January 22 marked the 43rd year since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. While the Roman Catholic Church has carried the torch for life steadily and faithfully for many years, the Evangelicals for Life event was, surprisingly, the first unified evangelical voice at the March For Life. What they presented was a broad array of life-related ideas; I've summarized a few themes which emerged and give me hope regarding this important issue:
- Pro-Life means all life. Evangelical leaders are collectively confronting the inconsistency of being Pro-Life in the traditional sense, and being indifferent to adoption, foster care, starvation, homelessness, racial injustice, poverty, etc. Being Pro-Life means we value all life because all humans are made in the image of God. Pro-Life doesn't stop at birth, and this expanded view is helping start and continue important conversations in other areas.
- Pro-Life is Pro-Woman. Finally, it seems, the evangelical Pro-Life movement refuses to be defined by what we stand against. Ending abortion is very important; caring for and loving moms and dads is also very important. The lie that a woman's dignity depends on the right to end the life of a baby continues to be eroded by the way people at pregnancy help centers and churches love moms regardless of the decisions they make. The gospel is experienced together and Pro-Life means being pro-woman.
- Progress is being made. A recent Marist poll revealed 80% of Americans believe there should be at least some restrictions on abortion. More Pro-Life legislation has passed in the past three years than in the previous ten years. The majority of our elected officials in Congress agree on the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Slow progress is, nonetheless, progress.
- Gospel-centered churches are the heartbeat of this movement. Evangelical leaders agree that we need gospel-centered and redemptive communities which stand in stark and compelling contrast to the abortion clinic. Faced with the decision to terminate life or to enter a community who loves extravagantly in Christ for the long term should, really, be no decision. The gospel transforms communities so when confronted with what is branded as the 'quick fix', a young woman chooses a community of life and grace both for their sake and their baby's sake.
- Our pulpits are the center of gravity. We need pastors who boldly and clearly communicate the truth of the gospel in a way that penetrates and causes what I call 'holy squirming'. Justification by faith alone, substitutionary atonement, sanctification, and the doctrine of the Trinity have EVERYTHING to do with being Pro-Life. We need pastors who connect those dots with us in a direct and genuine way, and prophetically call out congregations to be different for the sake of the gospel.
Thoughtful evangelical leaders in our country are raising their voices in meaningful discussion on the issue of Pro-Life.