Roe, Dobbs, and God's Judgment
The news came down from Washington, D.C.: Roe v. Wade has been overturned!
There was some rioting, of course — there was bound to be. But a lot of America rejoiced.
The Good News First
Notwithstanding the important caveats raised by Ann Coulter about the low numbers of abortions that will be stopped by Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the historic importance of Dobbs cannot be brushed aside.
The most recent judicial event of a similar magnitude would be Brown v. the Board of Education of seventy years ago, which overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and the doctrine of "separate but equal" (Dobbs 4). Like Brown's role in the history of segregation, Dobbs does not eradicate evil in one swoop. But it demolishes the jurisprudence that has protected evil from rightful scrutiny.
The decision has now forced abortion-supporters into an unwinnable argument. If pro-choice people want the Fourteenth Amendment (equal protection) to impose one standard for abortion on the whole country rather than allow for states to hold different standards, then they will have to start from scratch to argue in universal terms that unborn people are not humans with a right to life.
In open debate, the most sensible universal standard might end up being that people are human before they are born. By seeking a universal standard, pro-choice people would give their opponents the power to defeat them everywhere in America.
Dobbs's reliance on states' rights throws the left back on its heels even though we should not embrace "sending it back to the states" as a moral victory in itself. Human beings are not different simply because they were conceived in La Jolla, California, as opposed to Lafayette, Louisiana. There should be one national standard for abortion, and it should define abortion as felonious homicide everywhere.
The standard should be God's, since He created everything. We haven't adopted God's standard yet, but the path to that conclusion seems inevitable (see this interview with Rachel Alexander). Scientific advancements since 1973 make it difficult for pro-choice people to argue that prenatal people are not human. Pro-abortion people must get their allies in the Judiciary to keep abortion legal through juridical nonsense argued in bad faith.
The Bad News
Now, the bad news — of which we have quite a bundle. Right-wing triumphalists have congratulated themselves and their allies for a job well done: We got a court decision that lets states decide whether or not killing babies is legal! The decision threw away the concept of viability and trimesters and said states can go for all or nothing, banning abortion from conception or allowing murder up until nursery school — so long as the Court doesn't have to make a moral judgment! And this "victory" took only fifty years and millions of non-profit hours to win!
Maybe by the year 2122, the Court will rule that there are two sexes, and our great-grandchildren will celebrate that it took only 100 years.
On the other hand were skeptics who saw the loopholes in Dobbs.
It sends a life-or-death issue of supreme moral importance to fickle "democratic process" to decide (Dobbs 5).
It does not state clearly that unborn people are humans with human rights, instead stating that fetal life is simply a "State's interest" (Dobbs 5) and that the Mississippi law "describes" the fetus "as an 'unborn human being'" with quotation marks implying that such a description is one of many possible ways to define life (Dobbs 13).
The decision says: "One may disagree with this belief (and our decision is not based on any view about when a State should regard prenatal life as having rights)" (Dobbs 29). To drive the point home, the quote follows:
Our opinion is not based on any views about if and when prenatal life is entitled to any of the rights enjoyed after birth. (Dobbs 38)
This puts forward a relativist framework, casting abortion as a debate in progress — "citizens trying to persuade one another" (Dobbs 14).
Whereas the text could have done so, the Dobbs decision never proclaims that abortion is murder or that unborn people are human. In his concurring opinion, Justice Kavanaugh stated, "The issue before the Court is not the policy or morality of abortion. The issue before the Court is what the Constitution says about abortion" (2), adding that the Constitution and Court are "neither pro-life nor pro-choice" (3).
Noticeable throughout the 213 pages of Dobbs is the unquestioned commonplace that the Constitution is amoral. The idea that the Constitution is valid only because it points back to God's immutable laws is an utterly alien concept to the "conservative supermajority," which raises the question: this is what conservatism has become?
The Preamble lays out the six purposes of the Constitution: to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to provide for the common defense, to promote the general welfare, to insure domestic tranquillity, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
Kavanaugh is wrong. These six items — and, ergo, the Constitution's articles and amendments — are not morally neutral.
"Perfect" is not a neutral standard.
"Justice" is not neutral, depending rather on a sense of wrong and right, to include rewards and punishment.
"Welfare" presupposes that there is a moral obligation to assist rather than harm fellow citizens.
"Defense" implies that we should protect vulnerable people from danger, while "tranquility" points to the Pauline virtues of living at peace with each other (Romans 12:18) and living a quiet life whenever we can (1 Thessalonians 4:11); these virtues are rooted in God's word, not in Blackstone's commentaries.
"Blessings" are not morally neutral, pointing ultimately to a Deity who blesses and curses nations (see Deuteronomy 11:26).
And finally, you need a posterity in order to secure blessings to them, so at the very least, the Constitution is not neutral about whether it is more desirable to raise or kill offspring. The Founders stayed close to the primal command from God to be fruitful and multiply.
Ironically, within the current standards for constitutional law, Dobbs is flawless. It is morally dry, bureaucratic, prosaic, and clichéd. As a moral statement about America's regard for human dignity, Dobbs is a horror show. Nowhere in this extremely long opinion does any justice — including Justice Thomas — question the majority's misguided assertion that the Constitution is devoid of moral judgment.
The entire purpose for the Constitution is to build a moral society that grows "more perfect" over time, not worse. If a judge doesn't get that part, he misses the point of constitutional law.
The House of Mourning or the House of Mirth?
We cannot dismiss the incredible accomplishment that Dobbs represents. Two heroes of social conservatism — Brian Duggan and Sharon Armke — died in the last year and tragically never got to see Roe overturned after spending most of their lives contending against it. As someone who feels grateful for having called Brian and Sharon friends, I must say, I wish they could be alive to celebrate June 24, 2022.
The yearly marches on Washington, D.C. and countless campaigns before state capitals can't be glossed over. The pro-life movement consisted of people who got scoffed at, exploited, and humiliated for decades and never gave up. For their sake, we have to say, "Hooray!"
On the other hand, Roe took fifty years to overturn. The Dobbs decision itself cites a court precedent that was overturned in three years by the Barnette ruling, based simply on "the Court's belated recognition that its earlier decision had been seriously wrong" (Dobbs 41). There is simply no acceptable excuse for American society's failure to reverse Roe sooner, especially given the enormous prestige and clout of the veritable industry called the "pro-life movement."
One has to distinguish between in-the-trenches Christians such as Duggan and Armke and the organized, well funded, and smug leadership of the pro-life advocacy industry, which raised funds and won elections based on promises to do something about abortion — promises they kept flaking out on.
It's not as though Republican presidents prior to Trump didn't have ways of achieving this sooner. Remember Kennedy and O'Connor, appointed by Reagan? Souter, appointed by George H.W. Bush? Or how about Roberts — the pearl-clutching naysayer who didn't even want this milquetoast overturning of Roe, wishing instead for a more "measured course" (Dobbs 72)? That was W's gift that keeps on giving.
It is clear that without Donald J. Trump's appointment of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, accompanied by whatever ultimatums Trump gave them behind the scenes, we would not have even gotten Dobbs. If Dobbs is the best that American can do, our country's on the brink. But if we couldn't even get Dobbs, we'd say America was already gone.
The "abolitionist" leaders like Joe Goodson of Temple, Texas have been fighting valiantly to obliterate abortion. Goodson told me in an interview, "About ten years ago abolition came out as a movement, and abolitionists were people who had worked in the pro-life industry for most of our lives only to realize they weren't trying to abolish the practice." According to Goodson, abolitionists faced the most vicious pushback and ostracism from established pro-life advocates, who opted for a classy and non-confrontational but perpetually losing approach.
Given the gruesome nature of abortion and the access that conservatives had to public communication, there is no way to read the fifty-year slog as anything but a lethally inadequate track record, comparable at best to the delays in ending slavery and segregation and at worst to the Allies' decision not to bomb death chambers of Auschwitz in 1944.
It is somewhat disturbing to read Revolver's July 1 headline: "Right-Wing Causes Can Learn a Lot from the Pro-Life Formula for Success."
That headline would make sense if the fight against abortion were a political campaign against the Democrat party, similar to efforts to pass tax reform. It was not. It was a collective fight to save millions of bearers of God's image from murder. If we want to study the pro-life movement in order to brainstorm ways to win the midterm elections, then by all means, let's study the pro-life formula for success.
If we want to study how to live in obedience to God's word and save bearers of His image from murder, the pro-life movement is the last thing in the world we should study.
By most estimates, over sixty million babies were aborted in the interim between Roe and Dobbs, a Holocaust five times the death toll of the Nazi concentration camps. In the USA alone, we lost the equivalent of every living man, woman, and child in present-day Great Britain. We have no way of imagining what our country would look like if we were not missing between one fifth and one sixth of our people. It is hard to celebrate Dobbs when confronted with the fact that its success indicts us for our failures.
I agree with the movement to designate June as Pro-Life Month. We should turn June 24, 2022 into a remembrance for the abortion holocaust. I do not think it should involve fireworks, but it should share a sense of God's mercy. We should take June back from its status as Pride Month and drown out the six-stripe rainbow flags with emblems of our reverence for the sanctity of life. But to honor such a Month of Life, we have to reflect on the following points.
We failed God, but God's rightful judgment against the nation was held back
The Bible provides us with plentiful examples of God's judgment against nations. In Genesis 19, Sodom and Gomorrah are consumed in burning sulfur. In Exodus 11:5, God's judgment against Egypt hardens the Pharaoh's heart and results in the firstborn of every family dying. Israel is doomed because of its transgressions through the prophetic books, often compared to a whore or an adulterous wife. Later, in Revelation, Christ returns in judgment of the whole world, with special condemnation in 17:5 reserved for a mysterious nation known as "Babylon the Great, the mother of all harlots and of the abominations of the earth."
Like Israel, the United States was founded to be dear to God's heart, and yet the nation has descended into sexual perversion and literal child sacrifice.
If the consummate warning of God's judgment comes in Romans 1:21, which states, "[H]aving known God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor did they give him thanks, but rather they became vain in their reasoning, and their foolish hearts were darkened," Dobbs is a vexing sign, because it shows that the highest judges in America have forgotten God's laws and the role they played in their nation's own Constitution.
God punishes Sodom with destruction from the sky, Egypt with skin diseases and mass death of livestock; Israel with invasion by enemies; and the end times empires with the four horsemen of pestilence, war, famine, and finally death.
Off the record, many Christians have entertained the possibility that God's judgment has come against the United States already, whether or not we are living in the end times. Had the Court upheld Roe in Dobbs and blocked Mississippi's modest law banning abortion at fifteen weeks, I would say the judgment has already been made, and we must brace ourselves for doom. That did not happen, although what we got was not exactly a world better. It seems that God rather held back His hand against the nation and gave us one more chance. We can't blow it.
The church is an entirely different matter. Dobbs was handed down literally two weeks after the Southern Baptist Convention elected as its president Bart Barber, who celebrated his election by taking a picture of himself in a pagan wizard hat at Disneyland. Needless to say, the Southern Baptists' forsaking of Christian witness is laid bare in the embrace of sorcery symbols and endorsement of Disney in the midst of the company's scandals. If you want a full explanation of the complete degeneracy of the Southern Baptist Convention, go to this 7,000-word piece I penned on the subject: "Let the Southern Baptist Convention Burn to the Ground."
The Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, but they are by no means alone in their depravity. In Revelation 2:5, Jesus Christ speaks of taking away the lampstand from the church in Ephesus, a symbol of God's judgment that a church has failed to pass muster before the Final Judgment.
Whereas the nation may not be feeling God's judgment, the churches appear to have already been weighed and found wanting by God. The Supreme Court for all its follies made a decisive move to overturn Roe, using its juridical power to move in a more godly direction despite the flaws in Dobbs. The churches, endowed with tremendous money and influence in America, have squandered and frittered while 65,000,000 babies were killed by modern-day Herods. Some offered a faint resistance, but nothing courageous enough to fit a church bearing the name of Jesus Christ.
Dobbs was not great, but it was something. Unfortunately it was a political solution to a spiritual problem. We had to turn to politics because the churches stopped doing their job about forty years ago. The churches became all about money, and politics became the only town square in which to have moral debates.
As imperfect as political parties are, Christians will have to content themselves with imperfect political victories, since the priests and pastors are largely happy to take selfies at Disneyland in sorcerer hats while bearers of God's image are killed in the womb.
Robert Lopez's book, Cancel-Proof Christianity, will be out in August 2022.
Image via Max Pixel.