Psalm 39:2: “I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, And my sorrow grew worse.”
We’ve probably all heard there are some things we shouldn’t talk about in polite company, including religion and politics. We’ve all been around (or maybe even been at times!) people who are rash, argumentative, and offensive with their thoughts and opinions. So this rule of etiquette helps keep conversations polite and respects the thoughts and opinions of others who may differ.
Particularly now in our world of social media, it’s very easy for people to “tweet” their minds, and everyone can have a voice. We witness people disagreeing in sometimes ugly, even slanderous ways. It makes me wonder if in our society we are losing, to some extent, the ability to engage thoughtfully and logically, to think and discuss ideas, to value the dialogue and hear and consider other sides, without attacking the person who holds to a different way of thinking.
It’s for these reasons that I find myself rarely ever speaking publicly about many things that really matter — because undoubtedly, some will disagree. If I am silent, I don’t risk accidentally offending someone or being misunderstood. And rather than becoming engaged in the clamor of voices, opening myself up to attack or risking offense, it’s easier just to be quiet.
But I’m wondering — in keeping silent, have I kept the peace, but ceased to do good? Has my silence about most anything that matters been a way of giving up ground? Since I won’t speak of it, does it cause me to ignore it, thereby giving me less reason to do good for it (whatever this truth or value is)?
And if we adhere to respectfully being quiet, those with false and even harmful ideas push them forward. And when wrong ideas aren’t met with truth, the voices of error or harm will become the ones that are most heard and have the potential then to become the ones that are believed.
Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” In keeping silent, we do nothing. And in our silence, it’s possible we might cease to do good.
A Case in Point
You have likely seen the Planned Parenthood story and videos about selling aborted baby parts for profit (or perhaps even intact babies, we are now coming to learn). This has caused many of us who might have previously become dull to the horrors of abortion itself, or even some who have previously defended abortion, to be shocked and enraged.
It’s a key time to step back and take a look again at what abortion really is. Should we not all have been enraged before when a baby was mercilessly killed under the cover of the womb? Perhaps because it was a dark, hidden place — not visible — people have not reacted to what would have horrified them if it were happening in an open, light place before the eyes of many.
And in this case, it has reached a different level in our consciences, many of which have heretofore been numbed by the sheer magnitude of the problem, the law, the difficulty of challenging such a big organization, and the uncertainty about what we could do.
But people are now rising up, at first because it has become known the body parts are being sold for profit, but now even more because we all are realizing the extent of how these abortions are actually being performed.
Senior Bible Class
In my high school, we studied abortion as part of our senior Bible class. I have to admit that going into that class as a 17-year old, I had heard the word “abortion” and was told it was wrong, but a part of me wondered if it really was that big of a deal. Wasn’t this just a tiny little thing in its earliest stages that wouldn’t hurt? And didn’t “choice” sound like a really good thing?
But what happens when you study something is you begin to learn the facts, the truth, and then that inescapable truth informs you and drives you to believe differently than you would have without the truth.
We watched a video of an abortion. We learned how the baby develops in the womb and when the baby likely begins to feel pain. We heard from a counselor whose expertise was in helping women who had had abortions, and we even listened to a recording of a woman in severe grief over her abortion. We learned that this wasn’t just an exception; it was more the rule. We realized that the women having abortions were just as much victims as the babies, being told lies; in fact, an abortion can be dangerous to a woman’s health. It might even be possible that the women most defending abortion have experienced one themselves, such that defending it somehow eases the pain, reassuring them that if it’s legal, can it really be wrong?
This class was not only very convincing, but as Christians, we believe life begins at conception and that all people are made in the image of God and have value before Him. We know Psalm 139 is true – that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that God knew us before we were skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
During Senior Bible, we learned truth and knew where we stood on this issue long before we might ever face a decision about it.
Years later, the day did come for me when I thought again about abortion and those who grapple with the decision. I faced an extremely rare and life-threatening pregnancy. Though abortion was never a consideration or suggested by my doctors, it did cause me to wonder what other women in a life-threatening situation would do. The perinatologist told me he would do his best to save my life first and the life of my baby. I remember saying to consider my baby and me as equal, but the reality is they would save the mother’s life first. I told him then to save us both.
What I knew about life had been shaped through my Bible class. But what I also knew as a mother was that I wanted this baby to have life, even if it should cost me my own. Her value in my mind was the same as mine — made in the image of God. Would the fact that I had lived longer – 30 years or so at the time – give me more value than her and what God might do through her in her lifetime?
Thankfully it didn’t come to that point. After a tumultuous pregnancy and a month-long hospital stay, she was delivered at the end of the second trimester, at 27 weeks, 2 pounds, 3 ounces. I remember looking at her in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and being struck with the reality that if someone came in there and tried to dismember and kill her, we would all cry out! But if she were still under the cover of the womb, it would be permissible. How can this be?
Here’s a 27 week baby, perfectly formed, human as you and me, different only by time and growth. She turned 15 this week, a beautiful and healthy girl.
A Voice for the Voiceless
So what can we do? Today, it’s easy to know where to begin. We can contact Congress to urge our representatives to support S.1881: Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood.
We can pray. Don’t you wonder whose prayers are being answered even now?
Pray for the women who have had abortions who might be struggling with regret or grief. Pray for the people involved in this industry to be convicted of this and to see it from a new and right perspective. Pray for those in our government who will vote and make decisions on this issue. Pray for our own hearts to be led with wisdom by God to do what He would call us to do — love others, tell the truth in love for the good of another, give and support pro-life causes, and be a voice for the voiceless.
There are many other issues in our culture today besides abortion where we might need to lift our voices. And that will start in prayer.
Our Only Hope
In this and in all things, we have one hope. His name is Jesus. We do indeed live in a world broken by sin, and all things will not be made right until heaven. But He is a God of abundant, plentiful, and full redemption. For the one broken in pain, loss, and guilt over sin, there is forgiveness through Christ. His death on a cross and His resurrection from the dead offers us forgiveness through faith in Him. He who knew no sin became sin for us. All of Scripture tells us this story. We can be set free from sin to live with Him and for Him with joy.
Jesus is the One who stooped in humility, even to the point of death, to reach us, those who are weak and needy. And when we experience His grace, we will follow His example to truly love and protect the weak and needy around us, and to lead others to Christ who will give them abundant life both here and for all eternity.
It might mean that we will need to open our mouths to tell this good news, to speak the truth in love, to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. And in opening our mouths, we might be led to do good, to seek His good in this world, to be a light reflecting the true Light who came into the world for our sake.