By Bethany Verrett, Crosswalk.com
The Supreme Court Friday overturned the Roe v. Wade decision from 1973 and the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision from 1992, by ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson case. This has inspired passionate responses from those who believe in the right to choose abortion, and those who believe in preserving the life of the unborn baby. Even in the church, there will be strongly differing opinions. It can be hard to know how to navigate moments like these as a believer. Fortunately, Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, and serves as the model which all Christians can strive to emulate.
Here are five keys to having a Christlike response about the Dobbs v. Jackson Decision, which overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, by the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
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1. Be Informed
When Jesus spoke, He spoke in the fullness of His authority as the Son of God and as the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). He did not speak in ignorance.
When believers engage with one another, or with people who are not Christians, about a topic, it is important to try to be informed about it. While no person can speak with the same level of authority as the Lord of Hosts, they can have a base level of knowledge.
Here are key facts to know about the Supreme Court ruling, and the development of life in the womb.
6 Important Facts about the Dobbs v. Jackson Ruling
1. This ruling does not make abortion illegal nationally. All that will happen is that abortion restrictions, or lack thereof, shall be decided through the legislative process in each state. Every state can have its own unique laws on abortion.
2. Roe v. Wade was overturned based on the legal premise that abortion is not an issue the federal government has the authority to legislate, or force through executive or judicial action.
3. Planned Parenthood v. Casey was overturned because it was ruled based on stare decisis, a legal term meaning the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to precedent. If the Roe v. Wade decision was not constitutional, then the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision was not constitutional.
4. Roe v. Wade upheld the idea that the fourteenth amendment created a right to privacy. The Supreme Court, and past justices including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, felt this was a weak legal argument.
4a. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution reads in part: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
5. The opinions issued by the justices make it clear the only issues affected by this ruling are about abortion, and not any other controversial past rulings.
6. Just because something is precedent – “an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances” – does not mean it is the law, or that it cannot be changed.
9 Important Facts about Development in the Womb
1. The baby has a distinct genetic code from conception.
2. A heartbeat is present after 3 weeks.
3. The baby responds to light around 5 ½ weeks.
4. Brainwaves have been measured as early as 6 ½ weeks.
5. By 8 weeks approximately 4,000 permanent body parts are present.
6. At 12 weeks the baby can kick his legs, curl his toes, squint, turn his head, open his mouth and swallow.
7. Babies born as early as 20-24 weeks have survived premature birth with proper medical intervention.
8. At 7 months the baby is 1/3rd of its birth weight.
9. Most babies born after the 8-month mark survive.
Having an understanding of what this legal ruling does and what the process of prenatal development looks like can help a Christian have a well-formed basis for conversation about not just Biblical values, but also the science of human development and the American legal system.
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2. Stay Peaceful and Kind
It can be easy to get wound up and angry when people begin to discuss divisive issues. Pro-abortion activists believe their ability to control their bodies is at risk, and pro-life activists believe that a child is being killed. Often, conversations about this subject devolve into shouting matches, smug insults, and unhealthy dialogue.
There is only one instance in the Bible of Jesus behaving aggressively, and that was in the temple in the week leading up to the Crucifixion. He did this under His authority as the Lord of the Sabbath, the Son of God, and the great High Priest. Since sinners and Christians do not have that authority, walking in peace and kindness will be a better witness, and will follow the model of Jesus. For example, Peter was condemned by the Lord when he cut off the ear of a servant when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Lashing out at those with whom we disagree will not change hearts and minds.
Relevant Bible Verses
Psalms 34:14 - “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
John 18:10-11 - “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?’”
Romans 12:18 - “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
Colossians 3:15 - “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
Hebrews 12:14 - “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
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3. Study Your Bible
While the issue of abortion is partially legal and partially scientific, it is primarily moral. Does a woman have the right to end the life of a baby that is in her womb? Churches are not in uniform agreement about the answer to this question. Sometimes supporters of abortion can find a Bible verse or two they feel supports their argument.
Being washed in the Word of God and knowing what the Bible says about life is key to being able to engage in the moral argument. Not everyone agrees with what the Bible says about life, but a believer should know what it says and why they believe what they believe. The world has persuasive arguments, but they are not rooted in God’s truth, so knowing what God says is important.
Relevant Bible Verses
Genesis 2:7 - “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
Psalm 129:13-16 - “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
John 10:10 - “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Romans 12:2 - “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
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4. Know When to Walk Away
Sometimes an argument cannot be won. There are people who have hardened their hearts against truth, against God, and against His will. Some people can respond badly to arguments to which they have no response. Even some Christians do not want to hear the parts of the Bible they do not like.
Having the wisdom to know when to disengage from a conversation is an important part of protecting one’s own heart from malice and anger, and stop oneself from sinning. Even Jesus did not try to argue down everyone who challenged Him, knowing when someone was beyond persuasion, such as many of the Pharisees.
Relevant Bible Verses
Matthew 10:16 - “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
John 12:40 - “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
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5. Pray for Those Who Hate You
Having a Christlike attitude and response to those who are unhappy about the Supreme Court decision does not end when a conversation does. For the believer, it is important to fight the urge to stay angry, to hate, and to wish ill on others. Jesus laid down His life on the cross for all sinners, whether they would fall on the pro-life or the pro-abortion side of the argument. When someone chooses to follow Jesus, they also choose to be willing to forgive, and to love those with whom they disagree. Beyond that, they choose to love those who hate them.
Praying for people, whether they are politicians, the neighbor next door, or a stranger with a picket sign outside the church, is following Jesus’ example when He cried out on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:24b). It is important to focus on the model that Jesus set when confronted with hatred and contention, especially on a political issue that carries such personal weight and feeling.
Relevant Bible Verses
Matthew 5:11-12 - “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:43-45 - “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
1 Timothy 2:1-4 - “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
For many, the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade brings out strong feelings. Believers should strive to temper all of it with the love of the Lord, and behaving like their Savior, Jesus Christ.
Relevant Legal Information
Alcorn, Randy. Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2000.
Swindoll, Charles. So, You Want To Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials to get You There. Nashville: W. Publishing Group, 1997.
Vaughan, Christopher. How Life Begins The Science of Life in the Womb. New York: Times Books, 2010.
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