Summary: Being truly pro-life begins with introspeciton of one's heart.
“Law & Order: SPU – So You’re Pro-Life…”
Ex. 20:12; Matt. 5:21-16; Rom. 12:9-21
Identify the murderer in that scene…By the way, there’s more than one – at least if we understand the 6th commandment, “You shall not murder.” These words seem so clear, yet their meaning is so broad. This commandment relates to and provides the foundation for such issues as abortion, the morality of war, the death penalty, eradication of poverty, adequate health care, and so much more. But in all those cases these words do not stand alone – other Scriptures necessarily come into play. And while each of the issues may well be worth its own sermon, that is not my focus this morning. My focus is to hone in on the core meaning that underlies all the concerns that fall under the category of ‘pro-life.’ Certainly Jesus went straight to the core issue and pointed to the most practical, personal meaning: "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” If this is where Jesus began, with personal introspection, so should I.
Let’s look more closely at THE INTERPRETATION OF THE COMMANDMENT. Listen to the key Scriptures: “You shall not murder.” (Ex. 20: 13) “Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Mt. 5:21f.) (Rom. 12:19) “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.” At the very core of the commandment is the ISSUE OF THE SACREDNESS OF HUMAN LIFE. The Heidelberg Catechism, in its interpretation of the commandment, emphasizes this as well. “… I am not to abuse, hate, or injure, or kill my neighbor, wither with thought, or by word or gesture, much less by deed, whether by myself or through another, but to lay aside all desire for revenge; and that I do not harm myself or willfully expose myself to danger. This is why the authorities are armed with the means to prevent murder.”
The reason for this sacredness of human life is that WE ALL ARE CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD. Human life is holy and every person bears God’s image. As Dr. Lew Smedes wrote, “We must see every person as someone who lives each moment in relationship with God. We need to see the religious connection if we want to recognize the essence of human sacredness. The concrete person, beautiful or ugly, productive or idle, smart or stupid, is the one whom God made, whom God loves, whose life is in God’s hands, and for whom his Son died on the cross…he is, with all his gifts and in spite of all his sins, the sacred person among all other valuable living creatures.”
HUMAN LIFE IS THE MOST PRECIOUS AND SACRED THING IN THE WHOLE CREATION. To direct its’ ending or to end it is God’s prerogative alone. Unfortunately sometimes we humans have it all wrong. I shook my head in disbelief and disgust a couple of weeks ago. I read an article about, and saw a picture of, people picketing in Oregon. An Oregon city was having a lot of difficulty with an overpopulation of ducks which were causing quite a mess in numerous areas of the city. So the city euthanized some of the ducks in an effort to control the number of ducks. These people were protesting this action. Now whether or not that is morally right or wrong, the tragedy is that this state, Oregon, where people were protesting the euthanization of some ducks is also the very state that allows for the euthanization of adults through assisted suicide, with little or few protests. Yet human life is the most precious and sacred thing in the whole creation – and it belongs to God.
Thais is why Jesus, and the Catechism, points us, when dealing with the commandment’s interpretation, beyond the act of literal murder. Both point us to OUR ATTITUDES TOWARDS OTHER PEOPLE. The Catechism states we are not to abuse, hate, or injure through thought, word, or gesture, much less by deed and to lay aside all desire for revenge. Hatred manifests itself in many forms. It prompts jealousy, slander, contempt, prejudice, intolerance, ridicule, gossip, and revenge. All of these attitudes and emotions are destructive. As Dr. Gerhard Frost pointed out, they injure and murder the other persons’ hopes, dreams, reputation, ambitions, aspirations, and ideals. They kill self-respect and destroy self-worth. They blow way self-confidence and drive away joy as they leave in their wake a crushing weight of sorrow, a deadening sense of defeat, and a badly broken spirit. Our attitudes murder others.