The Sin of Remaining Silent – and Doing Nothing

Far too many people – Christians included – think they are doing OK if they just mind their own business, don’t do a lot of bad things, and just get on with life. Most people operate this way: they take pride in the fact that they have not killed anyone or done other overtly evil things.

But of course biblically speaking, there are sins of omission just as there are sins of commission. What we don’t do is equally important to what we do in fact do. When we know we should do something but fail to do it, that for us is sin.

Remaining silent and inactive about evil when we have a chance to make a difference is not just cowardly, but sinful. We are called to be proactive in promoting that which is good and resisting that which is evil. Apathy, fence-sitting and refusal to engage are not options for the biblical Christian.

Let me give you examples of the need to both speak and act. As for speaking out, consider this scenario: You have a neighbour who is beating his wife. You know this for a fact: you can hear the blows, hear her screams, and see her battered face and body the following day.

This has been happening for some time now. Do you have a responsibility to speak out about this? You sure do. Sure, how you speak and to whom may be a matter of debate. It may be risky for you to directly intervene when such an assault – often fuelled by alcohol – is occurring.

Calling the police may be the wisest course of action here. But one way or another, you cannot remain silent. To do so is not only sinful, but you may eventually find that you have the blood of a dead woman on your hands. You will then be asked, “Why did you not speak up about this sooner? Why did you remain silent when this great evil was taking place?”

Let me also offer an example of the need to act. Let’s say you see a toddler next door playing outside, and there on the ground near him is a hypodermic needle, left behind from some druggies shooting up the night before. The toddler is heading for it, sure to pick it up and play with it.

You are standing close by. Do you not have a moral obligation to act here? Surely not just the Christian thing but the right thing to do here would be to act, to intervene. Simply grabbing the needle and disposing of it before this toddler can potentially harm himself or worse would be the proper course of action.

So let me now provide an obvious example of an evil which all Christians need to both speak about and act upon. I refer to our abortion genocide which is slaughtering millions of unborn babies each year – some 45-50 million a year to be more precise.

Some 100,000 a year are being killed in Australia. Is it enough – especially for Christians – to simply say, ‘Well I am not performing abortions, so I am OK’? Is it enough to think that because you do not work at an abortion mill, your hands are therefore clean here?

I don’t think so. When known, obvious and blatant evil is taking place right under our noses, remaining silent and doing nothing just are not options for the believer. Surely at the very least we need to speak up. We need to be willing to discuss the horrors of abortion by any and all means possible.

And there are so many things we can actually do as well. Of course no one can do everything. Nor are we called to do everything. But we each have a role to play. I do not spend my time praying outside of abortion mills, or activities like that.

My role is in writing, researching, lobbying and acting as a watchman. But there are so many things we can do. We each must pray and seek God as to how we can work against this horrendous evil. The sky is really the limit here. We all can do something – even if our main job is prayer and intercession.

But so many options are available here: telling others; warning; lobbying; interceding; sidewalk counselling; working in pregnancy help centres; setting up crisis pregnancy ministries in your church; etc. There is so much that can be done. Simply getting your church involved is a good first step.

Let people in your congregation know about the basics of abortions. Get some good pro-life books in the church library. Get pro-life tracts and literature into the hands of your fellow members. Encourage your pastor to speak on this topic.

Once awareness is raised, form a prayer and action group. Pray about the abortion mills in your own neighbourhood. Pray about the needy girls who are being forced to have an abortion. Seek to set up a practical help ministry to assist those who are pregnant and seem to have no viable options.

A ministry designed to help scared, lonely pregnant young women for example is of tremendous value. We need to make it real practical. Offer them a place for food, shelter and clothing. Look at options such as adoption once the baby is born.

It is simply not good enough to tell the frightened girl whose boyfriend has run out on her and whose parents are demanding an abortion or else, that abortion is sinful. This girl needs practical help – desperately, and right away. Every sizable church should have a vital ministry like this.

If not however, you can get involved with groups who are doing these sorts of things. There are plenty such groups we can refer to here. Let me mention just one: The Babes Project in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs is helping plenty of women, and seeing many babies being saved.

A group like this needs prayer support. It needs financial support. And it needs helpers, volunteers, and other practical forms of assistance. Why not get in touch with them and see if you can be of help. Their site is here:

Obviously many other groups like this exist and need your support. But the point is, with the great evil of abortion, silence is simply not an option. Nor is inactivity. We are all called to be salt and light here. We are all called to stand up for the defenceless, the innocent, and the oppressed.

Each of us can have a role to play here. So stop making excuses and start asking God what you can do. Or at the very least, ask God what you can say on behalf of the unborn. But know that refusal to speak or to act is in fact sin for you. Let me close with the words of Bonhoeffer.

He paid with his life for his beliefs, so he has some real credibility here. He said this: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

[1188 words]

35 Replies to “The Sin of Remaining Silent – and Doing Nothing”

  1. I completely agree. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
    ? Edmund Burke

    “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
    ? Edmund Burke

    “Liberty does not exist in the absence of morality.”
    ? Edmund Burke

    Jo Deller

  2. I see the Australian Women’s Weekly has put out a guide promoting divorce! From now on I will boycott their products. What next, a Women’s Weekly guide to abortion?

    Nina Blondel

  3. Nina I boycotted the Weekly after they ran several stories promoting prostitution as a lifestyle and gay parenting.

    Jo Deller

  4. Oh and they’re promoting the guide to divorce as a Father’s Day gift!

    Nina Blondel

  5. There are so many issues we must speak out about and abortion is number one. It is discouraging when organisations go weak-kneed on important matters. Family First have shown their true colours. They have put the Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party before anti SSM stalwart Cory Bernardi who they preference at 48 in South Australia.

    Des Morris

  6. I`m glad you`ve confronted me again Bill.
    Also love the line “But of course biblically speaking, there are sins of omission just as there are sins of commission.”

    Johannes Archer

  7. Dear Bill, I note the comment about Right to Life Australia. I know that Cherish Life Queensland is not a Catholic Organisation, but appeals to all Queenslanders of whatever background to promote the right of unborn to be born. Many members are Catholics, Protestants, atheists or whatever. One famous person who spoke against abortion was a very famous atheist. The pro-life movement is definitely not exclusively Catholic.
    Regards, Franklin Wood

  8. Thanks Franklin

    I of course never said that the pro-life movement was exclusively Catholic. I simply made a true statement about one particular group.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. I was pleased to find uploaded to Youtube the rare documentary series ‘Whatever Happened To The Human Race?’ by Francis Schaeffer and Dr Everett Koop. As someone who was one of the first evangelicals to speak out against abortion, infanticide and euthanasia this somewhat dated presentation continues to herald Schaeffer’s prophetic message in a powerful way.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Part 4

    Part 5

    Iain Duncan

  10. I’m a Protestant Evangelical and I’m on the Right to Life Australia management committee so I can confirm it’s not an exclusively Catholic organisation! It’s ecumenical but does have majority Catholic involvement.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  11. What a great article, Bill!
    It is so easy to just say no to something bad, but harder to do the hard yards and fully not only present in theory, but in practicle terms the positive alternative to that which we are against.
    Thank you.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  12. Bill, down to earth writings. It is not only abortions that we must stand against! The broken family is the main culprit.
    Get the family and order and see more love, security and united families
    Yes, we are to stand up and speak our Lords Truth.

    Instead of finishing with the words of another writer, what Bible verse could you have finished with?
    Hosea 4 v 6 My people perish because of lack of knowledge.
    Judith Bond

  13. Bill, Giving a public talk last night on the meaning of family – it does not surprise me how ignorant people are of the facts.
    1. Number of Abortions in Australia
    2. Percentage of Homosexuals in society
    3. Sexual abuse of our children – the unspoken epidemic in society
    I have valued your work and books (I keep giving them away) on providing such quality research. As you can guess homosexual marriage came up, my comment was that most probably less than 0.1% of the population will ever do it. Abbot was right when he said it is not the most important priority.
    Abortion and sexual abuse are much higher priorities!
    I liked Judith’s bible verse Hosea 4v6.
    Perhaps a little fact card might be one way to simplify the message in the world of sound bites!

    Charles Northcote

  14. Amen to that.
    With a federal election looming, what about a piece on sins of omission resulting from a lack of involvement in the political process?
    Dunstan Hartley

  15. Bill – when would be a tipping point for action against abortion mills that are more violent (but far less violent than them), such as the destruction of the buildings they use? Or some other sabotage? This is genocide, after all, and it can be argued quite fairly that violent action against the Nazi’s genocide was just, for an example.
    Nathan Keen

  16. Thanks Nathan

    That is a question that must be answered with care. Blocking abortion mills may be a chosen action by some. Destroying property – even evil property – is another matter. The bad press from such actions may greatly harm the cause. We must carefully and prayerfully think about how we can stop the abortion killings. Obviously violence to persons would defeat our purpose. Right now they offer legal killing. Can we use illegal means to stop it? So no easy answers here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  17. The unsuccessful assassination attempt on Hitler ended in the torture and death of many well-meaning innocent people. We don’t know what would have happened, had it been successful. The attempt was so carefully planned and thought through and yet failed due to the bomb being on the wrong side of a strong table support. I am not going to interpret what it might mean, but we must learn from history and from God’s word first. Peter had a sword in the garden when Jesus was arrested and I believe it was even at Jesus’s command, but what happened was more to show God’s grace and forgiveness even in the grossest injustice rather than to prevent that gross injustice from taking place. I would desire nothing more than having all killing mills shut down over night, regardless of how, but what is God’s way? He definitely want us on our knees, that is all I know for sure.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  18. Thanks Abraham. There would be plenty, both direct and indirect. How about this one for starters?

    Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

  19. So when it comes to this upcoming election, it is okay to sit out and do nothing? I think not.

  20. Dear Bill, this is the best article on pro life [and I have read many] I have ever read. Will pass this on to others. Thank you for convicting all of us.

  21. I think articles like this can help people to raise their voice and take action against wrong.

  22. Not a squeak from the leaders in our church about the Euthanasia Bill here in Tasmania (which, sadly, was passed by a majority in Parliament last week.) Instead, they were busily fussing about whether we should cover up the images of Christ in the stained glass windows!
    Yes, I have expressed my disappointment and frustration at this. My note to the elders included references to Matthew 23:23, 24 and Matthew 5:13-16, and I added a list of the issues we should be addressing (euthanasia, abortion, transgenderism, child abuse, homosexual “marriage” and pornography.) And I also added Peter Barnes’ advice to “preach the whole counsel of God”.
    Surprisingly, prayer in today’s service included some of those very issues!
    And here was me thinking before church today, I may have been a little too outspoken.

  23. This is the word of God that I see over and over being done by people who don’t want to get involved and are doing just like you share here. They are responsible to God and He does not miss one time when we look the other way. I find among other scriptures the one in Ezekiel makes it as plain as anyone should need it to see where God stands on ignoring evil and turning our back on it. Thank you for your words and your stand!

    Ezekiel 33:6 “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.”

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