Many things change when you become a dad. Even though it’s only been over a year now for me, it’s still hard to remember life without our son. But things have changed, every parent realizes this and yet has little time to process all the changes while hoping to have at least one date night every few months amidst the late nights, changed diapers, endless smiles and occasional tears.
One of the most dramatic changes for me was over how I thought and felt about the sanctity of human life; the miracle of child birth, the preciousness of new life. No parent will ever forget the first time they heard their child’s heartbeat. The unborn have their first heartbeat around six weeks and the parents are able to hear their precious child’s heartbeat around eight weeks. This is around the moment that you tell your family and plan for the day and the creative way that you will tell the social media world. Many of us already have numerous names picked out as we await the gender. We went through this excitement like most parents. This excitement is ignited over the scientific reality that we were witnessing the heartbeat of a person, a new human. The excitement is ignited over the reality that every new human in uniquely made in the image of God. Every new human distinctively and creatively reflects the beauty and goodness of God. The reason why we celebrate the miracle of pregnancy is because pregnancy proclaims the miracle of life and the truth that all lives matter. No matter if you are religious or irreligious; republican or democrat.
Before having a child and experiencing the amazing journey of child birth, I suppose I was like many young Christians in my generation that sadly became tired of the issue of abortion and the sanctity of human life becoming the only issue talked about and often hijacked by cable news and a specific stream of evangelicalism that seemed to carry an agenda and presentation that was disconnected to the movement of Jesus. In addition there was the stereotype that if you wanted to be really passionate about being pro life you had to be a republican picketing outside planned parenthood with grotesque signs and images while yelling at young women as they walked through the side doors. As I got older, I realized with many that when it comes to the sanctity of human life we need to talk about life from the womb to the tomb. This means we care about the death penalty, adoption, war, the elderly and many more significant issues that pertain to the sanctity of human life. This is an important realization. When it comes to the sanctity of human life, I still believe that followers of Jesus, and humanity in general needs to address these issues for the sake of the common good and the advancement of God’s kingdom. Sadly from my vantage point as a young church planter/pastor and follower of Jesus in New England, the weight of protest and call for justice has gone to the other side of the church culture seesaw. This younger generation of Jesus followers are being silent over one of the most important justice issues in the history of humanity. This is grievous. We can’t become numb to the statistics that over 1 million babies are aborted each year in America alone. Most of these babies are aborted beyond the 8 week mark when the heart is beating. We rightly need to stand for the Eric Garners of the world but why are we silent towards the millions of potential Eric Garners in our cities and towns? Sadly, many of the people who rightly make their voices heard when it comes to racism and racial reconciliation are silent towards the least of these, to the voiceless, to the children in this generation.
My Hope in Preaching on the Sanctity of Human Life?
My hope in giving my voice to the voiceless is to proclaim the grace of God that reminds all of us that in the face of shame and guilt over the sins of our youth or the sins of today, our sins have been paid for by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The grace and truth of Jesus doesn’t keep us enslaved in condemnation but leads us to conviction and repentance that makes us in awe of the mercy and love of our Father.
My hope in giving my voice to the voiceless is to follow in the steps of MLK, John Perkins and many more who echoed and believed the words of the prophet Amos to come to pass in their generation in the face of injustice, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24
Finally, a word to people who might disagree or have forgotten to disagree and protest well. At the end of last year our local paper did an article on our big launch as a new church; they quoted me at the end and it’s an important reminder for all when it comes to being able to listen to one another and disagree well. “Mook referenced a favorite quote of his by Bill Clinton: “One of the biggest problems in today’s culture is that we’re afraid to be around people we disagree with.”
“That’s true in politics and in anything,” he added. “We want to create a culture and community where people can be around one another. We don’t have to agree or believe everything, but we can share a space together, have a conversation, and welcome everyone no matter where they are when it comes to their faith. So we’re intentional about loving our neighbors and strangers and people who have given up on God and wherever they may be in life.”
A sermon or a blog post will not change the world but the grace and truth of Jesus is making all things new and we know that every aborted child is in heaven; we can pray, believe and work for more of God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.
Pastor Stephen Mook