By Bo Linam
ABORTION: WHEN MAN’S LAW & GOD’S LAW CONFLICT
In this third article about abortion, we will tackle where we get the concepts of government and law, the misconception of Roe v Wade being settled law, the manipulation of definitions, and how we answer the fool according to their “legal” folly on the topic of abortion. Just like the first two articles, our aim is to educate and equip the church body to have conversations on the topic of abortion from a Christian worldview.
WHY DO WE EVEN NEED LAWS/GOVERNMENT?
Where does the need for government and law come from? This concept actually comes from a very biblically sound place. One of the best places to look at this is Romans 1. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul paints the picture of how humanity is consumed with self-satisfaction, sexual immorality, and the ways our hearts will trade the truth of the True God for the lies of the false god of this world. These passages in Romans 1 show what happens to humanity when we are left without proper oversight (a God-honoring government) and ignore the moral law God has written on all of our hearts. We have needed oversight (government) since the fall in Genesis chapter 3. The “fall” led to corruption and the curse of sin. We see the first murder in the next chapter of Genesis when Cain kills Abel, and God says “the voice of your brother is crying to me from the ground.” Why would Abel’s voice be crying out to God from the ground if there wasn’t a moral absolute of good and evil, i.e. the law God embossed on our hearts. God’s law has forbidden the unjust killing of human life since the fourth chapter of the Bible. In the very next book of the Bible, we see God first give the formal/written Law to Moses on Mt Sinai for the Israelites to follow (Exodus 20). This is where we see the biblical foundations for governance and law. It’s God’s common grace that we have governance and rulers, both under God’s sovereignty, to protect against our shared tendency to sin and to punish wrongdoing.
HOW SHOULD YOU RESPOND TO GOVERNMENT?
How the Christian should respond to government is found in Romans 13. We are called to be obedient to our government, but the government is also called to honor God’s law and not contradict it. The question then arises, what do we do when the law of the land finds itself in conflict with the Law of God? In Romans 13:8-14, Paul lays out the case that God’s moral law is still to be followed. Many of the things Paul references here are perfectly legal in a Roman culture at the time of him writing the book of Romans. We can then conclude that Paul is saying we shouldn’t have blind obedience to government, but that we should honor our government, pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and pay our taxes (Romans 13:7). In Acts 5, the Apostles are captured and beaten for refusing to stop sharing the Gospel. These Apostles are in direct violation of the civil magistrates in Jerusalem by refusing to stop teaching the message of Christ crucified. This means that there is clear biblical precedent to not follow the law of man if it goes against the message of God.
We must recognize a distinction between a government compelling sin vs. allowing for sin. When foreign governments require abortion of its citizens, it’s a clear case for refusing to obey. That the U.S. government permits and defends abortion is abhorrent, but we thankfully aren’t compelled ourselves to participate. Rather, we are blessed to live in a country where we have the legal means of changing laws to outlaw evil practices as we convince others of the truth about those practices.
COURT OPINION VS LAW
Would it surprise you to learn that there is no federal law legalizing abortion? No issue has more broadly impacted politics and policy in the past 50 years than Roe Vs Wade, but this key Supreme Court decision wasn’t “law” in itself. Rather, the Supreme Court, without precedent, invented a new “right to privacy” by twisting the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment. Here is the exact portion of the 14th amendment on which the case was decided:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Oddly, neither a “right to privacy” nor “abortion” come to mind with even a generous reading of the clause. In essence, the Supreme Court created this new “right to privacy” under the guise of interpreting the constitution. By claiming that the state’s interest in protecting the unborn was less important than the right of a mother to seek assistance in killing her baby, the Supreme Court simultaneously rejected both man’s law and God’s law. The Supreme Court’s own website proudly trumpets its commitment to individual rights, but does not consider a child to be an individual until birth. It’s no wonder that many see abortion on demand until birth as a right.
THE FIGHT OVER DEFINITIONS
The fight over legal definitions is the new battlefront that the cultural war is being fought upon. No man has the authority to redefine what God has already defined. The legal system is attempting to redefine what the words “life” and “personhood” actually mean. These new meanings that are pressed upon us mean nothing and carry no weight if they are contrary to what God has already declared. God has defined “life” as beginning in the womb (Psalm 139) and that life is a gift given from God Himself. God clearly says that He knitted our inward parts together and breathed life into our lungs. Therefore, a new legal definition of “life” stating that it doesn’t begin until birth should hold no bearing on what “life” actually is. The pro-abortion crowd has started to abandon the fight over “life” in recent years, and shifted to defining what “personhood” means. They are trying to separate what has been scientifically proven as life in the womb by agreeing it is life in the womb, but not yet a person.
Now we have to ask the question, “What does the Bible say about personhood?” The Bible never separates the idea of life and personhood. In fact, it joins the two together, even going as far as calling human beings “image bearers of God,” or the imago Dei. From the moment of conception, there is no division between personhood and human life in the eyes of God. To follow the liberal logic of “personhood” would lead to hospitals pulling the plug of every life support machine in the ICU. Changing definitions is a simple tactic that is only used when a party cannot win the argument by moral and scientific means.
In conclusion, we must not accept the pro-abort position of abortion is settled law. We must also not give into the rewording and reworking of definitions. But even if there were to be actual legislation passed to approve abortion from a federal level, we must still hold to the greater law we have from the ultimate Lawgiver. He will one day judge those who would so casually destroy His image. How will He judge us in our response to this critical issue?