Piper on Preaching, Politics, and Abortion
In the comments of my post on Piper’s preaching on the abortion-racism connection, the question arose regarding how Piper understands the role of politics in the question of abortion.
I thought I’d give a brief overview of my understanding of his position with a similar survey of his preaching and teaching on this.
With regard to political realities, Piper has explained that he is a one-issue voter: not in the sense that abortion is the only issue to consider in a candidate, nor that abortion opposition is a sufficient condition to merit supporting a candidate. Rather, in Piper’s view, a candidates’ advocating abortion-choice is an automatic disqualifier for public office.
Everybody knows a single issue that for them would disqualify a candidate for office. . . . You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It’s simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those.
With regard to the larger picture, Piper sees natural law as essential for social survival and acknowledges that one does not need to be a Christian in order to oppose abortion:
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.
He explains why this should not surprise us:
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.
In addition, he believes that the “political action of pro-life people is good. God ordains that governments exist for the protection of its people from violence (Romans 13:3f.).” Nevertheless, Piper explains, he is a Christian pastor and not a politician, and this affects the way in which he understands his calling with regard to abortion:
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.
In another sermon he said:
I am a Christian pastor who wants to be biblical, and gives not a rip for being Republican or Democrat. Such things mean almost nothing to me. But the glory and will and the rights of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Judge of all men, mean everything to me.
Therefore Piper aims in his sermons and writing to present a distinctively Christian approach to the pro-life cause.
He also argues that obedient Christians cannot help but be political in some sense. In a sermon from 1993 he said,
This message does not aim to be political. But I realize that being a Christian today is increasingly putting us at odds with political positions. Just being an obedient Christian is increasingly becoming a social, political, legal issue.
Furthermore, Piper supports political action on behalf of the pro-life cause. But he does not believe it is the highest calling:
For all the great legal work that needs to be done to protect human life, the greatest work that needs to be done is to spread a passion—a satisfaction—for the supremacy of God in all things. That’s our calling.