Sanctity of Life Celebration
Recently, we celebrated “Sanctity of Life Sunday” at my church, as did thousands of you around our nation and world. We were reminded of the tragedy of abortion, both the loss of the child, and the impact it will have on the mother for the rest of her life. We talked about how God is the creator and sustainer of life, and that every child, from the moment of conception, is an image bearer of God. All of this is true, and these are important reminders for us who say we are “pro-life” to be active in the fight for these innocent children who are being destroyed, used for medical experiments, and discarded like yesterday’s trash.
Less Visible Side of the Pro-Life Movement
But there is another side to this pro-life movement. It’s not as visible as holding a giant poster of an aborted fetus in front of Planned Parenthood; not as dramatic as getting the attention of a woman who is walking into an abortion clinic and sharing the gospel with her. This side of the pro-life movement is not the one you see in the news, but it is no less important. I am speaking of the children whose parents did not abort them, even though they knew they would likely face a lifetime of pain, challenges, and difficulty. These are the parents whose children have spina bifida, Down Syndrome, heart defects, or any of many other congenital disabilities that mean a lifetime need of constant care and attention. These loving parents, most knowing the condition of their children long before birth—and surely having been given the option to abort them—took on the task joyfully and lovingly. They continue every day, doing the thousands of things necessary to support the child they chose to bear.
The role of caregiver is a difficult one, to put it mildly, and is often lonely and wearisome. The daily challenges of caring for a child, and eventually an adult, with special needs, is daunting, and many parents are virtually alone in it. Yes, there are paid caregivers who assist. Therapists, nurses, teachers, and other helpers are earning their paychecks, and most are caring, loving professionals. But what about the body of Christ? Are we doing our part to love these families and serve them as Christ would? Many individuals with disabilities can count on one hand the number of people who visit or interact with them during the course of a week, who are not paid to do so.
How Can We Respond?
So what do we, the body of Christ, owe to these parents who chose life for their children in spite of the dire warnings from well-meaning medical professionals that this would be a life of toil, heartache, and loneliness? Once we put away our pro-life posters for the week and finish up our baby bottle drives, what is our obligation to those who are caring for children and adults with disabilities? Well, I would say that it is the same thing as our debt to the rest of the body of Christ: Love, friendship, fellowship, a helping hand, and a true sense of brotherhood. Why should it be any different?
My dear friends, you and I and our brothers and sisters impacted by disability hold the most important, deepest, core commonality: We are image bearers of God. Each of us is uniquely stamped with His communicable attributes, and each of us was created for His glory. We are not different from each other on the most basic level, so why do we let external differences separate us?
Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
Being pro-life certainly means standing against abortion. But it’s more than that. It means loving the children and adults with disabilities—both those who were born with them and later, those who develop disabilities due to accident, disease, or aging. (Remember—the other end of the spectrum of the “pro-choice” movement is a push for “death with dignity,” by those who would seek to help others end their lives when they feel they’re too much of a burden for their families, or are suffering too much. God is the Creator and Sustainer of life, and we have no more right to end life at 75, 90 or 100 years of age, than we do at 4 weeks of gestation.) We must be advocates for life on both ends of the spectrum, and everywhere in between.
What does it mean to be pro-life?
It means that all life is valuable and precious, created by God, and worthy of the love of His people. It means helping and supporting caregivers; including and embracing individuals with disabilities; showing compassion and love even when we don’t understand the behaviors of individuals who seem different from us. It means educating ourselves about how to support individuals with disabilities and their caregivers. It means coming alongside those individuals to celebrate their accomplishments and be their friends. It means walking with their families to love, disciple, and offer them encouragement. This is loving the body. This is bearing one another’s burdens. This is pro-life.