ATLANTA (BP) – In December of 2010, my wife Paige and I learned that we were having a baby and I was so excited! We told our families, and it being around Christmastime, Paige’s mom even bought a small toy as a Christmas present for our new child. Now, there is a general rule that you aren’t supposed to widely reveal a pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, but I couldn’t help myself, and so at the end of the last worship service of the year in 2010, I broke the good news to our whole congregation; we were going to be welcoming a child into the world and we were so happy.
A few weeks after that announcement (about eight or nine weeks into the pregnancy), Paige and I went to an ultrasound appointment where we learned we had lost the baby. The baby was no more than a few weeks old at that point, and we were saddened and shocked, but there was so much support from our community and so many people shared stories of miscarriages with us that we quickly moved on and got back to the regular rhythm of our lives. A few months later, we were able to get pregnant with my daughter who is now 10 years old, and it felt very much like that first pregnancy was in the distant past.
One day, years later, I was in our attic looking for something in a box when I came across that little toy that Paige’s mother had given us back in December of 2010. As soon as I saw it, I broke down crying and stayed in the attic weeping over this unborn child for almost an hour. I was kind of surprised at my reaction. Why was I so sad? Why had this hit me so hard? As I have reflected on this, I came to realize that I was finally mourning the real loss of a life. A real person that would have been growing up and running around was gone.
I think about this when I think about the abortion debate that has raged in our country now for more than 50 years. While Christians should care deeply about the healthcare of women, this is not really a debate of health care. It’s a debate about the natural conception of human life and whether we are committed as a society to protecting that life or destroying it. Many proponents of abortion in America have tried to talk about unborn human beings as “fetal tissue,” but both science and human experience tell us that we are talking about a human being, a person – a life. And it’s these people that are truly the most vulnerable among us.
The more I have gotten to know the ministry of Jesus, the more I have become acutely aware of his focus on the poor, the oppressed, the needy and the children. The heart of Jesus is toward the vulnerable, and the more we care for the vulnerable, the more we are like Christ. When Christians identify with those who are weak, when we humble ourselves toward the person that can’t really do anything for us in return, we are like Jesus who humbled himself for sinful people like us even to the point of death on a cross.
It appears that this week our country took a great step forward in defending the most vulnerable among us, the children that are still in their mother’s womb. While the Dobbs decision won’t stop all or even most abortions in the United States, it will give Christians an important tool as we work to protect and care for the most precious and needy lives among us. Christians have not only been committed to this because of the example of Christ, but also because of the Imago Dei, the image of God in every human life. Because of this, it brings honor to God when we treat every human with dignity and honor.
It looks as if the Dobbs decision will be a great step forward in defending the dignity of human life and caring for the most vulnerable among us, but the work for Christians has just begun. Practically, this means that Christians must be even more committed to adoption, foster care and alleviating poverty. Christians must be committed to creating stable housing solutions, providing pathways for education and jobs training, and we must be committed to providing better healthcare to all. Now, there are a lot of pathways to achieve these goals, from Christian nonprofit work, to church engagement, to supporting government programs. Being “pro-life” is a commitment to all of life, to honor and give dignity to every life from conception even through death. As a Christian pastor, I am hopeful that this will be a defining moment for the Christian church. I am prayerful that this will show honor to the image of God in every human life, and that we will look out for the most vulnerable among us in the way of Christ.
Jason Dees is pastor of Christ Covenant in Atlanta. This article appeared in The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.