This week, the week before Easter, when Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive, the Governor of North Carolina vetoed a pro-life bill that legislators sent to his desk. A bill, known as the “Born-Alive” bill, would give babies born alive after botched abortions the same rights to life as any other patient under a physician’s care. The timing of this bill and this veto is of particular interest. It all came during Passover Week, or Passion Week, or Holy Week, all depending on your particular branch of the Judeo-Christian beliefs. It is the week leading up to Christ’s death on the cross, and then his resurrection on the first day of the next week. Governor Cooper vetoed the bill on what many Christians celebrate as “Maundy Thursday,” a day marking the beginning of the events culminating on Easter.
The significance is in the meaning of these historic celebrations. Maundy Thursday is a day commemorating the command Jesus gave his disciples as he washed their feet on the evening before his crucifixion. Jesus commanded them to love one another, while demonstrating love by serving them, and then dying for them.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” – John 13:34
Observations from Passion Week:
Maundy Thursday - Christians are commanded to love one another, but notice that Jesus does not leave the definition of “love one another” to each individual’s subjective interpretation. Rather, Jesus qualifies the command with the following phrase, “just as I have loved you….” Without that qualification, one might ask the question of Jesus, “How are we supposed to love each other?” But with the qualification, we know that we are to love each other just as Christ has demonstrated for us. The gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all record demonstrations from Jesus of how his followers are to love one another, but simply focus on the immediate context of the statement; Jesus, the disciples’ master and savior, has just washed their feet. It is an act of humility and service by Jesus to teach the disciples to be humble and to serve one another. “Love one another” can be obeyed in a vast multitude of ways, simply by learning from the many examples Christ set forth, but for our purposes today, at the very least, it suffices to say that Christ has taught his followers to love one another by serving one another.
Good Friday is celebrated as good because of the death that Christ died, and the atonement it accomplished. Just as the death angel passed over the Israelite homes in Egypt that had applied an innocent lamb’s blood to its doorpost (see Exodus 12), so the death angel passes over the souls of those who have the blood of Christ applied to their hearts. Sin is only atoned for with death, and the only two options are the sinner’s death or a substitute’s death. The Israelite’s used the lamb as a substitute. The Lord struck down the firstborn every household in Egypt that night, and unless an adequate substitute had been provided, the Israelite homes would have suffered the exact same judgment. Thus, it is death that causes life. In the Exodus, the argument might be made that death preserves life, but when reading the remainder of the book and seeing the new life given the Israelites as a result of this tenth plague, it is clearly arguable that death causes life. Thus, Good Friday is good because Jesus’s death causes new life for those who trust in him. He is the perfect substitute, and because he dies, sinners can live a new life freed from the deathly grip of sin.
On Easter Sunday Christians will gather and celebrate the victory that Christ has over death, our age-old enemy. For three days, the enemy celebrated, and Jesus’ followers’ grieved, but then on the first day of the week, Jesus rose and we can now celebrate death’s defeat.
What does all this have to do with a pro-life bill? I believe it has everything to do with it. Think about Maundy Thursday again. Love one another by serving one another. What better way can Christians do this but than to serve our newborn neighbors struggling for another breathe of life after a failed abortion? Or Good Friday – Jesus died that so that others might live! The application is obvious. Jesus died because he believed in life, and wanted others to live! Or Easter Sunday – Jesus defeated death to live forever! It is a simple concept, but Jesus died because he believed in life. Jesus died because he is pro-life!
Here is where things get tricky for professing believers in North Carolina. The legislators did their part, but the bill did not come across my desk or your desk for approval. Rather, it landed on Governor Roy Cooper’s desk, and he vetoed the bill. Frankly, it seems as though there isn’t much that you or I can do about that. My objective in this article is not to be divisive and it is not delve into political arguments. I realize there are political actions that can be taken at the voting booths and such, and as citizens of this free land, I encourage you to do your civic duty; but there is so much more that you can do if you are truly pro-life.
Jesus died so that others can live. That is the best way that you too can be pro-life. Die so that others might live. Now, I am not advocating for a physical death, but I want you to hear the words of Jesus:
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” - Matthew 10:38
“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” – Mark 8:34
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23
“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:27
Jesus teaches that to follow him is to deny your own self, even to the point of carrying the cross that you will die upon. Deny your own wants and desires, deny your own ambitions and goals, all to obey the commands of Christ and to bring glory to the Father above.
Again, you are probably trying to see the connection to being pro-life. Let me be clear: I believe that being pro-life is far more than a vote or far more than protesting an abortion clinic. Rather, it is denying your self to promote human life.
For my family, it means giving a home and hope to children in need. We have 6 children but only 4 of them are biological. Over the past 4 years we have given a home to nine different children that my wife did not give birth to. Many folks think we are crazy and that we are applying too much stress to our family. They think it is a good thing that we are doing, but just think that we should put our family, meaning myself and my wife and our biological children, first. Don’t miss the point. Jesus taught the exact opposite of this idea! Jesus taught the exact opposite of putting ourselves first. Don’t put you first, but deny you. There is so much that our family will miss out on because of our choice to be pro-life and provide a life of hope to children in need. Oh the places we will [not] go! We are now a 2-room family at any hotel or on any vacation. We now need to consider trading our mini-van for a maxi-van. Chick-fil-a is easily a $40 visit. I remember when my wife and I could have a really nice date night on $40. Please understand that I am not attempting to create pity for our family, nor am I trying to be “holier than thou,” but I am simply trying to prove the point that your perceived craziness of our family is actually our intentional effort to follow Jesus. We have chosen to deny ourselves, even our preferred lifestyles, to follow Christ. There are far more professing believers in our county than there are children in the foster care system. I wish the county didn’t need to use my home so much. Our county has 62 Southern Baptist Churches, plus numerous churches of other denominations. Most Christian families have an extra bedroom, a guest bedroom, or are empty nesting with a couple of spare bedrooms, but denying their preferred lifestyle just isn’t an option on their table.
I can think of no more appropriate time for me to make this argument, than during Holy Week, when our governor vetoes a bill protecting human life. There are so many ways that you too can be pro-life. You can protest. You can vote. You can adopt (a child, not an animal). You can foster. You can provide respite for foster families. You can provide funding for foster and adoptive families. You can provide supplies. You can counsel, encourage, and support young single mothers. You can counsel, encourage, and support young teenage girls discovered to be pregnant. You might be the only encouraging and supportive voice in their life! You can volunteer at local children’s homes. You can provide date nights for foster parents and adoptive parents. You can send an encouraging text message. You can probably volunteer to hold and rock newborn babies at your local NICU. You can volunteer to be a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem). And the list goes on, but please, whatever you do, as you celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus, and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter weekend, consider the truth that Jesus died because he is pro-life. And as a follower of Jesus, you should follow him in this. Prayerfully consider how you might deny your self to actually be pro-life, to love one another and serve one another.
Going Even Deeper:
There has been much talk lately about Abby Johnson and the movie surrounding her life, Unplanned. A former employee in an abortion clinic turned pro-life, Abby now helps bring other employees out of abortion clinics. This is one of her many ways of being pro-life. Read her story. Listen to her story. Watch her story.