January 2006 –As mainline denominations continue to tilt left on social and moral issues, that liberal leaning is often challenged by conservative groups working to restore the Biblical foundation of the church. In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterians Pro-Life (PPL) is one such conservative group. While not an official arm of the church, PPL is made up of pro-life clergy and laity in the denomination.
Marie Bowen is executive director of PPL. Bowen has a deep love for her church and longs to see the PC(USA) return to a Biblically-based outlook on abortion and other life issues. According to the PPL Web site, historically, the PC(USA) supported the protection of all life but currently advocates for abortion.
“I love [the church’s] traditions of worship and the great hymns of the faith,” Bowen said. “I believe the PC(USA) is one of the great battlegrounds in the war between heaven and hell for the soul of Christ’s Church. Her preservation is a cause worthy of courageous effort all the way to the end.”
In its statement of purpose the PPL says it is committed to “apply the truth of Scripture and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to issues of life and sexuality, and call the church to do that as well.” In line with that purpose, the group has produced Created, Loved and Called, a video series looking at the issues of life from a Christian perspective. The series includes six sessions, each accompanied with written material and ideas for discussing the issues.
“Created, Loved and Called would be a great study for any church to use beginning sometime in January, maybe on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. Churches and pro-life groups across the nation will observe pro-life events in January, many on January 22, the 33rd anniversary of Roe V. Wade, the U. S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
“There are two main benefits of doing this study,” Bowen said. “First, it points to Scripture as the authority for all the questions about life. Secondly, it talks about how God views human life and why we need to protect all human life.” Bowen points out that the series contains no graphic displays or illustrations of abortion, making it more versatile in a family setting.
In addition to Created, Loved and Called, PPL offers a wealth of resources including other curriculum materials, essays, position papers and sermons, all of which give Biblical perspectives on life issues.
At the PPL Web site, one section is titled “Pregnant? We’ll Help!” The section gives information encouraging expectant mothers to choose one of the options for life. But PPL goes a critical step further, offering to help the woman who faces fear, poverty, alienation from family, or broken relationships because of an unplanned pregnancy. PPL will find a church willing to help care for the woman and her unborn baby.
Another noteworthy resource, though not specifically addressing the life issue, is certainly a complementary issue – abstinence. Pure Hearts! Pure Lives! is a program that acquaints churches with curricula that teach the Biblical concept of marriage and sexuality. It emphasizes ways to help youth make responsible decisions regarding abstinence, sexual purity and fidelity in marriage.
One other resource, out of print but still available at PPL in limited quantity, is the book Not My Own by former PPL executive director Terry Scholossberg and Elizabeth Achtemeier.
John Cardinal O’Connor, archbishop of New York, called the book “an excellent Christian presentation of the church’s role in the abortion issue.” Cardinal O’Connor further noted that the authors address the tragedy of abortion outside the political realm, which is one of PPL’s intents. While acknowledging the work of citizen activist groups in the political arena, PPL deliberately confines its work and witness to the church’s role in the issue.
“The purpose of human life is found in a relationship to God,” said Bowen. That principle is reflected in everything PPL does.
• Presbyterians Pro-Life
3942 Middle Road
Allison Park, PA 15101
• American Life League
P. O. Box 1350
Stafford, VA 22555
• Life Decisions International
P. O. Box 75161
Washington, DC 20013-0161
• National Right to Life Committee
512 10 St. NW
Washington, DC 20004