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Why an Overturn of Roe V. Wade Would be Just the Beginning

Why an Overturn of Roe V. Wade Would be Just the Beginning

Article by Stacie Johnson
I woke up this morning to a string of texts and emails. In a digital instant, the American population was told in advance of an upcoming landmark decision by the highest court in the land. The leak was unprecedented and deeply troubling all on its own; however, it was not merely a leaked draft that brought people to the front steps of the Supreme Court in protest. It was the decision itself. The draft indicates the court’s intent to overturn Roe V. Wade, the historical case in 1973 that constitutionally protected a woman’s right to an abortion prior to fetal viability.
For many pro-life advocates, this will be seen as a major step in protecting innocent human life from the brutality of abortion. Many have been faithfully praying for this moment for 49 years and counting the 62 million babies who have died along the way. For many pro-choice advocates, this decision will be seen as a move toward fascist tyranny, plunging our country into the patriarchal, enslaving, dark ages. Unfortunately, I do not expect the social media conversation to be reasonable or productive. Expectations of an ideological civil war are trending.

As followers of Jesus, how are we to respond to this moment? 

I want to offer three helpful principles.

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO BRING CLARITY
First, we are called to bring clarity to moments of confusion. God commissions us to provide cultural clarity and moral guidance. Many of our friends will understand the trending issue through 15-second sound bites and 30-second TikTok influencers. We must not take the same road. We must reflect the Kingdom of God in our day by helping our community ask the right questions while offering the good and true answers of God’s design. We can lead the conversation around these questions and provide our neighbors with the beautiful, created order of God. His intended ordered world is an invitation to the fullness of life for all children, men, and women.
Culturally, what would an overturn of Roe V. Wade mean? If Roe V. Wade is indeed overturned, it will NOT mean a nationwide ban on abortion. The decision will throw the question of abortion and rights back to each state. We may expect cries for national legislation, state-by-state challenges, and community-based movements intended to keep abortion accessible and easy to obtain. This will mean an ideological battle in each state. Some states have trigger laws intended to severely restrict or ban abortion immediately upon a Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade. Tennessee is one of those states.
Morally, each state will have to wrestle with two fundamental human questions:

QUESTION #1: What is the unborn?
I put safety latches on all my cabinet doors when I had my daughter. My daughter did not know what dishwashing fluid was or the purpose for which it was made. It would have been catastrophic to allow her to discover the nature of dishwashing fluid by trial and error. Until we know what something is and what it is made for, we do not know what to do with it. Until we know what the unborn are, we cannot possibly know what we should do to them.
The science of embryology gives us a clear answer to this first question. At the earliest stage of development, we were all living, distinct, whole, and human. If you were to walk into my home and see my now 8-year-old daughter’s ultrasound on the refrigerator, you might say something witty like, “She was adorable even then.” The comment would be fitting as we would easily recognize the photo on the fridge as the very same little girl running around my house playing with her dolls.

She was living and not dead at the earliest stage, just as she is now. She was distinct from me, down to her very DNA. She is still distinct. She was whole and in need of nothing externally to develop. She is still whole. Her development needs no additional parts. We do not supply her with hands and feet, constructing her like a Frankenstein. She was human in her first moments of existence, not canine or feline. Yes, she is still human. She was a person, just like me. She is still a person.
There is also no difference between her in the womb and at two years old that would justify killing her then and not now. Yes, she was small, but she was small as a toddler. Yes, she was early in her development in my womb, but she still has some development yet to go, even now. We are looking for her adult molars and anxiously awaiting puberty. Yes, she needed a safe environment and food, but she still needed me at two years to provide her food and keep her safe. She still needs a safe place to grow. Even though it does not belong to her, my home is that place and is owned by me. Yes, she depended on my body as a small embryo, and she is still dependent. Any mother can attest to the bodily labor that we sacrifice for the care of our children. Can I kill her at two years old or even now because my home, time, bodily labor, and stuff belong to me? Can I kill her because I am afraid of what tomorrow may bring as I feel the weight of caring for two people instead of just one?

QUESTION #2: What can we rightfully do to another person?
I am reminded of my first visit to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, when I consider this question. I walked into the Rembrandt room and was overwhelmed by the mastery of this 17th-century painter.
Consider a simple question: Who has the right to touch the Rembrandt painting on the wall? Certainly not me, a mere spectator. However, a curator or an art restorer would be allowed to repair or restore the work. They are commissioned to care for the painting. Does anyone have the right to walk into the museum, take the Rembrandt off the wall, and burn it? We may be tempted to think that no one does, but there is one person who has the right to do anything with the painting: Rembrandt himself. He has this right simply because he is the Creator of the masterpiece.
This is what the doctrine of Creation gives our picture of humanity. God alone has the right to give and take life because everything He creates belongs to Him, not us. We have no “right” over another person. We are not allowed to use them for our own purposes, own them as property, or take their life on the altar of our own desires or convenience (Genesis 1-2).

Simply, we do not own what we do not create. I do not own my body. I do not own anyone else’s body. Being created by God is not the only anchor in our understanding of humanity. We are also created in His Image, giving all human life value. With God as the Creator and human people as image-bearers, the mistreatment of another is an affront to God himself.
“Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker.” – Proverbs 17:5

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO UNDERSTAND THE CULTURAL MOMENT
This historical and biblical understanding of humanity has given us human rights, dignity laws, medical ethics, and moral guidance for generations. When we have eroded this understanding of human life, we have propelled ourselves into all forms of abuse, trafficking, and slavery. Without a transcendentally sacred understanding of human identity, there is nothing left to guide our decisions as a society around equality or fair treatment. One life becomes more important than another because a person can do more, have more, look better, or be in the majority. History is replete with evils perpetrated upon those society has determined as lesser. The first step is always to redefine who qualifies as a worthy human.

In previous generations, we have faced the question of human value and dignity. The people of God did not only listen to the conversation or just participate in the conversation. His Church has always been known as those who LEAD the conversation and model the way of Jesus.
Our image-bearing lives are intended to reflect His glorious goodness in the world. He placed his work of art (our world) into our stewardship. Much like a curator or art restorer, he has commissioned us to shape and create the world and the people around us to be repaired and restored to the original design. We are not meant to be spectators of one other in an isolated existence of voyeuristic living. We are meant to be curators and restorers. We must be committed to learning His original design and how we can winsomely bring it to our cultural moment.

CHRISTIANS ARE CALLED TO MODEL THE WAY OF JESUS
If Roe V. Wade is indeed overturned, we have the momentous opportunity to serve women in crisis, women in pain, children in need of homes, and policymakers at every level. Pregnancy centers, adoption services, post-abortive healing work, and overrun foster care systems become the front lines to model the Kingdom of God in the flesh. We must be generous with our time, resources, and very lives. We must bring grace, forgiveness, healing, and truth to this moment.
Today, my prayer is that God will call, equip, and empower His children to bring a better way to our friends and neighbors, calling them home to the good Creator, King, and Father. If you would like to learn more about the biblical case for life, visit https://prolifetraining.com/ . The work of Scott Klusendorf has been an invaluable resource for my own training. To become part of our community, equipping believers to bring the Gospel of Jesus to this cultural moment, please contact Stacie Johnson at sjohnson@fellowshipknox.org.

Stacie Johnson 

Pastor of Equipping & Worldview Formation
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