Flower

Let’s stop playing nice

Lincoln Brandenburg, CBR Project Director, Georgia

Lincoln Brandenburg, CBR Project Director, Georgia

The following speech was delivered by CBR’s Georgia Project Director, Lincoln Brandenburg, at the 2016 March for Life in Columbus, Georgia. 

What is the goal of the pro-life movement? Jason Jones, the co-producer of the pro-life film “Bella” recently wrote a dynamite article called “The Pro-Life Art of War.” In it, he asks us to:

“Imagine if same-sex marriage were prohibited nationwide, and legal protections for homosexuals consistently struck down or defeated—while sodomy laws were re-imposed and enforced, with billions of dollars in funding from Congress. How effective would you consider the gay rights movement? If the Second Amendment were reduced to a hollow, meaningless shell, and Americans’ guns—even hunting and target rifles—were all confiscated by the feds, what would we think of the gun lobby? If the U.S. abandoned Israel to its fate, and starting sending aid and arms to Hezbollah and Hamas, what would we say of the Israel lobby? Fix each of those scenarios in mind, and let’s ask the question: What should we think of the pro-life movement? The answer is tragically clear: For all the minds and hearts it has changed, it is a comprehensive political failure. American abortion laws are among the laxest on planet Earth…”

Such thinking doesn’t exactly bring out the sunshine on a cloudy day like this, does it? And yet, when you consider the success of the aforementioned movements, contrasted to where we are after 43 years of legalized child killing, one cannot deny that Jones is on to something. In terms of public policy, we really have very little to show for decades of efforts.

Our goal must be to win. We can save a life here and there, but winning is the only way that the killing stops. But we have become entirely too timid to win. Most in our movement are Christians. And it is so ingrained in us to be loving, selfless and nice that we don’t know how to stand firmly and boldly against the evil of child sacrifice. We don’t even have a category for that in our thinking. We know how to be gentle as doves, but we don’t’ know how to be wise as serpents.

I would like to submit that being Christlike – loving, sacrificial and gentle – does not exclude us from also standing boldly against evil. Failure to do so is itself is unloving.

In the introduction to the book “The Bravehearted Gospel,” Pastor Ben Davenport writes:

“The historical Jesus was not crucified because God so loved the world. No! The only begotten of the Father was fastened with iron nails to an unforgiving cross because He spoke the truth with authority and glistened with the light of Heaven and men loved darkness rather than light…

“If Jesus, who was perfect, who never sinned, and who was love incarnate, could not speak the truth without being hated, rejected, and despised, who are we to think that we can do better? Who are we to think that we have figured out a more ‘loving and ‘relevant’ way to present the truth in a more ‘seeker-friendly’ manner than Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

“We have wholeheartedly embraced the sentimental, watercolor Jesus that seems to spend most of His time holding lambs and patting children on the head with some faraway, glazed-over, dreamy look in His eye. And we tend to shy away from, or altogether ignore, that man who spoke the truth of God so boldly that conspiracies were hatched, witnesses were bribed, and politicians were entreated to bring about His painful and public execution.”

This is the side of being Christlike that we are afraid of.

Now does this mean that we shun and condemn women and men who have been involved in an abortion? Does this mean that we scream at people outside of clinics? Of course not! I too have sinned. Were it not for the grace of God, I would still be blinded to sin. From one human to another, I can assure you that God is eager to forgive and to free from bondage to sin, including abortion. “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.” If you view such people as the enemy, maybe you need to spend some time with God looking in the mirror first.

This is not a call to become one-dimensional. We have all seen people who became so enamored in a cause that they became cynical and abrasive. They develop tunnel-vision and lose their tenderness towards others, their winsomeness and their clairvoyance. That also is not what God calls us to.

But for the majority of us, that’s not the temptation we face, is it? Our temptation is to be silent and passive. Our temptation is to be content with having a political or theological stance, but not taking sacrificial action. We’re comfortable having our bible studies with people who are like ourselves; talking about “discipleship” and “worship,” and being really, really nice people… but doing nothing about the babies being decapitated and dismembered down the street from us.

After WWII, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s best friend, Eberhart Bethge, wrote about the weakness of the Confessing Church in Germany during the war. These were not the liberalized, Nazi-pandering churches, but the Bible-believing ones that still held to orthodox theology. He observed that “it became clear where the problem lay for the Confessing Church: we were resisting by way of confession, but we were not confessing by way of resistance.”

"We were resisting by way of confession, but we were not confessing by way of resistance.” Eberhart Bethge

“We were resisting by way of confession, but we were not confessing by way of resistance.” Eberhart Bethge

Taking a cognitive stance is not enough. The love of God compels us to act. If we will not take a bold stand against the evil of modern child sacrifice, when WILL we finally stand up? What else would it take?

Yes, it is uncomfortable. Yes, we will get flack for it. We will be mischaracterized and called names. At my church we’ve been studying the sermon on the mount in Matthew’s gospel. In chapter 5, Jesus says: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” That should put steel in our spines!

“A servant is not greater than his master;” like Jesus, we should not be surprised when we get flak for speaking the truth in a culture that loves lies. When my colleagues and I engage in activism, we don’t yell at people. We don’t call names. We show the truth of what abortion is and attempt to engage in respectful dialogue. People yell at us. They throw things at us. They call us names. But God uses the prophetic message to convict consciences, change minds, and to save lives and souls. And each one of those precious lives and souls is worth it.

“Like Jesus, we should not be surprised when we get flak for speaking the truth in a culture that loves lies.”

Imagine a day when killing preborn children is a thing of the past. We are continuing to support pregnancy resource centers, such as Sound Choices and Seneca, Choices for Life), not because it’s the pro-life thing to do – but because it’s just the Christian charitable thing to do. No other reason. Imagine us getting together like this, not to march for life, but to celebrate the precious lives that are no longer in danger. Imagine standing before the God who purposefully placed you in this time and place of history, and hearing the words “well done, good and faithful servant!”

With that dream in mind, go forward courageously and boldly. Connect with others who are engaging the culture. Let’s stay humble, stay winsome. But let’s also refuse to take no for an answer. Let’s refuse to let up. Let’s stop playing nice.

Submitted by Lincoln Brandenburg

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