A Gospel-based view of human dignity both contradicts and gives hope to the world, Russell Moore said in the opening address of Evangelicals for Life on Jan. 26.
"We are evangelicals for life," which means "we are a Gospel people," the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) told attendees at the second-annual conference in the country's capital city.
"We're pro-life, and we're pro-newness of life," Moore said. "We're pro-birth, and we're pro-new birth. We're pro-adoption, because we've been adopted. We're pro-racial reconciliation, because we're part of a reconciled body in heaven and in the church. We're pro-woman, because ... half of the Great Commission that was given in Jesus' parting words was given to our sisters."
He told conference participants, "And we embrace the vulnerable, the disabled, the elderly when the rest of the world says, 'You don't matter.' We say, 'You not only matter, you are such a part of our body that what happens to you is what happens to me because we are many members in one body together. That's why we have the freedom to stand and to speak for the unborn and the aged and the refugees and the persecuted and the disabled and ... the mentally ill."
Moore's keynote address came in a Thursday afternoon session that opened the three-day conference co-hosted by the ERLC and Focus on the Family. More than 50 speakers are to address the conference that coincides with the annual March for Life on Jan. 27.
Moore told the audience Christ taught His disciples to have "a different view of power and a different view of freedom" than those outside the church.
"[W]hen we are saying unborn children have dignity, and when we're saying persecuted religious minorities have dignity, and when we're saying orphans and kids who are trapped in the foster care system [and] are passing from home to home have dignity, and when we're saying the elderly who may not even be able to recognize your face have dignity, what we are saying together is that we have a different view than the rest of the world about what it takes to matter," Moore said.
With Mark 10:13-16 as his text, Moore said Jesus angrily refuted His disciples' effort to protect His time by preventing children from being brought to Him. Christians can demonstrate the same tendency these disciples had of giving attention to only the powerful, influential or promising, he told conference participants.
"Jesus does not see the children as a burden," Moore said. "Jesus does not see the children as a distraction from His mission. Jesus sees the children as an integral part of his mission."
Planned Parenthood—the country's No. 1 abortion provider—and the rest of the abortion industry hold different views of power and freedom than followers of Christ, he said.
"The vision of Planned Parenthood makes sense in a godless, Darwinian universe in which the powerful are able to use that power against those that have no power," Moore told attendees.
"The freedom that Jesus calls us to is a very different freedom than the freedom of self-direction," he said. "It is a freedom of glorious submission."
Jesus calls His followers "to a cross-shaped vision" of life, Moore said.
"We are a church of crucified sinners who understand and know that the way of the cross is a hard and difficult way," he said. "[L]oving someone and looking outside of oneself is going to bring with it risk, and it's going to bring with it pain, and it's going to bring with it hurt, and it's going to bring with it worry, and it is worth it."
Evangelical Christians have this message for those who have had abortions and those working in abortion clinics, as well as pornographers and human traffickers, Moore told conference participants:
"We are a group of people who stand before God not because we are more moral than everybody else, not because we are more together than everybody else but simply and completely because we are in Christ. That's the reason we don't view people in terms of their usefulness. That's the reason we don't view people in terms of their power, because we have not been dealt with in that way."
Followers of Jesus "have a witness to bear that brings with it its own power," Moore said. "It's power to pierce through the darkness. It's power to address the conscience. It's power to waken us up to the vulnerable. And it's power to say to those who are burdened down with guilty consciences, 'What can wash away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.'"
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.