Editor's note: David Platt isn't a typical evangelical megachurch pastor. One of his first series of messages inspired 160 families in his church to help with foster care, many ultimately adopting; the series became his first book, Radical, released in 2010.
Then last year, the largest Protestant denomination in America appointed 36-year-old Platt to lead their overseas missions efforts—actively ministering to over 900 people groups worldwide.
Now, in Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans, and Pornography, Dr. David Platt challenges Christians to engage on all social issues with empathy and love—rather than picking and choosing which issues we'll contest in our culture ... or concede.
These are the words that come to mind when I consider my approach to the issue of abortion for the majority of my life as a Christian and my ministry as a pastor. Until a couple of years ago, I barely talked about it. I viewed abortion as a political issue about which I had no need to be personally concerned.
I failed to realize that abortion is a biblical issue about which I had great need to be deeply concerned. For of all the pressing social issues addressed in this book, abortion poses the most clear and present danger to the most people on a daily basis. Across the world, over 42 million abortions occur every year. That's 115,000 abortions every single day. I find it hard to fathom that number when I look at the faces of my four children each night as I put them to bed.
I find it hard to imagine 115,000 other children who that day were introduced to the world with a tool or pill aimed at taking their lives. And I find it hardest to comprehend how I, for so long, could show no concern for this gruesome global reality.
The worldwide practice of abortion is why I do not believe it is anywhere close to an overstatement to call abortion a modern holocaust. My intention in saying this is in no way to downplay the horror of the Holocaust in the mass murder of six million Jewish men, women, and children over a few short years. But we're talking here about the massacre of 42 million unborn children every single year.
And just as German Christians should not have ignored the reality of what was happening in concentration camps across their country, I should not have ignored—and American Christians must not ignore—the reality of what is happening in abortion clinics across our country and around the world.
As multitudes of babies are dismembered and destroyed daily, this is clearly an issue where the gospel requires us to counter culture.
The Key Question
The key question that we all must answer—and the question that determines how we view abortion—is this: What is contained in the womb? Is it a person? Or is it merely an embryo, a fetus?
Virtually every other question and every single argument in the abortion controversy comes back to this question: What, or who, is in the womb? And once this question is answered, everything else comes into perspective.
Think about it. As Gregory Koukl points out, "If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary." And some people contend this. They will say that the unborn is not a person or that the unborn is merely a person who has the potential to become human (whatever that means). Again, if this is true, the argument is over; no justification for abortion is necessary.
However, as Koukl writes, "If the unborn is a human person, then no justification for abortion is adequate." Many people say, "Abortion is such a complex issue, and there just aren't any easy answers." But if what is in the womb is a person, then even if someone is pro-abortion or pro-choice for any number of reasons, all of their reasoning falls apart.
Regardless of where you currently stand on the abortion issue, imagine for a moment that the unborn is a person formed and created by God Himself. If this is true, then think through the primary arguments for abortion.
"Women have a right to privacy with their doctors." Without question, we all have a right to some measure of privacy. Yet our laws regularly override people's privacy when another person's life is in question.
No woman or man has a right to a private conversation with a doctor to conspire how to end someone else's life. If the unborn are people, then we must protect them, regardless of what that means for someone's privacy.
"Women should have the right to choose." Yet we all agree that no one should have unlimited rights to make choices. If toddlers or teenagers become burdensome or expensive, parents don't have the right to eliminate them.
Similarly, then, when it comes to abortion, the real question is not whether a woman has a choice, but whether that woman actually has a human being that God recognizes as a valuable person in her womb. If so, then a moral duty to honor life supersedes the personal hardship that might come due to pregnancy.
Choosing to terminate innocent life is by definition choosing to murder. Indeed, the primary issue in the debate over abortion is the identity of the unborn. Listen to Gregory Koukl describe a little girl named Rachel, a daughter of a family friend:
Rachel is two months old, but she is still six weeks away from being a full-term baby. She was born prematurely at 24 weeks, in the middle of her mother's second trimester. On the day of her birth Rachel weighed one pound, nine ounces, but dropped to just under a pound soon after. She was so small she could rest in the palm of her daddy's hand. She was a tiny, living, human person.
Heroic measures were taken to save this child's life. Why? Because we have an obligation to protect, nurture and care for other humans who would die without our help—especially little children. Rachel was a vulnerable and valuable human being.
But get this ... if a doctor came into the hospital room and, instead of caring for Rachel, took the life of this little girl as she lay quietly nursing at her mother's breast, it would be homicide.
However, if this same little girl—the very same Rachel—was inches away resting inside her mother's womb, she could be legally killed by abortion.
To any reasonable person, this makes absolutely no sense. Abortion is utterly ludicrous if this is a child in the womb.
Everything—everything!—revolves around what is happening in a mother's womb, and Scripture is clear: That womb contains a person being formed in the image of God. Any distinction between the unborn and a person (or a human and a person, for that matter) is both artificial and unbiblical.
God recognizes the unborn as a person and designs the unborn for life from the moment of conception. While our culture is continually pushing against this idea, it is not possible to believe the Bible and deny that the unborn are persons.
And once followers of Christ accept this, we can no longer sit idly by while people are mercilessly murdered in their mothers' wombs.
Dr. David Platt serves as President of the IMB, one of the world's largest missions organizations, and Founder of local church resource ministry Radical. He's been lead pastor of The Church at Brook Hills since 2006. He and his wife Heather raise their four children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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