by Dr. Phil Stringer
Author of Transformation
Professor L.R. Agnew of the UCLA School of Medicine relates the story of when he posed this question to his students:
“Here is the family history. The father has syphilis. The mother has tuberculosis. They have already had four children. The first one is blind, the second one died. The third child is deaf. The fourth also has tuberculosis. The mother is pregnant with her fifth child. The parents are willing to have an abortion if you decide they should. What do you think? Most of the students decided on abortion. “Congratulations! You have just murdered Beethoven.”
It is a common claim that the Bible does not say anything about abortion. While the word abortion is never used, the Bible teaches many truths that made God’s view of abortion very clear.
The Scriptures are clear that God is the giver of life. In Deuteronomy 32:18, the children of Israel were rebuked for forgetting the God that formed them. Jacob declared unto Rachel that it was God who had refused to use her womb to bring about new life (Genesis 30:2). Later the Scripture says that God remembered her and “opened” her womb. It was the Lord who shut Hannah’s womb and the Lord who opened it. In Samuel 1, David declared that the Lord had given him life in his mother’s womb. In Psalm 127:7, the Psalmist wrote, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
The Scripture also clearly teaches that men receive the gift of life from the action of God. “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” (Job 33:4). This is more than just a natural process.
Human life began when God shaped Adam in His own image and breathed into him the breath of life. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7).
This life is transmitted from generation to generation in an unbroken chain that links Adam and Eve with every child conceived in the mother’s womb. When the father’s sperm and the mother’s ovum unite, another human being is formed. This developing baby, still sheltered in the mother’s womb, is a human life as surely as a fully developed adult.
THE SANCTITY OF LIFE
Being created in the image of God gives life its sanctity—its sacredness. This reflection of the image of God (and the image of the parents) begins when life starts in the womb. To arbitrarily destroy life at any point is to kill that which God has made in His own image.
The Bible is clear that God considers the unborn baby to be a human being. Under the God-given civil law of Old Testament Israel, if men took the life of an unborn baby, they were to pay for that life with their own. Exodus 21:22-25:
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow; he shall surely be punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
The principles are clear. If physical violence causes a pregnant woman to deliver her baby prematurely, the baby was to be examined. If no physical harm was done to the child, the person responsible would pay a financial settlement for the problem he had caused. If physical damage had been done to the baby, the culprit was to pay for the shedding of innocent blood. This passage makes it clear that the life of the unborn baby was equal in importance to the life of the adult. The Bible makes this truth clear in other ways. Isaiah 49:1, “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.”
THE HUMANITY OF THE UNBORN
Webster’s Dictionary defines being human as having human form or attributes. Can anyone suggest that the developing baby does not have human form or attributes? Certainly the body exists in human form. It is not a rock, a vegetable, or an animal. The developing baby in the mother’s womb is a human being with all the potential of any other human being at any stage of development.
It is also clear in the Scriptures that God deals with the baby as an unborn person. Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Galatians 1:15 (speaking about Paul), “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace.”
In Psalm 139:13-16 the Holy Spirit, through David, clearly declares David’s personhood while he was in his mother’s womb and the activity of God in forming his physical body:
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
It is clear that Jeremiah, Paul, and David were “precious” while in the womb. The same is true of John the Baptist. The Scriptures declare that as Mary shared the good news of the coming of the Messiah with her cousin Elisabeth, unborn babe, John, “leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41-44). The Bible also declared that John was filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15).
It is interesting to note that brephos, the Greek word translated baby (referring to an unborn baby in Luke 1), is also used to describe Jesus in the manger (Luke 2:16) and Timothy as a child learning the Scriptures (II Timothy 3:15). The Scripture makes no distinction between an unborn baby, a recently born baby, or an infant in the first learning stages.
ISSUES OF PERSONHOOD
Tragically, men sometimes make the mistake that personhood can be granted or taken away by human government. The Nazi position on the Jews, the United States Supreme Court decision about blacks (the Dred Scott case concerning slavery), and the modern Roe v. Wade case about abortion are three primary examples. Nevertheless, personhood is clearly granted by God and men must recognize it—not presume to determine it.
The importance of the personhood of the baby is clear from the terms people use in reference to pregnancy. When the termination of the life of an unborn baby is planned, the child is referred to as a “fetus” or “embryo.” By contrast, when parents plan to keep the child the unborn baby is “my baby” or “my child.” Did you ever hear anyone say, “I am going to have a little fetus,” or “I am going to remove the little baby”? Our respect for human life may be affected by the circumstances, but our attitude does not determine human life.
In God’s sight, the unborn baby is a jewel in His creation. A 12-week old unborn baby is only about 1-2 inches long, yet every organ of the human body and every attribute of a human being is already in place. How tragic that every 20 seconds in this country we tear babies such as these from the mother’s womb and literally discard them. Every day 4,300 unborn babies are put to death, 25% of all American pregnancies, over one million a year.
The Scriptures are very clear that God condemns the shedding of innocent blood. Exodus 23:7, “and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked, that innocent blood be not shed in thy land.” While God condemns the shedding of innocent blood, he allows the shedding of guilty blood in such cases as murder (Exodus 21:12), rape (Deuteronomy 22:25), and incest (Leviticus 18:6, 29). Every time an abortion takes place the blood of a living human being is shed. What crime has this unborn baby committed that justifies shedding its blood? The answer, clearly, is none. Every abortion sheds innocent blood.
The Scripture makes it clear that believers should do all that is in their power to protest the shedding of innocent blood and to rescue those who are “delivered to death.” Proverbs 24:11-12 says:
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth the soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Abortion on demand is simply the sacrifice of unborn child to the whims of a selfish, irresponsible, and perverted parent. Ezekiel 16:20 declares that we bear our children unto the Lord. Luke 17:2 warns, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
America is already under the judgment of God for violating the sanctity of human life (a principle upon which this nation was founded). As Jack Kemp said:
Every single year, there is the tragic silence of a million newborn cries that will never be developed; Potential we will never see; Books never authored; Inventions never made . . . the right to life is a gift of God, not a gift of the state.
Those who teach that the Bible approves of abortion plainly distort the Bible. Those who teach that the Bible has nothing to say on the subject ignore what is clearly taught.
The Bible is clear in teaching that an unborn baby is a living human being. The Bible does not distinguish between a baby still in the womb, and a newborn baby. The Bible is clear that conception is not solely a natural process, but it is a divine act of God. This is why every act of intercourse does not produce a baby. God treats babies in the womb as persons. Babies in the womb can experience emotions (the example of John the Baptist proves this). The Bible teaches that God is working in our lives both preparing us physically and for life while we are still in the womb. God absolutely prohibits shedding innocent blood, and He hates hands that shed innocent blood. (Proverbs 6:16-17).
Abortion cannot be reconciled with Christianity. The most serious advocates of abortion recognize that they are campaigning against basic Christian teaching. Malcolm Potts wrote in a 1970 issue of California Medicine Magazine:
It will become necessary and acceptable to place relative rather than absolute values on such things as human lives . . . This is quite distinctly at variance with the Judeo-Christian ethic and carries serious philosophical, social, economic, and political implications for Western society and perhaps for world society. The process of eroding the old ethic and substituting the new has already begun. It may be seen most clearly in changing attitudes toward human abortion. In defiance of the long held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal values of every human life, regardless of its stage, condition, or status, abortion is becoming accepted by society as moral, right, and even necessary. It is worth noting that this shift in public attitude has affected the churches, the laws, and the public policy rather than the reverse.
In no area is the Culture War between America’s historic Christian culture and the new paganism seen more clearly than the debate over abortion.