In August, the Argentina senate narrowly rejected a bill that would have legalized abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 38 against, 31 in favor, with two abstentions and one absentee.
I was in Argentina shortly after this vote and met with enthusiastic Christians who had participated in protests against the bill. Tens of thousands of people mobilized all over the country. They wisely framed the issue as fighting for the life of two persons, mother and baby. After all, both the mother and the baby are objectified by the abortion industry.
As I met these protestors in one venue after another, I congratulated them on their victory and on the fact that the church had finally awakened to the issue of life and her responsibility to engage in the public square. I reminded them that the culture of death will continue to challenge them on this and other issues in the months and years ahead.
This vote represents a moral and a tactical victory. But few other tactical victories are likely until they transform the culture, until the public paradigm has changed.
As we have written elsewhere, paradigms drive principles, principles drive policies and policies lead to programs. The Argentinian church is trying to shape national legislation, fighting at the level of policy. They do this in acknowledgement of the principle of the reverence for life of both the mother and the baby. Their abortion opponents are fighting for a different principle, the right of the mother to choose.
The church in Argentina won a skirmish. The war lies ahead.
The problem is that the modern and postmodern worlds are rooted in a different paradigm: materialism/atheism. A universe without God, in which the human is autonomous, has no ethical or moral basis to constrain killing babies. That paradigm gives precedence to “the right to choose” over the right to life. If this war of paradigms is not reversed, these “right to choose” policies will win the day, not only in the abortion issue but also with respect to marriage and gender.
This battle of principles was lost decades ago, when the church failed to ratify the biblical worldview. She lost sight of Genesis 1-2, where God establishes the nature and purpose of human life, the equality of men and women, the importance of children and the formation of families. We allowed the narrative of evolutionism to control the culture, reducing women and babies to objects .
So while Christians have won this skirmish in Argentina, the nation needs Christian intellectuals, pastors, and theologians to speak and write on the level of worldview. The church in Argentina needs to see that the right to life is grounded in a biblical worldview.
Argentina has a historical precedent in Great Britain. William Wilberforce and his friends in the Clapham Sect set out to end the slave trade and emancipate the slaves in the British Empire. But they soon encountered a prior, more fundamental task: the battle for the culture. Until that point in history, slavery was an almost universal phenomenon. The institution of slavery was seen as a normal, if not moral, good.
The global church can learn from Argentina
Wilberforce and his colleagues understood the culture had to change before political pressure was sufficient to change the laws. They worked for years to expose slavery as a moral evil. Once the culture was changed, they had the wind at their backs to outlaw the slave trade and then emancipate the slaves.
We need to learn from Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect as we set about to support the culture of life in our own generation.
It’s good when the church understands her moral imperative to support life and engage in the public square. We will need people in every area of the fight. Thought leaders are needed to articulate the paradigm truths, artists and balladeers to frame the principles in creative ways, lawyers and politicians to write just legislation supporting the dignity of women and their babies.
And all of us need to engage in grass-roots campaigns to shape public opinion.
Congratulations to our Argentinian brothers and sisters. Now let us, the church in all nations, join them.
– Darrow Miller
Elizabet ZuninoOctober 11, 2018 - 6:42 pm
Thanks Darrow! I live in Argentina and I’m so happy to see the whole movement orignated by this situation. I believe like you said it is time to fight for a change of mind which is so difficult…. we are encouraged by your words!
adminOctober 12, 2018 - 6:35 am
Thank you Elizabet
I am glad you are encouraged. I was encouraged to see the Argentina church stir from her slumber.