What Christians (and the church) can learn from Planned Parenthood

It’s been a rough week at the Grcevich house. My wife volunteers around 30 hours/week  as the Board President of the Susan G. Komen Regional Affiliate in Northeast Ohio. The local Komen organizations do the lion’s share of fund raising for the local breast cancer screening and prevention services the charity offers to poor women without the money or insurance coverage to access help. The regional affiliates had little to do with the decisions that were made this past week by Komen’s national leadership in response to the firestorm of protest from Planned Parenthood supporters after word leaked that Komen planned not to renew grants to centers unable to provide mammograms or organizations under investigation by the U.S. Government. Volunteers with the Komen regional organizations would be very appreciative of your prayers and encouragement. This week wasn’t exactly a 30 hour volunteer week for my wife.

Observing Komen’s ordeal this past week, I will admit a strange admiration for the passion and ruthless effectiveness Planned Parenthood and its’ supporters demonstrated in their crusade to destroy an organization they viewed as a threat to their mission. I’d compare it to same admiration I’ve developed for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they’ve consistently beaten up our local football team and taken their lunch money on a regular basis for most of my adult lifetime. Just to clarify…I’m not a supporter of either the Steelers or Planned Parenthood. I become intensely frustrated watching both organizations in action. Here’s my source of frustration…

Why can’t Christians be as bold and confident in advancing our cause as the Planned Parenthood folks and other “progressive” organizations are in advancing theirs?

What can we learn from having watched Planned Parenthood in action?

They were fearless. Did anyone else notice how Planned Parenthood supporters demonstrated no hesitation in posting personal comments on Facebook and in other social media promoting their cause, while many Christian friends back down from championing causes they believe in when they fear others might be critical?

They worked together. Their organization unleashed their supporters in social media at the same time as their friends in the media launched a blizzard of news stories supporting their position and 26 senators backing their cause contacted the national Komen Board.

They played to win. The folks from Planned Parenthood weren’t going to stop until they accomplished their goal. They certainly intended to go after Komen’s corporate sponsors, enlisted the support of local politicians to hinder Komen’s regional fundraising by denying public permits for large events such as the Race for the Cure, and undoubtedly would have launched noisy and dramatic protests at Komen events to attract media attention.

So…Why can’t Christians do that?…albeit with considerably more grace?

I’ve been reading through the Book of Acts this month. Where in the world did Christians get the idea from that we should be meek or timid in standing up for what we believe in?

Look at the main characters in Acts…Peter, John, Stephen, Cornelius, Barnabus, Paul. All of them were absolutely fearless in proclaiming Jesus at the risk of their lives.

There was one passage in particular that’s stuck with me during the week:

They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Acts 14:21-22 (NIV)

I’d glossed over that passage before, but never really thought about what happened to Paul and Barnabus on their first loop through those cities. Here’s a reminder…

But the Jewish leaders incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city (Antioch). They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium.

Acts 13:50-51 (NIV)

The people of the city (Iconium) were divided; some sided with the Jews, others with the apostles. There was a plot afoot among both Gentiles and Jews, together with their leaders, to mistreat them and stone them. But they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country, where they continued to preach the gospel.

Acts 14:4-7 (NIV)

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city (Lystra), thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

Acts 14:19-20 (NIV)

So Paul and Barnabus returned to Antioch after being persecuted, Iconium after fleeing when they discovered a plot to stone them, and Lystra after Paul was stoned and left for dead! And there are folks who are afraid to speak up for their faith or champion a cause consistent with Jesus’ commands to care for the most vulnerable in society because they’re concerned about offending others or being “defriended” on Facebook?

We’re called to always be prepared to give an answer for the reason we hope in Christ with gentleness and respect, but why are we so timid?

I’m sick and tired of timid, half-hearted efforts from our church leaders and fellow Christians that leave the world around us unchanged. I’m sick of folks wanting to “play it safe” and allowing the enemies of the Gospel to define who we are, as Komen’s leadership allowed themselves to be defined by the media and Planned Parenthood’s supporters. I’m sick of waiting for professional Christians to lead. Among the early leaders of the church, only Paul had formal religious training for his position. Jesus selected twelve guys with everyday jobs to establish the church that continues to this day. And I’m sick and tired of us not being able to work together to do the work of the Kingdom.

Key Ministry will play to win. The stakes are too high. And that’s what we can learn from Planned Parenthood this week.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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11 Responses to What Christians (and the church) can learn from Planned Parenthood

  1. Wanda says:

    An awesome post.

    Just discussing with friends at dinner tonight
    [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. [5] As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV)

    Our churches and ministries are weakened because I believe we are in these days – so there are fewer of us to stand strong.

    Throughout the Old Testament you see that when the leaders were strong and walked with God the people were strong and walked with God. Thank you for being a strong leader and leading with this challenge.

    God bless

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  4. SNAPPIN' MINISTRIES says:

    Steve, this is a wonderfully, powerful post! And you do well at identifying the key components to their success. I would say that the challenge in Christian community is the pervasive lie that “Good Christians are always nice or they’re sinning.” I have actually had an influential woman in Christian life read me the riot act on the phone for 45 minutes because I stood up in an unjust political situation. Fortunately, I immerse myself in God’s word daily and have enough personal experience where I could eventually come through the situation spiritually unscathed. That’s not always so for Christians who are weaker. I think in order to answer your call for the church to rise up, we need to commit ourselves unwaveringly to daily time in the word and prayer. That’s how we fall passionately in love with Jesus and find ourselves willing to do anything He calls us to do!

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  5. sweetenlife says:

    Steve, I have wondered about these issues for a long time. PP does not worry about the truth nor are they interested in the people. involved. I have run up against some religious organizations that played like PP and they are just as vicious, mean spirited and unforgiving. You and I are dedicated to saving lives and they are dedicated to killing babies, especially black babies. I try to carry out the commands of Jesus in Luke 10 when He said to “Go out among wolves as lambs.” I am often tired of being lamb like when it seems the wolves do not play fairly. We try to evangelize the lost, including many PP workers and kindness leads people to repentance.

    Go Lambs, GO!

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    • drgrcevich says:

      Gary,

      But keep reading…these were pretty powerful lambs

      I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. (Luke 10:19)

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  6. Ethan says:

    Very well argued and thought out, and this from me, a liberal (I find progressive to be too wimpy) who engaged in many of the actions you described this week! Although, I would not call Planned PArenthood ruthless, but rather motivated and passionate in their advocacy, as all groups would be. I was interested to read your take on Christian groups being timid or not willing to lead. From my point of view, I have always perceived the opposite, in terms of the effectiveness the groups like Focus on the Family, the Moral Majority, the Christian Coalition, have had on influencing politics and even the political conversation. As an individual with deep and fundamental disagreements with these organizations, I have always been concerned with how “good” they are i nterms of getting what they want, so I was surprised by your take. Very interesting. I hope everyone from both sides stands up and fights for what they believe in. There is certainly nothing more American than that. I am sorry that your wife had a rough week based on something that she had nothing to do with, and will be be even more sorry if the events of the past week negatively affect women’s health. My mother’s sister died of breast cancer, and I am sure she would be gratified to hear that someone with your wife’s talents is advocating for women in need. As usual, love the blog!

    Like

    • drgrcevich says:

      Ethan,

      Thanks for lending your perspective. It’s interesting that the organizations you described are either moribund, or have shifted priorities and strategies…Focus on the Family is markedly less political under its’ new leadership and the Moral Majority is about as relevant these days as the “Nuclear Freeze” folks who used to sell cookies at my med school to stop the arms race during the Reagan era. Some influential Christian leaders (David Kinnamon, Gabe Myers, Georga Barna) recognized that the emphasis on politics was becoming a significant obstacle to the church’s primary mission…developing followers of Jesus.

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  7. Craig Smith says:

    Christians don’t evangelize because they don’t believe in what they are doing. Yeah, we go to church and sing and quote scriptures. But too few do what Jesus did: help others.
    It is too easy to bask in our luxury. Too easy to stay “too busy”.

    Like

  8. Craig Smith says:

    A lot of well planned plays in the Superbowl aren’t going to work. Players are going to get knocked down. Some are going to lose. Some are going to get up, get back on the line and win.

    Like

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