The Deconstruction of the Pro-Life Movement

Tom Buck

person holding red Stop Abortion Now signage

On January 20, Joe Biden became the 46th President of the United States. Within hours of taking an oath to defend the Constitution, he signed an executive order that will inevitably expand the murder of the most vulnerable in our society – unborn children. That was not a surprise, because Biden did exactly what he told his voters he would do. What is astonishing is that there were evangelicals who openly supported and campaigned for Biden’s election with that knowledge. In addition, some evangelicals argued that you can be against abortion and also vote for a pro-abortion candidate. One respected evangelical leader even called it a “legitimate moral choice.”

Today, some of these same evangelicals join the March for Life to call for an end of abortion. They will raise their voices against the murder of the unborn, after having used their voices to give credence to vote for a man whose policies will ensure the death of thousands more. I am not saying that they are not sincere about their desire to end abortion. However, I intend to illustrate that their position is absurd, to say the least.

Failures of the Pro-Life Movement

I was born several years before Roe v. Wade. Therefore, I have never been consciously aware of a world where it was not legal to take the life of the most vulnerable and innocent in our society. As I approached adulthood, the fight against abortion was in full swing within evangelicalism. The prevailing thought was to establish a political majority as the primary means of repealing the legalization of abortion. Hence, the Moral Majority was born and the religious right became a force in American politics. They united with the Republican Party with the desire that the Pro-Life commitment of their political platform would end abortion.

Within ten short years, the Moral Majority disbanded. Evangelicals faced the reality that the energy and effort placed in a political movement had barely moved the needle to end the slaughter of the unborn. In that decade alone, over 13 million babies were aborted, and in excess of 23 million children have been murdered legally in this nation by 2020. When you finish reading this article, statistics indicate that the life of another baby will have been snuffed out. What is happening in America is nothing short of a modern-day holocaust.

I joined the many evangelicals who were disillusioned with attempting to end abortion by simply uniting with a political party. The church must never think that we can be salt and light in this world by wrapping ourselves in the American flag and making ourselves beholden to any political party. We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ and represent the values of his Kingdom, Therefore, we will always be in conflict at some level with the values of worldly nations.

This does not mean that we should stop fighting to abolish abortion. There is more we should be doing and I repent of not having done more myself. However, it is urgent that we first address a new approach that has infected current evangelicalism. While it claims to be an expansion of the Pro-Life movement it will lead to its functional extinction.

What Does it Mean to be Pro-Life?

With the Republican Party’s failure to fulfill its promise to end abortion, a sincere frustration arose. As a whole, they have not given full energy to end abortion when in power. Like many politicians, they often promise to do one thing and end up doing another.

Sadly, this has led to a deeply troubling response from some evangelicals. A new movement is afoot that claims Christians should feel free to cast a vote for whomever they wish. Some claim that whether someone votes for a pro-abortion or pro-life candidate is simply a matter of conscience. Essentially, their argument includes the following:

“Republicans have done nothing more to stop abortion than Democrats. Furthermore, there are many injustices happening in our culture that are ‘life’ issues (e.g., police brutality, systemic racism, universal health care, equal pay, et al.). Democrats address these things with greater clarity and action than Republicans. Christians should be concerned about all life issues, not just some life issues. We should care about life from the womb to the tomb. A Christian can have a different political calculus and make a good moral choice to vote for a Democrat as much as a Republican. Therefore, ‘single-issue voting’ regarding abortion must come to an end.”

Now, my goal is not to argue against any proposed societal injustice. In fact, I believe there are real injustices like those listed above that need to be addressed. I welcome an open conversation about how Christians can best address these vital issues. Nevertheless, we cannot build a good foundation upon which to discuss those things without first addressing this movement that creates a moral equivalency between the current injustices on our streets and those occurring behind the walls of abortion mortuaries.

The Absurdity of the Exchange

To say that being a Christian necessitates that you be a Republican is simply anti-Gospel. However, to say that you can make a good moral choice to vote for a political party whose platform tells you it intends to perpetuate and expand the murder of children, is both anti-Gospel and preposterous. Allow me to explain.

To say that you can make a good moral choice to vote for a political party whose platform tells you it intends to perpetuate and expand the murder of children, is both anti-Gospel and preposterous.

First, Republicans may say they intend to do one thing and end up doing another. However, the Democrat Party is straightforward about its intentions and perfectly executes its culture of death each and every time. While one may be a vote for a potential hypocrite, the other is a vote for a guaranteed accomplice to murder. Furthermore, Republicans are not as hypocritical as some make them out to be. They have introduced bills nation-wide that limited the scope of abortion since Roe v Wade. One thing that prevented their efforts is Democrats voting against those bills or working to overturn them.

Second, we are supposed to believe that as Democrats labor to perpetuate abortion, they can be trusted to protect other victims of injustice. Consider the illogic of that thought. You think a political party, committed to snuffing out the life of an innocent person, might improve your neighbors life? Maybe one could fall for such an absurdity if it were not for the fact that the unborn child in your neighbor’s womb is also your neighbor.

Third, how could any issue in our culture be as fundamentally important than protecting the lives of the unborn? What issue is as critical as the fundamental right to be born alive without someone ripping your limbs apart, sucking out your brains, and selling your viable body parts?

Fourth, we would never accept the same arguments made to legitimatize voting for pro-abortion politicians to also defend those who voted for pro-slavery politicians. Some argue, “I can vote for a pro-abortion candidate because their policies actually end up reducing the number of abortions.” That is as nonsensical as saying, “I can vote for a pro-slavery candidate because their policies reduce the number of new slaves purchased.” Furthermore, imagine someone who advanced such a position marching in an anti-slavery rally. We all know that the way to address slavery was not to manage it, but to abolish it.

Single-Issue Voting

As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor. There are no neighbors in our present society who are treated more unjust than those killed in their mother’s womb. Polls may show there is great concern about issues of injustice equal to abortion, but one reason these other societal issues are viewed as morally equivalent is because there are no victims of abortion available to poll.

This means that the only thing Christians can ultimately be are “issue voters.” Therefore, if a single issue arises that is fundamental to every other issue, logic necessitates that single issue must become the controlling factor.

Since Christians are ambassadors for Christ’s Kingdom in this world, we must not align ourselves fully with any earthly political party. We must vote according to the clear principles and issues found in God’s Word. This means that the only thing Christians can ultimately be are “issue voters.” Therefore, if a single issue arises that is fundamental to every other issue, logic necessitates that single issue must become the controlling factor.

Christians must always choose what issues are most important to Christ’s Kingdom when casting their vote as sojourners in America. But there is no issue more fundamental in Scripture than life itself. The first judgment God executed was upon Cain for murdering his brother Abel (Gen 4:10-14). Then after the flood, God gave two foundational commands to Noah and his sons. Make Life – “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1). Don’t Take Life – “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God he made man” (Gen 9:6). From the beginning, God’s judgment was severe against those who shed the blood of another.

This is only magnified by the murder of an innocent child. And considering that more black babies are murdered by abortion, it can be argued that abortion is the greatest and clearest form of systemic racism in America. If we lose sight of this, we will undermine the very foundation of morality that is needed to rightly address all the other issues of injustice that plague our society.

Therefore, the commitment of Democrats to support laws that are nothing short of infanticide, tells you everything you need to know about their qualification to govern. Someone who cannot be trusted with the life of the most vulnerable, cannot be trusted with the life of anyone. 

To be clear, this does not demand that a Christian vote Republican. But how can any Christian rightly claim that voting for Democrats is a good moral choice? The moment you give validation to vote for a political party that stands for death as a core value, you have functionally ended any authentic commitment to being Pro-Life.

Rather than giving Christians a “green light” to vote for anyone they wish, we should give politicians a “red light” that says we will stop voting for anyone who does not take an active stand against the murder of the unborn. In addition, if after elected they act in hypocritical ways regarding the issue of life, we will replace them the next chance we get.

All of this is not to say that Christians should return to political strategies and alignments as the hope to bring transformation. Only the gospel can transform hearts and bring the lasting change our culture needs. But we must not exchange a failed political strategy with one that surrenders the moral high ground on the fundamental issue of life itself.

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Author person holding red Stop Abortion Now signage

Tom Buck

Senior Pastor First Baptist Church of Lindale, Texas

Tom Buck is Senior Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Lindale, Texas. He holds a BA in Pastoral Ministries and New Testament Greek from the Moody Bible Institute, a ThM in Bible Exposition from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a DMin in Expository Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tom previously served for 12 years as the Senior Pastor of Riverside Baptist Fellowship in Florida. He has been at First Baptist Church since 2006. Tom is passionate about helping train pastors to be biblical expositors and serves as Director of G3 Expository Preaching Workshops.