The Supreme Court decision that had been leaked several weeks ago was officially released yesterday. Roe v Wade and Casey have been reversed at the federal level and now it is in the hands of the states to decide what they will do regarding abortion laws.
To begin with, I am legitimately thankful that this has happened. Regardless of those who are vehemently against this decision, the issue of abortion is not simply a matter of women’s rights or individual body rights, it is a matter of human rights. And this is the level at which the argument is most efficiently discussed in my opinion. It’s not the most emotional level, and it’s not the level that gets the most “clicks” or “views,” but it’s the level at which the interaction must take place if there is ever to be any handshaking from either side of these aisles.
I’m obviously not a medical professional, but if this is simply a matter of a woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her body, and there is no other life in the equation, then abortion is a non-starter for me – it’s no more an issue in my mind than cosmetic surgery or the removal of an appendix. And if there’s no life in the womb I’m not interested in seeing any kind of legislation passed because I don’t see any moral high ground on which we need to plant a flag.
But, truly, I cannot believe that.
Conception is life. Which means outside of the agonizing decision a family would have to make if the pregnancy were the result of sexual assault or if there was a threat to the mother’s life (which also has to be a part of any reasonable discussion), I see no ethical way that a life can be extinguished for the sake of socio-economic concerns or for the imposition and responsibility that accompanies bringing a child into the world. And, even though I believe conception is the beginning of life, I’d be more than happy to concede a definition of life that began at the first sign of a heartbeat if that were the “other side’s” position – I’m not picky or stubborn – but even that definition was wholesale rejected by those of a more liberal mind.
Either way, this idea of how life is defined is the crux of the issue because apparently there is an entire segment of our population who somehow believes that neither fertilization nor even a heartbeat is enough. For many it seems, according to what I’m observing on the news and on social media, there is no real definition of life that can be applied before the baby is fully delivered and separated from the mother’s body. Which seems so odd a way to view that issue.
But there is more to this than just the legislative shift. My thoughts have turned frequently to another aspect of the impact of this decision. Because for Christians if this significant moment is going to be fully celebrated there has to be a profound acknowledgment of the power of prayer and the faithfulness of God to answer the cries of His people. 1 John 5 speaks in very plain language about the power of praying the will of God – and this is certainly the outworking of that Biblical principle!
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.1 John 5:14-15
God’s will and God’s timing are what we align ourselves with when we choose to enter into prayer and intercession. It has been a long time, and there have been many tears and prayers offered to the Father, and He has once again proven Himself faithful – as He always will.
So, I’m thankful for this progress. And for those of us who believe conception and the viability of life happen at the same time (though biblically life predates existence because we are known by the Creator before we are even conceived), and also for those of us who have legitimately prayed for God’s will in our nation regarding this issue, this is such a wonderful and encouraging moment!
And yet, there is still a measure of grief in my soul.
- Grief because the culture took a step in the right direction and there doesn’t seem to be any more civility between the two sides that our country has adopted.
- Grief because I perceive a tone in the words of some Christians that sounds more smug than grateful.
- Grief because there really are more issues to being pro-life than simply protecting the unborn.
And part of what is tempering my gladness is the reality that Christianity as a rule does not handle moments of success or positions of political power very well. When Christianity has gained authority in nations, cultures and kingdoms we have not always been the best at navigating those roles. We have a tendency to impose things that can only legitimately be imparted.
Now, on the other side, Christianity is unmatched in its ability to function from positions of weakness and to influence cultures from places of marginalization. So it’s not that we don’t have the ability to do the right thing, it’s more that we have a tendency to lose sight of the right thing when we are entrusted with those seats of power.
So, in light of this, I long to strike the right tone, a Christ-like tone, as I engage this matter. While I am ecstatic in one regard I also have no desire to alienate those who disagree with me. I long to speak with compassion and without even a hint of grandstanding because real human beings, real women, not statistics or lines on a graph, have had abortions over the last 49 years and the last thing I want to do is to heap real or perceived condemnation onto those people who are already likely dealing with enough in this moment.
And the thing that continues to drive my thoughts right now has much to do with the shifting of positions of “power” that were exemplified with SCOTUS’s decision. I’m asking the question more today than I did yesterday, “what does it look like to love my enemies in this moment?” Because the reality is this: it is different loving your enemies when you are the one who is being oppressed vs. loving your enemies when you are the one with the high ground.
I fully intend to celebrate the victory God has given our nation. But I also have to navigate wisely what it looks like to live on the “other side” of this political position. And it’s not just me, the church has this task ahead of her as well.