“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Interestingly, this verse finds itself nestled in the context of how to behave when Christians are wronged by evildoers—“So far as it depends on you….”
CompassCare and over 300 pro-life groups have been attacked by pro-abortion Antifa terrorists, vilified by their politicians, and demonized by legislation. Yet, the FBI and Department of Justice have turned a blind eye to the injustice, giving tacit approval to the attackers while joining in on the attacks by targeting pro-life people themselves.
How ought pro-life Christians climb the narrow, craggy mountain trail of persecution? Should we put our heads under the covers, shut our eyes, and pray the monsters go back into the closet? Or should we remain face-to-face with our raging opponent, unflinchingly offering the other cheek (Mt. 5:39)?
Is there a difference between personal forgiveness and criminal justice? What should be done when government selectively enforces the law? To what extent is it our Christian duty to participate in holding law enforcement accountable to the rule of law?
So, what are Christians to do when the weeds of persecution threaten to choke the pro-life flower?
Pro-life Christians are on mission from Jesus “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10), “visiting orphans and widows in their distress” (Ja. 1:27b). There is no one more widowed than a woman, pregnant and alone who hopelessly feels like she must choose between her life or her baby’s. There is no one more orphaned than a preborn boy or girl who has been dehumanized to the point of being disqualified from protection under the law.
Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.” Interestingly, He taught this against the backdrop of a justice system (lex talionis) which He was not negating. It seems He was instructing His followers how to respond to a personal affront, “…but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Mt. 5:39). Most people are right-handed. So, to be struck on the right cheek would mean one is receiving a back-handed strike, a demeaning insult. And while being struck a second time on the other cheek reveals a heart of forgiveness by refusing to respond in kind (i.e. eye for an eye), it also shows a determination to stand one’s ground, demonstrating the courage of one’s convictions.
Turning the other cheek is to communicate that force or threat of force cannot move the faithful. To change one’s belief and behavior—loving our fellow man because Christ first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19)—under threat of force or public embarrassment is like the wind asking an oak to step aside. To move is to go where you cannot, be what you are not, deny who you are, and deny who God is. To move is to die (Mt. 10:33).
|Turning the other cheek is to communicate that force or threat of force cannot move the faithful.|
But is there a difference in Scripture between personal forgiveness and criminal justice? Does that forgiveness preclude us from pursuing civil recourse in the courts?
The Apostle Paul thought it important to reiterate to Christians in Rome that they ought to “be in subjection to the governing authorities” (Rom. 13:1). In God’s sovereignty, we are subjected to a governmental framework of a constitutional rule of law—by the people and for the people.
But what does it mean for a Christian to be subject to a citizen government? It appears that subjection to the governing authority in the American context means American Christians are dutybound to step in, beyond merely consenting to jury duty or voting. We must be vigilant to exercise the rights enumerated—to believe, speak, and act in ways that safeguard the lives and rights of all people as endowed by our Creator…equally.
And so it is that Paul felt justified when appealing to his Roman citizenship for protection as he was about to be unjustly scourged for his ministry (Act 22:25).
While we may personally forgive the pro-abortion extremists attempting to stop us from saving women and babies from abortion, we must make full use of the rule of law. Not because of anger, pride, or pain, but because if justice is not done, and pro-life Christians are permitted to be treated as second-class citizens, then the lifesaving mission to which God has called us will be undone.
Through abortion, America is sliding down the steep and muddy slope of vesting the elite with the power to disqualify an entire category of human from the right to life and 14th Amendment equal protection under the law. If let stand, who will be next? The elderly, the sick, the depressed, the disabled, those who have a “low quality of life,” or those who disagree with the powers that be?
According to God’s word, it seems good and right to use every legal means at our disposal to defend our ability to protect the mothers and preborn babies from the evil oppression that is abortion.
Rev. James R. Harden, M.Div.
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