Today is Life Sunday. Your life. My life. The present life. The future life. Life as opposed to death. I am the way, the truth, and the life. That life, too. In those ways and many others, we are in favor of life, we are FOR life, we are pro-life.
But for many people, the life they are FOR stops with their own. As long as they have it, they don’t care much whether others live or die; or if others live, they don’t care about how they live while they’re waiting to die.
We sense that we are living in a time and culture that doesn’t have very high regard for human life. Like many other things, our culture has abandoned the universal or divine absolutes. It says, “If you want to honor life as divine or special, that’s fine. That’s up to you. Just don’t expect me to hold the same position.”
Just what would it take for me to convince you that human life is unique, that it is God’s special creation, that it is human from the time of conception, and that beyond being the will of God, it makes sense to be pro-life?
Today, based on God’s Word, we will use the family argument. I would like to affirm that since your whole family is pro-life, you ought to be, too.
Your ancestors were pro-life. Your ancestors took strong moral and religious positions holding that human life is God’s gift. It benefits from God’s creating and preserving activity.
Every once in a while, we hear about a doctor or medical professional who harms a patient by neglect, carelessness, and sometimes even intentionally. It strikes a chord of terror, because of the Hippocratic oath. We may not know what it says, but we feel good that our care givers swear to it and abide by it.
Let me tell you what it says:
Written 400 B.C.E
I SWEAR by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation- to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!
The oath is clear. Those who take it will do helpful things for their patients. They will do no harm, and they will not cause abortions.
Abortion had to be addressed in the oath because there have always been people who thought they were the exception to the rule. There have always been people who were willing to do harm by producing abortions. But those are the few. You and I come from a long line of ancestors who have held human life as God’s most precious gift. Your ancestors, all the way back to Noah and Adam were pro-life.
Have you seen a bumper sticker that says simply: Your mother was pro-life. It’s hard to dispute. I know it is possible that a woman can have several abortions and only one live birth. That would cause some to say that that mother was not pro-life. I cannot pretend to know what goes on in the mind of even one woman, must less every woman, but if I were a betting man, I would bet you a paycheck that your mother WAS pro-life or IS pro-life. She wanted to have a child or perhaps more. She wanted to give her motherly love and attention to another. She wanted her family legacy to continue. She wanted to present a grandchild to her parents. Oh, she had a very good sense of just how problematic a child can be. Some women risk serious health concerns by becoming pregnant and carrying a child. Some mothers even die in the process of giving birth, and many who don’t die tell us that giving birth is painful, if not dangerous.
Martin Luther said that God could have populated the earth by creating each new person from the dust, as He did Adam, but instead He chose to bring forth new life through the vocation of parents.
Because of the dedication and love demonstrated by our mothers, we have a relationship with them like we have with no other human beings. Once upon a time, if another kid hollered “your mother wears army boots” a bloody nose or a black eye was sure to follow. We love our mothers because they love us. We defend their reputations. We honor them while they live, and we cherish their memory when they are in heaven. My mother had no bumper sticker on her car, and she never carried a protest sign, but she was pro-life. And your mother was, or is, too.
And so is your father. That may be true for your earthly father, but I know it is true for your eternal father – your heavenly father. He could have stayed out of the life business all together. He could have made and maintained a universe that was awesome and beautiful, and it would have remained unspoiled. But he determined to get into the life business on this planet, and he created all kinds of living things. The book of Genesis tells us that he had plenty of practice, as if he needed any, before he made human beings. He started with plants, and then did all kinds of animals. After everything else was in place, he made man and then woman. From his perspective, the world wasn’t complete until it had one unique person. And then another, and then another. Each one unique, each one loved, each one designed to live with the Father throughout eternity.
Your Father in heaven is pro-life, even though he sees and permits plenty of death. There is death in the world because sin entered the world, and sin is now and always has been a powerful force, working against God and his design for our lives. Your heavenly Father is so pro-life, that he gave his only son to pay the price for sin. The Father could have said, “I gave them life. Death is their problem,” but he didn’t. His plan of salvation is so elegant and effective. All we need do is embrace the Son, who gave his life for ours. As we put our faith and trust in the Son of God, we enjoy a relationship with God that is not based on what we do, but on whom we know – on whose we are.
So Paul could say:
“I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way - in all your speaking and in all your knowledge - because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.”
Because of Jesus, our Father in heaven loves us as his children. Your earthly father may have been pro-life. Your heavenly father definitely is.
One of my hobbies is genealogy. I gather information about my extended family and organize it with the help of my computer. My parents never talked much about their families, and they didn’t leave many records or photos behind. But my father was always very clear about the fact that he was the only boy in his family. He had a bunch of sisters, but he was the only boy. As I did research in his home congregation’s records, I discovered that he did have a brother. His brother was born before any of his sisters, and lived only a few days. I’m not sure if my father ever knew about his brother.
For all of you who are an only child, YOU may be surprised to hear that you have sisters. And all of you guys who grew up in families of all boys, let me remind you that you have a huge bunch of sisters. It’s the way we think of ourselves in relation to our fellow believers. This is a member congregation of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Every other congregation is our sister congregation. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, in all of its sisters, is Pro-Life.
The media may say that the Roman Catholics are the pro-life Christians. They have historically taken a strong pro-life position. Even when weak and frail, the pope has spoken a pro-life position loudly and clearly. The congregations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in convention have consistently and repeatedly made it clear that we honor life from conception and defend human life in all its stages and conditions. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is pro-life. Our 6,148 sister congregations are pro-life. And if our collective voices have been weak or silent, we ought to rally them and inform them of the importance of speaking up for the smallest and weakest members of the human family whom God loves every bit as much as he loves us. Yes, your sisters are pro-life.
And finally, your brother is pro-life. Does anybody here need to be reminded of your brother so soon after his birthday? We took our cue from the angels as we sang Glory to God in the Highest on the night of his birth. He knew the peril of the birth canal just as we did, just as our children did. He is our full, flesh-and-blood brother, born into the same world we live in. Your brother knew what it was like to work hard and sweat and have people change their minds and their attitudes. Your brother knew the pain of rejection and isolation. Your brother knew what it was like to be betrayed by his friends. He knew what it was like to be wrongly accused and the victim of lies. Do we think for a moment that his life was somehow different from ours, or better than ours? He was born into the same human family we were. He was 100% human.
But your brother wanted something better for you. Your brother was pro-life, and he wanted you to know life could be without the impact of sin, death, and the devil. He said he was the way, the truth, and the life, and he has fulfilled God’s plan of salvation for us. After a few decades of sweat, disappointment, sorrow, warfare, betrayal, and after going through the doorway of death, we can live eternally with the whole family of God in happiness and light. He demonstrated by his death that he is, without qualification, pro-life.
There are people in our world today who would classify human beings as either wanted or unwanted. Where do they get that right? Where does one human being get the right to classify another human being as deserving to live or deserving to die because of an opinion. I can say that apple pie is wanted and brussel sprouts are unwanted, but I cannot say that of another human being, created in the image of God, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, our brother.
As Paul said: He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s what kind of brother you have. But remember, you come from a huge family, and it has a long, proud pro-life heritage.
Your ancestors were pro-life.
Your mother was pro-life.
Your Father in heaven is pro-life.
Your fellow believers in sister congregations are pro-life.
And most important of all, your Brother, Jesus Christ, is pro-life.
Paul, to the Corinthians, and to us: God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. May our God be praised for that love and faithful.
© 2008 Philip Tesch