NASHVILLE (BP) – Southern Baptist leaders asked God Tuesday (May 3) to help Christians recognize that the overturning of Roe v. Wade, if it occurs this term, will be not only a reason to rejoice but to renew Gospel-based ministry to those in need.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) hosted an online prayer gathering one day after the publication of a leaked U. S. Supreme Court draft opinion that, if it becomes final, would strike down the 1973 Roe decision. Four other members of the high court have joined Associate Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the draft opinion, in support of reversing the nearly 50-year-old ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, according to Politico, the news organization that published the leaked document.
Before it adjourns in late June or early July, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision that will determine the fate of Roe, at least for now, in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which regards a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation.
Brent Leatherwood, the ERLC’s acting president, told the audience for the quickly arranged, virtual event “it is totally appropriate that we would enter into a time of prayer together as cooperating Southern Baptists who realize that this is a big moment.”
During the prayer session, Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said even if Roe is overturned in the Dobbs ruling, “it does not mean that the pro-life cause can celebrate and retire. It means the challenge continues, state by state, location by location, conversation by conversation, Lord, literally person to person.”
He prayed that God “would give us the spirit of endurance to go the distance, to realize that the cause of truth and justice and life never ends [in this world], that even as great of a victory as we may experience through the Dobbs case and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, there is still much, much work for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to do.”
SBC President Ed Litton asked God to “help us to see this potential as not being an opportunity to celebrate but an opportunity to press forward, because girls will still need someone to help them in a very difficult time of decision, young men will need help becoming responsible adults and fathers, and, Lord, the communities will need adoption, will need foster care. Lord, we will still need the hope of Jesus Christ and the hope that the Gospel brings.”
“We do pray, Lord, that You would bring this scourge to a close, but Lord help us to see the opening of a great new opportunity for the Gospel and … for our people to engage,” Litton prayed.
Columnist Dana McCain, vice chair of the 2022 SBC Resolutions Committee, asked the Lord “to equip us to love the vulnerable in our midst in this moment. Lord, help us to see those women and preborn children with the eyes of Christ. Help us to love them with the love of Christ. And help us, God, to see them … with the same kind of grace and mercy that you have lavished on us, Lord.”
“Lord, equip us to offer them real alternatives to abortion, to offer them pathways where You can work in Your sovereignty and in Your power to create families through adoption and provide a way forward where there looks like there is no way forward,” McCain prayed.
She also asked God to “empower us to speak with holy conviction on behalf of preborn children, speaking for them because they depend on us, they have no voice outside of us.”
In introducing the prayer session, Leatherwood encouraged Southern Baptists to pray for the Supreme Court’s justices and clerks, including “for this seeming majority of the court to hold fast for life, for them all to be safe and secure as they continue these deliberations. The fact is [those who so far agree with overruling Roe] are going to come under a torrent of criticism, and we need to be praying for them to have the fortitude to withstand that. “
During the session, Leatherwood prayed for each of the nine justices by name.
Chelsea Sobolik, the ERLC’s director of public policy, lamented abortion as she prayed with the Supreme Court building in the background.
“I ask for Your grace and Your mercy and Your love to permeate hearts … people that have had abortions, people that have helped aid abortion, people that have performed abortions, Lord,” she said. “I pray for each one of those people that there would be someone in their lives to share the Good News of the Gospel and that they would be able to trust in You and in Your saving love and grace.”
Willie McLaurin, the SBC Executive Committee’s interim president, prayed for fathers, petitioning God “that just as You have modeled to us what it means to be a Heavenly Father, that so many men would look to You and would turn to that whole and healthy model of what it means to be a father.”
He asked that “vibrant, abundant kingdom life would be a reality for so many fathers today. “
Victor Chayasirisobhon, president of the California Southern Baptist Convention, prayed that God “would help us to be strong and courageous” so “we can speak up for You, Lord Jesus, and create a culture of life.”
If a majority of the Supreme Court follows through in its final opinion by overturning Roe and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling that affirmed its 1973 decision, the action would return abortion policy to the states.
About half of the 50 states will have laws prohibiting abortion at some stage if Roe is overruled, but other states already have laws protecting abortion rights and will become destinations for women seeking the procedure.
Elizabeth Graham, the ERLC’s vice president of operations and life initiatives, told the online audience before the prayer session, “[W]e must work alongside Southern Baptists in those [destination] states as they’re seeing an increase of women coming across state lines to receive abortions – to resource them, to ensure that they have support both in terms of pregnancy, adoption, foster care, helping moms to address the systemic drivers for why they choose abortion.”