Pastoral Letter to My Church
June 26, 2022
We stand at an interesting place in the history of our country. We’ve seen major shifts before and if the Lord tarries, we will see them again. Because of the decision of the Supreme Court that was announced last Friday, one of the most divisive issues of the last 50 years has been moved from settled law to the place of local debate. We can expect the temperature of disagreement and division to increase.
Let me just say, I know people on all sides of these issues. I know Christians who are exuberant over the end of Roe. I know Christians who are pro-life who believe this is not the way to settle this issue politically, or spiritually. I know those who are pro-choice for a variety of reasons and obviously they are angry and upset. I’ve read some who are pro-choice who believe Roe was bad law and should have been changed.
I’m not convinced there is one politically effective way to handle the situation. We may agree on the principles of life, but disagree on how to live them out in a secular, pluralistic society. And so, I won’t delve into the politics of it.
But as a shepherd of our church, I believe it’s fitting to make a few comments about the topic, both theologically and pastorally.
First, there is a theological foundation of the pro-life position that even many adherents may not understand.
God is creator.
As the Creator of all things, all people and all things belong to him. (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 24:1)2.
God is the giver of life.
As the source of life, he is involved in its beginning, its sustenance and its destiny. (Psalm 139:13-14; Acts 17:24-28)
All human life is made in God’s image.
Personhood is a political category upon which we determine rights. Rather than rights, the Scriptures reveal life as a gift and human life, a special gift that is made to walk with God and reflect God in the world (Genesis 1:26-27)
The destruction of human life diminishes God’s image in the world.
Whenever we take a human life we repeat Cain’s sin. We kill our brothers and sisters. We kill the one over whom we are to watch and care. (Genesis 4)
No human is beyond redemption.
Because of Christ and his perfect fulfillment of God’s plan, every human can be restored by God’s love and can live out his desire and design for them. (John 3:16-17, 1 Timothy 2:4)
This theology teaches us to care about and care for human life in the womb. It also teaches us to care for all life. Human life is sacred and any diminishment of human life diminishes the image of God in the world.
In this season we must address this pastorally. How will we shepherd people toward Christ, his rule and reign, his grace and truth, and his salvation?
We must live in ways that are consistent with our theology and the gospel we proclaim.
We must act with care and compassion.
We must care for the woman who’s had an abortion, whether she is inside or outside of the church. She has faced pressures from parents, boyfriends and husbands. She has often been a victim of abuse and violence, physical and emotional. She has faced economic stresses that have driven her toward hopelessness.
We must care for men who have had children aborted without a say. And we must care for men who have been discipled by our culture, to walk away from the accountability and responsibility.
We must pray for the human heart that has been broken to the degree that it believes the answer to any problem is to devalue and destroy the unique creation that is human life.
We must boldly proclaim God’s redeeming love.
Christ came to redeem us out of slavery to sin and death and put us on the path to life. He died and rose again, giving the world a hope for the future. His forgiveness is available and complete. We don’t share the message of life with a spirit of condemnation, but rather with hope and love.
We must enlarge our pro-life position to include all of life.
We must care about the women and children who are struggling. We must care and act for children who are born unwanted and live life abused by destructive families and dysfunctional foster care and adoption systems. We must act to free women and children who are being trafficked in our country and around the world. We need to extend our care to the elderly who are often overlooked and isolated. We must be a people, like Christians in other times and places, who are passionate about matters of justice that keep people from having a life that affirms and develops their inherent worth.
We must watch our language and attitudes.
We must always speak the truth in love. While others may not agree with our principles, they must never question our love. And no matter the real or perceived attacks and insults, we must love, forgive and offer grace.
Any thankfulness and celebration in the church over the decision to end Roe should be tempered by a humble realization that the work of valuing life is bigger than we’ve imagined. And it will cost us more than we thought.
As we pray for our nation, we need to pray for the church to live out the life and love of Christ’s kingdom. God’s kingdom will not come with human means of swords, nor political power. It comes through God’s Spirit who fills the proclamation of the gospel and the witness of his people as they live Kingdom lives.
Rev. Dr. James Renke
READ a poem that expresses the heart of the matter, “The Greatest Sin is Innocence”