Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
[John 1:1-5, 14] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it …. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Son of God: Human in His Mothers’ Womb
As a kid growing up in our nation’s education system, you spend a great deal of time learning about the past atrocities and crimes against humanity – slavery, segregation, and genocide – mass killing. The number one atrocity learned about is the Holocaust – Adolf Hitler’s killing of six million Jewish people in German concentration camps. That number, of course, is almost mild in comparison to the tens of millions of people killed by the various communist regimes in Russia and throughout Asia. These crimes against the innocent masses together with the many casualties of war – two world wars and the many smaller wars in our history – are a bloody and violent mark against the character of mankind in our day. These things didn’t happen long ago – some who carried out these acts are still living.
But of all the guilty parties, which is the most guilty? Which dictator, which regime, which nation, which political philosophy or violent religion has been the worst? Which is responsible for the most killing? Well, it’s none of these. In the violence department, no dictator or nation or radical philosophy has ever compared to …. mother and father. No single group – no dictator or government – has committed more violence against life than the mothers and fathers of our world who take the lives of their children in the womb. Motherhood and fatherhood – which brings life – have instead become the world’s most violent institutions against their own.
Germany killed six million in the Holocaust – we remember that atrocity forever. But the parents of our nation – mothers and fathers – have killed more than 56 million of their own innocents. The average per year right now in the U.S. is just over one million abortions – about 2,900 per day (how many kindergartens is that per day, wiped away?). In the U.S. there are 219 abortions for every 1,000 live births. More Americans’ lives have been taken away by their mothers while in the womb than by all wars in our nation’s nearly 250 year history.
We stand guilty of worse murder than those atrocities we teach about in school and on the history channel – murder involving parents and doctors against their children – murder happening under the protection of the law against those who are not considered legal persons.
And like the men and women who watched the train loads of Jews being hauled down the tracks, but who never spoke out or acted to stop it, what have you and I done as a congregation, of any great significance, to help protect the children being hurt? And what have you and I done as of yet to help the women who are often pressured or even forced into having abortions by their boyfriends or by their husbands or by their parents? When we don’t act, we are guilty.
When it comes to what we believe about abortion, there are two factors that we, as Christians, must square with: One is the fifth commandment, God’s command; the other is our faith - our belief about God and about Christ. God’s command - the fifth commandment – and our faith about who God is, and who Christ is, are both intertwined with this atrocity.
God says in His Word that He is not willing that any should perish [2 Peter 3:9]. God, in His Word, the Holy Scriptures, calls death His enemy [1 Corinthians 15:26]. Abortion is an act against God and for God’s enemy, death. Our understanding of the fifth commandment is that we are guilty whenever we fail to help and protect our neighbors in their bodily needs. Let’s remind ourselves of how we explain the fifth commandment in our Small Catechism:
What is the Fifth Commandment? You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need. As Christ taught us, “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” [Matthew 7:12]
“… help and support [our neighbor] in every physical need.” That includes our neighbors not yet born. That includes young, confused mothers and scared fathers. We give and help with support – money and goods – and with words of truth and encouragement. That’s how we must keep the fifth commandment.
How can we do that? How can we do what God has commanded? How do we do it as a congregation? We find the local pro-life pregnancy center, and we ask them what they need from us. We support North East Ohio Right to Life’s efforts in the area by going to their rallies and events. We can support Lutherans for Life (which is part of our Synod) – their events and their financial needs.
In regard to every command of God, we repent, and we seek Christ’s forgiveness. Jesus, who died for all man’s sin on the cross, forgives sin and forgives failure to do good - and with forgiveness He also helps us do better. You are forgiven; and you can do better in Jesus.
But there is still more to be said. There is something that must said about abortion and our true Christian faith – abortion and what we believe about God and Christ.
The devil is not only an enemy of life, but, even more so, the devil is the enemy of the true faith. The devil, in his rage against God, makes himself the father of lies. The devil, in his hatred against the Creator and against the Christ, is devoted to slandering the truth about both. Abortion, aside from being a physical atrocity, is an atrocity against true faith. Abortion speaks lies against God and against Christ.
The cornerstone of abortion is the denial that the child newly conceived in the womb is a life and a person. Denying that the child in the womb is a life and a true person is the devil’s assault against God and Christ.
God is Creator – “I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible” [Nicene Creed]. God is the Maker, the Creator, of the tiny, newly conceived child in the womb. The devil rages against God by denying God’s role as Creator – by denying that there is life where God has created life. Many have also come to believe that if a child is conceived under certain terrible circumstances or if the child has certain diseases, then it is not a life to be protected. This denies that God is the Creator of that life. It denies that the Holy Spirit is the “Lord and Giver-of-Life” [Nicene Creed]. These false beliefs about the child in the womb are false beliefs about God who created the child.
And there’s more. After the Virgin Mary conceived Christ in her womb by the Holy Spirit, she visited her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist. The first person ever to leap with joy and faith at the presence of Jesus was John the Baptist who leapt in his mother Elizabeth’s womb when Christ was brought near in the womb of Mary. If a child in the womb is no child, then what of this faith of John the Baptist?
And, if what is newly conceived in a mother’s womb is not yet a person, then who was it that was conceived in the womb of Mary? We believe, according to the Scriptures, not just that Christ was born of Mary, but that Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb. If a newly conceived child is not a person, then was it the Son of God, Jesus, residing in Mary’s womb? Or was it just a nameless lump? Denying personhood to what is newly conceived in the womb denies that Christ the Son of God was conceived in the womb of Mary and makes Him out to be a lifeless lump in her womb. This belief that a child is not a person in the womb is against Christ - it’s the devil’s nasty insult against Jesus.
The Gospel according to St. John [John 1:1-5,14; see above] says that the Word of God (which is God, the Son of God – Jesus) became flesh, became man. Because God the Son became flesh by becoming a child in a mother’s womb, the devil hates children in the womb. But this Word of God who became flesh is also the Life of man. And He is our Light. Jesus is the Light that no darkness can overcome – not even the darkness of abortion. Not even the darkness of our own sins against the fifth commandment. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [John 1:5]
Jesus, who was conceived and born, soon faced all our darkness. Immediately after His birth, Jesus was pursued by death as King Herod sent soldiers to slay all the youngest children of Bethlehem [Matthew 2:16-18]. Jesus, throughout His perfect life, though He was without sin, suffered all the darkness sinners suffer. Rejected by His own people, unknown by the world, Jesus suffered humiliation, mocking, beating – flogged with whips. He entered the darkness of false accusations, betrayal, loneliness, and forsakenness on the Cross. Though without sin, He was forsaken even by God as a guilty sinner – He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” [Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1]. And Jesus entered the darkness of death and of the grave. Jesus, who was innocent, did all this to save the guilty. Jesus entered the darkness of the death that victims of abortion face – and Jesus died on a cross which is a criminal’s and a murderer’s death.
Jesus entered that darkness, and the darkness did not overcome Him. You have with you the One who has overcome all darkness of sin, death, and the devil. Mothers and fathers and doctors guilty of abortion have the One who entered the darkness of their sin and who already died for their sin to forgive them – and in Christ their sin is forgiven by His blood. Therefore, they can repent and turn to Jesus who forgives. And children who die in the womb have Jesus who became a child in the womb and who died for them and who rose for them on Easter morning. Jesus is the Light of the world, the Light that none of this darkness has overcome.
So, brothers and sisters, in the face of all man’s atrocities and great evils, and your own, do not be overwhelmed by them, but remember that you have Jesus who has overcome them. Amen.