The Difference between Christian and Non-Christian Pro-Life Action

This is an excerpt from "Exposing the Dark Work of Abortion" by John Piper.

Let us make sure that we understand the difference between a Christian call to pro-life action and a non-Christian call to pro-life action. I am glad that non-Christians are calling for an end to abortion. I am glad that there are “atheists for life.” One of the things that makes America work is that what Christians see as right behavior because of Christ non-Christians see as right for other reasons.

This is not surprising. Some of the truth that is rooted in Jesus as the Son of God is also revealed partially in creation. The law written on the heart of all men and women (Romans 2:14), no matter how marred by sin, is still God’s law. So there is always hope that, in the gracious providence of God, believers and non-believers in a pluralistic society might come to agree that certain behaviors are right and certain behaviors are wrong.

But I am a Christian pastor, not a politician. My main job is not to unite believers and unbelievers behind worthwhile causes. Somebody should do this. But that is not my job. “Some of you ought to be doing that with a deep sense of Christian calling. My job is to glorify Jesus Christ by calling his people to be distinctively Christian in the way they live their lives. 

Therefore I begin by showing you from Scripture (not from natural law, as crucial as that is for social survival) what is “distinctively Christian in my call to pro-life action.

A Christian call to pro-life action is a call to the children of light to be what you are in Christ. This is utterly crucial to grasp if you want to act as a Christian. Let me give you four instances of what I mean from this text.

Let’s start in the verse just before our text—the last verse of Ephesians 4 (v. 32), “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” A Christian call to forgive does not say: forgive in order to earn the forgiveness of God. It says forgive because you have been forgiven by God. Look at the last half of verse 32: “Forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you.” Christian living moves from what God has freely done for us in Christ to what we should freely do for others. It is not the other way around.

“A second example is in verse 1 of chapter 5: “Be imitators of God as beloved children.” It does not say, “Be imitators of God in order to get adopted.” It begins with your standing in Christ as “loved children.” “To as many as received Christ to them God gave authority to be children of God” (John 1:12). So the Christian call to imitate God in the world is not a call to earn a standing with him, but a call to be what you are—chips off the old block, loved children of God. Loved children love to be like their father.

A third example is verse 2: “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” It does not say, “Walk in love so that Christ will start loving us and give himself up for us.” It says Christ loved us and gave himself for us, therefore walk in love. Be what he has died to make you, and secured for you.

A fourth example is in verse 8: “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light.” It does not say, “Be the light of the world so that you can become children of the light.” It says, “You are light in the Lord. You are no longer darkness. You are children of the light. Walk as what you are.”

This is the difference between a Christian call to prolife action and a non-Christian call. The call to forgive, the call to imitate God, the call to walk in love, the call to walk as children of the light—these are calls rooted in something that God in Christ has done for us. They are rooted in what God has already made us in Christ. They are calls to be what we are because of God’s forgiveness, God’s adoption, Christ’s sacrificial love, and God’s putting his light within us.”