The Supreme Court continued its busy week yesterday. One of its rulings related to a California law requiring pro-life clinics to inform clients about state-funded abortions. Imagine a law requiring a Christian pastor to instruct the congregation about Islam or a Jewish rabbi to inform synagogue attenders about Buddhism.
The law violated the free speech of those who staff pro-life clinics, forcing them to deliver a message with which they personally disagreed. And, as best I can tell, it applied only to pro-life clinics. Abortion clinics were not required to notify patients of pro-life options.
I’m grateful to report that the US Supreme Court struck down this onerous law.
Making abortion unthinkable
The ruling highlights two facts.
One: It’s always too soon to stop fighting for life. Even though abortion has been legal in the US since 1973, pro-life supporters continue to make legal and cultural progress.
Abortion rates have fallen to their lowest rate since Roe v. Wade, and significant legal victories continue to be won. However, there is much more to do. More than 926,000 lives were lost to abortion in 2014, the last year for which data is available.
So long as abortion is legal, we must continue to pray and work to make it unthinkable.
Two: The courts are critical to our society. Just this month, the Supreme Court issued rulings on issues ranging from religious liberty to voter registration to redistricting to the president’s travel ban. As we pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), it is vital that we regularly intercede for those who lead and serve in our judicial system.
While yesterday’s ruling is enormously significant for free speech and for life, it points to a reality that is even more transcendent.
“This world is not our permanent home”
Paul taught us that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “Citizenship” (politeuma) is derived from polis, the Greek city-state. The territory of Greece is so mountainous that such population centers evolved, each independent and distinct from all others.
Paul’s assertion shows that our home, the place and people where we belong, is “in heaven.” His statement also means that our salvation is not from earth, since “we await a Savior” from heaven.
As a result, “this world is not our permanent home” (Hebrews 13:14 NLT). Why, then, does our Lord leave us here? He sent his Son to die so we could live with him in paradise (John 3:16). Why would he pay such a price for us to be in heaven and then leave us on earth?
The answer I learned during my first years as a Christian was simple: he wants me to win as many people to Jesus as I can. I was told that God may ask me in heaven, “Who did you bring with you?” He saves us and leaves us on earth so he can use us to save others.
This is true, of course. But there’s even more to the story.
“Seek the welfare” of your city
When God created the world, he “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
The fall of humanity into sin obviously corrupted God’s creation (Romans 8:22). But if this fallen world was inherently sinful, Jesus could not have entered it and remained sinless (Hebrews 4:15).
If God now cares only about our souls, his Son would not have healed so many bodies. His word would not call us to “seek the welfare” of the city where we live (Jeremiah 29:7). He would not command us to care so personally for the hungry, the impoverished, the sick, and the imprisoned (Matthew 25:35-40).
We are to engage in the issues of our culture because God cares about every dimension of our culture. We can save babies through pro-life ministries. We can feed the hungry and care for the sick and serve the imprisoned. We can make a difference on earth that is celebrated in heaven.
Consider an example.
Why marriage matters to children
In The Fractured Republic, Yuval Levin reports that roughly 4.5 percent of children born in the US in 1955 were born to unmarried mothers. By 1965, this figure had risen to 7.7 percent. By 1975, it was 14.3 percent; in 1985, it was 22 percent; in 1995, it was 32 percent; in 2005, it was 37 percent; in 2015, it was 41 percent.
Why is this so important? According to Levin, the US Census Bureau reports that nearly half of children raised by single mothers now live in poverty, while roughly a tenth of children raised by their married parents are poor.
Levin’s point is not to disparage the “extraordinary and often heroic efforts” of single mothers to raise their children as best they can. Rather, it is to emphasize the importance of marriage for children and for society.
With marriage rates declining and cohabitation on the rise, our culture needs the truth of God’s word and the example of God’s people on the sanctity of marriage and the family. Every child who benefits from such cultural engagement is someone God made and loves.
Temporal victories and eternal souls
So, let’s celebrate victories such as yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling. And let’s keep using our influence to proclaim and embody God’s word wherever and whenever we can. Such temporal victories are relevant because they affect eternal souls.
All the while, let’s remember that our true citizenship is not in this world but the next. The more we serve people on earth, the more we serve Jesus in heaven (Matthew 25:40).