There is a phrase which hangs like an ominous, black pall upon the history of our country. Through time, it has become, unfortunately, one of the most recognizable and iconic symbols of our nation. Even in a day when the average person has a hard time naming more than a few past U.S. Presidents, most know immediately what you are talking about when you say, “Roe vs. Wade”.
The decision passed down by the Supreme Court of the United States of America on January 22nd, 1973 will likely be remembered as one of the most divisive moments in the history of our nation. What began as a manipulative scheme of an unwed pregnant woman to receive an illegal termination of her unwanted, womb-residing child, escalated over the next few years into a case that would not only give a clear glimpse into the moral decay that had already begun to plague our society and culture, but which would stand resolute in the laws of our country for over 44 years and counting. The court’s decision that fateful day would pave the way for what would become 58 million deaths as of this writing, as well as the countless more which remain unknown, occurring by drugs such as the “morning after pill” and many others, all made legally justified under the precedent of the court’s decree.
The interesting thing about court cases, and especially Supreme Court cases, is that the necessary components for the case, including the situational pieces and the moral constructs, are always present long before the case ever actually reaches the court. Any court’s duty and responsibility, then, is very simple: to be the place where all of that evidence is examined and weighed against what is determined to be the moral obligation required by current law. A case reaches the Supreme Court, at least in theory, because it is deemed, through appeals and other processes, that the current laws of the states or the country do not provide the necessary guidance for the particular details of a case. That is an extreme simplification of a quite complex system, but the point is that the role of any court is simply to weigh all that it has available in the form of data and written law, and then make a judgement that will stand for the people.
But this is where Supreme Court cases become much more intriguing. The Supreme Court is just that, supreme. It is the top rung of the ladder of our judicial system, and therefore, this court, more than any other, must make moral judgments as much as evidentiary judgments. When all the facts are observed, and the laws of our country are referenced, the men and women of the Supreme Court are almost always left to make an interpretative judgment, by which they consider not only the actual words of the law itself, but also the intent of the law writers, going back to the days of the writing of the Constitution. Thus, they must dig deeply into constructs put in place long before their time.
However, the problem with this system, if it’s not evident already, is that a group of 9 men and women are placed in a position over the people of a nation, such that they are not only making legal interpretations for the sake of civil justice and peace, but they are given the authority to be judges of morality as well. Thus, the collective morality of a group of 9 justices carries such a weight that it sits as the determining factor for an entire nation of people.
And so, when Roe vs. Wade was initially presented to the court on December 13th, 1971 and in the many months which would follow, the judges who sat on that court were not just preparing for a legal endeavor, but they prepared for a moral decision that would affect millions upon millions of people, both in the womb and out.
The unfortunate irony of that decision and its subsequent aftermath lies not in a governmental system that places 9 men and women in this position, even though that is certainly worthy of much scrutiny. When 9 human beings have the ultimate authority to make a decision which affects not just the lives, but also the deaths, of 58 million people, there is plenty that can be and should be said. But, the true irony found in all this is evident when we consider that, even though these men and women made judgements based on numerous sources of information, they failed to consider the one single source which holds the wellspring of all wisdom and truth, where the very Creator of all things speaks His design to those He created in His image, one that goes further back than even to the writing of the Constitution and the men who penned it. It is this point which must be considered if we are going to understand the legacy of Roe vs Wade into 2017.
See, the argument against the legality of human abortion from a Christian worldview, and human eugenics for that matter, doesn’t begin with morality and the determination of the right and wrong of this act. It may end there, because the decision is ultimately moral, but it can’t begin there. The reason is because moral judgments are made all the time, by each and every person, every single day. People make moral decisions almost constantly, and they do so from a personally held system of beliefs. Thus, deciding whether or not abortion is morally right is simply going to be an exercise in referencing the same, already-held beliefs which have dictated the other moral decisions.
Well-meaning Christians often will begin a refutation by arguing that abortion is murder, thus making a right moral judgment, but this approach doesn’t strike at the heart of the issue. Any good debate on this topic, or others closely related to it, should always and will always end up at a discussion of authority and absolute truth. The reason for that is simple: all moral judgments are made by considering an external, objective standard, even if never acknowledged. And, herein lies the true atrocity of Roe vs. Wade.
From the Christian worldview, murder is, of course, against the very law of God. We know this because God has said so. But that statement and belief is based upon the presupposition that God has spoken to us through the 66 books of the bible. Even that statement, that God has spoken, is based upon yet another presupposition that God exists at all. As followers of Jesus Christ, we view the world through this lens.
In other words, our worldview begins with the belief that God is the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, YHWH, The Alpha and Omega, uncreated and existing before and after all time. In light of this, we view God’s word, the scriptures, as authoritative and inerrant, sufficient for our faith and its practice in our lives. All of that means that we can then make biblically-based, God-supplied, moral judgements upon the behaviors of men. These determinations are not made through our own emotions, feelings, or speculations, but through the lens of scripture, breathed out by the Spirit of the Holy God of Israel.
As Christians, we can argue the virtue of morality and the finer points of moral behavior all day long, but these words of ours fall upon the deaf ears of morally bankrupt souls. Instead, we must realize that the evil necessary to legally justify pre-birth murder is borne not out of a soul with no morals at all, but out of a soul plagued with the denial of God as the Almighty Creator, the denial that He has created man in His image, and the denial that He has spoken his moral law into the universe which He created by His very word. Depraved minds and depraved hearts will act according to that truth, and thus we should not be surprised that beings who deny the very source of morality itself, act then in what our worldview considers to be immoral ways.
Romans chapter 1 makes this abundantly clear when Paul writes
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”(Romans 1:21)
Thus, the Christian worldview demands that if we are to stand against this genocide in our generation, we must do so not by making moral arguments, but rather taking upon ourselves the task of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, of which the foremost tenant is that God is the first and the last, the ruler of all creation, He has planted His image in all human beings, and His wrath abides upon the unrighteousness of men. The decision to legislate the legal homicide of a child in the womb begins not with biological assertions about clumps of cells or trimesters of gestation, it begins within a depraved heart of a person who is turned from God in every facet of their being, even denying His very existence. It begins with a denial of the very truth, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) It begins with a denial of Imago Dei (Image of God) In Vivo (within life).
Furthermore, for the sake of this subject, we must also remember that this denial in the soul is not only a rejection of God himself, but it is a rejection of the truth that God sits in judgment upon all of humanity, including the 9 men and women who sit on the Supreme Court. When those justices seek to find the answers to the question of lawfulness and human flourishing, in so far as the government is concerned, they do so under the judgement of God through the revelation of His truth in the scriptures, regardless of whether they acknowledge it or not. Justices sit in judgement only so much as God allows, but all sit under judgment of the Word. Whatever legal resources the Supreme Court consults for decisions, they are paltry and impotent in light of the truth revealed to us through the pages of Holy Writ.
This year, as we remember and mourn the 44 years and 58 million lives destroyed since January 22nd, 1973, let us remember that this holocaust is not solely a moral calamity. Certainly the moral judgments made by the Supreme Court have had lasting and horrific effects, but those judgments came forth from hearts that are plagued with the greatest of all diseases, which is sin. The only cure for sin, and thus the abolition of abortion, is the preaching and acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our worldview demands this very thing. Morality is only part of the Christian Worldview insomuch as it flows naturally from a redeemed heart, saved by the power of the gospel, who desires to live obedient to its Creator.
Church, let us go forth in battle against Roe vs. Wade. But instead of morality as our weapon, let us bring forth the ever powerful sword of God’s spirit, His word, and let us call all men to faith and repentance. For it is the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation, and it is the gospel which enlightens the heart and mind to the moral behavior required under God’s law.
Jayson York is the Senior Pastor of Water’s Edge Bible Church in West Chicago IL. He believes the most important part of his ministry is to preach the truth of God’s Word, and desires to see the church edified through its faithful exposition; one verse at a time. He and his wife Lindsey have three children.