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Fighting Abortion is Not the Fourth Sign of the Church

Some Christians are what I call, “single-issue.” I recall one family that left a church because everything did not revolve around Evangelism Explosion. But that's just one issue.

The issue I'm thinking about is abortion on demand. Some concerned Christians expect their pastor to thunder away almost each week on this topic, or at least mention it. He must make it is his central motif. He must protest outside the abortion clinic. If he doesn’t, he can say he’s against abortion all he likes, but it’s not enough.

Motivating the single-issue congregant is a deeper judgment. He thinks that the ultimate reason abortion on demand still happens is because pastors let it. Churches let it.

As one who has taken a virulent stand against abortion, both in the pulpit and with pen, I can say without qualification, “I hate it.”  Period. I pray the day that Roe is overturned. Nonetheless, as a former pastor, an as one who may return to the pulpit someday, here’s the bottom line.

We are called to feed the sheep. There are A LOT of sheep, with A LOT of issues, and ALL in need of my attention. Looming divorces, adulteries, disciplinary cases, spousal abuse, explaining to a family why God let their 26-year-old Army Veteran son die of a brain tumor, being torn down by at least one congregant each week, Presbytery responsibilities, and on and on and on and on and on it goes.

Added to that, I am buried under a pile of administrative responsibilities. I am so pressed for time that I can barely get a sermon together for Sunday. Also, I have a family, my first ministry, and the needs there are formidable. I also have a body and a Spirit, which cry out for attention.

It is totally exhausting. And totally time consuming.

As much as I hate baby killing; as much as I look to the day the madness ends, I also feel compelled to speak these words in love. Sidewalk counseling is not the forth sign of the Church.

Now, I’ll concede that some conservative pastors have capitulated on this issue. But here’s the deal. Do not think that just because a pastor doesn’t make abortion his No 1, front burner issue, that that is justification to judge, or worse, vow never to sit in a pew again. The context of the pastorate, particularly for solo pastors, simply does not permit any one man to make abortion the umbrella issue, under which everything else in the church revolves.

Being a pastor is the highest calling a man can have. But it's also the hardest. Pray for your pastor. Love your pastor. In fact, minister to your pastor. He’s human too. And by all means don’t gauge him or his church through a single issue, as radically important as it is. 

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