I have been a member of the Presbyterian Church since 1997. I was raised by my parents as a Catholic and went to a Catholic high school. The Catholic Church always made me feel unworthy of salvation and guilty of whom I was as a person. For these and many other reasons, I left the Catholic Church and, for a period of years, did not participate in organized religion.
As a matter of fact, even though I had been an altar boy for years and attended Catholic school, I had never believed in God or Jesus Christ. On January 20, 1997 I had an experience that dramatically changed my life. I will not describe this experience in detail, but suffice it to say that I was shown an afterlife and was instantly transformed from my former shell into a fervent believer in the Lord.
With spiritual guidance and assistance from my wife, shortly thereafter I became a proud member of the Presbyterian Church. I have held this pride not only in my actual religious beliefs, but in my denomination as well, proclaiming without hesitation to others that I was a God-fearing Presbyterian.
Recently, I have begun to study the issue of abortion, and the varying arguments surrounding this debate. In addition to studying this topic online, I read the book Abortion: Toward an Evangelical Consensus written by Paul B. Fowler, a minister in the Presbyterian Church.
Fowler stated that the Presbyterian Church adopted a resolution in the early 1970s proclaiming that abortion should be a matter of responsible personal decision. This resolution was adopted prior to abortion being declared a legal right in 1973 under Roe v. Wade. When I read this, I was absolutely floored and devastated. Not only had I learned my church endorsed unrestricted abortions, but it championed them before it was even legal!
According to Fowler, “The Presbyterian Church of the United States adopted a position paper calling for ‘free choice’ in the area of abortion. Such a statement was particularly ‘progressive’ [read ‘liberal’] since the Supreme Court had not yet made its decision and since every state in which the denomination had churches still had restrictive abortion codes in effect. In its position paper, the question of fetal humanity or the presence of the image of God in the unborn was not even addressed” (p. 23, 1987).
The Presbyterian Church was, in reality, a champion for the legalization of abortion. They did not merely sit on the sidelines of this debate, which would have been cowardly in and of itself, but they actually pushed for legalization.
I hoped against hope that the church had changed its policies since this book was published, and I reluctantly logged onto their website (www.pcusa.com) to find out. The following repugnant statements are taken from the site (emphasis added):
…the artificial or induced termination of pregnancy is a matter of the careful ethical decision of the patient . . . and therefore should not be restricted by law….
The considered decision of a woman to terminate a pregnancy can be morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision.
A very difficult decision now confronted me. I saw only two options available, both equally arduous. The first option was to face down the leaders of my church and attempt to persuade them that they were defying the will of God and supporting the slaughter of innocent life created in God’s image. The second option was to look for a new church that was more closely aligned with my religious and social beliefs.
I quickly concluded that attempting to convince my church that they were supporting an evil practice was a little backward. I should not be in the position of informing my church leaders that they were going widely astray of God’s word. The church should already know this, embody it, and regularly practice it as an example to its congregation. If Christians will not fight against the enormous tide of murder against the unborn, then who will?
Option two, searching for a new church, would cause major problems in my family life. My wife was born and raised a Presbyterian, and would be grieved by my decision to leave the church we were married in, and the church where our firstborn son had been baptized. Most of our family members are Presbyterian, and I knew I would be pressured to stay, against what I believed to be the will of God and what I knew in my heart to be righteous and good.
I decided to wait until I actually found a church that I could identify with before making known my decision to leave. This was harder than I initially thought it would be, as I quickly discovered through careful research that many Protestant denominations have strayed from the word of the Bible and are heavily influenced by liberal doctrine.
After an exhausting search, I found that Fundamental Christianity was a near perfect match for my strong Biblically based beliefs. I was blessed to stumble upon a website for Hardingville Bible Church (www.hardingville.com) and in my heart I already knew I had found a home. After listening to Pastor Mark Franklin’s sermons online, my resolve was cast to face the personal turmoil ahead.
As of the writing of this article, because I am leaving the Presbyterian Church, I have already been accused of being weak-minded and easily persuaded, told I would “church-hop” for the rest of my life, and told that I would quickly leave my new church as soon as I heard my pastor say “something I didn’t like.”
Well, as far as being “weak-minded and easily persuaded,” I don’t believe I even need to defend myself on this issue, as my readers and friends can attest otherwise. If I was, in fact, weak-minded or easily persuaded, I would be staying in the Presbyterian Church due to the external pressures to stay and so as not to face the hardships of finding a new church.
I believe that what I am doing cannot, in any sense of the word be considered “church-hopping.” In my 30 years on this earth, I have belonged to exactly two churches. If I am blessed enough to gain membership into my new church, that would make three churches in 30 years, hardly “church-hopping.” When a church actively subverts God’s will and supports the unrestricted slaughter of innocent life, I will leave it whether I am accused of “church-hopping” or not.
To address the argument that I will leave my new church when my pastor says something I “don’t like,” I stipulate that I have no quarrel with the pastor of the Presbyterian Church I attended, or the congregation of that church either. I have never heard the topic of abortion, or any other social topic, spoken about in that church. My argument is with the organizing body, or hierarchy, of the Presbyterian Church, the PCUSA.
I obviously harbor strong feelings on the issue of abortion. Not everyone has such a passion for this particular topic. I would ask you then, “What would it take for you to leave your church?” Would it be your church endorsing euthanasia? Would it be your church endorsing the idea that women or other minorities be treated as second-class citizens? Would it be your church justifying the rape of women, as long as the male had a good enough reason to do it?
No matter which way you attempt to explain it, or justify it, or rationalize it, being a member of the Presbyterian Church today means you belong to an organization which championed unrestricted abortions before they were declared legal, and continues to support this grisly practice today. When you make a donation to your local Presbyterian Church, some of that money goes to the PCUSA, which has dangerously convinced itself that God approves of the taking of innocent life for selfish personal reasons.
My decision to leave the Presbyterian Church comes down to the issue of loyalty. If one has his loyalties in order, all decisions are made based on this order and life is simplified for the better. My first loyalty is to God and His will, for he has provided to me everything that I have. My second loyalty is to my family. My third loyalty is to my church.
I will not let a misguided loyalty to my church blind me to God’s will. I will not let pressure, even though it may be well intentioned, from my family blind me to God’s will. I know my actions are righteous and in accordance with what I believe the Lord wishes of me.
I believe it is the responsibility and calling of all Christians to actively resist evil and moral relativism, even if it may exist in our own churches. Taking action may require of you some difficult sacrifices, but the rewards of action versus inaction cannot be measured in this life. Avoidance and rationalization, those pillars of liberal thought processes, by Christians of the important topics in our society weaken and degrade Christianity and directly subvert the Lord’s will. Christians need to get involved in the social debate and take action, or the nation will continue its downward spiral into spiritual and moral debauchery.
July 15, 2004