This Sunday is called “Sanctity of Life Sunday.” It was enacted by President Ronald Reagan in 1983- the official proclamation can be found here.
His words were heartfelt and haunting: “These children, over tenfold the number of Americans lost in all our Nation’s wars, will never laugh, never sing, never experience the joy of human love; nor will they strive to heal the sick, or feed the poor, or make peace among nations. Abortion has denied them the first and most basic of human rights, and we are infinitely poorer for their loss.
We are poorer not simply for lives not led and for contributions not made, but also for the erosion of our sense of the worth and dignity of every individual. To diminish the value of one category of human life is to diminish us all. Slavery, which treated Blacks as something less than human, to be bought and sold if convenient, cheapened human life and mocked our dedication to the freedom and equality of all men and women. Can we say that abortion — which treats the unborn as something less than human, to be destroyed if convenient — will be less corrosive to the values we hold dear?”
Now we stand at the 44th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision and it is estimated that since that historical ruling, 59-60 Million children have been aborted. But who knows the millions MORE that have been performed before these procedures were legalized and tracked?
It is one of the oldest medical procedures with ancient Egyptian medical texts describing the use of pharmacological agents used to induce abortion as early as 1550 BC. Today, abortion has evolved into a Billion dollar industry as we have recently learned that not only are babies’ lives being taken, but they are being systematically dismembered and their organs harvested for profit. The most recent allegations are even more horrifying… infants surviving “extraction procedures’ with beating hearts…the very first sign of life!
Are we guilty of killing innocent lives if we do not personally wield a scalpel, hook, or scissors? If we do not actively seek to stop practices so inhumane, so barbaric, yet so common, and so convenient, do we share in the guilt?
Paul wrote that before his conversion, he was present at the stoning of Stephen, the first recorded martyr of a Christ-follower, explaining that he gave his approval in the barbaric act of stoning a man to death (Acts 22:20). Later, he described himself as “once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man” (I Tim 1:13) and “the worst of sinners” (I Tim 1:15-16).
If Paul never actually killed anyone personally (and there is no record that he did), why did he still wear the weight of his limited involvement in the killing of others? Why did he consider himself a “violent” man? Why did he feel such remorse for doing so little as guarding the clothing of those who were stoning Stephen to death (Acts 22:20)?
I think the answer is clear. As he reflected on his acts done in unbelief and ignorance, he did not minimize, or give himself a “pass.” In fact, he emphasized his role with self condemnation. Why would he do this, unless he felt culpable? Why speak so harshly of his life prior to Christ if he didn’t somehow blame himself for the injury and death of others when he was there, merely giving consent?
And now 44 years after Roe v. Wade, don’t many give approval for even more barbaric acts? Why do we stand by guarding the funding and the practice of those who would do even more barbaric acts against those who have NOT offended anyone? Those who have NOT asked to be placed in such position? Those who have NOT even been given even the chance to live?
If we say nothing, if we idly stand by while infants are being slaughtered, we like Paul, are giving approval!
No doubt, there are many issues that lead God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians into the trap of common acceptance of this practice, as with the legalization of abortion, most no longer question the morality of it. I have written about this dangerous perspective in “Divided We Stand” and how this has affected the Church here.
But what can we do about it now?
James, half-brother to Jesus, and leader of the early church, warned that friendship with the world is hatred toward God, explaining that in our hearts, we are led away from Him by our jealously, wrong motives, and evil desires. And because of our pride, God can and will resist us, but if we humble ourselves, He will give us the grace we need. He will no longer resist, but respond!
Is it not the influence of the world that insists we view legalized abortion in terms of necessity, a “right” for the mother, or even a “mercy” to those unwanted or potentially defective children?
In a 1947 interview, Dorothy Sanger, founder of what we now called Planned Parenthood, expressed her belief that “the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world…that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in world to be a human being practically…delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things, they are just marked when they are born.” (Interview found here and quote is taken from minutes 21:09-21:33.)
Is it not the world that condemns those who see each and every child as a blessing, as made in the image of the Creator, and worthy of the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness- who negate these truths and limit them to the conditional acceptance in the heart and mind of the mother?
Is it not the world that seeks to invalidate Scripture and in multiple issues, wishes to invalidate what God calls sin?
Are we friends of the world or friends of God?
James urged his readers, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. ” (James 4:8-10)
I believe that is the heart behind President Reagan’s proclamation, to humbly acknowledge what we have done in the loss of countless lives, and recognize how it has spiritually impoverished our society and diminished the very sense of worth and dignity of every human being. We must consider and mourn what we have lost.
This is indeed a heavy issue and brings me grief to imagine the millions of lives needlessly lost and I do not wish to heap judgment or condemnation on those who have made this choice or urged others to seek abortion, as I believe in the healing forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Savior for those who simply ask.
But in the words of our late great President Ronald Reagan, I urge you to reaffirm our commitment to the precious and blessed gift of life and in his words, “I call upon the citizens of this blessed land to gather on this day in homes and places of worship to give thanks for the gift of life, and to reaffirm our commitment to the dignity of every human being and the sanctity of each human life.”