Please remember that there is one topic in this country, more than any other, that elicits strong emotional responses. And those responses are typically guided by the narratives prevalent and ever-present in the media and/or Christian community. Please take a moment to consider that what you are thinking and feeling about the Dobbs decision may not be what your neighbor or friend or family member is thinking - and may not be the only or "correct" way to view the decision.
This morning I received an email:
Good morning Professor,
I’m writing you this morning because of the Roe v. Wade overturning that just happened. I feel extremely sad, frustrated, upset, confused, and I don’t know what to make of this. I’m looking to you for wisdom because your outlooks and insights have always seem to make me feel better on these scary topics. What does this mean for the future of women? What does this mean for my daughters? Granddaughters? Me? And now the concurring opinion to look into rethinking birth control and same-sex marriage? What is the agenda here? Why is this happening? I know you don’t have all of the answers but I don’t know who else to talk to about this.
The short answer is, I don’t know what this means for the long-term future. The only reassurance I can give you is that nothing has changed yet – and God is still in control.
But you are asking the right questions…what is the agenda? Why is this happening?
We need to delve into what “this” is and understand “what” is actually happening.
Here is part of something I’ve been working on today:
For years, the abortion argument has been framed as a conflict between the natural right to life and the natural right to liberty.
Pro-life advocates see abortion as an evil that must be legislated against – abolished, like slavery. The pro-abortion faction by calling themselves “pro-choice” sets themselves on the moral high ground according to liberty principles.
Both factions are reacting viscerally, operating out of a natural, subconscious understanding of “self-evident truths”. While it should be self-evident that taking innocent human life violates natural law, it is just as self-evident that taking freedom (choice) and rights away from individuals violates natural law.
Pro-abortion advocates first go after legislative abortion bans as an invasion into individual medical decisions and bodily autonomy. And they have reacted in fear to any movement in that direction. And they are desperate because they believe that if their side loses, they will be forced to live under the tyranny of the winning side. And they have a solid argument in this regard.
In fact, the argument these “pro-life” groups make is that “abortion should be illegal and unthinkable.” And this comment insinuates that they know better than the individual woman what is right and good for her. And because they “know better” they must impose their righteous morality over anyone who disagrees with them through the power of and enforcement by the state. This is rightfully identified as tyranny. It is the same tyranny the left wishes to impose on anyone who disagrees with executive mandates, gun restrictions, education curriculum, the New Green Deal, and the like.
As I sit back and watch the reactions to the Dobbs decision, the pro-abortion advocates, in their desperation and by making extremist emotional appeals, are reinforcing in the minds of listeners the argument that this will lead to medical tyranny and loss of bodily autonomy. And there is much everyone in this country should be afraid of, but as the past few years have shown, tyranny and loss of autonomy truly is at our doorstep.
In Florida, the Dobbs decision hands the pro-life movement a temporary win, but it also provides opportunity for meaningful discussion and debate at the state and local level where there is more impact to politicians and decision makers at risk of making unpopular laws, and that impact could have far-reaching and unforeseen implications that may not warrant celebration by the pro-life movement.
This is moving from a moral debate where neither side had much power to change policy to a policy formulation discussion where there are already anticipated and assumed winners and losers.
Why is this happening? What is actually happening? What WILL happen? Is there an agenda at play?
I, nor anyone else, can know the answer to what is to come – nor do I know what the overarching agenda of man is – nor how what is happening fits into the ultimate plan of God.
But this I do know:
Handing the pro-life movement a temporary “win” provides space within which to appeal to the American psyche surrounding the natural RIGHT TO LIBERTY instead of being focused on the natural RIGHT TO LIFE.
I actually see this decision as providing a rare (and very small) window of opportunity to unify around liberty principles – not just for the abortion debate, but for all typically divisive modern issues. Once it can be successfully managed with the most controversial issue in history, it should be easy to push it outward to inform all policy formulation discussions and in such a way as to avoid rhetoric that brokers in desperation, fear, and force.
However, I don’t see those in power (on either side) advocating for unity around liberty principles because they have more power and can remain in power by keeping us divided.
Maybe this is happening so the people will open their eyes and stop looking to government for answers.
Or so we stop simply supporting “our team” as we recognize the hypocrisy involved.
Maybe something has to swing so far in one direction we see the absurdity of it and resist going down that road as a people or society.
Maybe this opens up opportunities for evil to win and then someday soon The Anointed One will come to take His throne.
Maybe this is happening because Americans as a people have rejected absolutes and right and wrong are simply dictated by our opinions and feelings – and someone (the government) had to come in a decide right and wrong for us (instead of finding it in natural law).
Maybe this is happening because we’ve already handed over our bodily autonomy to the state.
Maybe this is happening so that we are forced to hand over our bodily autonomy to the state in the near future.
I am not sure any of my thoughts on this scary topic will make you feel better, and I am still struggling to articulate my “insights” as it were…but I think the most important thing is to just keep asking the questions, try to come up with multiple answers, try to determine what reality would/could look like depending which answer ends up being true, and when one of those realities finally manifests itself, you will be mentally and emotionally prepared for it.
In the short term, there is no plan to rethink birth control and same-sex marriage; it was just a missive from a Supreme Court justice (which is understandable…Plessy v. Ferguson was case law for a long time before Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, KS) about the role of the Supreme Court.
There are checks on the Supreme Court – including the fact they have no power to enforce anything (or bring hypotheticals to themselves to rule on). Enforcement is left up to executives (the executive branch of the federal government, governors in the states). Formulation of policy, likewise, is left up to legislators (both at the federal level and the state level). And there has to be a real case and political will for that case to make it to the Supreme Court.
So again, I have no reassurances to offer for the long term, but in the short term? Nothing changes. In the mid-range, the people gain more relative political significance/power as these issues are tossed back to state and local governments and it is easier to hold local politicians accountable for policy formation and easier to change local policy than national policy.
Long-term, though? The possibilities are endless.
As I like to say, “These are exciting times! I hope you are on the edge of your seat, so you don’t miss anything!