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The church’s response and responsibility on abortion

Abortion | Giving in to the culture of death denies God’s ownership of human life and shows lack of trust in His promises

Many churches across the country recognize tomorrow as Sanctity of Life Sunday, an annual observance tied to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, with pastors and churches turning their attention to issues related to abortion and euthanasia.

But is one Sunday a year enough? Should churches be actively engaged year-round in the fight both inside and outside church walls? Some evangelical pastors choose not to tread on this topic at all (see “Still-silent shepherds” by Joe Maxwell and Steve Hall from the current issue of WORLD magazine).

In our efforts to present biblical truth in our news coverage, WORLD often has deep disagreements with those in the Presbyterian Church (USA), but we do find common ground on life issues with Marie Bowen, an elder in the PCUSA and the executive director of Presbyterians Pro-Life. PPL, a ministry for all Presbyterian and Reformed churches, addresses head-on issues related to pregnancy while encouraging churches to step up their efforts in the battle against the culture of death.

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In an article originally posted at the PPL website and adapted here with permission, Marie describes the church’s response and responsibility, to mothers and their babies, and to our God, the Owner of human life and our sovereign Provider. —Mickey McLean

How should the Christian Church respond to the culture of death?

On Wednesday, thousands will gather for the 41st time in Washington, D.C., as an expression of objection to the legalization of abortion and to commemorate the tiny and precious lives of 55 million babies aborted.

The tragic loss of life due to abortion is staggering. The 55 million babies lost to surgical abortions in America since Roe v. Wade is just the beginning. No one knows how many chemical abortions add to that number, thanks to drugs such as RU-486 and the “morning-after pill”—now available over the counter even to 11- and 12-year-old girls. Globally, the number of babies destroyed by abortion is estimated to be 120 million every year. No one can calculate the loss of God’s intended blessing to the world through those aborted babies. No one can measure losing the gifts God planned to birth through the offspring of each of those individual lives.

Gratefully, euthanasia remains illegal in all of the United States, but four states (Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Vermont) have legalized “physician aid in dying” (PAD) or “assisted suicide.” With PAD, a doctor or other third party administers the dose. With assisted suicide, the patient self-administers the deadly chemical. In Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal for 10 years, the number of persons choosing death has grown steadily each year, reaching 77 in 2012. One study reports that 3.7 percent of physicians admitted to performing euthanasia while 10.8 percent had performed physician-assisted suicide. Like me, you probably have heard stories from individuals who have given a little extra pain medication to a loved one to speed the end of their suffering. Whether legal or illegal, hastening the death of any person inside or outside of the womb is to assert our own wisdom above that of God’s. Only God has appointed to each of us a time of natural death (Hebrews 9:27).

Abortion and euthanasia and many other threats to human life deny God’s ownership over that life. We bear the imago Dei—the image of God—and we are owned by God (Genesis 1:26-27). We are His. We enjoy a rich relational status with God that abortion destroys. Both abortion and euthanasia (or assisted suicide) take something that belongs to God—a living person who bears God’s own image—and literally relegates him or her to the trash. When we choose death for another human being we take in our own hands a dominion we are not given. It is a theft and a violence against God. But making a statement against abortion, although important, is not enough. The church must extend compassionate care.

The church has a responsibility to care for a woman and her child in unplanned pregnancy

When a woman finds herself pregnant at a time that seems inconvenient to her, the messages she hears are amplified by her own feelings. She may be married or unmarried but lack support from the father of the child to carry the pregnancy to term. If she is young, her parents, friends, teachers, and counselors may urge her to choose abortion. She may feel inadequate to support or parent her child, have no idea where to turn for help or how to make a plan for adoption, or not have the financial resources for proper medical attention, let alone a means of providing for a child. She may hear abortion is her “right” and is “safe, quick, and easy,” and she will be “rid of this problem” and be able to “go on with her life.”

Reprinted with permission. © 2014 by Presbyterians Pro-Life. All rights reserved.

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