The Christmas story is a story about how the unplanned pregnancy of an unwed teenage mother was God’s plan for the world. Think about it; Mary wasn’t planning on having an angel tell her that she would miraculously be with child at a young age. And in a culture of honor and shame, you can just imagine the questions that went through her head: What are my parents going to say? What are my friends going to think? What will my fiancé Joseph do? It’s important to remember that Mary was impoverished, and her only hope for financial security was getting married. Yet, the Bible records that Joseph didn’t originally believe her story and sought to divorce her quietly. Can you blame him? He was facing the public scorn of his fiancé becoming pregnant before they were married and carrying the blame and responsibility of raising a child that wasn’t his. Think of the shame, the name-calling and the gossip that Mary and Joseph must have had to endure, and yet they went through with it, but why? Mary could have sought out the politically acceptable primitive forms of abortion that were available to her, and Joseph could have legally and rightfully disowned Mary, and yet they both embraced the baby that God had brought into their lives, but how?
The gift of life
Mary and Joseph affirmed the gift of life. An angel told each of them that Mary’s unexpected child was the sovereign gift from God, and they embraced that truth. Yet, this angelic miraculous message that they received is the same ordinary message that everyone must receive: God is the giver of life and that life begins at conception. In fact, the worldview that Mary and Joseph would have grown up with is that all human life has been created by God and in the image of God starting from the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13-14). It teaches that God is the Author of life (Acts 3:15) who uniquely and personally created each person, and that “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Therefore, people should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). Mary and Joseph would have understood that no conception is an accident in the eyes of God. This means that you didn’t just happen. You are the direct result of the sovereign plan and personal craftsmanship of God who fashioned you in your mother’s womb. And because God created each human life, each person has equal value and worth; a person’s value is intrinsic to who he or she is. In other words, the biblical doctrine of life is not utilitarian, which teaches that a person’s life is valuable based on the usefulness of that life. Rather, the Judeo-Christian ethic of life is that the life of the homeless man in the gutter is just as valuable as the life of the neurosurgeon or some celebrity or politician because he or she is also created in the image of God. It doesn’t matter what your size, color, condition or looks are; you are valuable because of who created you. Because life is a gift from God, all life is significant — no matter how young or old — whether that life is in a womb or about to be in a tomb. It has great value and should be protected.
The hope for all
Mary and Joseph were also told that this unplanned pregnancy was the fulfillment of God’s plan and Israel’s long-anticipated hope. They were told to name the child Jesus, for “he would save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Not only did Mary and Joseph embrace the gift of life, but they also knew that this unexpected child had a great purpose in life. For Mary and Joseph their unplanned parenthood was the plan of God before the foundation of the world. The hope for the world was a tiny little life in a mother’s womb because that little life was the Author of life who stepped into this world to save it. The one who was once physically helpless came to die for those who are spiritually helpless. As someone put it, “Abortion is the anti-gospel. The gospel says, ‘I die for you,’ but abortion says, ‘you die for me.’”
The hope for all mankind is that the Giver of life gave his life on the cross so that by trusting in him, every sin could be forgiven, every stain could be blotted out and every past could be redeemed. This is the message of Christmas and the message that the church must practice and preach so that men and women who are facing unplanned pregnancies or the experience of going through an abortion would feel like they have a place to go. The sad truth is that many women do not feel like they can show their faces at home or in church after becoming pregnant outside of marriage. It’s time that Christians, instead of shaming the sinner, stood unashamed of the gospel for the sinner. The church needs to share and embody the hope that instead of covering one sin with another sin, every sin can be covered by the blood of the Lamb. That’s the solution that will always work. That’s the one hope for all mankind.
Jeremy McKeen is the lead pastor of Truth Point Church. Jeremy received his B.A. in communications and philosophy from Florida Southern College and his MDiv from Know theological Seminary.