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Don’t stop preaching the sanctity of life

The life-affirming work of the pastor goes on

Pro-life activist Coleman Boyd reads from the Bible outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday. Associated Press/Photo by Rogelio V. Solis

Don’t stop preaching the sanctity of life
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The moment we never thought would arrive finally did, with a crisp announcement outside the U.S. Supreme Court, a little after 10 a.m. on Friday, June 24. This was the day that generations of pro-life activists—often marching in the cold, in the rain, mocked and derided—had been waiting for. A majority of the justices not only upheld Mississippi’s protections for the unborn in Dobbs v. Jackson but also reversed the 1973 Roe v. Wade and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions. Abortion is no longer seen, by the highest court in the land, as a right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

There has been and will continue to be much legal and political analysis of this historic decision, but where pro-life advocacy has always begun is in the place where the pro-life conscience is first formed: our local churches. In a recent survey of Americans, Lifeway Research and the Land Center for Cultural Engagement found that those who attend church weekly are more likely than others to be pro-life. The same survey found that among those who attend church regularly, a majority report hearing a sermon on the sanctity of life less than once a year.

Pastors, now is not the time to be silent. Today, the question of the human person is at the heart of most of our important national debates, and it is incumbent on us to not be silent where the Bible speaks loudly. Of course, pastors should not turn their services into party rallies, nor should they import talking points from pundits. But in the course of the faithful preaching of the Word of God, a pastor cannot escape the repeated and clear statements about the value and sacredness of human life.

Today, the question of the human person is at the heart of most of our important national debates, and it is incumbent on us to not be silent where the Bible speaks loudly.

In the opening pages of Genesis, Moses narrates the creation of human beings with precise and beautiful language. That language describes God’s sculpting of Adam and Eve from the dust of the ground, breathing into them the breath of life and stamping on them His image. In Psalm 139, King David writes poignantly about the careful and methodical way the Creator creates every new life in the womb. And in the New Testament, the incarnation of the Son of God reminds us that Christianity is not merely a religion about souls but also about bodies. Christ took on human flesh, and in His life, death, and resurrection, He defeated the sin and decay that work against the Imago Dei.

Our preaching must do two things. First, pastors must be faithful to apply timeless theological truths to contemporary issues, even if it makes our parishioners squirm. In those pews, their spiritual consciences can be formed as they go out into the world and use their voice and influence to shape their communities. Second, pastors must not only confront what is evil but also present Jesus as the solution, with fresh reminders that the gospel not only tells us to sin no more but also welcomes us home as sons and daughters of the King.

Thank God, Roe is no more. There will be babies in our cities and towns who will see their first breaths of life because these five justices had the moral courage to do what was right. And yet, we know that the fight for the sanctity of life enters a new phase as we move from state to state to ensure the law recognizes the most vulnerable members of our society. But as the legal battle rages, pastors have a unique opportunity to shape the culture in a lasting way by faithfully preaching what we already know to be true: that every human being has dignity and worth.

There are generations of Christians whose minds have not yet awakened to the importance of standing up for the unborn. So preacher, don’t stop faithfully preaching God’s Word and don’t stop applying it to the moral issues of our day. Roe may be gone, but the pro-life work of the preacher goes on.

Daniel Darling

Daniel Darling is director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His forthcoming book is Agents of Grace. He is also a bestselling author of several other books, including The Original Jesus, The Dignity Revolution, The Characters of Christmas, The Characters of Easter, and A Way With Words and the host of a popular weekly podcast, The Way Home. Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Dayspring Bible College, has studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Angela have four children.

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