Unfortunately, we live in a culture that not only demands the right to murder these sweet gifts of God, it celebrates the murderous practice. The image is seared in my mind of celebration that followed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing into law late-term abortions up to the point of birth. How perverse is that? I never want to see that celebration in Tennessee, and as Tennessee Baptists we not only have an obligation to our Lord to protect unborn children, we have an opportunity to stand and be counted for life.
This week we are launching an initiative of Tennessee Baptists called I Stand for Life. The most immediate aspect of this initiative is a petition that you can sign that speaks loudly and clearly into the public forum to end, or at least make it extremely difficult, for abortion to take place in Tennessee. You can find the petition at: istandforlife.org. A replica of the petition is found on this page.
As you may know, this past spring the Tennessee state legislature debated versions of “heartbeat” bills, similar to what surrounding states have passed over the past year.
However, there was concern over the way those bills were written so they were sent to summer committee for further study. Bills often go to committee and die. We don’t want that to happen, so we want to let this committee — and the full legislature when it reconvenes — know that Tennessee Baptists stand for life and that we want laws in our state that protect the lives of precious unborn babies.
But a petition is not nearly enough. In my opinion, anti-abortion is merely a step toward really being pro-life. As ambassadors of Christ, we must do more than talk. We must do. How?
We must be passionate supporters and encouragers of expectant unwed mothers. Those with unwanted pregnancies must experience the love, grace and support of the local church. That does not mean just putting our money where our heart is. This requires personal involvement.
Help these moms get through this experience. Hug them. Respect them and affirm them for not going the abortion route. Everyone makes decisions they regret.
The church is full of people who need God’s grace and mercy. Extend that grace and mercy so that these moms (and the dads) know they have a place to turn for help.
We must support crisis pregnancy centers across our state. There are a number of faith-based centers doing some great work in serving mothers and fathers considering aborting their children. Your church does not have to be a large church to offer tangible support. These centers need items such as diapers, bottles, baby powder and other items to help new mothers and fathers, especially if they are struggling financially.
A great way to get involved is to simply contact a center, find out what they do and ask how you and your church could get involved.
We must become stronger advocates for adoption. If we are going to advocate for legislation that enables thousands more babies to be born, then we need to advocate for the adoption process to become more streamlined and less of a burden on prospective parents. And Tennessee Baptists must step up and adopt these children. Foster care is helpful but can only do so much. Thousands of saved children need thousands of safe homes where they will grow and hear of the grace of Jesus Christ.
We must become involved in foster care. Tennessee Baptists have a great opportunity to both support the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home and to be supported by the TBCH. How’s that? Did you know that TBCH has a process by which they can help interested parents become certified to foster children? This is a tremendous opportunity. On any given day in Tennessee, 8,500 children are in need of (godly) foster or adoptive parents. I’m thankful for the great work TBCH President Greg McCoy and his team is doing to help Tennessee Baptists in this important opportunity.
Finally, we must become involved in valuing all life. Every person is precious, whether inner city or in the country; the financially successful or those devastated by opioid addiction; eighth generation Tennessean or those arriving from other states or other countries. All life is created by God in His image. It is to be cherished and valued, and we are to do everything we can to protect it from conception to death. Ultimately, we must point people to Jesus with the hope of seeing them saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship.
I have no doubt that if our great network of TBC churches mobilizes and puts action to our conviction, Tennessee Baptists will be at the center of the most comprehensive pro-life initiative North America has ever seen.
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.