What Sidewalk Counseling Showed Me About the Abortion “Debate”
Originally posted at: https://anglicansforlife.org/2020/03/30/what-sidewalk-counseling-showed-me-about-the-abortion-debate/
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”- Ephesians 6:12
Early on a misty Saturday morning in September 2015, I found myself on the sidewalk outside the only abortion clinic in Kentucky. Roman Catholics congregated together to pray and plead. Baptist preachers called abortive mothers and clinic escorts to repentance. Sidewalk counselors in green vests moved to and fro, personally pleading with abortive mothers to reconsider. And, soaring above everything else, I heard…carnival music. The clinic escorts blasted carnival music in an attempt to drown out the words of the various Christian groups assembled. The scene forever changed my view of the pro-life mission.
I was raised as a Roman Catholic. Being pro-life was in my blood from as early as I can remember. Pro-choice arguments never made headway in my thinking. But I had never sensed a call to do anything other than talk and debate. I am, after all, an academic by temperament and training. I enjoy fine distinctions and precise definitions. And, important as these things are, they can become a cozy fortress where one may avoid taking needed action.
But then 2015 happened. My wife and I learned that we were expecting our first child. And as the due date drew nearer, the Center for Medical Progress Planned Parenthood exposé videos came out. My horror was palpable. No longer could I hide behind my arguments. I could feel my daughter kick. And Planned Parenthood was ending these lives and trafficking the remains for profit. Some friends and colleagues of mine spent their Saturday mornings doing ministry on the sidewalk at Kentucky’s only abortion clinic, and so I decided to join them.
The day forced a realization on me: the abortion “debate” is full-blown spiritual warfare. Reason—my dear, comfortable friend—was of no avail. In our comfortable places debates can rage without end. “What about cases of rape and incest?” “Shouldn’t abortions be safe? People will do it anyway.” “Do you really mean to criminalize all abortion? Miscarriages are, after all, spontaneous abortions.” We are drawn into debates, and we debate the fine points well. We make a child’s life the political purity test. But I did not see a political policy or a genteel debate. I saw people suppressing the truth (Rom 1:18). After all, can we still honestly debate whether a fetus is a human life? With modern science, knowledge of DNA, and increasingly sophisticated ultrasounds, does “my body, my choice” make scientific sense anymore? We know the truth. And yet on the sidewalk I saw people aid and abet abortion.
No, this is not a political debate. This is spiritual warfare. We have renounced Satan, his works, his deadly destructive deceits in our Baptism. Therefore, we must resist abortion and, more importantly, the demonic forces behind it.
If the solution is not (primarily) political, what shall we do? Let me rephrase that: since the solution is not primarily political, every Christian can do something! We must mobilize. Every Christian has a part to play. A variety of ministries exist to end the scourge of abortion. And these ministries are good and necessary. The Church, after all, has been opposed to abortion from the beginning. But I leave you with an option that we may have ignored. We cannot fight something (abortion) with nothing (anti-abortion). And this begins with re-examining our attitude toward children. We need fight death by welcoming life into this world. God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28). Jesus re-issues this Cultural Mandate in the Great Commission (Matt 28:18–20). Both in Creation and Redemption, God places a high priority on His people bringing up children.
What does it look like to change our attitude toward children? I believe that we start by welcoming children. We need to welcome children into our families—whether by birth or adoption—and sacrifice ourselves to raise them in the faith. When we do so, we reject two lies: that my freedom is paramount and that children are a hindrance to a good life. We need to welcome children into the liturgy. When we do so, we reject the lie that children are a nuisance. These three lies undergird the entire abortion enterprise. By rejecting these lies, we oppose the demonic forces that wage war against our souls, and we show the way for those who walk in darkness.
On that chaotic September morning, one sound rose above the rest of the clamor on the sidewalk, even above the carnival music. Many of the pro-life crowd offered to adopt the as of yet unborn children. I know these men and women; their families testify that their words are not empty. May God grant that we, like they, are a people who not only oppose death but also welcome life.
Written by The Rev’d Deacon Matthew R. Miller, PhD. Matthew lives in Wichita, KS, with his wife and three young daughters. He holds a PhD from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a Transitional Deacon in the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy.