Sean DeMars over at Desiring God writes a post about going to war for the unborn. But here is the problem…many evangelicals are so fixated on abortion that they ignore or don’t care what happens to a child after they are born. Evangelical Christianity is struggling with child sex abuse and it needs to be addressed. This post offers push back to what Sean wrote.
“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
“I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit.”
C.J. Mahaney denies covering up child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 18:6 NIV
It amazes me that there is a volume of material to work with from the Neo-Calvinist community. There are times I wish there are sixty hours in a day. Man the posts I could write! Recently at Desiring God I read a post by Sean DeMars that needed a strong response. This post he wrote called “Does Carrying Signs Really Save Babies?” deals with many of the issues in modern Neo-Calvinism. It deals with their siege mentality, waging the culture wars in regards to abortion, and finally not giving a damn about a child after they are born. No where is this more true than in regards to child sex abuse. My comments from this point onward are going to be in red.
Most of us have noticed that guy on the side of the road holding the “repent and believe” sign. I bet he makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t he? I understand. As someone who has a decent amount of experience with street evangelism, I still feel a slight twinge in my chest when I see that guy. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen it done wrong so many times. Or, maybe it’s because he’s out there doing something I should be doing. So, rather than thank the Lord for the work he’s doing, I find a way to pick it apart to ease my conscience.
Another possibility is that I’m more gifted at relational evangelism, and the good ol’ fashion preaching of repentance and faith in the town square is too far out of my comfort zone and skill set for me to appreciate its value. Either way, I think we need that guy. Evangelism is both-and, not either-or. There’s no need for juxtaposition here; we can love and appreciate both approaches, so long as they are being done well.
What about the people holding up signs outside of abortion clinics? The signs read “Babies Are Murdered Here.” While you likely agree with the words on the signs as you drive by the people holding them, perhaps they make you feel uncomfortable. “Is this the best way to stop abortion?” “Does it actually work? And even if it does, is there not perhaps a more efficient way to use our time, talents, and treasures to save babies?”
This post opens up looking at the differing means of evangelism. I would propose that the traditional model which some evangelicals use is an epic failure for many reasons. These are but a sampling of them:
- They dehumanize and turn someone into something they are not.
- Its lazy to yell at someone as compared to getting to know them personally.
- It allows some to say they did something when in fact they did nothing except expand the gulf between them and other people.
- It does little in the long term scenario which is what is especially sad.
We Are at War
I was a combat medic in the US Army. From 2009 to 2010, I was in Mosul, Iraq. Bombs blasted on a daily basis, mortars fell on our base, and the sound of machine guns was an ever-present, ambient reality. When we think about war, those are usually the things we think of — guns and grenades, tanks and tears, blood and bullets. But war is so much more than that.
War is espionage — men going about in the shadows collecting data and planting false information. War is psychological and spiritual — sending out good will agents to win the hearts and minds of the people in the land we are destroying. And yes, war is blood and bullets and boots on the ground fighting. We need all of those things taking place if we want to have any chance of winning in the end. The war must be fought on every front.
My four-year-old daughter asked me where I was going the other day as I grabbed my megaphone and headed towards the car. “I’m going to try to save babies from people who would do them harm, my love.”
“People want to hurt babies, daddy?”
“Yes, my love. Very bad people want to hurt babies. But your daddy, like Jesus, loves those babies very much, and is going to go fight to save them.”
“Are you going to kill the bad men with your sword daddy?”
“I have a sword, my love, but it’s not like the sword you’re thinking of. And I don’t have to kill them, for they are already dead. The sword that daddy uses, Lord willing, might bring them back to life.”
Make no mistake, brothers, we are at war. And much like the Cold War of days gone by, this war has no battlefront. But we still need boots on the ground.
We need wise men and women to work in our legal systems in order to bring about legislative change that will protect the lives of the unborn. We need communities saturated with the gospel to make a social impact in the poverty stricken neighborhoods where abortion clinics tend to thrive. We need adoption agencies and families who are willing to adopt or foster unwanted children. We need crisis pregnancy centers, sonogram machines on wheels, and abortion education and awareness programs. But, we also need people with megaphones and “Babies Are Murdered Here” signs.
In this part of the post Sean turns it into the very much into the classic “us” vs. “them.” For many evangelicals they always need an enemy, they need someone to fix their hate towards. When you look at the history of evangelicalism they have always needed an enemy to fight. At one point in history some evangelicals said the world would end if women obtained suffrage. Others waged the culture war in an effort to pass a Constitutional amendment to ban drinking. As a by product they increased alcoholism at the time because of their efforts. From fighting de-segregation, to interracial dating, I could go on and on, but many evangelicals long to have an enemy, as they so desperately need one. Drawing parallels between the Iraq war in Mosul and an abortion clinic is a classic tactic of drawing the battle lines and separating a person into “that camp” vs. “ours.” From here on this post goes downhill, but honestly should we expect something of substance from a Neo-Calvinist on Desiring God? After all only the True Believers are allowed to post on that website. Comparing everything to war is an outright over step in my opinion.
I am amazed just simply amazed as to how many evangelicals have failed on epic levels. When I read the efforts they have made into combatting abortion and see the way they have done it, I want to almost apologize for being in the same species as Sean DeMars. One thing I pray for deeply is that Christian culture in the United States will die, and die soon. Why? Because its destroying the Christian faith. The culture wars have obfuscated the lines of faith and politics. People have blurred the two and they are harming the Gospel. They are giving reasons for those outside the church to stay away from the church. They are shaming others and those in need of help from being able to get help. They causes pain in a way that is harmful and so un-necessary. Jesus wept over Jerusalem…is Jesus weeping over people protesting and yelling in ways that are counter to discussion? But the biggest problem with the abortion issue I want to address in the next section. It deals with how many evangelicals don’t give a damn to what happens to a child after they are born.
Boots on the Ground
We need people with boots on the ground, who will stand at the door of these death mills and proclaim the truth to these women (and the men who may have brought them), as they walk the one hundred feet from their cars to the front door of the clinic. We need people standing on the sidewalk screaming “Please, don’t do this! That’s a human being in your belly! They will kill your baby! Please, come talk to us, we will help you do whatever it takes to raise that baby; we’ll even adopt him or her, but oh God, whatever you do, don’t go in that building and let them kill your baby!”
We need weeping prophets, people who will cry as they see the mother of a freshly aborted baby walk to their car, broken and ashamed, having just committed a terrible crime against God and her child. We need someone to offer hope; to tell them that guilt doesn’t have to be the last word, and that Christ can heal them and forgive them, even after an abortion. We need someone to cry out to the doctors, nurses, and aids in the abortion clinics, proclaiming the truth that they are like the men of Ezekiel 22:12, who “take bribes to shed blood, . . . take interest and profit and make gain of [their] neighbors by extortion.”
This part of the post really got under my skin when I read it. I need to address this in very frank terms. Many evangelicals are too focused on abortion often to downplay or ignore other sins. When I see what Sean DeMars wants to propose I have the following suggestion. Why don’t the evangelical community stand outside Sovereign Grace and former Sovereign Grace churches and protest that movement’s covering up of child sex abuse? Why doesn’t Sean DeMars stand outside Sovereign Grace Louisville with a sign that has a picture of C.J. Mahaney that says, “This man has (allegedly) covered up the rape of children in Sovereign Grace.” Remember since we are speaking about Reformed Theology these protests would be ordained by God…would they not? 😛 But why not have people outside picketing and protesting the fact that so many children’s rapes were allegedly covered up in SGM. From Pennsylvania, to Covenant Life Church, down to North Carolina. That is what I love so much about Pam Palmer who is a great friend in that they have protested SGM and speaking out about the covering up allegations of criminal activity. How can a man like Mahaney allegedly cover up the sexual assault of a child and then stand before a congregation and claim to teach and have a reverent respect for the Lord? Does he? I ask again…does he? How can he preach the word of God and engage allegedly in criminal activity such as blackmail? How can he approach the alter having left so many people in pain? This is a man who doesn’t even meet the qualifications of elder? Is the reason why C.J. Mahaney is a preacher because he couldn’t do anything else? Is it because he lacks the education, the training, and the skills needed to do other professions?
Also I find it rich that Sean DeMars quotes Ezekiel 22:12 about taking bribes for shed blood. Have you read the story of Happymom and Wallace at SGM Survivors which involves Sovereign Grace Fairfax? In the story which you can read here, C.J. Mahaney allegedly gave a cash gift of $5,000 to sway opinion in the end. I will let you draw your own conclusion on that, but in the end that is an injustice and wrong on so many levels.
But here is the other thing that is equally troubling for me that personally angers me. You have so many evangelicals that talk about abortion (please note I am not a fan of it, but I have also accepted the fact that its a part of modern democracy) and yet they often ignore what happens to children after they are born. A child in an evangelical church can be raped and sexually abused and many just do not care. They do not care that such injustice happens. They cling to men like C.J. Mahaney who has allegedly covered up the rape of children. They ignored the protesters outside T4G. Then Al Mohler laughs and ridicules all the allegations about C.J. Mahaney and laughs at them. I just have to say this about Mohler, he’s lower than pond scum. To do something like that and bait those who have been hurt, is evil. Its just evil.
You don’t have to go out and hold signs or preach on the sidewalks. You can pray. You can get involved in the legal system. You can volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. You can open up your home and display the gospel of God to the world by adopting a child. God has made you with your own unique set of talents, abilities and characteristics. Use them in whatever way you can to fight the fight against abortion.
As you do so, don’t look down on your brother or sister standing in front of the death mill, sign in hand, preaching with all their might. Pray for them, because what they are doing is a hard thing, but it is good. They are our last line of defense, standing a few steps from the front door, in a war where the only ones who die are babies.
To Sean DeMars and others in the former SGM community I want to ask this. One day in the near future the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace will resume. I have a feeling in my gut that its sooner rather than later. It is my sincere hope that many former members of Sovereign Grace will go back to their old churches and protest outside. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if Mark Mullery walked out of Sovereign Grace Fairfax and there were protesters with his picture on a sign, saying “Hold Mark Mullery accountable.” Its my hope that people will use the legal system to hold C.J. Mahaney accountable for all criminal allegations. When the lawsuit eventually resumes its my hope that the church will rally to the families of Noel, Happymom, Wallace and so many more. Its my hope that they will all find closure, peace and most importantly justice for their families. How I long to see a bald man in a “Gospel Centered Deposition” being asked “Did you conspire to cover up the sexual abuse in your denomination?”
Its in closing I want to extend an invitation to Sean DeMars..if people protest Sovereign Grace Fairfax will you join us? Will you send a message to C.J. Mahaney and his enablers such as Kevin DeYoung, and Mark Dever that covering up the rape of children is sin – and wrong? Will you send a message to Sovereign Grace that criminal activity can not, and will not be covered up? As always I love you guys!