At Desiring God, we are happy and unapologetic advocates of the sanctity of human life, beginning at conception. We love waving the banner for life, not just around the Roe anniversary in January, but throughout the year. Earlier this year, John Piper answered questions for a student in Asia related to abortion and the cause of life during his 33-year pastorate at Bethlehem Baptist. In an effort to keep the sanctity of human life regularly before our readers, here are the questions and John’s answers. –Editor
1. How does Bethlehem Baptist Church offer a solution to help prevent abortions or deal with women who have had abortions?
- We preach at least once a year on the nature and evil of abortion.
- We have a focused effort every January around the Roe v. Wade decision with seminars and roundtables.
- We take people on buses from the church to the Minnesota State Capitol for a pro-life rally sponsored by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life.
- We take up a special offering over several weeks, usually amounting to about $20,000, and donate it to the two local crisis-pregnancy centers.
- We make educational information available and point people to links where they can get more information.
- We encourage people to do sidewalk counseling outside the Planned Parenthood center in nearby St. Paul.
- We participate in various vigils outside abortion clinics.
- We take our message to the Web and produce resources to spread the influence.
- We preach a message of grace and forgiveness for the men and women who attend or visit our church and have been involved in an abortion.
- We teach the men of the church to take responsibility and not think that they can have sexual relations in which only the woman bears the consequences.
2. Should Christians also be against birth control pills?
This is an ethical issue at several levels. The clearest is this: If the pill is an abortifacient, it is wrong to use it. Another level is the motive for wanting to not have children. The Bible is very big on the blessing of children. One should have a very gospel-driven, loving, sacrificial (not selfish) reason for not wanting children.
3. A major solution to saving the lives of unwanted babies is adoption. On what grounds do we deny a homosexual couple the opportunity of adopting an unwanted baby?
Living in a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex is forbidden in Scripture with terrifying clarity. “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10).
This means putting a child in the personal care of a same-sex couple would put the child’s soul at jeopardy along with the couple’s souls. The couple would be endorsed by the adoption, and thus their hell-bound pattern of life would be endorsed, implying that we don’t care if they go to hell, which would be unloving. And the child would be taught that a damning behavior is normal and acceptable.
That is the main reason. But there is also the common sense and biblical wisdom (as well as contemporary studies) that show a child needs a mother and a father for their fullest flourishing.
4. If, during the pregnancy, the life of the mother is at high risk, do you view one life as more valuable than the other?
Several factors come into play. One is the degree of risk for each, the mother and child. One may be perfectly healthy, and the other very ill and close to death. That will make a difference whom we put at greater risk while attempting to save one or both.
The main principle here is not that the mother or child are less valuable intrinsically as persons, but rather the added value developed during years of relationship between the mother and many other people. That value counts in any tragic choice one may have to make.
5. Have you ever received opposition to your pro-life messages? If so, please explain.
I established my pro-life position as a pastor so early in my ministry that people who disagreed simply didn’t come to the church. So inside the church, we have had peace and agreement, even though we have grown from 500 to 5,000.
When you are a public figure who speaks and writes on the Internet, your view is known and loved and hated by thousands. Those who hate it, blog against you. That is to be expected. It will never be any other way.
In addition, when we did demonstrations years ago, blocking the doors of abortion clinics, there were usually pro-choice people shouting ugly things. The challenge was to be quietly meek.
6. Do you think abortion will be legally banned in your lifetime? If not, do you have an argument for why we should continue to fight against it?
No. I am 67, and I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime.
The reason we stand against the killing of babies is not because victory in a fallen world is likely. We fight because the nature of the sin is so public, and so egregious, and so contradictory to what enables a society to flourish, and so offensive to God, and so contrary to the spirit and precepts of the Bible, and so driven by motives that reveal unbelief in the word of God, that it would be a sin not to stand up and resist, in whatever way the Lord leads.