Complacency, lip service, or compassion...

(Tim) Responding to a couple Baylyblog posts on Rad2K, another Reformed blogger points to one Rad2K man who has written a book on "ethics" in which he dealt with abortion and euthanasia, listing it as proof-positive that our concerns are wrong. As he puts it: "Here's a link to (one rad2K man's) book on medical ethics where he condemns abortion and euthanasia (something 'radical' 2K people are supposedly not interested in doing)."

Of course it would be hard for any Reformed man to write a book on medical ethics in which he didn't condemn abortion and euthanasia. Every Evangelical has to pay lip service to being "pro-life." It's pro forma--kind of like being against pornography and for abstinence. People would be scandalized if he hadn't condemned abortion and euthanasia.

Consider: men of God can be opposed to a whole bunch of stuff without running the risk of becoming a stench in the eyes of Pharaoh or their next door neighbor. The problem is our living wihout public protest in the midst of a sea of blood, our refusing to serve as the pillar and foundation of God's truth, our refusing to carry light into darkness, to rescue those being led to slaughter, to live in compassion for widows and orphans, to call out mothers and fathers for sacrificing their children to Molech. In short, we're not salty.

But really, this error is just normal mainstream Evangelicalism...

We love to fit in. And if we can't manage that, we look for a place or a principle to hide behind. The Apostles fit in so well that most of them were put to death for atheism and anarchy. In a similar day and empire, innocuous to the very end, we go peacefully to our graves.

Here's an article Dad published January of 1986 in his monthly Eternity magazine column, "Out of My Mind."

* * *

Rome Fell While Moralists Slept

"Like environmentalists fighting for laws for clean air, we have the right to fight for laws against moral pollution.”

“You can’t legislate morality” has become the battle cry of libertarians in recent years whenever Christians have forsaken their trenches and spoken up for moral principles as a basis for civil laws.

Abortion, homosexuality, pornography--even prostitution--have been defended against any attack with those words.

Sadly, many Christians have accepted the argument and become silent about these evils. So the trenches are full of sleeping moralists, and victory has been won by fighting libertarians.

You may not be able to legislate morality, but our country has certainly legislated its approval of immorality. (This seems to me to be a close parallel to the total exclusion of Christian religion from public schools and the total freedom of expression given to advocates of agnostic religion--some call it secular humanism.)

And so we have seen homosexuality and abortion decriminalized during the past twenty years. Prostitution is legal in much of Nevada. Only child sexual abuse and pornography--though on public display, even in neighborhood convenience stores--are illegal. Even here libertarians are fighting for the right of adults to introduce children to sexual experience. Attacks on laws against incest are frequent. After all, we’re told, with new birth control methods the danger of genetic anomalies is practically eliminated, so what’s the harm. “You can’t legislate morality in the home, of all places.”

Besides, why should Christians force their moral ideas on the whole population through laws? Here’s why.

1. We believe that there is such a thing as moral pollution, a climate of decadence that characterized Rome and other civilizations in their declining years. As good citizens we have the right--even the responsibility--to fight for laws that will prohibit prostitution, pornography, abortion, homosexuality, and other evils. We have the responsibility to provide a safe moral climate for our children and grandchildren to grow up in. This right is as clear as that of environmentalists to fight for laws that will insure clean air, water, and soil for present and future generations.

2. There are public consequences of the private acts of “consenting adults.” A prime example of this is AIDS. Open sewers lead to typhoid epidemics; homosexual practices have led to the AIDS epidemic.

I’m troubled when I read statistics that are aimed at exonerating homosexuals for the AIDS epidemic. Users of contaminated needles, hemophiliacs, and heterosexuals--not just homosexuals--are spreading the fatal disease, we’re told. But where does the virus come from that infects those innocent parties--even babies? Homosexuals. That there should be any question about closing  public bathhouses in New York or San Francisco, places where homosexuals engage in promiscuous sex, angers me. This is as much a matter of public health as prohibiting drainage of sewage into our cities’ gutters.

Further, we Christians are paying for the epidemic homosexuals have introduced with our tax and health insurance dollars. No one has come forward with statistics related to the escalating cost of this disease. This would seem harsh and unsympathetic toward sufferers, as do my words. Sympathy and understanding have become prime virtues in our society. Do any citizens, including Christians, have the right to object to the decriminalization of a life-style that carries such heavy costs in human tragedy and economic loss?

3. From a Christian standpoint (but remember that Christians are also citizens of a democracy), we cannot escape the words of Jesus Christ about nations being judged. The United States is our nation as surely as Germany during the Third Reich was German Christians’ nation. Silence before the slaughter of Jews, silence before the slaughter of the unborn; either one, we believe, lays us open to the judgement of God. Therefore we have a duty to influence legislation and the courts by our murmurings, or thunderings, and voting.

4. The prohibition of alcohol in the 20s is usually the example used to prove the dictum, “You can’t legislate morality.” I’m not sure Prohibition was really a “noble experiment” that failed. It failed with the sophisticated and wealthy; I’m not sure it failed equally with the poor and middle class.

Regardless, I’d prefer slavery rather than Prohibition as an example of moral change brought about by Christians. Nobody calls the war that brought freedom to slaves a holy war. Yet that freedom was a direct result of Christian intransigence in the face of a great social evil, a moral blot on our nation.

The writings of Jonathan Blanchard, first president of Wheaton College, reveal this intransigence, this unwillingness to accept half a loaf. In fact, he scorned any sort of compromise with slaveholders.

We have become a compromising Christian community to such an extent that we are now compromised. We invite proponents of “evangelical” practicing homosexuality to speak at our training institutions and sacred assemblies. We seriously propose compromise on the abortion issue rather than excise the evil.

You can’t legislate morality? Tell that to William Wilberforce, or to William Lloyd Garrison. It will have to be in heaven, unfortunately, when we’re rationalizing our own inaction toward the evils of our times. “Had we lived then,” we’ll say, “we'd have stood with you.”

Jesus said it: We dedicate memorials to dead prophets and kill living ones on our way home from the cemetery (Matthew 23:29-34).


Dear Tim,

What a beautiful article by your father. Thanks for posting it. It is remarkable how little our public discourse has changed in 25 years.

On the R2K question it may be worth pointing out that there is a wide chasm between (1) being opposed to abortion and euthanasia, and (2) thinking that the state should prevent abortion and euthanasia. From the Reformed blogger's comments the R2K advocate may only be at (1). But, I would expect R2K folks to also be at (2) on the basis of "justice." Whether any of them will come down to Planned Parenthood with us is another question entirely. For now, in Bloomington at least, it is still just us and the Catholics.

With love,


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