Editor’s Note: Last week, Jonathan Darville published an article titled, “Set the Little Ones Free.” He argues the unborn should be extended what Martin Luther King Jr. called one’s “God-given and constitutional rights.” In a series of follow-up articles, Darville will answers three frequently asked questions about abortion. Here is the first in that series:
Q: What are the chances the abortion laws are ever actually going to change? And even if they were changed, the law doesn’t change people’s hearts. So, what’s the point?
A: Especially in democratic societies, it is always possible to change laws to align with the moral law. People didn’t think that slavery or Jim Crow laws would be overturned either, but they were—as the 13th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 testify. While laws might not change human hearts, they can change unjust human actions. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” Likewise, it may be true that the law cannot make people love unborn children, but it can keep people from aborting them, and that is pretty important.
The law cannot make people love unborn children, but it can keep people from aborting them, and that is pretty important.
We must also never lose sight of Dr. King’s warning that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” In other words, if we tolerate injustice in this once instance, we should not be surprised to see the impulse to injustice in our society multiply and the deterrents to injustice diminish. To use C.S. Lewis’ wording, “We [cannot] laugh at honor and [be] shocked to find traitors in our midst.” So, the point is at least twofold: 1. To protect innocent life, and; 2. Not to condition society to a mindset and pattern of behavior that leads to a broader range of unjust actions and less resistance to such actions.
I think in our society we often fail to recognize that there is a world of difference between principle and preference. Subjective truths (e.g. your favorite color, movie or band) have to do with preference. Objective truths (e.g. 2+2=4, murder is wrong, the law of gravity or the laws of logic) have to do with principle. While preferences can be “true for you and not for me,” principles are true for everybody. For instance, nobody can say that “gravity is true for you but not for me,” or that “2+2=4 is right for you but not for me” (at least not honestly).
Likewise, in matters of morality, there is no such thing as “your truth” or “our morality” as if ethics were a matter of personal or collective taste. Ethical principles are not personal preferences we compete to arbitrarily impose on one another. The moral law, like the laws of nature or the laws of logic, is universal—it naturally applies to everyone. It is a fixed feature of the world in which we live and move and have our being.
So, while we may dispute the proper application of moral law in civil law, we can no more rationally dispute that unnecessarily terminating an innocent human life is wrong, than we can rationally dispute the reality of gravity or the sum of two plus two. If at the most basic level, government is charged with protecting the innocent and upholding justice in society, then it is an appalling violation of that charge to fail to protect the unborn.
Therefore, let us all make every just effort to see abortion laws squared with the moral law in our time. To increase the chances abortion laws are changed, here are a few things we can do: volunteer at local pregnancy centers; share good resources; give to organizations like the Human Coalition; write to our political representatives; vote wisely; support adoption; pray strategically; etc. Remember, God likes to grant “unlikely” victories.
Editor’s Note: Come back next week for the second installment in this series.