The Sanctity of Life in Exodus
This Sunday is Sanctity of Life Sunday. That designation falls on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade - the landmark Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized abortion that was given on January 22, 1973. This ruling sealed the fate of millions of unborn children in the US who have been killed without any chance of defending or speaking for themselves.
Abortion on-demand is unquestionably the greatest tragedy, the ugliest blemish, the grossest injustice, and the most unjustifiable evil that plagues American society today. I say that because, while there are many other injustices and evils in America that have oppressed, impoverished, wounded, and even killed many, nothing else in our country even comes close to the horrendous scale of bloodshed and loss of life the abortion industry has produced.
That being said, I do wonder if the name “Sanctity of Life Sunday” is a misnomer. If the day is only about abortion, why don’t we call it “End Abortion Sunday” or “Anti-Abortion Sunday”? Why do we call it “Sanctity of Life Sunday?” And for that matter, why do those of us who oppose abortion call ourselves “Pro-life?” Because we believe that all life and all lives are valuable and worth defending in any way we can. But do we truly live by that principle? What might that look like? I think the Bible gives us a great picture.
In Exodus 1, we read that “there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” (verse 8) He convinced his people to “deal shrewdly” (verse 10) with the Israelites, so that they “set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens.” (verse 11) When the Israelites continued to grow and prosper, the Egyptians “ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves, and made their lives bitter with hard service.” (verses 13-14)
The Pharaoh then commanded two Israelite midwives to kill any male children born to Hebrew mothers, “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” (verse 17) When this scheme did not work, “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.’” (verse 22)
Then in chapter 2 we read the familiar story of the birth of Moses, and his mother hiding him in the bullrushes. And then we get to the shocking climax of the story,
Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”… and he became her son. (Exodus 2:5-6, 10)
There is an escalating pattern of evil actions and good counter-actions in this story. The evil gets progressively worse and worse, culminating in the genocide of infants. But the good also gets progressively better and better, culminating in a radical and unexpected act that sets up the rest of the story of Exodus:
- First, the Israelites are subjected to unjust oppression. But the good response is that they continue to grow - they start more families, and have more children. And God blesses them.
- Second, they are enslaved, and secretive, small-scale attempts to control their population are enacted. But the good response is that the Hebrew midwives refuse to cooperate, and continue to protect the lives of the Israelite children and mothers. And God blesses them.
- Finally, all out genocide is unleashed on all newborn Hebrew boys. And the good response, coming from within the very household of the man who commanded the atrocity, Pharaoh’s daughter has compassion on and adopts a Hebrew boy as her son - a boy God then uses to deliver His people from bondage.
Every single one of the evils in this story is the result of a callous disregard for life. But all of the good things flow out of a wholesome and Godly regard for the sanctity of human life. Yes, believing in the sanctity of life means we oppose abortion, but that also means we encourage and promote the growth of families, we care for and support those who care for expecting mothers and newborns, and it also means we have compassion on and adopt those who have no home or can no longer stay in their home.
Do we see sanctity of life as a whole picture? Do we see all the different sides and pieces of what it really means to be pro-life? Or do we only care about one?
Here are some things we can do to promote the sanctity of human life:
- Love your children with the same great love that God our Father has shown you.
- Continue to oppose and speak out against abortion.
- Take time to listen to those who have been treated unjustly and oppressed, and do not dismiss their stories or their pain.
- Love the big families that are in your church and your neighborhood. Love those who would like to have a big family but haven’t been able to.
- Support crisis pregnancy centers (like Resources for Women) that refuse to participate in the abortion industry, and help them care for the mothers and families they work with.
- Encourage Christians who work in the medical field taking care of pregnant mothers and newborns.
- Find out more about adoption, foster care, fostering to adopt, or foster homes in your community, and prayerfully seek out a way you can be involved in the lives of children who need families.
Let’s continue to fight against the lie that human life has no inherent value. And let’s do more to fight the lie that opposing abortion is the only way to defend the sanctity of human life.