Holistically Pro-Life

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In the beginning, God created. He made the earth, sea, heavens, creatures, and He formed male and female. God did not have to create life. He didn’t need humans to inhabit the earth. But He chose to breathe life into us.

Don’t let the familiarity of this diminish its significance. Psalm 8:4 asks the question, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” And we should all wonder the same. As we know, God is holy and majestic. We agree with David in Psalm 8 that when we look at the heavens and see God’s handiwork, we are perplexed by His love and kindness to sinful man. God’s love for mankind cost Him His Son. Jesus died for those who would believe.

This awareness, an awareness of the love, kindness, and goodness of God toward people—His creation—ignites a different kind of conviction and fire in the Christian heart. If God created man, both male and female, in His image (Gen. 1:27), then shouldn’t we love the people He created? If Jesus would not discriminate between the types of sinners He would die for—people from every tribe, tongue, and nation; poor, orphan; men and women; and more—shouldn’t we be willing to view all men and all of life as immensely valuable?

These are some of the big questions with which we must wrestle when considering the pro-life position. Being pro-life is often exclusively linked to being anti-abortion. It isn’t less than that, but it’s so much more. The pro-life position encompasses all of life. It recognizes that babies are created and important in the womb, but it also upholds the dignity of every person throughout every stage of life regardless of disabilities (Ps. 139:13). Being pro-life means remembering the orphans and widows (James 1:27) as well as the elderly (Acts 20:35; 1 Tim. 5:1–8). Being pro-life also informs our views on suicide and assisted suicide. To be pro-life is to hold to a belief that all of life matters.

Ultimately, being pro-life is to obey the law summarized in the two great commands: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… . You shall love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matt. 22: 37–39).

I believe there’s an interesting example of what Jesus is saying about our love for our neighbor in how we approach social media. The increased use of social media has ushered the word narcissist into our daily language. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see the term referenced. Quite honestly, most people seem to be throwing stones: You are a narcissist if you take a picture of yourself—a “selfie”—and post it onto social media. You are a narcissist if you post anything about yourself at all. Don’t express your feelings because if you do, you are a narcissist. Although I don’t think it’s good or right to throw stones and judge others, I do think the naysayers are onto something. Perhaps the missing link is that by nature we are all narcissists. This is why, I believe, the Lord called us to love others as we love ourselves, because we do love ourselves and we work hard to preserve ourselves. So, of all of the commandments in Scripture, the greatest are that we love our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Love Does No Wrong to a Neighbor

The gospel is the good news to a dying world. It is the news that saved me as I was walking blindly in my sin and towards eternal damnation. It is the gospel that brings salvation, but God’s redemption through Christ’s atoning work on the cross doesn’t stop at salvation. Once saved and for as long as I live (here and forevermore), I will be receiving the benefits of Christ’s work. And I will also be transformed more and more into His likeness until that day when I am face-to-face with my Savior and the sin that clings so closely is destroyed for good. But until that day, I live among other sinners just like me. Understanding Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf affects the way we treat others. Jesus is a friend to sinners, and it is by His blood that we can be, too. We have a treasure in the gospel, and this treasure is what motivates us to preserve life and serve others.

In 1 John, the Apostle John gives us a call to action based on the work that Christ did on our behalf. He says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Jesus reveals His love for us through the cross. There is no greater evidence of God’s abundant love and compassion for us than that He placed His Son on the cross to die on our behalf. And there is no greater love than that which Christ has shown us by absorbing the full fury of His Father’s wrath for our sin.

Jesus did not fight for His rights to the throne of grace, where He rightly belonged. On the contrary, Jesus “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6–7). Christ laid down His life for His people, and because of His great sacrifice, we should be compelled to lay down our lives for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lest we be confused by the call to love our brothers and sisters, God’s Word challenges us to love all people—even our enemies. This means we love the ninety-year-old woman in our congregation, the rambunctious and joyful child with autism, and the hostile non-Christian neighbor who struggles with depression. All life matters because all life matters to God. John again challenges us to look to the needs of others:

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17–18)

Loving others is one of the many ways we put our faith into action. To show love and compassion to others in their times of need, we must be willing to die to our own needs, our preferences, and, in some cases, even our very own bodies and goods.

In the gospel of John, Jesus commands us to love one another just as He has loved us. The sacrificial love on display between Christians is a sign to all people that we are followers of Jesus Christ—by this all will know that we are His disciples (John 13:34–35). This sacrificial love to people who might otherwise be shunned or forgotten is an open invitation to the gospel. We must look to Jesus as our example of love, and we must cling to Jesus for the strength to love.

It may seem odd to speak so much of love, but one cannot truly be pro-life without a great love for others. Our lack of compassion for the defenseless and hurting—such as ignoring the widow and orphan or forgetting the elderly—can be equated to selfishness and self-absorption, which are not love. A holistic pro-life stance is an acknowledgment of and adherence to the second commandment. We are to love our neighbors and seek the good of our neighbors—“love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Rom. 13:10).

So, how do we live out our pro-life convictions? None of us is exempt from the temptation to be pro-life in word but not deed. Practically, our pro-life love for our neighbor is spiritual (through prayer) and tangible (through service). Prayer is not the lesser act. There is power in prayer, and it is our means of communicating with our Creator. We need to pray for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the elderly, the disabled, and all other people. We can ask God to work mightily in our midst and in their lives. We need to pray for national policies to change and for the humility of our elected officials. In addition to prayer, we can take practical steps through teaching what God’s Word says about the sanctity of life, and we can volunteer in the community and with organizations that are equipped to serve the orphans, the disabled, pregnant women in crisis, and the elderly.

But perhaps the most significant practical thing we can do is to be aware of the needs in our local congregations. We must ask the Lord to give us eyes to see those who are the least of these, those who are struggling with sin and temptation, and those who are alone. We need grace and the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to put our faith and pro-life convictions into action.

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