Today’s post is written by Southern Baptist pastor, Wes Brown. Wes is the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Plumerville, AR.
He and his wife Kristin have been married for 12 years. They have 3 wonderful sons and one on the way. Wes comes from a long
line of godly men as both his grandfather and his father were/are faithful Southern Baptist pastors.
For years, those who have fought against abortion have been labeled as women-haters. I have always brushed this attack off as ridiculous, but recent events have shown the accusation to be true- just not in the way it was intended. Those who believe abortion is a right or merely healthcare claim that the pro-life position hates women because it would deny them the type of healthcare that would include the termination of a pregnancy. This argument falls on its face, though, since the termination of a pregnancy is not just healthcare but the murder of a baby. It is not hating any group of people to disallow them to murder infants. Because of this, I have always been confident that this type of hatred does not exist in the pro-life movement. But to my great sorrow, recent events have revealed that another type of hatred against women does indeed exist within its ranks.
I was extremely encouraged to hear the news that Louisiana’s State Legislature was considering the Abolition of Abortion Act. This act sought to extend equal protection under the law to the unborn. I expected to see a groundswell of support from pro-life groups all over the nation, especially in light of the recent news that Roe v. Wade was likely to be overturned. But, instead of support for the legislation, a stunning open letter signed by 76 groups claiming to be pro-life was released condemning the measure and any like it that might arise in the future. I thought I might have missed some glaring mistake in the proposed law, but when I read the letter, I was shocked to find that the reason these groups rejected the law was a bold and deep hatred of women.
They object to the law and any measure that would see unborn infants equally protected under the law, because under such a system women who freely and willingly participate in the killing of unborn babies would be subject to criminal penalties. The letter puts it clearly, “We state unequivocally that any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women is not pro-life and we stand firmly opposed to such efforts.” In defending this firm opposition, leaders of these groups have argued that women may be unaware that they are taking a life when they have an abortion, or they may make the decision due to bad advice or pressure from unfortunate circumstances, and that in many cases the woman merely procures an abortion rather than actually performing it with her own hands. I will argue that, though it may not be their conscious intent, this position and the arguments defending it hate the women they claim to be defending.
First, this position demeans women. The Bible describes both men and women as image-bearers of God completely equal in value and worth. There is not a whiff in the entirety of Scripture that women are inferior to men in intellect, morality, or reasoning. Thus, when Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, she was cursed along with Adam, who ate as well. One could easily say that Eve was pressured by the Serpent, left unprotected and vulnerable by her husband, and naïve to the full consequences of her actions. But, none of these excuses kept her from being cursed along with her husband when God came into the Garden. The argument that women should not be punished for abortions because of ignorance does not agree with God’s actions.
What’s more, the current pro-life rhetoric assumes women are inferior to men in intelligence, reasoning, and parental instincts. Could not a doctor who practices abortion believe he is just removing cells or be pressured into the job because of money problems? And yet, this position boldly supports the punishment of men. The only way for this argument to be valid is if women are inferior and cannot be held accountable for their actions. This is obviously demeaning to women because they are not, in fact, inferior but are just as intelligent and reasonable as men. Therefore, women deserve equal treatment under the law.
Second, this position dishonors women. God, in His common grace, has blessed mankind with governmental powers to rule over them in order to punish evil and praise the good. This gift is given and ordained by God to restrain evil even among those who do not believe in Him. The government is to be God’s servant for our good. This position would deny women this blessing by allowing them to kill their babies, or have them killed, without the God-given deterrence of the governing authorities. Punishment under the law is a powerful hindrance to many evils, and to withhold this from women would be a disservice and a dishonor. This policy treats them as second-class citizens who are too stupid, emotional, and gullible to receive such a blessing. There should be consequences for killing infants for everyone- that everyone might be warned and dissuaded from performing such an abomination.
Third, this view damns women. The aforementioned letter states that women are victims of abortion. I would agree in the case where a woman is genuinely forced to have an abortion, but those cases are exceedingly rare. Unfortunately, there is no such qualification in the statement released; it is stated as a fact of every abortion. They cite studies to show the negative effects of abortion on mothers and use this as support to their claim that mothers are victims as well. It has also been argued that responsibility for the abortion cannot be laid on the mother since often it is not the mother performing the abortion. Neither one of these arguments hold up to the slightest scrutiny. Negative effects do not absolve anyone of crimes they have committed. Furthermore, accomplice to murder is a crime as well as murder itself. These claims are worse than cheap tricks and faulty arguments; they are damaging to the gospel message we long for women to hear.
Killing an infant is a sin, and like all sin, it earns for those guilty of it eternity in hell. This is why we need a Savior. But, if through argumentation and emotional language we can absolve ourselves of sin and actually become the victims of our own sin, what need have we of a Savior? The gospel is not good news for those who are innocent but for those who are guilty. If a woman can be declared innocent through ignorance, stress level, or any other such excuse she needs no Savior- just more excuses. Such a view would allow her to stand before Almighty God and declare, “I’m innocent because I’m just a woman!” Declaring women are always victims of abortion leaves them nothing to repent of, with no way to salvation because they have no need of a savior. This view damns women.
The good news for mothers who have murdered their child is not that they aren’t criminals and it’s not that they won’t go to jail for what they’ve done. The good news for her is that Christ died for murderers. Through faith, the sinner repents and follows Jesus as a disciple and submits to Him as Lord. The one who has killed is forgiven, wiped clean, atoned for, adopted, gifted the righteousness of Jesus, and secured in God’s hand forevermore. That is the good news; not that you are a victim of your sin, but rather that Jesus has secured forgiveness for your sin. We must not rob women of the gospel by patronizing them into a false perfection.
I cannot support any position or group that holds such a hateful disposition toward those who bear God’s image. It demeans women by assuming their ignorance, dishonors them by counting them unworthy to receive God’s blessing of governance, and it damns them by robbing them of the gospel. As a pastor of a Southern Baptist church, it broke my heart to see that the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention was a signatory of that abominable letter, and now I have read many prominent leaders defending the decision. Women and the unborn deserve the dignity of equal treatment under the law. And I reject any system, man, letter, or committee that cheapens the gospel by cheapening sin. May God bring repentance to the Pro-Life movement.
Listen to Pastor Wes’s Message on the Failures of Incrementalism here.
For more on this subject read Tom Ascol’s Article here.