Thabiti Anyabwile: ‘Speak Up for the Vulnerable’

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Thabiti Anyabwile, Pastor of Anacostia River Church in Southeast Washington, D.C., recently preached at Southeastern Seminary during pro-life week. He explores Proverbs 31:1-9 to remind us how God calls each of us to speak up on behalf of the vulnerable — especially the unborn.

Watch the video above, or read key excerpts below (edited for clarity):

Between 1941 and 1945 the Jewish Holocaust of Nazi Germany claimed 6 million Jewish lives. The cost of aborted lives is now 10 times that number.

A statistical holocaust.

“58 thousand American soldiers were killed in the Vietnam war. In the American conscience, the Vietnam war exists as a terrible injustice and an unjust war for many people. In World War I, due to disease and combat, the US lost 116 thousand soldiers. In World War II, we lost 416 thousand soldiers. So the death toll for the two world conflicts for American soldiers is about 532 thousand men and women. We think of these wars as mighty conflicts of carnage and destruction and threats to freedom and life. As many as 750 thousand soldiers died in the American Civil War, which is often called the bloodiest conflict on American soil.

“But the total number of abortions in this country has surpassed 60 million [in] the last 46 years since Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court. In 2017 alone, there were over 882 thousand abortions, more than the Civil War, more than both World Wars combined, and 5 times the number of American casualties in Vietnam.

“Between 1941 and 1945 the Jewish Holocaust of Nazi Germany claimed 6 million Jewish lives. The cost of aborted lives is now 10 times that number. The transatlantic slave trade cost about 12 million African lives between 1500 and 1866. About 1.2 to 2.4 million (we don’t quite know; those are best estimates) never survived the journey from Africa to the New World. Another 10.7 million made it to the new world where they would die as slaves. But at 12 million lives lost in the slave trade, abortion is now 5 times that number.

“Since 1973 and the passage of Roe v. Wade, there have been 15.5 million abortions of African American babies alone. So in absolute numbers, the killing of 15.5 million African American babies in the womb now surpassed the total number of lives we believe to have been lost in the transatlantic slave trade.”

What does God call us to do?

“What are we to think and to do as God’s people in the face of such a staggering holocaust? The entire book of Proverbs in one sense is all about justice in our personal lives, in our relationships, and in society. The writer of Proverbs tells us that these writings were inspired (per Proverbs 1:3) in part that we would have instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, in justice and equity. The fear of the Lord produces wisdom, and wisdom produces justice.

“Now if the entire book of Proverbs is about learning to do justice in part, then we should not be surprised to see in the very last chapter the Proverbs return to this theme. And that’s where we find the answer to the question, “What should God’s people do?” In short, God requires his people to speak up and to speak out. To advocate…. Every just Christian is an advocate for the vulnerable, for the oppressed, for the afflicted.”

If we want to make abortion unthinkable in our generation, we’ve got to mold the minds of our children.

On the role of parenting for the pro-life cause.

“Part of our vision for parenting, and part of our vision for advocacy isn’t about partisan politics, though that’s a part of it. It is about right at home, in the nursery, at the dinner table, transferring a set of values and perspectives that become an inoculation against the kind of thinking that makes abortion even possible. If we want to make abortion unthinkable in our generation, we’ve got to mold the minds of our children.”

Why we’re pro-life from the womb to the tomb.

“It seems to me that when God thinks about being pro-life, he has in view life from the womb to the tomb. God is not just pro-birth. He is that. He is pro-birth. He is the giver of life. He is the author of life. But God is also pro-justice, and he expects the lives of those outside the womb to righteously treated and guarded as well. God is pro-life from womb to tomb.

“This is why the text says here, ‘Speak up for all those who are destitute, the poor and the needy.’…. God is not a single-issue voter. His ethics are not single-issue ethics. And if we are speaking forth in a way that models God’s heart and what God is like, our ethics should not be single-issue ethics either.

“It’s staggeringly clear that the largest scale injustice, the most morally outrageous thing happening in our society today is the killing of children in the womb. In terms of absolute numbers, it’s not even close. So we must advance a vision for life, and we must advocate for those in the womb. But God spare us from having our hearts constricted and shrunken to that one issue when we’re called here to advocate for all who are destitute. It’s only when we do that, we advocate for all who are destitute, our pro-life vision is for all from womb to tomb, that we really do join God in what he’s doing in the world.”

Speaking out can mean a million things. But let it be more than hashtag activism.

More than hashtag activism.

“Speaking out can mean a million things. But let it be more than hashtag activism. Let it be volunteering at Gateway at a pregnancy center, speaking with fathers who are the most decisive factor in whether or not a woman decides to keep the child. Let it be speaking to the woman who’s facing the prospect of raising a baby without the support of the man who impregnated her, the father, and is no doubt facing all sorts of fear and insecurity. Let it be the voice of hope. Let it be the voice of reassurance. Let it be the voice of compassion and support. Let it be the voice of a Christian church member who says, ‘Our church will stand with you to help you get the resources you need to see this life flourishing.’

“Let us speak to our congressman, let us speak to our legislators, writing letters, making phone calls. Let our voices be heard, not just in our support of electing pro-life officials, but in our accountability to those officials who are elected that they might act in ways that are consistent with life. Let us do all we can to advocate for those who are unborn, who are alive every bit as much as us, who are human ever bit as much as us, who are meant to bear God’s image and likeness for his glory in the world.”

What Christian advocacy is really about.

“Christian advocacy is not about the Christian and what the Christian wants, but about the destitute and what they need.”

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The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture seeks to engage culture as salt and light, presenting the Christian faith and demonstrating its implications for all areas of human existence.

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