Precious and Sacred: Churches Champion Life from Womb to Tomb
By Carl Stagner
On the third and fourth Sundays of January this year, churches across the denominational spectrum are placing special emphasis on the imago dei—on the precious and sacred nature of everyone made in the image of God. National Sanctity of Human Life Day began in the United States in 1984 when then President Ronald Reagan issued the proclamation eleven years after the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. Not unlike other years, in 2022 many congregations of the Church of God are setting aside time on their calendars to teach on the subject, share testimonies, offer special moments of prayer, and rally for the cause of life in the public square.
In North Carolina, the Sneads Ferry congregation known as New River Community Church of God continues its tradition of supporting, promoting, and participating in a local walk in a nearby city to raise awareness about abortion, and advocate alternative options and opportunities. Pastor Steve Allen encouraged the congregation to join the effort scheduled for the last Saturday of January.
“We gather at the Jacksonville City Hall and walk about a half mile to the Infant of Prague church,” he said. “Out on the front lawn we gather and have a brief service, in defense of our children…that we can preserve life. It’s a wonderful way to say to our community that we believe in life and that we stand for life.”
At Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia, two Sundays in a row were dedicated this year to an emphasis on the sanctity of human life. While the 23rd was set aside for teaching on the specifics of what the Bible has to say about it, the 16th offered the chance for the congregation and community to hear from a special guest, from another angle. “Mrs. West Virginia” (Cydney Fields), who has led the fight to protect life from domestic violence, offered testimony in an interview format with Pastor Melissa Pratt. A survivor of domestic violence herself, Cydney made the case for prevention and follow-up, all while opening eyes to the prevalence of domestic violence and the hope so readily accessible. Pastor Melissa Pratt’s follow-up sermon wrapped up the discussion on the sanctity of life from the perspective of Jesus’ position on life abundant (John 10:10)—also thereby setting the stage for handling the tough topics related to abortion the following Sunday.
Certainly, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, dealing specifically with the topic of abortion is both timely and relevant.
But sometimes Christians find it difficult to articulate their pro-life message in a redeeming fashion; sometimes the ardent support for life in the womb can be unintentionally understood as unconcern for life beyond the womb. Of course, the biblical witness inspires believers everywhere to extend care to those facing unplanned pregnancy, to feed the hungry, to free the oppressed, to stand up against racism, and to “do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (NKJV). Thankfully, the pastor of Towne Church in Middletown, Ohio, crafted a statement that captures this concern. He’s glad to share it with other persons in the pulpit, and the pew.
“We at Towne Church believe in the sanctity of human life. In the Book of Genesis, we learn that God created all things. In particular, he created humanity uniquely in his image. We are different from the animals. Though animals are important and to be cared for, they are not made in God’s image like we are. They cannot have a personal relationship with God, nor are they held accountable to God. Thus, today we celebrate the sanctity of human life, for human life is more important than any other form of life on earth.
“The sanctity of human life means that we are pro-life. We believe that life is sacred. This life begins in the womb. From the moment of conception, there is a child made by God that is to be protected and allowed to develop until he or she is born. Abortion is not the will of God. It terminates life—God-given life.
“The sanctity of human life means that we also care for life after birth. We are to raise our children to serve the Lord, and we are to be willing to adopt or foster children that need a loving, Christian home. We are to follow the repeated command of Scripture: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
“The sanctity of human life means that we stand against all forms of oppression, slavery, abuse, and human trafficking. Life is sacred and people are not to be used as tools or treated as animals. Every life is to be respected and protected from evil.
“The sanctity of human life means that people should be allowed to die with dignity, in God’s time, not our own. Suicide, whether self-chosen or assisted, is not the will of God. Euthanasia is not an act of mercy, but an act of independence that asserts itself against God’s right to decide when we are born and when we die. As Scripture says, ‘There is a time to be born and a time to die.’ That time is in God’s hands.
“We celebrate the sanctity of human life! God is our Creator, God made us in his image, God sent his Son to die for our sins, and God loves each and every one of us. Life is sacred because life comes from God. We were made for a purpose—to live for Christ and to share his life with others. The greatest gift of all is eternal life! It’s free and offered to all. So, we celebrate the sanctity of human life and the free gift of eternal life. Both are given to us by God.”
To view the original proclamation from former President Ronald Reagan, click here. To find plentiful resources for your church, simply search “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” on your browser of choice.
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Pastor Melissa Pratt (center-right) interviews Cydney Fields (left) about the issue of domestic violence.