national day of repentance
a call for UK Christians to repent of enabling the slaughter of millions of unborn children
Since the 1967 Abortion Act more than 9 million babies have been killed in the United Kingdom. There is every indication that a large number of these have been the children of church-going Christians. The UK Church (Catholic Church aside) has not presented any clear or sustained opposition to abortion over the past five decades.
Another day of repentance?
There have indeed been several days of repentance recently from different quarters. Why the need for another, and why specifically on abortion?
In the Bible we see that repentance is always very specific and that those sins that offend God most deeply merit the most attention.
Abortion specifically is woefully unattended-to by the UK Church, even though God describes child sacrifice practised by his own people as “unthinkable” (Jeremiah 7:31). Idolatry and bloodshed are constantly called out by the biblical writers; we read that they carry the heaviest spiritual consequences, provoking God’s wrath and judgment; it can be argued that nothing offends God more than the idolatry and bloodshed of child sacrifice specifically (consider Psalm 106:35ff.).
Abortion is the number one cause of death worldwide, and it is intentional killing at that, not an illness or an accident.
It is hard to think of a single issue today more critical for the people of God to reckon with than abortion.
Why repent? What have we done?
Many Christians will contend, “But we are pro-life and have never had an abortion. What therefore do we have to repent of?”
Whilst only some Christians need to repent of sins of commission in this area (Exodus 20:13), all of us corporately need to repent of sins of omission (Proverbs 24:11-12).
Here are some of our sins of omission:
We have not been a “voice for the voiceless”, speaking up clearly and boldly for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8)
We have, like the priest and Levite, “passed by on the other side” when our neighbour (unborn child, and in many cases their parents) needed our urgent, practical, life-saving help (Luke 10:25-37)
We have not been a “pillar of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) contending from the pulpit and in the public square for the preciousness of all human life regardless of size or quality as made in God’s image
We have not taken action or spoken out when child abuse (in the womb) has been threatened or carried out within our own churches (Leviticus 20:1-5)
We have not warned our churches or wider society about the spiritual dangers of engaging in child sacrifice (Psalm 106; Ezekiel 20:31) – their blood therefore is on our hands (Ezekiel 33)
It is a well-known saying: “all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing”. A quote attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
We have been the “good” men doing nothing. We have consistently tolerated a great evil.
There is more, however. It is not only our sins of omission that have accelerated and given cover for this genocide: in this nation we have also actively done things to help usher in unjust laws:
In 1965 the Church of England, an advocate for the Abortion Reform Bill, drafted its own bill, every bit as permissive and evil as the Act we have today; and David Steel thanked the Church of England for its document – which he described as the best thing he’d ever read on abortion – as he steered his Abortion Act through Parliament.
In 2019 history, or rather the Church of England, repeated itself: as abortion was enforced on Northern Ireland, the same David Steel again thanked the Church of England for its 1965 document on abortion, and not a single Bishop in the House of Lords – 26 have a seat there – stood up to oppose or even vote against the Northern Ireland Bill.
“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:15). These laws have justified those who take innocent life and have condemned innocent babies to a violent death. According to this scripture, those who helped make these laws, churchmen included, are “an abomination to the LORD”.
Sometimes through what we have not said from the pulpits and in the public square, sometimes through what we have said and written, we have more often been the false prophets who “strengthen the hands of evildoers” (Jeremiah 23:14) than true prophets who speak the whole word of the Lord and stand for justice.
The blood of the innocent cries out to God from the ground (Genesis 4:10). “God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day” (Psalm 7:11).
When he “works justice for the oppressed” (Psalm 103:6) – where will we find ourselves in relation to that work?
Is there any hope?
The Lord is a kind and merciful God. He graciously promises forgiveness and restoration to all who turn to him (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 John 1:9-10) – but we should not presume that we shall get the forgiveness and restoration without first repenting of our wickedness.
Wonderfully he can turn everything around; he’s done it before and he can do it again.
As we behold the cross of Jesus we see the heart of God, that he the righteous allowed himself to be condemned by the wicked, so that we the wicked might be counted righteous.