Our Moment

Human Dignity

This is our moment. This is a unique moment in the history of the pro-life movement. And it’s a moment that we as believers, as the church, need to consider our role. In this unique moment, we can see Roe has recently been overturned because of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision. Not only that but there are lots of confusing different regulations happening in every state. 

Every state is different now as abortion has gone to the states. Surgical abortions may be more limited now in varying states, but abortion pills and abortion through chemical abortion are now more prevalent than ever. It’s a unique time. And in this moment, as we consider abortion, we do need to ask ourselves, “How are we going to engage?” 

It’s a moment where women all over our country are facing challenging circumstances, and they’re confused about how to step forward in an unplanned pregnancy and what they’re going to do if they’re not prepared. It can be a tense topic to have conversations about abortion with our friends and family members. 

There’s a lack of understanding at times in our churches about what is the abortion regulation in our states. And how are women accessing it? Are they accessing it? It’s a time for our church to look deeply at some of these questions and figure out what can we do. What is our role? And not only what is the church’s role, but what is our calling to embrace the biblical understanding of human dignity and apply that in each of our contexts? 

For the abortion issue, this moment is an opportunity. This unique moment in time is an opportunity for us to humbly step in and to provide loving and compassionate care. And as we do that, as we care well for women, and as we care well for families, point them to the hope of Christ. It’s a gospel work to be able to engage in holistic care. 

So, we care about life because of what we see in scripture. In the beginning of this Bible, the first chapter of the first book in Genesis, we see something called the imago Dei. It unfolds in the very creation account in the first chapter. The imago Dei is a Latin word meaning, “image of God.” We see that in Genesis 1, God created man and woman in His image. 

So, if men and women are created in God’s image, that means we have the very image of God in us, which gives every person human dignity. We have dignity. We have value, and every life is to be respected. And that’s why, as the church, we care about human dignity issues. As we step in to care for human dignity issues like this, we can see for millennia the church has been doing this on a variety of human dignity topics.  

Looking back in church history, think about first and second-century Christians. As the church was beginning after Christ’s life on earth, you can read about how Christians, it was the Christian church that were caring for vulnerable children, unwanted children who had been thrown into trash heaps. And the Christians were going and taking those children and caring for them, caring for the vulnerable because they saw the human dignity of that life and the value of that life because of what they believe because of their faith.  

Also, you look through hundreds, the past hundreds of years, and many hospitals were founded by people of faith motivated by their Christian convictions and what their Bible has taught them about valuing life and wanting to care for the hurting and the sick. 

And so, hospitals many times have faith-related names. You might be able to think of some in your own community that were started by people of faith, caring for the dignity of all life.  

And you think about civil rights issues and the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. He was a Baptist preacher. He was someone motivated by what the Bible teaches, and that went into his actions as he cared about seeing all people created equally and treated equally with their own dignity and value. There are many more examples that we could show of how believers have engaged for millennia on human dignity issues and rightfully so. 

But consider, even specifically, how the church has engaged on the pro-life issue, been engaged in the abortion issue. There are thousands of pregnancy centers in our country, all over the country. You can travel to any state and find a pregnancy resource center, and the vast majority of those centers are founded and run by people of faith that believe in what the Bible teaches. It motivates their work.  

Additionally, Christians in our country, in America, are nearly three times more likely to engage in adoption and foster care than the general public. As well, Christians are more likely to be generous financially, supporting organizations and families in need. 

So, all of these things are wonderful and good and should continue happening, and praise God, the church has been mobilized, spreading the gospel and showing compassionate care on human dignity issues for millennia. And yes, we must keep that up, church, but we also must become even more deeply engaged, providing holistic care, applying human dignity in the work that we do as we engage on the pro-life issue.  

Why the church? Why should the church be engaged on this? You might think, “Isn’t this a political topic? Do we really need the church engaged on the abortion issue?” And yes, it can be partisan. It can be a political issue, and that’s often the context that we might hear it presented as. 

But, more than a political issue, this is a theological issue. For the reason I’ve already mentioned from Genesis one: all humans were created in the image of God. God, in that creation account, pauses and has a divine conversation with Himself as the Trinity, as He then creates man and woman. We are unique, set apart from the rest of creation. 

So, I want to look at how we can observe the biblical meta-narrative from creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, that gospel arc that we see Genesis to Revelation, and how that might inform us as we now engage in human dignity issues.  

First with creation, as I mentioned, we were created in God’s image. All human life is created in God’s image. So, if we believe that all life has value, dignity, and should be treated with respect, how do we consider when life begins? Because I think that’s the question we ask. Okay, we want to give life value, give it respect, but when should we start applying that value and respect to a life? 

If you look at many science textbooks, and actually there has been a survey done recently of over 1,000 different biologists, all from different universities all over the world, and when those biologists were asked the question, “When does life begin from a scientific perspective?” Nearly all of them agreed it’s at conception. 

So, even secular, even self-proclaimed, pro-choice biologists agree life begins at conception. We value life from the womb until the very end. So, we should be engaged, caring for that life in the womb, as well as the life of the mother carrying that baby. This is why. We are engaged and should be engaged is because of the imago Dei. 

What we know, it teaches us not only to care for life in the womb, but it teaches us how we go about caring for all involved in an unplanned pregnancy. But why is this hard? We get to that second part of the gospel meta-narrative of scripture, which is the fall. We know that the fall happened. We live in a broken world. 

Because of the fall, many of us have experienced that our image bearing-ness can be disrespected. People are put down. Not all people are treated with the dignity that they are deserving because we live in a fallen world. We live in a broken world and people often seek to harm, to put down, to destroy, and to dehumanize one another because of sin, because of the fall. 

Consider our cultural issues today and those that stem from issues relating to human dignity not being upheld. And you can see many issues in our culture today are related to this. Outside of abortion, we also have racism, you have pornography, you have human trafficking, you have refugee and challenges with immigration. In all of these scenarios, there are people who are being seen as lesser than people or who are being pushed to the margins and people who are vulnerable and in need and not being cared for. 

And so, the church has the responsibility, the calling to be engaged on these issues because of our, the brokenness in our world and our call to go about being a light in our world.  

The brokenness of a fallen and decaying world was never more evident to me than a few years ago, right after I had brought home my daughter in an international adoption. My husband I traveled to China, we adopted our precious daughter, and she was 18 months old. And we were so excited to be first time parents, and we were home together for seven weeks when we were at a routine doctor’s appointment and got the shocking news that our daughter, they had discovered she had a large tumor, and she was rushed to the hospital. 

She had emergency surgery. It was cancer. And our daughter, who was one and a half years old, was diagnosed with cancer. We’re in a fallen world. Our bodies do not always work the way that they should. Bodies fall apart. We are in a decaying world, and even an innocent, our baby, our sweet baby, was facing cancer. 

Thankfully, it was a tumor that was caught early. It was isolated. The surgeon was able to remove it. And she did a couple rounds of chemotherapy. Her cancer has been in remission now for a few years. But sin is like a cancer, although, unlike sin, our cancer is not set aside into one section like an isolated tumor. Our sin is like a cancer that has metastasized and has affected all of us, our whole self. We can’t just, we don’t just need a surgeon to section out our sin. We need not a surgeon, but a healer. We need a savior who can save us from our sin and praise God, that is what we have.  

That gets us to this third part of the gospel story, which is the redemption piece, what Christ has done on the cross. What a gift that God did not leave us in our brokenness and sin, leave us unable to have access to Him, that He sent His only son to the earth. Christ left heaven, came to earth, lived fully human, fully man, and fully God, lived perfectly, and then died on the cross so that we might have forgiveness for our sin. 

Jesus was bruised for our transgressions. He was crushed for our sin so that we might have access to our heavenly Father and Creator because of the forgiveness that Christ brought. So that forgiveness that we have in Christ is extended to anyone who calls on Him. As we ask forgiveness for sin, it is given, and that includes abortion. For anyone seeking forgiveness from a past abortion, that is made available in Christ. Praise God. And for all of us with sin in our lives, that is made possible through Christ. So, Christ offers that forgiveness, but He also gives hope and purpose for our present and for our future. 

That gets us to this final piece of the gospel story, which is restoration. One day we know that Christ will return. If you’ve read the end of the Bible, you’ve read Revelation. You know Christ will return and God will make all things new. We have hope for the moment because of Christ. And we have hope for our future, even in the hard times, even when it’s difficult, because we know God is going to fix all the broken things. He will in His goodness, in His justice make all things new.  

So, given that our understanding of creation, given our understanding of the fall, of sin and brokenness in our world and the need to engage in the brokenness, given our understanding of our own hope and salvation because of Christ, and then our response of knowing we have a hope, to even as we step into the difficult, we know that our hope, even if it’s hard, we have a hope for the now and for the future that calls us to respond. 

By engaging our understanding of the imago Dei, our understanding of the gospel, of what scripture teaches, calls us to see that our churches are engaged on this issue, this issue that is affecting culture. It’s affecting women. It’s affecting families in our communities. We can engage so that we might bring glory to God and point people to their hope in Christ. 

So, as we go about this work, we do it holistically, knowing that we want to love others well so that they can see both our conviction as well as our compassion and our love. And I promise you, if you get engaged, it will change you. I can certainly say that for my own life.  

My husband and I, after we adopted our daughter from China and once she went into remission from her cancer, we decided we wanted to step back into adoption. And this time we began pursuing a domestic adoption. And so, we wanted to pursue the domestic adoption process and hope to have an open adoption. 

And that meant we had the chance to build a relationship and walk alongside women who were facing unplanned pregnancies and were considering adoption as an option for them. So, we were closely connected. We were walking life in life with women who were facing some of the most challenging circumstances you can imagine. 

And in those circumstances, they’re facing an unplanned pregnancy. And they were asking the question, “How am I going to do this? What am I going to do?” And we were there that if they wanted to make an adoption plan, we wanted to find the ways to not only fold that child into our family but fold her in as well. 

Walking through the hardships that these women were facing, their circumstances, their lack of support that they had as they faced this pregnancy was an eye-opener for me to see the very real challenges that women in our communities, women in our lives, women in our country are facing. And it motivated me to see the need for the church to engage because I saw it happen.  

I saw the church and organizations, run by believers stepping into these women’s lives and saying, “Hey, we’re here with you in this. What do you need? How can we support you? How can we care for you well, and your child?” And it was the woman saying she had that support system that made all the difference. 

She chose life. Those brave women chose life. Some of them did go on to make adoption plans, and some of them ended up parenting. And seeing the support that they had gave them that extra courage to make a choice for life and see the path forward. So, women need to see they’re not in this alone because we care, the church cares. 

But we have to go, and we have to find how we can be engaged. Find how you can step into your community. Find how you can connect with women in need, families in need and show that support that they’re not alone. We care about that child. We care about that person. And we care about the woman carrying that pregnancy. 

The world would have said that abortion is necessary in many of these circumstances with the women that I’ve walked alongside. The world would have said, “No, because of these circumstances, because of what’s gone on in your life, it is necessary for you to have an abortion. You can’t do this. You can’t have this baby.” 

And over and over again, I saw women step up. They had the strength and they had resources that came and wrapped around them that showed them it was not necessary because they had people in their corner. So church, we get to be the people in their corner. We get to be people who journey alongside women. 

Care for them, love her, love her baby, and show them that abortion is never necessary. And in the process of showing them how we want to wrap around them, we also get to point to the hope of Christ. This is hard, this is challenging. Getting into the complexity, the challenges of standing for life, caring for women, advocating for children, it will be challenging. 

It’s gonna be messy, you will get attacked, you’ll have people that disagree with you if you voice your care for life in the womb, but we do it because as we step into the darkness and the distortions of our world, distortions on human dignity, even though it brings scars and sorrows into our lives, as we face the brokenness of dehumanization, we know that there is a purpose in it. 

As Orlando Sayre, a pastor and author, once wrote, “Those nails that may have disfigured Jesus’s flesh, at the same time, made Him more beautiful, more celebrated, and more glorious for all eternity.” As we go about Christ’s work, as we bear the scars of stepping in, those scars and their healing will bring about more of God’s glory into the world and more of God’s glory into our lives.  

Our ultimate goal should not be to just care for people in a way that helps them in their circumstances, but we should care about doing that and ultimately pointing to the One who can save their souls. So, stepping in and helping them in their circumstances and pointing to the hope that they have in Christ. 

So, church, together, while we wait for the return of Christ, who is the perfect image bearer of God, our Creator, let us be a light. Let us be the light pointing to Christ in the midst of the darkness as we stand for life.