Like many churches across America, our church remembered the Sanctity of Life yesterday in our service. And for the sixth time in as many years, God permitted me the chance to preach for the voiceless millions who are being taken away to the slaughter. Following the theme of “spiritual disciplines in the Psalms,” I argued that defending the unborn is a public spiritual discipline all Christians are commanded to pursue. As Proverbs 24:11–12 instructs,
Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
We know that millions of babies are being slaughtered every year. We knew that before the Planned Parenthood videos were released last year. But even more graphically, we know that thousands of children are being aborted everyday—ripped apart, sold for parts, and sacrificed on the altar of sexual liberty and personal autonomy.
With such knowledge, we are accountable to weep, pray, work, march, and speak out for the unborn. This is true for all Christians, but even more for pastors. And so it is my brother pastors who I speak to today.
An Apologia for Preaching Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
Since the beginning of my preaching ministry, the month of January has always included a sermon on the sanctity of life. And I would challenge every pastor—if you are not already committed to preaching against abortion and for the sanctity of life—to ask yourself a question: Why aren’t you? What is keeping you from giving voice to the voiceless? Do you think it is a deviation from the gospel? A betrayal of expositional preaching? A distraction from the work of the church? A detour into politics?
Let me challenge you on each of those points.
- Scripture is replete with texts speaking of God’s abomination of child sacrifice. For instance, Moses writes, “You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:21; cf.
20:2–5; Deuteronomy 18:10). In our day, Planned Parenthood has assumed Molech’s mantle, sacrificing children to the god of infertility. While the Bible regularly extols the blessedness of children (see Psalms 127–28), our country treats them as inconveniences and hindrances to sexual liberation. Steeped in this culture, we cannot assume Jesus’ disciples will naturally see these things in Scripture. So we must show from the Bible how God hates the execution of the innocent and the sacrifice of children (see Proverbs 24:10–12).
- Preaching the whole counsel of God doesn’t stop with a presentation of the gospel. Christian discipleship includes forming Christ in the life of our congregations. Therefore, discipleship in our current context (where abortion on demand is the law of the land) must include a broken-heartedness towards abortion and the women (and men) who have been ravished by it. Fifty-seven million abortions mean that ten’s of millions of people have succumbed to this evil. They are in your churches. And they need the gospel to lift them from the depths. Indeed, only the gospel can give them hope and help. Therefore, addressing this scourge head on is not a deviation from the gospel.
- The gospel of the kingdom is a political message. The rule of Christ reaches into every area of life. Therefore, to announce Christ’s lordship cannot be restricted to individual decisions; it must impact how Christians think and act in public. Therefore, preaching on this topic is not a detour into a politics; it speaks a vital message of life into a culture of death. We must not only tell people how they can be saved as individuals, but how the Lordship of Christ shapes every sphere of life.
- If you don’t teach your people about abortion, who will? The worst case scenario is a people who loathe abortion, but who take no vocal stance against it because no one has shown them how. If abortion is going to be made illegal in our country; it must first become unthinkable. And the only way it will become unthinkable is for the church to winsomely and courageously and continually speak up for the unborn. Pastor, this is our calling—to equip the saints for their works of service.
An Example and Exhortation to Preach Ethically
At the end of service yesterday a gentlemen came to report the way he had boldly spoke truth at his workplace last week. After touring the Holocaust museum, discussion arose about whether such a “holocaust” could be repeated today. With spiritual cunning and the equipping of information given at last week’s youth meeting, he spoke out to say our country has legally put 57 million innocents to death since 1973. This assertion is both true and controversial; it was received with anger and awkwardness. But the truth was proclaimed; the abomination of abortion was exposed.
May God increase this man’s tribe. And may we as pastors work and pray and encourage our people to stand and speak in their various places of influence and occupation with such boldness. Only as we take our faith publicly, will we see the salt and light of the church have its preserving and saving effect.
Finally, I did not come to this conviction about preaching against abortion without the influence of another pastor. During his 34 years of pastoral ministry, John Piper preached over 24 sermons on the sanctity of life. His chapter “Brothers, Blow the Trumpet for the Unborn” and his model of preaching deeply shaped my thinking. May his model and the urgency of the hour exhort us to do the same.
I close with another pastor who has been influenced by Piper’s preaching. Hear Jason Meyer’s words (included in his recently published Sanctity of Life sermon on IVF).
I would commend to every pastor the practice of preaching a Sanctity of Human Life sermon every year. At Bethlehem Baptist Church, our practice is to have a sermon on ethnic harmony for Martin Luther King Jr. day. The next weekend is a sermon on Sanctity of Life (the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision). By pairing these two sermons together every January, we send a unified message. Owning a person because of the color of their skin (slavery) is today unthinkable, but it was once acceptable. We long for the day when killing a baby in the womb is as unthinkable as slavery. We will look back on abortion and the slaughter of innocent lives someday and say the same thing we say about slavery today, “what were we thinking? Why did we as a society ever allow that to happen?”
Meyer’s words remind us that an expositional preaching does not avoid ethical preaching. Indeed it cannot avoid topics that continue to plague us. Scripture speaks ethically, and we need to help our ethics-starved people understand how to think biblically about all matters of life. More personally, Meyer’s words challenge me, because to date I haven’t preached a message of racial reconciliation. I need to. By God’s grace that will soon change!
For all of us who herald the Word, may we remember that expositional preaching must address contemporary issues. While the biblical text always dictates the shape and structure of our message, we cannot forget the pressing needs of our culture. Standing between two horizons, may God give us wisdom and boldness to proclaim the whole counsel of God—equipping saints to withstand the sins of our age, refusing to hide behind exposition as an excuse for not addressing the thorny issue of our day.
Pastor, speak up for the unborn.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds