By Deborah Amend
We know life is precious; yet without a biblical understanding of the sacredness of life and our call as Christians to care for all life, we can lose our vision, becoming tools in the hands of politicians who would rather use our passions for their cause than for the call of Christ. What does the Bible say about the sanctity of life and how should it impact our choices?
The Biblical Value of Life
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
The value of human life is affirmed in the creation narrative, when we read how God lovingly formed Adam in his own image and breathed life into his nostrils. The value and purpose of every human being is expressed in the fact that all people have been created in God’s image.
Beyond creation, God’s loving view of humanity is seen throughout Scripture. Although he was born outside of the plan of God, God valued Ishmael and his mother Hagar, who is the first in Scripture to ascribe a name to the Lord: “The God Who Sees Me.” God responded with provision and promise when he heard Ishmael (a problem child who taunted his half brother and his father’s wife) crying in the wilderness. Years later God blessed the Hebrew midwives who disobeyed the royal edict to murder all infant Hebrew boys. God saw the value of these lives and moved to act on their behalf.
Carrying on the ancient midwives’ ministry today is PregnancyCare of Cincinnati, one in a network of centers around the nation. Many women who visit the center feel they have no options, and think abortion must be the only solution. They need to experience the “God Who Sees Me” and understand how his love can change their lives.
Caring for Mothers and Babies
Leigh Anne Russell, PregnancyCare of Cincinnati’s communications manager, says, “Most of the women who come to us planning to abort think they have no other choice. They’re looking for hope and they don’t want to give up their dreams. We’re able to tell them they don’t have to give up their dreams, but they may have to take a different, longer, path to get there. That’s what love looks like: love is patient. They want to know what love looks like, but they have no idea.”
PregnancyCare is not a clinic, so following a free pregnancy test, clients are referred to partner clinics for counseling or medical help. The center’s client educators build relationships with the women, helping them weigh their options. The center offers classes to help prepare women for birth and parenting and assists in obtaining necessary baby items.
“Hearts have to be changed. The ultimate solution is not legislation,” notes Russell, “but leading these women into a relationship with Jesus—not just trying to find a solution to what they see as the ‘baby problem.’”
The Biblical Mandate
James 1:27 states, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” The value of life is affirmed in more than 2,000 verses throughout Scripture, calling the people of God to care for the poor and oppressed. As early as Leviticus 25:10-13, the Lord established laws about the Year of Jubilee, and in Deuteronomy 24:19-22 he instructed the Israelites to leave wheat for the poor when gleaning, revealing his concern for the defenseless.
Years later, Jesus said, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed” (Luke 14:13, 14).
Vitaly is a gifted 16-year-old. He works in the mediums of encaustic painting, sand art, and quilling. Mature, kind, and hardworking, success would seem inevitable for him, especially since he has received media attention both for his art and his singing. However, his future looks bleak, as Vitaly was abandoned at birth due to dwarfism. He lives with other orphans in a home for disabled children in Ukraine. The children were abandoned because they were born with disabilities.
Restorer of Life
A pro-life understanding caused the Ukrainian ministry, My Home, in partnership with the Kentucky-based ministry, Master Provisions, to begin visiting Vitaly’s orphanage several years ago.
“Today, many, if not most, disabled children in Ukraine are abandoned by their biological families. Their time at the orphanage is often the best part of their lives, as after they are adults they enter the outside world alone, either to live on the streets or in a destitute state-run institution. My Home works to give them another option—a loving home for them, a place where they will find support, care, and understanding,” notes Andrey Beglenko, director of My Home.
Working diligently to change cultural perspectives regarding the disabled, My Home has helped to arrange the adoption and higher education of several of these teens. The ministry faces an uphill battle in finding homes for them, however, as obstacles such as finances often restrict families. Vitaly, an active member of his local church, still longs for a family—one that will most likely need to come from the United States. Are there Christians in the U. S. with a pro-life commitment who will value this brother in Christ, along with thousands of other disabled orphans worldwide, and be willing to adopt him? He hopes the answer is yes.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Lives were changed when Ilene Beltran followed God and moved into one of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in her city. There she met Estelle, a grandmother seven times over. Mentally disabled and raised in an institution, Estelle struggled with the day-to-day handling of her resources and caring for her infant grandson, Dave. Her daughter, Christy, also mentally disabled, was unable to care for him on her own. Ilene first took Dave in when Estelle was hospitalized. After her recovery, Estelle approached Ilene with the idea of adoption. Ilene not only
adopted Dave, but Estelle as well.
“My background is such that I was uncomfortable around mentally disabled people. I have always been fascinated that God put me in the midst of so many people with disabilities and changed me. The joy Estelle brings me is amazing. She’s wonderful. I just can’t get over how much God has blessed me with her.”
Dave not only became Ilene’s son; he was instrumental in the reconciliation and remarriage of Ilene to her husband. Five people were radically changed because one faithful Christian believed in the value of a family in desperate need of help.
Living with a Pro-life Mind-set
The church has taken a proactively pro-life stance from its earliest days when Christians were known for retrieving abandoned babies from garbage piles and raising them as their own children. It is a message we must continue not only to speak, but live. It can be seen today in the efforts of Sunday school teachers determined to include severely autistic children in their classes, in the actions of those who offer a weekly church service to the local nursing home, and in faithful church members who mentor at-risk mothers. It can also be seen in volunteers at PregnancyCare centers who give their time to mothers and babies, or in families that choose to adopt those who have been deemed worthless by the world. The question facing believers today is not a simple, “Should I be pro-life?” but the deeper question of, “How will I live a life that is pro-life?”
Deborah Amend is a freelance writer in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Gender Equality & Worldwide Abortion
In many parts of the world, lack of gender equality is part of what fuels abortion. Girl babies simply aren’t wanted. They lack the money-earning potential of men, and they’re expensive to eventually marry off. As a result, they’re disproportionately aborted. Legislation alone isn’t able to fix this disparity.
In order to curb this problem, in India it’s illegal for ultrasound technicians to tell the parents the sex of the baby. According to an article on MSNBC.com titled,
“Name Changers: 285 Indian Girls No Longer ‘Unwanted,’” this ban doesn’t always prevent abortion, and it also causes another shocking problem: Baby girls whose names mean “unwanted.” Creating a climate that values and protects girls and women is a valuable step to ending abortion.
Helping girls can change the world.
The Girl Effect paints a picture of how helping girls can change the world.
International adoption can give impoverished mothers an option to secure a future for their children. Find out more here:
Funding education and health care for women gives them the means to succeed.
Support businesses and organizations that work to protect women like Hagar International