January 22, 2017 marked the forty-fourth anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision of the United States Supreme Court legalizing abortion. In 1984 President Regan proclaimed January 22nd to be National Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Ever since the original Supreme Court decision in 1973, abortion has been a topic of national debate with both sides bitterly divided over the issue. When I graduated from college in 1974 I had many mixed feelings about the issue. I understood how many women celebrated that decision, gaining a sense of personal empowerment and freedom. But my greatest confusion came from watching the evangelical church’s reaction to the decision. What I saw shocked me. The church reacted by pointing fingers and condemning people, the court, politicians, doctors who performed abortion and any person who would consider an abortion. Rather than committing to love, serve and assist people facing difficult these difficult “life and death decisions”, the church often chose to vilify and judge people. That runs contrary to the gospel of Jesus. Jesus came proclaiming grace and truth. He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world. He did not come pointing fingers; he interacted with all who came to him seeking to show love and grace, hoping those he interacted with would find life and healing and embrace God’s truth.
Fortunately the church has begun to change and embrace a ministry of care and compassion for women and couples struggling how to respond to the challenges of an unexpected pregnancy. And that is a decision to embrace life in all its fullness. Psalm 139 tells us that each person is “fearfully and wonderfully made” in the image of God and that God knows all about us long before we are ever born. Every life is precious in God’s sight. And when the church chooses to love and show compassion to those struggling with how to respond to an unplanned pregnancy, the church is choosing to value life in its mission and ministry.
I hope that you will listen to the testimony of my wife, Sue Ellen, about the blessings of choosing life and the power of prayer to change a person’s life and be blessed by what God did in her life and what God can do in anyone’s life, if they will only give God a chance.
Chuck Oblom, Pastor, Journey Church on the Common