The most important aspect of our mission, as it relates to human dignity, isn’t our social action or our responsibilities as citizens or as culture-makers. The most important aspect of our mission for human dignity is the Gospel itself.
When we recognize that human dignity is contested by spiritual warfare, we understand that politics is indeed downstream from culture, and that culture is downstream from conscience, and that conscience is downstream from the Kingdom of God. We cannot combat a culture of death merely with appeals to abstract human dignity based on natural law (not that there’s anything wrong with that). In every assault on human life, there’s not only a life left for dead but also a conscience left for hell. The Gospel addresses both.
On the abortion question, for instance, the sheer numbers of children aborted each year ought to prompt us to realize that perhaps as many as one out of every three women in our congregations has aborted. With her is typically a man who approved of or paid for or pressured her to this act. Many women sit silently, in the fear that God can forgive any sin but this one. They try to forget it, and secretly wonder if they are included in the “whosoever will” of our Gospel invitations. When we preach both of justice and of justification, God breaks the power of condemnation. He uncovers sin and judgment. The cries of the oppressed, the orphaned, the murdered, are heard, and their Redeemer is strong. The Gospel doesn’t wave away such judgment.
The Gospel says that those found in Christ are joined to the judgment he endured on the cross, and they stand with him in the new creation of an empty tomb. The repentant woman who had an abortion, the repentant man who empowered an abortion, and indeed the repentant abortionist who committed the abortion, are not beyond the grace of God. Every accusation against them, and against you and me, is true. But in Christ, we have been through the scrutiny of the tribunal of God. We have already been through the justice of hell. And in Christ, God declares what he thinks of us, “You are my beloved child, and in you I am well-pleased.” We warn of justice, but we always, this side of the grave, offer mercy….
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