Today was the kind of day where food pictures were making me angry. Sometimes there’s a heaviness in the land that can’t be dismissed by hamburgers and heart emojis. Sometimes we have to stop and cry out in repentance, cry out for mercy, and stop pretending it’s all going to be okay when we have refused to take up our call to make it so. Today was that day.
It was Saturday night as I was processing with a friend about the pending Supreme Court decision. I had been telling people it was unusual of me to not have a feeling of which way it would go. With all the big SCOTUS decisions the past few years, I wasn’t always happy, but I was never surprised. Often the questions the justices ask in the oral arguments give us an inkling of where the ruling will go, and that was the case here. As I processed with a friend, I suddenly knew what was going to happen. It made sense. Not sense to a pro-life mind, of course, but sense as I put myself on that bench with their questions and views. They didn’t see proof the law had benefited women, so it would be an “undue burden.” I had 36 hours to prepare myself mentally. It always helps, but it never lessens the blow when you see the words. “Supreme Court strikes down Texas law.” That was all it took. I inhaled sharply. That was it.
Now to be fair, the entire law was not struck down. Only the two parts in question in this case—hospital admitting privileges for abortionists and ambulatory care center requirements for the surgery itself—were struck. But it was about more than that. It was the biggest challenge to abortion in many years; it was the first real indicator that this nation might take a hard look at the crime of child sacrifice again. In 1973 when Roe was decided, we didn’t have the knowledge and technology we have today. Back then people didn’t get 4D sonograms where they could see their babies’ faces in the womb a few months into pregnancy. There was still some mystery in pregnancy. But now we can see through the uterine veil, and yet we still destroy what’s inside it.
In this case we have decided that being an enlightened and progressive society means not making it difficult for women to kill their babies, nor to inconvenience the abortion clinics too much to get it done. As usual I have a few observations and opinions, so here goes.
- I’ve noted for years that safety regulations like those struck down are standard for most surgical procedures. Abortion is a surgical procedure. Arguing that it is a safe one is irrelevant. Appendectomies are safe. Hip replacements are safe. Hysterectomies are safe. Just because the surgery might be one with a high success rate doesn’t mean it’s not a risk. If I were a supporter of abortion and thought I needed one, I would consider myself a fool to entrust my entire reproductive system to a doctor who would not even be able to admit me to the hospital if I had complications, whose office did not even have the right sized doorway to get me through it if I were needing to be moved in an emergency. It is a terrifying reality that the abortion industry has so manipulated women into thinking an abortion is as simple as getting your teeth cleaned. It is a risky procedure. Granted, not many women die having abortions (though all their babies do), but many have had terrible complications, sometimes resulting in emergency surgery for those complications. What a travesty of justice for everyone to say having safety regulations in place is an “undue burden.” If all medicine were run like abortion, we’d have a land filled with maimed and dead people. Striking down such safety regulations is like saying it’s an undue burden to have to swallow penicillin four times a day. Why the heck would you not want as much safety as possible in a procedure that affects your uterus, for Pete’s sake? It’s astounding to me how afraid people are to regulate a medical procedure with risks.
- Justice Kennedy has proven he is not a conservative anymore. Whatever happened to shift him, we may never know, but his track record for a season now has been to side with the liberal justices. We have believed that we had a 5-4 conservative court, prior to Scalia’s death. In fact, we now have a 5-3 liberal court, and what hangs in the balance does not bode well for the future of this nation.
- Scalia’s death did not affect this ruling. Had he lived and voted, the ruling would have been 5-4 rather than 5-3. In some ways that helps me digest it, knowing his death did not impact this, but it’s still a bad ruling that glorifies abortion above life and health.
Beyond these facts, here’s what really concerns me: This is bigger than two parts of a law that became a political game. Spiritually, it’s a disaster. The shedding of innocent blood is a big, big deal to God. If you have never read the Bible for the phrase “shedding of innocent blood” and considered abortion as one of the main ways that happens, I challenge you to do so, but be prepared to have your spiritual life shaken—as it should be, for this is vital to God. One of my favorite authors, John Ensor, has this to say in his book Innocent Blood:
God always presents the shedding of innocent blood to his people as a matter of the highest priority. It comes to us in a way that knocks us off stride (or ought to). It messes with our schedules. It is arresting. It interrupts our normal patterns, at least temporarily. When life-saving actions are required to prevent the shedding of innocent blood, it falls particularly upon us, who believe, to suffer the imposition and take whatever preventive steps are necessary, lest innocent blood be shed and bloodguilt stain us all.
Bloodguilt? Seriously? Yes. Very seriously. God didn’t change his views in light of current culture. Ensor says:
“Bloodguilt” is a blunt, almost vulgar term. It hits rudely, like a slap in the face. It is God’s chosen term to arouse godly fear and compel decisive action. It is a word of awakening, forcing us to recognize an unbreakable linkage: God’s image is debased and his wrath justly incited every time a person made in God’s image is unjustly destroyed. There is no debasing of God’s image without consequences.
Bloodguilt requires God’s vengeance and vindication. It stands as an indictment against the sin of shedding innocent blood, but it is also a promise, of sorts, to victims. These are they who cried out to God and received no immediate answer. To them, it may have seemed either that God did not care or was powerless to intervene. Psalm 9:11-12 reminds us that neither of these options is true—this is a false choice: “Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” … And while he has his own reasons for delaying avenging wrath, he will not pardon it—he still has ample time to repay, and there is no statute of limitations.
Indeed, Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” And in Revelation, Jesus says of Jezebel, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:20-21).
We are fools who do not understand the ways of God if we think His mercy means no judgment will come. His mercy gives us time to repent, to turn and save ourselves and others, but God would not be a just God if He did not bring justice to those who are oppressed, and of all the people who need justice, no one is more innocent or helpless than a child who cannot speak. All these babies can do is squirm and try to get away from the vacuum that has come to suck them from the womb. And as that child shrinks back, to no avail, Jesus weeps and aches. He must avenge these innocent ones. Or He’d be a liar. If I may, I’d like to leave you with one more Ensor quotation to explain why we can reconcile the love and mercy of God with the justice and vengeance of the shedding of innocent blood:
Love is moral in nature. If this is still hard to grasp, consider this: If I come across a man raping a woman, I cannot love them both in the same way: in that circumstance, love to the woman will look like rescue while love to the man may look like violence. This is because love is inherently moral in character.
Suppose I approach the terrorized woman and her brutal assailant and say, “I love you both equally and must express that love in the same fashion. God does not want you to violate this woman, but please do not think he is angry: because God is love, he does not get angry. Isn’t that amazing!”
The woman would denounce my faith as cowardly, irrational, and evil. So would you. Love must love righteousness and hate evil. Love must be passionately committed to right over wrong. It must pick sides. It must fight for the weak and the innocent and oppose the violent and the wicked. Therefore, I must scream my lungs out, push the man off of her, shout for a neighbor to call the police—do something. If the rapist turns on me with his knife and I lose my life in the process of defending the woman, what will they say? There is no greater love than to risk your life for another (cf. John 15:13).
You see, if the unborn baby is a person that God created, whom He knew before He formed him or her, then His love for that person must also be expressed by dealing with those who would destroy him or her. It would be unloving for the Lord to not deal with that.
We have been silent too long. We have let abortion be a back burner issue, a political issue. We have cared too much about who we might offend, rather than caring about offending God Himself who will not be mocked.
On January 22, 1973, this nation turned on God in a blatant and despicable way as it sanctioned the shedding of innocent blood on a national level. On June 27, 2016, this nation had the opportunity to reverse some of that course by offering a token of restraint, a voice that says “anything goes is not okay.” Today’s decision would not have reversed abortion, though the many shuttered clinics would have saved lives. Don’t let the back-alley abortion lies fool you. And frankly, to not put common sense and ordinary safety standards on abortion clinics doesn’t make them much better than back alley abortions anyway.
The bottom line, however, is that bloodshed sanctioned on the national level has far more harsh consequences than the individual choice of one person to kill her child. Remember this: people are eternal, but nations are not. A nation that kills its own and refuses to regulate any part of that process in the name of progress has actually become a nation of barbarians who have chosen being their own god while acting like Satan.
Is it too late? Of course not! But it’s time to get serious, Church. It’s time to stop sidestepping an issue that God has under the spotlight. Joel 2 says it far better than I could begin to when he writes:
“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent…
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
16 Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord…
In short, stop your ordinary lives and pray. Churches, pray. Cancel the tea and call a prayer meeting. For real.
This is serious stuff. It’s not a political issue, and while good laws and righteous politicians help the cause, it is our responsibility as a church to take up our mantle and do the job with which God has entrusted us