The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin (Psalm 146:9).
I write this on the morning of Election Day, and therefore do not know how things will turn out. And in a way, it does not matter, for some things do not depend on who sits in the White House.
Abortion is one of them. I say this as a “single-issue” voter, because I believe a nation’s commitment (of lack thereof) to the most vulnerable determines its character and its standing before God. The Lord’s blessing will not linger long (even if his patience might) over a land that allows, even promotes, the slaying of children and the oppression of their mothers. Yet as important as politics is (and I believe wholeheartedly in political engagement), abortion isn’t ultimately a political matter. It is a matter for the church.
The reason this is important to remember is (at least) twofold. First, if we trust in political leaders, even righteous ones, we trust in the arm of man. The plans of the politician perish when he perishes (or when his term is up), and political parties change over time. Of course, the work of watching over the sojourner and upholding the widow and the fatherless goes on. Some who read the Human Life Review know this well, having been involved in such work ever since Roe, a span covering nine different presidencies. Politicians come and go. The Lord does not perish, his term never expires, and therefore the work of the church remains. Remembering this keeps us from discouragement.
Second, seeing abortion as primarily a political matter takes the church off the hook. It’s like asking someone else to do our job. Which is what we have done. Abortion is as prevalent as it is in our land due to the complicity of Christians—those who actively participate in it, those who remain silent about it, and those who consider it just one of many issues with which we are concerned.
Yet notice in the psalm how personal is the Lord’s political agenda: “The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Psalm 146:7-9). And he carries out this agenda through his church.
If we think abortion is the government’s problem, we may lay the matter aside when we vote, thinking we have done what we should. But if we understand abortion to be the church’s problem, things change. What then? We open our hearts and homes to women in crisis pregnancy. We foster, we adopt, we give of our money and time that others may do so as well. We teach a son to respect women, particularly their bodies, and never to ask a woman to give herself to him apart from his commitment to her in marriage. We love a daughter well, and teach her to insist she will give herself only to her husband. We repent of our own complicity in abortion and the sexual license surrounding it. We speak a word of grace to a sexually broken and abortion-burdened world, which we need to hear as well, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, including those who have been involved in abortion.
And we vote. But thinking abortion is the government’s problem gives us license not to extend ourselves in precisely the ways that are most important. I may not be able to change the tide of abortion with my vote. But my prayers and my availability may change the trajectory of one woman and one man, and their child.
And I can do this on November 4, regardless of who wins this election.