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Changing hearts

For 35 years, I have traveled throughout North America giving presentations and Bible classes on life issues. Invariably, attendees try to pin me down on political issues. I always respond, “None of the political parties understand original sin.” Their strategies are inherently flawed.

We see this sad reality in a recent Wall Street Journal article that reported abortions have risen since the Dobbs ruling on June 24, 2022* (“Procedures on Rise Since Court Voided Roe v. Wade,” Oct. 25, 2023). Two weeks later another headline announced that one more state had codified abortion rights into its constitution (“Ohio Voters Enshrine Right to Abortion,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2023).

The jubilation in the streets from the pro-life community on the day of the Dobbs decision reflected the natural relief that comes from accomplishing a 49-year goal. Unfortunately, many people forgot that the decision addressed a symptom of a deeper problem.

Historically, humans have trouble taking direction. A rebellious streak in all of us surfaces each time we are told what we should or should not do (Genesis 8:21; Romans 8:7). “Don’t eat of the tree” was God’s command in Eden. And they ate of the tree. “Jonah, go to Ninevah,” was the command. And he went in the opposite direction. I think some of this is at work regarding abortion.

Advocates of abortion rights are taught not to argue for abortion but for reproductive freedom and choice because they are popular and compelling topics. Abortion rights advocates don’t want to talk about fetal heartbeats, fetal pain, detectable brain waves, unique fingerprints, and chromosomal makeup. They do not want humanity or personhood to be part of the conversation. Instead, they have successfully made abortion a reproductive rights issue, regardless of what happens in an abortion.

Original sin is that persistent desire, even within God’s people, to challenge God. It is what the apostle Paul talked about when he said, “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19).

There are ideologues on both sides of the issue. Those who favor abortion don’t care that a life is lost. Bowing to no other authority but their own, they argue that some lives are expendable. That is a position rooted in original sin. Pro-life ideologues quickly forget legalistic measures do not solve the problem.

A changed heart is the goal. A heart equipped with faith, driven by the Holy Spirit, fights our sinful inclination to do wrong and focuses on honoring God with words and actions.

In 1979, WELS adopted a resolution that condemned abortion with two pertinent resolves:

  • that we encourage our membership to express their concern and compassion for distressed pregnant women by supporting the development of alternatives to abortion programs which are consistent with God’s Word; and
  • that we more zealously preach the gospel of Christ which alone can change the wicked hearts of men and turn them from sin to righteousness.

We need pro-life laws and alternative-to-abortion options to provide bridges and buy time for us to share the gospel of salvation in Christ. Yet we cannot settle for a favorable court ruling, a strong piece of legislation, or a life-favoring politician. Humans bent on challenging God find a way to do it. Ultimately, though, changed hearts provide the alternative of eternal hope when despair and desperation tempt us to do bad things.

*Roe v. Wade is the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion across the nation. With the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court held that the US Constitution does not confer any right to abortion. This decision does not abolish abortion in the United States. Instead, each state now decides for itself whether abortion should be legal in its state and, if so, to what degree.

Author: Robert Fleischmann
Volume 111, Number 01
Issue: January 2024

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This entry is part 1 of 36 in the series editorial-comment

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