Violence in Wichita: What’s a Person to Do?
Pastor Robert Fleischmann, National Director, CLR
Over two thousand protesters arrested outside an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas, have been charged with illegally blocking the clinic’s entrance. Pro-abortion advocates accuse the protestors of violating constitutional freedoms. The protesters claim they are compelled by their Christian fate to block the entrance. We might ask, “What’s a person to do?”
Christians are motivated first by a faith responding to the love of Christ. “We love because he first loved us.” Without faith, even loving and sacrificial acts are not pleasing to God.
We owe God absolute obedience. We also owe obedience to the governing authorities. When the will of the government is in harmony with the will of God, obedience is a simple matter. Legalizing abortion raises the question of whether the government’s will is now opposed to God’s.
Abortion is a hideous sin. Allowing sin, however, is not the same as forcing Christians to participate in the sin.
The New Testament contains two examples of civil disobedience. When the apostles were commanded to stop preaching about the resurrection, they disobeyed because the command was contrary to the will of God. When Christ was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter violated laws of violence to protect the innocent. Jesus reprimanded him for that action. Peter’s actions were well-intentioned, but he did not have the authority to do what he did.
We can, and ought to, proclaim loudly against abortion. We cannot, however, insist that we have a God-given obligation to break the law to prevent another person from sinning.
There are four practical considerations in this matter.
1) How far should civil disobedience go? Advocates of pro-life civil disobedience claim they are non-violent. Why? It is difficult to find biblical justification for civil disobedience to prevent others from sinning. It is even more difficult to find a line between its non-violent and violent practice.
2) Civil disobedience can be pursued by both sides of the issue. How long will it be before pro-abortion advocates lie down in front of the doors of pro-life centers? Pro-abortion advocates already promise to violate laws if abortion becomes illegal.
3) One can only speculate what two thousand activists could legally do for the protection of the unborn. Or two thousand letters to government representatives would have a great impact, and two thousand personal visits to legislators would certainly be frontline work in saving children.
4) Christians’ primary calling is to share the message of salvation. Selective civil disobedience is hard to defend with Scripture and places a stumbling block in one’s witness to Christ. If its practice were advocated to accomplish the Christian’s mission, then could it not be justified to fend off all sinful practices? Should we not block the entrances to the homes of adulterers? Should we not chain ourselves to the doors of drunkards, coveters, slanderers, and the spiritually slothful?
In this country Christian concern can be expressed in many legal ways. Civil disobedience lacks certain biblical support in this circumstance. This may appear as a judgement upon those who have practiced civil disobedience. It also is a judgement upon those of us who do not speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. When only a small percentage of the Christian community comes to the defense of the unborn, it is no wonder that others are driven to illegal activities. We all bear responsibility for correcting this sin in our society so the killing ends and others are not compelled to practice another wrong in the hope of making a right.