This past summer, I met a stranger, a fellow brother in Christ. We talked a while, and then he asked if he could pray for me. Before he prayed, the question came… again. This wasn’t the first time.
“Hey, have you ever prayed for healing?”
I was uncomfortable as I heard my response come out of my mouth, because I knew what would follow.
“No, not really.”
I should want to pray for healing, the man effectually responded, since this could not be what God ultimately wants for me: living with a disability. He pressed me; I stumbled through an explanation. Even though his theology was inaccurate, that is not necessarily an inappropriate question. My interaction with him forced me to put my thoughts on his question into words. I’m realizing now that this anecdote is a small, yet important part of a larger narrative: the story of why every life matters. I’ll circle back.
About a month after this exchange, a movie was released entitled ‘Me Before You’, in which a guy named Will is paralyzed from a motorcycle accident, and decides that he would eventually commit assisted suicide. He does not think it is worth going on in life having a disability. A girl named Lou becomes his caretaker, and sets out to create a list of things that Will must do before he dies. Will is a hardened man, but Lou still endeavors to help him accomplish everything on his list. Although Will and Lou predictably fall in love, the movie unfortunately ends with Will following through on his plans to take his own life, because he can no longer bear to live in a wheelchair.
Our culture creates stories like that – this is not the first – because it presumes that certain lives have less value than others. Every single day in America, mothers and fathers are told that their unborn children’s lives are probably not worth living because they would have to live with a disability, so perhaps it would be better if they did not live at all. This is the line of thinking that kills millions of unborn children every year. Abortion is a hot-button topic in Christian circles, but what must be emphasized is that being “pro-life” means taking an active stand for the value of every life, not only unborn lives.
We live in a culture that insinuates to children, or grown men and women, that their lives are lacking because they cannot walk, or they have to use a wheelchair, walker, or cane, or perhaps they have developed at a different pace than those around them – and tells those people they should want to die, or at least long for a completely different life than the one they are living.
Abortion is symptomatic of this culture of death, and there are other symptoms, too. Many people in our nation are afraid right now, because they’ve seen our President-elect disrespect Muslims, blacks, the disabled, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, and women, and they worry that more people will fall in line, as some already have. When you consider our society’s low regard for human life, it becomes clear how these fears arise.
I have Spina Bifida, and I am in a wheelchair. Contrary to what my culture tells me, I do not believe my life is lacking. As a Christian, I believe that every single one of our lives has value, dignity and meaning, because we are all created in the image of God. Church, that is what the Bible says, and it is our responsibility to actively share this truth in a society that does not believe it. Doing so will involve standing up for the dignity of every life, not only unborn lives, and speaking out against the degradation of people who our God has called precious. We have to tell them they matter to us if we would begin to make a difference. This is a call to bravery in the church, because we may even have to stand up to our nation’s leaders in defending the sanctity of every life.
Now, to get back to the original question. The reason I don’t pray for healing from Spina Bifida is the same reason I believe that every life has worth: because I know my God is sovereign and good, and he has never, ever made one single mistake. Because my life, as it is right now, is not lacking. Because I would not trade any of the experiences God has given me, people he’s allowed me to meet, or privileges I have because of having Spina Bifida for any other. Because I am uniquely positioned to glorify God because I have Spina Bifida. He planned it this way.
I share this story because my life is one in a sea of millions of valuable lives that God has created, and believing that life is precious changes everything. So, let me ask you: do you believe that your life is beautiful because of the dignity you have as an image-bearer of the Most High God of the universe? More than that, do you believe that same truth about every life, born and unborn? If so, church, live like you believe it! Stand with the broken, the vulnerable, and the marginalized. In this culture of death, which arbitrarily assigns greater or lesser worth to different human beings, the church must defend the truth that every life has value and is worth living.
That is what it is to be pro-life.