[From the 2020 Wenatchee Walk for Life on January 18]
I’m Pastor Timothy Winterstein and it is a joy in the Lord to be pro-life.
But this seems like a bad time to be pro-life.
It’s not a popular label. Because it’s never surprising when a famous celebrity, a popular musician, or a powerful politician says something in favor of the destruction of human life, using euphemisms like “reproductive health,” “women’s health,” “freedom of choice,” or “the right to choose what happens to one’s own body.” Those people will talk as if the position they’re holding is brave, rare, or difficult, when it’s the position that will be applauded loudly by all the “right” people. In fact, the only surprising and brave thing is when a famous person says something in favor of protecting or valuing human life.
But of course it’s not only outside of Christianity where it’s uncool to believe that all life is worth more than our own convenience or success or comfort. Some people act like it’s strange and out of the ordinary to believe that “pro-life” means being consistently pro-life across the board. The caricature of pro-life people only caring about human life inside the womb, but ignoring or devaluing that same life once he or she has been born, is common and popular. Such an accusation is no longer—if it ever was—a helpful check to make sure we are consistent; now it’s simply an easy cliché, without and against all evidence. That’s the way cliches work. They may start as a challenge to another cliché, but then they turn into coercive cliches themselves, attempting to force people to submit to the prevailing winds of popular opinion and be quiet.
At the same time, those who know that human life is a gift of God and each life a person for whom Christ Himself took on flesh have always been convinced that such a gift is never limited to the womb, but extends from conception to natural death. That conviction includes every single person. Yes, we should be sure that what we say we believe extends to what we do, but there has never been a thoroughly pro-life person who believed that only unborn infants were worth the protection of law, and that only infants are worth the loving care of those, like you, who contribute generously to pregnancy resource centers like Real Options.
So when those who claim to be pro-life obscure the issue by downgrading the protection of the unborn in favor of their own political project; when the rich and famous make emotional cases for why the death of their children was necessary in order for them to be where they are; when musicians donate a portion of their ticket sales to Planned Parenthood, without noticing the irony when they sing songs about tearing children from their parents at the border; and when political compromise always seems to come before truly pro-life legislation; it can seem like a bad time to be pro-life. The darkness will always seem greater than the light, threatening to extinguish what appears to be only a tiny flicker of hope.
It is exactly then that we need to be reminded, and to remind ourselves, of what is clear: there is not a single thing that justifies or excuses our active taking of helpless lives—not in the womb, not in the nursing home, and not at any age in between. We are not the source of that life, and we as individuals do not have the authority to destroy it. We cannot allow the clarity of that conviction to be quieted, mitigated, or softened.
Along with the clarity of that conviction we need also the courage to continue trying to stand in a fallen world. We need to be reminded, and to remind ourselves, that our courage never comes because we have numbers, or legislation, or popularity, or celebrity on “our side.” The courage to remain steadfast comes only because we know the One who has forever and finally put an end to destruction and death in His own body, even as He allowed Himself to be subject to death. His resurrection means that no matter how things look, no matter who is on what side, no matter what civil victories or defeats there may be, the Christ who died for those children, those women, and this whole world has His victory forever. He entered into weakness, helplessness, dependence, and suffering precisely to overturn the way we measure strength, power, and goodness.
He is the source of our clarity and our courage in the midst of what looks like weakness and impotence. Where is the wise? Where is the scholar? Where is the celebrity or the politician? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world by the cross? Jesus’ weakness on the cross is exactly the power of God for salvation, for forgiveness, and then for our loving care of those who have no other place to turn for help. God help us to remain clear and courageous as we continue to pursue the protection of every single life of every single age. We walk by faith in the Son of God, and not by sight. Since He cannot die anymore, our trust is in Him, regardless of what we may see around us. God bless you in Christ, and grant you the clarity and courage to continue to do what He has given us to do in this place and at this time.