Last Friday the Supreme Court dropped its 5/4 ruling in the Dobbs case, effectively reversing the infamous Roe decision of 1973. Their decision ended 49 long years of political heartbreak, agonizing and seemingly thankless labor, enormous sacrifices by tens of thousands of pro-life Americans, and then finally this—a grim success at the end of a long, brutal, and very dark game.
Nancy and I were so pleased that George Grant got to break the news about Roe to the ACCS conference crowd last Friday. George has been such a stalwart voice in the pro-life movement, and with so many teachers assembled in that room, some will no doubt have the privilege of one day soon instructing students whose lives were spared through this decision. The whole thing is just glorious.
But I should not say we are at the end of the game. We are not at the end of that game, but merely sitting in the locker room at halftime, listening to our offensive coordinator take us apart. We are very grateful that we were able go into the half with the score evened up, kind of, but still the offensive coordinator has a lot to say, and he seems kind of worked up.
There is a lot yet to do, in other words, and a lot still to learn. I have put together some of the things that have occurred to me, and I hope they are helpful to you. I am more of an assistant to the Gatorade guy, but you can think of me as an assistant to the offensive coordinator if you like.
Deep Gratitude to God
God has been very kind to us through this decision, and it is a kindness we do not deserve. This is the sheer grace of God, in that He has graciously determined that we will no longer be heaping up His wrath for our nation at quite the same rate as before. This is not yet repentance, but it does clear a space for repentance. It helps to make room for it.
The 63 million children are still dead, and their blood still cries out. There still needs to be a reckoning, and no genuinely redemptive reckoning is possible apart from the blood of Christ. But the same God who gave His Son to shed that blood is the God who gave us this remarkable and long-sought-after political victory. So I am taking this reversal of Roe as a token for good (Ps. 86:17). Better things are coming. As God once said to the Israelite exiles:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
That’s the good news. The bad news is that forgiveness for America would violate some people’s understanding of the separation of church and state. The way they understand it, to demand a strict separation of church and state will actually result in separation of forgiveness and state. But there is nothing more terrible than a guilty and unforgiven civic order, and so our prayer should be that God would not only pour out upon our nation a spirit of true repentance, but that while He is at it, He might pour out a proper understanding of constitutional law.
In the meantime, every true-hearted Christian should be singing praises to God for this decision. Glory to God.
Gratitude to Trump
While all of this is the sheer grace of God, it remains true that the sovereign God uses human means to accomplish His purposes, and it is no different with this situation.
And this means that every last Christian, David French and Kevin Williamson included, ought to look for some way to express their gratitude for Donald J. Trump. This would not have happened without him. Because he kept his campaign promise to appoint a particular brand of justice to the Supreme Court, and because God then gave him the opportunity to appoint three of them, this decision was made possible. Elections have consequences, and the election of Trump in 2016 had this consequence.
I want to make a particular point of expressing my gratitude to Trump because when he, God’s intended instrument for accomplishing this marvelous thing, announced his candidacy, I did not recognize in him anything good. I expended quite a bit of energy opposing him, and during the primaries I had a good deal of fun at his expense. In the general election of 2016, I did not vote for him.
He had made a promise to appoint the kind of judges I would like, and I was way too sophisticated to believe something like that. If reputable Republicans can’t get reliable justices onto the Court, what could a disreputable Republican do? Well, as it turns out, he could do markedly better than the reputable ones. You can put my self-referential “sophisticated” above in scare quotes if you like, because I did not read the story right, the story that God had decided to tell.
I care about a lot of political issues—all of them, actually—but if you put all of them in the scales on one side, and the right-to-life issue on the other side, the bowl holding the life issue would hit the table pretty hard. I care about this issue more than all the others put together, and something that I was not sure I would ever see in my lifetime has been a gift to all of us from Donald J. Trump. May God truly bless him for this.
There is a corollary. I also need to express my gratitude to Mitch McConnell. He really is a denizen of the Beltway, as shown by his recent vote on that gun control travesty, and so I can’t really make sense of it all. I do not know what possessed him to strangle the SCOTUS nomination of Merrick Garland in the cradle, but he did it. And he did it when he could have found plenty of “plausible” excuses not to. And because he did that, Trump filled three SCOTUS seats instead of two. And because of that, millions of children will now be privileged to see the light of day. And so whether he is a RINO or not, I still take my hat off to Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Honorable mention should go to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and all those who flattered her into thinking that her continued presence on the Court was indispensable.
Gratitude to Savvy Evangelicals
The more I think about this whole thing, the more my gratitude grows.
For a time there, it certainly was de rigueur among certain Christians writers to learnedly chide red state Trumpy evangelicals. They would write earnest think pieces on how thoughtful people are abandoning the evangelical church, and all because”you’re embarrassing us, man.” According to the script, the Trumpkins were selling out their birthright in the gospel for a mess of pottage called right-wing politics. But these heartland evangelicals ignored the voices of their more fastidious brethren, and went into a back room at Trump Tower to cut a deal with the Donald. They said that they would support him—whether an Access Hollywood tape turned up or not—if he would just give them solid judges in return. Deal? Deal.
In return for this remarkable deal, one that actually went through and actually worked, they got patted on the head by more urbane set of gospel-centered and/or red-letter Christians, and were relegated to the ranks of rubes and cornpones.
But these slick and sophisticated Christians display a remarkable lack of self-awareness. They are still unable to perceive who the shrewd ones were. It is as though simple Simon went off to the fair, got taken to the cleaners for the third year in a row, and then went home to call his older brother names for being such a chump.
But It Is Only Halftime, Remember
So much for the past. I said that it was only half time in this brutal game, and so we have to consider a few things about what all of us are going to do next. Consider these thoughts as supplemental to whatever the offensive coordinator is saying, only without the cussing.
Get Our Thinking Straight About Rights
Our rights come to us from God, and not from the government. When a government is behaving wisely, they recognize the rights that God has given, and they do their part in protecting them. But they do not originate those rights. They do not bestow those rights. Right are from God.
What this means is that SCOTUS in Dobbs did not just now “take away” the constitutional right to an abortion. Rather, the effect of this decision is to say that Roe was wrongly decided in the first place, and that nobody ever did have the constitutional right to an abortion. This is exactly right. In order for abortion to be a right, God would have to be the one who gave it. But He did not give it because He is the one who said, “Thou shalt not murder.”
There is no right to an abortion that comes from God, and therefore there is no right to an abortion.
Our right to life is a genuine right, and life really is a gift from God. It is therefore the duty of the civil magistrate to recognize and protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
So in the next phase of this battle, it is crucial that we not fall into the trap of thinking that the government has the authority to grant the right to abortion, or to take away the right to an abortion. That is how pro-aborts think, and we must not think that way. They believe that the right to life is actually the privilege of life, and by their calculus it is a privilege dispensed by the government.
But rights are not privileges. If we have a Creator, then we are endowed with certain inalienable rights by Him. If we have no Creator, but evolved out of the primordial goo, we have no rights, only privileges, and with the number of those steadily diminishing.
We are not just battling over whether to protect life or not. We are not fighting simply for life. We are fighting for the right to life. We are battling over whether or not the government has an obligation to recognize such a God-given right, which cannot be done without recognizing God Himself. The only alternative to this is to consider the state as the fountainhead of all our privileges, such as they are,
This is a war between two completely different conceptions of rights. Rights for one party always come along with corresponding obligations by others. And this is how you can see the stark difference between a leftist view of rights and the Christian view. When we say someone has a right to their property, this means (necessarily) that everyone else has an obligation to respect that right of ours to our property. They do this by not stealing from us. But when the left says that someone has a right to affordable housing, this means that somebody else has an obligation to provide that affordable housing. And if he is not generous “enough,” the state comes and puts him in jail. These two conceptions of rights are diametrically opposed to one another.
A right to life means that everyone else has an obligation not to kill you. This is not considered burdensome by reasonable people. But a right to abortion means that one particular person has a obligation to die for you. If you have a right to an abortion, someone else has an obligation to let you kill them. It sounds perverse when we put it so bluntly, but that’s the way it is.
In short form, if there is no God above the state, recognized as such, then the state becomes god. If there is no transcendent authority over human government, then human government will claim such ultimate authority for itself. If there is no absolute over the state, then the state becomes our working absolute. And so our witness as Christians must include the fact that we do not get to kill the babies, and we do not get to kill the babies because of what Jehovah God said to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Moderate Abolitionists and Smashmouth Incrementalists
I have before proposed a peace treaty between traditional pro-lifers, smash mouth incrementalists, and abolitionists. It was kind of academic before, but is a genuine practical necessity now.
This SCOTUS decision was an incrementalist victory, but it is one that gives the abolitionists a new tool in their state-level efforts. We should use that tool to fight abortion—there is no good reason for us to be fighting one another. Not now, for pity’s sake. The Dobbs case means that there is no constitutional right to an abortion. That means that abortion access can now be denied by law and nobody’s constitutional rights are violated.
In this new era, there will no doubt be examples of legislation that one group proposes and that the other group cannot in good conscience support. Fine. Don’t support it. But that doesn’t make the sponsors of that other bill your enemy. Smashmouth incrementalists are not baby killers and moderate abolitionists are not fire eaters. When Ammon and Moab decided to attack the men from Mount Seir, the winner was Judah. Let the reader understand.
The fact that our ultimate goal has to be the outlawing of all human abortion does not mean that this has to be the immediate goal, demanded as the end result of each and every vote. If you have a legislature filled with Republican squishes who would go for a ban on abortion after a detectable heartbeat, but who wouldn’t go for anything more thorough-going than that, take it. But work for their removal, and come back for more at the first opportunity. Always come back for more until we have won. This is the approach I call smashmouth incrementalism, which you can read more about if you type that phrase into the search bar.
We must learn to distinguish tactical compromise from principial compromise. They are not the same thing.
Never Forget Fox News Cluelessness
Thoughtful Christians need to understand that Fox News is at best a co-belligerent on some issues, and within the confines of some shows, but is by no means an ally. As the embedded video below amply demonstrates, somebody in real decision-making authority at Fox is up in the sound booth, sniffing glue.
Celebrating pride month? Really? And whoever decided to run that puff piece on the horrendous abuse of that transitioning boy . . . Really? Trying to get Fox to celebrate pride month is like giving that famous geezer a skateboard, and instructing him to deliver that “hello, fellow kids” line. General merriment follows, and rightly so.
But the snakes at the top of Fox who would do anything for ratings and/or money, the worldview clueless bimbos who cheerily read whatever the heck is on the teleprompter, and the right-leaning viewing audience—sheep without a shepherd—provide us with a microcosm of America. That’s what we are like, right there. A hot mess, in other words.
We really need to understand that the sexual revolution is all of a piece. Whether or not anybody intended for the reversal of Roe to be a blow against Obergefell doesn’t matter—because it was. These issues all hang together in the very nature of the case—you can make fine distinctions in your head all you want to, and it will make no difference at the end of the day. There is a cluster of issues in all of this that necessarily have their own version of a NATO treaty going. An attack on one is an attack on all.
As Francis Schaeffer once put it, the problem with the American church is that we think in terms of bits and pieces, instead of in totals. We have to stop it. We need to repent. We have to develop and cultivate a Christian worldview. All of Christ for all of life. Find a church that preaches from the whole Bible, not from bits and pieces of it.
A Cold War Civil War
I saved the grim one for last.
More than a few people have commented on the fictional scenario I created around the end of Roe in Ride, Sally, Ride. That scenario seems to be coming to life, and yeah, I agree. It does seem like that. I wrote that book so I could be asked awkward questions about the gift of prophecy whenever I get into debates with non-cessationists.
Our nation has not been this divided since 1859, but the nature of the division is quite different than it was at that first time. The previous Civil War was geographically bounded, and both sides fielded standing armies that marched out to war in the traditional way. Our country was young at that time, and very ambitious, and also quite aggressive. We were fighting over what kind of new empire would make its way out to the Pacific.
The divisions today are every bit as acrimonious, and violent, and hostile, but instead of one major Mason/Dixon fault line we have many thousands of fissures criss-crossing the nation in multiple complicated ways. We can zoom in and zoom out, and find the conflict pretty much anywhere—a few enclaves excepted.
We are accustomed to speaking of red states and blue states, but even hard red states have blue dot urban areas, and deep blue states have rural areas that could be plopped down in Alabama or Oklahoma with nobody the wiser. Eastern Washington has far more in common with Idaho than it does with Seattle, for example. So in Lincoln’s day there was enough faith in the idea of Union for the North to fight in order to keep South Carolina in. But would anybody fight to keep California in?
What all this means is that we are going to be dealing with riots and riot police, not major military campaigns. We are going to be dealing with different states applying economic sanctions to other states. We are going to be dealing with corporate boycotts, and open hostility between governors. Lots of acrimony—what we have going on right now, only loads more of it.
But the real conflict is going to be the result of the economic ramifications of “the great reshuffle.” I am referring to the mass movements of families from one part of the country to another, coupled with the relocation of major corporations—Boeing, Caterpillar, Tesla. Both of these things are going on right on in significant ways, and as the troubles increase, the velocity of everything will pick up. As enterprising individuals and productive companies leave, the impact on the blues states will be huge. And given the kind of people running those places, they will do precisely and exactly the wrong thing in response. So they will start paying tax money out to people around the country to get them to come and get their abortions “in our state.” Talk about a death cult.
What I mean is that the next phase of the culture war is going to be economic, not political, and not military. The end result is going to be the impoverishment (and possible bankruptcy) of blue states and cities, and the enrichment of red states. The dislocations that will result will be severe, and in many cases the dislocations will just fuel and feed more acrimony. I do not mean to communicate that the disruptions will be “merely economic.” No, the economy is the circulatory system of a society, and what happens there will not be insignificant. But the end result will be pro-life states growing wealthy, and pro-abortion states killing off their future. As wisdom puts in Proverbs, “all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36).
This is all part of the same battle, and so I would conclude with a word of encouragement to those Christians who are pulling up stakes to move to a better location, and also to those Christians who are remaining in their blue state mission field in order to fight the good fight. To the first group I say, move in good conscience, provide for your family, trust God, and make money. Take some of that money that you make and find a good church or school to support back in the region you left.
And this relates to what I would say to those Christians who feel called to remain right where they are. You need to shift your mentality from that of a domestic mission to a foreign mission, and in some cases, to a frontier mission. And as a foreign mission, you will likely need support from outside. Anticipate that, cultivate that, prepare for that. We will encourage our arriving immigrants to remember the old world.
We are entering a new world. God struck a blow against the pride of man, and He did it during pride month. The one enthroned in Heaven laughs, and He struck down the pride of man in Roe Reversal Rainbow Month.