Some Thoughts on the Passage of Ohio Issues 1 & 2
Two constitutional amendments were recently passed in our state. The first of these expands and secures the right to abort unborn children. The second legalizes marijuana use. As those who have been changed by God’s grace, to love God and our neighbor, we are troubled by these developments. And so, I thought it would be good to share some thoughts here for our church, and also for anyone else who might be helped by them.
My first thought is not a new one, but this past Tuesday made it clear—our culture is changing, fast! There’s plenty of evidence of this, not least of which is the fact that eight years ago our state decided against the legalization of marijuana by a margin of 64% to 36%. But this past week, the initiative passed with 57% of the popular vote.
Cultures are always changing, sometimes for the better, and often for the worse. And then, eventually, they collapse. As we consider these things in Christ, we have at least two very important realities to keep in mind. First, in Christ we are “salt and light” in this dark and decaying world (Matthew 5:13; Philippians 2:15). And that’s not because of who we are in ourselves, but it’s because of the One we’re united to by faith—it’s because of the message of His Gospel. And because this is who we are in Christ, our energy and attention must be redirected away from political frustrations and toward holy living, devoted to Christ and His people (more on this later). The second important reality for Christians in a changing culture is this: “Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28–29). Culture may change, but Christ doesn’t. His is our Kingdom, and He is our King.
My second thought is about government itself, and in particular democracy. Back in August, there was a ballot initiative to change how constitutional amendments are made in our state. It was also called Issue 1. The August Issue 1 sought to make it more difficult to amend our state constitution. It was designed because of the Issue 1 that we just voted on—the one about abortion. If Issue 1 had passed in August, then Issue 1 would more likely have failed in November, and fewer infants would be murdered in the womb.
The August vote was important not only for its immediate purpose, but also because it would’ve further protected us from ochlocracy (“ock-LOCK-ruh-see”). This is a word I just learned. It’s kind of fun to say, but it's terrible to experience. It means “mob rule,” or “a form of government by the multitude.” It is bare democracy in which the “majority rules.” This is an unwise form of government. Our nation’s founding fathers knew this, and so they designed things like the the three branches of government, two chambers of Congress (the House and the Senate), and also the Electoral College.
As students of God’s Word, we can see the folly of allowing the mob to rule. After all, ochlocracy was the mechanism by which the worst thing in the world that ever happened took place (Mark 15:13–15). If God, in His wise and good providence, has placed us in such a society, then by His grace we will live. But, insofar as we’re able, we should stand against mob rule, because it’s fundamentally unjust, unwise, and deadly.
My third set of thoughts are about how to move forward with regard to abortion in our state. I asked myself: what if Issue 1 had failed? Well, that would’ve made me happy. I would’ve given thanks to God. I would’ve celebrated the victory. But that isn’t what happened. So, in light Issue 1 passing, how shall we proceed?
Shall we grumble? Shall we despair? Shall we fume? According to the flesh, I could easily justify my frustration, fear, and outrage. But this would obviously be the wrong response. So what then? How do we proceed?
For starters, I think that many of us who opposed Issue 1 would’ve become more dangerously complacent about abortion in our state if the issue had failed. There would’ve been a sense of, “Well, we won. Good. Glad that’s over.” As if!
As things are today, we are once again reminded that the battle for life and for righteousness is still on. Until Christ returns, this battle will continue. This is—beyond all else—a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12–13). So let’s fight! Let’s rest, and rejoice, in Christ, being rooted in the Word and giving thanks in all circumstances. Let's live by the Spirit, loving our enemies and praying for them. Let’s seek to raise our children in the wisdom and love of Christ. Let’s promote strong, godly marriages, and healthy, thriving families. Let’s love our neighbors and support our communities—primarily by strengthening the local church; but also by supporting services such as pregnancy care centers and foster/adoption agencies. In short, let’s remember who is King, and let's seek to live our lives in Him, and for Him.
And let's prayerfully sing,
This is my Father’s world: Oh, let me ne’er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world, The battle is not done: Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and Heav’n be one.