If you haven’t heard, a draft of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade was leaked late yesterday evening. A leak of this nature is unprecedented in recent years, and if Roe vs. Wade is in fact overturned, it would be monumental.
Abortion is obviously a sensitive, complex, and controversial matter in our day and age, and I will tread lightly when speaking about it. I recognize that I can’t claim any up-close and personal experience to speak about this subject authoritatively. There’s also some wisdom in not overreacting in either direction at this point in time; after all, this is a leaked draft, not a final decision. In addition, it’s worth remembering that – contrary to some assumptions – the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade would not outlaw abortion nationwide, but would simply make it a state by state issue. Yes, the decision would be monumental, but the truth remains that whether you’re celebrating or mourning this as the definitive end of abortion in America, you’re probably wrong.
With all these qualifiers, I offer the following words for your consideration. If you have further questions about my more detailed thoughts on this matter, I’d welcome you reaching out. The internet is not the best place to have these sorts of conversations to play out, but it can be a good place for these conversations to begin.
If you’re looking for a good Biblical/theological resource on this issue, I’d recommend Michael J. Gorman’s book Abortion and the Early Church: Christian, Jewish, & Pagan Attitudes in the Greco-Roman World. Gorman offers the following insights:
- Abortion existed long before us. Women in the ancient world often sought abortions for the same reasons that women in the modern world do.
- Ancient pagan opinions about abortion were often mixed. Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle were in favor of abortion in some cases, while opinions within the Roman Empire varied widely.
- Early Jews – the people we read about in our Old Testament – “condemned deliberate abortion as disrespect for life and bloodshed.” This is largely because “Justice toward the helpless and innocent stood at the center of Jewish ethics.”
- The earliest Christians “rejected abortion as contrary to other-centered neighbor love.” They also considered abortion to be “killing human life that is under God’s care, design, and providence.”
- Later Christians (in the fourth and fifth centuries) affirmed the concerns of earlier Christians. They “held a high view of life as the work of God from its inception.” However, these Christians also made a point to insist on the offer of God’s “grace and forgiveness for those who had obtained abortions.”
- “Christians discarded all pagan definitions of the fetus as merely part of the mother’s body”, and “always considered the unborn as God’s creation.” Christians also believed that “Christ’s life and teachings elevated raised the fetus to the status of neighbor.” In summary: “the early Christians were both pro-peace and pro-life.”
If you’re looking for ways to pray, I offer a few ideas:
- Pray for the women who – whether it be through forces outside of their control, or as a result of their own decisions – find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, and feel scared, helpless, and alone.
- Pray for the unborn who – contrary to much contemporary opinion – are not merely a clump of cells, an inconvenience, or the product of somebody’s sin, but human beings made in God’s image.
- Pray for government officials, who are called by God to do everything in their power to promote justice, righteousness, and human flourishing for all people within the world God has made.
- Pray for Christians and churches who can – and should – do a better job of loving, supporting, and welcoming mothers and their babies, regardless of their circumstances. Pray also that Christians and churches might have the courage to go against the grain of our society, striving to think, speak, and live more in line with what Scripture teaches and what the believers before us have consistently taught over and above the latest and greatest popular opinion.
- Pray that people on both sides of the issue would be willing and able to honestly listen to each other’s concerns, and argue their own points in a humble, respectful, and reasonable manner.
- Pray that women who have obtained abortions of their own accord and come to regret it – or men who have pressured women to obtain abortions and realized the error of their ways – would find peace, healing, and forgiveness at the foot of Christ’s cross.
Again, I welcome further conversation on this matter, so don’t hesitate to reach out. And last, but not least: if you’re looking for Scripture to read, I’d suggest Psalm 139.