The Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. If we truly believe this, we Christians must make our voices heard amidst a culture that is trying so vigilantly to keep our voices silent. – Bishop Peter Manto, ACNA
God calls us to protect innocent life regardless of whether society validates it. Jesus Christ offers abundant life to a broken world, and we as His disciples ought to stand for the abundant life He died for. He did not die so we could sit back and watch. He died so we could fight alongside Him.
Many people in the Christian community think pro-life issues such as abortion and euthanasia are far removed from them — we tend to think those things happen to other people, but could never happen to us or those we love. If we would take the time to talk to and learn about one another, we would discover these issues are extremely relevant to not only our own lives but also the lives of those we cross paths with on the street, worship with on Sundays, or sit next to at a coffee shop. The consequences of life issues are vast, and they run deep.
Abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia are sometimes labeled “political issues,” meaning they should not be discussed in the Church. However, if we really think about it, the politics of pro-life issues go much deeper than legislature and activism. They are rooted in our souls; in the value we place not only on our own lives, but also the lives of everyone around us. They are rooted in our belief in the sanctity of every human life. Do we truly believe and act as if all human life is valuable, regardless of whether it is wanted?
The abortion epidemic is not merely a “political issue,” it is a soul issue. Anti-life in all of its hideous forms are issues from the heart: treating persons as problems to be solved, or matters to be dealt with; as mere means to an end rather than as ends in themselves. Abortion at the beginning of life, euthanasia at the end, and — when we seriously need to get our own way — murder in between. These are issues of the heart. Legislation and social commentary are not totally impotent, but neither are they determinative.
If the Church is not talking about the condition of our souls, who else is going to? The longer we deny there are people hurting in our pews, the more hurting people there will be: in our churches, families, and communities.
The sad truth is most worshipping bodies do not take an official stance on abortion because it’s seen as “too political.” Not only does this blur the lines between the Gospel message of life and culture’s message of life, it also alienates men and women sitting in our pews who are desperately, silently, and maybe even unknowingly searching for healing after an abortion.
They are silenced by the belief they are alone and no one can understand their pain. They fear being judged, shut out, or demeaned for their past. They fear being in vulnerable relationships where the truth about their abortions could come out. They fear abortion is too big of a sin to be forgiven.
I’ve seen first hand the transformation which takes place when abortion is discussed in a pastoral, soul-care conversation, rather than with political or judgemental slander. Abortion aftercare looks like letting those people know God loves them, help is available, and they are not alone.
The Church is the first place where this should happen. But, like I said, the reality is it rarely does. In fact, there are very few denominations that claim to be pro-life AND have official statements against abortion: the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and the Church of God in Christ. Other denominations, like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Evangelical Free Churches, and Southern Baptist Churches, may claim to be pro-life, but hold the belief that abortions are acceptable in “extreme cases.”
The issue with this belief is that the sanctity of human life is not circumstantial; if abortion is okay in “extreme” cases, who is the one deciding what in fact is considered to be “extreme”? The identity of preborn children was never ours to define; their identity has already been chosen, been set apart, and been determined by God, despite the “extreme” circumstances that surround their lives.
The Church, if we were actually following Jesus’ teachings, should be standing FOR life in ALL circumstances. I am also grateful the ACNA (Canon II.8.3) acknowledges the sacredness of life in our founding Canons, proclaiming “all members and clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death.”
The pro-life work of “Anglicans for Life,” the life-affirming ministry I’ve been called to work with, helps us as a Church care for a culture that has dehumanized life and witness to the gift life is. We’ve partnered with the Catholic Church and Priests for Life to bring awareness about the harm that abortion does to men and women through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Each day, when I go to work, I pray that the larger Church will come to recognize that when it comes to life, we must shape and mold our view to be more like God’s, and less like our own.
I am pro-life and pro-woman simply because women deserve better than what abortion brings them: emotional trauma, spiritual doubt and warfare, and physical and mental harm they may struggle with for the rest of their lives. Women deserve better. They deserve to be nurtured, to be protected, to be empathized with, to be empowered, and to be set free. Women were never created to feel depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed, or unworthy. We were created to experience the victory in Christ Jesus over things which should realistically crush us.
To the Church, this is my message for you: Simply by our proximity to Jesus, we can bring hope and life to people trapped in discouragement and despair. When Jesus came, died, and rose again, He won the war, but we are still in the battle. There is no backup plan for Jesus to reach the people of this world. Think about it. Jesus won, as He always will. Satan fell, as he always must. But our world is still fallen. We are still in the battle. Jesus saved us but we are commanded to take His Word into all the earth, speak the truth, and allow the Holy Spirit to use us, to set right those things which break His heart.
When we become closer to Him, we learn who He is. We learn about His character, His heart for those that are suffering from guilt, shame, persecution, and alienation. When we know and understand Jesus, our perspective should shift.
I spend my days urging the Church to get into the battle for life. So, I urge whoever is reading this and believes firmly in the abundant life that Jesus offers: get in the battle!
Get in the battle of delivering healing to members of your congregation that are desperately waiting for someone — anyone — to offer them a resource for the hurt they have buried deep within their souls.
Get in the battle and offer words of affirmation.
Get in the battle and offer life through Jesus, just as we are given the same life through Him.
While abortion is very much a political fight on the front of preventing future abortions, no matter what the courts rule, abortion bans will never survive the onslaught of pro-abortion advocacy if we do not foster a culture that cherishes human life in all its forms and stages. Cherishing human life begins when we understand who the Creator of life is and what He says about life. Life is sacred; planned or unplanned, wanted or unwanted, abnormal or normal. Our God does not show partiality with His love, and neither should we.