God’s law and man’s law

[notice]A monthly column by the Editor of Gateway News.[/notice]

Recently I heard a radio discussion in which Christians were asked to set an example by obeying the petty laws that many people consider to be unimportant. Breaking minor laws leads to more serious transgressions and so contributes to the culture of lawlessness in South Africa, it was argued. Christians could help to change the culture by respecting every law. It was pointed out that by adopting a policy of zero tolerance to petty misdemeanours in the 90s, New York slashed serious crime in the city.

This all sounds well and good and offences like littering, parking on yellow lines, walking across the road when the “red man” is displaying, and speeding (which is not the minor offence that we like to think it is!) spring to mind. But the example that received most attention in the radio discussion was ‘well-meaning Christians’ who had recently placed their pro-life stickers over illegal abortion stickers on municipal property in Parow, Cape Town. A local law representative in the studio said that the Christians were breaking a bylaw that prohibits unauthorised advertising on municipal property.The Christians should rather help the local authority to clean-up by removing the illegal posters, he said.

Well, well! This opens an interesting debate. The radio station was no doubt acting in good faith and making a valid appeal for Christians to be exemplary in upholding the law. But they had not spoken to the Christian pro-life activists about their sticker campaign; perhaps their comments might have been different if they had. The local law representative had a different agenda because the City of Cape Town and the pro-life group were already at loggerheads over the issue — a dispute that has been reported in Gateway News in recent weeks. (See Pro-life activists continue sticker campaign despite prosecution warning and City of Cape Town warns pro-life activists .)

A Value Life sticker.

City officials resolutely maintain that the pro-lifers are in breach of the bylaw and have emailed written warnings to Value Life campaign spokesman Peter Throp that they will be prosecuted if they continue with their sticker campaign. They dismiss Throp’s view that they are not breaking the law because they are placing their small, self-adhesive, easy-peel stickers on top of the illegal advertisements and not directly onto city property.

Throp has, with others, manually removed stickers over a period of two years only to see them being replaced by more. During this time he has repeatedly urged local authorities to deal with the problem. After the recent prosecution warnings he emailed the Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, urging her to see the bigger picture and to support the initiative which is aimed at protecting girls and women from being butchered and even killed by illegal abortionists. In the email he says his conscience dictates that he must continue with the sticker campaign in view of the local authority’s inability to remove the abortion advertisements.

A higher calling
Thorp has in fact sought legal advice and believes that he is acting lawfully. But he has also made it clear that his actions are motivated by a higher calling to be obedient to God. The first apostles kept on preaching the Gospel despite being ordered by authorities not to do so. We admire missionaries who smuggle bibles into countries that have outlawed the word of God. We honour Christians who establish underground churches against the orders of their rulers. Should we not honour Throp and his team members whose campaign is aimed at defending the defenceless?

In an email sent to Gateway News Throp’s wife Terry, says Peter went out yesterday morning to place stickers over offensive advertising. She says he expected to be arrested but he was able to place 300 stickers. His actions were however observed by two public safety officers in Parow, and by public safety officers in Belville — on two separate occasions, and by two metro officers who watched from their van as he placed stickers over offending ads on an electricity sub station.

She says that in Belville a public safety officer followed Throp, removing the Value Life stickers he had just put up. Throp told him to stop but he said he had been instructed to do so. Throp then told him to rather pull the abortion stickers off!

It seems that Mayor de Lille, who has a reputation as a brave campaigner against injustice, now finds herself presiding over a bizarre situation in which there seem to be plenty of officers on the ground to police pro-lifers but no capacity to arrest the backyard abortionists or rid the city of their evil advertisements.

But of course the problem is not restricted to Cape Town. Cities and towns throughout South Africa are littered with illegal abortion posters. This has been going on for years. One does not hear of arrests or convictions and no doubt the criminals who put up their stickers at night are difficult to apprehend. But as Throp has asked, why have their cellphone accounts not been cancelled to protect their victims? Where are the special investigation units?  Where is the will of local and national authorities — and for that matter of us, the Church — to fight and overcome this evil?

I for one salute Throp and the Value Life campaign for saying “enough is enough” and taking peaceful action.


  1. Thanks for the interesting article.I could be persuaded to support Thorp but I first want to know exactly what is written on his stickers.There are thousands of Christian groups around preaching and doing very opposite things, all believing that God told them so. Galations 5:6 tells us that only faith working through love achieves the correct result. Reacting to evil without love, only brings about more pain and confusion. Stickers that are condemning, will only help our common enemy. In a nation where rape is epidemic, stickers should also offer practical care and help, otherwise they will only drive the hurting further away from God’s love.

    • Dear Barry, If you observe the ‘Value Life’ Sticker which is displayed in the editorial, you will see that it makes three statements of truth. i.e. Abortion is evil…Value Life…and Nothing is politically right if it is morally wrong. These three statements are given in love in truth. Hence the ‘L’ is in red, reminding us of Our Lord’s sacrifice so that we may have everlasting life providing we obey and live by God’s given moral nature. The 180 website refers to a short pro life movie which enlightens as to what a holocaust abortion is and an insult to God’s wonderful gift of life. The abort73 website has been around for many years and has good information to help potential victims. But above all, it contains a document ‘The Biblical mandate to do something about abortion’ This document uses God’s Word, the Bible, as a foundation of truth. And that is what our mission on earth is. We are to spread the Gospel and the Gospel is Truth.
      There are no grey area with God. Matthew 12 : 30 & Luke 11 : 23

  2. Bruce Barthorpe

    I read with interest your report. I live in Ontario Canada. In our cities and towns NO stickers or signage are permitted anywhere without a written permit. Culprits will be arrested or fined on the spot. This is strictly enforced. We also have laws that permit legal abortion, so there is a strong pro-life movement who oppose this culture. Nothing new–the culture of death is in vogue in many countries where God and Christianity has been “outlawed”. I am pro-life, so would like to hear from your city authority person why abortion posters are not removed and the culprits treated apprehended the same as Mr Throp. All I read are excuses. Mr Throp doesn’t “stick” at night, only during the day. Abortion stickers are erected at night because these people do not want to be seen and caught. This smacks of prejudice and cowardice from city officials. The sounds of silence thunder from the Mayor and staff when challenged to explain–why abortion “doctors” are permitted to operate; and—
    why not one person has been arrested while illegally pasting abortion stickers onto Council property.
    A suggestion for Council— Stop victimising Mr Throp. Put maximum efforts in pursuing the real culprits AND put them out of business. Result? You win—clean poles, cleaner looking city, these so called “doctors” are identified and arrested if they are breaking the law—medical or criminal.

  3. Hugh G Wetmore

    This report raises two important matters for Christians to study and act upon. 1) Discrimination – Constitution 2.9.(3)- the state is not treating Throp in the same way as it is treating the illegal abortion doctors. All have broken the law. All must be punished equally. 2) Civil Disobedience. Doing what is right in God’s sight, even though it is breaking a man-made law. Because Rom 13 tells us to submit (not obey) to human government, to choose civil disobedience is to choose the consequent punishment – not avoid it.

  4. Robin Pesencie

    This reminds me of how someone that used to walk around at 2 am in the morning and spray-painted the local abortion clinic’s rubbish bin advertisements…I am just glad that he/she limited the power of the sublime suggestion to these ads that were placed on the corners of busy roads.