Do Your Students Grasp the Sanctity of Life?

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We stepped off the curb and were immediately swallowed up by a slow-moving sea of people in Washington, DC. It would be nearly a half mile before we had any elbow room as the massive crowd spread out along the route. We would walk from the Washington Monument to the steps of the Supreme Court.

I’ve never been surrounded by more students in my entire life! For a veteran of youth ministry who has been to youth events numbering in the tens of thousands, I found the March for Life nothing short of breathtaking. Everywhere I turned there were church groups and school groups. The street was filled with hundreds of thousands of people. The vast majority of the crowd was under 30 years old, with most being high school and college students. That was stunning. Though it was 45th year of the event, I’d never really given any thought to attending, even though I knew others who did.

I have considered myself pro-life ever since college when I heard the painful stories of several friends who experienced abortion firsthand. Over the years I noted the passages in scripture that speak of the sanctity of life. (see Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 22:10, Psalm 127:3, Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5, Job 31:15, etc.) However, this issue was rarely addressed in the youth ministries I led. Was that because it is a politically charged issue that could place me in minefields I did not want to tread? Actually, not as many students were wrestling with this issue in previous generations.

But Gen Z is different. Vastly different. Many students I work with now would describe their generation as activists. And most of them actively feel pressure to be pro-choice. The sanctity of life has become a challenging issue where a secular worldview is making serious inroads into Christian students’ lives.

One of the speakers at the event was an incredibly articulate 17-year-old from Students for Life. What struck me in listening to her is that we ought to be building youth groups that are clearly pro-life rather than shy away from what we think is a politically charged issue. In saying that, I am not advocating for youth groups to become political in nature. What I mean is that more than ever, students need for us to be clear on the sanctity of life.

This issue is not only clear in scripture, but it also relates powerfully to the gospel. As Herbie Newell of Lifeline Ministries summarizes, “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman and made in the image of God, to live, suffer, and die so that through His resurrection, He might redeem broken image bearers back to God.” The very nature of the incarnation, that God would enter our world through the womb, shows us the sacredness of the creative process of life. The good news is that Jesus came not only for us to have life, but to have it abundantly (John 10:10). Life is simply not something we can take from another.

While this year’s March is not physically taking place, consider teaching on the sanctity of life. Encourage students to embrace the reality of all people being image bearers of God. Equip them to stand for life and to love as Jesus taught us to love.

As you explore passages like those mentioned above, ask your group questions that will help them see God’s heart for His creation:

What does it mean to be made in God’s image?

What does it tell us that God knew us before we were born and that he formed us in the womb?

What do we learn about our identity when we consider who made us?

Have you ever created something that you felt was your masterpiece? If so, how did you want it to be treated by others?

How do all these passages fit into or reflect the larger story of scripture?

One of the youth pastors in our area begins his youth group meetings with prayers like the one below. May we all be emboldened to so speak the truth of God!

O Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, who came that we might have life more abundantly; we ask You to enlighten the minds and hearts of those blinded to the truth that life begins at conception and that the unborn in the womb are already adorned with Your image and likeness; enable us to guard, cherish, and protect the lives of all those who are unable to care for themselves. For You are the Giver of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with divine and infinite love. Be merciful, O Lord, to those who, through ignorance or willfulness, affront Your divine goodness and providence through the act of abortion. May they, and all of us, come to the light of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father, and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Lord, have mercy. Amen.

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