Apologetics,  Culture

Christians and the Abolition of Roe v. Wade

photo of celebration to mark the end of Roe v. Wade

June 24, 2022, will go down in history as a great day! On this memorable day, the Supreme Court of the Government of the United States of America ruled that the court precedent of Roe v. Wade was illegitimately established and was overturned. Moments like this are rare in America’s history but are deeply cherished. In this article, I want to briefly assess some of the implications of this court decision and then provide some Christian reflections.

What Does the Abolition of Roe v. Wade Mean?

Samuel Alito, writing the majority opinion for the ruling, notes the following on page 6 (of 213):

It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.” Casey, 505 U. S., at 979 (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). That is what the Constitution and the rule of law demand.

On page 79 of the same document, the final declaration of the majority opinion, Alito writes:

The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives. The judgment of the Fifth Circuit is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

In other words, the Court did not rule that abortion was wrong, but ruled that the decision should be decided state by state—by elected representatives of the people, not by judicial fiat. This means that, depending on which state you live in, abortion is legal or illegal depending on the laws that are in effect (or will be in effect) through the legislative process.

What is the Significance of This Decision?

For many years, the leftists in America have used the courts to subvert the legislative process. Although the judicial branch was never designed to establish laws, because the left had control of the courts, laws which were often against public opinion were implemented. Roe v. Wade was undoubtedly one of those cases, where at the time of the Court’s decision, 30 states prohibited abortion at all stages except to save the mother’s life.

June 24, 2022, marked a much-needed correction in the American court system by returning the question to the states themselves. The Constitution of the United States does not guarantee the so-called right to an abortion. Such an issue of law and morality is a legislative issue (according to the United States Constitution).

One of the most impactful parts of this decision is voiced by Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a concurring opinion (his own assessment of the case). In his opinion, he reemphasized that what the Court had done in the past—invented rights on the basis of a slippery concept known as “substantive due process”—was an egregious practice. The Court not only should refrain from such rulings, but revisit other court cases where the Court had overstepped in this way.

For that reason, in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Because any substantive due process decision is “demonstrably erroneous.”

Notice that he specifically lists Obergefell as a case that needs to be overturned due to the exact same reasoning that the courts used in the case of Roe. The significance then is multiplied in the sense that if the courts are indeed going to be consistent, the Obergefell decision must also be viewed as erroneously created.

Christian Takeaways and Application to the News of the Abolition of Roe

I have many thoughts on this, but I will limit myself to a brief discussion.

First, Christians should be thankful. I was very encouraged by many of my friends on social media who did not just baselessly cheer the abolition of Roe, but they thanked the Creator God to whom all credit and glory goes. It is clear that laws against abortion saves lives. So we rejoice!

Second, the work is far from over. As noted above, the ruling does not make a moral judgment on whether abortion is right or wrong, it simply returns the decision to the states themselves. So Christians need to continue to fight for life and the oppressed.

Third, these are amazing opportunities for cultural conversations and witnessing. Almost everyone who embraces a secular worldview had the opposite reaction of Christians. They fumed, and spewed hatred and anger. But, this is a great opportunity to share what the love of Christ means to our neighbors. We can tangibly show them that Christians love life because it is a gift from God. And without that God, who has ordered all of creation, life is meaningless.

Fourth, elections have consequences. This is a very important point, yet only visible after the fact. In 2016, Donald Trump ran against Hillary Clinton, who was at the time the most extreme abortion proponent to run for the White House. Many Christians had qualms about voting for the Don. I know I told many friends that I had no idea if Trump would even turn out to implement conservative policies. My only solace was that I knew Hillary Clinton would not, so there was not really much of a choice. Many Christians I personally know were offended that Christians would dare vote for Trump in 2016. Were we not tarnishing our witness by voting for an immoral leader?

It turned out that Trump had the historical and unparalleled opportunity to appoint not just one, but three Supreme Court judges! All three of those votes were decisive in overturning the terrible Federal Court precedent of Roe. Nobody can argue that Trump is a paragon of virtue—he’s not. But, if wisdom is justified by all her children (Luke 7:35), the Christians who pointed to the importance of the appointed judges are certainly justified at this point. History will undoubtedly link Trump with this important day.

Fifth, the overturn of Roe does not prove postmillennialism is true! I am including this because, in many of my social media circles, #datpostmil was trending. As a reminder, although dispensationalists believe things will devolve into a chaotic tribulation in the end, that does not mean God will never give blessed reprieves or revivals for nations. Further, as postmillennialists often remind dispensationalists, just because postmill adherents believe things will slowly get better and better over time, this doesn’t mean there won’t be setbacks along the way, or prolonged periods of anti-God rebellion. So, both eschatological camps rejoice that Roe has been overturned. But, sorry, it doesn’t prove or disprove eschatology. To do that, we interpret the texts of Scripture—we do not exegete the headlines!

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He loves studying the Bible and helping others understand it. He also runs the Bible Sojourner podcast.

5 Comments

  • Bill

    I am a pro-life Christian. And I celebrate the reversal of Roe versus Wade. But I am still shocked at the “ends justify the means” reasoning of Christians who rationalize their vote for an abusive, vile man because it resulted in good judges (that any other of the Republicans running in 2016 would have also appointed).

    Wisdom is justified by her children . . . is not the text to use to teach a utilitarian, ends justify the means sub-Christian ethic. The damage done to the church’s witness will be something we all come to regret (I already am).

    And, regarding the ends: if you are an election-denier who believes Trump really won in 2020, then you won’t hear a word I say anyway, but it also means you need to look at your discernment, your wisdom, your moral compass in believing a man who’s been lying about election results since before the 2016 election. Hear me on this: what Donald Trump did in the aftermath of the 2020 election leading up to the attack on our capital was perhaps the worst thing an American president has done in our nation’s history when it comes to protecting our representative democracy and his own oath to protect the Constitution. We will be very fortunate indeed if we are able to retain the success of the American experiment without more political violence. If we do end up with something more akin to a strong-man, minority rule type of system, who knows what will happen. What’s heartbreaking for me is that this happened because many, many of the “good people”, my Christian brothers and sisters, decided that character did not matter, really (they were just kidding in 1998) and – what’s more – they will vote AGAIN in 2024 for the guy who tried to wrest the control of an office that he clearly lost in a fair election using lies and political violence.

    I’ll just never understand this.

    • Peter Goeman

      I certainly agree that there should be restraint and Christians should never communicate that they are approving of sin. But really the issue seems to be pretty simple–voting for the person or worldview which will align most closely with what God reveals in His Word. I actually don’t know of anyone who says character doesn’t matter. I think that’s pretty much a strawman argument. The real argument is that there are things that are more important than character (like the slaughter of innocent lives). Not all sins are equal.

      Btw, if you’re interested in my full take on this: https://petergoeman.com/trump-biden-and-the-christian-vote/

      • Bill

        I agree that not all sins are the same. But those of us who actually believed the rhetoric of our Evangelical Christian brothers and sisters from the late nineties until about 2015 could see that with DJT it wasn’t just an issue of bad character. Let me explain: First of all, Christians elevated Donald Trump in the primaries. He wasn’t the lesser of two evils or the “hold your nose” vote. He was the *choice* of evangelical Christians who, according to a PRRI poll (https://www.prri.org/research/prri-brookings-oct-19-poll-politics-election-clinton-double-digit-lead-trump/) in 2011 or thereabouts 70% said character mattered in leaders, and by 2016 only 30% did. We could have gotten any other Republican we wanted, and – thanks to Mitch McConnell, still would have gotten our judges. But we *chose* DJT, not in spite of his character, but because of it. The whole “he fights” thing… The display of hypocrisy and the political idolatry/cult of personality that has infected the church has hurt our witness terribly. I am not expecting you to agree with me, or even change your mind about your vote. I do wish I saw more Christians who at least were slightly conflicted about the path we chose. We didn’t have to choose it.

        Those of us at the mercy of the 80% of our brothers and sisters who ignored their own advice and picked DJT out of all the choices available; we saw what was coming. I am thrilled RvW was overturned, and would have been thrilled if that was done through judges appointed by Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or any number of other Republicans. But the 80% chose a man who put us within one Vice Presidential conscience of having a full-blown Constitutional crisis in January 2021. I am still in doubt that our democratic republic will survive the next few years.

  • KJH

    The people have no authority to make decisons about women’s bodies, only the woman does. We as a country, need to seperate. The christian right needs their own country and the rest of us that believe in democracy and women’s rights, need ours. Ameirca is finished as cohesive nation, time to go our seperate ways.

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