How Should Christians Live Out the Gospel in a Post Roe v. Wade World?

What does God do with babies who die in the womb?

Davide French has expressed some of my own angst at the news that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a recent article, Roe Is Reversed, and the Right Isn’t Ready. Like him, I have championed the pro-life cause. My wife and I marched in Washington. We protested at an abortion clinic. We supported a crisis pregnancy center. I have largely been silent, however, for the past 30 some years.

In 1988, the year I entered law school with two children, financial difficulty, and a very uncertain future, my wife became pregnant. It was the most difficult year of our lives. She was severely sick, living in a strange place 1000 miles from her family under extreme pressure.

When the doctor told her the baby tested positive for spina bifida, and she should consider an abortion, she changed doctors. I supported her fully. We were committed to life.

My son who was born in 1989 is 33 years old now. He bears the scar tissue at the base of his spine where his spinal cord once looped outside his spinal column. He was born that way – with the scar tissue, healed over, fully formed and perfectly healthy.

He became a champion wrestler, All-State, many times All-American, many times national finalist, multi-time national champion. My wife might not have been born if abortion was legal in 1961, and my son would not have been born if we we listened to our doctor.

We were very fortunate, and we are very grateful, and I realize the story could very well have been different. Many people are not as fortunate.

There is a constitutional issue with abortion, a moral issue, and then there is the issue of how the body of Christ demonstrates God’s love in this broken world. I have some thoughts on each of these issues, and I feel compelled to weigh into these turbid waters despite my hesitation.

The constitutional issue has been settled… for now. As an attorney and having studied the Roe v. Wade decision in law school, I can say with some degree of confidence that it had thin precedential support. It’s foundations were shadowy and wispy as a matter of constitutional jurisprudence, relying on a medical understanding of the day, and not legal principles, to shore up a lack of solid, legal precedent.

In the David French article he quotes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who seems to admit the same point. She once “declared Roe ‘breathtaking’ and warned that ‘Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable.’” Her prescience was accurate. It stood for one year shy of 50, but those doctrinal limbs have given away under their own weight.

“The Court’s job is not to determine which rights we should possess but rather which rights we do possess,” says French. (Emphasis in the original) So, it should be. So, the Constitution is written. So, the jurisprudence informs us.

Lawmaking is the province of Congress, not the judicial branch. Ironically, though, the instability of that decision haunts not just the left today. Framed on the back of a politically motivated opinion for which little precedent existed for support, that one decision has greatly politicized the Supreme Court to our jeopardy.

That most people perceive the opinion that struck down Roe v. Wade as a political accomplishment is proof, and that should not be comforting news. A Supreme that can be lobbied and jockeyed and filibustered to do the majority’s bidding is a threat to freedom and sound government.

And, of course, the recent decision was just as political as the decision it overturned – maybe more so. The Court that decided such a progressive decision as Roe v. Wade was largely appointed by conservative presidents. Richard Nixon appointed Justice Blackmun, who write the majority opinion.

There was a day when Presidents made an attempt to appoint the most impressive legal minds to the high court. Confirmation hearings focused on their credentials and legal acumen. The justice appointees and the senators who vetted them knew well and respected the value of impartiality that is essential to true justice. In an odd way, Roe v. Wade, penned by a conservative appointee is proof.

For the last 40 or more years, however, most confirmation hearings on appointments to the high court have been political circuses. No question is off limits, including the direct question of how a justice will decide an issue that comes before him or her. It no longer matters that the Rules of Professional Responsibility that govern all judges forbids that very thing.

Pro-life champions are notching the recent decision as a win, but the battle rages on. This decision pushes the battle to the legislatures of the 50 states.

More fundamentally, though, pro-lifers may have won this battle, but the Republic may be losing the war. The more our Supreme operates by political fiat, the less stable we become.

As for morality, it seems that many people assume the pro-life position is a religious view. While many religious people are pro-life, many religious people are pro-choice also. I have seen many of my religious friends categorically criticize the decision in the last few days.

At the same time, the pro-life crowd includes non-religious people, including atheists, like Kelsey Hazzard, who says, “The abortion industry would have you believe that people like me do not exist.” Reducing the abortion issue to a religious category is scapegoating and insulting to people who claim not to be religious.

No other modern issue offers less common ground for compromise. A fetus is either human life with intrinsic value, or it isn’t. A women’s body is either an inviolable vessel subject to her self control, or it isn’t. A fetus in a woman’s womb is part of her body, or it’s an unborn baby with separate and distinct personage, value, and legal status.

I find the arguments for life to be compelling, but the arguments for choice are compelling also. The stories are real. The fact that women, alone, bear the burden of the consensual (or non consensual) act of sex is reality.

A man can and often does escape all responsibility, but a woman has nowhere to hide. The fact that man are not compelled by the state to bear their responsibility is criminal.

Yes, many states have laws on the books that allow a woman to prove paternity and make the man pay support, but that’s on her dime! Some local prosecutors will take those cases, but those positions are too few, too overworked, and have insufficient resources to take on all cases.

I have slowly come around to an uncomfortable angst on the morality of abortion.

Thirty four years ago, our conviction about what we should do when faced with the probability that we might have a physically deformed child was unwavering. We chose to protect the life God gave us. I still think abortion is morally wrong.

It doesn’t matter whether that life might be deformed or have down syndrome. It doesn’t matter what the economic, social, and other circumstances are. I am not saying there are no exceptions, but most exceptions do not justify taking a life.

This is the black and white, analytical position I believe in, but I know the challenge is not in the black and white, but in the grey. The exceptions to the rules are always where the difficulty lies. Life is complex, and complexity is nuanced.

I am not going to say much more about the morality. I know where I stand, but I know good people who share my faith – people I have prayed with – who do not share my position.

About 18 months go my view of things shifted through the unlikely coincidence of my annual Bible reading and a serendipitous sermon on Sanctity of life Sunday. (See Thoughts on the Sanctity of Human Life….” I hope you will take the time to read it, because it informs my questions to the body of Christ.

Does God hear the cries of unborn babies? Does God hear the cries of women who have been abused and misused? The answer is certainly, “Yes”.

There are people on both “sides” of the abortion story. I believe Scripture warns us about our focusing on the “sides” and urges us to consider the greater purposes of God. Do you remember what the angel of the Lord told Joshua, when Joshua asked which side he was on? Go ahead and check it out.

Do you think God rejects innocent babies who have not yet taken a breath? How you answer that question may well reveal how you perceive God.

How you answer that question likely influences how you respond to this issue. Read Exodus 2 and Exodus 3. Whose cries does God hear, and what cries prompt Him to respond?

I hope you don’t gloss over these questions. I hope you wrestle with the implications. Who is it that God is concerned about? And why?

Go back to the question about how God handles the death of an unborn baby who has yet to take a breath. Does He receive them? Or does He reject them?

I urge you not to gloss over these questions.

How we answer them informs how the Church should orientate itself on the issue of abortion. Our answers suggest the priority of our focus and how we should live out the Gospel on this issue.

How we do that individually is a matter of the gifting God has giving each of us, the burden He has put on our hearts, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We will only make our way forward as the salt and light God intend us to be with much prayer and humility and trepidation.

Thoughts on the Sanctity of Human Life, Injustice and Unity in the Church in the United States

God’s desire is to save us, to have relationship with us, to renew our minds and to conform us to His image.

Reading in Exodus today, I observe that two passages in the first two chapters have poignant application to the Body of Christ in the United States today. I see two predominant lines of injustice in the United States to which the Church collectively has given its attention that are identified in these first two chapters of Exodus.

At the same time, the Church is divided on justice issues. I don’t say this to condemn or to be judgmental. It’s simply a fact that I think we need to recognize soberly, honestly and humbly.

We might find many examples, but the one that comes to mind – the one that is, perhaps, most poignant in this given time – is the division between black and white and the division between supporters and and non-supporters of Donald Trump.

I know: I said one example, and it seems I given two here. These are two examples, but they coalesce into one. The proof for that is in the statistics that show that approximately 80% of white evangelicals support Trump, and approximately 80% of black “evangelicals”[i] do not support Trump.

Now, I recognize that these statistics are sweeping generalizations, but generalizations do tell a story. There is some reflection of truth in them. I also don’t mention Trump to be divisive here. The example simply is provided for illustration.

Churchgoing African Americans can be as theologically conservative on things like what it means to be born again as white evangelicals, but their individual and collective experiences give them a different perspective on life. Their view of the world and injustice is different than their white, evangelical counterparts, for the most part, and influences them to have different political affiliations.

My reading in Exodus (which I will get to) is timely because today is Sanctity of Life Sunday. I didn’t even realize it when I did my daily reading after I woke up this morning.

I didn’t realize it until I tuned into the Manchester (NH) Vineyard Community Church service this morning. I have never tuned into their services, until today, though I know people affiliated with them. When I set out to participate in a more local church service, I believe God drew my attention away to this one.

It was a great message, and I gained some perspective from it that, perhaps, God wanted me to have in writing this. With that introduction, let me explain the passages in Exodus that prompt my writing. Those texts include Exodus 1 (about the killing of babies) and Exodus 2 (about slavery).   

I will take these things one at a time and draw some conclusions consistent with the burden God has placed on my heart over the years. In another article, perhaps, I will explain how my perspectives have changed and, hopefully, shed some light on how the church can come together in the full council of God to advance His justice and righteousness.

Before I get into my immediate thoughts, though, I need to say that I speak with no condemnation in my heart

Just as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery that he did not condemn her, I am reminded that God sent his son into the world not to condemn the world; God sent His son into the world so that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)

I do not say these things to condemn anyone because Jesus has redeemed us!


In the story of the woman caught in adultery, the Pharisees and Sadducees brought her to Jesus to challenge him because the Law required her to be stoned. They wanted to see what Jesus would do, but Jesus seemed to ignore them and began writing in the sand.

Some people believe that Jesus may have written the Ten Commandments out in the sand. When he looked up from from writing, Jesus “invited” them, saying, “He who is without sin may cast the first stone.” Then, he continued writing in the sand.

Some people believe he was writing down the sins those men had committed. They would say the men walked away silently because they realized that no one is without sin.


The wages of sin for every person is death.

Whatever he wrote, we know how the dialogue went next. “Jesus stood up and said to [the woman], ‘[W]here are they? Has no one condemned you?,” John 8:9) When she replied, “No one”, Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.” (John 8:10)

Jesus didn’t condemn the men either, because he told us he came not to condemn, but to save. I imagine that, Jesus would have received, forgiven and invited the men to follow him, if they had stayed and repented.

God desires to save us, to have relationship with us, to renew our minds and to conform us to His image. Our sin is the reason God became flesh and died for us. He came not to condemn, but to demonstrate His great love for us and to save us from the sin that enslaves us.

One last thing before I get into what I believe God has put on my heart to share: salvation and sanctification is a process. It starts where we are. When we are born again, God begins to work in us to will and to act according to His purposes and to conform us to His image, but we start that process in different places.

One point made in the sermon today, is that “a person doesn’t have to be pro-life to be saved”. People are saved by grace; it’s a gift that we haven’t earned. There will be no exam in heaven we must answer satisfactorily for salvation. It’s already been accomplished for us by Christ’s death and resurrection.

At the same time, if we are born again, God has begun a work within us. He has begun to renew our minds, and change our hearts, and we have begun to learn to think God’s thoughts after Him and become like Him.

With that said, I will address the two texts I read today in Exodus 1 and 2 that speak to me about the Church, collectively, in the United States. In writing this article, my hope is to provide some biblical basis on which we might begin to bridge the divide along racial and political lines and come together as the body of Christ. I hope to provide some perspective and understanding that will bring us together in Christ.

Continue reading “Thoughts on the Sanctity of Human Life, Injustice and Unity in the Church in the United States”

God Will Not Be Mocked; His Purpose Will Be Accomplished Among Us

I have no doubt God is accomplishing His purpose, but what role we play may surprise us

21 February 2016: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to several thousand supporters at a rally in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Washington Examiner was the first news source to report that Republican senator, Ben Sasse, said in a “campaign telephone town hall call that went to about 17,000 Nebraskans”, among other things, that President Donald Trump trash-talks evangelicals behind their backs”. After briefly citing some points of agreement with Trump, Sasse “began to unload” on the President.

Sasse identified a litany of issues he has with Trump – careening “from curb to curb” on COVID (first ignoring it, then going “into full economic shutdown mode”), selling out allies, “the way he treats women”, spending “like a drunken sailor” and flirting with white supremacists – but the issue I want to focus on is the charge that Trump “mocks evangelicals behind closed doors”.

Sasse commented, “I think the overwhelming reason that President Trump won in 2016 was simply because Hillary Clinton was literally the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling.” It’s true, and most evangelicals I know said they were voting “only” for Trump as “the lesser of two evils”. They couldn’t stomach another Clinton presidency, perpetuating that inbred political machine in Washington that is openly hostile to concerns of evangelicals.

So, where along the timeline did Donald Trump become our champion? When did he stop being an evil? (Albeit an ostensibly lesser one)

A little googling reveals (for those who’s memory is short) that “long before” Donald Trump ran for President of the United States, he was a Democrat. Donald was registered as a Democrat from 2001-2009. Have we forgotten the criticism leveled against The Donald by Jeb Bush? “He was a Democrat longer than he was a Republican. He’s given more money to Democrats than he has to Republicans.” (Including Hillary Clinton)

To be completely accurate, Donald Trump changed his party affiliation at least five times since 1987, when he registered as a Republican. He changed to Independent in 1999, to Democrat in 2001, to Republican in 2009, to Independent in 2011, to Republican again in 2012. (See Political positions of Donald Trump at Wikipedia) But should that give us comfort?

On the issue that has been historically most influential on the Evangelical vote, abortion, Donald Trump has been described as shifting “from pro-choice to pro-life only as he planned a presidential run”. Robb Ryerse, a pastor at Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville, AR, said earlier this year, “I personally believe that the President is cynically using pro-life voters for his own electoral purposes and doesn’t actually care about protecting innocent life at all.”

The LA Times was less skeptical in its description of Trump’s turnabout recently, calling him “a late convert” to the pro-life cause. Noting Trump’s position in 1999 (“pro-choice in every respect”), Trump told the March For Life crowd in Washington this year that “every life is worth protecting”.

The Times added: “Trump is counting on the support of his base of conservative activists to help bring him across the finish line.” While I don’t share the Times’ anti-pro-life stance, that’s what concerns me – that Trump is saying simply what a large block of his constituents want to hear. (To be fair, my skepticism runs deep with all politicians, especially in campaign mode.)

After all, moderates aren’t tolerated by voters anymore. Both political parties have “taken harder-line positions for and against abortion rights”. Trump had to choose sides. As former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, said recently, “There used to be a middle”, but now candidates must choose sides in an increasingly polarizing political environment.

Digging deeper, Trump’s political views have shifted from moderate populist (2003) to liberal-leaning populist to moderate populist (2003-2011) to moderate populist conservative (2011-12), to Libertarian leaning conservative (2012-15) to “hard-core conservative” just before the 2016 election. Interestingly, he back-stepped to Libertarian-leaning conservative, then moderate conservative after the election, but he may (again) be described as “hard-core conservative” … now that he campaigns for re-election. (See Political positions of Donald Trump ibid.)

I can’t help noticing that his hard-core conservativism seems to be timed with election campaigning, and that’s one of the things that troubles me about him. So, I began wondering today: what are his long-standing convictions? From my reading, I would say populism, authoritarianism, and nationalism, so let’s take a closer look at those threads of Donald Trump’s political life.

Continue reading “God Will Not Be Mocked; His Purpose Will Be Accomplished Among Us”

Abraham, Isaac and Paradigm Shift

The story of Abraham and Isaac establishes a significant and remarkable shift in worldview for the time.


We live in a specific cultural and historical time and view things through cultural, historical, social, political, and other contexts that are familiar to us. Things in the Bible often do not make sense to us immediately because the filter through which we see the world with modern eyes obscures the context in which the stories in the Bible were told. Whether one believes the Bible is God’s word, no one can understand it as it was written without understanding the context.

The story of Abraham and Isaac is particularly hard to understand in modern context. Why would anyone think to sacrifice a child? They very thought is barbaric! A God who would ask such a thing must be barbaric too! So, the thinking goes.

Let’s set that thinking aside for the moment before we come back to it. Let’s not jump to 21st Century conclusions. Let’s consider the historical and cultural context and give the story the benefit of the doubt to see what we might find.

First, Abraham clearly was doing what he thought God was asking of him. He was willing to do it, even if, perhaps, he didn’t understand it, and it would would be painful to him. Isaac was his only son. Not only that, he was the son God promised to give him and through whom God promised Abraham descendants as many as the stars in the sky.

According the written account, Isaac was a miracle. Abraham and Sarah were past child-bearing age, but God had promised them a child. Now, God seemed to be urging him to take that child’s life. Just as it makes no sense to us, it would not have made sense to Abraham. Even if there was no other reason, it would not make sense because it went against what God had promised.

Yet, Abraham was convinced that he must do it, or at least that he must follow through with this urging from God to wherever it would lead. This belief is central to story, and we need to understand the why before we can fully understand the story.

We have a hard time understanding this particular commitment by Abraham to God in our modern world. Why would Abraham think it was ok for God to ask this of him?

We would never believe that God would tell anyone to murder a child, let alone our child. We would call anyone who believed such a thing psychotic, delusional, or worse – downright wicked. We lock people like that up and throw away the key!

But, not so fast. Let’s take a step back into the Ancient Near East and consider Abraham’s world. We have thousands of years of human progress to thank for how we think, thousands of years of Christian influence by which we now judge the world.

The Christian influence permeates the thinking of post-modern secularists who don’t even appreciate how Christian their thinking is! We have “advanced” in many ways in our collective thinking. Ancients would have never dreamed of the modern notions of humans rights and basic freedoms.

We now live in a world in which an individual’s pursuit of happiness is a protected right, and people are free to follow their own dreams. We highly value individualism. “I did it my way” is an anthem in our modern society. Religion is largely frowned upon if it cuts against these modern grains.

In terms of morality, however, we are not really as different from the ancients as we think. You may know someone who has sacrificed a child. Maybe you have done it yourself. I am talking about abortion.

I don’t say this to condemn anyone. I simply point out that abortion is an accepted practice in our time. Some societies would view our acceptance of abortion with shock (including our own society 50 years ago). Others in the future may think the same.

Therefore, let’s put aside our modern prisms through which we tend to view the story of Abraham and Isaac. Let’s consider the story in it’s ancient context.

Continue reading “Abraham, Isaac and Paradigm Shift”

Valuable Consideration

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The Planned Parenthood videos have exposed the soft underbelly of the abortion industry. Some would say it is much ado about nothing, but methinks they doth protest too much.

The defenders and supporters have focused on the “lie” that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of aborted fetal organs (“baby parts”). They do not call them human remains, though that is what they are. So much of the battle ground in this debate is over words, as if a rose by any other name is not a rose.

The defenders would like shift the focus on words and whether there was “profit” and “reasonable consideration”, never mind what we saw. A perfect example is found in the popular factcheck.org article, Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video. The article goes to length to explain that Planned Parenthood does not “profit” for the sale of the fetal body parts. In the process, it directs our attention to the cold words in in the federal statutes:

The video itself highlights a portion of title 42 of the U.S. code, which reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human organ for valuable consideration for use in human transplantation if the transfer affects interstate commerce.” The law does include fetal tissue in its definitions. It says that the term “valuable consideration” doesn’t include “reasonable payments” for removal, transportation, preservation and other associated costs.

The statute referenced provides as follows:

(2) The term “valuable consideration” does not include the reasonable payments associated with the removal, transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, and storage of a human organ or the expenses of travel, housing, and lost wages incurred by the donor of a human organ in connection with the donation of the organ.

While the Pro-Life activists and politicians who are opposed to abortion have tried to claim that Planned Parenthood is illegally profiting from the sale of “baby parts”, and Planned Parenthood and their defenders have claimed those accusations are “lies”, the discussion entirely misses the point. I will come back that, but let us look at the profit issue.

“Valuable consideration” in general legal parlance means, simply, something of value, anything of value really. It means quid pro quo, an exchange of something for something, without quantifying the two somethings. In other words, “valuable consideration” does not depend on whether the exchange is proportionate or fair; it only matters that something of value is given and gotten.

The federal law that addresses the sale of human tissue, however, uses “valuable consideration” in a more unique and specific way. The definition excludes “reasonable payments” (essentially covering costs). We could argue whether the $30-$100 Planned Parenthood gets for the fetal organs it sells is reasonable or covers costs, but that would be an exercise in missing the forest for the trees.

Technically, Planned Parenthood does not make any profit, regardless of the consideration received for its services and sales. Planned Parenthood is organized as a nonprofit corporation. It does not have profits and never will. All of the funds it raises go back into the organization (including payment of the salaries of its employees and officers). There are no “profits” for a nonprofit corporation.

The shocking aspect of the Planned Parenthood videos is not the consideration they obtain for the brains, livers and other organs and parties of babies that are aborted in their clinics, but the callous, cold, clinical, even joking way they talk of dismembering, crushing and cutting into babies to “harvest” their parts.

We should not be distracted by mere verbiage. Watch the videos. Listen to the way the Planned Parenthood executives talk about what they are doing. If we are not alarmed at how callously and coldly they chit chat about what they are doing, we should also be alarmed at how much our consciences have been seared by ignoring and trivializing the killing of human life.