Time to Act
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning the infamous January 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Dobbs returned the abortion issue back to the states. The ruling enables states to enact their own laws on abortion—either banning or limiting the practice or making the practice legal.
Pro-life people were ecstatic about the Dobbs ruling. Getting rid of Roe v. Wade was on the bucket list of the pro-life movement since January 23, 1973. The Roe decision claimed the right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution where no right existed. The Dobbs decision corrected the error, though many unborn lives remain at risk.
Abortion advocates, however, reacted angrily after the decision. Their reaction was swift, intense, and even violent. Vandals smashed the windows of one of our centers. Threatening messages were sent to another center.
The biggest reaction, however, was the concerted effort to undermine the abortion ruling by intensifying the promotion of abortion pills. States favoring abortion set out to enshrine abortion rights in their Constitutions. Candidates running for political and judicial positions continue to boast about their support of abortion rights – and it seems to be working for them.
The Lesson Learned
There are no shortcuts. Laws and judicial rulings do not transform the heart. We are reminded to not put our trust in those who cannot save us (Psalm 146:3). Even when the rules are laid down, they do not always hem us in (Romans 7:18-23).
When a state legalizes a mother’s right to exercise so much control over her body that she is permitted to kill her unborn child, the law transforms no one. Obviously, a pro-life person does not switch to favoring abortion as the result of a law change. Likewise, the passage of a pro-life law does not make an abortion rights advocate suddenly pro-life. There are no shortcuts. Something must be done about the heart.
The Lesson of History
In The Story of Abortion in America: A Street-Level History, 1652–2022 (Publisher: Crossway), the authors demonstrate this tension between the heart and the laws throughout history. Society, the churches, and even most of the laws forbade abortion, and everyone agreed, until they found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Ignoring the testimony of Scripture, the counsel of clergy, the advice of friends, and the law of the land, sin finds its outlet. In an attempt to cover up a transgression, a life must be sacrificed, and all too often it is the weakest and most vulnerable life that is lost.
I continue to advocate, vote for, and financially support efforts to outlaw abortion, but the real solution is not there. We must recognize that the drive to legalize abortion for everyone always is rooted in the desire to keep sinning.
The Apostle Paul put it this way:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
The Greek word for “transformed” is the word “metamorphosis.” The dictionary definition is as follows:
a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.
I want to emphasize the phrase “a completely different one.” Repeatedly, Scripture talks about not living for both worlds (Luke 9:62; 16:13; 1 John 2:15). This metamorphosis is what Peter talked about when he said:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. (1 Peter 3:15)
There is nothing we are called by God to do that we can do ourselves unless a metamorphosis takes place. Otherwise, we are like the people of history who opposed abortion – until found in an uncomfortable position and sinful reasoning takes over.
There Will Be Trouble
We already know that evil brings trouble into the lives of people (Romans 2:9). What we often forget is that we are not immune. Even after undergoing our metamorphosis, we do not escape the consequences of sin in a sinful world (John 15:18; 16:33). We also struggle internally with sin throughout our lives (Romans 7). You know what that means? Sometimes we cross the line, go too far, do what we should not do, and sometimes the consequences linger. People have died from mistakes made by transformed Christians who “slipped” in their faith. People have been wronged and hurt.
It is imperative that as we consider how to tackle the abortion issue going forward, we don’t forget the battles within our own souls. Mindful of our inner conflicts, we must mitigate any self-righteous or condescending tendencies. We proclaim Christ’s pure love by recognizing that each of us is the object, recipient, and desperate beneficiary of that love. Once we tend to the plank in our own eye, we can then help people deal with the dust specks in their eyes (Matthew 7:3-5).
Creating a policy, law, rule, or legislation might be a great way to quickly do what may need to be done for society, but it rarely does much for the individual. Conversion is a deeply personal experience. It appears from Scripture that this is best accomplished one on one.
There is a conflict that we must acknowledge. It looks like this: We consider ourselves “pro-life.” We reject killing people at any stage of life. As an ideology we believe the position best serves everyone.
In contrast, abortion advocates profess to a different ideology that venerates individual rights as the highest good. Early in the movement, abortion rights advocates argued for “safe, free, and legal” abortion. Some even added the word, “rare.” At work behind that mantra is a desire to preserve individual freedom. As with most ventures for freedom, there is collateral damage. Buildings can be destroyed. Economies can be disrupted. And sometimes people die for the greater good. Some would call such deaths a “sad but necessary evil” for the great good of individual freedom.
Christians do not begin with individual freedom. Paul observes that our personal concerns are secondary to the needs of others (2 Corinthians 6:3-10; Philippians 2:3-5). Jesus said:
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:39–41)
There is nothing in these words that venerates individual freedom as the highest good. We have a conflict!
To Resolve the Conflict
Those who advocate for abortion rights venerate individual freedom. Those advocating for the right to life for unborn children venerate their concern for others above themselves. If this were merely an ideological battle, we debate, argue, vote, etc. to win our case for the good of society. But when thinking theologically, our concern is for the soul. We cannot do soul work without some sort of supernatural assistance, and I am talking about the means of grace.
To make our case we need to remember the unique nature of our position. Advocates for personal freedom find the sacrificial love of Christianity foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18), if not dangerous. That is why the reactions become so intense and the rhetoric so heated.
Paul told Timothy to “keep your head in all situations” (2 Timothy 4:5). I say “black” – they say “white.” I say “up” – they say “down.” Sometimes we just need to settle down and remember we have two opposite perspectives. It’s important to remember not to get caught up in the heat of the battle.
Ask yourself, “What changed me?” “How did I come to believe life is God’s gift to be protected and cherished?”
Was it some law or judicial ruling that made us believers? Of course not. We were transformed miraculously by the means of grace.
Quit looking for shortcuts. We have the greatest motive in the world to think more about others, to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and to sacrifice for the sake of others. Jesus did all of that for us. We love because he first loved us. We sacrifice because he sacrificed for us. We have nothing to fear. Even death has been beaten.
Christian Life Resources has a new resource to help (hence, our name!). Check out the many things you can do in your community, with your congregation, but especially as an individual to make a real change in the cause to protect unborn lives here. Look to create a relationship. Do it with “great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Live such a devoted life of love for others that in a world turning cold (Matthew 24:12), people notice you and eventually ask the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). Talk about Jesus, and you will make great strides to protect bodies and souls.
Faith and Planned Parenthood
April 15, 2018
Abortion: An Update
May 3, 2018