Author’s Note: I preached this sermon for Sanctity of Life Sunday and thought I’d post it given the positive feedback I had received. Enjoy!
Today is Sanctity of Life Sunday which means that I am going to talk about abortion. I have to confess to you that I find preaching or writing on the topic of abortion to be incredibly challenging. I find it to be challenging not because I have reservations about whether or not abortion is okay in the eyes of God but because of the emotions and the reactions that it eviscerates on both sides of the debate. It’s also challenging because it would be very easy for me to get up in this pulpit and talk about how wrong abortion is, how wrong all those pro-choice people are and how good we are for believing that it is wrong. Such a topic and issue can serve as a good “ra ra” moment for us because we have the truth, we know “what’s right”. But such an approach would only alienate those who may disagree with us, it would only make them hate us more. Honestly I’m afraid that it would only fulfill the stereotypes many have of us Christians; that we are arrogant and judgmental. You see one of the things that I have come to learn is that abortion has come to effect way more women than we may realize. There may be women here this morning who have had an abortion and regret doing so and may wrestle with that guilt. We may know of friends or family members who live with the burden of guilt that often comes with such a decision. There may be men here as well who pushed their significant other to have an abortion or tried to stop her from doing so but to no avail. Or we may have friends and family members in our midst who are afraid to tell us that they have done such things because they are afraid we will judge them and think less of them. And so such a topic requires a level of humility and love from our end. It’s easy to spout off from our end that we think abortion is wrong and to claim that we are pro-life. But my question for you all this morning is “what does it mean to be pro-life?” Think about that term; pro life. What does it mean to be for life? And have we, as the people of God, done a good job of being for life? Are we only concerned with life that starts in the womb and forget about life that is poor and downtrodden, life that is depressed and suicidal, life that is outcasted and alienated?
I ask these questions because many who are pro-choice claim that we really aren’t for life, or at least that we are full of contradictions. For example, there’s an interesting quote from the comedian George Carlin, he says, “Boy, these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favor of the unborn but once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no foodstamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re preborn, you’re fine. If you’re preschool, you’re nothing.” Is this us?
Throughout the years I have had conversations with those on the pro-choice side of the abortion debate and often what they’ve had to say has been rather sobering. Often times they’ve brought points to me that I hadn’t thought much about. Here are some of the points made:
“You say you’re pro-life but you Christians are the first to support the death penalty when our country’s justice system is known to be flawed often putting innocent men to death.”
“You say you are pro-life but you never speak out against war, you never speak out against all the money that goes towards our national defense budget or the innocent children killed in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“You say you’re pro-life but you don’t seem to be too concerned with the environment and other living creatures.”
“You say you’re pro-life but you’re the first to fight against gun control.”
“You say you’re pro-life but then you’re against universal healthcare”
These are all things that we, the people of God, should be pondering and seeking to answer because there are some good points here. After all, are we only concerned with what’s in the mother’s womb and then check out after birth? Are we really concerned with all facets of life not just that which is in the womb?
And I ask this because as the people of God here in this place God calls us everyday to be pro-life, to be for those who are in the womb and for those outside of the womb. We are called to love all people because all people have been created in the image of God. You see Jesus valued all people, no matter their status or how old they were. And this is why the crowds go after him the way that they did.
If there was ever a pro-life person it was Jesus. He comes on the scene and immediately starts healing people of diseases, of afflictions, of demons and restoring their humanity. Jesus is concerned with restoring life and he will not let anything get in the way of that mission. He heals a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue, he cleanses a leper by way of touch who was an outcast and danger to anyone whom he touched thereby restoring back to normalcy, he forgives the sins of the paralytic and heals him of his paralysis despite the protests of the religious establishment. Jesus does not let the rules, the traditions of the Pharisees and the scribes get in the way of his restoring of life. He heals the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, he even heals a woman with a bleeding problem who made him unclean by touching him. Jesus was incredibly pro-life, he comes and restores the life and the humanity of all those whom he encounters and will not let the rules of man get in the way of his doing so. From children to adults to senior citizens all were valued by him because they were human beings created in the image of his Father in heaven. In fact, Jesus was so pro-life that he would give his life for you and me so that we would have life. Interestingly enough, all of these pro-life actions of Jesus made him a threat to the powers that be. He disregarded their ways because their ways and their traditions got in the way of people, of human beings. His teachings, His truths, were too much which is why the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Herodians conspired to have him killed. And yet this didn’t stop him from healing, from loving and from teaching. And he did all of these things for us, so that we would have life, so that we would know what it means to be truly pro-life. And oddly enough, nowhere is this better on display than on the Cross where he was murdered for our sins and our wrongs. Yet in so doing we are given life, we are given forgiveness, mercy and love. For three days later Jesus would rise again having conquered sin, death and the devil giving us hope in the midst of death. And it’s these things that we are called to give the world as the people of God. We are called to give the world life and restoration for we are the people of the Resurrection.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, our God is calling us to be pro-life from conception all the way to death. Our Lord is calling us to love all people, no matter their political affiliation, no matter what they believe or how they behave. Our Lord is calling us to do so because he has already done so for us. It is my hope and prayer that this place we would be a bastion of life in a world full of death. That we would be a place where people are given life and their humanity is restored. That this would be a place where they can receive love and mercy and not judgment. That this would be a place that truly receives the weary and the heavy laden, where people know that we are Christians by our love and not by our politics. Amen.