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When Roe was overturned

Christians should rejoice in the destruction of an instrument of death

Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

When <em>Roe</em> was overturned

Do you remember the climactic scene from the original Star Wars movie?

Luke Skywalker is flying his X-wing starfighter through a maze of trenches along the surface of the Death Star. After narrowly escaping one attack after another from the Empire, Luke is about to be shot down by Darth Vader. But just in the nick of time, Han Solo and Chewbacca swoop down in the Millennium Falcon and bounce Darth Vader. Luke fires two torpedoes down the thermal exhaust port, and a few seconds later, the Death Star is blown apart. What had seemed impossible to almost everyone was now a reality. The Death Star was gone.

I’m sure you remember what comes next. As soon as Luke returned his X-wing to the hangar, he was greeted by muted celebration. One of the other pilots reminded Luke there was still a lot of work to do to make the galaxy safe for hurting people everywhere. A member of the Rebel Alliance asked Luke when he was going to subdue the violent Sand People on his home planet of Tatooine. Another friend advised Luke that many people in the galaxy were devastated by the news about the Death Star and that perhaps a time of listening was in order.

As you recall, Luke wasn’t the only one with questions to answer. Many friends of the Alliance questioned Han’s character. He was a smuggler and a cynic, and many wondered whether he was only motivated by the promise of a reward. Throughout the Rebel fleet, they gave thanks for the work R2-D2 and C-3PO had done, but they also said it would all be for naught if they didn’t do something about the oppressive Jawa droid ring they had left behind. Some concerned voices asked Princess Leia whether she thought the Rebels had the maturity to receive this victory or whether the problem in the galaxy might really lie with her own people. And Chewbacca? People weren’t sure what he was saying, but he seemed angry.

As we all know, the obliteration of the Death Star was not the happy event the Rebels thought it would be. To be sure, all of their energies had been directed toward this one end (there was something about removing an imminent threat to their very existence that concentrated their efforts). But when the time came to rejoice in the removal of the Death Star, wise leaders reminded the Rebels that the Death Star could always be rebuilt. Until the very idea of the Death Star became unthinkable, the Rebels had no reason to rejoice. Senior officials patiently explained to Luke and Leia that it was their responsibility to remove all conditions throughout the galaxy that might lead someone in the future to want the Death Star again.

Maybe the movie ends with the good guys smiling with grateful satisfaction, knowing that whatever failures lay in the past, and whatever dangers lie ahead, this was a day for celebration.

And so, do you remember how the movie ends? After Luke was welcomed back with tepid applause, he reunited with Han, Chewy, and the two droids. They sat down with Leia and reflected on their many failings. Luke was not yet an expert with the Force. Han had been selfish. Leia admitted that the annihilation of Alderaan was probably her fault. They gathered a large collection of counselors to help them process what had happened. They agreed that the Death Star was bad, but some quietly wondered if the Rebels had plans up their sleeves that were even worse. They talked at great length about the turmoil in the galaxy, about the bad behavior of some of the Rebels, and why being anti–Death Star was not enough.

It was the perfect ending to a great movie—a movie filled with unlikely and scrappy heroes. There was suffering and sacrifice along the way. The heroes had learned a lot and grown over time. By the end of the movie, they had won a great victory, a victory for life and freedom. And yet, what really made the movie resonate in so many hearts was the way the victory was met with many critical self-reflections and mild recriminations. Turns out the best way for the Rebel Alliance to commemorate the destruction of the Death Star was to remind everyone that many of the Empire’s criticisms were worth considering.

Or, wait. Maybe that’s not how the movie ended.

Maybe they all hugged and celebrated. Maybe the Rebels gathered for a solemn and joyful ceremony to honor their heroes. Maybe the movie ends with the good guys smiling with grateful satisfaction, knowing that whatever failures lay in the past, and whatever dangers lie ahead, this was a day for celebration.

Yes, that’s right. That was the real ending. The whole Rebel Alliance rejoiced because the instrument of death had been destroyed. The ones who didn’t smile either didn’t know what the Death Star really was or they weren’t really sure they wanted to be lumped in with the Rebels any longer. The war for truth and life and honor goes on, but thanks be to God for those who have seen this essential battle through to the end.

Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church (PCA) in Matthews, N.C., and associate professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte). Prior to the summer of 2017, he pastored at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Mich. Kevin holds a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and received his Ph.D. in early modern history at the University of Leicester. He is the author of several books, including The Biggest Story, The Hole in Our Holiness, Crazy Busy, and Just Do Something. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have nine children.

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