Divine Service before the March for Life

January 22, 2014

Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia (LCMS)

Rev. 12:1-17

Click here for audio of the sermon

Alongside beer cans and rotting meat, taking their place in mounds of rubbish, 55 million corpses of babies have been discarded. Many are trashed in bio-hazard bags, as a dangerous thing we must put far from us. Sometimes body parts are sold for experiments and testing. Except for those recovered by noble people digging through garbage heaps, none are given a proper burial.  They’ve been dismembered, suctioned, poisoned, flushed down toilets; some of them, born alive, have been beheaded by a physician who laughs. Looking into America’s abortion culture is looking evil in the face, and it appears evil has won. View the cultural landscape of the shattered family, and it appears the evil one has won.

For forty-one years we march and march and march and the media ignore us.

For forty-one years we march and march and march but the Supreme Court remains deaf to their tiny screams.

For forty-one years we march and march and march and the governor of New York says we are not welcome in his state.

Obama_Planned_Parenthood freerepublic com

For forty-one years we march and march and march and the President says, “God bless Planned Parenthood,” and it seems as though we have lost.

The first stanza of A Mighty Fortress ends with the devil unconquered: “On earth is not his equal,” and it seems as though we have lost.

The heavenly voice seems to agree with this assessment. Michael and the holy angels cast the dragon from heaven, but there is no victory parade here on earth. “Woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath.”

Look at Kermit Gosnell’s bloody freezers, see the severed feet preserved in formaldehyde as tokens, and behold the devil’s great wrath.

Severed feet of babies killed by Gosnell

Severed feet of babies killed by Gosnell

Look at Planned Parenthood’s overflowing coffers dripping with blood money, and behold the devil’s great wrath.

Look at the assault on religious liberty by our government, and behold the devil’s great wrath.

Look at Thrivent, the heir of institutions established to help and benefit people, suspending aid to women in crisis while directly financing abortion and abortion advocacy, and behold the devil’s banners unfurled inside the church.

“Woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath.” But the verse does not end there! “Woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short! That, dear friends, should make you erupt for joy, for his time is short, the termination of his deadly work has already been appointed. When we March for Life, we march not with an uncertain hope that abortion might one day be done away with, but with the confident, certain hope that abortion will come to an end, for the defeat of this dragon has already been secured.

Lutherans at the March for Life. Photo: Christopher Esget

Lutherans at the March for Life. Photo: Christopher Esget

We march to the Supreme Court, but we do not march against the Supreme Court. We march on DC, but we do not march against DC. We march speaking to corrupt and spineless politicians, but we do not march against them. We march demanding justice for Planned Parenthood’s victims, but we do not march against their workers. Some of them, by God’s grace, have crossed the fence and now march with us. Women like former Planned Parenthood clinic manager Abby Johnson—whose book Unplanned you should read—now march with us today.

No, we do not march against people, but we march for life. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)

The darkness of this age hates human life. “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring” (Revelation 12:17 ESV). That’s the world we now live in.

It is a world intoxicated and held in bondage to an alien philosophy. The governing world-view of the abortion culture is inhuman, anti-human, self-loathing. An alien race investigating us would say, “There is no need to make war with them, for they are already at war with themselves.”

Consider this from Peter Singer of Princeton University, one of the most influential ethicists of our day. He says,

“Whatever the future holds, it is likely to prove impossible to restore in full the sanctity-of-life view. The philosophical foundations of this view have been knocked asunder. We can no longer base our ethics on the idea that human beings are a special form of creation made in the image of God, singled out from all other animals, and alone possessing an immortal soul. Our better understanding of our own nature has bridged the gulf that was once thought to lie between ourselves and other species, so why should we believe that the mere fact that a being is a member of the species Homo Sapiens endows its life with some unique, almost infinite value?”

Sounding the same theme, John Gray, Emeritus Professor of the History of European Thought at the London School of Economics, laments that “over the past two hundred years, philosophy ‘has not given up Christianity’s cardinal error — the belief that humans are radically different from other animals.’” [Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (pp. 68-69).]

Do you want to understand not only abortion, but mass killings, suicides, and the millions seeking legal and illegal drugs to numb the pain? Listen to Singer and Gray: human life has no meaning. We have no soul, we have no unique value, we are no different than animals.

This is what drives the abortion culture: there is nothing special about human life, nothing sacred. In fact, human life may just be what is wrong with the world. A baby becomes a disease, a problem, a burden, and the entire human race comes to be seen as a blight upon the earth, which would be better off without us.

But the Christian message trumpets this tremendous good news throughout all creation: “The glory of God is a living man.” Thus writes St. Irenaeus, one of the great pastors of the early church. “The glory of God is a living man,” and despite man’s sin, God’s mercy continued so that the human race would survive and, in Christ, be redeemed. Irenaeus said that the work of God throughout the ages was performed, “lest man, falling away altogether, should cease to exist.” God made man out of love, and if man ceases to exist, God’s love is bereft of its object, God’s great work of creation is brought to ruin. “The glory of God is a living man,” and all that God does in creation and Gospel and sacraments seeks to uphold this glory.

What then is the devil’s aim? Precisely the opposite. “The glory of God is a living man”; the evil one is at war with living men. He seeks to corrupt the soul, holding it captive to the lusts of the flesh. And he seeks to destroy the body, sundering it from the Spirit who gives life.

Abortion is one part of this larger war against the human race. But it is perhaps the most fundamental part, for abortion not only strikes down human beings when they are most tender, most vulnerable, most in need of a mother’s love and a father’s protection – besides this, abortion serves to corrupt the meaning of marriage, the first of God’s institutions, disordering God’s gift of sexuality.

In holy marriage, the bodily union of husband and wife serves both for their delight and for the procreation of new life. If the family can be destroyed, and people taught to seek pleasure apart from responsibility, then children will come to be seen as burdens instead of blessings.

So the Church today must confess anew that “The glory of God is a living man,” and thus a thoroughgoing pro-life theology will not only oppose abortion but absolve and give hope to those women who grieve their abortion. We also absolve and give hope to those in bondage to pornography; we rejoice at the birth of every child, weep with every mother who has miscarried, support struggling pregnant women, extol marriage, open our homes to adoption and foster care. Forget Life Sunday. Make every Sunday Life Sunday, every day a March for Life.


For whether this is our last March or we have to come back 41 more years, we have something greater than an anti-abortion message. We have the good news that the glory of God is in the Living Man, Christ Jesus our Lord, risen from the grave. He has trampled down death by His death, and the devil’s defeat is secure. We march with confident serenity behind the crucified-yet-living One, with the message of His forgiveness and life. +INJ+