Roe v. Wade: A Generation Lost
Forty years ago US involvement in Vietnam was winding down. War in the Middle East broke out during Yom Kippur. But all was quiet on the evangelical front, when a graver, bloodier war was declared in the hallowed halls of the United States Supreme Court. January 22 the Supreme Court released their decision in Roe v. Wade. That decision, purportedly flowing from the unseen penumbra and emanations of the Constitution, ruled that no state could prevent a woman from destroying her unborn child up until the moment of birth.
While the issue had been in the public eye since the beginning of the sexual revolution the evangelical church was not only less than outspoken, but less than certain on the issue. Two years before Roe the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling for legal abortion to protect the life of the mother, including her “emotional life.” Paul Jewett, professor of systematic theology at Fuller Seminary, was committed to the pro-abortion perspective.
…there is only one thing that can wash the blood from our hands, the blood from His. —@RCSproulJr
The evangelical pro-life movement began quietly in 1975 when Harold O.J. Brown, working with C. Everett Koop, opened the Christian Action Council. What woke the evangelical conscience, however, was Francis Schaeffer, also with Dr. Koop, releasing the video, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, in 1979. Over six million were already dead. In 1984 sitting President Ronald Reagan published Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation. Six million more were dead.
In the mid 1980’s evangelicals began getting more aggressive, joining with Roman Catholics in “rescues” across the country, blocking access to abortion mills. Federal legislation, RICO and FACE, and perhaps Paul Hill put an end to rescues. Not long after the Crisis Pregnancy Center movement exploded, growing into the 1990s. By the time George W. Bush took office over thirty million babies had been murdered. Under President Bush the political planets aligned such that the White House, the House and the Senate were all under the control of Republicans. Seven of the nine Supreme Court judges were appointed under Republican presidents. Eight years into the new century and ten million more babies were dead.
It is not my intent to challenge the effectiveness of any organization, any strategy, or any party. I have, in one way or another, been deeply involved in them all. Rather my intent is to highlight the deep gap between how we think about abortion forty years later, and the reality. We think in terms of strategies, movements, parties, and avert our eyes from the body parts. Strategies, movements, parties are all abstractions. The babies are real, and they are really dead. The anniversary is just a date on the calendar. The babies are dead, not fifty million of them, but one of them, fifty million times.
We must be politically active. We must serve moms in crisis. We must speak prophetically to both the world and the church, remembering that one in six abortions is procured by an evangelical. First, however, we must weep. First, our hearts have to be broken, lest our pro-life activities lead us to forget. First we must repent because for a generation we have thought and acted like a movement, while every day babies are being murdered. First we must recognize that the problem isn’t how many were killed over the past forty years, but is instead how many will be killed in the next forty minutes. We must pledge not to not forget what has happened, but to not forget what is happening. Last we must remember that there is only one thing that can wash the blood from our hands, the blood from His.
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