Tue Aug 14, 2012 - 1:11 pm EST
Louder than the ‘Silent Scream’: the deafening silence of our pulpits
This is a sequel to a widely publicized article I wrote in March outlining a simple, if audacious, “One-Minute Strategy” for bringing about the end of legalized abortion in America virtually overnight:
If every Sunday, in every pulpit, in every church across America, ministers would devote one minute—ONE MINUTE—to decrying the evil of abortion on demand, such universal solidarity within the ranks of Christian leadership would accomplish two things, maybe three.
First, it would dispel ambiguity and send a clear signal to every pew-sitting believer that this is a top-line priority with God, not a fine-print codicil, not “one more good thing that Christians ought to do when they have time.”
Second, it would foster unanimity amongst all believers—at least on this one all-important issue—and enable us together to render unto God what is God’s (i.e., sufficient advocacy at the ballot box to get Roe overturned) while at the same time rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s—which, don’t forget, includes the advice and consent of the governed.
And third, maybe, just maybe the voice of conscience would become less easily ignored by those outside the church and we would see abortion on demand outlawed, not only in America, but around the world—“overnight.”
In the months since publication, the thing that has stunned me is not the article’s near-universal, vigorously enthusiastic embrace by thousands within the pro-life community. What has stunned me is the thunderous silence from evangelical pastors. I’ve gotten loads of feedback from lay evangelicals and Catholics—clergy and laypersons alike—but almost nothing from evangelical ministers. It has left me wondering, “Do they agree? Do they disagree? Does this register even the slightest flutter on their moral seismograph?”
So this time I’m explicitly soliciting feedback. Help me understand. You who pastor an evangelical church, what do you think of this “One-Minute Strategy” to end abortion? It seems to me that to say nothing about it is to say everything.
I, along with many thousands who have signified their agreement, really believe this strategy will work if you will but implement it. It requires so agonizingly little to make it happen, really only two things—publicity, and the willingness of church leaders to implement—that it seems irresponsible not to press the issue.
I realize habits, good and bad, die hard. So I am willing to beat the drum until the rhythm is learned. I just hope it won’t be long. Too much is at stake.
As I said, this time I’m making a straightforward appeal to every American pulpit. I’m asking you, pastor friend, to put this strategy into practice, at once. It involves a single minute each Sunday. Will you do it?
If not, why not?
That’s not a rhetorical question. I seriously want to know, you who have a pulpit and are Christ’s ambassador—why would you not do it?
Do you not agree that it is at least a little incongruous to preach the love of God—a God who so hated evil that to oppose it He let His own Son be tortured and murdered—and yet not give one solitary minute each week to decrying an unspeakable evil that for 40 years has been tacitly sanctioned, approved, endorsed, and even effectively celebrated and cheered on by our collective silence?
Does not such behavior seem to you inherently contradictory and disingenuous? Does it not appear to pluck up by the roots the very thing it sows? For on the one hand it speaks of God’s love for people, and on the other it speaks of the unimportance of those same people whom we declare God loves.
Actions, they say, speak louder than words. But here, in this thing, we are letting silence speak louder still. For our silence, in extraordinarily large measure, is the very thing keeping myriads from hearing and thinking about and doing something about the “silent scream” of 4,000 little people being aborted in America every day.
Only a few generations ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the midst of comparable horror and equally inexplicable passivity on the part of Christians, rightly observed that “silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Friends, either Bonhoeffer was gravely mistaken or there is something horribly wrong here—something we can change immediately and universally, if we want to.
I implore each of you to whom God has entrusted the mantle of leadership to lead! You have been given the trumpet to rally us all to awareness and action, but “if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor 14:8)
Christ’s brother, James, wrote “if you see someone destitute . . . and . . . notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:16) He said that faith without such works of compassion for the needy is dead. As dead as the 54 million babies we, my fellows, have silently abandoned to their own virtual Auschwitz.
So will you do this? Rather than committing the moral equivalent of bidding them “be warmed and filled,” minister friend, will you give these destitute innocents 60 seconds of your time every Sunday until this evil is universally abhorred by all who call themselves “Christian”? You can if you want to. The power is in your hands, in your voice.
Not to act is to act.
I feel I must say one more thing, and God forgive me if I go beyond what is proper. It is to ask you, if you will not implement this “One-Minute Strategy” (or something similar), then will you give me an advance version of your defense for not doing so? I say “an advance version” because I believe the day is coming when you will be compelled, not asked, to give a full account.
Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps in the final analysis this strategy will accomplish nothing. Frankly, I don’t believe that for a moment. But even if—even if—little or nothing changes, fellow-servant of Christ, let it be in spite of what we did, not because of what we did not do!
Rolley Haggard is a self-described “elder brother screaming on behalf of his siblings.” Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint.org
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