This is a guest post by Joani, wife of Dr. Hunter Burchett and mother of five adventuresome boys aged 7-16. A former homeschooling mom, she now serves as Assistant Director/Client Services Director at East Texas Pregnancy Help Center and studies at Liberty University. She is eternally grateful for her Saviour who redeemed her life. She is as kind a woman you will ever meet, and she also plays a mean violin!

I’ve written my own  views on this issue here. When Joani shared similar concerns as a front line worker in a women’s clinic, I invited her to share with others. I hope it’s helpful to the cause and helpful in our relationships with the hurting.

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With recent media coverage bringing to light some of the atrocities and crimes of abortion providers such as the Gosnell clinic, there has been a surge of articles comparing slavery to abortion. This concerns me… are we borrowing someone else’s suffering to make a point for another? Is this empathetic? What exactly are we communicating to hearts with these comparisons? What is the heart of Christ? I’ve daily had an increasing heavy heart each time I read a new article, and finally halted my reading to put my own thoughts together.

I’ve read more than a few disconcerting quotes lately, including: “Ever so slightly, the old South actually treated slaves better than liberals treat babies today” and “Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.” Working in a compassion ministry for women I see the painful effect that comparison can have. This comparison approach is not helpful for an individual or for a culture. To illustrate how hurtful these comparisons can be, I thought of two fictional ladies whose lives reflect that of many true-life stories- past and present.

Mary. The sweltering heat caused the sweat to drip down her face, mingling with the blood on her cracked hands. If she didn’t hurry with her work she would surely pay a price with her back – regardless of the reasons. The physical pain was nothing compared to the heart break Mary faced today. They had sold him. Her only son; she had prayed for him. Fought for him. Treasured him. Now he was gone forever, far away from her arms. She prayed that God would give her forgiveness for those who made these life-altering decisions for her. Her faith was the only thing that gave her peace in this world, and unforgiveness did not need to step in the way. She knew society told her she was not a person, she was just a slave… a piece of property – less than an animal.

Julie. Julie buried her head a little deeper into the soft pillow trying to hush and deny the sobs of a breaking heart. She agonized over the pain she held deep inside — not even sure how to think about healing. Did she even deserve to have her broken heart healed? Julie made a choice she felt had to be made. It was legal. It was quick. They told her it would “erase” the problem… but why oh why did the crisis feel more real now than ever?

Two pains…. Dare we compare them? Could you possibly say to”Mary” and “Julie”, “Hey, you’re similar to each other, how about I lump you together so we can easily help people see you…see the pain… see the need for change?”

We wouldn’t, right? We know better. We know we never compare grief and deep, painful matters of the heart. Not even one person will grieve or emotionally heal the same way as another.

Two Basic Problems Caused by Comparisons As I See It

Firstly, I think that comparisons with heart-wrenching, devastating subjects are simply just a bad idea. It’s not apples to apples. Counselors are taught that in the situation of grief one of the worst ideas ever is to say, “I understand totally” or “I know EXACTLY how you feel.” Abortion certainly requires political attention in order to change the public mindset. But how can we compare two very separate issues? Both pains are real. Both burdens need to be carried to the cross and placed safely into the hands of God. However we cope, walk-through, and look at these crises, they should not be thought of in the same way. In no way should either pain be negated, but such comparisons will cause the victims of these issues to feel their pain is forgotten or trampled.

Second, these politically-driven comparisons can hurt people spiritually and relationally. Are we careful to keep our political stances as Christians from causing further damage in very sensitive issues? Is not our first calling that of loving as Christ? Is not He our example? Daily, I am challenged by this balance. Yet more and more I realize the hurting needs of so many around me. Let us be mindful in all that we do or say that it is for the glory of God. While speaking the truth and battling the issues of this world, may we remember that we are not of this world. We are first to seek His kingdom (Matt. 6:33), and we should think about what that looks like when raising awareness on sensitive topics.

Two Questions to Ask in Hopes of a Better Approach

My challenge is for us to sit and think through two questions before we make comparisons and in light of the call to authentic love and concern for these topics.

Is it helpful?

These comparisons are intended to help point us to the sin-roots of abortion and to help us think about the true value for human souls. All of us clearly need to see God for who He is, and see ourselves for who we are as His created. A comparison approach can actually demean the value of those experiencing these hurts by shouting silently, “I’m not worried about how you feel. I still want to do this my way.” Is this helpful? No, it really isn’t. It distracts us from looking at each of these particular subjects with the care, concern, and intentionality they each deserve and need given their specific grief, mentalities, and social applications.

Are there better ways to effectively communicate for raising awareness on these topics?

Absolutely. Let’s continue to educate and raise awareness regarding these separate issues and share truth! Let’s minister healing, comfort, and hope to the broken and those effected very distinctly by these issues! Let’s look at the root of all these issues and look at it through the light of God’s desire for us. We can examine each distinctive issue with care, empathy, and hope for all to know our Father’s love. Let’s think about more effective forms of communicating and raising awareness that move toward healing for our culture, not furthering pain.

And truly, I get it.

I get why we try so hard – struggling and determined to bring awareness any way possible. Fearful of sitting on the sidelines, desirous to not repeat the history of those who ignored injustice and torment all around them. We are afraid of silence. We want to help people see. Like many of our methods though, comparison can further hurt those who have been wounded. Comparison can cause the audience we are trying to reach feel minimized and devalued. How can we enlighten if we build walls of mistrust? Equal, tender concern needs to be given while we minister truth and love to an individual or to our society as a whole. We bring the banner of God’s love waving higher than all – with the hope of truth bringing joy.

Is there hope for us all as we struggle to truly understand value? Our beautiful and amazing Creator loves us. He loves us so much that even though we’ve sinned and run from His embrace He pursues us. He sent His only Son as payment for our debt. Turn your eyes to your Saviour today, and know His hope for your life – His value for you – His love that makes you new. Let our hearts be inclined to know this love, and then be this love to the world around us today.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12: 9-12 (ESV)

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26 thoughts on “Slavery, Abortion, Comparisons and Our Call to Authentic Love”

  1. Joseph Randall says:

    Hello Joani and Pastor Thabiti,

    Thank you both for this post. It has really made me think, and I certainly want to be loving like Jesus was loving. I want to learn from you both with regard to both these social evils.

    I don’t, in any way, want to minimize the evil of slavery in the south. It was wicked and deplorable. I don’t want to forget what happened there, and I long to give my life to seeing racial reconciliation take place in the world and in the church.

    I also want to be honest with you about what went on in my heart when I read this post. Please tell me if you think what went on in my heart is unloving and/or insensitive.

    My heart said: “Yes, there should be no comparison. How dare you compare those two: because abortion is simply an evil in a class all by itself in the history of humanity.”

    I would direct you to this article for more on why I believe this:

    http://liveaction.org/blog/5-reasons-why-abortion-is-the-worst-social-injustice-ever/

    Joani, the comparison you make between Mary and Julie is simply not where I think the comparison should be made, and this is why I don’t think there should be a comparison. The comparison that should not be made is between Mary and baby X – who had his head chopped off or the other members of his body hacked from his body or his brain sucked out of his head while he was still alive in his mother’s womb.

    I can’t help but think that if the millions of babies who have been gruesomely dismembered this way (from all over the world) were still alive to actually talk to us and tell us about their experiences – we would truly see that there should be no comparison.

    That’s how my heart reacted to your post. And my prayer is that it reacted that way not to diminish the pain of others sufferings (whether the slavery of the past, the slavery of today, or any other social evil that’s ever happened in the world), but for the glory of my King Jesus and for the good of millions of children whom my King has some very strong words aimed towards anyone who would cause one of those little ones to stumble.

    Please help me see if my heart is in the wrong place.

    In Christ,
    Joseph Randall

    1. Joani says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Thank you for your heartfelt comments with the clear desire to love as Christ. Truly, our goal in all this is for God’s glory alone — not our own. Firstly, when I said “it’s not apples to apples..” the comparison of Mary and Julie is precisely an example. The two ladies stories exemplifies this “no comparison.” These were two examples of the emotional side of hurts ensued by these injustices… not comparable. I have the opportunity to minister hope and love to those in fear-filled situations, and also have a window to understand as I myself experienced an unplanned pregnancy. As kingdom workers, we try to see through empathetic eyes that help truth be illuminated and not forced… which does lead to positive results.

      Secondly, I guess my big question for us to think about is why do we (feel the) need to make these comparisons? What is the motive? Why compare and call one worst than the other? Rather, why don’t we bring truth to the forefront for each injustice with it’s own specific details of wrong and harm for society.

      Praying that we all would seek to more clearly love with the well-formed, perfect love only from our Father’s heart.

      Grateful,

      Joani

      1. Kevin Bowles says:

        But can’t comparison be sometimes helpful in exposing sin. Isn’t this EXACTLY the tool that Samuel used when the Spirit used him to bring conviction to the heart of King David. David felt the injustice in the story Samuel shared. And it wasn’t until he was shown that his own actions were comparable to such an injustice that he was broken by his sin.

        I agree we shouldn’t make insensitive comments regarding the suffering of others. However, I do think the picture of slavery helps to paint a comparable picture of injustice and the need to fight for those who have no voice.

        Is that an unfair leap?

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Hi Kevin,

          Thanks for joining the conversation. When we get better at talking about these things, we’ll hopefully gain traction in protecting life. So I’m glad for your joining us.

          I would say two things in response to your comment.

          First, Nathan uses a hypothetical situation, a parable, to expose David’s sin. There’s no real person defrauded of their sheep in that scenario. Consequently, there’s no real bystander hoping to be treated fairly and well-regarded in the parable. It’s simply a heuristic Nathan uses to expose David’s sin and blindness. Neither slavery or abortion are hypothetical. They’re real forms of injustice and suffering, so you have a different level of emotional attachment, memory, and interest associated with them.

          Second, it seems to me that the comparison doesn’t really gain an audience with either those contemplating abortions or those fighting to keep abortions legal or those who have a historical and emotional connection with slavery. It just seems to me a very ineffective rhetorical approach that actually loses ground for the pro-life cause. We need better results, and I think, in part, better results await better rhetorical strategies.

          T-

          1. Kevin Bowles says:

            Thanks for your reply, Pastor Thabiti. Not sure I wrote Samuel rather than Nathan. Must be a tired brain at the end of the day.

            I do completely agree though that if our rhetoric is ineffective, then we have to at least seek a better way to articulate the cause. However, comparison does seem to be a powerful rhetorical device. In similar fashion, when someone talks about the horrors of pornography and says, “Imagine if that was your daughter being objectified and brutalized…”, their point is usually made very powerfully.

            And it seems to be difficult to make a hypothetical comparison to the suffering of babies being aborted without pointing to actual suffering somewhere. But I suppose when the listener has bought into a wholesale rejection of the personhood of a fetus, then no comparison of human suffering will be effective.

            I would agree that, outside of straight comparison or biblical argument, I’ve generally found it most effective to ask them to consider for just a moment that they could be wrong about when someone should be granted personhood. Therefore, on the chance that they could be wrong… wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of caution.

            What arguments or rhetorical strategies do you find to effective in softening the hearts of ardent pro-choicers?

            1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Hi Kevin,

              In all honesty, I don’t think comparison is very effective rhetorically at all. For example, I don’t find the pornography comparison very compelling.

              Actually, I find the way Randall described the brutality of abortion itself more compelling when he writes of “millions of babies who have been gruesomely dismembered.” I have always found this approach more effective and would generally be the approach I’d take. But that kind of approach gets lost on many audiences when you then look at the link he offered–which has some of the most ineffective comparisons I’ve read.

              Moreover, I think the descriptive approach is more effective with general audiences–which is why I think most people on the other side get angry at pictures of unborn babies and graphic descriptions of procedures. They decry that strategy because it’s effective–the same way pro-homosexual lobbyists shifted the public conversation away from their sexual acts to their rights, because the “yuck factor” or visceral rejection of a grossly immoral sexual act hits the conscience very strongly. Seems to me pro-abortion folks are unfazed by comparisons to slavery but often affected by descriptions of abortion itself. The graphic nature of those descriptions awaken and alarm the conscience much more powerfully.

              Just my two cents,
              T-

      2. Joseph Randall says:

        Hello Joani,

        Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. It certainly makes me think! And thanks for your love and care for those who have suffered from abortion.

        My first instinct is to go back to the Bible to see if God ever makes comparative statements concerning level’s of evil. Here’s one from the lips of Jesus:

        Matthew 10:15: I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

        Sodom and Gomorrah, as I’m sure you know, were wicked cities. God’s prophet spoke of their evils (and even includes a comparison of evil in the prophecy itself):

        Ezekiel 16:49-51: Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. Samaria has not committed half your sins. You have committed more abominations than they, and have made your sisters appear righteous by all the abominations that you have committed.

        All that so say, Sodom acted wickedly toward the poor and needy. When Jesus said those cities who reject His disciples’ teachings will come under greater judgment than Sodom, I don’t think He at all meant to minimize the evil of Sodom. Nor did He mean to be unloving toward the poor who were oppressed in Sodom – so oppressed that God destroyed the city with fire!

        I think He said what He said to highlight the utter evil of the present situation He was dealing with (rejection of His Gospel) by comparing it with an historical, universally accepted example of great evil – Sodom.

        In our situation today, many people acknowledge the utter wickedness of southern slavery. Yet many don’t recognize the utter wickedness of abortion. So, judging charitably the intentions of peoples’ hearts who make these comparisons, I wonder if they are doing so because they want to help people see the utter wickedness of abortion by comparing it with a past historical wickedness that is almost universally accepted as wicked.

        That’s my best shot at your question. Again, I’m open to rebuke :)

        Joseph

        1. Joani says:

          Joseph, thanks so much for your sincere comments. I’m clumsy sometimes with my words, but I sincerely hope my heart has come through with a charitable note as to the intentions for us all in this journey to represent Christ well.

          Have a great week, and may God’s grace be with you.

          Joani

  2. Joseph Randall says:

    ps I would actually disagree with the title of that live action article: The worst social injustice ever was the crucifixion of the Son of God. Out of which came and will come the greatest social justice ever – through His mercy. Praise God for the Gospel!

  3. Betsy Childs says:

    This post makes a good point. I would like to raise one point in which I think a comparison between these two evils might still be helpful. Slavery was not always recognized for what it is–a heinous moral evil. That changed. The public conscience changed on the issue of slavery. This gives me great hope that, in spite of the downward moral slide of our culture, God could show us grace and change the public conscience of our country on abortion. Nations rarely make moral progress, but it happened once, and it could happen again. Let us pray for this!

  4. Steven Lane says:

    I think that Betsy Childs begins to touch on the true matter at hand. Someone that argues that Abortion is similar to Slavery is rarely arguing that the injustices are similar. The actual comparison lies in the system that allows/encourages the injustice to occur. William Wilberforce said, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” Once the cruelties of abortion are made known and truly understood then it is similar to understanding the cruelties of slavery. Not that they are the same but that both are horrific and at one time both were permitted. Praise the Lord for people like Wilberforce who stood up for what they believed in and stood for the unpopular decision for years waiting to see justice served.

    That is one way that I have seen the comparison made which I think is a valid one. The second is that slavery was the oppression of a very specific people group and was executed in such a way to keep that people group limited in power. They separated families, beat the strong willed until broken, and attempted to bread them like animals to create a submissive class. Is it not a similar situation that we see the lower income utilizing abortion privileges more so than the other demographics? This is another version of the comparison that I find to be similar and true.

    In no way should we compare the atrocities of slavery to the mother of the infant being aborted. That is not where the comparison lies. I believe that the comparison does find validity when viewing it from a governing system’s perspective. If I misunderstood your article completely then I appreciate any feedback. Thank you for being willing to talk about this issue. The best offensive we can provide for the abortion argument is education and a loving attitude towards those in need. I truly appreciate what you do on a daily basis.

    -In Christ, Steven

  5. Jim says:

    Pastor Thabiti and Joani,

    I’m grateful for this gut/heart/mind check- I’m sure I’ve been guilty of using such rhetoric in the past. Do you think ANY comparisons (beyond the hypothetical) are unhelpful? For example, the oft-used description of abortion as a modern holocaust or genocide? Would it be more helpful to leave words that already hold particular connotations to people?

    I suppose that most people with an intellectual predisposition to the rhetoric of pro-choice will be put off by what they likely see is political rhetoric, whether comparing abortion to slavery or to genocide/holocaust. I mean, I do the same when the manufactured language of a war on women is used, I shut off because there ceases to be an intelligent conversation. So then, do we simply use non-emotionally charged language and rather simple descriptions of the horrors of abortion (while being sensitive to women in our midst who may have dealt with its horrors)?

    1. Joani says:

      Hi Jim,

      I am humbled by your questions in that I do not even pretend to know all the answers regarding how to best address these tragic topics at hand. Prayerfully, with care I am on this same walk to know Christ more each day, and then to make Him known. The more I serve in this compassionate ministry, the more I see how tragically I have hurt others with my insensitivity and unintentional blows to the pain they are already carrying. My question I am asking myself daily is how can I more effectively point them to the cross where only their burdens can be completely relieved. Our call to raise awareness for these topics is needful. Our call to raise the ultimate awareness of making Christ known is vital — because there within is the end-all answer in this subject, for only then will we truly understand value.

      Having said that, I think there are some well-written articles that have left me weeping for the atrocities of the injustices you mention — not comparing or weighing out the pains of each, but raising awareness with specific details for both injustices. My prayer is that my eyes would be enlightened to further know how we can love well, and continue these conversations in our homes, churches, and families so that we may understand empathy and carefully approach ministering truth to society.

      May the grace and peace from our Father be with you.

      Joani

  6. I agree with much of this article in regard to how we must talk with and counsel women caught up in the temptation of abortion. And I agree that Slavery and Abortion are not the same things and cannot be compared to each other as though they were both apples. But they can be compared to one another as they both fall into the same category (as in apples and bananas are both Fruit).

    Slavery and Abortion are both grave evils that turn on the dehumanization of man and the wrongful dominion of man over the life of man. They are functional denials of the image of God and incarnation of Christ. They are abominations in the eyes of God.

    But no. Slavery and abortion are not the same thing. In Slavery, an image bearer is degrading to the place of property or chattel. In Slavery, our neighbors are bought and sold, their families are ripped apart, people are trampled, physical and spiritual lives are disparaged and destroyed. In Abortion, an image bearer is degrading to the point of being considered a parasite or body part and once again viewed as the property of another person. In abortion our neighbor is destroyed in the one place they are able to live. In abortion (like in slavery) the image of God is greatly defiled and disregarded.

    But no, they are not the same thing. The legalized practice of Slavery is predicated on the capital crime of “man-stealing” (Exodus 21:16) and the legalized practice of Abortion is predicated on the capital crime of “murder” (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 20:13)

    But here is a valid comparison that we can make. People who wanted to put an immediate and total end to slavery were called Abolitionists. People who want to put an immediate and total end to abortion are called Abolitionists.

    This is the true comparison that those of us in today’s abolitionist movement are making. We share many (not all) of the earlier abolitionist ideas and arguments regarding how to remove grave evils from our society and why and we hear many of the same opposing arguments and ideas concerning how they cannot be removed by anti-abolitionists or gradualist/incrementalists today.

    To read more about the re-ignition of Abolitionism in America, please visit: abolishhumanabortionDOTcom

  7. rcjr says:

    As always, thoughtful, gracious and thought provoking conversation. My first thought as I read the piece was just that of Joseph Randall. My second thought was, “If comparisons are such bad things, why is this piece built around a comparison, comparing comparing slavery to abortion to comparing the experience of these two ladies? The article, it seems, ends up hoisted on its own petard. No one is trying to diminish the horror of slavery by comparing it to abortion. What they are trying to do is help people see the evil of abortion. I’ve often said, “Comparing American abortion to the Nazi holocaust is unfair. Unfair to the Nazis. Their horror was less well known, less long lasting, and less brutal than abortion.” The point is to say, “Hey, we all think we’d be up in arms, standing with Bonhoeffer but we have our own grave evil, and we, at best, write checks to cpcs.” The point is that evil is always other, and distant in our own thinking. But we need to come to understand it is us, and close, in our own neighborhood.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi R.C.,

      Thanks for joining in. It’s good to hear from you.

      Actually, I think your comments make my point. Why argue from the greater to the lesser? If abortion is the worse evil (and I agree that it is), then what rhetorical force or compelling power is gained by comparing it to the lesser of the two evils? It seems nothing is gained, but something is lost.

      That’s why I think the better rhetorical approach is to describe the evil itself. That’s why I think people still shudder in either horror or anger when the procedures are described or pictures are seen. Today, it’s been interesting to note (just to change examples) the cry that’s going up about showing the body of Trayvon Martin. Why does that provoke such a response? It’s because the graphic power of bodies and their stories are far superior to argument by analogy. Precisely because abortion is the greater evil–both in its scope and in the innocence of the victim–we should abandon the comparison to slavery and tell the story of abortion.

      Add to it two other things–(1) that you lose some would-be allies with the comparison and (2) the sad truth that slavery was not outlawed because the country had some mass revival of moral sight–then the comparison becomes all the less effective. There are many falsehoods on which the comparison rests–perhaps the most subtle and ultimately most countervailing is the idea that America has some deeply ingrained opposition to slavery–either then or now. But that’s just false. Yesterday I read an article about the arrest of a woman from a Saudi royal family who appears to have enslaved a Kenyan woman and perhaps a couple Filipino women. We could add to that the serious problem of sex trafficking. Slavery is present tense and there’s not much outcry even today.

      So, in the interest of the cause, I just want to wave this little flag that says, “There’s a better way. Talk about the horror itself and leave the comparisons off. You’re losing some people who are allies and others who don’t already agree aren’t compelled.”

      This post is from a sister on the front lines waving the same flag. I think she gets it right, and we’d be better served allowing the issue itself to provoke and cease trying to be provocative by comparisons.

      T-

  8. Melody says:

    I think comparing them is an easy out that people take because they are actually thinking about homosexuality. Liberals have been comparing homosexuality with slavery for so long that it’s like a light bulb went off for conservatives that abortion is more like slavery than homosexual rights. We are talking about two groups that are treated less than human for simply existing without any control over what happens to them.
    It is like saying that we have an orange, a grapefruit and an apple. You still can’t make the orange a grapefruit. Even if the apple is far different.
    It’s like Pastor T said about slavery still going on. People forget that, don’t want to be reminded and certainly don’t want to see the gory details of what is happening to those enslaved today.
    I haven’t forgotten how upsetting it was to see someone claim on this board that abortion was worse than being a slave. It sent me over the edge and my responses were deleted. My heart was gripped by the vision of someone spending the life that God gave them at the whim of someone’s perversion and cruelty. It devastated me thinking about it.

    It’s not past-tense. Slavery is not past-tense. Conservatives need to quit talking like it is. It makes them look ignorant and uninformed.

    Both are evil. Comparing them only serves to make one less than the other. And that’s just not so.

  9. Matt Yonke says:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on this question. As a pro-life activist, I have a few thoughts.

    First, while I don’t think comparison to slavery is THE best tool in our toolbox, I think it is a legitimate tool. Comparison is one of the main ways human beings engage in moral reasoning. It can be a useful bridge to someone who doesn’t see the evil of abortion to show them the similarities of something they already know is wrong.

    Second, the fact that the argument might turn some people off is not a reason to never use it. The use of graphic images of abortion is a similar case. I’ve heard countless people argue that showing graphic images is doing no good for our cause and that it’s not convincing anyone. That’s an interesting opinion, but I’ve met countless people who’s opinions HAVE changed after seeing graphic images, and I’ve met children whose parents told me that they would have been aborted had the parents not encountered the pictures. There is no silver bullet of persuasion, what might work on one person might leave another totally cold. Unless a tool is inherently immoral, like violence, I don’t see any reason to put a moratorium on it.

    Third, I know many African-Americans who have been persuaded by the slavery comparison and many African-American pro-life advocates who believe passionately that the comparison is not only effective but necessary to persuade the African-American community as a whole. Since there is no one definitive voice of the African-American community, and since there is a multiplicity of opinions within that community, saying we ought to leave off this tactic altogether because it will offend that community seems unwarranted.

    I totally support your right to voice your opinion that you think the tactic is unhelpful, but I think calling for a complete cessation of its use based on that opinion is reaching a bit too far.

    That said, I’m happy anytime tactics for fighting abortion are a topic of discussion among God’s people. Thanks for the article, and God bless!

  10. David Volsky says:

    Often, when I think of the situation today with abortion, I see it as being, in a way, analogous to the Holocaust. Again, I say analogous, not to imply it is exactly the same. But I do find such a comparison helpful in the following ways:

    A large group of people were marginalized, treated as less than human and then callously murdered. While it was legal under that form of government, as abortion is under our government today, it was never lawful. There were underlying cultural beliefs which allowed the propaganda to take root, just as there are today regarding abortion as a right. These are just a few examples of the similarities I find in these two tragedies.

    I find these analogies helpful in revealing how our culture is making a tragic mistake in supporting abortion on demand. However, I would never compare them in a way that suggests, “This is as bad as, or worse than, the holocaust.” I would want to be clear in that. I think, in making such comparisons, that I am conscientious and cautious about avoiding those implications. I would like to know if you think that I still go to far in using such an analogy. Thank you in advance for your response.

    1. I think the analogy made by those comparing the way that most churches in the country respond to the atrocity of abortion with the way that most churches responded to slavery or the holocaust is more exact and helpful than the comparison of those particular evils to each other.

      A//A

      1. David Volsky says:

        I agree that should be addressed, but I think it can be both/and as opposed to one instead of the other. I think the church at large failed tremendously early on in addressing all three issues, particularly slavery and the holocaust, but there are some Christians we can look to as excellent examples of those who stood up against tremendous opposition–men such as William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

        I am a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. At one time, Southern Baptists supported slavery and many owned slaves, but obviously that has changed and there are many primarily black congregations within the SBC today. If I’m not mistaken, Southern Baptists initially supported Roe v. Wade, as well. Both of those historical facts perplex me, but I’m glad this group, as a whole, has repented of such notions. And I have no false sense of guilt for the beliefs and actions of those before me over which I have no control.

        I mention this, because sometimes I encounter the notion that church should constantly focus on its moral failings and never move beyond that. I don’t think that is healthy. We should acknowledge them to be honest with ourselves and others, reflect upon them from time to time lest we forget, but also accept forgiveness where it is appropriate and move beyond them. Also, on these topics, it is not just the church we are addressing, but our culture.

  11. David Volsky says:

    Pastor Thabiti, I just read your previous article on this subject that you linked, and I thought I should clarify something here in regards to my comparison of abortion to the Holocaust. While I am Gentile, I very much empathize with the Jewish people, particularly as a Christian sharing early historical and theological roots. I am very conscientious about widespread (historically and geographically) antisemitism. I reflect on it often and encourage others to do so, particularly Holocaust Remembrance Week–not because of how it makes me appear, but because it genuinely concerns me. I think about the church’s failure to push back against the rise of the Nazi party and the ensuing holocaust. I look to Dietrich Bonhoeffer as an example of how a Christian should respond to such events. I have at least one Jewish friend with whom I have had frequent and open discussions regarding all things Jewish. My point is that I believe I have established genuine rapport and empathy with the Jewish people, and that it is apparent to others, prior to using such an analogy and don’t merely do so for political expediency. I felt the need to clarify that.

    It is worth mentioning that I also have genuine love, empathy and rapport with African-Americans and Africans whom I view as brothers and sisters, particularly those who are in Christ, and hope that in my life that is apparent, too. I never claim to know what others have gone through or are going through, but try, in all humility, to gain understanding. Pastor Thabiti, I enjoy reading your blogs and getting your perspective on the African American experience from a Christian point of view and vice-versa, and try to take much of it to heart. Again, thank you.

  12. Joseph Randall says:

    Dear Joani,

    I’ve been thinking more about this issue and what I wrote in my comments to you. I believe I was wrong to speak about abortion and slavery as I did in my comments. They are both unspeakable evils, and I was wrong to compare them as I did.

    Please forgive me for any way in which my words or heart reaction to your post were unhelpful and insensitive.

    I truly am sorry. Thanks again for your labor for Jesus.

    In Christ,
    Joseph Randall

    1. Joani says:

      Hi Joseph,

      Thank-you so much for your kind heart and words! No offense taken at all — just grateful that we can have these conversations to help us all think more deeply on these vital topics.

      Your humble words made my day brighter, and I pray that your life will continuously be filled with His grace. :)

      Grateful,

      Joani

  13. Joseph Randall says:

    Thanks Joani!

    I appreciate your understanding! :)

    Joseph

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Thabiti Anyabwile


Thabiti Anyabwile is assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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