Gospel People in a Post-Roe World

This is the eleventh article released in a series entitled, “Tensions: Navigating Current Issues as a Kingdom Citizen.” This article is by Pastor Rickey Primrose.

June 24, 2022, marked a truly historic day within the United States, when the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The overall ruling was 6-3, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the majority opinion for the Court. The Dobbs decision states in part, “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.” Here are a few points you should know:

  • The Dobbs ruling did not make abortion illegal federally, but simply corrected the president that claimed abortion is a constitutional right. The legality of abortion is now decided state by state.
  • Texas and several other states have already outlawed abortion, while many other states in our nation have not; meaning that abortion remains legal in various parts of the US.
  • While pro-life ministry may look somewhat different, the Dobbs decision did NOT fulfill the need for Christians to be ministering and advocating for life. June 24th did not mark a finish line; Christians need to be salt and light in our country and community now more than ever.

Now that Roe has been overturned, how can Christ’s people represent Him well? I will offer four exhortations attempting to answer that question.

How to Represent Christ Post-Roe

1) Praise God, and kill pride: First, this is an occasion where we should pause and praise God for this ruling. We know that God is sovereign over every government, leader, and court. “A king’s heart is like channeled water in the Lord’s hand: He directs it wherever he chooses” (Proverbs 21:1). For decades God’s people have prayed that Roe would be overturned, and June 24th represents a specific answer to that prayer. While abortion remains legal in portions of our country, countless lives will be saved as a result of this ruling. When God demonstrates this type of grace, we should praise Him. “This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).

I do offer one word of warning. Be careful not to substitute genuine praise with fleshly pride. Abortion has been, and will remain, a hotly debated topic in our culture. Your flesh may be tempted to convey a ‘we won’ or an ‘I told you so’ spirit. This is not the time for bravado and social media victory laps. This type of arrogance comes from the flesh, not the Spirit. It does not reflect the heart of Jesus. It is motivated by self-righteousness rather than grace and has no place among God’s people. In fact, I would suggest that this type of arrogant spirit flows from a heart that has found its identity more in a political party than in Christ’s kingdom, which is a problem. So, praise the Lord and kill pride.

2) Focus on the gospel, not debate: Christ’s people must be ready to minister the gospel in such a time as this. We need to understand that this cultural conversation stirs up a variety of emotions within people inside and outside the kingdom of God. For some, this ruling provokes fear. There are women in our community, around you every day, who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy and are terrified about what this means. For others, this ruling provokes anger. While we disagree with their position, the anger many are feeling as a result of this decision comes from a very real belief that their personal rights have been violated, leaving them and others vulnerable. Still others will battle with feelings of guilt and shame because of a past abortion.These emotions are real. The people processing these emotions are image bearers of God, whom God loves deeply and for whom Christ died. And the good news is that the gospel provides healing, deliverance, and hope from all these things—fear, anger, and shame. This is why I say that Christ’s people must be ready to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If our interactions with people focus primarily on why their pro-choice position is wrong, I fear we have missed an opportunity. Don’t misunderstand; there is a time and place to confront the pro-choice position on an intellectual level, demonstrating its errors. But underneath the arguments and positions are hearts that are hurting. The real battle is being waged in the heart. Your well-reasoned argument is important—it matters—but it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that changes hearts. So, as you interact with people, remember that beneath the sometimes hard surface is a hurting heart that needs the good news of the kingdom. Do not see the person across from you merely as ‘a position that needs correcting,’ see them as a person whom God loves deeply. Make sure your aim is not winning an argument but instead ministering to a hurting soul. The person you’re speaking with may or may not agree with your view, but the goal is for them to walk away having seen the heart of Jesus in you.

3) Understand the biblical pro-life position and apply it consistently: While we want to focus on the gospel as we interact with and minister to people, it is important that Christians understand the biblical pro-life view. I say the “biblical” pro-life view because our goal is not to defend a political position; our goal is to articulate and stand upon a biblical worldview. In other words, Christians should be pro-life not because it aligns with a particular political platform, but because it is the conclusion to which biblical teaching leads. It is important that we understand what the Bible says about life, that we can articulate those teachings, and that we are consistent in how we apply those teachings in the world.The pro-life position is grounded in the imago dei (the image of God). This doctrine teaches that human life is inherently valuable because it is created in God’s image. The Bible teaches us that God cares deeply about every single human life and that God is particularly zealous to look after human lives that are vulnerable or defenseless. For example, the Bible gives particular attention to widows and orphans because of their unique vulnerability in the world. God is a refuge to the helpless. As God’s people, we must not only care about human life, we must care particularly for the vulnerable—those who are unable to protect themselves. This reflects the heart of God.

When we are talking about abortion, we are talking about a human life—not a thing, not an it, not a biological substance—a human being. We are also talking about a human being that is in a most vulnerable state of being and cannot protect him or herself. Christians certainly should care about medical freedom and privacy. Women should have medical freedom and privacy over every part of their bodies. Period. But unborn babies are not a part of a woman’s body—like an arm or ear. Unborn babies are individual people who develop and are protected within a woman’s body. When we are talking about abortion, we are not only talking about the rights of a pregnant woman, we are literally talking about two people, two human beings, both of whom have certain inalienable rights as image bearers of God. Under no other circumstance would we give one person the choice to terminate the life of another person. We cannot lose sight that an unborn baby is a person.

It should also be said that the pro-life position allows for the necessary steps to be taken to preserve the life of a mother when complications arise within a pregnancy that threaten the mother’s life. This allowance is not an exception to the pro-life position; instead, it is a consistent application of the basis for the pro-life position—human life is invaluable.

Many will argue that it is not right for religion to form legislation. The logic is as follows: You are anti-abortion because of what you believe about the Bible; your view about the Bible should not be forced on other people; therefore, every woman should have the individual choice whether or not to have an abortion. This very popular line of reasoning simply does not hold up. Yes, we are against abortion because of the moral ideals we have about the significance of human life. But the idea that moral ideals do not and should not influence laws is intellectually dishonest. Why is murder illegal? Why is theft illegal? Why are there various degrees of murder and theft? All laws are ultimately grounded in moral presuppositions. Even laws protecting medical freedom and privacy are grounded in morality. Why do we not give people the choice to kill their toddler, their neighbor, their aging parent, or the person in a coma? Because it is morally wrong. We are superimposing moral ideals on society. The pro-life position is simply being consistent with the other laws in our nation—it is morally wrong to kill another human being. We cannot and should not leave that up to individual choice.

Much more could be said about the pro-life position. My point here is that it is important that we understand what the Bible says about human life and that we are able to articulate a biblical pro-life view in a manner that is faithful to the Scriptures.

Finally, we should also make sure we are consistent in our pro-life convictions. Being pro-life is not only being anti-abortion; it is broader than that. For example, being pro-life means we are anti-racism. It means that we care about immigrant children. It means that we care about issues like abuse, human trafficking, and a whole host of other issues related to the inherent value of every human being created in God’s image. This is why it is often said that we must be pro-life ‘from the womb to the tomb.’ That cannot merely be a catchphrase; it must truly characterize our lives. Political parties should not be the ones forming our views; our understanding and application of God’s word must form our views wherever that puts us on the political spectrum for any particular issue.

4) Live out your pro-life convictions: Finally, it is not enough to understand and articulate pro-life convictions, we must live out those convictions. I want to say upfront that the accusation that conservative evangelicals don’t really care about babies after they are born, insinuating that our pro-life stance is about politics and control rather than genuine care for life, is flatly a false narrative. This is not to say that evangelicals are perfect or that we don’t sometimes fall short on matters related to life and morality. Evangelicals are worthy of some of the criticism they receive. Nevertheless, the data is pretty overwhelming that evangelicals are leaders in America in ministries related to adoption, foster care, poverty, and human trafficking.What does it look like to continue living out our pro-life convictions in a post-Roe world? Well, let’s talk about the state of Texas where abortion is now illegal. Laws have changed, but there remain a lot of broken and hurting people around us that need the ministry of God’s people. The church must step up.

Pregnancy centers even in the state of Texas still need the help and support of Christians. There will still be women in our communities with unexpected pregnancies who are scared and need help. Living out your pro-life convictions may mean ministering to these women. Secular companies are offering to pay for their female employees who want an abortion to travel to states where it is legal. Black market abortions will only increase. There is still ministry to be done, and one way to help is by supporting local pregnancy centers that will remain on the front lines to minister to women in need.

Adoption and foster care ministry will only become more important in the days ahead. There are close to 30,000 children in the foster care system in the state of Texas alone. Interestingly enough, there are about the same number of churches in the state of Texas. One way Christians can live out biblical teachings on the significance of life and reflect the heart of God is by opening their homes and lives to children who need a home. Adoption and foster care ministry are ways Christians can steward the blessings God has given us by helping children who need refuge. Some foster care agencies are now offering programs to foster pregnant teenagers, which will now become a growing need in our state. The Texas Baptist Home for Children (TBHC) and the Gladney Center for Adoption are great places to begin.

I’ll leave you with these helpful words from Dr. Katie Fruge, from her article published by the ERLC:

The choice to abort never occurs in a vacuum, and if Christians want to have a true impact on the issue of abortion, we must carefully work to eliminate why abortion seems the best choice, not merely make it an illegal choice.

The gospel is powerful enough to overcome the reasoning in peoples’ hearts that make abortion feel like the best choice. Let’s seize this opportunity to shine the light of Christ in the midst of a broken and hurting world!

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