“How am I supposed to go through with this pregnancy? I can barely pay my rent. My student loans are due, and all my credit cards are maxed out. The father doesn’t want anything to do with the baby, I have no family who will help… How can I bring a baby into this? I can’t give it a good life!”
“The doctors said I’m never going to get out of this bed. I can’t eat good food anymore; the medication barely touches the amount of pain I’m experiencing… I’m all alone, and the doctor said I’ll die in a few months anyway. Why can’t I just make this end and go be with my wife in Heaven?”
What is a pastor to say when his members face these situations? Watching someone going through such an emotional or painful moment in their life can make even the most prepared Christian feel lost for words, and tragically, these moments are happening more and more frequently in our culture.
After Roe v. Wade was overturned, many in the United States rejoiced, thinking that the war on life issues was nearly won and these conversations would soon be a thing of the past. But in fact, counts done by the Society of Family Planning show that the number of abortions done in the U.S. actually increased in the year following the Dobbs decision.
Other life issues are also at stake in North America and around the world. Assisted suicide is becoming increasingly legal. Embryos – God’s smallest children – are frozen indefinitely and often destroyed after in vitro fertilization (IVF). Life issues are a global problem, and that problem is only growing.
To help give international Lutheran churches and pastors the resources they need to deal with these issues, LHF has partnered with Lutherans for Life, another Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS.
Lutherans for Life (LutheransForLife.org) offers a wide variety of printed resources related to life issues, all from a strong, Scriptural viewpoint. One of their publications, Grounded in God’s Word, is a comprehensive collection of essays covering where life begins, contraceptive methods, IVF, abortion (in cases of rape/incest, for those regretting getting an abortion, men who feel they have no control over their partners getting abortions, etc.), stem cell research, miscarriage, stillbirths, disability, population control and more.
“Sanctity of life, especially in an American context, usually gets associated with surprise pregnancy and abortion,” explained Rev. Michael Salemink, executive director of Lutherans for Life. “But there are so many other windows and doorways to get at the meaning of a human being. The central question is, ‘What makes a human life worth it?’ It is a huge question for humankind.
“They’re moral issues,” he added, “but even more than that, they’re huge practical issues of the heart for people. So they open up opportunities for us to talk about the God who has answers not only to these questions, but to the biggest questions of life, and the community that He forms around the needs that human beings have for one another.
Atheism’s impact in Latvia
This approach to such a wide array of life issues made Grounded in God’s Word the perfect answer for a new LHF publication when Juris Ulgis, LHF’s coordinator for Latvian translations, sought a book to help support the pro-life movement in Latvia. As a Baltic nation that was formerly part of the atheist Soviet Union (1940-1991), abortion became commonplace in the Soviet era.
“Under the Soviets, a person was considered more as a production unit, and human life was not particularly valued,” explained Ulgis. “Contraceptive methods that are now available were not accessible during that era, which led to abortion being used as a means of birth control. Statistics show that during the years of Soviet occupation, only one quarter of all [pregnancies resulted in childbirth].”
On the surface, it would appear that abortions have drastically decreased in Latvia – down to just 1 percent of pregnancies ending in an abortion. However, abortive methods have changed since the Soviet Era, and pregnancy-ending measures (including over-the-counter “morning after” pills) are commonly used. Now, “abortions happen very early, unnoticed, and no one knows about them,” Ulgis said.
Other life issues have also reared their head in Latvia. Increasingly, conversations regarding physician-assisted suicide are being had (as they are throughout the EU). Stem cell research is conducted, abortions are performed when the baby is likely to have a disability, and IVF is readily available.
LHF books: God’s message of LIFE!
As Juris and other members of his church considered how to take on these large-scale issues, Grounded in God’s Word (translated into Latvian) emerged as an answer. “I think this book will be useful to Christians who want to gain a deeper understanding of these life issues,” Ulgis said.
“Personally, after my Christian conversion, it was clear to me that abortion is not acceptable, but there were many uncertainties about everything related to it,” he reflected. “Unfortunately, at that time, there were not many materials available, and I had to search for everything myself, often trying to glean information from materials of other denominations. These questions are important not only to women. After all, (at least for now) a man is also needed to conceive a child. Today, this book will be useful for teachers and workers in diaconal ministries to better understand all the nuances that accompany the decision for or against abortion.”
“What’s at the heart of it is…what we believe about human life and its value,” agreed Rev. Salemink. “Human life is precious. It is infinitely precious to God, and represents the highest achievement and purpose of creation.”
It’s a message that people around the world need to hear, as LHF and Lutherans for Life continue to collaborate. “We absolutely look forward to bearing more fruit just like this around the world in the future!” Rev. Salemink concluded.