Re-imagining Sanctity of Human Life SundayJan 14, 2022
When I was leading a pregnancy organization in Chicago, we would receive multiple requests for church presentations every year on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (SOHLS). It was the only time this would happen during a calendar year and was an excellent opportunity to share our work.
But I dreaded it every year.
Something inside me didn’t want our mission associated with the messaging of SOHLS. I realized that was because most of the literature and messaging centered around the value of one human life - the child. There would be pictures of babies in church bulletins and powerpoints and messaging about how we can protect them. But I saw minimal mention of the woman, how important she is to God, how she faces very real pressures and realities if she continues an unintended pregnancy, or what we could do to meet her needs.
So, I trained our team to expand the SOHLS conversation to include the woman and I was so encouraged by the way people responded. Women and men would come up to me afterwards and share their abortion stories, thanking me for having grace and understanding about their experience. Pastors asked me for follow-up conversations to go deeper into this theology and language to communicate God’s value for both lives. Community members I had never met would approach me and want to get involved in our work.
The Church is ready to hear this expanded message. If your church is going to address Sanctity of Human Life Sunday this year, here are some talking points you can use to give a more accurate picture of God’s heart:
1. Talk about God's equal value for both the woman and the child.
Through His design of pregnancy, God has intertwined a woman and a child in such a way that anything we do to one impacts the other. We can't bypass one to help the other; it will never work. As His people, we need to equally value both the woman and the child. Especially on this Sunday, which has been reserved for talking about the child's life, we expand that conversation to include the woman's life, dignity, and welfare.
2. Keep political words out of your presentation.
Saying pro-life or pro-choice immediately makes people in our congregation think we value one person over the other. Leave out those political descriptors and talk about both people involved in an unintended pregnancy instead.
3. Be honest about how hard it is to talk about this and your desire for grace-filled conversations in your church.
As Christians, we have been very vocal about God's value for the child, but not as vocal as we should have been about his equal value for the woman. We've talked a lot about abortion, but we haven't talked about the genuine pressures women face with an unintended pregnancy and our responsibility as believers to offer grace and support to her. We've focused on changes in the law to the exclusion of changes we need to see in ourselves and in our congregations so we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. As a church, we want to better reflect the grace and love of God we have all received, so we can become a safe place to open up this conversation.
4. Let people know about the resources on prograce.org to have those conversations:
We look forward to hearing the stories of grace this weekend!
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