Saturday, April 13, 2013

How Your Pastor can Say a Few Words About Kermit Gosnell [SK]

This is not a substitute for a sermon, but a brief reminder to the congregation of what a "pro-life" church looks like. Here's what a pastor might say....
I’m going to take five minutes comment on a horrific case you’re not hearing much about in the news—the Kermit Gosnell abortion trial. I want us to pray about that case today--namely, that God will use the horrific details to expose evil and awaken the moral conscience of a nation.

Kermit Gosnell is a late-term abortionist who killed not only unborn humans, but those who survived his grisly procedures and were born alive. He killed them by slitting open the backs of their necks and severing their spinal cords. One nurse at Gosnell’s clinic said she heard one of the babies born alive screaming before Gosnell killed him. It’s against that horrific backdrop that I make my remarks today.

Our church is unashamedly pro-life, and you need to know what we mean by that.

First, our pro-life church is pro-human value. While the secular culture reduces human value to your functional abilities, we unashamedly affirm the clear Biblical teaching that humans have value because they bear the image of their Maker. Genesis 1 teaches this in the Old Testament and James 3 teaches it in the New—to name just a few passages. Scripture also teaches that because humans bear the image of God, the shedding of innocent blood is strictly forbidden. That is to say, Scripture condemns the intentional killing of innocent human beings. Again, both Old and New Testaments affirm this in places like Exodus 23, Proverbs 6, and Matthew 5. From this it logically follows that if the unborn are human beings—and the science of embryology affirms that they are—the commands against shedding innocent blood apply to the unborn as they do everyone else.

Second, our pro-life church is pro-gospel. While the secular culture insists that right and wrong are up to you, we affirm the clear biblical teaching that moral truths are objective, grounded in God’s holy character. Sadly, we humans—every last one of us—are rebels by nature. We don’t just act badly; we are bad by nature. Outside the saving work of Christ, we justly stand condemned whether we’ve had abortions or not. This is precisely why Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. He didn’t need to. We were condemned already (John 3:17-18). Thankfully, God didn’t leave us in our default position. He sent Jesus to bear in full his righteous wrath against our sin—including the sin of abortion. God proved Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient by raising him from the dead! Here’s the takeaway: For those who trust in Jesus alone for rescue, their past, present, and future sins are covered with the perfect righteousness of Christ. You know what I call that? I call that great news for those who’ve participated in abortion. If you’ve had an abortion or even performed one like Dr. Gosnell, you don’t need an excuse—you need an exchange: Christ’s righteousness for your sinfulness. Not only will God give you that righteousness, he’ll adopt you into his family as a dearly loved child. So, don’t relativise your sin; run to the One who takes it away.

Third, our pro-life church is pro-equipping. My job as a pastor is to convey biblical truth in a way that equips you to engage friends who don’t share your Christian worldview. Upon hearing the truth about Dr. Gosnell, many of your friends who support abortion will protest that you are comparing apples to oranges. You’ll be told that killing a fetus before birth is one thing but killing one after is quite another. Really? You need to engage them with a powerful argument, one you can communicate in three minutes or less. Begin with science: The facts of embryology establish that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless. Leading embryology textbooks affirm this. Next, argue Philosophy: As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and children Dr. Gosnell brutally killed after birth. Sure, there are differences between born and unborn humans, but are those differences morally significant? They are not. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you had no right to life then but you do now. (The pastor can use the SLED acronym to illustrate this.)

To sum up, don’t let your friends focus exclusively on Dr. Gosnell. Refocus them on the holocaust before their very eyes, the one that snuffs out 4,000 lives a day. Pray Christ is glorified in your conversations, then work hard to give a reason for the hope that lies within you. These are dark days. But surrender to evil is not an option for our church. We’re commanded to expose evil, not cover it up (Eph.5). Let’s get to work.


  1. "To sum up, don’t let your friends focus exclusively on Dr. Gosnell."

    I'm glad you're making this point, but I wish there would have been more detail. The worst response to this trial has been by so-called pro-lifers. Many of us have implied that the babies killed late-term by Gosnell are somehow worse than babies killed early-term by say the morning-after pill or other means. Or perhaps it's the unclean conditions of the clinic that make it so horrific. Tell me why does this particular baby-killing doctor deserves so much special attention? Why not focus on one who just does early-term, chemical abortions? It's only a matter of time before pro-aborts argue, "look, if we make abortion illegal, then all clinics would look like Gosnell's". I don't understand this idiocy that has come over so many evangelicals, but they are making the pro-abortion argument and don't even know it.

  2. Paul, We focus on it for two reasons. First, the public is willing to focus on it and, like the PBA debate, allows us to create a teachable moment. Second, while all acts of intentional abortion are objectively wrong, some carry with them additional wrongs. Pro-lifers are not mistaken to focus on those additional wrongs provided they use them to illustrate the oral logic of our view, not detract from it.


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