“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.”
Those nine words headlined a draft of a leaked Supreme Court majority opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. The reactions of pundits and politicians have centered mainly around two things: (1) The damage caused to the institution of our highest court by the breach of trust caused by the leak (mainly Republicans frothing over this one); and (2) Conjecture about the cascading consequences for women’s health and the body politic (mainly Democrats frothing here). The vehemence of the reaction serves as the latest reminder that we are an increasingly divided nation in our values and public discourse.
This blog is too short to entertain any commentary on the actual legal* arguments, but I do want to make a few suggestions for how this politically divisive moment might be used by Christians to promote thoughtfulness, unity, and love among our fellow Americans. I have three things for you to consider and possibly implement:
First, this is a unique moment to talk about the preciousness of vulnerable persons, young life, and even unborn life. I spent some time this week in a hospital’s NICU or neonatal intensive care unit.The love and tenderness shared by everyone on that floor for those fragile (many premature) human lives brought me to tears. It’s clear in a NICU that tiny life is precious life, full-of-potential life. Perhaps you have a similar experience to speak of. Deep in our American psyche is a desire to cheer for the underdog. This national value has been imported from the Bible,which is loaded with shocking stories of the little guy being redeemed: Israel v. Egypt, David v. Goliath, little children v. adult disciples. Small children, and even unborn children are the ultimate example of the little guy. There’s a grace in America that is inclined to cheer them on. It’s wise to tap into that!
Secondly, this moment is an opportunity to lament that in a nation as prosperous as the USA, the economic pressures faced by women are the leading motivator for abortions.** This is a shocking truth for many of us to hear: the majority of abortions of in our county are provided to women who are already mothers. The strong implication is that it is NOT a lack of desire, experience, or willingness to raise a child that leads to most abortions, but rather economic want and hopelessness in the ability to provide for a new life that leads to the decision to abort. This is something that a generous, compassionate society could actually do something about.
Finally, the occasion of the Supreme Court leak is an opportunity for us to talk about the nature of our rights and liberties and where they originate. Many Americans wrongly believe that the government grants us our rights, and in the case of Roe v. Wade’s reversal, that the government may occasionally restrict or remove our rights. This isn’t how our founding documents describe the nature of liberty at all. Please read these words from our Declaration of Independence (feel free to read “People” for the more archaic, generalized “Men”):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
Our fundamental rights do not come from the government. Basic human rights come from the God who made all people in his image. At the heart of the Supreme Court’s likely ruling– which will be finalized and published in the months to come–is that unalienable right to life and whether or not it extends all the way to the tiniest and most vulnerable among us.
If you have enough energy and focus to have made it to the end of this short piece, God has indeed blessed you with a generous helping of life. I pray you thank him for it, and enjoy it immensely this day. Peace,
– Pastor Gregg
*There is a great episode of a podcast called Advisory Opinons from May 3rd that offers thorough analysis of the legal arguments and implications. Featured are two lawyers, Sarah Isgur and David French. David is a vibrant Christian and brilliant legal analyst.
**You can click here to read a recent NY Times analysis of who gets abortions in America. Here’s the most pertinent line: “Six in 10 women who have abortions are already mothers, and half of them have two or more children, according to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”