Paul Huxley reviews a new book by former Christian Concern staff member Camilla Olim, For Those Being Crushed: Confronting Our ‘Social Justice’ Blind Spot, Kingdom Publishers, 2021.
After 53 years of the Abortion Act, the womb is not a safe place for children in the UK. New records for abortions seem to be set each year and many do not seem to even consider that terminating a pregnancy means terminating a life.
It’s easy for Christians to be sucked into two errors. One is worldliness – being so immersed in the anti-Christian values prevalent in society that we adopt them as our own. The second is despondency – knowing that abortion culture is a problem but feeling like resistance is futile.
In For Those Being Crushed, Camilla Olim addresses both these problems. Camilla is my friend through previously working at Christian Concern and has poured her efforts since into pro-life activities including CBR UK and the Pregnancy Crisis Helpline.
In her introduction, Camilla explains that the book is not “primarily designed to persuade you to campaign to make abortion illegal” but is “a passionate plea for the Bride of Christ to confront … the effects of our complicity.”
The book does cover some standard ground for Christian pro-life books, looking at when life starts, some of the causes and consequences of abortion. In this sense, it would be helpful for Christians who haven’t considered the topic in detail before.
But as promised, the focus of the book is to address the many Christians who are uneasy with abortion but feel like it’s too big a problem to address and that it’s safer to focus on other issues of justice.
Proverbs 27:6 says, “faithful are the wounds of a friend” and this book often comes across like that. It’s impossible to write truthfully about abortion, or about the Church’s widespread failure to speak or act against this wickedness, without some sections hitting hard. Yet Camilla writes like a friend – raising many serious challenges to our thoughts and actions but always out of love rather than attempting to be sensational.
The first chapter presents the heart of God for children, and particularly the unborn. The simple observation that the unborn child is our neighbour (p.24) is compelling – every Christian knows that we must love our neighbour, but it is rare to hear unborn children included in that category. Would we allow the demolition of our next-door neighbours’ house if we knew them to be asleep within the building? But as Camilla emphasises the need to be moved by the value God gives to the unborn, she turns it on the reader:
“If you do not understand your own value, you will never be mobilised to go to any great lengths to defend the value of another – especially an invisible, totally defenceless other.”
It can be tempting to view such statements as the kind of Disney-esque affirmations that often appeal to Millennials. But Camilla’s words are rooted in the value that God gives to us, and demonstrates on the cross; not our own brilliance. The book has many more pastoral insights and encouragements like this that can provoke reflection even for veteran pro-life campaigners.
The book’s subtitle is “Confronting Our Social Justice Blind Spot” and chapter 5, which addresses this topic, puts a finger firmly onto the Church’s bruise in this area. The Church as a whole is willing to speak and do much on many justice issues, but not abortion, for fear that it is contentious and could offend. In that respect, we are much like the many Christians who did little to support the American Civil Rights movement or even oppose the Nazis as they rose to power in Germany. We easily flatter ourselves into thinking we would have been on the right side of history had we lived in previous periods, but fail to seriously oppose the great injustice our generation faces.
I am convinced that one day, however long it takes, abortion will be unthinkable, just as Camilla prays at the end of the book. Will Christians be judged to be too quiet and too slow in acting to change the cultural tide?
This book can help us avoid that fate. It will particularly help Christians who already have some pro-life convictions but feel discouraged or afraid to speak, but will also be useful for church leaders as they consider how to speak about what is an uncomfortable issue for many.
You can buy your copy of For Those Being Crushed from Kingdom Publishers.