It's called the Sermon on the Mount. Christ distinguishes between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Summed up with "Love the Lord your God ... and your neighbor as yourself," he reminds us that the life Jesus offers allows nuance based on compassion. The law had run its course. Pentecost happened, and the kingdom of God is spreading beyond a highly structured regional theocracy where worship and ethics can no longer be contained within the specific detail of the Torah.
The leak of Roe v. Wade documents is telling. But much more is happening beyond the legality of abortion. Is it simply a righteous and benevolent position of certain partisan lawmakers to protect the yet-to-be-born? Or is there more to the story?
Because certainly those who wish to protect the unborn would also value funding prenatal care, public preschool, subsidized school lunch, health insurance for children, relevant sex education in public schools, and foster care and adoption services. But, strangely, many lawmakers who label themselves pro-life are the same ones voting to cut funding for state and federal services that would help children and their families.
Furthermore, the lack of nuance in legislation that prohibits abortion is telling. Prohibiting abortion that endangers the mother? Prohibiting abortion in cases of rape? Prohibiting abortion despite serious anomalies discovered through genetic testing? I do not see how this is "pro-life."
Historically, Baptists were adamant about the separation of church and state. It seems there are fewer and fewer of us who still value this distinction. If some politicians are imposing their religious beliefs on other citizens, we need to review the establishment clause in our Constitution. Furthermore, those claiming a Biblical mandate for their hard-line pro-life position on abortion should read Numbers Chapter 5.
How did abortion become a political lightning rod? There are many theories. But perhaps it has been reduced down to an ideological watershed, an issue stripped of nuance to further polarize our country.
I do not see the world through a black-and-white lens. I doubt you do either. I try to see the big picture and refuse to crawl into someone's political box. I also try to look through a "love your neighbor" lens. Babies should be loved. Children should be loved. Pregnant mothers should be loved. Victims of sexual assault should be loved. There are many ways to demonstrate the presence of Christ besides confining His love to the unborn.
But don't listen to me. The abortion debate should not be controlled by people without a uterus. As you grapple with this issue both today and on election day, please consider two things: Be guided by love, not by the polarizing rhetoric of political parties. And listen to women, especially those who are followers of Christ.
The Rev. Steve Sheely is pastor of Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville. Contact him at email@example.com.