Social Activism and the Bible
Jul 31, 2006 / By: Michael Spielman
Category: Responses to Readers
The following is the bulk of a recent email received. My response follows.
...I read a good part of this page (Answering common biblical objections to social activism), and recognize you do say things better elsewhere, but I hope this is a helpful critique:
Your "Response #6," sounds pretty ridiculous. There actually is a very good NEW TESTAMENT biblical COMMAND for social activism in certain social contexts, and our society meets them. If you cross-reference Prov. 24:11-12, Jesus and others saying "love your neighbor as yourself," and Rom. 13 about submitting to authorities, you actually get a command to participate both in politics and social activism in any democratic-type society, which the U.S. definitely falls into, otherwise you would be doing the opposite of submitting to the authority which wants you to participate in the government system, and we wouldn't be loving our neighbor as ourselves, PLUS if we claimed to be trying to "love [some] others" but it somehow not also practically manifesting that kind of love to unborn children, we would be doing what James condemns and "showing partiality."
Out of curiosity, where did you get all your arguments, and why did you set them up on the website in the way that you did? For example, if what I mentioned above is true, you could have been much more bold than naming a page "Answering common biblical objections to social activism,"...
I seem to be the most active and thoughtful "prolife activist" in my area, and would appreciate some sort of response. I'm open to whatever... let me know if you're looking for ideas for potential improvement, or would like me to help wrap my mind about the reasoning behind your responses, etc.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts about the Abort73 website. I appreciate it. "Answering Common Biblical Objections to Social Activism" is an attempt to provide specific responses to some of the objections that well-reasoned and biblically-faithful pastors have expressed concerning social activism. Their concern (the socialization and/or politicization of the gospel) is one I share. In answering their objections, I'm trying to demonstrate why opposition to abortion is biblically mandated and why it doesn't necessarily conflict with our broader evangelistic calling. This is why the page is named and set up as it is. Essentially, it is a companion to "A Biblical Mandate to do Something About Abortion"
Regarding the assertion that the Bible does command believers to be involved in "social activism", that all depends on how you define "social activism". If you define it in general terms, such as loving your neighbor, then, yes, the Bible commands "social activism". But if you define "social activism" more specifically, such as picketing outside of an abortion clinic or writing letters to your congressman or running for political office, you would be hard-pressed to demonstrate that the Bible commands such behavior. Those things can certainly be applications of loving your neighbor, but there are a thousand other ways to apply that command, and nobody would be in violation of scripture for not participating in a specific type of "social activism". Ultimately, everyone who lives in the U.S. is already "participating" in government at some level, and the government gives its citizens the freedom to either participate a lot or participate a little. At the bare minimum, we're required to pay our taxes and keep the law. We're not even required to vote. Therefore, while we can say with confidence that God commands us to submit to governing authorities (so long as we're able), and to love our neighbor as ourself, we cannot say that God commands all believers to equal participation in specific social and/or political engagements.
You may be the most active and thoughtful pro-life activist in your community, but you're probably not the most active and thoughtful evangelist or missionary, or the most active and thoughtful activist for hunger, disability or disease. Believe me, I don't say that harshly. I've devoted the last 8 years of my vocational life to combatting abortion, just as you are doing. I only say that to demonstrate that the biblical command to love our neighbor should and does lead the body of Christ to all sorts of different applications. For some, it will have a very clear political component, but for others, political engagement won't even be on the map.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. Subscribe to Michael's Substack for his latest articles and recordings. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.