Home Opinion Rev. David Hart: “The devil … he’s in the details”

Rev. David Hart: “The devil … he’s in the details”

Pro-women pro-choice sign at a Stop Abortion Bans Rally in St Paul, Minnesota (From Wikimedia Commons)

“The devil,” my grandmother postulated, “…he’s in the details.”

My grandmother would tell me this every time she read a formal document from someone outside the family, or when reading a recipe she was unfamiliar with or had forgotten, or when listening to the side effects at the end of a medication commercial.

She would say this well-worn idiom, rared back in her polished rocking chair, cream-colored shawl over her round shoulders and a straw hat on her head to protect her walnut complexion, with all the authority of a prophet reciting a divinely-inspired proverb, while the company of heaven nodded on in agreement with her.

And my grandmother was right. The devil was, in fact, in the details for her. In her nearly eight decades on this earth, she had seen contracts, and legal instruments, and even laws and constitutions that, on their face appeared straightforward, that seemed promising, that looked fair, only to have the devil himself crawl out from under terms and concepts like Jim Crow, restricted covenant, de jure, de facto, and redlining.

She had seen wishes, hopes, best-laid plans and dreams, all dashed when the devil peeked out of a sub-paragraph, or legislative intent. So, the devil and the details in which he lived and breathed and called home, were no friends of my grandmother.

“But,” my grandmother added, “If the devil is in the details, then God is in the big things.  Sunsets. Full moons. Horizons. Changing seasons. Babies laughing. Women dancing. All of Creation.”  She believed that God was in the big things because the big things were simply too beautiful not to have God in them.

And I believed this word from my grandmother with my whole heart. In fact, I lived by my grandmother’s words and relied on them for wisdom and support, in my adult life.

So, when I heard some Christian groups and pastors and media outlets pronounce with great certainty that God was also in things like Supreme Court decisions and legislation regarding healthcare for women, I became concerned and incredulous all at once.

At this point, we all know the Supreme Court, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturned almost 50 years of well-established privacy and reproductive law. We also know of plans some legislators have to push for a national ban on abortion.

And by now, while the vast majority of Americans continue to support women’s reproductive rights, we know that some people couldn’t be happier about the court’s decision.

But, what we didn’t know, many of us, was that God was involved in the Court’s decision. Intimately. And I don’t mean that individuals prayerfully consulted with God throughout the Court’s decision-making process, or that the Court’s decision was generally within God’s plan, I mean that God was actually involved in constructing the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

At least that’s what a contingent of Christians, led by former president Donald Trump believes. “God made the decision,” Trump said as he explained how God had actually intervened and insinuated God’s agenda into the American judiciary and political landscape in such a way that God helped to draft the decision.

The overturning of Roe and the push for a national ban on abortion by this contingent of Christians isn’t surprising. Since the Court decided Roe in 1973, these Christians almost immediately devised a strategy to overturn the decision. The strategy was complete with muddled conservative theologies and proof-texting Biblical passages about children and childbirth.

What is surprising, however, at least from my perspective, is the extent to which this contingent of Christians has escalated creating a nexus between God and their own agenda.

For decades these Christians told us that they were simply carrying out God’s wishes by moving to push abortion and reproductive health to the margins of our political discourse. Now, they are not only indicating that they are agents of God and carrying out God’s agenda, but they are also now reporting that God even physically intervenes on their behalf.

But, I need help understanding how this is so: How God would ordain such a fight against a women’s health organization. I wonder how God physically intervening to make reproductive healthcare less accessible to women would be consistent with the scriptures in any fashion.

This contingent of Christians who are attempting to link God to their political agenda, are missing the essence of God and the scriptures. God sent Jesus to earth to be on the side of women. We see in the scriptures time and time again, Jesus empowering women, healing them, and giving them access to healthcare, in essence.

What is more, we know that God is a pro-choice God. God distinguishes between when a person is created and when life is created.

We see in the very first scriptures of the Bible that men and women were created by God at the same time, equally. And then, God breathed life into those humans. God wants us to know that life begins with God and that personhood begins more pragmatically on earth. It’s constructed by humanity.

This isn’t simply a fine point or nuanced detail. It, as my grandmother would say, is a big thing. A big thing in which we would find God.