“Evil prevails when good men do nothing.” So said Irish philosopher Edmund Burke, or something close.

Abortion is the greatest moral evil of our generation. Responsible for killing 3,500 unborn children every day and 56 million since 1973, it has wreaked havoc on the American family, ruined the lives of countless post-abortive parents, and led to an overall devaluing of human life.

Are followers of Christ, the Author of all human life, actively engaged in stopping this holocaust? Or will we be found doing nothing?

A few years ago, one of our current team members was invited by a student to speak to a chapter of a well-known campus ministry. When his talk touched on the Bible’s teachings on life and abortion, the chapter director interrupted him, ended the meeting, and then threw him out of the building. Apparently, it is no longer permissible to discuss abortion at a gathering of Christian students.

Despite the media-fueled perception that most Christians are anti-abortion zealots, the overwhelming majority are actually afraid to confront the issue. As Joe Maxwell and Steve Hall wrote in a 1994 World Magazine article Silence of the Lambs, most evangelical leaders are actually pretty tightlipped on the abortion epidemic. Maxwell and Hall repeated their research this year to discover what had changed over the past two decades. The answer? Not much.

The authors cited four primary reasons why evangelical leaders are reluctant to discuss the sacredness of life:

  1. Concern about alienating members who have had (or been complicit with) abortions
  2. Fear of becoming known as a single-issue preacher
  3. Concern about scaring off seekers
  4. Anxiety about appearing uncool or anti-intellectual

I was in Atlanta recently with a group of church leaders. As we were discussing the abortion epidemic, one of the pastors said, “I want to help and be involved. But there are a lot of things on our plates. Abortion is an important issue, but it’s not the only issue.”

To be sure, pastors, priests, and church leaders do have a lot on their plates. Shepherding a congregation, dealing with all sorts of personalities, being scrutinized constantly, and trying to move a church forward are enormous responsibilities. Churches and parishes deal with divorce, suicide, substance abuse, death, depression, and other relationship issues. So maybe it’s understandable that abortion isn’t always particularly high up on the priority list.

But wait a minute. Could skyrocketing abortion rates be contributing to all these other challenges? Maybe if they address the abortion epidemic directly, church leaders could successfully get to the root of other spiritual and social ills that are negatively impacting the church and society. Consider:

  • Abortion is the leading cause of death in America, killing 1.2 million children every year. The next leading cause of death is heart disease, which kills around 600,000 annually.
  • Abortion kills approximately 3,500 children a day, or one every 25 seconds.
  • Abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S.
  • 1 in 3 American women will have abortion by the age of 45.

Abortion has been consistently linked to breast cancer, as well as problems with future pregnancies, including premature birth. Abortion is also associated with anxiety disorders, depression, as well as alcohol and substance abuse. A 2011 study from the British Journal of Psychiatry concluded, “Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems.” Post-abortive women experience a 155 percent increase in suicidal behaviors.

Divorce, relational problems, child abuse, and spousal abuse have been linked to abortion. Violence can breed violence.

There are tens of millions of parents and untold numbers of other relatives suffer grief, shame, and loss for the 56 million children lost to abortion.

What evil today comes close to producing the magnitude of suffering, pain, and destruction caused by abortion? Every church or parish is deeply impacted by abortion whether their leaders acknowledge it or not.

If the Church is truly supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ, charged with delivering those being taken away to death (Prov. 24:10-12), our faith demands that we work cooperatively to end abortion. To ignore it, incorrectly characterize it as a political issue, or pretend it doesn’t exist is to allow great evil to prevail. Let’s work together to bring the Gospel to bear on a nation that needs to know that every child, regardless of gender, health condition, or circumstances of conception, has priceless value and unlimited potential.