It is incredible to think that of everything created by God, only one creature bears His image: the human being. From galaxies to glowworms, from whales to wheat fields, the only living things that strike a passing resemblance to their creator are men and women. God did not say, “Let us make the red giant stars in our image,” or, “Let us make yaks in our likeness.” This is the foundation of the pro-life ethic.
At the pinnacle of God’s creation, he breathed his image into men and women, gave them dominion over all creation, and told them to fill the earth with more human beings. God’s creation mandate becomes our moral north-star. Human life is unique to God, and he intends us to join ourselves together in marriage, forming new families and having children. In the process, the image and likeness of God is passed from parent to child, giving us the responsibility to honor his creation and will.
The Pro-life ethic is the practical position we take finding ways to implement God’s desire for human beings. Having children and raising them to know their God honors him. Destroying them in the womb dishonors God’s will and takes an innocent life.
The foundation of the pro-life ethic is the beginning of life
Life begets life. Human life begets human life. Mothers and fathers are both unique in genes and metaphysics, and so is the child created by the two. God has arranged for a unique human being to be created in the womb, with unique DNA and blood type, with their own eye and hair color, and inevitably their own desires and dreams for life. Protecting that child is an act of protecting a human life, and it is a beautiful and courageous choice to bring a new human life into the world.
There may be several other causes that can be labeled pro-life, but it all begins in the womb.
The pro-life ethic has consequences
Pro-life proponents end up working for the value and dignity of life at all stages. Pro-life Christians have not only saved babies, but have also started the Red Cross, Salvation Army, hospital systems, and the hospice movement. This one belief, that the life in the womb is unique and worth saving, becomes a lens through which we see all human beings at all stages of life.
Believing that every human being carries the image of God is a powerful motivator. Every baby with ten fingers and ten toes is made in the image of God. Every Down Syndrome child is made in the image of God. Every broken body lying in a hospital bed is made in the image of God and is still as valuable as the day they were created. Every soul under hospice care deserves the same dignity every able-bodied person deserves. Because all of this is true from God’s point of view, it needs to be true from our point of view, as well.
Every pro-life belief and action is like a house built on the foundation of the beginning of life.
If we separate the pro-life ethic from its foundation, it will crumble and fall
It is true that these causes and more stem from a pro-life ethic. Though it is becoming popular to do so, we cannot abandon the original pro-life position of protecting life in the womb. When we do, it separates our ethic from its foundation and becomes like a house built on sand.
Over the last several months a lot of social and political causes have been labeled, “pro-life.” This is a testimony to the emotional power of the term, and the kind of ethical imperative that results if we label something as “pro-life.” But something else has happened along the way. A lot of these causes and their champions have neglected the foundation, the protection of the child in the womb. They became soft on abortion and the personhood of the child in the womb.
But if the term can now mean almost anything, it may end up meaning nothing at all. This is why the pro-life community rightly keeps the child in the womb at the center of our ethic. If that belief fades away, the rest of life is up for grabs. As one Christian author says, “If parents kill children, we should not be surprised if children kill parents.”
What a Pastor Can Do
Are there pro-life organizations in your city? If so, build a relationship with them, invite their leaders to speak with your church and encourage volunteers to help. This allows a church to provide practical help to moms and families and encourage pro-life organizations.
Find good times to speak on the biblical foundations of the sanctity of all life. Pastors and churches help create the moral fabric that holds a civilization together, and respect for all human life is key to that work. The moral compass of our culture is deeply confused on this issue, giving the local church an opportunity to be clear.
And then there are large-scale projects like SeeLife from Focus on the Family. Complete with helpful videos and discussion starters, this resource can go a long way toward helping a church engage in an issue that honors God’s design for his human creation.