Bulletin August 2022
by Carl Billington
Roe vs Wade Continued
Greetings all. I wanted to follow on from Dad’s discussion of the Roe vs Wade reversal with some other perspectives for us to consider as we navigate these challenging and unprecedented times together. I’d like to draw a couple of analogies and take us back to an Old Testament pattern we often lose sight of as we interact with the world’s powers and politics.
As much of Christendom is celebrating the many young lives that will be preserved by reducing the number of abortions, we need to note that this has been achieved by taking choice off people, not be people coming together out of a shared revelation, seeking to create transformation together.
Biblically, this isn’t how God works and it’s set America up for an unprecedented level of social discord and State-by-State polarisation, further threatening the already fragmented social cohesion we see from their shores. God seeks to transform our hearts, not remove our choices – we have achieved significant change here by acting in ways that God himself chooses to refrain from. This is no small thing.
When Jesus sent his disciples out to begin the work of declaring the kingdom in his name, they were amazed to find even demons would submit to the power present in Christ’s name and presence. They returned in huge excitement to tell him about their victories as they cheered together. His response is surprising and instructive.
Jesus confirms the authority he has over the kingdom of darkness, the same authority he has given that to his disciples, but then cautions them, saying, “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven,” (Luke 10: 18-20).
Jesus regularly cautioned his disciples over their relationship with power, urging them not to be like the world around them – constantly emphasising that the life of a servant is the life of the kingdom.
I’m cautious for us in this moment that what Christianity is celebrating at the moment is what it perceives as a defeat over its political enemies. That is about power. Jesus was equally clear with his disciples that the kingdom he was bringing was not a political power. Our response to these issues can reveal how invested we are in the systems and power struggles of this world.
In my work life, I operate as a freelance contractor. I get hired by different organisations and while I am there, I make my skill, experience, and insight available in service of their projects. I’m heavily invested in helping their success, but I’m not invested in their politics or hierarchies. I’ve got skin in the game with them, but I’m not of their world. To me, this is a great analogy for how we are to be in this world. God sows his children like seed into the field of the world, to serve and advise and support; but we are not of their world, and we should not compete for their power.
Yahweh sent his children – Moses, Daniel, Joseph, and Jesus himself – out as prophetic servants. They were never called to supplant the rulers of their era but to serve them – and, by doing so, to provide an opportunity for those leaders to have a revelation of the kingdom and yield their hearts. God’s constant focus is the transformation of human hearts. He appeals to this constantly, but he never overrides individual choice or human will. It’s a fundamentally sacred aspect of what it means to bear the image of God, and God himself seems to treat it with significant respect.
Abortion is a symptom – the end result of brokenness in human relationships. We focus on the abortion, the symptom, not recognising that by the time you have an unwanted pregnancy you already have a string of tragedies in play. The degree to which we are driven by love and compassion, rather than power and a desire for social influence, will be made evident by how far upstream we focus on issues like this.
How might we bring our resources, networks, and the Holy Spirit’s enabling power to bear on the issues that lead to unwanted pregnancies. Rather than picketing medical centres or setting up deceptive, ‘fake clinics’ to manipulate vulnerable women, we could invest powerfully in helping people grow healthy relationships.
We could help people understand why they deserve commitment and covenant and identify and manage the signs and triggers for abuse. Organisations like Parenting With Confidence already do phenomenal work here.
Those of us that feel called to engage with the legal frameworks might also look at the frameworks and structures and barriers that make adoption and fostering so difficult. We could get in so much further upstream. We could empower teen Mums and champion their journey forward from the broken situation they find themselves in – again, there’s some truly phenomenal examples of these initiatives among us already. In these and other ways we could become a truly pro-human movement rather than just an anti-abortion movement with pro-life labels.
Most of you will have seen Pastor Dave Barnhart’s quote regarding abortion by now (if not, you can view it here). He outlines why the unborn are such a convenient group for the Christian community to champion politically, while taking little action in reality. It’s quite confronting and well worth a moment or two’s reflection.
One of the most powerful lines for me is: “You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone.”
One of the social challenges our Christian brothers and sisters in the States now need to wrestle with is that every baby that’s born because of the law change, is now likely to be born into a household where it wasn’t wanted. This has an enormous impact. If we are serious about being pro-human, not just ‘pro-unborn-life,’ the work for the Church there is just beginning.
As the Western world finds its way through this season, may we tread carefully and humbly together. May we discipline ourselves not take pride in battles of politics, but in seeing social structures and pro-human policies that enable the active valuing of people. May we be catalysts for, and celebrate, initiatives that promote cohesion and connection despite our differences. And may we become an army of cheerleaders for those that find themselves in vulnerable positions, bringing families into the world in the most challenging circumstances. We more than anyone should have their back.
Abortion is a tragic symptom of a series of tragedies that need our compassion and attention. What society most needs is transformation of the human heart. The Biblical model for this seems to be through prophetic love and service, not the legalisation of morality or the over-riding of the sovereignty of human beings.
There are no easy answers, there are only broken people to love.
May we become experts at that.