From the Pastor’s Pen . . .
Life after Roe v. Wade
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you . . . .”
The recent six-to-three decision by the justices of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade is truly historic. Admittedly, I never thought I’d see the day, given the trajectory of the moral and political climate in our country. Nonetheless, millions of us have seen our prayers answered, and for this we praise the Lord.
The Court’s decision, not surprisingly, has unleashed a firestorm of protest and brought the matter of abortion to the forefront of national awareness, Clearly, the battle to save the lives of the unborn is not over; in many ways, it has just begun. Strictly speaking, the Court’s decision did not outlaw abortion, take away any constitutionally affirmed right, or even express a binding opinion on the legality or morality of the practice. It simply remanded the matter back to the states to be adjudicated by the states’ legislatures and courts.
So why the protests and rage? One source of the rage is political. Though many of my generation and older find it inconceivable, there is definitely a widespread movement seeking the destruction of the United States as we know it, and ultimately, the end of Western Civilization. Even a cursory explanation of that movement is far beyond what can be addressed in this space. For now, let it suffice to say that the movement is an expression of Marxist revolutionary thinking that seeks to eliminate our democratic republic and replace it with a form of Marxist socialism. In order to do this, it has to destroy the nation’s cultural foundations—history, religion, philosophy, work ethic, and the traditional family—and replace it with a culture that acknowledges no authority higher than the government.
Of course, there are many other reasons for the passion surrounding the abortion debate. For one, the prospect of abortion is a very emotional matter that usually comes to the fore at a very vulnerable point in one’ life. For many women, deciding whether to keep or abort their baby is the most difficult and consequential decision of their lives. Much of the anger is the product of rebellion and repressed guilt that finds it preferable to rage against God’s righteous standard regarding the sacredness of life—indeed, even against the very idea of God himself—than to embrace His standard and turn to Him for forgiveness.
Some question if the Bible really has anything to say about abortion (it does). I have even heard some attempt to argue that the Bible actually supports abortion (it does not). Although one may search in vain to find the word “abortion” in Scripture, the Bible speaks clearly to the more fundamental question, namely, “When does the conceptus in the womb become a person made in the image of God,” and therefore subject to all the privileges that inhere in that noble status? Answer: At the moment of conception. Again and again, Scripture speaks of the baby in the womb as a child, a unique person known to God, having a unique identity, and a potential future (see Lu 1:41-44; Ps 51:5, 191:13; Pr 2:16; Gen 25:22–23; et al.). Further biblical evidence that the baby in the womb is a unique person is found in the Mosaic law (e.g., Ex 21:22–25). In commenting on this passage theologian Wayne Grudem concludes, “God established for Israel a law code that placed a higher value on protecting the life of a pregnant woman and her preborn child than the life of anyone else in Israelite society.”
Advancements in science have helped both to clarify and to complicate many of the issues surrounding abortion. On the one hand, advances in ultrasound imaging technology and genetics have only strengthened the biblical view that personhood begins at conception. Major strides in neonatal care and treatment have significantly lowered the age of viability into regions unimaginable only a few decades ago. On the other hand, the ability to identify certain serious birth defects early (and sometimes even predict them) has confronted parents with decisions they never would have faced only a decade ago. Careful studies in Christian ethics have brought clarity in many possible scenarios (e.g., abortion may be morally permissible in cases of severe birth defects where life outside the womb is impossible; abortion is morally permissible in cases where the death of mother and child is medically certain if the child is carried to term). We should remain mindful, however, that ethical clarity does not necessarily remove the emotional trauma that often accompanies decisions concerning the lives of mother and child.
What, then, should Christians do in the wake of the Supreme Court decision? First, it is incumbent upon believers to be clear-headed, Christ-centered, and well prepared for the debate that is certain to ensue. As believers, we possess neither the wisdom nor authority to modify the standards that God has established, but Christian love and compassion—not cold, Pharisaical legalism— should always characterize our discussion of the topic.
Second, we should pray. Pray that mothers (and fathers) facing decisions about pregnancy will choose life for their unborn child. Pray that they will rear a generation whose God is the Lord. Pray for divine protection for the organizations, workers, and institutions that support life. Pray for the prosperity of states that stand against abortion on demand and stand for the sacredness of every human life.
Third, we should increase our support for pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, especially those that are within our sphere of influence. That support could include volunteering at a center, donating supplies, promoting their mission, providing a network of support for clients, and financial support.
Fourth, we should advocate to expand care for children born of an unplanned pregnancy. It does not follow that an unplanned pregnancy produces an unwanted child. Quality, Christ-centered foster care should be available to every child that needs it. Adoption should be streamlined, promoted, and affordable, while also being diligent to ensure that children are placed in homes where they will be genuinely loved and be reared in a wholesome, Christ-centered environment.
The number of people impacted by abortion is staggering. A study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 24% or nearly one-in-four women will have had at least one abortion by the time they reach age 45 (a similar study using data prior to 2008 showed a significantly higher rate of 30%, or nearly one-in-three for the same age group). When we acknowledge that biological fathers and other family members of these women also feel the impact of abortion, the number of lives affected in some significant way quickly reaches to many millions of people. As a friend observed, the size and depth of the “national wound” caused by abortion is immense. Awareness and action by the body of Christ is essential if we are to be catalysts for the healing of the nation.