The Pro-Life Cause Nobody Marches For

An old movie plays on a giant television nearby. Strange (and unpleasant) smells fill the air. I try hard not to breathe them in. We’re nestled close, cocooned hand in hand. It’s a position we’ve been in a million times before, yet today it feels more foreign than familiar. In many ways she looks like herself: shiny black hair, striking green eyes, and warm smile. At the same time she is altogether different. It is here in a nursing home filled with dementia patients, including my beloved momma, that my belief that all people are made in the image of God sprouts legs and begins to walk around in the realities of life.

Early in His Word, God gives us a pair of glasses through which we can see every person, 

So God created man
in his own image;
he created him in the image of God;
he created them male and female. (Genesis 1:27) 

This Imago Dei mentality means that every person, in every season, stage, and struggle of life, has profound value because he or she bears the image of God. This is the reason we believe “It’s a child, not a choice.” It’s why we weep bitterly to know that more than a half of a million babies have been aborted in the United States each year since abortion was legalized in this country fifty years ago. And it’s why we celebrated jubilantly when the case was overturned last year. 

If you’d have asked me if I was pro-life at any point in the twenty-five years I’ve been a follower of Jesus I would have answered reflexively, “Of course!” I was. I am. But when the darkness of dementia first began to cast its long shadow over my mom’s mind, there were times I acted in ways that were functionally disconnected from Genesis 1:27.

  • I was frustrated with her for being unable to do simple tasks like find her keys or follow a recipe.
  • I was annoyed by the inconvenience of having to do things for her that she had always done so capably on her own. 
  • I was afraid of what caring for someone with a prolonged and terminal illness would mean for my life. 
  • I was angry—so angry—to live in a world so broken by sin that mothers can forget the names and faces of their own children. 

Ultimately, I had to reckon with what it meant to believe that all people have inherent, God-given worth when everything we give value to is stripped away. It has been a long and painful process, and a sanctifying one—the kind that teaches you to view others who are struggling to understand the size and significance of human dignity through the eyes of tender compassion. 

Rethinking Personhood

As a kid, I thought my mom was famous. Her adoring fans seemed to be waiting everywhere in our little midwestern town. She taught kindergarten for more than twenty years. If you were fortunate enough to be in her class, she was forever celebrated as your favorite teacher of all time. Just the other day a grown man teared up at a basketball game telling me how deeply his year in her classroom nearly four decades ago had impacted him. He’s now a dedicated and beloved teacher himself. If you multiply that story by several hundred, you might start to grasp the impact she had. She was a devoted wife, a fantastic mother, an amazing G.G. (grandmother), and a remarkable friend. She volunteered at church. She loved God’s Word. She served the Lord with gladness. She did all the things we look to as evidence of a God-glorifying life. Until . . . she couldn’t. 

She has lost (or is losing) everything we associate with personhood, including her memories . . . her personality . . . her productivity. One thing remains unshaken—her value. She is just as made in the image of God now as she was when she was in her prime. She cannot do any of the things we consider “fruit.” She cannot “cling to Jesus” like we’ve been taught to do, but I’ve been watching closely and it’s clear: Jesus is clinging to her. 

On this long and arduous journey, I’ve had to reckon with the truth that if I really believe that all people have lasting value given by God, then I must treat my mom with dignity during every phase of this undignified disease. It’s a theology that has tentacles in so many other areas of life. To embrace the Imago Dei means to refuse to parent by shame because my children are each stamped with God’s image. It requires me to resist the urge to manipulate my husband because he’s made in God’s image too. It mandates that I never participate in mudslinging, slander, or harsh talk because the people on the other side of every conversation or screen have immense value to God. It means that my friend caught in addiction never becomes a lost cause. 

To follow Jesus is to be profoundly, unswervingly, unashamedly pro-life since He declared, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).

This weekend we will observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. It is fitting for God’s people to hold high the banner that all people have worth. Still, this goes beyond a single social media post or a prayer offered in Sunday services. The Imago Dei is a cradle to the grave theology, and it requires us to do more than march.We must live it out in real time with the people in our life. 

For my mom and every other person too small, too sick, or too sadly mistaken to understand what it means to bear God’s image, we must continue to live out the truth that people matter—and to fight for them to recognize the brush strokes of God all over their lives. In the words of the True Woman Manifesto, today and every day may we find ways to declare that “human life is precious to God and is to be valued and protected, from the point of conception until rightful death.”

Learn more about the True Woman Manifesto that Erin mentioned above by ordering a copy of A 30-Day Journey through the True Woman Manifesto and the True Woman Manifesto pamphlet today. These biblically-centered, Revive Our Hearts core content resources will give you steps to live out God’s truth every day of your life. 

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager … read more …

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