Many Christians (certainly not all) grow up in a conservative environment, both morally and politically. Even if they haven’t thought about “why” a particular issue is right or wrong, they are convinced on issues like homosexuality, abortion, pre-marital sex and cohabitation, etc. But there are also Christians on the more liberal side of the spectrum. I know because I was one. It is almost impossible to read the Bible honestly and walk away with the impression that Christianity is a “liberal” religion but note that I am giving these liberal-ish Christians the benefit of the doubt because I am assuming that at least some of them are ignorant of the issues. If a “liberal” Christian were to confess the gospel and seriously subject himself to the biblical study of certain issues, I would question his Christianity if he continued his liberal leanings. But that is not to whom this post is addressed. It is to the person who has been fed a worldview but has never questioned it.
So I would like to tackle the issue of abortion today. This is not the be-all, end-all of the argument, but hits the highlights as I began to think through the issue. So let me start at the beginning.
I used to think abortion was fine, even when I became a believer. I believed the gospel, I believed I was a sinner but I certainly was not educated or settled on the plethora of moral issues. I was going off of (mis-) characterizations of Jesus Christ — he is loving, compassionate, merciful, etc. — and, in hindsight, I didn’t give much thought to his moral standard.
I believed that a woman has a right to choose — it’s her body, after all! I didn’t think about when “life began” or stop to consider what God thought about fetuses. In short, I believed the liberal version of the story. They sounded right and compassionate, considerate towards women who were, in a sense, disenfranchised. The ones making the argument also tried to help others who were disenfranchised — minorities, poor, uneducated, etc. The ones arguing against abortion were the ones who seemed to lack compassion.
I know quite differently now.
What the Bible Says
At the end of the day, what matters is what God says about it. I can’t say anything here that hasn’t already been said so I will simply summarize. Abortion, in the eyes of God, is murder. Murder is purposely and unjustly ending a human life. This is distinct from similar concepts such as manslaughter (where this is no motive and premeditation) or capital punishment (which is, or should be, a just act). Murder presupposes the one killed is a human being and Scripture is consistent in presenting fetuses as human beings, fully ordained and known by God. Psalm 139:13-16; Psalm 71:6; Job 10:8; Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 44:2, 24; Galatians 1:15 — these all point to fetuses as the creation of God, with value in his eyes beyond a blob of cells. They are persons to God. He is the author of life. And if fetuses are persons, then killing them is murder. It really is that simple.
Of course, unbelievers will not accept them without a fight. If the discussion is political or social in nature (rather than religious), it may be helpful to consider the following, too.
The Argument Falls Apart on Its Own
What I realized is that the argument for abortion falls apart on its own. No reasonable person will admit that murdering innocent people is fine — thus, the issue is “is a fetus a person?” Clearly, the Bible says it is so we can rest in that. However, when a “pro-choice” person makes the argument that since we don’t know when “human life” begins, he is actually digging himself a hole. Let me explain.
This article demonstrates the self-condemning nature of justifying the killing of a fetus based on ignorance. If you see a human-shaped overcoat lying in the road, you may not know for sure whether that overcoats actually covers a human being. It certainly could be shaped like a person because of how the coat is bunched up or because of some material inside of it — but any reasonable person would avoid running over that coat because he doesn’t know. If you run over that coat and someone is inside, that’s manslaughter. If you run over it and it’s not a person, it is still negligence at a minimum.
The same principle applies to a fetus: if you don’t know it’s a person, why does that give you a right to kill it? It doesn’t. You cannot justify murder with ignorance. Even from a secular perspective, our Constitution protects people. If you do know it’s not a person, you find yourself taking an absolute position of defining when human life starts (good luck with that).
Women and Unfortunate Circumstances
The arguments are made that women ought to be able to make decisions about their own body (at best) or make a decision in cases of rape (at worst) or incest. These arguments sound compassionate, almost reasonable, because at least they are considering the woman.
Now, rape and incest are horrible, horrible events. No one who hasn’t experienced it is going to be able to fully identify with the shame, doubts, and personal violation that a rape victim experiences. I can only imagine how the thoughts of “This baby will be a living memorial to the worst moment of my life” begin to creep in. I do not mean to downplay the torment of rape.
As Voddie Baucham relates in this video how a particular rape victim contemplated abortion, “This child has done nothing wrong.”
It may seem unbearable to some women to let a child of rape into this world — but that child is innocent. It is still murder. A woman’s feelings, however justified, do not trump the right to life of the child. If it is unbearable, please consider adopting him out.
The same principle applies to a child of incest. It may be abhorrent to some people, but it does not justify murder. The circumstances surrounding the conception of these children, while unfortunate, do not determine the child’s worthiness to live.
And if these principles apply to the “extreme” cases, how much more do they apply to abortions out of convenience? The abortions due to timing, or school, or work, or the “oops”? They simply carry no weight.
It’s Going to Suffer Anyway
But what about the arguments that the baby will have a poor quality of life, perhaps born into poverty? Or that there is some defect such as Down’s Syndrome or even a fatal heart condition? Well, now at least we are talking about the baby and not the mother.
But I would hope the issue is clearer now: none of this justifies murder. But these, too, fail under their own weight.
As MacArthur said (and I’m paraphrasing), we’re all flawed — it’s just a matter of degree. Almost all “defects” are on a spectrum. We cannot arbitrarily draw a line and say, “This is defective enough to kill the baby, but this is not.” No amount of posturing can back this up. In fact, people are already making their cases that murdering a child outside of the womb is justifiable under certain circumstances, either because of defects or a failed abortion. It’s not so different from justifying the Holocaust. And if you attempt to justify the Holocaust, you have deeper issues than being ignorant of abortion and that is a separate discussion.
Poverty or quality of life can’t be used to justify murder. This is a red herring. We would not kill others based on these arbitrary definitions of “quality” — why would we do it to the unborn? It isn’t your right or privilege to decide whose life is worth living.
Given all of this, abortion is simply wrong. But how does it stack up against other issues on the table, especially in an election? What about the arguments, “We need to care about the ones who are alive, too?” or taxes, or foreign policies?
As my pastor pointed out — these are relevant and important issues. Quality of life, social equality, the disenfranchised, protection of our nation, etc. are all issues. But I would submit they are also not tantamount to murder. If I pay a bit more in taxes so that millions of babies can live, so be it. If I don’t get as much access to quality education as my neighbor because “the system is broken,” then so be it if millions of babies can live. Again, these things are unfair and the government ought to be addressing issues of justice — but to deny that there are overriding principles and lives at stake, is dishonest. There are very few issues presently that can compete with abortion in terms of importance. Millions of lives are literally at stake — comfort, freedom, even protection, cannot be considered at the same level.
Think It Through
The point of all this is to think it through. The emphasis on a “woman’s right to choose” is a practice in shifting the goalposts, because the root issue has almost nothing to do with the woman. Rather, the issue is the baby. The baby has done nothing to merit being killed. Circumstances and conveniences cannot justify murder. Ignorance cannot justify it. Bottom line, a “pro-choice” stance has no merit, either biblically or by its own standards.
This election season, please consider the children.
A Final Word
The point of all this is not to condemn anyone who has had an abortion. The wonder of the gospel is that God forgives us for any and everything when we turn towards him in faith. He cleanses us from a guilty conscience (Heb 9:14; 10:22). Abortion is one of many, many sins we are capable of, and none of us escapes this life spotless. Hope and joy is found in Jesus Christ!