And So It Goes
By Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
Pro-life Christians were appalled when Governor Cuomo signed New York’s liberal abortion law on January 22, 2019, the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. Sadly, that piece of legislation is just the beginning. Consider the following proposals, just since January 1, 2019:
Virginia: On January 29, a subcommittee voted down by a 5-3 margin HR 2491, dubbed the “Repeal Act.” The Repeal Act attempted to legalize abortions up to 40 weeks – referred to as a full-term abortion. In defending the proposal Virginia Governor Ralph Northam revealed a larger agenda behind such extreme legislation: “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” In the Netherlands, this is called the Groningen Protocol, a decision-making process that permits the termination of the lives of born babies if they do not meet a quality-of-life standard. That protocol arose from the country’s legalization of euthanasia.
Illinois: In February, Illinois legislators proposed HR 2467/2495 and S 1594/1942, referenced as the “Reproductive Health Act.” The Thomas More Society described the legislation as going well beyond New York’s recently liberalized abortion law. The Reproductive Health Act would permit abortions for any reason including self-abortions, require all health insurance policies to cover abortions, provide for the public funding of abortions, eliminate required investigation into maternal and fetal deaths resulting from abortion, allow referral fees for abortions, remove restrictions on fetal experimentation, repeal most of the “right of conscience” acts that protected those with convictions against participating in abortions, and undermine the 1995 Parental Notice of Abortion Act which kept parents advised of their minor daughter’s abortion.
Rhode Island: On March 5, the Judiciary Committee of the Rhode Island State House approved a New York-style measure liberalizing abortion within the state. The Committee voted 9-7 to advance H-5125A to the House floor for anticipated approval. The State Senate is preparing comparable legislation (S.152A). The governor has vowed to sign the legislation if it passes. Like the New York bill, this legislation is designed to permit abortion through the full nine months of the pregnancy. In addition, abortions procured by government employees would be covered by taxpayer dollars.
Federal: In early March, the U.S. House of Representatives, for the 17th time, blocked a vote on the Born Alive Protection Bill. An effort is to bring legislation to a full vote that would require caring for a child accidentally born alive from a failed abortion attempt.
Maine: In mid-March, Maine legislators proposed LD 1261, an act designed to expand who may perform abortions within the state. It was specifically designed to address rural access to abortion services. The measure is expected to pass both houses and be signed by the governor.
In less than three months, states acted quickly to liberalize state abortion laws in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, thereby making abortion a states-rights issue as it was prior to 1973.
So, what should we be doing?
Fixing the World
The democratic process is predicated on the active involvement of citizens in the passage of laws that maintain peace and maximum freedom within a pluralistic society. In reality, almost half of the eligible population is engaged as voters in the election process – just over half in presidential election years; a little less than half in non-presidential election years.
Essentially, half of U.S. voters are willing to let the other half run the show. This represents an easier opportunity for the savvy to amass the necessary support to impact governing change without having to win over the majority of the population. Is that what we should be doing?
Historically, it was the operational premise of the Moral Majority to affect change by mobilizing the Christian community in an effort to fix the world – starting with our communities, then our states, then our nation, and ultimately the world.
There is an appeal to legislative and political activism. Our efforts can be easily recognizable by either the success or the failure of our legislative or political agendas.
Again, I ask, “Is that what we should be doing?”
Trusting the Princes
The psalmist writes: “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save” (Psalm 146:3). More positively we are told, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:9).
I have been watching the political spectacle of abortion rights since I was a high school student on that dark January day in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the killing of unborn children throughout the nation. I have watched Christians mobilize and strategize to correct this wrong. Meanwhile, I have seen the philosophically bankrupt tentacles of legalized abortion permeate into the arena of end-of-life care, eugenics, marriage, sexuality, technology, and now biotechnology.
The American solution to this problem is to leverage the political, legislative, and judicial forces within our reach to rectify the wrongs. Yes, we pray about it and talk about it in our sermons and Bible studies. To affect change, however, most of our chips are on princes who cannot save.
Consider some harsh realities: Institutions of higher learning continue to cut back on teaching the humanities. Classes in history, philosophy, and ethics are dropped in favor of courses on business, technology, and a greater emphasis on vocational skills. So, when we long for the good old days, what time in history are we longing for? Do we even know? A common mantra among many senior members of our society is that the good old days were not always all that good.
As we face the prospect of a Supreme Court decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade, the result will be 50 perpetual battles to outlaw abortion on the state level. Meanwhile, moral erosion continues on other fronts. I suggest we step back and ask ourselves if our strategy is flawed.
History reminds us that over 150 years ago, we fought a nation-dividing war to outlaw slavery. Is this the kind of progress we expected after having won that battle? Many of our communities remain segregated. The African-American community is disproportionately poor, jailed, impoverished, and endangered. Tensions remain among the races.
The Insufficiency of Morality
Time and time again we seek to change laws and policies yet we fail to change hearts. Do you think outlawing abortion somehow will magically eradicate one-million annual abortions from the world’s statistical accounting?
We are looking for solutions in the wrong places. We elect some who profess their Christian faith while supporting unchristian morality. We elect some who support Christian morality yet are not articulating their Christian faith. Something is wrong here. Yet, we continue to go back to the same well of unsatisfying solutions.
Our hope should not be in the princes of this world but in the Lord.
Is there such a thing as morality without proper motivation? Scripture says that apart from faith we do not please God (Hebrews 11:6). Is it really consistent with the Christian worldview to have a moral society governed by rules with consequences – but no faith?
If you think the nation is obsessed with more liberalized abortion laws, you should see what is coming in the arenas of life and family issues. In a world with no calibrated motive to live right, it inevitably will live wrong.
The Christian community has always had the answer to the woes of society in the message of Christ. Withholding that message through laziness and apathy is more scandalous than rampant abortion. God’s directive is clear: speak the truth and speak it in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Jesus fed the hungry and healed the ailing within the context of caring for the soul. In fact, everything he did as an expression of love for others was done within the context of caring for the soul. He did not show love hoping to care for the soul. Caring for the soul was his preeminent concern.
We are pro-life not because it is the moral way to be, but because we want to show care for the soul. We support efforts to protect the weak, care for the endangered, and keep the peace, not because it is the moral thing to do but because we want to show care for the soul.
It is time for Christians to be Christians and not mere moralists. Fixing the world is a losing cause apart from the Gospel. Increased interest in abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, and a host of bioethical issues tells us we have a wrongly-motivated world. We have the truth, and it is time we initiate new and bolder efforts to share it. The solution isn’t more laws, but more people aligned with God through Christ. The state will never do that work – only God’s children will do it. Let’s focus on sharing the message that fixes the heart. The results in the world will surprise you.