- Eldon Peterson
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
This weekend marks the 38th observance of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. On January 13, 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating January 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. His proclamation said “I call upon the citizens of this blessed land to gather on that 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.”
This Sunday, churches will celebrate God's gift of life, commemorate the lives lost to abortion, and commit to protecting human life at every stage. Today as the courts continue to debate the abortion issue, Christians should commit themselves to praying for all who are impacted by an unexpected pregnancy. The Bible offers a perspective of why every life has value and importance.
In Psalm 139:1 David explains that God is not only aware of us, but that he cares for us too, “You have explored my heart and know exactly who I am.” David tells us that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves! The Psalm goes onto testify that the Lord’s knowledge of us is not limited to the present but that He knew us before we were conceived. “For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there,” (Psalm 139:13, 15) Even before a mother is aware of the child within her, the Lord knows us. Maybe we can say amen with David, “This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.” (139:6)
I appreciate the way Care Net, one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers, expresses their vision, “Acknowledging that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection, Care Net offers compassion, hope, and help to anyone considering abortion by presenting them with realistic alternatives and Christ-centered support through our life-affirming network of pregnancy centers, churches, organizations, and individuals.”
I find that this is the right approach on this issue. While the movement has been called “pro-life” it is much more than that. As Care Net’s mission says, “At Care Net, we don't stop at saving the life of unborn children...we work to ensure that they -- and their mothers and fathers -- can experience the abundant life Christ brings. We do this by not just being pro-life, but by also being pro-motherhood, pro-fatherhood, pro-marriage, and pro-gospel.”
For too long the battle lines have been drawn between those who are “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” Each side claiming that they are about caring for women. But the obvious question is what about the child? Who will care for the child? This is the heart of the debate.
The Center for Pregnancy Choices, a local non-profit associated with Care Net, uses the motto of “Care for the woman, care for the child.” Their emphasis on caring for the woman who is facing an unexpected pregnancy seems to be right approach. Their mission states that they will do this by, “Offering direction, growth, freedom and care.”
In looking to God, the source of all life, caring for the mother will cause us to care for the child as well. As President Reagan wrote in an essay, “The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life?” What about it? As Reagan suggested, “The question for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law – the same right we have.”
While these are important matters for the courts to discuss, it is of even greater importance for us to consider how we can be supportive of men and women who choose life when facing an unexpected pregnancy. The choice of giving life to an unborn child can seem daunting to those facing this choice.
However, the good news is that we need not face it alone. There is help to be found in our families, in our churches and in agencies like The Center for Pregnancy Choices. We should prayerful consider how we can help, not just in the choice to give life, but in walking with and supporting all who make this choice. We can do this by offering more than just encouraging words, but by surrounding them with the love that Christ brings as well.