In an effort to encourage Christians to vote this election without feeling bound by either political platform concerning abortion, some Evangelical voices have taken to articles, blogs, and video clips to call a truce with Roe V. Wade (and its sister ruling Doe V. Bolton) and to downplay abortion as just one issue among many.
Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden compared abortion to smoking and climate change, and a video put out by Paul Vischer and Skye Jethani makes the argument that overruling Roe is not the key to reducing abortions, therefore, the landmark court decision shouldn’t be of any great concern to Christians.
Outside of the fact that Roe and Doe are not the only concerns a Christian would have when considering who a president may select to be appointed to the Supreme Court, or the fact that state regulations of abortion often end up before the Supreme Court and the impact of these rulings continue to be felt at the state level, there is another question to think through: Is reducing abortions the main motivation or the only motivation behind a desire to see Roe overturned?
Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton are not primarily judicial rulings or political planks; they are spiritual declarations concerning the sanctity of human life.
Roe and Doe essentially rendered life and liberty as benefits granted to some people by the government as opposed to unalienable rights recognized by the government as inherent to all people.
In the video by Vischer and Jethani, they use the fact of legal and illegal abortions before Roe to diminish its importance. I’m trying to imagine this logic used in other circumstances. If the Supreme Court handed down a ruling denying children up to one-year-old their full humanity and legalized their killing due to some constitutional right to privacy of their parents, would Christians eventually use this same rationale?
“In case you didn’t know,” they might tell us, “children were already dying from child abuse before the ruling was handed down…roughly 1700 a year and 46.6% of those children were under a year old. Not much has changed. And, horrible things happen every day. People die from smoking and there’s the threat of climate change. Just get out there and love people.“
Yes, let’s get out there and love people, but, of course, this begs the age old question, “Who is to be considered a person…one of us?” Who are to be counted as people we should love?
Although I am confident Vischer and Jethani and Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden would say pre-born babies are one of us, does it matter so little that the highest court in the land ruled otherwise?
The Good Samaritan is one of the best known and beloved stories in the Bible. It’s a beautiful story and one Jesus held up as the standard of what it is to be a neighbor. But, imagine for a moment the man violently assaulted and dying by the side of the road had been legally stripped of his full humanity.
Imagine the men who attacked him had the legal right to kill him, and others like him, because of some shared human characteristic that according to the law rendered them unprotected (ethnicity, age, ability, etc.).
Maybe you would plead with the men planning for his death? Maybe you would share with them how this man is no different than they? Maybe you would find out why these men are robbing and killing in the first place? What are their lives like? What social programs might discourage them from this lifestyle and these choices? What kind of counseling do they need? Are some of them being forced into these gangs of bandits and coerced to participate in this violence?
All good ideas, for sure, and maybe these efforts would decrease the number of men left dying on the side of the road, but is that the end of the matter?
What about the man himself? What about the law stripping him of his humanity and making such attacks and murder acceptable in the first place? Is there no obligation directly to him? No duty to see his humanity restored and his inherent dignity recognized? If he is a person, one of us, does he not rightly make some demand of us?
Richard John Neuhaus once said in a truly beautiful and powerful speech titled We Shall Not Weary, We Shall Not Rest,
“We the People” have not and will not ratify the lethal logic of Roe v. Wade. That notorious decision of 1973 is the most consequential moral and political event of the last half century of our nation’s history.
Yet, it seems that is what many of our fellow Christians are asking us to do today…to ratify the lethal logic and the moral consequences of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton…to declare a truce with those notorious decisions.
I remember as a teenager reading the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, which documents her life and the life of her family under the Nazi Regime.
There was one part of her account, in particular, that spoke directly to my heart. The ten Booms were already involved in illegal underground work to save as many lives from the Nazis as possible when a Jewish woman and her newborn baby were brought to the ten Boom residence for shelter and safety.
The sheltering of a baby was particularly dangerous because babies cannot understand the need to be quiet. The ten Boom residence was close to other houses and there were many ears to hear the wails of a small baby and many people willing to report them. The woman and her child wouldn’t be safe there. They needed to get them away from town.
A pastor from a small village stopped by the following day needing his watch repaired. His home was situated in a much better location for the safety of an infant. Corrie thought she had found the perfect answer.
She confided to the pastor that she needed a safe place for a Jewish mother and newborn baby to stay. She asked the pastor if he would be willing to take them into his home. He was shocked Corrie would make such a request and even after seeing the helpless child replied, “No. Definitely not. We could lose our lives for that Jewish child!”
Unknown to either Corrie or the pastor, Mr. ten Boom, Corrie’s father, had heard the exchange. He took the baby from Corrie, looked into the child’s face and said, “I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family” (The Hiding Place, page 99).
I don’t know much about that pastor, but I’m sure he was concerned with various forms of good works. What was it that made him recoil in such disgust at the prospect of helping that particular child? It was the fact that the law had declared the life of that infant worthless and worse than worthless…a curse, so that anyone who helped the baby would have his own life legally rendered worthless. Laws are powerful because to some degree they teach us what is right and wrong and even what is worth valuing and what isn’t.
Evil is always an idea before it is an action, and where evil becomes the law of the land, it also becomes part of a nation’s moral conscience. What we provide as a right, we determine to be right.
It was the fact that the ten Booms answered to a higher Law, God’s Word, and had been instructed in it and trained up by it that directed the way they viewed the helpless infant and the risks they were willing to take. God’s Word had taught them the child was of infinite worth for all people are created in His image.
The struggle between life and death has existed since the fall and every generation has faced its own challenges. We live in a world that does not value human life because it does not know God. In the face of grave injustice, legalized oppression, and systematic killing, no one can remain neutral. We can deceive ourselves, and even others, that such neutrality exists, but we cannot deceive God (Proverbs 24:11-12).
God is the Creator of the universe and the author of all life. When God created the world, He created it alive and flourishing. Everything God made was good because God is good. There was no sin, no suffering, and no death.
It wasn’t until our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God in the garden that sin entered the human story; and thereby, the story of the world.
God hates the shedding of innocent blood. Every human being is created in God’s image and Psalm 139 tells us that God is intimately involved in the creation of every human life.
To attack a human being created in God’s image is to attack God Himself. God takes it personally and has given us the command, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)
But nothing proves God’s heart toward human life more than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Being sinners in rebellion against God, we justly earned the penalty of our sin and rebellion: death (Romans 6:23), but “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Jesus, being fully God and fully man, died in our place, for our sin, and rose again defeating sin and death forever for all those who place their faith in Him. There has never been a more pro-life act in all of human history or a greater pro-life example. In Jesus, we “have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10)
To choose life is to follow Christ. Choosing life is bigger than abortion, yes; it encompasses all of Christian living. But when whole-life messages are used to dull the conscience of a nation and particularly of the Church toward those legally “being led to death” and systemically “stumbling toward slaughter,” one must wonder which spirit is behind the message…the Holy Spirit or the spirit of the age.
There is only one group of human beings in our nation today with clinics dedicated to their violent end, and in a perversion of God’s Words at creation, the highest court in the land has declared, “This is good.”
The hope that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton would be overruled isn’t only concerned with reducing abortions but with a desire to see the law reflect the sanctity of all human life and the inherent dignity of every human being and instruct us to do the same.
To quote Richard John Neuhaus once again,
“Against the encroaching shadows of the culture of death, against forces commanding immense power and wealth, against the perverse doctrine that a woman’s dignity depends upon her right to destroy her child, against what St. Paul calls the principalities and powers of the present time, this convention renews our resolve that we shall not weary, we shall not rest, until the culture of life is reflected in the rule of law and lived in the law of love.”
I have to wonder if we are still people of such resolve.