The SBC In A Post-Roe World

The annual spectacle known as the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting is over. I watched it all via livestream, and our church sent two messengers. Although I have not met with the messengers in person yet, we texted extensively during the convention, and I feel quite safe saying we were all three very disappointed. 

That makes two years in a row. Really three years, since the debacle of the pro-CRT Resolution 9 in 2019, and of course 2020 was canceled due to COVID. Three straight years of disappointment. So, with the next few blog posts, I want to express my concerns and disappointments, primarily for the local church I am privileged to pastor. We already voted to significantly reduce our giving to SBC causes (particularly the Cooperative Program) as an expression of our ongoing disagreement with the direction of upper echelons of the convention and its entities. Hopefully, these blog posts will serve as a launchpad for us to discuss the wisest way forward in months ahead. 

Among the various disappointments with the 2022 convention, perhaps none cut me so sharply as the ERLCs position on the abolition of abortion. 

Last year at the 2021 convention, the messengers managed to do the impossible. They overrode the Resolutions Committee and pulled the Resolution on the Abolition of Abortion to the floor for a vote. It passed overwhelmingly, despite key ERLC leaders speaking against it! They spoke against a resolution to abolish abortion! Their excuse was it somehow insults all the incremental progress made by the pro-life movement to simply call for the abolishment of abortion immediately. Confused? So was I. 

Now, as we anticipate the potential Supreme Court’s overturning Roe any day, the 2022 convention saw lively questions from messengers to several leaders and the ERLC on making abortion illegal, and criminalizing it. Dr. Albert Mohler was the only leader on the platform who offered a courageous answer which pointed to the woman’s culpability, along with doctors and often men, who are complicit in the murder of the unborn.  Mohler further defended the American legal system’s ability to handle various kinds of murder (degrees) and homicides and manslaughter, as well as its ability to discern whether a woman truly was victimized and therefore should not be held culpable.

That is to say, abortion is murder. It thus violates God’s Law as well as the laws of all 50 States, once it is admitted that a baby is a human. Murder has always carried stiff punishments upon conviction. Our legal system is indeed handling all kinds of wrongful deaths and manslaughters and murder cases every day. Why should we not expect it to do so with the willful murder of unborn babies? 

But the ERLC signed on with dozens of other pro-life ministries to a letter a few months back standing in absolute opposition to any criminalization of abortion! Friends, the pro-life movement has lost its ability to reason morally from the Scriptures, particularly the Law of God. And at this convention, more than one ERLC leader defended their position, which goes something like this:

We support the abolition of abortion. But not its criminalization. Because all women are victims of abortion. So there should be no penalty whatsoever for any woman who aborts her baby. Instead, what we should do is to change the hearts and minds of our culture (neighbors and cities) so that abortion becomes illegal, unthinkable, and unnecessary. We will win them with kindness.

Are you following this logic? Nah? Me neither.

Because it is illogical, and worse, it’s unbiblical. Why pass a law (to make abortion illegal) if you have no desire to see it enforced? Does the ERLC seriously think that penalties for crimes such as murder should not be enforced? Or that punishments do not deter crime? Maybe we should ask them if they support the defund the police movement because some of us are growing very suspicious here. Furthermore, does the ERLC seriously think that we can change every single citizen’s view of abortion? Last time I checked, only the regenerating power of Holy Spirit God changes hearts and minds, not my eloquence or powerful persuasion. We’ve had 50 years to change our culture and society’s minds on abortion, and those who love death still love it. Now more than ever! Violence against pro-life ministries and pregnancy centers is on the rise. And mark my words, abortion lovers will seriously hurt and kill some pro-life lovers in the near future (indeed they are promising to do so). Vast numbers of pro-abortion advocates hate God and therefore they hate life (unless it’s their own, of course). No amount of argument, and even no amount of gospel evangelism, is going to change 50% of Americans’ minds, unless we seriously think nearly every single American is going to be born again and come to faith in Christ in the next year or so. O, that God might make it so! But throughout history, God’s redeemed have always been the righteous remnant. Evangelize we must. But the ERLCs strategy here is nuts. 

Removing penalties for violations of laws is not biblical. It is also not loving. We are seeing rampant crime sprees across our land right now is because of DA’s refuse to prosecute and judges refuse to give proper and right sentences. To think we somehow know better than God how to counter human depravity and crimes such as murder is the height of arrogance! Have we no regard for God’s holy Law? Do we Southern Baptists not regard the Law as a moral guide of any kind? Do we not see the wisdom of God in the Law? Do we not see His holy character reflected in it? O, I know we’re not under law, in the sense of being under the Old Covenant. Nor are we under Law in the sense that we must live as Old Covenant Israel. We are under the New Covenant of grace. The Law’s blessings and curses are all fulfilled in Jesus Christ our Righteous Lord. Hallelujah! But have our SBC leaders altogether jettisoned the idea that God’s Law lays down solid principles of crime and punishment? The State does not bear the sword in vain, but is to promote good and punish evildoers (Rom 13). 

So, is abortion not evil? Is a woman never culpable for getting an abortion? Is it actually true that every single woman who aborts her baby is a hapless victim? The #ProudofmyAbortion movement mocks the ignorant, naïve, unbiblical, unloving position of the ERLC.  

Brent Leatherwood, interim President of the ERLC, said from the platform when pressed on this issue, “You will never get me to say we should throw women behind bars.”   

Not even women who murder the most innocent among us? Not even women who knowingly use abortion as “birth control?” Not even women who abort their babies in spite of the husband’s pleading not to kill their child? Not even women who get counsel at pro-life pregnancy centers, see a sonogram of their baby in their belly, are counseled on all the stages of life development in the womb, are made aware of the many adoption agencies and options, and who still go let a doctor chop up their babies like a piece of steak? Not even women who know full well that the “morning after” pill literally poisons and even burns their unborn babies to death? Really? 

Dr. Kevin Smith spoke for the ERLC and did confirm that abortion violates the Commandment, “Thou shalt not murder.” But he said nothing of whether any penalty should then be exacted upon a woman who aborts her baby should a State make it illegal in a “post-Roe” world. In other words, he did not answer the question concerning whether a convicted murderer should bear any penalty for the crime. 

Not every sin is a crime. But some are. Surely, we Southern Baptists can see that abortion, which we all say is murder, is both. The church deals with sin. The State deals with crime. And God has ordained both to do just that. To outlaw abortion but then not enforce it, only ensures infanticide continues.  

And if the ERLC cannot see something as simple as that, then maybe messengers should have abolished the ERLC (the motion was made but it did not pass).

by Keith McWhorter