On Holy Indignation

My intention is not to blog on the singular subject of abortion or Planned Parenthood, but the moment strikes me as one of the utmost importance; one that demands extended concentration.  I have noticed recently a strain of response from Christians to the rhetoric and anger of other Christians regarding the recently released videos.  Rachel Held Evans and Ann Voskamp are two examples of prominent bloggers from opposite ends of the Christian social spectrum who are pushing back and calling for a response of grace and love.  They are unsettled by the angry tone of many believers on this issue and believe that it will do more harm than good and may in fact be misrepresenting the Christ that loved sinners without a spirit of condemnation.  

On the one hand, I appreciate the concern.  It is important for us all to remember that people are broken and ultimately need God’s grace, that is, mothers who have had abortions and fathers who have insisted on them, as well as abortion doctors and nurses, technicians and baby part purchasers.  Until there is a Spirit wrought change in the heart, our fist pounding, legislating, blogging and protesting will have little lasting impact.  Therefore our anger must be seasoned with the salt of the gospel and with a genuine concern for lost sinners.  We must not be like James and John, the “Sons of Thunder” who immediately wanted to call down fire from heaven  upon the rebellious.  No, ultimately they need the transforming power of Jesus to heal and save them and we should long for that and pray for it.

On the other hand, there is nothing inherently wrong with moral outrage over evil, rather there is a Biblical concept of  holy indignation.  “Be angry and sin not,” said Jesus.   In fact, I believe that there are some occasions in which failure to be outraged by an offense is ultimately to hate the victim.  Not to be filled with anger over the abuse of a wife by her husband is ultimately to despise the woman.  Of course we want the man to repent of his sin and turn to Christ.  And were he to do that we would be obliged to welcome him and rejoice with heaven over a rebel come home.  But in no way would that desire keep us from doing anything and everything in our power under the law to help end the abuse, so also with every atrocity, be it Jewish death camps,  the American Slave trade, ISIS, the poaching of lions in Africa, or abortion. 

The killing of over 50 million babies in this country MUST make us angry and the videos that have been released MUST fan the flames a holy anger.  If not, then something is terribly wrong with us. To watch those who have killed unborn human beings eating and drinking and joking while they haggle over the mutilated bodies of premature babies is beyond sickening; it is infuriating.  This last video in particular is so painful to watch as the nurses poke through a pan of baby parts in which you can clearly make out a leg and an arm with a little hand and five fingers. And then to listen to politicians and pundits defend Planned Parenthood in the light of these horrors and given the clear illegality of their actions is frankly nauseating. Harry Reid    actually said on the Senate floor during the debate over defunding Planned Parenthood, that those who wish to defund them have “lost their moral compass.” 

While it is true that we must have genuine concern for these people and that they are in desperate need of grace, that must not in any way mitigate our concern for the victims of their brokenness.  While the evil is being inflicted an appropriate measure of indignation is demanded that should not subside until the evil is recognized for what it is.  This is itself a loving and gracious thing to do for the victim, but also for the offender.  For we do the guilty no service by soft pedaling such a grievous sin; one for which they will have to stand in judgement before God.  Therefore, we must not shy away from declaring the painful truth about what abortion is and from stating what God thinks about the murder of the most helpless among us.  

To be clear, this is by no means a misrepresentation of the Christ of the Bible.  Yes, he was compassionate with the broken.  A bruised reed, we are told, he would not break, but that same Jesus said that for anyone who would even cause a little child to stumble in sin, it would be better to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea.  The compassionate Jesus also demonstrates a holy anger over the evil inflicted upon children.  The God who is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness is also a consuming fire who will by no means clear the guilty and who says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” We must not call down fire from heaven, but that is not to say that our God will not send the fire.  Indeed He one day will and there is nothing wrong with our declaring as much with the desire that all men might hear and repent. 

Where there are bruised reeds we must act and speak with tenderness and compassion, but where there is a hard hearted obstinate demand to call evil good and good evil, we must shout from the roof tops and call evil what it is. We must be like Moses who could smash the tablets of the law in outrage over the peoples sin and yet was willing to give his life that those same people might be spared ultimate judgement. 

I understand that this is very difficult for many who either have had abortions or encouraged them or for those with friends and loved ones who have.  I have no doubt that feelings may be hurt and that it will be hard to hear for those guilty of this sin.  Nobody hiding their sin in the darkness, whatever the sin, wants to have it exposed in the light, but ultimately it must be exposed.  Nathan had to call out David and Jesus had to expose the pharisees as sons of the devil and yet He chose just such a one to be his chief apostle to the Gentiles.  So we must be faithful in standing vehemently for the unborn and for all other victims of atrocity while at the same time recognizing that there is room for every type of sinner in the kingdom of God.