This year I had the privilege of marching with hundreds of thousands of people on the Capital Mall at the annual March for Life. It was both exciting and sobering. Exciting to see such vibrant, young, diverse champions for the dignity of human life. Sobering because we lament the policies that force us to boldly declare what should be obvious.
I sense a fresh energy in the prolife movement. We eagerly await legislation that enshrines the full dignity of the unborn into law, yet we are coming to grips with the full weight of the Christian concept of the Imago Dei. We march for the unborn, but we are also learning to see the image of God in other marginalized people: the immigrant, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the daily victims of violence.
The prolife movement is increasingly embracing both a micro and a macro view. On the one hand, we work for legal justice for the unborn, the immigrant, the impoverished. We evaluate political candidates based on their consideration of the Imago Dei. I, for one, cannot vote for someone who is willing to dehumanize a people group simply to earn votes.
While we await favorable legislation, we work right now in our communities to see the image of God in the people in front of us.
And yet there is a micro-level application of our prolife principles. While we await favorable legislation, we work right now in our communities to see the image of God in the people in front of us. To see the suffering and the marginalized our eyes have been trained not to see. So we support crisis pregnancy centers that bring the gospel to bear on the precious lives of young mothers and the babies they bear. We are not simply prolife every two years at election time. Like the Hebrew midwives in Egypt, we rescue babies in peril, right in front of us.
We do this by promoting adoption and foster care. Whole towns in the United States are seeing empty foster care lists because people of faith have dared to see the Imago Dei in the parentless children near them. Proximity drives responsibility.
Christians are also seeing the Imago Dei in the poor and impoverished, with a new generation of evangelicals motivated to move into troubled urban cities and work toward racial reconciliation, community renewal, and economic justice. Evangelicals are also increasingly investing in ministry to immigrants, victims of human trafficking, and prisoners.
There is a growing realization that our mere presence in a community is a mandate by God to care about its flourishing, to leverage our resources and influence to be part of his kingdom work. The church, at its best, is a reflection of kingdom life, where the formerly marginalized find rescue in the forgiveness of Christ’s cross and are empowered by the Spirit as God’s new creation, bringing restoration to a broken world.
Every age, until the full consummation of the kingdom, will be beset by brokenness and feature incursions on the Imago Dei.
As I think about the fight for life, I’m struck by the fact that this is a cause every generation of Christ followers must embrace. Every age, until the full consummation of the kingdom, will be beset by brokenness and feature incursions on the Imago Dei.
When Roe v. Wade is overturned (and we pray earnestly for that day), it will not end the prolife movement. Other threats will emerge and require the same Spirit-fueled fortitude I saw at the March for Life. If every human trafficker were brought to justice, there would still be attempts to treat human life as a commodity. If every immigrant were welcomed, if our communities were perfectly integrated, still you’d see attempts to value one ethnic group over another.
This reality is not cause for despair, but a source of hope, for in our mission as followers of Christ we find distant echoes of the kingdom to come. Because the march for life is not just a once a year protest, but a daily way of life. Because the march for life doesn’t end on the steps of the Capital or the Supreme Court, but in that city whose builder and maker is God. When we march for life, we’re marching to Zion.
Image courtesy of Saint Joseph.