Eyes glued to the TV, I watched the documentary about abortion with horrified fascination. I was several months pregnant with our firstborn son Daniel. Almost involuntarily, my hand went to my belly as I whispered, “That will never happen to you.”
Danny has always demonstrated a strong sense of justice, as well as a special love for children (he now has three of his own).
Our three sons’ conviction on the issue of life began when each one was in the womb, and continued to grow as we nurtured it through the years.
So how do we implant a solid understanding of the sanctity of human life in our children? How do we help them uphold a life-affirming perspective, not only as a personal conviction, but in action as well?
It all starts with teaching children to love, obey, and enjoy God, and teaching them that the Bible is the inspired Word of God—in other words, by laying a good foundation of the truth.
So we follow God’s mandate for parents in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
We order our decisions and actions according to God’s will and His ways. We do what He tells us to do, and we repent when we sin.
In this way, we disciple our children in normal, healthy living—that is to say, a life lived in loving obedience to our heavenly Father.
Explain to your children what matters to God. What makes Him glad? What makes Him sad? What makes Him angry?
Explain that God is a God of justice, and it grieves His heart when we are cruel to each other. Tell your children that God wants them to stand up for those who are being mistreated.
Teach them Scripture tells us, again and again, that God’s concern is for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Even before your children are old enough to understand where babies come from, familiarize them with God’s attributes of justice and righteousness.
Tell them Christians stand up for people who are being mistreated by others.
Tweet This: Christian parents, let's not fail to instill #prolife courage in our kids. @susannemaynes
It takes courage to stand for life. It takes a strong concern for justice. It takes a solid conviction that standing on the sidelines doing nothing is simply not an option for a Christian.
This kind of courage can and should be developed even before your child knows that abortion exists.
Once your child reaches an age where he or she is learning about life in the womb, prayerfully ask God about when to explain the choice some people make concerning their preborn babies.
It may be when your son or daughter runs across the term “abortion,” and you feel he or she is ready to hear the difficult truth. As in other areas, preserve your child’s innocence as long as you can—but don’t wait so long that they get the information from somewhere else.
Teach them the truth—abortion is always wrong.
Here’s how I put it in Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion: 40 Reflections on Rescuing the Unborn:
“Every unborn person brings delight to the heart of our heavenly Father. Every abortion is an assault on one of his precious image-bearers… God calls us to take a stand for justice and to defend the innocent…Standing up for the innocent unborn isn’t optional for God’s people.”
This is not an easy conversation. The concept of abortion may be difficult for your child to grasp. You don’t need to go into gory details, especially with a younger child.
It’s sufficient to offer something like, “Some people decide not to keep their babies, and so they have the baby taken out of them to make the baby die. God says this is wrong. He made every baby, and He loves every baby. He loves every Mom and Dad, too, but when people make their baby die, it makes God sad and angry.”
You’ll likely encounter the question, “Why would anyone do that?!” at which point you can explain a few common rationales for abortion.
From there, encourage your child to pray for those who are considering such a choice, or have already made it. Along with God’s justice, talk about His mercy and forgiveness, so that your son or daughter understands the clear link between the sanctity of human life and the gospel.
So instruction is vital, but discipling also includes modeling.
Does your child see you upholding the sanctity of human life by the way you give and vote and pray and volunteer? Have you helped someone in an unplanned pregnancy?
Does your life demonstrate authenticity in this area?
This current generation of youth is more pro-life than ever, yet also more prone to drive a friend to an abortion clinic as a way of “supporting” them. This is due to relativism’s mantra of “Don’t judge.”
Your children need to see that words and actions must agree. They need real live examples of uncompromising, courageous compassion to help them see through the postmodern deception of “I’ll support you whatever you decide” (which is simply cowardice and self-preservation).
Show them by the way you speak the truth in love, the way you get involved, and the way you reach out to those considering abortion that you really believe every human life is sacred, and you really believe every Christian should speak up for those without a voice.
Teach the pro-life message. Live the pro-life message.
No matter how far from God’s values our culture may drift, the next generation will find it easier to exercise courageous compassion—just like you.