“Pastor's column: Plans for good and not disaster”
Today, as I write this article, our nation is marking the 34th, “National Sanctity of Human Life Day.” Yesterday, Sunday, Jan. 21, many churches of all sizes, locations and denominations marked the annual, “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday”.
I strongly believe in the sanctity and dignity of life … every life. I also firmly believe that God, The Giver of Life, holds every life as sacred. As a Christ-follower, I personally believe that the sanctity and dignity of life is not a legal issue, a political issue, or a legislative issue. I personally believe that it is not a conservative or liberal issue. Instead, I believe that it is an ethical, moral, and theological issue. I believe that God will not long tolerate or ignore the sin of treating any person with indignity, injustice, and prejudice, regardless of their age, nationality, or skin color.
On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling, Roe v Wade, that has proven to be one of the most contentious since the Court's establishment in 1789. It was a ruling that - by its very nature - directly addressed the sanctity of human life. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled that under the Fourteenth Amendment a woman has a legal right to have an abortion.
Thankfully, recent statistics reveal that the number of abortions performed annually in the US, has progressively decreased over the past several years. Still, it is estimated that some 60 million children have been aborted in our country since 1973.
While there are many factors, beliefs, and emotions that enter into a discussion about abortion, I feel there is no need for any of us to resort to insults and combative spirits. I have personally, as a pastor, ministered to men and women who chose to terminate a pregnancy employing some type of abortion procedure. Many of these people have admitted that they felt pressure from another person or persons to have an abortion. Others have shared that in retrospect, they did not gain enough information about the available alternatives to make an informed choice. Others expressed that their decision was made out of an overwhelming sense of panic and fear.
In the vast majority of these ministry opportunities, I have watched these men and women struggle with remorse, shame, and a terrible sense of guilt. I have, to the best of my recollection, always dealt with them the way I'm confident Jesus would – with compassion, love, an absence of accusation or condemnation, and the assurance of forgiveness. But I have also been honest and transparent with these men and women, that because of my biblical convictions, I am strongly, “Pro-Life”, and that I hold all life, from the moment of conception to the last breath and heartbeat, as sacred.
Admittedly, I'm no physician or medical professional, but I believe that the evidence overwhelmingly confirms that an unborn child is a human being. For example, from the moment of conception, while that child is but a single cell, he or she is biologically different from his or her mother. That child, from the moment of fertilization, is a specific person - a unique combination of his or her father and mother, yet a separate human being. Some might argue that while the conceived child is a person and is alive, he or she is not “human.” This argument, when it has been presented to me, personally, has always seemed to be intellectually dishonest for the simple reason that from the moment of his or her creation, this child has its own DNA. We know that inside this child, a heart begins to beat as early as 16 days after conception. Far earlier than we can even imagine, there is evidence that an unborn child can hear music, voices, and noises … and make a variety of responses.
If one believes that the unborn child is, “human,” but not a, “person,” there must be a moment during the pregnancy, or at birth, when this human who is not a person becomes a person. In my years of study, research, and reading of every conceivable side of this argument, I've yet to find anyone who has specifically defined that “magical moment.”
While there is more than enough medical evidence for me to hold to my pro-life conviction, the “heart” of my conviction remains biblical. Long ago, the Psalmist was inspired to write these words, in Psalm 139: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
I further believe that God, who gives life, has designed unique plans and purpose for every person to fulfill throughout their life. According to Jeremiah 29:11, only God knows those plans, but He assures us that those plans are for, “good and not disaster.” Unfortunately, those incredible plans are never realized or fulfilled for the child that is aborted.
I fully realize that any discussion of abortion will not end with a newspaper column. There are those who disagree, and even strongly disagree, with my conviction and the Pro-Life position. Although we may disagree, as I previously said, I choose not to resort to insult or possess a combative and/or unChristlike spirit. But as long as I have an opportunity I will share my conviction concerning the sacredness of life … all life, every life. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in the final sermon he would preach, only days before his assassination: “There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”
Faron Rogers is the Senior Pastor of Clinton's First Baptist Church
related: Editorial, Jan. 24, 2018