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From one of our readers, Mr. Harv Nyhof, of Holland, Michigan, we received the following question:

“Prof. Hanko writes in his article in the June 1, ’86Standard Bearer that ‘to kill a fetus is to commit murder.’ Further down he states that picketing abortion clinics is contrary to Christian principles. If a Christian observes a murder being committed on a street, Prof. Hanko would agree, I believe, that force would be in order to save a life. Should not picketing of abortion clinics to save lives also be an acceptable response?”

Reply

The answer to this question lies in the fallacy of the analogy. If I would use force to prevent a murder on the street, I would do this only if no representative of the law could be summoned to stop the murder from being committed. And I would take up the matter myself only as a citizen who, for that moment, is representing the law of the land and taking it upon myself to enforce it, because no law enforcement officer is present.

Abortion has been legalized in this country. Such legalization of abortion does not make abortion right—it remains a monstrous crime which God will not suffer to go unpunished. But such legalization of abortion does mean that our efforts to stop abortion must be limited to efforts to get the laws changed, all the while testifying in whatever way we can that the breaking of God’s holy laws leads to moral and spiritual disaster. To do anything else will involve us in rebellion against government.

It is interesting and important to remember that Scripture makes a distinction between submitting to our magistrates and obeying them. All other things being equal, submitting usually includes obeying. But there are times, as Scripture also tells us, when we must obey God rather than men. This may happen also in this country in this whole abortion matter; i.e., the time may come when the government will permit parents to have only two children and will order that any additional children be aborted. In that case, we shall have to obey God rather than men and refuse obedience to the magistrate. But such refusal to obey does not absolve us of the responsibility to submit to our magistrates. The command to do this in Scripture is absolute and without qualification. We must submit to them even when we cannot and will not obey. We have the example of Christ Himself in this respect when He stood before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate.

To refuse to submit to government is a heinous sin. It is deplorable that even conservative churches are advocating open rebellion against the government when the government persists in making laws which are contrary to God’s Word. Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto is a case in point. When the church advocates the opposition of force against government and promotes rebellion in any form or fashion, the church has abandoned her calling in this world and will suffer the judgment of the Lord Himself: “They that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”