Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor, anti-Nazi dissident (he died in a German concentration camp) and author of The Cost of Discipleship poignantly stated, "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 great reformer and civil rights leader Marin Luther King, Jr. said, "To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it." Sadly, these warnings are as appropriate and applicable to the church of America today as at any time in history, for an evil beyond the scale of the holocaust is underway. We have now moved from killing babies, dismembering them and selling their body parts, to murdering struggling infants that have survived the brutality of abortion. America has lost its soul.
For various reasons, most spiritual leaders in America have chosen not to speak out on abortion, elections, and many other important moral issues of our day. These reasons include:
a belief that spiritual leaders should remain separate from the political realm because it is "evil" and "divisive"
a belief that spiritual influence in peoples' lives does not give them a right to speak into their followers' social, moral, or political views
a theological belief that this is not their responsibility
a fear of losing congregants
a fear of losing financial support
a fear of the IRS
I'm sure there are other reasons which could be listed. However, regardless of the reasons, no honest person can refute the fact that most leaders in the church have disengaged from public involvement in politics and national moral issues. While I respect my peers in the Body of Christ and understand the challenges facing them in today's polarized and volatile culture, I fear that our choice of silence on many issues has come at a devastating cost. Inevitably, this absolution has filtered also into the pew. Few Christians are willing to make a stand on social issues, preferring to remain aloof and silent. Only about half of Americans who claim to be evangelical Christians are even registered to vote, and many who are registered don’t bother to do so. Most statistics make it clear that evangelicals could turn any national election in America if we all voted, and did so based on biblical values, not party lines. Yet most spiritual leaders fail to confront this.
Not only does the disengaged church fail to vote or actively involve itself in social issues, most do not even pray regarding the challenges we face in America. A recent experience of mine in the Sunday service of a prominent mega-church exemplifies this fact. It occurred on the weekend during which President Trump would be making his decision regarding retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's replacement. This decision had the potential of shifting the balance of power on the Supreme Court to a conservative, pro-constitutionalist, pro-life majority, something America has desperately needed since the 1960's. The decision was so monumental that it would doubtlessly affect the lives of the children, and even the grandchildren, of those present that day. Indeed, President Trump’s appointments to the Court will undoubtedly be two or three of the most significant decisions of our lifetime.
In light of this decision's magnitude, and since the pastor himself referred to his church that day as "a praying church," I kept waiting for someone to lead in a prayer for wisdom and guidance from Holy Spirit to POTUS Trump, enabling him to make the right decision. If not a 15-30 minute time of corporate prayer – perhaps this imminent decision was more important than the sermon that day! – then at least 5 or 10 minutes of prayer. No? Then how about a one or two sentence prayer while praying over the offering or sermon. When no prayer was offered, I held out hope that at the close of the service they would at least encourage people to pray about this decision on their own. As you have probably guessed by now, it was never mentioned. I was stunned, grieved and angered. Tragically, this is the norm, not the exception. The church in America today may be the most culturally disengaged church in our nation’s history.
Based on the facts, any honest deduction must conclude that the American church's silence and withdrawal from the public square has allowed those who do not espouse biblical values nor honor our Christian heritage to take over much of America's leadership. Obviously, the opposite could have occurred: had the Body of Christ been engaged we could have prevented abortion, infanticide, the rejecting of America’s Christian roots, the taking over of our education system by humanists and secularists, God’s expulsion from the public square and more. By default, we helped create that which we loathe.
Can the fruit of America's sin and the church’s silence be reversed? Yes and no. Just as those who were killed by the Nazi's could obviously not be brought back, we obviously can do nothing to undo the deaths of 60 million aborted babies. But we, like the allied forces of WWII, can stop the senseless killing and heal the land (2 Chronicles 7:14). This pro-death scourge on our nation's history need not continue. I believe God is offering the American church – and consequently our nation – an opportunity for a historical course correction. For this to occur, however, a fundamental change must occur in the minds of believers: we must choose to re-engage and become the salt and light Christ intends us to be. We must cease being conformists and reclaim our voice. Our times have dictated that there is no longer a middle ground. We are even now being weighed in the balances – and our decision will tip the scales – toward either continued apathy and irrelevance or the healing and discipling of a nation.
We MUST make our choice, and we must do so NOW.
If ending the lives of surviving, struggling babies on bloody abortion tables is not enough to motivate the church of America and its leaders to regain their voices, I'm not sure what can. If literal infanticide, celebrated by governors and legislatures around this nation with cheering and lit-up buildings, is not enough to awaken the conscience of the American church, then I fear it is too late.
Leaders, please do not try and circumvent this decision by pinning America's future on "the sovereignty of God." God’s sovereignty does not negate our choices nor absolve us of the consequences. The prophet Ezekiel was told, "When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand" (Ezekiel 33:8 NASB). We, the church, are God’s voice in the earth and we must speak.
Church of America, I plead with you: find your voice and make a stand.