Last week, what seemed virtually impossible for man was possible for God—the U.S. Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey were overturned. The world raged and the church rejoiced. . . mostly. I hope this article will help clarify some issues and provide an encouraging way forward as we think about this together as God’s people.
What Happened in Court?
Back in the seventies when the Court first ruled on Roe, they thought they were settling the issue. They could not have been more wrong. The debate has become even more intense since the decades that followed.
Now, in a breathtaking repudiation, the present Court finds that the previous Court failed to rule according to Constitution or even according to good legal reasoning! Roe was based on a collection of cases to show a supposed “right to privacy” in the Constitution on which to base the right to an abortion. Later, in Casey, they abandoned that line of reasoning and based their upholding of a right to an abortion on the Fourteenth Amendment’s clause for due process. Last week, the majority of justices on the current Court found that both of those rulings were “egregiously wrong.”
This decision, and the opportunity for Roe to be overturned, came from hearing another case: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Here, the question was whether or not a Mississippi law could restrict abortion to fifteen weeks of pregnancy. Not only did the Court rule to uphold the State law but determined that the very question of abortion was beyond the scope of the Constitution. They conclude that: “Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. The Court overrules those decisions and returns that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
Despite what some have said, this ruling does not mean abortion is now illegal. They have ruled that there is no Constitutional right to an abortion. This means that the authority for abortion laws has shifted. It has gone back to the legislatures of the States. Almost without fail, States with politically liberal leaders will being pushing for laws that allow for abortions, while more conservative State leaders will try to ban or restrict them.
How Should We Respond?
So, what are Christians to do in light of this colossal moment of historical and cultural importance? At least three responses are in order.
1. Give Thanks
Just in case it needs to be said, abortion is a sin. So, we are not reliant on the Court to recognize abortion as wrong. It is clear from the theology of Scripture. Furthermore, we do not need the complete elimination of abortion to rejoice. Just as slavery was taken apart incrementally in Britain, so we can be thankful any reduction in the sin of abortion! As we said before, the idea of Roe v. Wade being overturned seemed like wishful thinking. Praise be to God that he is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph 3:20). Linger here and give thanks to God for his mercy on this nation.
2. Be Humble and Loving
As Christians, our attitude and actions can help our hinder the way others receive our message. Though we do not need to apologize for the Bible’s pro-life stance, we also take this as a time to snide in “winning.” Now is not the time to dunk on would-be mothers who feel trapped and alone, hopeless apart from killing their baby. We have something so much better for them—true and lasting hope in Christ and a community who will care for them and their baby. We can rightly denounce the horrible sin. But we are also called to love—even our enemies. If we are rightly concerned for the unborn people as made in the image of God, how much ought we to love the born person who is blinded by sin?
So, consider your in-person and online presence on this issue. What is displayed in your words? If needed, ease up on the social media posting. Or, even better, post something that inspires hope and alleviates the worst fears being stoked by the pro-abortionists in these weeks. “Humble orthodoxy,” as one person has called it, is way more attractive to those in need of our love and help. You’re likely not going to change someone’s mind with a meme or honor Christ in a Twitter argument.
3. Continue to Labor for Life
While the Supreme Court’s decision was a major victory, the work isn’t done. The pro-life movement’s political work has now shifted to the States. More importantly, the everyday work of living out the pro-life worldview hasn’t changed. Consider five ways to engage.
Think clearly and intelligently. There is a lot of confusion about the abortion issue. Much of this is intentional to normalize the practice and vilify its detractors. But sometimes “abortion” is used to label situations that aren’t in the same medical category we’re talking about as sin. Procedures to remedy an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage may be similar to those used to terminate a pregnancy in an abortion, but the situation is vastly different. It’s important to keep these things in mind as we discuss abortion laws and show compassion to the hurting. Some helpful sources of information include Abort73, Care Net, and the ERLC.
Build relationships. As Rosaria Butterfield has often pointed out, strong words come easier in the context of strong relationships. It is easier to say things people are unwilling to hear if they know you love them. That kind of love is seen best in relationships that run deep. One survey of women who have had abortions revealed seventy percent claiming to be Christian, forty percent attending church at least once a month. Assuming that’s accurate, where was the church for these women? Where were their pastors and friends? All the more outside the church—love your neighbor in ways that show you really care.
Remember the gospel. The pro-life cause should be pro-life in fullest sense possible. We care for the unborn as well as the unwed mother, the disabled child, the aging adult, and—most of all—the sinner in need of Christ. We love all image-bearers (Gen 1:26–27)! Remember that the worst sin someone commits is not related to abortion. It’s their unbelief. The willingness to abort a child is an outworking of their rejection of God and his ways (Rom 1:18–22). God can forgive the doctor who performed the abortion. God can forgive the mother who had the abortion. In your conversations and prayers, remember the gospel (Rom 1:16).
Serve practically. Maybe you will spend time praying at an abortion clinic, give money to help provide an ultrasound unit to a pro-life women’s resource center, or even open up your home to a teenage girl who has been kicked out of the house for getting pregnant and choosing to keep the baby? Find a way to help silence the critics who promote the false narrative that only we care about the pre-born baby (1 Pet 2:12).
Keep praying. How many tens of thousands (maybe millions?) of Christians have prayed for the end of Roe v. Wade over the last forty years? God powerfully answered that prayer! Let that encourage you to keep praying (Luke 18:1). Whether at home or in front of a Planned Parenthood building, pray to the Sovereign Lord to thwart the plans of the wicked, bring comfort to the suffering, and reveal his Son to those in need (Ps 10:16–18). Pray for patience, humility, and kindness when dealing with the sometimes heated, even horrendous, behavior of those that demand adherence to their views (Jas 1:19–21).
It’s amazing that we are at this moment, seeing the tides shift toward life. I’m hopeful and excited to stand and serve alongside you!
Note: A version of this article was cross-posted at the Providence Bible Fellowship Blog