By Editorial Staff
Published September 1, 1988
by Jamie Buckingham
Reprinted in Ministries Today on Tuesday, 27 March 2012, Ministry News
Martin Luther King Jr. (center) led his famous march from Montgomery, Ala., to Selma, Ala.
I was fresh out of seminary and the new pastor of a Baptist church in a little South Carolina town when Martin Luther King Jr. led his famous march from Montgomery to Selma, Ala.
We did a lot of talking about racial segregation in our deacons’ meetings those days. Everyone was defensive. “We’re integrated,” one man said. “When Miss Jessie died we allowed her maid to come to the funeral and sit in the balcony along with her pickaninny.”
Not too far away, in Greensboro, N.C., four black college students refused to move from a Woolworth lunch counter when denied service. It was 1961. By September more than 70,000 students, whites and blacks, had participated in sit-ins.
Our deacons appointed a special committee to patrol the street in front of the church in case “the darkies” tried to get in. “They got their own churches,” Harry Lemwood, a grocer, used to say. “Let ‘em go there.”
I groaned over the injustice, but when King marched on Selma, I did not join him—even though I knew he was right. I didn’t even stand up in my pulpit and applaud him. I kept silent. I wasn’t afraid of Bull Conner. Or the snarling police dogs. Or of being put in jail.
What I feared most was losing my “job” as pastor. I preached against segregation—which was acceptable because of King’s sacrifice. But I knew better than to do anything rash—like marching.
I just stayed home and preached the gospel. I quoted Romans 13—that Christians should not break the law—to justify my stance. No matter that the law said blacks were inferior to whites. No matter that it was cruel, dehumanizing and anti-Christ.
It was the law.
By isolating Romans 13 from the rest of the Bible, I justified legalized sin. Today, I still feel guilty for not marching. All this came to mind recently when I talked with my friend Guy Strayhorn, an attorney from Fort Myers, Fla., Guy had just returned from Atlanta where he took part in one of the Operation Rescue demonstrations at an abortion clinic.
As a member of the bar, Guy is sworn to uphold the law. But which law? In this case he believed there was a direct conflict between God’s law and man’s law. He went to Atlanta in the spirit of Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who deliberately disobeyed the Egyptian Pharaoh when ordered to kill baby Hebrew boys.
Yet by breaking the law they saved the lives of innocent babies—including one named Moses. Civil disobedience. Or as James Dobson calls it—spiritual obedience.
Guy went to Atlanta because he believes unborn babies are human beings. He went for the same reason I should have gone to Selma—to protest national evil.
In choosing to obey God rather than man, he paid the same price Daniel paid—who was thrown into a den of lions; the same price Peter and John paid—who were arrested and badly beaten.
Changes for good come because men like Martin King and Guy Strayhorn take a stand. How easy it is for us modern-day priests and Levites to quote Scripture that justifies inaction.
Charles Stanley did this when he and his deacons at Atlanta’s First Baptist Church publicly condemned Operation Rescue. In his statement he did what I did 30 years ago. He quoted Romans 13:2—to break the law is to rebel against God.
Then he called Roe vs. Wade “the law of the land.” But did Paul mean we should not object when unborn babies are murdered? Yet Stanley argued that if we protest, “anarchy and chaos will ultimately result, and then it will be very difficult to preach the gospel.”
But a “gospel” that sanctions the wholesale murder of children is not the gospel of Christ—it is the gospel of Pharaoh and Herod. Stanley said, “Jesus advocated submission to authority and not civil dis-obedience as a means of effecting change.”
He’s wrong. Jesus not only advocated civil disobedience. He practiced it by disobeying the Jewish law, which was “the law of the land.” Yet this was not His primary means of effecting change. Real change came when Jesus took spiritual authority over the demonic forces that put men in bondage.
In July, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision involving Roe vs, Wade. Justice Harry Blackmun, who authored the 1973 decision legalizing abortion, has predicted the new court will overturn that decision.
Oral arguments are now being heard. Although I applaud Operation Rescue for drawing attention to the horror of mass abortion, the battle will not be won on the curbs of America.
Protests and demonstrations will not sway the US. Supreme Court. Their decision will be based on each justice’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
A godly interpretation is now possible; but bank on this—Satan will throw all the powers of hell at the justices to confuse their minds. The real struggle is against what Paul calls “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
American Christians—through fasting and prayer—can push those forces back, allowing the justices to hear from God, for some of them are praying people.
So what should I do? Sit on a curb in front of an abortion clinic? Yes, but only if God tells me. However, I don’t have to ask about spiritual warfare. That I must do. That I will do.
From 1979 until his death, Jamie Buckingham (1932-1992) wrote the “Last Word” column for Charisma magazine, which originally published this article. He was the editor of Ministry Today magazine at his untimely death in February 1992 — now more than 20 years ago.
Forerunner - Home » Florida's Murder Industry »
Your comments are welcome!
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
$12.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!
Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.
Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
$4.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)