Today I’m doing something different and featuring a guest piece by my friend Grayson Quay. Grayson is a Spectator columnist, weekend editor at The Week, and pro-life trouble-maker. Grayson wrote this piece in the aftermath of the Dobbs decision, but it didn’t find a home, so I’m giving it one. It complements Carl Trueman’s recent First Things article on the awkward radio silence of evangelical voices like Russell Moore. As Grayson rounds up below, other voices haven’t been radio silent, but their reactions were so hopelessly “nuanced” that it would almost have been better if they were. Just the other day, I spoke with a friend who told me his parish priests still haven’t said anything substantive on the decision from the pulpit, even though he’s convinced that all of them are solid pro-life men. Brothers and sisters, in this moment, this is not acceptable. We have every right to hold our spiritual leaders to higher standards of leadership than this. My thanks to Grayson for co-signing on this conviction with me. I’m sure he speaks for many readers. With that, here’s his take:
Pastors, the Church Didn’t Need Your Nuanced Dobbs Take
by Grayson Quay
And Miriam answered them,
Sing ye to the LORD,
for he hath triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider
hath he thrown into the sea.
– Exodus 15:21
… and the elders of Israel rebuked Miriam, saying, “Now isn’t the time for Israel to beat its chest in celebration of a victory in the culture war. This is a moment for us to step up in love.” They went on to explain that the “slavery” and “mass infanticide” to which the Israelites objected were actually deeply complex issues, that Israel shouldn’t impose its Yahwist conception of freedom on the Egyptians, and that denouncing Egypt’s gods too forcefully might actually hurt Israel’s witness.
This is, of course, not what Israel’s leaders said after they were delivered from Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, but it is how far too many supposedly pro-life Christian clergy and public intellectuals responded to the Dobbs v. Jackson decision.
David French briefly acknowledged that we should “rejoice” at Roe’s demise before spending the bulk of his column tackling the real problem: pro-life Christians were insufficiently enthusiastic about the COVID-19 vaccines. Andrea Tornielli of Vatican News shamed pro-lifers for not caring enough about maternal mortality, paid family leave, and gun control. Megachurch Pastor Andy Stanley said he had strong personal feelings about abortion but wouldn’t tell his congregation what those feelings were.
Pastor Darryl Ford of Atlanta’s Ikon Community Church — which was planted by the pro-life Presbyterian Church in America — had the audacity to say, choking up as he did so, that image-bearing people “are going to die” if Christians fail to appreciate how multifaceted the abortion issue is. No comment on whether the sixty-three million babies killed since 1973 qualify as image-bearers. Ford also claimed that pro-life Americans were not “under persecution — we are the persecutors!”
Oh yeah? Tell that to the Christians who’ve been shunned by pro-choice friends and family members. Tell that to Catholic pro-life activist Lauren Handy, who is facing two years in prison for protesting at a Michigan abortion clinic. Tell that to the people who volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers that have been firebombed by pro-abortion activists. Tell that to the tens of thousands of Christians beaten and arrested by police when they stood up for life in the 80s and 90s.
This is their victory. It is a victory for life. It is a victory for God’s kingdom. A high altar of state-sanctioned infant sacrifice has been cast down. A blow has been struck against the powers of this present darkness that prowl about the world seeking the destruction of mankind, and especially of the people of God.
When Haman was hanged on his own gibbet, “the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day.” When Constantine defeated the persecuting pagan emperors, Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that Christians “had unspeakable gladness, and a certain inspired joy bloomed for all of us.” We’re allowed to celebrate. On the morning of Sunday June 26, the proper response to the Dobbs decision was, “Praise God!” No qualifiers needed.
Any clergyman who felt the need to respond to the decision by being what the kids call a “nuance bro,” or by refusing to acknowledge it altogether, did a grave disservice to his flock. Preachers are often told to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Instead, these leaders refused to rejoice with those who spent nearly fifty years laboring and suffering for Christ in order to spare the feelings of those who sided with Moloch. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
These compromising Christians scored points by sneering at pro-life “extremists” who displayed images of aborted babies. They got to nod along with Stephen Colbert, Jon Oliver, and NPR. They fit in at elite universities. Their cowardly stance was honored with bylines in The New York Times and fawning applause on The View. Their Christianity was seen as a quirk, not a threat.
This is not the time to comfort them, unless we’re using “comfort” the way the Bayeux Tapestry does — whacking the deserters with a stick in order to get them back into the fight.
That fight continues. Yes, there’s plenty of work left to do, but D-Day is worth celebrating, even if Berlin remains in German hands. Yes, Christians could always do more to support women in difficult situations, but we’re already operating thousands of crisis pregnancy centers, donating billions of dollars, and adopting children at far higher rates than our secular counterparts. Any suggestion that the church has been neglecting charity in favor of legal activism is anti-religious slander that priests and pastors should be ashamed to repeat.
Yes, other social issues matter. Am I expected to lead a joyless life until every last one of them is solved? Yes, compassion is important, but compassion does not mean affirmation. Abortion is murder. It is a satanic inversion of the principle of self-giving on which reality depends. To post-abortive women or women facing crisis pregnancies, we must speak these truths in love, but we must speak them all the same.
And yes, some people are very upset about this decision. Who cares? I’m sure the Aztecs were upset when Cortez threw down the altars where they cut the beating hearts from captives’ chests. Let the heathen rage. They will not steal our joy.