Churches across the U.S. mark their calendars each year to celebrate the value of human life. Jan. 17 is the date for 2016, and it serves as a reminder of the fateful Jan. 22 Supreme Court decision in 1973 to legalize abortion nationwide. Pastors and other Christian leaders use this Sunday to reinforce the biblical conviction that all life is precious, even life in the womb.
The Biblical Recorder asked some North Carolina pastors what the “sanctity of human life” means to them. Here are their responses:
Clay Smith, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Matthews – Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” For every murderous act commissioned upon the helpless life of an infant, we too, as the church, should examine our own sinful acts of omission regarding the denunciation of this murderous practice. I say this not as judge and jury, but as one convicted. I believe abortion is murder. I believe every life – no matter the circumstances of his or her conception – is made in the image of God and worthy of the dignity thereof. Yet, my tongue has too often been silent. It is time to speak up. It is time to make a difference.
North Carolina pastors
Steve Scoggins, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Hendersonville – One of my favorite pro-life verses is found in the Christmas story in Luke 1:41, “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb.”
Elizabeth was expecting John the Baptist. Mary was expecting Jesus. When John inside Elizabeth came into the presence of Jesus inside Mary, he leapt with joy! Notice the passage didn’t say that a mass of cells attached to the uterus jiggled. Inside Elizabeth was a person rejoicing in the presence of Jesus inside of Mary.
If a person is not pro-life when they consider that inside of every mother is a baby, then they must not understand what is happening inside. It could be that someone has tried to deceive them that they are simply getting rid of a problem. But if they see an ultrasound image, if they hear the beating of the little heart within weeks of conception, they will know, it is a baby! Babies need to be cherished and protected. That is the message of the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
David Horton, president, Fruitland Baptist Bible College, Hendersonville – The 21st century secular worldview has great difficulty differentiating the value of human life from animal life and plant life. It is not uncommon to see bumper stickers that endorse “A Woman’s Right to Choose,” “Save the Whales,” and “Say ‘No’ to Clear-Cutting: Boycott Georgia Pacific” – all on the same vehicle! Over a century ago, one of Oscar Wilde’s characters, Lord Darlington, quipped about those who “know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” In regard to understanding the value of human life, many of our friends and neighbors have bought into a cheap philosophy peddled by anti-God secularists who know little of the value of human life.
If we are to make an accurate assessment as to the value of human life, we must start with the inception of human life. In contrast to the creation of plant and animal life, when human life was created, Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 2:7 adds, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” The creation of human life was not an accident; it was God’s idea. God elevated the position of human life by creating humans in “His own image” and by breathing “the breath of life” into His human creation. A proper assessment of the value of human life must begin with these distinct truths or an inevitable devaluation will certainly occur.
Tony Merida, pastor for preaching and vision, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh – Sanctity of Human Life immediately makes me think of the doctrine of the imago Dei (image of God). This doctrine serves as the basis for the proper treatment of everyone – from the womb to the tomb, from black to white, from the rich to the poor.
Because God made all people, all people matter. They are worthy of dignity, value and love.
The massive number of inmates in prison should matter to us – we should visit them and minister to them.
The unborn should matter to us – we should defend them and advocate for them.
The orphan should matter to us – we should love them, care for them and consider fostering or adopting them.
The elderly should matter to us – we should visit them and care for them.
Girls being enslaved should matter to us – we should advocate for the voiceless and provide aftercare to the rescued.
People of every race should matter to us – we should give all men and women proper respect and equal rights.
The poor should matter to us – we should be concerned about their situation and seek to alleviate their need.
Think about this. Why is it that people visit Mount Vernon, Va., all the time? It’s because George Washington’s famous house is located there. We value that home because we value the maker of the home. And we should value people – all people – because we value their Maker. To dishonor any image bearer of God is to dishonor God Himself (Proverbs 14:31).
Ed Yount, senior pastor, Woodlawn Baptist Church, Conover – When Mother Teresa spoke at the President’s Prayer Breakfast in 1994 she said, “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murdered by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love but to use violence to get what ever it wants. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
I personally believe the Bible is a strong and clear advocate of the sanctity of human life. The word “sanctity” means sacred or holy. Life is sacred to God and therefore should also be sacred to us. David wrote of God carefully and meticulously forming us in our mother’s womb. Life is a miracle of God and is something to be respected, honored, and protected. We must diligently pray for the day when Roe v. Wade will be overturned and America will once again value and cherish that which has been made in the image of God.
Matt Capps, senior pastor, Fairview Baptist Church, Apex – Sanctity of life is about the biblical and theological belief that, according to Genesis 1:26-31, God intimately formed humans in His likeness as the crown of creation to reflect His image in the world. This is the basis of human dignity, and the foundation for protecting and nurturing the precious life that God has given to each and every one of us. Implicit in this belief is the conviction that killing, harming or even hating another person is an affront to and an attack upon the living God.