission” minded folks who want to make disciples by teaching Jesus’ commands, and teaching people to observe those commands (Matt. 28:18-20), the warp and woof of abolitionism. Secondly, when did I say abolitionists do not care about “unwanted pregnancies?” Never! It does not follow that if contraceptives are not made more readily available that one does not care about the unwanting of people by people.
Next, another great question arises: where in the Law or Gospel can we glean that Jesus would approve passing out condoms (among other things that are not abortifacients) by civilians, churchmen, or statesmen as a form of Gospel or justice? How would this be the teaching of and the teaching to observe Jesus’ commands? According to scripture it’s not; I have never gleaned this and was not shown by my brother the contrary. This is where the main issue for abolitionists gets exposed, what I later brought to his attention: my brother’s humanistically pragmatic, not biblical, approach to dealing with the unchanged hearts: particularly, in his words, “non-Christians” who can’t be expected to “behave chastely.” He told me that I “might want to hand out contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies” and later implied that I should be for doing this if I really hated abortion — another non-sequitur . It is also more than that; it’s a move that tries to place guilt on people —a guilt that Christians don’t have to bear; a tactic that must be exposed (Pr. 1:10, 28:4, Eph 5:11), because it is not a part of Christ’s teaching.
I replied, “So why do unwanted pregnancies happen?” I do ask for forgiveness here, I should not use that terminology (Matt. 7:1-2) because it’s not just the pregnancy — the nine months of dealing with bodily change and pain — that is unwanted, but also the little human(s). Then I continued, “The science of sex is well established — babies can be made (the Bible is spot on about this).” Then asked “How is this not already being taught by families, churches, and schools?” — another good question that went unanswered. I also called him out on the issue, which he did not deny, that he was saying that he did not mind, as a Christian, being complicit in what Scripture calls fornication and asked “Should Christians be a part of that?” The big issue here is that since he dropped the Bible on the floor, he gave up his wisdom a la Proverbs 26:4: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.”
The contraceptive argument is what I, again, stated as “absolutely a red herring,” and it must be made very clear that to call something a red herring is not to necessarily assume malicious intent. I wanted to have good faith and be a help, but my brother was unwilling to assume good faith on my part, instead blaming me for bad faith debate, a debate that he later said he didn’t really want to have, and a debate he wanted to leave because of my commitment to my cause.
I then added a question, recalling a video of Jeff Durbin talking with a couple of women about abortion, a conversation that exposes the contraceptive argument as a hostage situation that the pro-choice use. In the video, the women agreed that if they got what they call healthcare, they may consider calling abortion murder.** So I asked my brother, “Why are you using their arguments?” — warning him that “this really reveals what standard is at play, the Scriptures or humanist pragmatism.”
This standard is applied in my brother’s answer: “Because I see the effects of unwanted pregnancies and I’d like to lessen them.” This is as if the abolitionist doesn’t — prejudicial guilt manipulation! I do understand as he said that his felt intentions were not to attack or discredit me, but to seek expansion. But what he fails to recognize is the full Law and Gospel, and its sufficiency, that must be applied that he seems to want to reject for the sake of humanist pragmatism.
I write this to give an account of what more casual conversations about abortion and abolitionism look like and what to be on the look out for, especially when talking with one who is still entrenched in a secular man-fearing tradition. The secular pro-life minded Christian will say things like, “Humbly share Jesus with the lost and admonish the saved, encouraging them to see the vision of the kingdom of God and the role sexual purity plays in it” when asked “If you are for abolition, as you say you are, what are the biblical principles that deal with fornication?” But there will be bad faith guilt manipulation from the same mouth when it is countered with: “which is worse, their fornication, or an unwanted pregnancy that can still, today, result in legal abortion? How much do you hate abortion?” Only then to quickly announce that they must leave the conversation because of you.
Which is worse, my brother? What does God, not man, say?
“For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all. For he who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. So if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you are a lawbreaker”
— James 2:10-11
Are you willing to repent and reconcile?
May God grant us repentance.
* Missouri Baptists, Tuesday Morning – Business Update, MBC Annual Meeting – October 26, 2021, pg. 6. “RESOLVED, that we call upon Missouri Baptists as ambassadors of Christ to constantly and lovingly reach out to mothers and fathers considering an abortion in order to support and care for them so they are enabled to keep and raise their child; and be it further”
** “You Won’t Believe What She Says,” https://youtu.be/b0quXrJ8DhY