Being Completely Pro-Life in the Church

By Dr. Douglas Groothuis
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how does the church stand for life in a hostile culture? Pastors and church leaders can be encouraged that the pro-life message is changing hearts around the world. All we have to do as leaders is open our mouths and speak of the issue with biblical insight and grace.

America may be at a tipping point concerning abortion and infanticide. An evil logic is being played out, and sides must be taken. At a time such as this, the church must not be silent since she is “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Remember the words of German pastor Martin Niem√∂ller (1892-1984), which are printed on a wall of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”[i]

Niem√∂ller spoke this about the terror of the Nazi regime. We have our own  terror—the callous carnage of the unborn, a present day holocaust—and now the terror extends to the newly born. Who will speak for those most defenseless in our society?

Recent laws and statements by politicians tell us that the grim logic of abortion on demand is being played out. One argument for protecting unborn human beings was that a newborn is not that different from an unborn child, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. So, if you would not kill a newborn, you should not kill an unborn! Now the argument is being reversed. Newborns aren’t that different from the unborn. Since the unborn have no rights, neither should the newly born—if they survive a failed abortion.

Atheist philosophers Michael Tooley and Peter Singer argued for this thirty-five years ago. Now it is polluting the mainstream. Most readers of a Focus on the Family publication will not have read Tooley or Singer, but their fallacious argument is gaining popular traction.

Perhaps newborn infants who survive abortion should be given “comfort care” as they are left to die, but nothing more. We gave my dying wife comfort care at the end of her life, and it was fitting, since she had an irreversible and terminal illness. But “comfort care” is no comfort to a newborn child abandoned by the only ones who could provide for him or her.

Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats is more than a parable; it is a destiny. Those who clothe, and feed, and care for, and protect “the least of these,” are clothing and feeding and caring for and protecting Jesus Himself, according to Jesus’ words. And His words will be the Judgment itself. Listen to the Lord of history:

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?”

He will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matthew 25: 40-46).

If the church, for whom Christ died, will not stand for the “least of these,” such as the unborn and newly born under threat of murder, who will? And if the church does not lift its voice and open its wallet, how shameful is that church! But take heart, pastors and leaders, there is much you can do.

First, God’s people “are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Thus, teachers must teach the whole counsel of God, not just bits and pieces. Women and men must bring biblical insights and morality to bear on the most crucial matters of time and eternity. As Paul exhorted Timothy, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8; see also Malachi 2:7-8, James 3:1-3). The Bible’s case for the sanctity of human life regarding abortion is simple:

  1. Human beings at all stages of life are made in God’s image and likeness and possess a God-given sanctity.
  2. Therefore, human beings should not be murdered.
  3. Unborn human beings are made in God’s image and likeness. We become human at conception.
  4. Therefore, unborn human beings should not be murdered.

This argument is simple and profound, and biblical texts and themes supporting it are not hard to find. If this argument is sound, then Jesus calls us to act like His sheep and to do all in our power to protect and support the unborn. Abortion transcends political allegiance and tradition. All followers of Jesus must obey Him in speaking and standing for the unborn and supporting a pro-birth, pro-family approach to life.

Second, while it may not be wise to advocate for particular political candidate or parties from the pulpit, preachers can and should articulate biblical principles on the God-given value of all human life and exhort their congregations to vote and support candidates and causes accordingly.  The church should be the conscience of the nation. We have largely failed in this. When we stand before the Lord, He will not ask us to which party we belonged, He will ask us if we served the “least of these.”

Third, churches can look at their budgets and ministries and make sure that some money and effort is going into pro-life causes. Perhaps gifted counselors can offer free counseling to mothers in distress. Maybe the new church addition or coffee machine can be put off and that money be given to a local or national pro-life ministry.

Along these lines, pastors and church leaders can encourage those in their care to volunteer and give to pro-life ministries, as well as to fast and pray on these urgent matters.

Since the church must be a culture of learning what matters most to God, she must teach about the biblical view not only of unborn human life, but also about a godly sexual morality that, if applied, will cut down on unwanted pregnancies.

If church leaders are concerned with the Gospel at all, they will not only follow Jesus in condemning apathy regarding the slaughter of the unborn and newly born, they will offer forgiveness through the blood of Jesus to all who have had abortions, those who have encouraged abortions, and those who have performed abortions. The Apostle John, who knew Jesus face to face, assures us of this:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us (1 John 1:5-10).

Only Jesus can cleanse us from all sin, set us right with God, renew our conscience, give us a new mind, and enflame our wills to follow him in advancing the Kingdom of God, come what may. May all the leaders (and followers) of the church of God, the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, be wise and be faithful to Jesus Christ, the great advocate of the least, the last, and the lost.


[i] See “Martin Niemoller: First they came for the Socialists‚Ķ” at National Holocaust Museum. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/martin-niemoeller-first-they-came-for-the-socialist.

© 2019 Dr. Douglas Groothuis.

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About the Author

Dr. Douglas Groothuis

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary where he heads the Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree program. He is the author of twelve books, including Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011) and Walking through Twilight: A Wife’s Illness–A Philosopher’s Lament (InterVarsity Press, 2017). He has published thirty-one academic articles and dozens of …

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