Known for saving life

Image of God must be recognized in the unborn

Feb 13, 2017 by

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If Anabaptist Christians want to be taken seriously as people of peace, a consistent ethic of human life should be what we’re known for. This is not primarily in a political activist sense but in our everyday actions.

When Lydia Yoder learned more about the details of abortion during a Sunday evening church service, she and others at Beth-El Mennonite Church in Belleville, Pa., were motivated to address the problem constructively. Not content to verbally condemn abortion or hope for legislative change, they got organized to make a difference on a face-to-face level. That ministry has gone on to enable new services such as post-abortion counseling and support for single mothers.

Like the early Christians who reportedly rescued unwanted infants from death by exposure in the Roman Empire, the counselors at pregnancy centers work to secure life for unborn children whose fate is in question.

Compassion takes work. It will take more than making a public statement, writing to a lawmaker or donating money. It will take congregations of Jesus-followers to unify around how they can connect with their own neighbors and put in the work of relationship with them. The goal must be greater than a commitment to nonviolence or a desire to meet needs. The motivation must be to see our neighbors find their redemption through Christ.

It is understandable that some in the U.S. may shy away from the “pro-life” political movement, as it is often allied with broader political interests that are not life-affirming, such as cutting funding for health care, social services and aid to those in poverty. But we aren’t called to rally around coercive political action as much as to share biblical teachings and live them out.

We must teach the value of human life created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), the mission of Jesus to seek out and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and the church’s ministry of reconciliation between humanity and God that makes people new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-18).

Reconciliation is a fundamentally redemptive and pro-life work. Christians must reject anything that disrupts reconciliation between God and humans. If God has “destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5), at no time should we condone injury to the life of a person God created for reconciliation with him. We are projects of God’s workshop (Eph. 2:10) from conception to death. God sees our unformed substance (Psalm 139:16).

We pray that among us, abortion — like any other violence to humanity — will not even be thought of as an option. Let us be known as life-saving people.


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  • John Gingrich

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder that the real work of the church is done in the one on one relationships with our neighbors. And yes, that is often inconvenient and takes effort and self-sacrifice. You remind us to not walk past on the other side of the road when we encounter the victim as in the story of the Good Samaritan. Maybe the priest and the Levite were on their way to a march in Washington, or on their way to a Mennonite Summit and that is why they had no time to stop. Jesus holds up the cup of water and the clothes to the naked as more important than politics or sermons. Well done, good and faithful servant!

  • Berry Friesen

    Many good points here, Rachel. Highlighting only two, I note your reference to the rescue of infants by the early church and the way “politics” (i.e., the right-left way of polarizing issues) pigeon-holes a value that rightfully belongs to the entire church.

    Technology has added to the polarization. At an earlier time, moral judgments as to the onset of protected personhood were linked to widely-held human experience (quickening, etc.) Now, to be considered to be a protector of the unborn, it is generally held that we must view personhood as present from the moment of conception. This appears to be your position, Rachel.

    I wonder if this view is grounded in the tradition of the church or comes from somewhere else.

  • Cindy Mansberger

    Thank you for your article. If only more people would understand the value of every human life, the world would be a better place. I hope others are inspired to follow the actions of Crossroads in sharing the love of Christ to women (and men) concerning the value of being created in the image of God.

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