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A Christian response to Roe v. Wade

OPINION by Pastor Chuck DeVane, guest column | May 14, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

"You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world."

-- Matthew 5:13-14

Christians are called to be "salt and light" on the issues of the day. When it comes to the matter of abortion, however, what we put forth is more like "smoke and mirrors."

As an American, I understand why the recent leak of a Supreme Court document has poured fuel on the fire of the debate. States and citizens seem equally divided on the rights of women versus the rights of the unborn child. If the high court had stayed out of it 50 years ago, I wonder if by now we would have a national compromise making abortion, in the words of former President Clinton, "Safe, legal, and rare."

Also, as an American male, I understand why women want autonomy over their own bodies. Men have made sexual promiscuity a constitutional right, and too often the pregnant women they abandon have to bear the burden alone. If we had done more to promote the sanctity of sex we wouldn't be having such a debate on the sanctity of life. Or, if single parents were supported more broadly, abortion would not have become such an easy choice.

As a Christian, however, I am surprised by the response of Christ's confessing church to the controversy. I thought we'd be on the right, on the side of the sanctity of life. But most sermons on the subject hail from the left, at least according to The Washington Post. The Post may lean left, but it is also the only national newspaper to maintain a religion section or page (kudos to The Sentinel-Record and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for doing the same) with full-time religion journalists, who tend to be moderate to conservative.

As a Christian, then, let me issue a clarion call for the church to be "salt and light," and to take three positions as it relates to the matter of abortion in America.

First, let us revere the Bible as the word of God on every subject. Secondly, let us see what the Bible has to say about life in the womb of the mother. And thirdly, let us speak these truths in love, not harsh rhetoric and condemnation.

Until modern times, the church at large has agreed that the Bible, in its original autographs and reliable translations, is the inspired, infallible, inerrant word of God (ref. 2 Timothy 3:16). It is primarily a redemptive book, showing the way of salvation. And while it is not a history nor science book, when it speaks on these or any other matters, it is in the words of an old Baptist confession, "truth without mixture of error." Are some of these truths open to different interpretations? Certainly, yet not so much when it comes to life in the womb.

The Old Testament equated induced abortion with the crime of murder (ref. Exodus 20:13; 21:22-25). If this is civil law, the present age would not necessarily convict. If this reflects the moral law of God, however, it stands that abortion should be prohibited. What does the New Testament say? It says what some call a "fetus" is actually a "child" (ref. Luke 1:41,44; 2:12,16). And like the Old (ref. Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5), the New declares God is intimately involved with life in the womb (ref. Luke 1:15; Galatians 1:15).

Finally, if the Bible gives us truths to live by, to pour in a positive way "salt and light" upon the earth, let us share these truths about abortion, with love. Remember, there are souls in all of our churches who have had abortions. They need to be convicted by the Holy Spirit without being made to cringe by the preacher. They need to know there is forgiveness and freedom at the feet of Jesus. And, they need to be respected as human beings made in the image of God, even if their opinions and interpretations are different from our own.

Perhaps this three-pronged approach could really bring "salt and light" to bear. Perhaps Christians and pluralists in a divided America could work together to make necessary abortion remain safe, legal in some cases, and exceedingly rare (for cases of rape, incest, the life of the mother, and the earliest imaginable form of birth control before the heart beats). Perhaps we'll be fighting about this in the legislatures and watching the courts change their minds for another 50 years. But for Christians and the Christian church, let us uphold the word of God and honor life, inside and outside the womb, until Jesus comes again.

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]

Print Headline: A Christian response to Roe v. Wade


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