2019 Sanctity of Human Life Sunday

sanctity of lifeToday in the life of our church in America we are affirming our commitment to the Sanctity of Human Life.   We do this each year on the 3rd Sunday in January as we remember that in our country in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that having an abortion was a guaranteed right for Americans – a ruling that also said that the child still in the womb had no human rights.  Our Orthodox Church has lamented and protested that decision, questioning whether anyone has a right to take the life of an unborn child.

For us as Orthodox Christians, being pro-life should not be limited to mean we vote for pro-life candidates, for I think that just reduces it to a political issue which is used by political parties for their own gains.  The issue for us is a moral issue and we should not let political parties use us for their purposes. If we are to be pro-life we have to support those ideas and policies which support life.  This means it is not sufficient to think about the issue only every November at the election.   Being pro-life does not mean just trying to pass laws that prohibit abortion.  Pro-life means that we lend our lives, our resources, our energy and homes to helping families have healthy children.  Pro-life means we support mothers who choose to bring their babies into being and not only vote for laws that prohibit abortion but also vote for policies that are pro-family and pro-health and pro-children.  We need to support education and health care policies that help even the poorest of families to have access to good schools and health care.  These are moral issues to which we must always tend because we are pro-life.  Give your support to families in need, not just to political candidates or parties.

Performing abortions is an ancient practice.  And while our world has made much progress in proclaiming human rights and defending those who cannot defend themselves, the modern world has not been willing to extend those same rights and protections to the unborn child.

Writing in the 3rd Century, a Christian bishop we know as Methodius proclaimed that every baby conceived is crafted and blessed by God. Every baby conceived comes into existence as the result of the will of God.  Methodius even defended the rights and life of illegitimate children.  He wrote:

“… we have been taught by the divinely inspired Scriptures that all babies, even those from unlawful unions, are entrusted at birth to the keeping of guardian angels.  Whereas if they came into existence contrary to the will and ordinance of that blessed nature of God, how could they be committed to angels to be brought up with great gentleness and indulgence?”

Methodius is defending the sanctity of human life, all life, all babies, even unwanted and illegitimate babies have life because God willed them into being and God appoints a guardian angel for each of them.   If God appoints guardian angels even for illegitimate babies, then we as God’s people should also be willing to act as guardians for these same children.  We should be encouraging families to stay together and to work together to raise their children.   We should be helping them and supporting civil policies which give them support as well.

Bishop Methodius goes on to talk about those parents who decided to terminate the life of their children either by exposure or by abortion:

“And if they are to accuse their own parents, how could they summon them before the judgment seat of Christ with bold confidence and say: ‘Lord, You did not begrudge us this common light; but it was those who exposed us to die, they despised Thy commandment…’”  (The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity, pp 55-56)

Methodius’ stark words are that all these children whose lives were ended abruptly will ask for justice from God.  The babies who died from exposure or abortion will on the Judgment Day remind God that He had brought them into being, but their parents chose to kill them.  The imagery is very close to what we see in Revelation 6:9-11 –

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete…

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Methodius’ image is a terrible one – for these children instead of praying for their parents, remind God what their parents did to them.

We ourselves might think of what St. Paul said in Colossians 3:4-11 –

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. …

What we are to put to death is not the children whom we don’t want, but rather our own sins.  Instead of aborting children we don’t want we should be putting to death our passions and sinful nature.

St. Paul doesn’t even suggest that we put vile and violent sinners to death either, just our own passions.

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We are called to remember that God values life so much that God wants there to be as much of it as is possible.  In the beginning in Genesis 1:27-28 we hear these words:

So God created the human in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth …

The conceiving of children fulfills God’s plan.  But of course we believe that those children are also supposed to be conceived and raised within nurturing families.

Jesus Christ said

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”   (John 10:10)

Life is a precious gift given to us by God so that we might have communion with God and share in God’s own abundant life.

 

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Fetus at 6 months

Psalm 139 tells us that  the unborn child in the mother’s womb is formed and known by God.  Each baby is God’s handiwork even if accidentally conceived or unwantedly conceived.

Throughout the Bible God affirms His love for the poor, the downtrodden, the weak and oppressed.  This is why we lend our voice to support life and to support the parents who are willing to sacrifice for the good of their children.

In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, our God says to us:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Pro-Life Means More than Anti-Abortion

On the Sunday after the Nativity, we continue reading the Nativity narrative, but a portion which is not part of the American spirit of Christmas: Matthew 2:13-23.  This is part of the Nativity story we don’t have in our Christmas cards or carols and prefer to ignore because we like a sentimental winter story rather than one which exposes the reality of the world.  This Gospel brings to the forefront a very worldly reaction to the Gospel: Herod decides to murder babies to protect his own interests. We see in the Gospel lesson why the Fathers often described self-preservation as a sin which leads to much evil.  In this case Herod justifies the murder of babies by his concern for self-preservation.  In the modern world, we justify letting refugee babies die to preserve our comfort and  standard of living.

Christmas for us Christians is not just one day of the year which we can put away with our decorations, or throw out with all the wrapping paper, or take down with the tree.  In the Church we continue to celebrate the Feast for a week which remembering the entire Gospel lesson, including the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.

Christmas is God’s Word to the world.  In the Christmas narrative God sends word via the angels to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.  Persian Magi receive a divine message through the movement of the strangest star they have ever seen.

Christmas is God’s message to us.  It is not merely a human wish for good cheer nor just human hope for the world and for each other.  Christmas is God’s word, God’s plan, God’s hope for the world.

Christmas is God, not just some people, telling us about peace, joy and good will.  The angels proclaim it, not humans.  And certainly when we read the Gospel, and not just some sentimental version of it, we see God’s message of peace and good will brought about a negative reaction in the world.  King Herod is out killing children because of the Gospel.

Christmas is God’s Word coming into the world, it is not fake news, nor does it have a media spin to it.  It was not created by Internet trolls.

In the Epistle (Gal 1:11-12) St Paul points this out clearly:  the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul openly claims the Gospel comes to us by revelation from God.  St. Peter says:

First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.   (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Christmas is God’s message to us, not a human message.  God actively takes part in the world, to be with us and to heal us, to speak to us, to reveal Himself and His will to us.

If Humans were composing Good News about a savior, we would no doubt follow a more Hollywood plan – a superhero with supernatural powers, armed to the hilt with weapons of mass destruction, who wreaks vengeance and death on his enemies.

However, it is God who composed the Gospel, and God’s Gospel is one of humility, God in Christ sacrificing Himself for the good of humanity.  God’s message is one of reconciliation not rage and revenge.  God’s message is one of forgiveness for wrongdoing, not payback time.  Or as we find in Hebrews 1:1-3 –

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high … 

Christmas is God speaking to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, who comes as a baby into the world.  Christmas is a divine message, God speaking to us and to the  world about what God wants us to know about God’s plan.

It is a plan not created by military planners, nor by terrorists, nor by a government, nor by Hollywood, nor by American billionaires.  All of them would create a savior in their image and likeness.

The Orthodox Church today as it has for 2000 years is still preaching this same message.  Our purpose for coming here each Sunday is to listen to the Gospel so that we can share the Good News with others.

On this Sunday after Christmas, we are still celebrating Christmas in the Church, still proclaiming that Christ is born.  We are still celebrating life, though in the Gospel we hear about how in the world King Herod is already issuing a decree that children must die, that he sees some children as unwanted in the world.  This is his response to the Gospel.

For us on the other hand, Christmas is God’s message.  We hear it as a feast of life, of God the giver of life.

Christmas, we Americans often think is for children.  Let us as Christians give Christmas to all children of the world.  Let us be the bearers of life for the world.  Let us lend our support to those children in need, those children who anyone in the world declares to be unwanted and undesirable.  There are many Herods in the world who want to get rid of somebody else’s children.  Men and women who see someone else’s children as a threat to their lifestyle.  We should not be those kinds of people.   We are to be with God, pro-life and giving our full support to those children whom God has called into being.  Christmas is a pro-life message, and as Christians we should be working for the lives of the children of the world, especially those who some have declared as unwanted, just like Herod declared Jesus unwanted, and the children around Bethlehem as undesirable, as threats to his way of life.  We have a responsibility to protect life and to give aid and support to the children that others want to kill.

Christmas is about our salvation, but the Gospel is clear there are evil men and women in the world who are willing to kill even children because they don’t like them.  We on the other hand are those who hear the birth of Christ as Good news, as life-giving news, and we are to be like Joseph protecting the lives of the children that are unwanted and who cannot protect themselves.  We are not only to protect but to nurture the children whom some ruler or nation wants to kill.

May the newborn Christ who lay in a manger for our salvation inspire us to help Him and all such children who are unwanted by the world.  Pro-life cannot be reduce to “anti-abortion”.  Pro-life means giving our support to children in general, but especially to those children victimized by the Herods of the world.  We are to protect all these children, for as our Lord Jesus told us:

 ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’   (Matthew 25:40)

The Sanctity of Human Life (2018)

A number of Church Fathers thought that the main human problem is not that we sin, for if sin had been our main problem, God had already appointed repentance for sin.   The Law of the Old Covenant would have been good enough for dealing with sin.  Humans could repent, perhaps offer the appropriate sacrifice and be done with the problem.  For many Fathers, the real human problem was corruption – death, we had become mortal beings as a result of sin. This was something that repentance could not undo or fix. Repentance itself was not enough to overcome the corruption – the fact that we died as a result of sin.  And they understood that it was not sin that we inherited, for sin was something committed by the will and not by our nature.  Corruption, mortality had entered into human nature and now was passed on from one generation to the next.

2nd Temple

It was that our nature had been corrupted which required salvation.  That humanity had become corrupt, mortal, made God’s own incarnation necessary.  God took on human flesh in order to heal it.  And God took on death in the flesh in order to overcome death/corruption/mortality.  The death of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, meant the defeat of death and the salvation of the human race.

In baptism, we humans die and rise with Christ, thus baptism was our way to participate in the salvation which Christ offered humanity.  We “put on Christ” as St. Paul says – we put on Christ’s resurrected humanity so that we too can defeat death and rise from the dead.

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This is also why we baptize infants. Baptism is not only for the remission of sins. We die with Christ in baptism in order to rise with Christ in the resurrection. Baptism is to overcome death and corruption.   St. John Chrysostom said those who think baptism is just for the remission of sins misunderstand baptism.  As we read in Acts 19:3-6, baptism only for the remission of sins was what John the Forerunner offered, but Jesus offered something more in baptism:

And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.  

The baptism in Christ gives us salvation from corruption, it offers us eternal life.  As Chrysostom notes, Infants have not sinned, they are sinless. We baptize them not because they have sinned but because they are subject to death and corruption. We baptize them so they too can rise to life after death.  Even if they haven’t sinned, they will die, for they have inherited human corruption.

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Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:14-17)

It is our understanding of death, corruption, as being the real enemy of humanity that causes us to oppose abortion. Abortion is inflicting death and corruption on a human being who has not sinned – an innocent, sinless human whom we by abortion condemn to an unrighteous death.

Again, we can think about Chrysostom’s comment in which he says, our warfare doesn’t make the living dead, but makes the dead to live.

A human is a composite being consisting of soul, body and spirit. The body is also part of who I am, or who you are.  The corruption of the body, death, is destroying “me” – you and I.  God brought us from non-existence into being and death wants to return a human to non-existence by destroying the human body.

It is this thinking that leads us to oppose abortion, but also tells us why we should not use our body for sin.  The body is part of who you are. If you sin, you unite yourself, your body to that which is ungodly, to death itself.  We should never do that because our bodies were meant to be temples of the Holy Spirit.

If we Christians over focus on “sin” as being the main or only human problem, we can easily miss why we consider human life to be sacred.  God is at work in us to save us from death and to give us life in abundance.

A Person is Present from the Moment of Conception

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“Needless to say, it is a value that applies to our entire being; for our soul and body belong to our person, which they express and manifest each in their own way.  Thus, since the body is a dimension of the person, it too possesses specific characteristics, a unique character, and likewise a value that is absolute.  This is the basis for the respect we owe to our own body as well as to that of every other person.  It also confers on the body a spiritual dimension and value, which means that it can no longer be seen as a purely physical substance nor be separated from the man or woman whose body it is.  By the same token, the body shares in the spiritual development of the person as a whole.

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In the eyes of the Fathers, then, the body is an integral part of the person, participating in its spiritual value from the moment of conception and beyond its life on earth.  This, together with the fact that the soul and body are inseparable elements of the human composite, is the basis for asserting that it is possible for a person to reacquire– albeit according to another mode of existence–the same body that had been provisionally separated from the soul by death.  It also justifies Christianity’s rejection of abortion, as well as the doctrine of metempsychosis or reincarnation.  Indeed, abortion is considered by the Fathers to be an attack on the life of an actual person since, as seen, they consider the person to be inseparably present from the moment of conception–we humans not being able to exist as such other than as persons.”  (Jean-Claude Larchet, THEOLOGY OF THE BODY, pp 23-24)

The Holy Innocents

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.”  (Matthew 2:16-18)

As we continue the days of Christmas and our celebration of the Nativity of Christ in the Orthodox Church, we encounter the horrible story of King Herod slaying the innocent children because he feared among them might be a king who would take his throne from him.

We remember this in the Church because the Church remains realistic – the world is what it is.  The world is not paradise or heaven, yet God endeavors to break into the world as it is, to reunite us to Him, to reunite all of creation with our Creator.  In the Orthodox Church we encounter these hymns about the slaughter of the Innocent Children.

Today the evil king searches for the hidden treasure;

He kills the blameless innocents.

Rachel weeps for the beloved of her breast

And will not be comforted

Seeing their bitter slaughter and untimely death.

May she behold them playing in the bosom of Abraham,

And be consoled in her lamentations.

The ultimate wish of the hymn is that Rachel will see all of these innocent Jewish children in Abraham’s bosom, numbered among the righteous of God.  The expression of this hymn, which reflects Orthodox theology and dogma, is important.  These children were all Jewish, unbaptized, never having believed in Christ, never having heard the Gospel, never having kept Torah or Orthodox Tradition.  Yet all are saved and given life in heaven.  God’s mercy and salvation extends to the innocent whomever they may be.

The mothers of the Holy Innocents weep.
The mothers of the Holy Innocents weep.

The lawless king searches for the King of the Ages

Who has entered time.

He is not able to discover or destroy Him,

And so harvests a multitude of blameless infants.

Innocents are made martyrs,

Citizens of the King on High,

Whose dominion shall be forever,

And the raging madness of Herod shall be destroyed.

God is merciful even when humans are not.  God accepts the lives of innocents who die, and blesses them, granting them eternal life in heaven.  It is why we Orthodox invoke the memory of the Holy Innocents when we proclaim our pro-life position.  We believe all the victims of abortion are holy innocents, martyrs whom the Lord embraces even if the world did not.

 

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (2016)

Sanctity of LifeToday the Orthodox Church in America recognizes the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  I want to mention a quote from President Obama’s 11 January 2016 State of the Union speech.   It’s not easy to find something from him to quote for this Sunday, but he said something which caught my ears:

So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.

The President called upon us to stand up especially for the weak and vulnerable, and to remember “that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.”  That is exactly the sentiment we who are pro-life and who believe in the sanctity of human life are doing for the babies in their mother’s wombs.  President Obama said we should speak up and vote.  We do that, and we also pray.

Christ  Blessing the Children

 Here is the prayer that the Orthodox Church in America offers for the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  It is a prayer for all, including the unborn babies and also for all politicians, even those who don’t respect the sanctity of human life in the womb.

O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, Who are in the bosom of the Father, True God, source of life and immortality, Light of Light, Who came into the world to enlighten it: You were pleased to be conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary for the salvation of our souls by the power of Your All-Holy Spirit. O Master, Who came that we might have life more abundantly, we ask You to enlighten the minds and hearts of those blinded to the truth that life begins at conception and that the unborn in the womb are already adorned with Your image and likeness; enable us to guard, cherish, and protect the lives of all those who are unable to care for themselves. For You are the Giver of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with divine and infinite love. Be merciful, O Lord, to those who, through ignorance or willfulness, affront Your divine goodness and providence through the evil act of abortion. May they, and all of us, come to the life of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father, and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Rachel Lamenting the Loss of Her Children

Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (2014)

Sanctity of LifeWhile the practice of aborting babies is a continued and  current debate in our country, abortions were practiced in the ancient world and so are not something new or the invention of modern science.  In ancient times, societies not only performed abortions, also allowed the ‘exposing’ of young children – abandoning unwanted babies somewhere in order to let them die.  This form of killing unwanted children was most often practiced against female babies.   At one time it was considered normative to let parents decide whether their children lived or whether they left them to die.    Today we consider such exposure of children to be barbaric and would arrest anyone who did it and they would be charged with murder.  Abortion on the other hand, even when it is barbaric such as when performed against late term babies, is legal and acceptable to many who would otherwise find the murder of babies to be cruel, immoral and evil.

Somewhere around 350AD we find this rule for Christians in our literature:

You shall not slay your child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for “everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.”   (The Apostolic Constitutions, Kindle Loc. 3342-44)

The opposition to society allowing abortions and the exposure of young children was led by the Christians in Roman Society.  Today, as has been our belief and practice for centuries, we Christians remain opposed to such barbaric practices as murdering children because we believe life is sacred, a gift from God.  We encourage our fellow citizens to see the beauty in life and to abandon the practice of abortion and to love the children you conceive.  As we Orthodoxy remember the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, the bishops of our Orthodox Church in America ask us to pray:

O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, Who are in the bosom of the Father, True God, source of life and immortality, Light of Light, Who came into the world to enlighten it: You were pleased to be conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary for the salvation of our souls by the power of Your All-Holy Spirit. O Master, Who came that we might have life more abundantly, we ask You to enlighten the minds and hearts of those blinded to the truth that life begins at conception and that the unborn in the womb are already adorned with Your image and likeness; enable us to guard, cherish, and protect the lives of all those who are unable to care for themselves. For You are the Giver of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with divine and infinite love. Be merciful, O Lord, to those who, through ignorance or willfulness, affront Your divine goodness and providence through the evil act of abortion. May they, and all of us, come to the life of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father, and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

(The Orthodox Church in America Sanctity of Life Prayer)

Mothers weeping for the slaughtered Holy Innocent Children

God Loves us Even in Our Mother’s Womb

Fetus6months“ This is the great mystery of our faith. We do not choose God, God chooses us. From all eternity we are hidden ‘in the shadow of God’s hand’ and ‘engraved in his palm.’ Before any human being touches us, God, ‘forms us in secret’ and ‘textures us’ in the depth of the earth ,and before any human being decides about us, God ‘knits us together in our mother’s womb.’ God loves us before any human person can show love to us. He loves us with a ‘first’ love, an unlimited, unconditional love, wants us to be his beloved children, and tells us to become as loving as himself.”   (Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, pgs. 105-106)

Orthodox Bishops On the Right to Life

The Assembly of Canonical Bishops of North and Central America recently issued a statement on the 40th Anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.   You can read the entire statement at the above link.  I reproduce part of their statement below as it reaffirms a consistent pro-life worldview of the Orthodox churches in  America.

Assembly NA Bishops

On the occasion of this 40th Anniversary of “Roe v. Wade,” we republish the following “Agreed Statement” issued in 1974 by the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation in the United States (composed of representatives from the former SCOBA and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) a statement as timely now as it was then:

An Agreed Statement on Respect for Life

We, the members of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation in the United States, after extensive discussions on the sanctity of marriage, feel compelled to make a statement concerning the inviolability of human life in all its forms.

We recognize that human life is a gift of God entrusted to mankind and so feel the necessity of expressing our shared conviction about its sacred character in concrete and active ways. It is true that the Christian community’s concern has recently seemed to be selective and disproportionate in this regard, e.g., in the anti-abortion campaign. Too often human life has been threatened or even destroyed, especially during times of war, internal strife, and violence, with little or no protestation from the Christian leadership. Unfortunately, the impression has frequently been given that churchmen are more concerned with establishing the legitimacy of war or capital punishment than with the preservation of human life. We know that this has been a scandal for many, both believers and unbelievers.

We feel constrained at this point in history to affirm that the “right to life” implies a right to a decent life and to full human development, not merely to a marginal existence.

We affirm that the furthering of this goal for the unborn, the mentally handicapped, the aging, and the underprivileged is our duty on a global as well as a domestic scale.

We deplore in particular the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision failing to recognize the rights of the unborn–a decision which has led to widespread indiscriminate early abortion.

We affirm our common Christian tradition with regard to the right of the unborn to life.

We acknowledge our responsibility to mediate the love of Christ, especially to the troubled expectant mother, and thus make possible the transmission and nurturing of new life and its fully human development.

We urge our churches and all believers to take a concrete stand on this matter at this time and to exemplify this evangelical imperative in their personal lives and professional decisions.

Theotokos Sanctify of Life

The Lord Protects Infants

The Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (2012)

The LORD preserves the simple;

when I was brought low, he saved me.

(Psalms 116:6)

St. John Chrysostom  in his commentary on the Psalms notes that some in his day believed that in the above verse “the simple”  refers to “ fetuses not yet emerged from the womb.”  (St. John Chrysostom COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS  Vol 2, pp 95-96)  This interpretation was aided by the fact that the version of the Psalms he used was read as

“The Lord protects infants;

I was brought low and he saved me.” 

Chrysostom notes that infants and children do not have the skills necessary to survive in this world and all would parish if not for the care of their parents, and the provision of God who loves them.   Chrysostom notes that it is not enough for us to feed and nourish children, they must be protected from animal predators and problems.  That is when he makes his comment that some think Psalm 116:6 refers to fetuses – children are totally dependent on the protection of their parents and of God for they are totally incapable of protecting themselves from all the harmful forces in the world including the abortionist.

The Lord loves the simple, including the infant and the unborn child.  Like God, we are to preserve the life of those that cannot defend themselves.

To view a most wonderful video about the formation of human life in the womb go to From Conception to Birth.