(By Ellen Densmore, 1776 Scholar)
Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
(1 Corinthians 5:8-10, ESV)
In some translations of this passage (Aramaic Bible in Plain English, God’s Word Translation), Paul refers to himself as “an aborted baby who has been given life”—it was the grace of God that brought him out of death and into not only life but a useful, meaningful existence.
Hearing that translation got me thinking – and please pardon the morbidity of this thought: on some level, aren’t we all like aborted babies who have been given life? We are all dead in our flesh, in our trespasses and sins, but are resurrected by the power and grace of the blood of Jesus Christ.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24, ESV)
No one among us is worthy of life—either physical or spiritual—but have been given it as a miraculous gift. I began to wonder, then, what this means for our perspective towards each other, towards other human beings both born and unborn, and what it means to the “pro-life movement.”
As Christians, conservatives, and “pro-life advocates,” we believe that every human life has value, beginning at conception, and we safeguard the right of every person to experience life outside the womb. Thus, it makes sense to say that we are “pro-birth” in the sense that we support the right of a baby to be born.
But with the Christian understanding that we are all like aborted babies who have been given new life, “pro-life” should mean so much more than just pro-birth. The pro-life movement should be grounded in the idea of the sanctity of life, where “sanctity” means “ultimate importance and inviolability.” We should be concerned with the sanctity of all human life, from conception to birth to natural death, and everywhere in-between. The problem, I think, is that we tend to neglect the in-between; we focus on issues of abortion (conception to birth…) and euthanasia (…to natural death) but fail to recognize sanctity of life issues around us every moment of every day.
Our understanding of the sanctity of life arises out of the Imago Dei, the Biblical teaching that man is created in the Image of God, with His likeness and breath inside us (Genesis 1:26). Life matters—not only the life of the unborn or elderly, but the life of the person in the room with you right now.
When friends, siblings, spouses, roommates, or coworkers exchange biting, angry words and hurt each other emotionally, even in small, underhanded ways, that is a sanctity of life issue.
When political pursuits and agendas transcend personal relationships, and when those in power fail to recognize the potential of their office to do good for those who are suffering, that is a sanctity of life issue
When academia is more focused on purging young people of their belief in objective truth than on building the character of the next generation of leaders, that is a sanctity of life issue. When college campuses and other public places feel it is necessary to establish “safe spaces” to protect against racism and other forms of discriminatory abuse, that is a sanctity of life issue.
When radical Islamists persecute, torture, and murder those who disagree with their faith and way of life, that is a sanctity of life issue. When people all over the world are stricken, afflicted by poverty, disease, and war, that is a sanctity of life issue. When immigrants are viewed as cheap labor or mere mouths to feed, rather than persons seeking liberty, opportunity, and a new chance at life, that is a sanctity of life issue.
When individuals in our own country, this land of liberty, opportunity, and prosperity, are without a home, without a job, without hope and believing that they are worthless and unloved, that is a sanctity of life issue.
Certainly, questions of abortion and euthanasia are extremely important ones, and we should continue to fight tirelessly on those battlefields. My point is simply this: in fighting for the right to birth and natural death, we must not lose sight of the Imago Dei in those around us at every stage of life.