Why I opposed an anti-abortion resolution at the SBC

Two weeks ago, I thought the most important resolution coming before the Southern Baptist Convention would be about Critical Race Theory. I need to give up my prognosticating, because I turned out to be epically wrong in that prediction. That resolution didn’t even come close to being the most important resolution before the messengers. I made that prediction not knowing what I know now—that the convention would pass a resolution that amounts to a repudiation of the pro-life movement. In fact, this resolution is a break with every single pro-life resolution that the SBC has passed in the last 41 years. 

How could such a thing happen in a denomination that is known for its strong pro-life convictions? Before the convention, a group of so-called “abolitionists” submitted a resolution that the Resolutions Committee declined. The group showed up at the convention and flooded the messengers with pamphlets in favor of the resolution. As a result, the abolitionists were able to convince messengers to vote the resolution out of the committee for an up or down vote on the floor. After a brief debate, the messengers overwhelmingly approved it. 

The reason that messengers approved the resolution was because it was clearly anti-abortion. But I think it was lost on the messengers that the resolution was also a repudiation of the pro-life movement. And therein is the problem. While the resolution supports the immediate abolition of abortion (which I also support), it also rejects all pro-life measures aimed at limiting the number of babies killed through abortion every year (which every pro-lifer should vigorously oppose). Thus the resolution is opposed to the Hyde Amendment, a ban on partial birth abortion, fetal heartbeat laws, parental notification laws, and a host of other pro-life measures that have saved millions of unborn lives. The resolution makes the perfect the enemy of the good and has thrown the pro-life movement under the bus in the process.

That is why I voted against the resolution and why I wish my fellow messengers had as well. To be sure, I don’t think the messengers fully understood what the resolution committed them to. If they had, I doubt they would have passed it. It was impossible to convince messengers of the problems in the short time allotted for debate. But now that the resolution is on the books, we desperately need to revisit this to explain what went wrong and why.

To that end, I recommend three articles that break it all down. 

First, I was joined by six SBC ethics professors in an essay yesterday explaining “Why We Voted against an Anti-Abortion Resolution at the SBC.” 

Second, Dana Hall McCain was on the SBC Resolutions Committee and has an essay titled “Southern Baptist Convention’s problematic abortion resolution.”

Third, Scott Klusendorf and Marc Weaver have a trenchant piece arguing that it is wrong to be “Trading Lives for Prophets.”

All three of these essays get at the heart of the matter, and I hope you will read them.