The pastor of a church in Columbus, Ohio, has been appearing in TV ads to voice his support for Ohio’s Issue One. Issue One is a Nov. 7 ballot initiative to change the constitution of the state of Ohio to allow for abortion during all nine months of pregnancy.
In the ad, Rev. Tim Ahrens of First Congregational United Church of Christ reads from the Gospel of Matthew, “Do not judge and you will not be judged.” He then goes on to explain that he counsels families in all different circumstances, and it is important that they have the freedom to make decisions that are best for their family without government interference.
Like Ahrens, I am a pastor in Ohio. The members of my congregation have turned on their televisions and heard him reading from his Bible. They have heard him saying that he counsels families and feels that it is necessary for them to be free to choose abortion. They have heard him teaching Christians who desire to obey the words of Jesus. They have been troubled by his message. I share their concern.
As Ahrens mentions, Christians who value the Bible and desire to do what it says approach their pastors with questions for which they seek advice and counsel. Pastors function in this role in much the same way that the disciples did in the bread and fish miracles (Matthew 14:13-21, 15:32-39). In those miracles, Jesus took loaves and fish and blessed them with His word and prayer and then put that food back into the hands of the disciples so they could distribute it to those who were hungry. Similarly, pastors take the words and teachings from the mouth of Jesus as they are recorded in the Bible and then deliver those words to hungry souls. Christians come to pastors hoping to be led by the Bible so they can live in this world in faith and with a good conscience.
A Misunderstanding of Hypocrisy
Ahrens claims that his counsel to Christians is that abortion is a personal decision that should be made from the privacy of one’s own conscience or from the safety of a pastor’s office. To justify this point of view, Ahrens reads from Matthew 7 and the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is an extended teaching from Jesus to His followers that instructs them in living a life of faith. The sermon includes several little sermonettes that are well-known, including the Beatitudes, the Golden Rule, the Lord’s Prayer, and this teaching on judgment.
In this particular passage, Jesus cautions His followers against judgment of one another that comes from the hypocrisy of denying one’s own sin while harping on the sins of others. Ahrens’ intent is to apply this passage to the conscience of the anti-abortion voter who would claim that abortion is wrong and restrict abortion for everyone. According to Ahrens, this is hypocrisy and judgment.
God Loves Children
It is judgment. But it is judgment that comes not from hatred of women nor a denial of hard cases. Rather it is judgment that comes from the love of children. God loves children. He calls them a reward (Psalm 127:3) that He gives out of His abundance and grace (Genesis 33:5). Children are evidence that God has blessed you and looked favorably upon you. Jesus himself loves children. When His disciples tried to restrict the children from access to Him, He rebuked them (Matthew 19:14). He warns that any who would mislead a child would be better off in a lake with a millstone around his neck (Matthew 18:6). When a Christian votes against abortion, it is because she dearly loves what God loves.
Ahrens does not acknowledge this love. Instead, he calls it judgment and hypocrisy. He does this because he has fallen for the sleight of hand that is played by the pro-abortion lobby.
While Jesus loves children and while His Heavenly Father thinks of them as a reward, the pro-abortion lobby denies them their basic humanity. They refer to the humanity of the unborn as a religious opinion. They infer that one’s religious opinions or convictions should not be made universal. This again is sleight of hand, as there are plenty of religious convictions that we make universal. For example, because of my faith, I am opposed to child abuse, spousal abuse, theft, and murder. I believe there should be laws that restrict these things, as does every decent member of society, religious or not. There are moral truths that should and do govern a society. This is one of them.
The commercial makes the statement, “Government should stay out of family decision-making.” Again, this is true if the unborn child is something other than a human being. However, if the child is indeed a human being, then it is the government’s duty to protect him or her.
The first nine verses of Proverbs 31 are words of a king that he received from his mother to instruct him in governing a nation. Verse 8 tells those who govern to speak up for those who are not able to speak for themselves. The unborn require a voice to speak on their behalf. The children in the womb need an advocate. Christian voters in Ohio should use the voice given to them through their vote to speak on behalf of the unborn.