Right now one of our beloved church couples is winging their way to Taiwan to finally take home their adopted five year old boy; a little one has spent five long years in an orphanage.
They would have adopted in Australia, except the adoption laws are way too restrictive and there are no unwanted babies being put up for adoption because there are no unwanted babies making it to birth. They chose life.
And on this same weekend, another couple who planted our church with us, are fostering their first baby. They’ve just asked on Facebook for our church people to put up encouraging Scriptures as they do it.
This would be mine:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
From the roadside this past year or two it looked like this couple were doing a big renovation to tap into the secular version of the good life, get the right fixtures, upgrade the house.
Turns out all that expanding and painting and tiling was them prepping their home to be a long term foster home. They have three kids of their own under 11. Why? They know that labour in the Lord is not in vain, precisely because 1 Corinthians 15 is about the hope of life in the age to come. They chose life.
Another couple, with a five year old, has just started the foster process. They’ve just built a home too, which again looks like what everyone else is doing, until you realise what all that extra space is for. They too are choosing life.
Meanwhile every month or two a bunch of our people buy heaps of food, and on a Saturday night get together for pizza, music and cooking in someone’s kitchen and make emergency meals for foster parents for a local secular foster agency.
All of these choices were made with a hope fuelled by another life altogether: life in the age to come.
It’s a cheap throwaway line that many pro-life people are pro-life up until the point of childbirth and then anti-life afterwards.
Those who are pro-choice – so goes the claim – are more likely to pick up the case for life between birth and death. And then, when old age kicks in, the pro-life crew picks up the baton again.
It’s a way of saying that pro-lifers are not that pro-life after all.
And it’s not true.
Not in my experience. And not in my experience of church. And not in my experience of my church.
A pro-life culture in church starts with the womb and ends at the grave.
Except even that’s not true.
A pro-life culture in church doesn’t end at the grave. A pro-life culture starts on the other side of the grave and is pulled backwards from there into this side of it.
A pro-life culture in church is fuelled by the fact that there is not only life after death, but as Tom Wright says “life after life after death.” A robust doctrine of resurrection, steeped in God’s plan to renew the whole creation (as opposed to souls floating around like cling film on wispy clouds), fuels pro-life in the here and now from womb to grave.
And the fact is, with the creepy concept creep of foetal termination now extending to questions about what constitutes life after birth (the first three months now being spoken in the same language the last three months in utero, so hey, who’s to say it’s wrong to wrap infanticide up into the abortion issue) there are serious questions being asked of the supposedly pro-life after the womb crowd.
Pre-Christian pagan Rome was anti-life to the back teeth. We’re heading that way again in the post-Christian West, you can bet your bottom dollar.
If the most ardent inner-suburban Wiccan high priestess of free love and post-modern concepts of life and language were transported back in time for a week to pagan Rome she would come back convinced of just how Christian she actually was in her thinking.
We’ve already seen assisted suicides of pre-teens in Europe, all with the warm approval of the medical system there. It’s only a matter of time before, like with fashion and good coffee, the zeitgeist reaches us.
And all of this is borne from the loss of any concept of true life after death, of life in the age to come. Life in the age to come – the hope of it – is pulled backwards into this age and changes everything about what we do.
If your hope is locked into this age then anything that threatens the vision of the good life is fair game for death. Anything. And anyone.
Here’s what the great Stanley Hauerwas said on ABC radio in 2012:
I say in a hundred years, if Christians are known as a strange group of people who don’t kill their children and don’t kill the elderly, we will have done a great thing. I mean, that may not sound like much, but I think it is the ultimate politic. I mean, if we can just be a disciplined enough community, who through the worship of God has discovered that we are ready to be hospitable to new life and life that is suffering, then, as a matter of fact, that is a political alternative that otherwise the world will not have.
A hundred years? Things have moved so fast this past five years he’s about six or seven decades out.
We’re living in a culture of death that has run out of hope. Let’s be that strange group of people who are pro-life from cradle to grave, because life after life after death is our hope.