By way of spiritually preparing for a pro-life project here in my parish and deanery, I asked the Lord to show me any biblical text He wanted me to see. I randomly opened the Bible and my eyes fell on Proverbs 24, which has some very good material for reflection for any and all engaged in pro-life witness.
Consider some lessons drawn from the 24th chapter of the Book of Proverbs:
OUR SUMMONS – If you remain indifferent in times of adversity, your strength will depart from you. Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not. If you say, “I know not this man!” does not he who tests hearts perceive it? He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each according to his deeds (Prov 24:10-12).
Quite simply, we are told that this is a battle in which we must engage; we must take a stance. We must stand up and be counted; we must witness for life. Either our silence will condemn us or our witness will bring forth blessings.
Tens of millions of unborn babies have been and are being dragged to their death and are “tottering to execution” in abortion centers throughout this land. Too many Americans say, “I don’t know about this,” or “It’s not my issue,” or “It’s none of my business,” or (worst of all) “I’m personally opposed but don’t want to impose my view on others.”
God knows and sees through all of this. Each of us will have to render an account for what we have done or not done in the face of the scourge of abortion. This public slaughter cannot remain something that we are merely privately bothered by. We must stand up and be counted. This passage from Proverbs indicates that silence and inaction when the innocent are being dragged off to slaughter is tacit approval.
We are summoned to make a response!
OUR STRENGTH – A wise man is more powerful than a strong man, a man of knowledge than a man of might; for it is by wise guidance that you wage your war, and the victory is due to the wealth of counsellors (Prov 24:5-6).
One thing is for sure: in this battle of the last 40+ years, our primary strength has not been in the law or in politics. Judges and princes (politicians) have done little to limit abortion on demand. At best, we have mildly limited access to unrestricted abortion. In general, the federal courts have resisted even the most reasonable and mild restrictions on abortion. There is also no political resolve at either the congressional or executive level to end abortion.
So our strength is in our wisdom and knowledge. The wisdom of God teaches us that God knew us before we were ever formed in our Mother’s womb (Jer 1:5) and that no life is an accident. It teaches us that God knit us together in our mother’s womb and fashioned us wonderfully and fearfully in the secret and sacred place of the womb (Ps 139). The wisdom of God is clear that to abort a child in the womb is to snatch the knitting from God’s hands and pridefully say, “This shall not be.” Scripture says, Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” Does your work say, “The potter has no hands”? (Is 45:9)
And as for knowledge, in the end the truth will out. We are in a battle for hearts and minds. As medical evidence continues to mount, along with vivid 3-D imagery of babies in the womb, it is getting harder and harder for supporters of abortion to argue that abortion does not end the life of a human person who is, from the very early months, aware and able to feel pain. We must persistently and consistently persuade by assembling evidence and presenting it.
It is true that some stubbornly resist the truth of what they do not want to see, but there are many others whose ambivalence can be eroded and who have not hardened their hearts, as have the extremists and activists. Pulling back the curtain further and further is slowly winning the day. The truth is on our side and facts will eventually prevail.
Deep down, people know the truth of our stance. Deep down, people understand what they are doing and know that we are right. This explains a lot of the anger directed toward us.
Consider how the facts about cigarette smoking, once a commonplace habit and even considered glamorous, have practically ended its acceptance. Consider, too, how the acceptance of slavery (rooted in many similar arguments and flawed logic) is now considered a disgrace in our nation’s history, along with the segregationist attitudes that followed. Harmful lies cannot persist forever.
Our strength must continue to be rooted in the wisdom of God and in the knowledge of medical facts about the truth of life in the womb. People can and will be stubborn, but facts are stubborn things, too. We must boldly and confidently present those facts.
OUR SURETY – Be not provoked with evildoers, nor envious of the wicked; For the evil man has no future, the lamp of the wicked will be put out. … For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin. Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and when he stumbles, let not your heart exult, lest the Lord see it and be displeased with you, and withdraw his wrath from your enemy (Proverbs 24:19-20,16-18).
It is easy to become discouraged and battle-weary. This has been a long fight and the death toll astonishing. Every now and then I encounter pro-life and other cultural warriors who have become grouchy and who struggle with anger, even directing it at fellow pro-lifers. We have to remember that wicked philosophies and erroneous doctrines have their time, but they will not last. As this proverb reminds us, the lamp of the wicked will be put out and if they do not repent they will stumble to ruin.
Scripture says elsewhere, For the Lord who avenges blood is mindful of the oppressed; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted (Ps 9:12). God will thus requite the blood of the innocent that cry out to him (see Gen 4:10; Rev 6:10). He will do so in His time and in His way, but all will one day know and be ashamed of the horror that this nation has inflicted on our most innocent and defenseless members. The world will one day look back with deep shame upon our era, when the killing of infants in the womb was celebrated as a “right.” This period in history will be deservedly be called the new “Dark Ages.” For now, we can only soldier on in our work to change the hearts of others.
The passage also says that we should not let the wicked provoke us to vengeful anger or hatred. Unless they repent, in the end they will be the saddest of people; their lamps will go out and the deepest darkness of what they have done will envelop them. Our only true and godly stance is to pray for their conversion.
Many of them have now joined us. There are more than a few who have escaped the abortion industry and now work tirelessly to save lives and scatter the darkness and lies of abortion supporters/providers. Thank God they have escaped; thank God for their witness. We can only pray that more will leave their ranks and join with us! Keep praying and working for the conversion—not the destruction—of our opponents.
Indeed, we cannot become like our common enemy, Satan, who hates human beings and loves to see their downfall. We cannot, as the proverb says, rejoice at the downfall or destruction of our opponent or of any human being. While we may rejoice when evil influences end, we should never delight in the destruction of any person made in God’s image.
The worst deception of the Devil is to draw us into hate and vengeance (cloaked in righteousness) even as we work to preach the glory of life. Such behavior is a deception because no end, however good, can justify evil means or can excuse becoming like our enemy. If we become like Satan, he has us, no matter the cause. Leave final judgment to God, because only He can see well enough to do so.
These are a few proverbs to which I piously believe God pointed me when I asked for guidance. Our battle is difficult and wearying, but we must recall that we are summoned to it, whatever its difficulties; silence is unacceptable. All the more reason to rest in the gifts of wisdom and knowledge and to insist that others look to the truth that is written on their hearts. All the more reason to recall that we are on the right side of history and that the lie of abortion cannot forever stand.
If you find a good fight, get in it!