[Editor's Note: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is observed this year on January 20, 2013.]
Don't get me wrong, the call to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ is a joy. Nothing is more thrilling than opening the Word of God to the people of Christ week-by-week. But it provokes my spirit to preach the Sanctity of Human Life (SOHL) emphasis on a Sunday morning.
I don't hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I think it, somehow, unbiblical. No, indeed. The entire canon throbs with God's commitment to the fatherless and to the widows, his wrath at the shedding of innocent blood. I don't hate it because I think it's inappropriate. Just as every Lord's Day should be Easter, with the proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus, and Christmas, with the announcement of the Incarnation, so every Lord's Day should highlight the worth and dignity of human life.
I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I'm reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn't have to say.
>>Mothers shouldn't kill their children.
>>Fathers shouldn't abandon their babies.
>>No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, economic status.
The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.
One SOHL Sunday morning as I opened the Bible to preach, I looked out and caught the eye of my sons. I prayed that their children wouldn't have to hear a sermon against abortion and euthanasia. I prayed that my grandchildren and great-grandchildren would grow up in an age when abortion is, as the Feminists for Life organization put is some years ago, not just illegal but unthinkable. I prayed for my (yet to be conceived but not yet to be conceived of) great-grandchildren that a Sanctity of Human Life Sunday would seem as unnecessary to them as a "Reality of Gravity" Emphasis Sunday.
I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I'm reminded that as I'm preaching there are babies warmly nestled in wombs who won't be there tomorrow. I'm reminded that there are children, maybe even blocks from my pulpit, who'll be slapped, punched, and burned with cigarettes before nightfall. I'm reminded that there are elderly men and women languishing away in loneliness, their lives pronounced to be a waste.
But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday when I think about the fact that I serve a congregation with ex-orphans all around, adopted into loving families. I love to reflect on the men and women who serve every week in pregnancy centers for women in crisis. And I love to see men and women who have aborted babies find their sins forgiven, even this sin, and their consciences cleansed by Christ.
We'll always need Christmas. We'll always need Easter. But I hope, please Lord, someday soon, that Sanctity of Human Life Day is unnecessary.
Russell Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. Dr. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective (Crossway, 2004) and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Crossway, May 2009). Visit his website at RussellMoore.com.