In recent weeks, one California politician running for office launched an ad campaign involving the placement of multiple billboards in several states. The message? Come to California and get an abortion.
One of the billboards is especially offensive due to its misappropriation of Scripture. The sign reads, “Need an abortion? California is ready to help.” In small letters, the ad cites Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these” (Mark 12:31). The billboard misrepresents the Scriptures as well as what it means to love. Here’s why.
In Mark 12, Jesus is answering challenges by the religious establishment. In verse 28, an expert in the law asks Jesus a legal question, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus says,
The foremost is, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:29–31)
Notice the “love your neighbor” command quoted on the billboard is the second of two commands Jesus lists. You see, the command to love one’s neighbor flows out of the command to love the one and true God. The second only makes sense in light of the first. You can’t have love for your neighbor without love for God because God gives us the objective standard by which we judge right from wrong, love from hate. That objective standard is God’s moral law.
In Mark 12, Jesus is telling people to follow God’s law. Specifically, Jesus is summing up the Ten Commandments: “Love God. Love neighbor.” So actually, the billboard’s creator is appealing to his constituency to follow the law of their Creator, which brings us to the next point.
What’s the sixth commandment? “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13). Every abortion results in the taking of an innocent human life. It’s murder. This offensive billboard is a complete contradiction.
There’s more, though. The law of God gives us our moral standard in life, including the standard of what love is, which is the second thing this billboard confuses.
Loving our neighbor means doing to them as we would have them do to us. It means not harming them. It means wanting the best for them. It means caring for them. It means walking with them through difficult situations.
How does providing unfettered access to abortion constitute love? The unborn are our neighbors, too. Abortion is the opposite of loving your neighbor, which is what the billboard calls its readers to do. Abortion is evidence that we aren’t loving our neighbors. Instead, we’re asking our neighbors to choose violence by severing the mother-child relationship, which is the most fundamental human relationship.
The care offered by these signs is not care at all, and it’s most definitely not love. Caring for women in the throes of a crisis means walking with them, offering financial, emotional, and spiritual support. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is love. The loving thing to do would be to lay our own lives down in support of women as mothers, not point them in the direction of killing their child.
Why not ask these women if they feel like abortion is their only option? How about offering education to these women so they know there are alternatives? Why not offer real support for women who choose to give birth to their child?
I’m saddened. My heart breaks for people who believe Jesus would at all support or condone what these ads are representing and what abortion really is. If a society is judged on how it cares for its most vulnerable, California and its leadership are failing.
I’m not surprised. Some people love darkness and know nothing of the love of God. They don’t know about trusting a sovereign Lord. When the world acts like the world, remember you’re not dealing with light. You’re dealing with darkness. When darkness is dark, stay focused on your task. Be the light.