A World War II bomb exploded at a construction site in Munich on Wednesday, injuring four people, one of them seriously. According to the Associated Press, such bombs are still found frequently in Germany seventy-six years after the end of the war.
This is just one way events in the past can still profoundly affect the present.
Another is the discovery in the US Constitution of a right to abortion by seven members of the Supreme Court in 1973. Since that time, more than sixty-two million babies have been aborted in the US. Forty-one times more babies die from abortion each day than from all other causes combined.
In response to Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing that could determine the future of legalized abortion in the US, I have defended on biblical, scientific, and secular grounds my assertion that abortion takes a human life. Today, we’ll take up my second claim: that abortion should therefore be illegal.
I am writing today’s Daily Article for those who agree with my first assertion but question the second. If you are in their number or know someone who is, I hope what follows will persuade you to defend the cause of life with compassionate courage.
4 arguments separating life and legality
A few months ago, I was discussing the abortion issue on Equipped with Chris Brooks. Chris is a brilliant thinker and pastor and one of my favorite radio hosts. During our conversation, a listener called in to make the statement, “I disagree personally with abortion, but I also believe it should be the decision of the mother rather than the government.” Over the years, I have met many people who would agree. Let’s identify and respond to some of their arguments.
1: A woman should be free to make her own healthcare and reproductive decisions. “My body, my choice” is a mantra we often see on signs at pro-abortion rallies. However, the state does not allow women to make all their own healthcare choices—the decision to use illegal drugs is an example—since it has a compelling interest to protect them from physical harm.
In addition, those who agree that abortion takes a human life should logically agree that the government has a compelling interest to protect that life. This interest obviously extends to female babies (around 140 million women are believed to be “missing” around the world, the victims of gender-biased abortion). “My body, my choice” is a claim an aborted child is not permitted to make.
Chris responded to the caller by asking if she supported the mother’s right to end her newborn baby’s life. She assured him that she did not. He then asked what changes biologically with the baby when it moves from inside the mother’s womb to outside it. She agreed that nothing changes. Why, then, he asked, would you support her right to kill her baby before it is born but not afterward?
2: Men should not be making personal decisions for women. Some would say that as a male, I have no right to speak to this issue. I would offer three responses. First, seven male Supreme Court justices legalized abortion when they voted for Roe v. Wade. One of the current court’s strongest abortion supporters is a male (Justice Breyer). Second, abortion affects male babies who are aborted, the biological father, males in the extended family, and men in society at large. Third, to be consistent, we must then segregate all legal issues into strictly male or female categories regarding those affected, a highly implausible strategy.
3: The state should not legislate personal morality. For example, while most would agree that adultery is immoral, it is not therefore illegal. However, as I noted yesterday, all laws are in some sense a legislation of morality. And the right to life itself is “unalienable,” as our Declaration of Independence notes: a bedrock, fundamental human right. Should the state not then legislate its protection?
4: The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade recognized abortion as a fundamental right of women. This assertion was repeated by an attorney arguing against the Mississippi abortion law before the court. As a Christian, I am commanded to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). Thus, some claim that I should not seek to make abortion illegal even though I object to the practice personally, any more than I should seek to make Muslim worship illegal even though I disagree with Islamic theology.
However, the apostles refused to obey laws that conflicted with biblical morality and their missional commission (cf. Acts 5:29). Christians such as William Wilberforce led the fight to overturn legal slavery. Ministers such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the fight to overturn legal segregation and racial discrimination. In his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King quoted St. Augustine: “An unjust law is no law at all.”
Two fascinating Washington Post articles
My articles this week have focused on the abortion issue from biblical and secular perspectives. Let’s close with two practical imperatives for believers.
1: Continue using our influence to engage the culture.
Jesus’ call for us to be “salt” and “light” is clear and unequivocal (Matthew 5:13–16). Neither functions unless it is applied where it is needed.
Is America advancing toward biblical morality or receding from it? Does our culture desperately need courageous, compassionate Christians who speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)? Given the examples of Joseph, Mordecai, Nicodemus, William Wilberforce, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and many others, does God call his people into political leadership, legal and judicial service, and other places of enormous cultural influence?
If them, why not you?
2: Find ways to serve those in need and trust God to use your influence for good.
I was gratified to read in the Washington Post that evangelicals in Texas are creating a “maternity ranch” and finding other life-affirming ways to help pregnant women. I was also deeply impressed to read in the Washington Post about the racially inclusive congregation of Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Its pastor, Rev. Darrell Cummings, notes: “We’re not a Black church or a white church. We’re just a church.” The article adds that the church “floods social services into the community.” Rev. Cummings explains: “We’re just showing love.”
The Washington Post is a highly influential but highly “progressive” platform. If evangelical Christians can catch its eye by serving those in need, God can use your influence in cultural ways that might surprise you.
“The source of national purpose”
John F. Kennedy stated: “I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of national action, the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.”
Let’s speak the truth in love to all four, to the glory of God.