By: Ann L. Coker
What is needed for a victorious fight in the pro-life arena? How do we prepare ourselves? What equipment do we acquire? In John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, his main character is named Christian. His burden of sin fell off at the cross, and Christian then stopped at the House Beautiful where the family suited him with armor. After he went through the Valley of Humiliation (that’s appropriate), Christian met up with Apollyon (Satan). A duel ensued and his armor proved adequate to protect him against the enemy’s assault.
As we stand up for the pro-life position, we need adequate training and proper equipment. We may think we’re on the defense rather than the offense. We even wonder if we’re free to present any form of argument. Stumbling through some oft-repeated phrases, like “life begins at conception,” may not cut it when talking with a pseudo-intellectual person. Too often we fail and feel inadequate, but that doesn’t have to be the case if we submit ourselves to good training.
When we go to God’s word, we find that it is not chained, bound, or imprisoned (2 Timothy 2:9). That also applies to the pro-life stand. We take the pro-life stance because it is based on the truth. For example, scientific data supports our assertion that life begins at conception. A philosophic argument proves abortion takes the life of an innocent human being and that makes it wrong. What we believe is true as we “hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:16).
How, then, do we present our position? What training is available in God’s Word and how do we apply it?
Reading through the sixth chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, the suit of armor is a perfect fit for those who defend the right for unborn human beings to live. As I count myself among pro-lifers, we prepare ourselves for this battle of rights. The “full armor of God” enables us to “stand firm” (6:11) in personal persuasion and corporate defense. Let’s examine together Paul’s tactics and the armor we are to wear.
In any preparation for battle, we must know against whom we fight. In the athletic world, boxers and football teams study their opponents. But in the pro-life movement, our enemy is not other people with opposing views. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness” (v. 12). Darkness and wickedness combine as a powerful enemy. This is the dark side where Satan rules with lies, for his schemes are devised against the truth. With God’s armor, we are “able to resist” and “stand firm” (vs. 11, 13, 14), not unlike Pilgrim’s fight against Satan.
We need every part of the armor, for no piece is optional or useless. The parts represent truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and God’s word. While these all belong to God, we are responsible to claim each piece of armor and wear it. God’s armor equips us to “be strong in the Lord” (v. 10)―ready, not only to fight, but to win the battle.
Bunyan’s Pilgrim did not retreat when wounded, because he had no armor on his back. He won that battle by perseverance and the sword of the Spirit. Throughout Christian’s journey to the Celestial City, he kept on his armor. We learn that armor is not like Sunday dress; it’s a daily suit for daily battles.
As pro-lifers, we are prepared: “having girded your loins with truth” (v. 14). This belt of truth is our best weapon and wins when all other tactics fail. Combine truth with the “breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14). The two are inseparable; what’s true is right and good. We stay informed and educated with the truth of the pro-life stand: the facts of conception and abortion. What’s important is how to answer questions and state the position of life against death. Knowing both sides of the argument, we can defend the truth in a peaceful manner. For as we go, our feet are shod “with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (v. 15).
With the shield of faith, we “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (v.16). When Christian was outside the gate that led to the cross, Satan’s fiery darts tried to dissuade him from entering. We have the shield of faith to guard against doubt, denial, and deceit. We don’t give in to spiritual defeat.
I’ve not mentioned two additional pieces of armor: “the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). The helmet of God’s saving power captivates our minds, for our thought patterns need to be centered in the truth―God’s word represented by the sword of the Spirit.
In The Pilgrim’s Progress, Valiant-for-Truth always carried a sword. He’s my favorite character because the sword never left his hand. The word of God’s truth was not a tool to be put down and picked up when danger was present. Instead, his sword was always ready for Valiant to wield with confidence.
Thus, we wear the armor of God with dignity, always prepared to “speak boldly” (v. 20), but “with incorruptible love” (v. 24). We are also not alone in this battle to defend the unborn, for we join forces in our own communities and across the States and around the world. Therefore, it is imperative that we “pray at all times” for each other. As we learn about and know other soldiers, we equip each other to “be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (v. 18). Paul was not hesitant about asking prayer for himself and his work―“to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel” (v. 19). Like Paul, we “ought to speak” (v. 20) up for those who have no voice (Proverbs 31:8-9). This “ought” is a directive, a must.
While we may sometimes feel like Paul, an “ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20), we recall his words to Timothy that the gospel (good news) is not chained (2 Timothy 2:9). The truth cannot be bound, for remember the truth is on our side. Lies live in the darkness, and it’s our duty and privilege to turn on the light of truth and state the facts. We can win the rights of the unborn as we are suited in God’s armor and stand firm in His strength. We reclaim the message of life for all―from the moment of conception to natural death.
Ann Coker volunteered at a pregnancy care center until 2000 when she joined the staff. Today, when COVID-19 restrictions are not in place, she serves as a volunteer receptionist at the Life Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ann has written several other articles for ATCmag.
Photo credits: David Padfield, FreeBibleimages.org