Choose LIFE

Like many conservative Evangelical congregations around the country, our church recognized yesterday as Sanctity of Life Sunday.  It seems only appropriate. We live in a culture that no longer values human life, except, perhaps, as a disposable comodity.  This is evident by not only the continued tragedy of abortion but also the growing, or at least high, percentage of Americans who are OK with euthenasia.  But we value life, because God values life.

Like other Evangelicals, we believe that life – human life – is a reflection of the glory of God. Humanity, and humanity alone, was created by God to bear His image.  Though  vandalized in the Fall, and tarnished by our own sin, all people contine to posess an inherent value because we are still bearers of the image of God, even under all the rubbage. 

One of the things I mentioned to our congregation is that there are several ways to obsereve Sanctity of Life Sunday. The most common, I suspect, is to show support for being Pro Life and opposed to abortion.  Like many others, we partner with the local crisis pregnancey center (which, in our case here in Bristol, is led by a man who preceded me as pastor of Walnut Hill Church).  I also mentioned that adoption is a very important practice. More than that, adoption is a beautiful illustration of the Gospel. (I’ll compose another post to explain that, perhaps tomorrow.)  Another related practice is Foster Care, which is in critical condition here in Sullivan County, Tennessee.  (Perhaps I’ll draft yet another post about this issue, either this week or next.)

But back to the most traditional emphasis connected to the observation of Sanctity of Life Sunday. It strikes me that there are two ways we can go with our observation of this day:

  1. We can celebrate LIFE
  2. We can protest abortion

These are related. And both can be accomplished. But it seems to me the emphasis always leans toward one of these options or the other.

For me personally, I am glad to be part of a church that focuses on the celebration of Life.  The recent tradtion at our church is to launch a competition between the men and women to see which group/gender can fill the most baby bottles with coins during the time between Sanctity of Life Sunday and Mother’s Day.  All the money collected goes to the AACPC here in Bristol.  It is a fun and postitive tradition that focuses on serving those in need more than decrying what we hate. (Though, I do hate the practice of abortion.)

What you will not see at a church that I pastor is a yard full of crosses on Sanctity of Life Sunday – nor during any other time of year.  I am not levying accusations at those who do this each year. There is a place for protest, and I suspect that there are people who are reminded about how monstrously large the abortion industry is in this country.  But my preference, and my position, is that it is better to celebrate and serve LIFE.

There is a practical, and compassionate, reason for my position. 

I often wonder about the message being sent to the women who have chosen to have an abortion – and to a lesser degree, the men who were complicit in that decision.  I wonder what they perceive of the love of Christ for people like them, people labeled “murderers” by the most vociferous anti-abortion activists.  In our churches, and in our pregnancy centers, we caution women considering an abortion that someday down the road they are very likely to feel a high degree of guilt should they decide to terminate their pre-born child’s life.  Reasearch and experiece has proven that to be the truth.  And it is women (and men) like that I wonder about. When they see the crosses covering a church yard, representing the millions of children whose lives are taken each year, including the life their decision ended, what message do they infer the church is sending them?  I am afraid that the message hurting women receive – whether or not it is the message intended to be implied – is: “We told you so.”  Or worse: “We hate people like you (people who kill innocent children).” 

I wonder how inclined a woman, feeling the weight of a decision she cannot retract, would be to seek counselling for her grief from a church that has marked her sin with a Scarlet Letter “A” – for Abortion – in the form of a garden of crosses out on the lawn.  I wonder if these women drive by and sense the love of Jesus flowing from such an expression of the Body of Christ.  I am sure many have received help, forgiveness, and hope through these congregations. But I ask myself, “How many more women drive-by fearing they will never be forgiven or accepted in such a place?”

Again, I am not indicting those churches, nor those Christians, who choose to observe Sanctity of Life in this way.  There is a place for advocacy on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves (in this case, the unborn).  What I write here in this post are only my thoughts and concerns.  But they are real thoughts and real concerns, deeply held. And for those reasons, whatever others do on this day each year, I will CHOOSE to CELEBRATE LIFE!

One thought on “Choose LIFE

  1. I couldn’t agree more Dennis. I recall hearing the heart agonizing testimony of a young lady who had several abortions of convience and because someone loved her enough to help her overcome some really hard issues of living life (which she almost gave up on) and shared the Gospel with her, she called out to a Loving God. She now speaks out against abortions in sharing her story with various Churches and other organizations with the intent & perspective of celebrating life. As always, our primary purpose in Loving God is about loving others as well in spite of the their sin as we tell them about a loving Father. Who made a way for us all thru Jesus.

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