On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade. The decision, which ended nearly 50 years of legal precedent, was met with significant backlash in a nation whose value system is personified by the Statue of Liberty.
Because the Religious Right (read: Republican Christian evangelicals) had strongly opposed Roe and just as passionately celebrated its demise, the controversial decision has sparked a cultural war – one in which Christianity is cast as the principal enemy of individual freedom and cultural progress.
So, then, it is important that we are aware of this. As servants of a gospel that is to reach the ends of the earth, we cannot afford to be ignorant about significant cultural developments in the world, especially when the reputation of the church, the body of Christ, is at stake.
Here’s what we should know
Roe vs Wade, together with Planned Parenthood vs Casey, granted federal powers to all 50 states in the USA to institutionalise elective abortion (i.e., at the choice of the mother) up to fetal viability (~24 weeks), permissible for non-medical reasons.
Since its enactment in 1973, Roe vs Wade has been shrouded in controversy. Its legal reasoning has been heavily criticised by jurists on both sides of the debate. This means that the overturning of Roe vs Wade should not be seen so much as a miscarriage of justice, than as a redressing of one.1. Overturning Roe vs Wade does not imply a nationwide ban on abortion. It simply states that abortion is no longer a constitutional right and leaves it up to individual states to decide the laws governing abortion. Several states have banned abortion as a direct result of the ruling, but many others have not, and they will not be compelled to do so.
In the aftermath of Roe vs Wade demise, the narrative that has emerged is that of right-wing Christians imposing their religious beliefs, through political means, upon wider society, even those who do not believe the bible. In other words, it is widely perceived as Christians compelling non-Christians to live by the bible, which has engendered a lot antagonism towards the Church.
Here’s what we should do
First, we who take a “pro-life” position should not assume a moral high ground. All believers find their only standing place the foot of the cross. And on Calvary, where the Saviour died for our sins, the moral ground of mankind is flattened. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), Jew and Gentile alike, saint and sinner alike, Christian and non-Christians alike. Morally, we do not stand even an inch above the pro-choice supporters. The other reason we do not have a moral high ground is because, according to Jesus, our hatred of another is tantamount to murder (Matt 5:21-23). How often has hatred, resentment and unforgiveness dealt a mortal wound to our marriages, our family relationships and even our church fellowship? We have all committed murder through anger towards our brother. And that, biblically speaking, is a no lesser sin than taking the life of a child through abortion. There is, again, no moral high ground. We approach this conversation as sinner to sinner.
Second, we must be pro-all life, throughout life. It is well and good to advocate for the rights of the unborn child, to protect its life and seek its wellbeing. But we must be consistent, and not confine our sphere of concern to the womb. If we claim to value the life of the human person, then there is much to do. There is the orphan to adopt, the widow to care for, the hungry to feed, the naked to clothe. Not only is this the mark of true religion (Jas 1:27), but it is also the way we prove consistent with our proclamation that life is valuable and must be dignified because man is made in the image of God. This is no mere social work, this is an essential gospel implication. And in the wake of the Roe vs Wade overruling, the eyes of the world are upon the Church to see if the Body of Christ practices what it preaches.
Finally, we must be pro-eternal life. As far as I can tell, the only thing that the overturning of Roe vs Wade has immediately accomplished is to potentially increase the population of hell. This does not represent any cause for celebration. Not a single child born as a consequence of more restrictive abortion laws has been ultimately saved. The recent ruling has not saved any lives, not finally, and not yet. What is does mean is that there are potentially more souls to be saved by the Gospel of Christ. The task of evangelism is greater than before, more needful than ever; and to that end, we press on, and strive side by side for the sake of the Gospel, our Christian witness, and the true salvation of lives.
- Ps Luwin Wong