Pro Life Church
The Orthodox Church was pro life before there was such a term. Long before Roe v Wade, and long before so-called reproductive rights, the Church honored the conception of children as a blessing from God. There are references to conception in the Scriptures and even the daily calendar honors conception as a thing to be celebrated, not destroyed.
At that time, in the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zacharias, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, “Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”Luke 1.5-25
Today is the commemoration of the Conception of Saint John the Baptist. It is one of only three days on the Church Calendar that honors conception. The other two are, the Conception of the Virgin Mary by Anna on December 9, and of course, the Conception of Christ on the Feast of Annunciation on March 25.
The ancient world considered not having children as a curse or punishment for some sin that had been committed. Today, more and more people view conceiving children as the curse. Today being childless is a badge of honor and a sign of freedom. Today millions of unborn children are murdered in the name of so-called reproductive rights, ‘just so’ women are free from the burden of being mothers.
In the Gospel reading appointed for today, we are reminded that Zacharias was punished for not believing the Archangel. He was punished for doubting the promise of God. Instead of being grateful that his wife would finally be blessed with children, he focused on earthly logic. Instead of thanking God for removing his wife reproach, he became a sign of reproach from God.
Being pro life doesn’t mean being anti women. It is the opposite. Women are elevated in the Church. They are among the most courageous witnesses of the Passion of our Lord. Women were the first evangelists of the Good News of the Resurrection. In addition to all these honors, women receive a lofty blessing because they are mothers.
Fortunately for Zacharias, his reproach was removed when he fulfilled the commandment of the Archangel. He ‘found his voice’ and honored God with obedience. His repentance was a sign of his faith to others. The same can be true for us.
It is never too late to turn away from our worldly logic and embrace the blessings of God. As Christians we can still ‘find our voice’ and honor the conception of children as the blessing it is. We don’t have to get in the mud with planned parenthood or others who fight to kill unborn children.
We can remind women, and especially young girls long before it is too late, that marriage and having children is the life God desires. Being mothers and wives is not slavery, it is a blessing. I’m not going to focus on men today, since I am honoring mothers. It should be sufficient to say, I am just as much against men not acting in a Godly way, but I will leave that for another post on another day.