VIENNA, Va. (BP) — The sanctity and dignity of human life call for non-partisan support and a broad approach, speakers said on the final day of the 2019 Evangelicals for Life conference.
Participants at the fourth annual event sponsored by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) heard speakers and panelists Jan. 17 address not only abortion but such topics as adoption, Christian persecution, refugees, immigrants, criminal justice reform and racial reconciliation. The two-day conference was held at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C.
This year’s Evangelicals for Life (EFL) began the evening of Jan. 16 with a message by David Platt, pastor-teacher of the host church, and a concert by Steven Curtis Chapman to benefit the Psalm 139 Project, the ERLC’s ministry to help place ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers across the country.
The conference took place prior to Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (Jan. 20), which the Southern Baptist Convention and many evangelical churches observed, and the 46th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (Jan. 22), which legalized abortion nationwide. Many of those attending EFL took part in the annual March for Life Jan. 18 in Washington.
Speaking on civil rights and the right to life, Karen Ellis asked in the conference’s final address how a soul can “even fight for its own civil rights if they’re never given the human right to exist in the first place?”
“Life is not a progressive issue nor a conservative one,” said Ellis, who lectures and writes on human rights and religious freedom as president of the Makazi Institute. “It belongs neither to Republicans nor Democrats. It is an issue of respect for all of humanity.
“And for the Christian, especially the right to life, it is a biblical issue. And God will testify of Himself that His Word is not owned by any earthly political party or cultural movement,” she said.
“[W]e belittle all of humanity when we forget that the affirmation of life from womb to tomb and every moment of life in between belongs to no political party or cultural movement but rather is a transcendent value that belongs to us all, affects us all and is the responsibility of us all.”
Child advocate Kelly Rosati, a member of the March for Life board of directors, said on a panel that discussed a holistic perspective for pro-lifers, “We are not going to be able to convince the people in the middle who watch us that we are concerned about the dignity of every human life if we don’t apply that all the way across the board.
“I think our success on abortion is inextricably linked” to a comprehensive outlook, she said.
Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist who appeared on the same panel, said including the “human rights of the unborn” with other vulnerable groups is “very appropriate and, I also think, it is probably smart politics as well.” He told the audience “the pro-life movement is in very good shape when you consider the culture that we live in” and the obstacles it faces.
Dan Darling, the ERLC’s vice president for communications, said, “[We need a fully orbed pro-life vision that fights for human dignity wherever it’s compromised. … And the world definitely needs the church to recover the Christian vision of human dignity.”
The idea of human dignity comes from the Bible and is “part of the language of the Christian faith,” said Darling, author of the recently published “The Dignity Revolution.”
“Rejection of the Image Giver always results in injustice against image bearers,” he said. “Without Scripture’s definition for what it means to be human, we will succumb to the temptations of every generation to ignore or even justify injustice.”
Speakers said Gospel proclamation, need-meeting ministries and policy advocacy all play a role in the cause for life.
Ellis — whose parents marched with the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. — told the audience, “We learned in the civil rights movement that legislation is indeed a powerful tool for saving lives, but we also learned that legislation cannot do what the Gospel of Jesus Christ can. Legislation alone cannot change lives.”
Mindy Belz, senior editor of World magazine, said Christians “cannot neglect politics, even if we pursue mercy ministries,” in advocating for the persecuted church overseas.
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Source: Baptist Press