Pastor J. D. Greear Explains Why
Since 1973, over 60 million children’s lives have been stolen by abortion in the United States! This year, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday will be observed on January 20th, and it is the perfect opportunity for pastors to speak up about the importance of ending abortion.
While speaking up for the preborn can put pastors in a difficult situation, it is imperative that they do so. As the 62nd president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, J. D. Greear explains, “It is easy to rage about what the news media says we should rage about. … But when you… say, ‘Here’s an issue none of you are mad about, but it’s wrong.’ I mean, in one sense… our society is trying to win this argument by marginalizing it and toning down the moral implications. There are two ways you can win the argument, right? One is you can win the argument, and two is you can not have the discussion … And right now, I feel a lot of societal pressure to just not have the discussion.”
THE NEED FOR DISCUSSION
So why is it so important for pastors to have the discussion about abortion? Because it is a priority cause and an inherent part of the Gospel commission. “You have to care for the vulnerable,” said Pastor Greear. Even though Greear received hate mail after speaking on abortion, he feels the need to encourage pastors to not be fearful about speaking the truth in love. By speaking up for the preborn child, lives are changed, and children are rescued from death.
THE GOSPEL REQUIRES WE TAKE CARE OF THE VULNERABLE
The Gospel tells us to take care of the vulnerable. It doesn’t say to do so only when it is convenient, culturally acceptable or newsworthy. Taking care of the vulnerable means we get involved and speak the truth in love. We have the hard conversations with friends and loved ones about abortion. We volunteer to mentor young women and men who are in crisis. We participate in programs like 4000 steps, raising awareness and donating funds to pro-life organizations.
Pastor J. D. Greear explains it this way,
“If the Gospel means we have to take care of the vulnerable, that means the vulnerable everybody cares about and the vulnerable nobody cares about.”
PASTOR GREEAR EXPERIENCES A LIFE CHANGED
Pastors specifically can use their influence and voices to speak up on the issue of abortion and why it is wrong. To end abortion, it must become a priority cause. When pastors begin to speak up about abortion and the rights of the preborn child, more women and men will hear why they need to choose life. Changing lives and opinions happens one person at a time. As one person decides to choose life, one more vulnerable child is rescued from death. Pastor Greear experienced this first hand. He prayed on Sanctity of Life Sunday for anyone considering abortion to instead choose life. A young woman who had been considering abortion and was already moving towards choosing life, heard the prayer. She felt it was confirmation from God that she should choose life. Pastor Greear was unaware of her decision. However, on the day of this interview he was able to meet this child whose life he impacted while still in the womb.
Greear explains that it isn’t always easy to speak up about an issue (like abortion) when others might feel and think it is perfectly fine.
However, just because society may allow something, does not mean that it is acceptable or should be allowable. God values all human life. He desires to use us to restore value to human life. He also desires to redeem lives broken due to past pain and sin. Greear compares how at one-time slavery was considered justifiable and allowable by society’s standards, even though it was terribly wrong. Likewise, one day we will look at abortion in the same way we do slavery now.
Greear continues, “I know the illustrations of slavery can be overused… but… in 1871, if I pastored a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t really want to talk about the issue [of slavery] because it will cut me off. It will cut off my audience.’ But if you looked back now, you would say, ‘What a coward. You privately believed slavery was wrong, but you didn’t want to lose all the lost people?’ So, I could say, ‘Well, nobody cared about black people as people back then. They thought of them as property.’ Well today, the unborn, the preborn, are not thought of as people. They are thought of as embryos, as a pregnancy problem. And it’s my job to say no to people.”
THOSE SUFFERING NEED ENCOURAGEMENT AND HEALING
Pastors also need to speak about abortion from the pulpit, because there are those in the congregation who personally have experienced abortion. They may be feeling ashamed, or guilty and they need to know that there is forgiveness and healing. Greear feels it is possible to address the moral wrongness of abortion while still offering hope to those who are lost in the pain of their past decisions.
“Moms and dads [who have experienced abortion] in some sense, they’re suffering. You know, a lot of times you’ve got people that are sinners and sufferers at the same time, and you know they’re both simultaneously; but sometimes you lead with one [aspect] instead of the other. And so, you try to address both the sinfulness and the suffering aspect of abortion, and that’s usually what guides our prayer time… that’s a staple in our church and will happen every year.”
WE NEED HELP FROM ONE ANOTHER
Abortion is a difficult subject to address, but it can be done. As Greear points out, “One of the clearest times… [I spoke on abortion], I was in the book of Judges. I was going through… what happened at the end of Judges when society’s hearts had gotten so hard. You saw how they commoditized a certain group of people. I just took a few minutes to talk about how we do that [with] immigrants and historically [with] minorities, and how [abortion is] the ultimate commoditization of… not being treated as an individual.”
WHAT WILL GENERATIONS SAY YEARS FROM NOW?
We look back now and recoil at the idea of slavery. We think how cruel and wrong it was. Clearly, we know that it never should have happened. I can’t help but think that future generations will do the same thing regarding abortion. Therefore, how can we not speak out against the gravest of acts exacted against the most vulnerable of all? Like Pastor Greear experienced, you never know who could be impacted by your words and prayers to choose life. As Pastor Greear met and held the life he impacted, it was clear to all in the room, that a person was rescued, and value was restored to this little one.
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT)