The Undeniable Duty
The Duty of the Watchmen
In speaking about this issue, I have repeatedly encountered the idea that we must hold our current position on abortion in order to preserve the individual “right to choose.” The question is, choose what? (1) Don’t we have a duty to determine what it is that a man or woman is choosing before we declare that choice morally acceptable? Aren’t some choices morally wrong and contrary to Scripture? Thus, don’t we, as the standard bearer, have a duty to speak to that truth, that there is right and wrong, and sin and a Savior? It is false to assert that in speaking what is true, we will in any way repress or remove the individual’s free will. We, as a church, do not make law. We are to raise up the Banner of Truth. We cannot seek to justify what is wrong under the guise of preserving freedom of choice.
When an individual claims that he or she “personally opposes abortion,” but, “if a person chooses to have an abortion, that is their choice,” what is that individual really saying? Again, imagine an individual making that same statement regarding adultery or spousal abuse. “I personally oppose adultery, but, if you want to have an affair, that is your choice;” or, “I personally oppose beating my wife, but, if you want beat up yours, that is your decision.” (2) We would not dare exalt those decisions, praising them as exercises in “freedom of conscience.” And yet, in holding that to have an abortion is just as morally justified as to not have one, we are excusing the wrongful death of the most innocent among us as merely an exercise in free will.
(1) Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute.
Freedom of Choice, Rightly Understood
Do we possess the freedom of choice? Absolutely. However, do we, have a duty to speak out against those choices that are morally wrong and contrary to Scripture?
A thousand times, yes. Do we not speak out against adultery? Lying? Stealing? Homicide? Rape? Physical abuse? We can hardly speak on the wrongness of these and remain silent on the tragedy of abortion. It is time for us to acknowledge that in speaking what is true about the sanctity of human life, we do not remove freedom of choice. Just as our stance on adultery, stealing, and lying do not remove an individual’s free will to engage in those acts, neither does speaking the truth about the abortive act.
In our failure to speak what is true regarding the sanctity of human life, we do a profound injustice and spiritual harm to ourselves and our people. Consider the profound difference here: “Abortion is wrong. I will speak every truth I can to persuade you that abortion is wrong,” and “‘Abortion is a tragic dilemma of human fallenness’ and whether you choose to have an abortion, thus ending the life of your child, or, whether you choose against abortion, thus protecting the life of your child, both decisions are morally acceptable.” (1) Both of these statements preserve the individual’s freedom of choice, do they not? By making either statement, am I forcing the individual to make any one choice? Not at all. What is the difference then? The direction in which the individual is led. With the first statement, she is led to the Light. With the second statement, she is led away from it.
(1) See 1992 Guidelines, “Abortion is a tragic dilemma of human fallenness.”
Our Duty, A Standard, A Light in the Darkness
We are the standard bearer. We are the watchmen. We must speak what is true regardless of what the government demands or the law stipulates. We must speak what is true, both individually and collectively, regardless of who supports or opposes it.
Our duty is to intercede. Do we not plead with individuals to use their free will in ways that lead them away from sin? Away from adultery? Away from stealing? Away from lying? Why, then, would we not do all we could to persuade them to honor the sanctity of human life? Why would we not do all we could to persuade an individual to “choose life” and blessing, rather than death and cursing? Our duty is to reconcile, to intercede, to plead as though YAHWEH Himself were pleading through us.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
II Corinthians 5:18-21.
When we tell an individual that abortion is simply a matter of personal preference, we are not reconciling them to the LORD; we are leading them astray and grossly neglecting our duty as watchmen.
“… I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: ‘Thus you say, “If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?” Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” Ezekiel 33: 7-11.
We believe our duty to warn as watchmen applies to every aspect of who we are, from the clothes we wear and things we do, to the food we eat and pleasures that delight us. Why would we think it does not apply to abortion? We are watchmen with a duty, and woe to us if we willfully neglect it.
Bearers of His Image
If human beings are not intrinsically valuable at conception, then there is nothing to instill intrinsic value in us at any point thereafter. If human beings are not intrinsically valuable at conception, then any attainment of value is solely based on what we do or later become. If human beings are not intrinsically valuable at conception, then any value later attributed to us must have been gained through some means other than being made in the image of YAHWEH. To deny intrinsic value at conception is to assert that any value later attributed to the individual must have been gained through means of his own making. If our value is attained at any other point, then it is not the Creator who gives us our value but ourselves. Is that not the very antithesis of Scripture?
The unequivocal truth is that we are valuable solely because we were created in the image of YAHWEH. Acknowledging our intrinsic value compels us to acknowledge the Creator of the universe. We are intrinsically valuable because we were created. That and that alone gives us our value. It is just as impossible to change the individual’s value as it is to change the day we are meant to rest.
What we must realize is that denying our value has both sobering and alarming implications. By rejecting the individual’s intrinsic value at conception, we rob her of her intrinsic value for the remainder of her life. A person who lacks intrinsic value at the beginning of her life will have no intrinsic value at the end of life, or, at any day in between. The consequences of denying the sanctity of human life are not allocated to abortion alone. They affect every area of life, from its beginning to its end.
The Sanctity of Life and the Gospel
Most incredibly, the denial of the sanctity of life directly affects our effectiveness in spreading the gospel. There remains an undeniable reality in the sanctity of life debate: to deny the sanctity of life at its conception is to deny the Creator’s sovereignty, power and love; and to rob an individual of his intrinsic value is to deprive him of the assurance that he was made in the image of his Creator. Why? Because stripping an individual of their intrinsic value necessitates that their value be attained through some means separate and apart from their Creator. It necessitates that the individual use some other means of proving and obtaining his value.
How can we beckon the world to worship on Sabbath and honor its Creator while simultaneously declaring that this same Creator who is supposedly worthy of our worship, is not sovereign enough to bestow intrinsic value on His creation? In failing to honor the sanctity of human life, we make the image of GOD irrelevant, essentially declaring that being created in His image is simply not enough. That is not the message of the Old Testament. It is not the message of the New Testament; and it is not the message that will ring through eternity. Rather, the message of the Word-Made-Flesh is that He created all, He died for all, and in honoring the value of His creation, you honor Him.
To honor the sanctity of life is to proclaim the gospel message. Honoring the sanctity of life is to proclaim the Sabbath truth. It requires that we acknowledge our Creator. To acknowledge the sanctity of life compels us to acknowledge that we are created beings. It compels us to acknowledge that we are made in His image; and ultimately, it compels us to acknowledge that He is worthy of our praise and deserving of our allegiance.