The history of the story of life is an exciting story of God creating life and enacting a plan to rescue people and save them for himself. When people reject God, there is death, war and brokenness. When people follow God, there is life, peace and joy. Many churches give special recognition to this each year on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, January 22nd.
In today’s world, one of the areas where this theme is most obvious is abortion. Since the United States Supreme Court ruled to make abortion legal in 1973, over 60 million abortions have been reported in the United States, and many millions more have been affected by the results of those abortion decisions.
This tragedy didn’t start in America or even during our lifetime. If we go back to 80 A.D. there are writings about the Roman law that allowed fathers to choose if their newborns would live or die. When a father decided to reject his child, the infants were taken to a wall outside the city and left to die. It was illegal for anyone to rescue these babies. But a group of first-century Christians, living in the catacombs, hiding for their own lives, braved the odds and rescued these babies, raising them as their own. Abortion didn’t start in modern times. By the end of the first century, the apostles were teaching: “Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.” (Didache, 1.1:2.2)
Through the ages, the saints not only declared abortion to be wrong, but worked tirelessly to save mothers and babies. In 350 A.D. Basil, a pastor in Caesarea, discovered a guild of abortionists operating in his city. Outraged, he preached, he helped women in crisis pregnancies, and he educated the public. In 374 A.D., he helped pass one of the first laws against abortion.
In 700 A.D., Dempna, a Celtic princess, discovered that handicapped babies and unwanted babies were being killed just outside her village. She opened her home to over 60 of these children, and her kindness changed her culture to value all human life.
Vincent DePaul, a 15th century minister in Paris, discovered midwives performing illegal abortions. He went undercover to expose them, set up programs to help pregnant women, and then lobbied the government for new laws. He said, “Protecting the least of these is the greatest and most satisfying thing God calls us to do.”
Anna Bowden was an English missionary to India in the 1800s. She was appalled by the practices of abortion and infanticide. She developed networks and shelters. When warned to stop, she replied, “We must rescue the perishing. I can do no less and still be faithful to the high calling of the Sovereign Lord.”
To this very day, there have been thousands more who have stood boldly together to fight for life, even when it cost them dearly. God used them to shape their time and place in history for His Kingdom. We stand on their shoulders as we face the battle today in our own time and place.
Why life is precious
How did these people know abortion was wrong? They believed God’s Word. They listened to His Spirit. Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
We have just celebrated Christmas. The story of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph’s obedience, and the birth of Jesus is the quintessential sanctity of life message. From the moment the angel appeared to Mary and said, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (Luke 1:31) until the child was named eight days after the circumcision (Luke 2:21), it is abundantly clear that this was a child – a child known by God before his creation, a child placed in Mary’s womb by God the Father, and a child that was created in the image of God to save his people from their sins!
In 1984, in an effort to bring attention to what had already been happening for 11 years after the 1973 “supremely bad” court decision, President Ronald Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation, designating the Sunday closest to January 22 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. This was done in honor of his personally held belief that our Constitution provides the “right to life” to the unborn as well as the born. For the remainder of his life, President Reagan hoped that one day Roe v. Wade would be found to be unconstitutional and eventually overturned.
You can make a difference
What will you do TODAY to face the flood of brokenness and death being caused by abortion in our lifetime? These stories from history prove that ONE person CAN make a difference. Here are some things all of us can do to cultivate a culture of life:
- Talk about it – don’t fall for the lie that abortion is a political issue; it is a Christian issue.
- Speak the truth in love – balance the truth that abortion is a sin with the truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ provides forgiveness for ALL sin.
- Create a safe place – make sure there is a safe place in your church for women (and men) to talk about their past abortions.
- Get involved with your local pregnancy medical clinic – in Broward County, call Hope Women’s Centers at 954-372-7089 or visit www.FriendsofHope.com…in Palm Beach County, call First Care Women’s Clinics at 561-688-2163 or visit www.first-care.org.
- Be pro [abundant] life – realize that helping women choose life is only one aspect of the mission; we want to help families choose marriage and an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ too! Respect life at all of its stages, from the womb to the tomb!
Sanctity of Human Life bulletin inserts are available at no charge from either of the organizations listed above.
References: Third Time Around by George Grant, and “Together For Life” video script by Linda Thomas, Keener Marketing