Earle D. Treptow
In the fall of 2015, a few women decided to mount an offensive against the pro-life movement. Turning to social media, they settled on a provocative hashtag still in use a year later: #ShoutYourAbortion. “The era of compulsory silence is ending,” says their website. “Abortion is normal. Our stories are ours to tell. This is not a debate.”
Shocking, right? Disobeying God’s clear command is one thing; shouting it out for all the world to hear is entirely another. To declare it courageous for a woman to end an unwanted child’s life is to rebel against the law God has written on human hearts.
Why do they speak so brazenly about their sin? It’s not that they want to get into a debate about the propriety of their actions. Nor does their brazenness arise primarily from a desire to help the unenlightened see the need for abortion. The issue is far more personal than that. Stated or not, realized or not, they’re trying to evade their consciences. Desperately. Like a child yelling, “I’m not listening! I’m not listening!” they shout: “Abortion is normal. Abortion is necessary. Abortion is courageous.” Shouting out their sin solves the vexing problem of conscience. Their consciences can’t be heard over the racket, and they can continue on a path away from God’s grace.
Pro-abortion advocates aren’t the only ones seeking to evade their consciences. Like dogs instinctively shaking off water after a bath, we sinners desperately want to shake off shame and guilt. Some try to convince themselves that since their actions make them happy, and since God wants them to be happy, their consciences must be mistaken.
Others deal with an accusing conscience by burying their sin out of conscience’s sight. In shame, they go silent. They refuse to talk to anyone about their sin, not even a Christian friend, because they know that Christian friend would look at them differently. They try to wipe what they’ve done from their memory as if, magician-like, they could snap their fingers and make sin and guilt disappear.
We think we’re so clever, devising ways to deal with accusing consciences. But they don’t actually work. There’s only one solution for an accusing conscience, and it’s one we natural-born sinners never could have imagined. The Lord invites you to #ShoutYourSin. Not in defiance or rebellion, standing up for your right to sin. He bids you to #ShoutYourSin to him in confession, even though your conscience will suggest that you’d be a fool to do so. Your conscience, however, doesn’t know God. Not as he truly is. The apostle John tells us what happens when we confess our sins to the holy God: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
So #ShoutYourSin to him, as counterintuitive as that may be. That’s the God-approved way of dealing with an accusing conscience. Get used to the fact that you are a real sinner and then rejoice to know that you have a real Savior. In Jesus’ blood, the Lord takes away your guilt and, in so doing, cleanses your conscience. In peace and joy, you are then free to #ShoutYourSavior for all the world to hear!
Contributing editor Earle Treptow, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Calvary, Thiensville, Wisconsin.
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Author: Earle D. Treptow
Volume 103, Number 11
Issue: November 2016
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