Everything affects everything else.
When the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe back in June of 2022, most analysts understandably credited the five justices who voted in the majority. Others cited former President Trump, who fulfilled his 2016 campaign promise to appoint justices who would faithfully interpret and uphold the Constitution.
Yet nobody mentioned Dr. Jerry Kirk, a former Presbyterian pastor – but they should have.
Now in his 90s, this faithful saint could never have known how the Lord was going to use him to help right a tragic wrong – but that’s exactly what happened.
One of the great and wondrous mysteries of the Christian life is how the Lord often quietly but decisively uses people and circumstances to accomplish His larger plan. It’s not always obvious – and it can unfold over decades.
Ironically, Jerry’s involvement in the fall of Roe dates to 1973, the year that seven justices invented a so-called right to abortion.
At the time, Dr. Kirk was pastoring College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. He was consumed with the usual challenges of managing a growing congregation. But that year, a few people approached him about the possibility of inviting Dr. Billy Graham to hold a crusade in their city. One of the people suggesting had been saved at a Graham crusade and wanted others to experience the event.
Some pastors might shy away from inviting outside ministers onto their turf, but not Jerry. He loved the idea and pulled together eight other churches to help pull it off. Dr. Graham’s crusade two years later resulted in over 17,000 commitments to Christ.
Following the crusade, Dr. Kirk enlisted those same eight congregations to help fight the scourge and spread of obscenity and pornography. “Citizens for Community Values” (CCV) lobbied to ban the Playboy channel from local cable television, as well prevent the distribution of pornographic movies at local video stores.
CCV had the temerity to speak up when big forces were trying to shut them down. Phil Burress assumed responsibility in 1991, continuing the organization’s principled opposition to moral filth. A volunteer prior to joining the staff, Burress had previously struggled with an addiction to pornography.
Fast forward to 2004 and the highly contentious presidential election. President George W. Bush was seeking reelection. Also on the ballot in Ohio that year was a state constitutional amendment affirming marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. People of faith turned out to affirm “Issue 1” – and voted narrowly to reelect President Bush. Ohio’s 20 electoral votes that year proved decisive as Bush defeated Senator John Kerry.
What does all this have to do with Dr. Kirk and the fall of Roe?
George W. Bush’s reelection set the stage for his two Supreme Court appointments in 2005 and 2006. Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed on September 29, 2005 – and Justice Samuel Alito on January 31, 2006
Over 16 years later, it would be Justice Samuel Alito who would write the majority opinion overturning Roe.
“The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions,” he wrote. “On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”
Had Dr. Jerry Kirk not pulled together those eight churches for Dr. Graham – those same eight churches that helped launch CCV, which eventually helped pass a marriage amendment and which drew voters interested in a president appointing judges who don’t legislate from the bench – President Bush wouldn’t have appointed Samuel Alito to the High Court.
And without Justice Alito, there would have been no fifth vote to overturn Roe.
And without Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Alito, there would have been no fifth and sixth vote to uphold Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act.
Everything affects everything else.
Never underestimate how the Lord might use you and your obedience to accomplish His will and ways.
But let the record show pro-lifers are forever indebted to pastor Dr. Jerry Kirk, who answered God’s call on his life 50 years ago, and whose legacy will manifest in a variety of venues, but especially in the tens of thousands of lives saved since June of 2022.
Images from Getty and College Hill Presbyterian Church.