I pastor a small, four-year-old Baptist church plant in Reykjavík, and I know the feeling. Because we hold on to a biblical view on sexuality, abortion, and life in general, we are viewed as a strange minority, almost as sardines trying to swim against the heavy current of modern thinking. To me, that’s nothing new. In almost every era the church has been viewed as strange, so we stand on truth, remembering where our strength, joy, and hope comes from.
We see that those churches without Scripture as their highest authority have slowly made themselves irrelevant, and society around them has developed a morality based on no foundation at all.
Abortions have skyrocketed over the past 55 years; between 1960 and 2014 (the most recent year statistics were available), total numbers of births dropped by a few hundred, while the number of abortions shot up to over 900 a year—17 times as many as decades before.
Iceland has also become the world leader in out-of-wedlock births per capita; in recent years, less than a third of babies in Iceland are born to married parents. Our country also sits as the sixth-most atheistic nation in the world and has recently been dubbed “the most godless country in Europe.”
Ultimately abortions are antithetical to the gospel message the church proclaims, as we marvel over the fact that Jesus says to undeserving sinners: “I will lay my life down for my sheep,” and so he did, taking on our sin and shame, and the debt that stood against us and nailing it to the cross. Abortion instead demands of an innocent life, “You will lay your life down for me.”
This is the time for the Icelandic church to find its strength in the Lord and preach the precious gospel entrusted to us to proclaim. The way to counter Iceland’s “elimination” of Down syndrome and culture of abortion will come through the Lord. He will transform hearts of individuals that will transform a nation, and he has allowed his church to take part in his work here.
We have our work cut out for us. As pro-life advocates around the globe discussed Iceland’s abortion rate for Down syndrome, our country was wrapping up a festival called “Hinsegin dagar,” or “Different Days,” which includes Reykjavik’s gay pride celebration. Contrasting the approach to Down syndrome with this week-long event dedicated to celebrating diversity, I was struck by the narrow kind of diversity our nation has opted to champion.
When society forfeits its appeal to a higher authority and gives itself to humanistic morality, the Christian belief that all have value as image bearers of the one true God of the universe becomes the exception.
Pray that the church in Iceland would boldly take a stance for truth. As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I pray that we would follow Luther’s example. When asked to recant his teachings, he responded, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.”