By Randy C. Davis
TBMB President & Executive Director
You may recall that back in August I had the opportunity to represent Tennessee Baptists before a special study committee comprised of Tennessee Senators tasked with more comprehensively reviewing pro-life legislation that had been proposed during last year’s legislative session. The bill being considered was in essence what has become known as a “heartbeat bill;” legislation that would protect unborn babies once a heartbeat is detected. Many surrounding states, and other states around the country, have passed similar legislation.
However, there were many concerns expressed with that legislation and it was moved to a summer senate study committee. In the process, the bill that was being considered was reworked and the proposed legislation for which I advocated is titled SB 1236. It potentially represents one of the most – if not the most – comprehensive piece of pro-life legislation ever written. It clearly protects life from the point of conception, even before a heartbeat is detected. For everyone who recognizes God as the author of life, SB 1236 undoubtedly embodies an opportunity to legally protect unborn children in a way that hasn’t been possible since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.
And this is where Tennessee Baptists must rally to the cause.
I believe we stand at a “Joshua” moment. In Joshua 23, Joshua assembled all the people to deliver his final admonition. He recounted their history and how good God had been to them, but they faced a critical moment of choosing. He then delivered one of the most significant challenges in all Scripture: “…Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Friends, we must rally for such a time as this. You did that in July in advance of my senate appearance. In a matter of a couple of weeks, nearly 20,000 of you signed a petition asking the senate study committee to send the bill back to the full senate with the recommendation that it approve the bill and send it to the governor to become law. The binder I took with your names in it sent a clear visual message that Tennessee Baptists stand for life. Then in November at our Tennessee Baptist Convention, messengers affirmed a resolution overwhelmingly and unanimously supporting SB 1236. Now it is time to take the next step.
The 2020 legislative session opens at noon next Tuesday (Jan. 14). I am asking you to contact your senators by phone and by e-mail (see the contact information here or download printable list here) and let them know that you stand for life in Tennessee and that you want them to as well. Tennessee Baptists are nearly a million strong across our state and this is an issue upon which we must be heard. Our legislators face intense pressure from abortion proponents that includes entertainment celebrities like Taylor Swift and many others, and from organizations like the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, Google, Amazon and many more who are threatening economic reprisals against the state if SB 1236 passes.
I appealed to our senators at the hearing not to be bullied by threat of economic boycott and reminded them of their moral responsibility before God and the people of Tennessee. I pointed out that history will record this moment and that their legacies as public servants rests on, “being someone who stood for life and turned back the murderous tide of abortion.” I encouraged them to resist being counted among those who “traded lives for economic development.”
But this moment is no less poignant for us as followers of Christ and lovers of life created in the image of God. How will our posterity remember us? Will we be remembered as people who rallied to the moment and did all we could in support of life? Will our actions in this moment enable some future child who grows to adulthood to be able to thank us because they had the chance to live?
Here is what we must do.
Pray. Make praying for our leaders and the passage of SB 1236 a priority for you, your church and your Bible-study group. It will take a miracle for our Senate to pass this bill, but God is a miracle working God.
Contact senators personally. Be respectful (after all you represent the Lord) but ask your senator and the others to vote for SB 1236. Let them know its passage is vitally important to you. Call, then follow up with an e-mail.
Tennessee Baptists, we must do more than silently stand for life, we must mobilize and be heard. Thanks for your participation so far, and thanks in advance for rallying in support of unborn children in Tennessee. For information regarding I Stand for Life, including a downloadable list of state senators, visit IStandForLife.org.
It is my joy to be on this journey with you.