Actress Alyssa Milano has been making headlines for years. In 2017, she was instrumental in the #MeToo movement. She has advocated for vegetarianism, supported political candidates, and crusaded against abortion restrictions. She even called for a “sex strike” to protest Georgia’s recently passed “heartbeat bill.”
Accordingly, you can imagine viewers’ surprise when Milano told Cuomo Prime Time that she is “pro-life.” She explained: “I don’t think there’s a human on the planet that is not pro-life. Nobody wants to get an abortion. Nobody. We are all pro-life.”
Then she qualified her statement: “But there are circumstances that we cannot avoid. There’s the mother’s health. There’s just not being ready, ya know, and what that means financially and for someone’s destiny. This is an economic issue.”
So, Alyssa Milano is “pro-life” unless the life of the child conflicts with “being ready,” “someone’s destiny,” or an “economic issue.”
Tragically, she speaks for many.
Producing more light than heat
The abortion ban passed by the Alabama state Senate on Tuesday was signed into law Wednesday by the state’s governor. It joins “fetal heartbeat” laws recently passed in Ohio and Georgia. Numerous commentators are pointing to the likelihood that the Supreme Court will eventually determine the status of such legislation. The Court could even overturn Roe v. Wade.
As the abortion debate accelerates and the political season intensifies, it will be important for Christians to respond in ways that produce more light than heat.
To lay the foundation for such a strategy, let’s begin with David Brooks’ latest New York Times column. He notes: “A society is healthy when its culture counterbalances its economics. That is to say, when you have a capitalist economic system that emphasizes competition, dynamism and individual self-interest, you need a culture that celebrates cooperation, stability and committed relationships.”
Let’s utilize Brooks’ logic differently: Our capitalist economic system’s emphasis on subjective self-interest needs a culture that emphasizes objective truth and communal well-being. However, we have endorsed autonomy not just in our financial system but with truth itself.
Alyssa Milano can claim to be “pro-life” with no reference to the way the term has historically been understood because our culture has little regard for historical truth. Our courts have granted themselves the right to discover rights to abortion and same-sex marriage nowhere stated in the Constitution. Moral standards are no longer standard. “Truth” is what gets someone elected.
Those of us who stand for biblical truth can simply condemn our culture and refuse to engage in its debates. But there’s a biblical precedent we should heed.
“My people go into exile for lack of knowledge”
In Isaiah 5, the Lord likens his chosen people to a “vineyard on a very fertile hill” (v. 1). However, he warns them: “I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down” (v. 5).
God “looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!” (v. 7). He added: “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field. . . . Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late in the evening as wine inflames them! They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands” (vv. 8, 11–12).
“Bloodshed” instead of “justice” — does this describe abortion? “Those who join house to house” — does this describe our materialistic society? Those who “run after strong drink” — does this describe the substance abuse epidemic of our day? Those who “do not regard the deeds of the Lord“ — does this describe our irreligious culture?
Here’s the result: “Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst” (v. 13).
A reminder from my trip to Israel
Here’s my point: “My people go into exile” included everyone. When the nation fell, every person in the nation was affected. Daniel and Ezekiel were just two of the godly faithful who suffered in exile because of the sins of their people.
The same is true for Christians in America. Rather than simply condemning the culture and withdrawing from it, we should answer God’s call to be salt and light in every way we can. Not just for the sake of the lost who do not understand biblical truth (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14)—but for our sake and that of our children and grandchildren as well.
Consider an analogy.
I returned yesterday from spending three weeks leading study tours in Israel. Each time I return to the Holy Land, I am impressed again by the smallness of the nation and the solidarity of her people.
Israel is roughly the size of New Jersey. Its politics are chaotic in the extreme (forty-four parties participated in last month’s elections, for example). But the people are passionately united in their commitment to their nation and its future.
The reason is simple: They know that what happens to some of them happens to all of them. An attack on any part of Israel is an attack on all of Israel.
If you had the cure for all cancer
America’s Christians should feel the same way about our nation.
We are “ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20a). Our message to our people is urgent: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (v. 20b). Our hope is transforming: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (v. 21).
If you had the cure for all cancer, would you condemn cancer patients—or would you do all you could to save them?
NOTE: Is God going to judge America? Or has he already?
If you read even just a few headlines, you may think you know the answer. But, thankfully, God’s ways are not our ways.
In my newest book, How Does God See America? I wrestle with twelve cultural issues that reveal how God might view America.
Originally posted at Denison Forum.