In the providence of God, the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was handed down five days after I began an exposition of Romans 13:1-7. My first sermon on that passage (which came during an ongoing study of the whole letter) involved an overview of it, outlining the argument that Paul makes and the way that he makes it. I also explained the nature of authority and the jurisdictional realms in which God has delegated His authority in His world, namely the home, the church, and the state.
My sermon after that decision focused on verse 1, which states the thesis for the whole paragraph: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Because God has instituted civil governments, everyone is obligated to be submissive to them. The idea of government and governmental authorities comes from God. This is a fundamental truth that all Christians must remember as we work out our public, and especially our political, theology. We are submissive to governmental authorities because we are subject to Jesus Christ, who possesses “all authority” (Matthew 28:18).
We must remember this as we think about the Supreme Court’s recent decision (in Dobbs) to overturn the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. Because God has even the heart of kings in His hands (Proverbs 21:1) we know that, ultimately, that decision is His work. Since it is a work that offers some legal protection to unborn children, everyone who loves mercy and justice should unashamedly rejoice. By its ruling the current justices determined that Roe v. Wade was an unjust decision—a mistake made by an earlier iteration of the court.
No one can legitimately doubt the accuracy of this ruling. In 1973 the right to abortion was invented out of thin air and attributed to the fourteenth amendment. But any honest reader will study in vain to find the right to kill unborn babies in that amendment. Certainly, those who adopted the amendment in 1868 had no thought of it being used to justify abortion.
The idea of government and governmental authorities comes from God. This is a fundamental truth that all Christians must remember as we work out our public, and especially our political, theology.
So, praise God that on June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed an unrighteous decision by overturning Roe v. Wade. It was the right decision before both the law of God—“You shall not murder”—and before the Constitution of the United States—“No State shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The United States federal government is comprised of a chief executive (the President) and representatives (Congressmen & women and Senators) who are all elected by the citizens. These elected officials are obligated to carry out their responsibilities according to the rules that are established in a written constitution.
The third branch of our federal government is the judiciary with the Supreme Court being the highest court in our land. It has the responsibility of settling questions and controversies arising under the laws of our nation. Its job is to interpret the United States Constitution and render judgments on the constitutionality of all lesser laws or actions that become the occasion of dispute.
Chiseled into the Supreme Court building in Washington DC, just above the main entrance, are the words,
EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW
That motto expresses the primary responsibility of the Supreme Court—to ensure that the citizens of the United States are granted equal justice under the laws of our land, the highest of which is the constitution itself.
By reversing Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has properly carried out its duty to at least begin the process of restoring equal protection under the law for the most vulnerable among us—unborn babies. So, lovers of justice rejoice and should thank God for His kind provision of this decision.
We who know the Lord should especially rejoice over God’s kindness in causing those justices to make the ruling that they did. Their decision brings our nation back into a closer alignment to the governing authorities that God has appointed over us in the civil arena.
What I mean is this. The God of whom Job 12:23 says, “He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away,” the God who establishes empires and casts them down, this God—the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—in His providence established the United States of America in such a fashion that our highest governing authority is not a person or an office, but a document. And that document—the Constitution of the United States—was recognized and submitted to by the Supreme Court when they overturned Roe v. Wade and began to recognize that unborn babies deserve equal justice under law just like every other image-bearer of God.
By reversing Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has properly carried out its duty to at least begin the process of restoring equal protection under the law for the most vulnerable among us—unborn babies.
So, we praise God for ordaining government and for providentially establishing the government of the United States as a constitutional republic. We further praise Him that the highest court in the judicial branch of our government properly exercised their authority in making a righteous ruling by overturning the wicked ruling of Roe v. Wade.
While this does not mean that unborn babies will now be afforded equal protection under the law, it is a step in the right direction. Let’s continue to call on our civil authorities at every level and in every branch of government to exercise their God-given authority in ways that He has prescribed. And let us continue to be subject to them out of our greater submission to the King of all Kings and Lord of all lords, Jesus Christ.