WASHINGTON (BP) — The goal of evangelical pro-life efforts is greater than winning, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore said in the opening address of Evangelicals for Life Thursday (Jan. 18).
“We want abortion doctors to stop doing abortions, but that’s not enough. We want abortion doctors to find life in Jesus Christ,” the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) told attendees at the third annual conference in the country’s capital.
“We want white supremacists to stop oppressing minorities with hatred and bigotry, but that’s not all. We want to see Ku Klux Klansmen and neo-Nazis come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ,” he continued. “We want to see jihadists around the world and repressive regimes stop killing people, but that’s not enough. We want to see jihadists and oppressors come to faith in Jesus Christ.”
Moore said, “[W]hen we stand up for human dignity from the unborn all the way through to natural death, we tell the truth about what’s right and what’s wrong; we tell the truth about coming judgment. But we never stop there. We tell the truth that the blood of Christ can wash away any sin.”
Moore’s keynote address came in a Thursday afternoon session that opened the three-day conference co-hosted by the ERLC and Focus on the Family. More than 50 speakers are to address the conference that coincides with the annual March for Life today (Jan. 19).
About the conference, Moore said he longs for the day when there is no need for EFL.
“I pray that our future children and grandchildren won’t have any idea why we’re here today,” he said. “I pray that when they look back and see Evangelicals for Life that they will say, ‘Well, what other kind of person is there?’ But until then, we stand and speak.”
Moore spoke on the Matthew 14 account of Herod having John the Baptist beheaded after the prophet had told him he should not have taken his brother’s wife as his own.
“If John had not told the truth about the situation as he saw it, he could never preach the Gospel, because if I cannot trust you to tell me the truth about my own injustice, about my own sin, then how can I trust you to tell me how to be raised from the dead by the power of the Gospel,” Moore said.
Followers of Christ “have to be the people who tell the truth,” he said.
“In a world that wants to say, ‘Embryos and fetuses and products of conception,’ [the people of God] have to be the people who say, ‘Children,'” Moore told the audience. “In a world that wants to say, ‘Nursing home populations,’ we have to be the people who say, ‘Our fathers, our mothers, our grandfathers, our grandmothers, our fellow human beings.’
“In a world that wants to say, ‘Those strip clubs over there,’ we have to be the people who say, ‘Women bearing the image of God who are being trafficked and abused.’ In a world that wants to say, ‘The problem people who are coming from somewhere else,’ we have to be the people who say, ‘Those created in the image of God and deeply loved by Him.'”
Evangelicals need to avoid any temptation to keep the vulnerable invisible, Moore said.
“In our culture right now, we often want to hide from ourselves the people who are the weakest and the most dependent upon us,” he said. “We don’t want to think about the child in the womb, the elderly in the bed, the refugee on the boat. We don’t want to think about those who need us, partly because we don’t want to give up anything and partly because in them we can see our own weakness and with that comes fear.”
Moore said, “The idea that the invisible are expendable for the sake of the goal, any goal, is exactly the mentality of Planned Parenthood, exactly the mentality of those persecuting vulnerable people around the world.”
He said, “If we are following Jesus Christ, then that means we care about everybody Jesus Christ cares about whether they’re popular at the moment, whether they’re popular in our crowd or not.”
Speaking of Matthew 14, Moore said the daughter of Herodias was used by Herod as an object. In reaction to her dancing, Herod demonstrated he was driven by his passions rather than bringing them under control, leading to the shedding of innocent blood, Moore explained.
“It doesn’t matter how many gains we make in the pro-life movement, and we must, a culture of life cannot coexist with a culture of porn, a culture of life cannot coexist with a culture of abuse,” he said. “The pro-life witness will never flourish where women are not prized and valued. Pro-life witness will never flourish where women” are seen as objects, not equals.
Moore addressed some in the audience who he said are pouring out their lives in a way similar to John, thinking they have nothing to give in serving women in crisis pregnancies, refugees and trafficked women.
“The Gospel of Jesus Christ tells us you give up your life in order to save it,” he said. “Caring for women in crisis is worth it. Caring for unborn children is worth it. Caring for orphaned little boys and little girls and those who are pinging back and forth in foster care are worth it. Caring for the elderly is worth it. Caring for the mentally disabled is worth it. Caring for the poor is worth it. Caring for the diseased is worth it.
“And in you all those cases you have to sacrifice your life in order to do it,” Moore told the audience. “And in sacrificing your life as you’re pouring out your time and energy…, the weakness that you feel is not a sign that you should give up, because the weakness that you feel is not a sign that you have lost power. The weakness is where the power is.
“Let’s stand for life consistently, holistically and with the Gospel that alone is the power of God.”