O Church Arise
By Jeff Waldron
The following post is written by one of Redeemer's elders, Jeff Waldron, in response to the Supreme Court leak. We are thankful for his careful observations and exhortations. We hope it will be encouraging to our church family.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court made a discovery that has haunted our country for nearly 50 years. In the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court found a “fundamental right” for a woman to terminate the life of her unborn child. You could read Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to search for this right for yourself, but you will not find it. You will not find it because Roe v. Wade was not grounded in law or reason, it was grounded in ideology, it was a religious decision. Roe was not a legal opinion, it was a theological manifesto, offered in homage to the god of self.
So, in one sense, the imminent reversal of Roe should not be surprising because it is clearly a case of the Court making rather than interpreting law. But until very recently, I thought Roe would never be reversed. Yet here we are. Another lesson for me in God’s ways are not our ways, and His plans are accomplished when He wills and as He wills. And we must always keep praying and doing what is right.
Now finally to the point of this post: As I reflected on all this, I had a few observations and a few exhortations for us. But first, a quick primer as to where we have been and where we are soon to be:
What Roe Required. Roe v. Wade required every state to permit some level of abortions. Any law that limited abortions had to be narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest, as determined by the courts. The last 50 years have seen a push and pull between legislatures and courts in bringing definition to those lines.
What the Overturning of Roe will Mean. With Roe v. Wade overturned, it does not mean that abortion will be banned, rather it will be up to individual states to make that determination. In states that favor abortion rights, nothing will change. In fact, such states may reactionarily go the other direction by increasing abortion funding, reducing abortion limitations, and welcoming those from other states. Abortion will become illegal or severely restricted in states that lean pro-life, but it will likely become more brutal and expansive in many states that favor abortion rights.
For most people and for the longest time, Roe being overturned seemed a near impossibility. As a result, we have somewhat accepted abortion as a part of our reality.
As God tends to do, He used this lingering evil cloud to spur on something good, namely a people-focused ministry, where Christians seek to show the love of Christ to women in crisis, one at a time. The church has been spurred on to care for these women, to let them know they are seen and that there is another way. Jesus is after hearts and His redemptive grace brings forth everlasting beauty from unspeakable shame.
For the population in general, this has been an issue where there are a lot of empty opinions because talk is cheap and there is no real change that could be impacted one way or the other. The same is largely true in the church – people acknowledge abortion is heinous, but our most common response is to pray and offer a shrug of helplessness.
Well, the Lord seems to be answering these prayers. While the prayers must continue, we can, we must, do more than pray here. The shrug must be replaced with something. But what?
Love. The people-loving, grassroots ministry must not only continue, it must increase. Much attention will be given to legislative and public opinion battles in every state, but it is critical that we pray for and more fervently love women in crisis, one at a time. Lean in to these ministries; lean in to adoptions; lean in to caring for and supporting families who adopt and foster. The Lord has showed us that perhaps the best action any of us can take against abortion is to seek and love those who are lost and hurting.
Talk. We need to start talking about sanctity of life more regularly, explicitly, and tactically. We have been somewhat numbed by decades in the fog of this culture such that we will need more regular jolts and softening, as well as equipping. We need to be prepared for the conversations and demands on us that will surely follow. The Supreme Court usurped the legislative process 50 years ago, but now it will be back in the hands of lawmakers and voters. We must be equipped to have these conversations in a winsome and effective manner. Read Tactics by Greg Kokul if you are unsure how to wade into difficult topics like this – simply ask questions, and then more questions.
Activate. Local politics and local conversations are hugely important. God's providence controls these things, but He often uses humans to realize His designs and we do have a responsibility to think and act wisely and shrewdly even though He is sovereign. We are the mud being pressed upon the blind eyes of this world. To be sure, political engagement is filled with landmines for the Christian, so we must walk carefully. Our ultimate identity must always remain fundamentally and solely as a follower of Christ. We must avoid confusing our political philosophy with the demands of Scripture. Yet where Scripture has demands, we must listen to God above any political philosophy. With Roe offering cover to their conscience, it was palatable to some to vote for a candidate whose philosophy on abortion was abhorrent because, they somewhat accurately reasoned, abortion was not something that elected officials could materially impact. However, with Roe overturned, this is no longer our reality, and this line of reasoning is now invalid. Christian voters, indeed all voters, and their consciences will have to reckon with the reality of active complicity in the killing of children, children that were knitted together in their mother’s womb, knitted together in the very image of God.
Evangelize. Beyond the direct issue at hand, there is something even greater that could come out of this upheaval. All life advocacy is centered on the reality that we are created in the very image of God and therefore life is sacred. These discussions simply must happen, even though they are potentially treacherous waters. Gospel conversations so naturally flow out of these conversations, that it seems inevitable that doors will be opened to articulate the most important truth in the world. Not only do I believe that every child in the womb is purposefully made in God’s image, I believe you are as well. So, let's talk about the immense purpose that is implicated for your life. Let's talk about our transgressions. Let's talk about our peace, joy, reconciliation, adoption, inheritance.
Hope. I'm not fully convinced this will be a red/blue issue. People of every political persuasion are uneasy with abortion, and they know deep down that it is dreadful. Ideological tribalism is a powerful force to overcome, but I pray that sanctity of life is an area where ideological loyalty crumbles. This may be an opportunity for repentance. This may be an opportunity to pause and consider this from a very human, non-philosophical perspective. May they imagine looking a young woman in the eyes who is seeing her baby girl move in an ultrasound on the screen, but she is afraid. Would they tell her to kill that little girl? Would they allow that to happen because of fear? This will not be a disconnected, sterile or theoretical issue much longer. Given that this is an area for potential repentance and Gospel grace, the appropriate posture in these conversations most often should be one of gentleness and humility, dependent on a merciful Savior. The conversations must happen.
Pray. Pray for our lawmakers. Pray for candidates. Pray for elections. Pray for your neighbors. Pray for women in crisis. Pray for the defenseless; the unborn. Pray that the Lord would give you words to speak and place you in these situations, knowing that God spoke through Balaam’s donkey, and He can surely speak through each of us.