Sanctity of Life Sunday
A Bit to Read
Sanctity of Life Sunday
Some weeks ago the Chilliwack Prolife Society contacted me (and, I assume, all the ministers in the Chilliwack area) with the message that January 21 would be “Sanctity of Life Sunday 2007”, and could the local Prolife Society distribute material in our church relating to the “Sanctity of Life Sunday 2007”. As the person on the other end of the line was willing to supply additional material, I agreed to peruse it before giving an answer to the question.
I learned that January 21 would be “Sanctity of Life Sunday” not by random selection, but because it was the Sunday nearest January 22, the day 34 years ago (1973) that the Supreme Court of the United States made its sad decision in the ‘Roe vs Wade’ case – which opened the door to legalizing abortion in America. That decision invariably altered views amongst Canadians about life and abortion. As a result, abortion was legalized in Canada in 1988 when the Supreme Court of Canada declared existing laws against abortion to be unconstitutional. Today “Canada reports approximately 105,000 abortions annually”, according to the National Post of November 7, 2006. Any Christian worthy of his name continues to lament the rulings of the Supreme Courts of both America and Canada, and continues to mourn also the deaths of millions of unborn people as a result of those rulings.
The package advised that the flyer proposed for distribution in church would contain this quote:
Is there any situation or circumstance where an abortion may be ethically acceptable if you are a Christian? First, being a Christian has nothing to do with this issue…. It is a question about basic human rights and basic human respect.
And this quote:
For those who have faced the dilemma of abortion and made the choice to follow through, please know that there is healing and forgiveness to be found in God and through participation in post-abortion programs. Contact us, we know you are hurting…
The Lord God is so very clear in His holy Word that abortion is sin. Directly after the flood the Lord forbade any taking of human life. Said He, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Genesis 9:6). If one would counter that unborn life is not really human life falling under the blanket command of Genesis 9, I would refer to Exodus 21:22-25: “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and … there is serious injury, you are to take life for life….” The passage does not limit the “serious injury” to the mother alone, because the child (covenant child as every unborn Israelite already is!) is as much object of God’s protection as the mother. David could confess God’s attention to the unborn like this, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body” (Ps 139:15,16). Notice: the “unformed body” is already “I”, David – fully and truly human. One cannot get around it: killing (unborn) babies is transgression against God the Creator. That tiny infant, regardless how for along in the period of gestation, is created to image God. No creature has the right to remove from the earth one whom God in His providence has sovereignly give a place on earth for the purpose of imaging Him. Those who remove such a one (or consent to) are guilty of murder. Even pregnancy as a result of rape does not constitute grounds for abortion. The only possible context in which one can consider an abortion is when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother (and hence the baby). Since it is God who gives life, it is God alone who may take it.
Right to life?
The package I received states that “being a Christian has nothing to do with this issue…. It is a question of basic human rights….” I respectfully disagree. Scripturally speaking, no human has a “right to life”. The phrase ‘right to life’ simply does not come from Biblical thinking. We are but creatures, and before the Creator no creature has any ‘rights’. More, with our disobedience in Paradise we earned the sentence of death. Directly after creating us, the Lord God stated emphatically that “when you eat of [the forbidden tree] you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). That the human race did not physically die forthwith is because of God’s “kindness, tolerance and patience”, for God would give sinners space to repent (Romans 2:4). A Christian, then, resists abortion not because all people (born or unborn) have an inherent “right to life” (they don’t), but because
- God puts people on earth to image Him – and God permits no person to remove an image bearer from the earth, and because
- All people –the unborn too– need opportunity to repent and believe – which cannot happen if one’s life is snuffed out.
If in Canada more than 100,000 infants are aborted annually, there are as many mothers (and fathers? Or perhaps parents or case workers?) and thousands of medical staff guilty of murder. That the victims of their murderous activity are the helpless makes the crime the bigger before God. No one who hears such data and takes seriously Christ’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” can remain unmoved. Our tears cannot but join the silent screams of the unborn as their life is taken from them.
There is activity that can be done to help the victims of abortion. One can participate in the work of the Prolife Society and so encourage awareness of the evils of abortion, give God-pleasing advise and practical assistance to those contemplating abortion, and show the way to the countless who struggle with the guilt that follows abortion. Then again, one does not need to work with or for the Prolife Society in order to assist the neighbor burdened by an unwanted pregnancy or by post-abortion guilt. Over time one can develop a relation of trust with the neighbor so that she or he will talk and confide….
Yet at the end of the day what those who have murdered a child must do is turn from their sin in repentance and seek the abundant mercy of the Lord God – for all must one day appear before His judgment seat. There is no sin too big for God’s forgiveness. If Abraham can be forgiven for lying about his wife, if Moses can be forgiven for killing the Egyptian, if David can be forgiven for his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, if Peter can be forgiven for denying his Master, if Paul can be forgiven for persecuting the church of Jesus Christ, one can be forgiven for aborting one’s child too (to say now nothing of the actions and attitude that might have triggered the unwanted pregnancy). There is with God abundant forgiveness – provided one repent of sin with a broken heart. To encourage and nurse a broken heart the Lord God has given His sheep shepherds in the persons of office bearers. Let those who need to speak about that secret burden take up contact with an elder in the church.
You will today not find the material promoted by the Chilliwack Prolife Society in your mail boxes in church. The reason is not that the Prolife Society does not or should not have our support. Rather, there are statements in that literature that do not conform to the Word of God, and so should not receive the (implicit) support of the Church of God. Instead, I use this issue of A Bit to Read to draw attention to the need for concern and action (including prayer) on our part.
May the Lord God work repentance in the land on this point, and a change of heart in those contemplating the murder of a helpless ‘image of God’. More, may the Lord use His church to show His mercy to those in need.
January 19, 2007