Yield. Pause. Give the right of way. The yield sign makes us pause and look to see who might be in our path. When we yield, we put the rights of others before our own, in order to avoid a collision—in order to avoid injury to others and to ourselves.

Traditionally held near the anniversary of Roe v Wade, churches across America will pause on Sunday, January 22, and remember the many lives lost through abortion and euthanasia. This particular Sunday is known as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

As we approach this special day, I raise the question—is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday just about the lives of the unborn and the elderly? Or is there more? And when we discuss abortion and euthanasia are we pausing to consider our audience? Are we yielding to others? Are we considering those who disagree with us and their reasons for their disagreement?

As Sanctity of Human Life Sunday approaches I wonder if we have considered those who value life, yet remain pro-choice and pro-euthanasia.

Shouldn’t the recognition of the sacredness of life include the life of the young girl snatched from her suburban bus stop and sold into the sex trade?

What about the little boy bounced around from one foster family to another with only a garbage bag full of his belongings?

Should we consider the homeless woman living in a tent behind a department store who earns money by standing at the nearest street corner begging for donations?

Does the sanctity of human life also include the college student who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand and chooses to take RU486 to terminate her pregnancy?

Perhaps we should also consider the sacredness of the life of the person we disagree with? Do our words and actions toward them reflect the value we place on every life?

When we neglect our neighbors—their well-being, their hearts, their emotions, and their safety—we diminish our impact in our community. Our proclamation that life is sacred is reduced to a mere whisper.  Being a champion of life also includes how we distribute grace to every person, even when they disagree with our stance on a subject like abortion.

Recently Reni Bumpas, a consultant for Sparrow Solutions Group, posted these questions on her Facebook page:

If you consider yourself pro-choice, I understand and appreciate that you may not feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings publicly for fear of being slammed by those who disagree.

Our desire is to help those who are pro-life better understand your perspective. So, if you could help us, we would be grateful. If you prefer to send me a private message, I’m happy to protect your privacy, if you want.

1. Are you aware that many people recognize the third Sunday in January as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday?

2: How does it strike you that there is this day? What is your knee-jerk impression of knowing that a day such as this exists? (Please do not Google to find out what it is if you’re not familiar with it. We’re most interested in knowing what your impression is without knowing more than what you do already.)

3: Any other feedback about Sanctity of Human Life Sunday?

She received the following remarks:

Friend: Reni, I will preface my remarks by stating that I did not know about the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in January. Knee-jerk reaction is the Sanctity of Human Life Movement is an ultra-conservative right-wing political/religious movement which uses its dictatorial, judgmental, shaming, and loveless interpretations of God’s Word to justify to women how they should go about making what, in most cases, are difficult personal decisions. If there is real belief in the sanctity of human life, then every person, man or woman, who is against choice needs to step up and care for, raise, love, educate, and provide for the children of women who find themselves forced to bear children which may not always be by choice (rape, incest, severe birth defects)…Why are pro-life supporters not out protesting against true violators of the sanctity of life who use guns to kill more children than do abortions?

Reni: Thank you, so so much, for your thoughtful response. I am truly grateful to hear from you…Would there be any thing [a pastor] could say about the Sanctity of Human Life that would make it not seem so judgmental or polarizing? Or what would you want to hear him say?

Friend: This is difficult for me, because I don’t like to hear men pontificating on what women should or should not do regarding reproductive issues. I think the term Sanctity of Life is just code for anti-abortion politics…However, I would be receptive to hearing WOMEN, not men, in a secular environment who are on differing sides of the issues tell their personal stories and how and why they came to their respective decisions.

She also received this response:

I am pro-choice (not pro-abortion) and I was not aware of that day. It sounds beautiful. I, too, believe life in the sanctity of life inside and outside the womb. I just do not believe in forcing my views on others. I also have never experienced hardship like some of the pregnant mothers that have to make the unbearable choice and will not judge them for their choice (except those that use it as a form of birth control, which is the minority). I still have not googled this day, but I have assumed the best by it being a day to celebrate life at all stages and without judgment.

As a pastor’s wife, I find myself surrounded by mostly those who share my beliefs. Connie Ambrecht recently reminded me that my daily routine positions me to spend much of my time with the disciples, but maybe not as much time with the woman at the well. For all of us, it takes intentionality to go and search out those who are not in our tribe and to take the time to hear their thoughts on these crucial issues.

If we want to make a difference—if we want others to hear us—we must yield to others in our conversations. We must converse without using inflated language meant to shock and harm—always giving deference to those who are grieving—those who need to find hope and help—those who don’t even realize the root cause of their hurt—those who vehemently disagree with our stance on abortion and euthanasia.

Most people agree that human life is worth saving. We see people contend for life when destruction strikes, when orphans need fresh water, or when the young girl is rescued from slavery. We find commonality with those who disagree with us on the delicate issues of abortion and euthanasia by finding the common ground of what breaks our hearts. However, when we claim passion about these issues, we need to be careful. We, who are pro-life, preach that abortion and euthanasia are wrong, and yet, we still see orphanages filled, foster children turned out on the street, and homeless people living on the streets. They see the disconnect. They see the hypocrisy.  If we truly believed in the sanctity of life, we would act. We would give. We would love…all life.

As we approach this Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, let’s yield to others “in humility count(ing) others more significant than (our)selves,” (Phil. 2:3). It’s not my job to change a person’s stance on any topic, but I should look for opportunities to share my perspective. As one who follows Jesus, it is my obligation to share the truth he has laid on my heart. It isn’t my responsibility to change hearts or minds. My job is simple obedience to Jesus and gracious compassion towards others. It is in our yielding to others that we are most like Jesus. Let’s be like Him.


Kim Griggs
Sparrow Solutions Group


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