Dr. Ross Blackburn has been ordained for twenty years and has served as Rector of Christ the King for the past ten. He earned a Master of Divinity at Trinity School for Ministry, and a PhD in Biblical Studies at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He and his wife Lauren have been married for twenty-three years and have five children.
For the last few years, Rev. Blackburn has been a regular contributor to the Human Life Review’s website. His column, titled A Pastor’s Reflections, is an ongoing meditation on how the grave transgression of abortion hurts not only individuals but the culture, which both influences their behavior and is shaped by it.
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SPECIAL SERIES! Starts August 13, 2018
“When the Church Is Silent: 10 Words for the Church Concerning Abortion” is a series of reflections on the Ten Commandments and abortion which Rev. Blackburn wrote to be used in a workshop at the global gathering of Anglican bishops in Jerusalem this past June (GAFCON). We are happy to be able to post these reflections over the next ten weeks. The first will follow the Introduction below.
When the Church Is Silent:
Ten Words for the Church Concerning Abortion
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.
The suggestion implicit in the title of this work, that the Church is silent on the matter of abortion, is on one level plainly false. Far from being silent, the Christian Church addresses abortion in very practical, courageous ways, and without the Church, the tragedy of abortion would be far worse than it is. Advocacy for the unborn and their parents in crisis has been, with few exceptions, the work of Christians. We can therefore thank God for the Church’s willingness to speak.
And yet there are ways in which the Church, and particularly her leadership, is far too silent on the matter of abortion. Reasons vary. Some pastors don’t want to drive people away or are concerned that abortion is too political. Some will readily take a pro-life position but fail to call their people to respond actively to the biblical call to defend the fatherless and plead for the widow (Isa 1:17). Sometimes it is fear, for speaking plainly about abortion will surely incur opposition. More subtly, perhaps, we have determined that abortion is an “issue,” and as such, we set it alongside other “issues,” and then sideline it. After all, as the thinking goes, there are many issues that deserve our attention, and we can’t attend to them all. Because such thinking contains an element of truth, it allows us to set certain matters aside. Yet abortion is no more of an “issue” than the Holocaust or the genocide in Rwanda or Sudan were. Concerning abortion, many are satisfied in taking the right position. Few weep. And the effect is devastating not just for the oppressed but also for the life of the Church herself. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”*
In the end, silence concerning abortion is a betrayal of the Gospel, and the Church cannot be faithful to her calling apart from attending to abortion directly. To say it differently, the witness of the Anglican Church in the world depends, in part, upon our faithful attention to abortion. The following reflections, each based upon one of the Ten Words (Ten Commandments), explain why.
*This quote is attributed to Martin Luther King, although it is quite possibly a paraphrase.