What If the Princes Are Right?
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. (Psalm 146:3)
Eight children have matured under my parental eye. Particularly memorable are the adorable early years of life; the cuteness; the stumbling; the efforts to mimic grown-ups. Then come the miserable middle school and high school years. What changed?
I may never qualify as an expert in raising children, but I certainly stake a claim to being experienced. Experience has shown me that the middle school/high school years can be full of deception – and not all intentional. Sometimes, children make extraordinarily mature decisions about challenging issues. Then, just about the time a parent drops their guard – convinced they have successfully “raised the child in the way he (or she) should go” (Proverbs 22:6) – the other shoe drops. Children usually make a galactically immature decision.
Under inquisition, teens refine the phrase, “I don’t know,” to explain their indiscretion. My quest to raise perfection was shattered on the rocky shores of the tumultuous sea of life. My focus on performance revealed a flaw in my parenting strategy. A changed heart is the secret to substantive change and genuine maturity. We learn that lesson from the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15).
The same applies in the matter of trust in princes who cannot save. Like teenagers, princes do many fine-looking things, and say many pleasing things, but given enough time, they are going to fail – not because they are princes, but because they are human. They will fail not just because they have spiritually wandered, but because they can’t help it (Romans 7:15).
Optimism on the Court*
Consider the cause of some long-desired optimism.
Attempts to protect unborn lives through political elections and legislative initiatives always seemed frustrated by pro-abortion Supreme Court rulings like Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1996). The state of Mississippi set out to challenge this nagging problem.
On December 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Mississippi abortion case seeking to outlaw abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The New York Times headline made it clear: “Supreme Court Appears Open to Upholding Mississippi Abortion Restriction.”*
I could not find any news source that felt the Court would rule against Mississippi and uphold the original right to abortion established in the Roe and Casey decisions.*
Perhaps the princes will get it right! Or maybe it will simply feel like it – for a while.
There’s an old saying that reads, “Even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while.” Likewise, even flawed princes do make right decisions. But let’s be real. The Court is dealing with symptoms of a far deeper and dangerous problem. Even if the Supreme Court justices make the most pro-life decision that it could possibly make, the real problem remains – the heart.
Let’s return to my analogy about teenagers. Teens are simply inexperienced adults. Both adults and teens can be capable human beings, yet at times they can be quite proficient at making mistakes. Sometimes both adults and teens can do and say wonderfully right and encouraging things. It is the heart, however, that reveals the true goodness of an action. It is the heart that reveals what is truly pleasing before God (Matthew 15:8; Hebrews 11:6).
* On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, finding no federal constitutional right to an abortion. The ruling means the abortion policy is now set at the state level.
Recognizing the Battle
The kind of “heart” surgery needed to resolve the abortion issue isn’t found at the finest medical care facilities in the world. The Apostle Paul put it this way:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3–4)
We cannot look to laws, referendums, politicians, or justices to do what needs to be done. This is about spiritual heart surgery that occurs when Christians seek not to win a battle or a cause, but a soul through the loving administration of God’s Word.
Even if abortion were declared illegal throughout the United States or even the world, the problem remains. Although we may have addressed some of the symptoms, hearts wanting to take an unborn’s life will still want to seek abortion – and that desire alone is already a great problem.
Let’s Be Positive
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we give up on outlawing abortion. I have served on a board of directors and continue to financially support organizations designed to do just that. I remain cautiously optimistic that we may finally see substantive progress with this Supreme Court and this Mississippi case. It has been on my prayer list since I began working on life issues in 1976. This could be the most substantial progress we have ever made. I can hardly wait.*
Let’s Be Prepared
I still cling to the notion that our goal should always be to make abortion the least desirable option when someone faces an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. I contend that our New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers’ ministry meets this challenge – though on a small scale. We need to encourage and support other similar programs around the United States.
I think we should be retooling to bring back substantive adoption support. When abortion became legal, adoptions plummeted. It stands to reason that abortion restrictions would surely translate into a rise in available children for adoption placement.
The second table of the law points us in the direction to provide loving and sacrificial service to others. Let’s actually do it. Let’s recognize that the new frontline will involve support services to help mothers live with the decision to preserve a child’s life.
Let’s Be Right
We must remember our prime directive to proclaim the Gospel. Any solution that ultimately does not point heavenward is futile (Mark 8:36). We want to outlaw abortion, but again, that is a symptom. We need to get to the heart of the situation.
Fighting the abortion wars correctly involves a non-violent, love-practicing, bridge-building experience with the goal to love others as Christ loved us. We are not content to simply be right about a controversial issue. We want to pave pathways of communication to others designed to recalibrate the attention from thinking earthly to thinking eternally.
Let’s Be Active
I have often shared a sermon illustration that doing this kind of work is like watching an NFL football game: there are 22 men on the field in desperate need of rest, and 70,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise. This is not a plea to do something above or outside of someone’s pay grade. Certainly, protesting at an abortion clinic and doing street counseling may not be your cup of tea, but I am not talking about those things.
We’ve all been given the great commission to disciple the world (Matthew 28:19-20). We have been challenged to live in such a way that prompts people to ask us about our hope (1 Peter 3:15). There should be a way to shine our light with genuine love and commitment that stands in sharp and visible contrast to a world where the love of most continues to grow cold (Matthew 24:12).
To put it bluntly, I am not asking you to do something extraordinary or intrusive on your busy schedule. I am essentially asking you to do your job. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31:8-9). Do your correcting, rebuking, and encouraging within the context of great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2). Let others see a spirit of contentment (Philippians 4:12) in the way you conduct your life. Let them see your courage in the face of death (Psalm 23:4). Let them see you turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, and share more than they ask (Matthew 5:39-42).
Above all, put away the magnifying glass that seeks to identify and highlight the guilt in the lives of others. Take a good look in the mirror and begin work to recognize the plank in your own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). In the words of the apostle, find an autobiographical reminder of your own true nature as chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). When we find ourselves at the foot of the cross, with blood-stained hands, realizing our sins nailed our Savior to the cross, it is then that we can be truly equipped to help others.
It is possible for princes to do the right thing. Maybe this is the time for that to occur. Never, however, forget that while princes deal with symptoms, you are uniquely qualified in your baptism and with Scripture to get to the heart of the matter. In so doing, you can build solutions that will last an eternity.
April 15, 2018
May 3, 2018