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Separating the Sheep from the Gloats: Lamenting Evangelicals’ response to abortion reversal

With the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court, evangelical cultural warriors are rejoicing, even gloating, over this political victory. And make no mistake, this is a political victory made possible by the support of evangelicals for a corrupt president Donald Trump, who made three appointments to the Court. Trump was aided by his allies in the Senate, allies, like Mitch McConnell, who denied a hearing for Obama appointee Garland and expedited the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. All of this was done with the applause of Trump supporters, who turned a blind eye to the corruption of the 45th president along with his literal attempt to overthrow the will of the American people by inciting the January 6th insurrection. 

Now, those who supported Trump are finding confirmation of their decision, celebrating that this “means” did indeed justify these “ends.” 

But what remains in question here is this: “what exactly do American evangelicals want?” It seems that many want an actual theocracy: a system of government where religious leaders rule in the name of God. But given the diversity of theological thought, freedom of religion, and tradition of “Separation of Church and State,” that our nation has enjoyed since its founding, it is scary to imagine what this would look like in reality. 

Yet, because Christianity in America has been weaponized and reduced to a voting constituency, we have arrived at a moment in our history when decisions are being made based upon what people think Christianity is rather than what it actually is: a nonviolent movement committed to loving others in the light of the transforming power of the gospel of Christ. Instead, American Christianity has now been transformed into a political movement committed to imposing morality on others via the ballot box and (given the events of January 6th and an unusual devotion to assault weapons) the ammunition box if necessary. 

This kind of thinking is antithetical to the disposition of the poor, peasant, marginalized preacher from Galilee. Jesus did not impose morality on anyone; rather He freely dispensed love and grace to everyone that He met. This “antichrist” that is now embraced by many evangelicals in America bears no resemblance to Jesus. And while they gloat over their victory in the culture wars, they continue to lose sight of the bigger picture of actually serving others and representing a Kingdom based in love and not in power. 

But it is evident that this Americanized version of Christianity continues to be based, not on the example of its First Century founder, but rather on its need to justify, protect, and perpetuate its own existence. Were it really about issues of true Christian morality, then we should expect that white American pastors preaching against the evils of lynching, segregation, voter suppression, and other manifestations of white supremacy would have been commonplace in the history of the United States. But the sad reality is that the exact opposite is true. American Christianity most often finds itself allied with the oppressors over those being oppressed. To this day we continue to hear sermons against abortion and gay marriage, but rarely, if ever, do we hear sermons lamenting the idolatry of guns or the economic exploitation and inequalities that exist in our nation. 

Sadly, the reason that so many Christian pastors are unwilling to speak against any issues that might actually challenge their congregants to think and act differently is summed up by Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. In an article for the National Catholic Register, she said “I feel that over and over again in the history the church has become so corrupt it just cries out to heaven for vengeance…I think it’s a result of the corruption in the institutional church, through money and through their acceptance of this lousy, rotten system.” 

It is clear to me that too many Christians in America missed the part, where in essence, Jesus said “If you love me, you will hate money” (Matthew 6:24). Because so much of what is preached and what we do as American Christians is based on the preservation of this system that promotes the root of all evil, which is the love of money. Pastors risk losing their position and their pay, as do many Christian leaders if they preach or advocate too strongly against the evil of a system that creates the need for the protection of abortion. They find it easier to call out fruits of inequality instead of actually being like Jesus and applying the “ax to the root?” (Matthew 3:10)

Jesus once told an Apocalyptic story about the separation of the “Sheep and the goats” ; the only difference between the two was demonstrated by their actions. The sheep found a way to actually make the lives of others better, while the goats did not. The story is recorded in Matthew 25:31-46 and in part reads like this: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Jesus goes on to point out that when they did it “To the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” 

Notice that all of the actions that the sheep took were based on meeting the economic and practical needs of those who were deprived. He also highlighted the commitment of the sheep to visit the incarcerated and care for the sick. In essence, Jesus said that one of the characteristics of the sheep was to provide adequate healthcare for those who needed it. Contrast this with the inaction of the goats, and by extension “the gloats” that perpetuate social media feeds celebrating that this SCOTUS ruling results in one aspect of health care for women has now been removed and in some cases even criminalized. While at the same time, many of these same people were just celebrating the recent ruling allowing people to exercise their individual choice in openly carrying guns. Guns, it seems, have more rights than women, in 21st Century America.  

Now more than ever, judging by the response of evangelicals on social media alone, it is obvious that they aren’t really interested in saving the unborn. But rather they are adamant about consolidating and preserving their own political power. Too many American Christians are living on borrowed faith, for them Christianity is only about attending church, checking the box on certain beliefs, and voting in alliance with their fears. They want to be married in a church, buried beside a church and have their lives endorsed by a cultural religion that has replaced authentic Christianity with their misinformed notions of family, work, hobbies, or in this case,  Republican politics. This is the reality of the day in which we live in America. Too many have confused the voice of God with the voice of their church. They aren’t the same. 

Were we really serious about our faith, gloating online about a political victory would not be the priority -but repentance for our lack of inaction would be. Resulting in increased giving to the poor while voting and advocating for politicians and policies that actually did some good instead of perpetuating these egregious harms. 

 

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  • Scot is off base on so many things here that taking time to respond would be unrealistic. As Cornelius van Til theorized years ago in seminary, all of our thoughts and expressions of them are presuppositional in nature. Talking only about Jesus and a first Century Founder is indicative of a failed heart-issue that is compromised in its expression: what’s wromg with saying is fullly glorified name, Jesus Christ? His guns vs. women argument is truly indicative of a mind gone rogue: self protection and destroying the life of another person ? He seems to be WOKE. I would direct him to the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate regarding good and evil in our political and religious American reality. Christ did not condemn money as evil: he paid his taxes. Enough here.

    • Scot Loyd says:

      David,

      I appreciate you reading and responding to my essay. Jesus is both my Lord and Savior and the founder of Christianity in the First Century, my point in identifying Him as a founder is that logically it follows that the movement should follow the example of its leader; in this case Jesus Christ. Yet it seems 21st Century American Christians are far removed from His example. As to your comment about the comparison between rights extended to guns and those take from women, guns most certainly take lives as one needs to look no further than the most recent examples in Uvalde, TX and Buffalo, NY. Yet, legislators seem very reluctant to take any common sense actions to limit access to assault weapons. But State legislations have moved with record speed to deny access to abortion. To be clear, I’m not advocating for abortion, no one reasonable does, but I’m still tying to figure out in my mind how this is better than the status quo, where abortions were at an all time low. Perhaps, making them illegal in some states will see abortions cease? I’m doubtful. But I do believe there are positive social legislation that could be passed to help those in need. My point about money, is that often those in power or leadership positions are more motivated by protecting their pay than by actually do some good on nuanced issues. Yes, I believe abortion to be a nuanced issue.

  • 4 points.

    1) Abortion is not outlawed. It has been returned to being a state issue.

    2) Gun rights save more lives than they cost while abortion cost more lives than it saves. Successful proper uses of guns protects and saves lives most often with no blood shed, while successful proper abortion always ends in the death of an innocent.

    3) If you are truly a gospel preacher as your bio states, you know that the Christian view is that God knits use together in the womb. We are his handy work from conception, made in his image. That is a biblical principle.

    4) Celebrating the protection of thousands of innocent lives a year is not gloating.

    • Scot Loyd says:

      Adam,

      Thank for reading and taking the time to respond.

      4 responses

      1. Right. I understand this.

      2. I’d like to see some evidence of your claim. Certainly guns in the hands of trained law enforcement officials saves lives, but even this results in tragedy for many unarmed Black young men and people of color. I think you would have a difficult time proving that statistically, guns in the hands of ordinary people save more lives than it takes. Sure, there are isolated events of a trained wielder of a gun saving lives, but the numbers of murders, accidents, and of major concern, the assault type weapons used in mass shootings certainly take lives, lots of lives in very little time. Abortions are actually at their lowest numbers in years. It will be interesting to see if these State laws have the desired outcome of decreasing the actual number of abortions, also it will be interesting to see if Americans have the stomach to see young women tried and sentenced, and those that assisted them under the enforcement of these laws.

      3. There is a wide range of debate and diversity of thought in Christian circles on abortion. It is nuanced. I’m not talking about the political views that have been exploited to harness the votes of evangelicals. I’m talking about the varied historical and theological perspectives around this issue. For example, a cursory view of Genesis 2 reveals that life begins when God gives breath to the body not before, so an argument may be made that life begins when the baby has the ability to breath on their own, not before. I’d invite you to investigate how Christian denominations responded to the issues of abortion before it became voting bait for the GOP. The particular passage you are referencing about “being knit together in the womb” misses the context of David’s Psalm. Given his personal history, birth, and dysfunctional family of origin, it would have been very helpful to David to think of himself as being “special” with a unique protection of God even in the womb. Perhaps, he did enjoy this protection, but it doesn’t prove “life” especially when compared to Gen.2 “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” As far as biblical principles, the Old Testament indicates that if there was an accident that resulted in the death of a child in the womb, a fine was required not the OT demand of “Life for life” in the case of murder. Why, if in God’s economy life in the womb was the equivalent of life outside the womb?

      4. To be clear, I’m still working through my own views on this very nuanced issue. But make no mistake, many are absolutely gloating. I just find it strange that some who are gloating the loudest, also subscribe to a doctrine of Christian theology that many of these same lives are also predestined to suffer for ever in eternal torment. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all of this.

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