Why those of us in prolife ministry can’t afford to get this wrong

Why those of us in prolife ministry can’t afford to get this wrong (Oleg Sergeichik/Unsplash)

It’s been my great delight to launch into seminary studies at Regent University this year. My final New Testament class assignment from Dr. Carrie Wood this week is a reflection on how my studies have impacted my spiritual formation.

I’ve been challenged in a couple of specific areas, one of which I’ll share with you in the context of its relevance to prolife work.

First, let me commend you for your labor of love.

One of the factors that drew me into prolife ministry in the first place is that it’s such a great way to respond to God’s injunction in Psalms 82:3-4.

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Who is more weak, needy and oppressed than the vulnerable, preborn child whose mother is contemplating abortion?

On the flip side of the coin, the woman in a pregnancy crisis is often destitute and feeling helpless, too.

So, we get to help both parties in this great work.

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God consistently shows concern throughout Scripture for the marginalized and oppressed. He calls Christians to speak up for those who can’t defend themselves.

I love that we, as prolife people, get this. We fight for the very least of the “least of these” in obedience to what Jesus said (Matt. 25:30).

Yet I wonder if, in our passion and push for the cause of life, we sometimes lose sight of what’s most important—and, in so doing, allow the end to justify the means.

Here’s where my personal challenge comes in—a challenge which may resonate with you.

As prolife Christians, we believe every human being has inestimable worth, right?  

We hold to the truth that all human beings share the same value, regardless of factors like size, level of development or location. 

Further, we believe in the dignity and worth of people who are elderly or disabled or who belong to another socio-economic class or have different skin color from our own. 

The prolife ethic is overarching. It influences all our relationships and our dealings with people.

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Jesus even requires us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-45).

Therefore, one would reasonably expect a prolife Christian to demonstrate honor and value toward others, no matter the context.

Sadly, this is not always the case.

I’ll give you an embarrassing personal example. 

I’m behind the wheel, and the driver in front of me is moseying along at five miles per hour below the speed limit. 

“Seriously? Come on, you slowpoke!” I growl.

That might seem like a fairly low-level transgression, yet Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” –Matthew 5:21-22

Why is Jesus’ warning about anger and name-calling so harsh? 

Our words have the power of life or death. When we spitefully hurl negative words at others, we are saying they don’t deserve to live. 

We murder them in our hearts.

That’s not very prolife, is it?

It’s not honoring of God’s image-bearers. It’s not Christ-like. 

Committing such sin in the confines of our own vehicles is bad enough. The damage increases exponentially when we take rude behavior online.

I recently “unfollowed” a well-known prolife individual on Twitter. This person’s online interactions have consistently been arrogant, mean-spirited and obnoxious, all in the name of promoting the life-affirming cause. 

As prolife Christians, we need to be very careful how we conduct our lives before a watching world. We dare not preach a message which we fail to live out.

We can’t claim, “God loves and values every image-bearer” out of one side of our mouth, and yell, “You fool!” from the other.

It doesn’t matter how great the cause is for which we labor. Once we refuse to honor, value and love people, we have lost the plot.

So, here’s my challenge to myself and to all prolife ministry people: 

Are we honoring and gracious toward others, including our opponents? Are we willing to listen to their point of view, find out their story and empathize with them? 

Can we let others have the last word from time to time?

Or must we always prove we’re right and they’re wrong?

The apostle Paul writes:

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…” –2 Timothy 2:24-25

Not quarrelsome. Kind. Not resentful. Gentle.

We’ve certainly seen enough churlish behavior on social media.

As prolife Christians let’s not stoop to the world’s level. 

Let’s be agents of change.

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Let’s be life-affirming—not only in our work, but in every interaction we have with fellow image-bearers.

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