A friend of mine, a family physician, recently wrote this to me: “Nowhere in the Bible do I find any definition of when life begins; in fact, I can’t find a single reference to abortion.” So, he implies, “. . . how can Bible-believing Christians be against abortion?” It’s a great question! Here’s my response to him.
My position is that the Bible clearly teaches that life begins at (or, perhaps, before) conception and that abortion. Therefore, abortion, as a form of murder (the willful taking of innocent human life), is wrong. This teaching comes across in many ways, in many places, and for many reasons in the Bible.
Some people point out, as my friend does, that the word “abortion” is not in the Bible. And, that is true. However, this is the case with many teachings. The word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, but the teaching about the Trinity is there.
And, in any case, a person who wants to deny the teaching about abortion could and would, I believe, deny it even if the word were there.Anyway, here are just some of the Bible verses that convince me that abortion is the murder of innocent human life.
The Bible is undeniably clear when Moses tells humankind that one of God’s commandments is, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13, commandment number 6)
This command clearly prohibits the killing of innocent human life. (As an aside, I believe the Bible demonstrates a differentiation between “killing” [i.e., in “just war” or “self defense”] and “murder” [the taking of an innocent life].)
But, you might ask, “Does the Bible consider unborn children as human beings?”
From my perspective, here’s some of the Biblical evidence that would answer that question in the affirmative:
“If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life.” (New International Version, NIV)
The English Standard Version (ESV) reads “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out…” (emphasis added)This Scripture teaches that if a woman was struck while two men were fighting and consequently gave birth prematurely but with no harm to the baby, a fine was levied.
If, however, there was a miscarriage (the caused death of the unborn child), then the law of retaliation applied.
The ESV translators used the word “children” to describe the unborn. Children are human beings and were protected by God’s law.
“Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews?: You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” (NIV)
God made Job in his mother’s womb. Job is a person, not a thing. God’s care of Job as an embryo, a human being, is in view here. Job is reminding God of His special creative care of him in the womb as special reason to end his present suffering, which Job viewed as from God.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (NIV)
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary tells us concerning this Scripture, “The Lord has formed the individual as a spiritual (‘you created my inmost being [kidneys],’ v. 13) and a physical being (‘you knit me together’).”
They go on to say, “The phrase ‘inmost being’ is literally ‘kidneys.’ Hebrew scholars tell us that this word, when used figuratively, refers to the ‘innermost aspects of personality.’ (see Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol. 1, p. 440) God created aspects of David’s personality, not at birth but before it. David was a person before he was born in the eyes of God. All children are persons in the eyes of God before birth.”
“The babies jostled each other within her . . . When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.” (NIV)
The English Standard Version translation reads, “The children struggled together within her . . .” (emphasis added).
From The Bible’s perspective Rebekah had babies or children within her. She had twin boys in her womb. Before they were born, Jacob and Esau were considered children in the eyes of God.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .”(NIV)
In this amazing revelation God is encouraging Jeremiah in preparation for his assigned ministry.
From God’s perspective, He knew Jeremiah the person before He formed him in his mother’s womb.
God did not know some “thing” or object but the person Jeremiah, even before his formation in the womb.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb . . . As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy . . . This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger . . . So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (NIV)
I believe the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to use the same Greek word (brephos) to refer to both an unborn and newborn child. In the mind of the Lord both the unborn and the born were children, not tissue. (In another verse, the same word [brephos] is used for the child before and after birth and that is Luke 18:15.)
Just as the newborn baby Jesus was a person, so was the unborn John the Baptist.
Also, there is the issue of conception. The Bible teaches that the child in the womb is truly a human child, who even has a relationship with the Lord. The phrase “conceived and bore” is used repeatedly (see Genesis 4:1,17) and the individual has the same identity before as after birth.
In multiple verses in the Bible it refers to the “product of conception” (my words) as being a child. In the case of Samson, Job, and Jesus, the Bible says that their mothers each conceived and gave birth to a son. They concieved a son. They gave birth to a son. From conception, their was a child, as son. (see Judges 13:3,5,7, Ruth 4:13, Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:31)
King David wrote, “In sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:7). In other words, David is saying that it was David who was conceived.
He did not become David at some point after conception.
In the Bible (and, obstensively, God’s view), a baby is a baby whether born or preborn.
The Bible tells me that God has an extremely high view of children — both the born and the unborn:
“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them . . . (Psalm 127:3-5, NIV)
The Bible teaches that God has an extrememly high view of human life – that human life is different from other types of life, because human beings are made in the very image of God.
The accounts of the creation of man and woman in Genesis (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:4-25) tell us this: “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).
The word “create” is used three times here, emphasizing a special crowning moment in the whole process of God’s making the world and everything in it. The man and woman are given “dominion” over everything else in the visible world.
Not even the original sin takes away the image of God in human beings.
James refers to this image and says that because of it we should not even speak ill of one another. “With [the tongue] we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the image of God . . . This ought not be so, brothers” (James 3:9-10).
The image of God! This is what it means to be human!
We are not just a bunch of cells randomly thrown together by some impersonal forces. Rather, we really reflect an eternal God who knew us from before we were made, and purposely called us into being.
At the heart of the abortion tragedy is the question raised in the Psalms: “Lord, what is man that you care for him, mortal man that you keep him in mind? . . . With glory and honor you crowned him, giving him power over the works of your hands” (Psalm 8:5-7).
This is the key. Not only did God make us, but He values us. The Bible tells us of a God who is madly in love with us, so much so that He became one of us and even died for us while we were still offending Him. (see Romans 5:6-8)
In the face of all this, can we say that human beings are disposable, like a car that becomes more trouble than it is worth? If you believe the Bible, you have to believe that human life is sacred, more sacred than we could possibly imagine!
Furthermore, the Bible teaches that all children are a blessing.
God commanded our first parents to “Be fertile and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Why? God Himself is fertile. Love always overflows into life.
When the first mother brought forth the first child, she exclaimed, “I have brought forth a man with the help of the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). The help of the Lord is essential, for He has dominion over human life and is its origin. Parents cooperate with God in bringing forth life. Because this whole process is under God’s dominion, it is wrong to interrupt it.
“Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). The Bible indicates that God knows the preborn child. “You knit me in my mother’s womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made in secret” (Psalm 139:13,15).
God also helps and calls the preborn child:
“You have been my guide since I was first formed . . . from my mother’s womb you are my God.” (Psalm 22:10-11) ”God . . . from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace.” (Galatians 1:15)
Finally, the Bible repeatedly condemns the killing of the innocent.
The Book of Revelation affirms that (unrepentant) murderers cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. (Revelation 22:15)
The killing of children is especially condemned by God through the prophets. Many Old Testament prophets were especially strong in their warnings about killing children. (see Jeremiah 7:30-34; Ezekiel 16:20-21; 16:36-38; 20:31; 2 Kings 21:2-6 with Jeremiah 15:3-4)
In the land God gave his people to occupy, foreign nations had the custom of sacrificing some of their children in fire. God told His people that they were not to share in this sin.
They did, however, as Psalm 106 relates: “They mingled with the nations and learned their works . . . They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and they shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the land with bloodshed.” (Psalm 106:35,37-38)
This sin of child-sacrifice, in fact, is mentioned as one of the major reasons that the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians and the people taken into exile: “They mutilated their sons and daughters by fire . . . till the Lord, in his great anger against Israel, put them away out of his sight” (2 Kings 17:17-18).
Notice that this practice was a religious ritual. Not even for “religious freedom” can the killing of children be tolerated.
Also, the prophet Amos condemns the Ammonites in the Bible just “because they ripped open expectant mothers in Gilead” (Amos 1:13).
Finally, the Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus is the Source and Sustainer of all of life. Therefore, I believe that all of life must be valued and protected.
And, I think the physicians in general, and family physicians, in particular, need to commit ourselves to valuing and protecting life, as a precious gift from God, from conception until the point of natural death — life is sacred, indeed.
So, to me, the Bible clearly forbids the killing of innocent human life. In addition, the Bible clearly considers the preborn as children, as human beings, containing the image of God. Killing a child (before, during, or after birth) is, it appears to me, from a Biblical viewpoint, murder.
Let me know your thoughts. I appreciate you.