Abortion and the Bible

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Yesterday, January 22, marked the 38th year since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. This day grieves me. Based on statistics from 2005 to 2008, 1,206,200 unborn babies are annually murdered. While this enormous number of abortions is alarming, we are equally alarmed because many Bible-believing Christians are surprisingly uninformed, in some cases apathetic, about the Bible’s teaching on this subject. My goal in this post is to present a biblical understanding of abortion. To fully understand what the Bible has to say on this subject, we will examine three issues: the reason why the Bible never explicitly discusses abortion, the Bible’s teaching concerning the value of human life, and its teaching about the inception of human life. Before we examine these issues, we will initially define abortion and define some of the issues associated with it (I wrote this brief article a number of years ago but decided to resurrect it because this gross sin continues; for a post that I did last year, go here).

An abortion may be defined as the expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the womb of its mother before it is capable of independently sustaining life. An abortion which happens naturally is called a spontaneous or involuntary abortion. A miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion. An induced or voluntary abortion is medically induced for therapeutic or nontherapeutic reasons. This type of abortion results in the termination of a pregnancy by killing the embryo or fetus. The induced abortion is the focal point of the modern abortion debate.

Most informed, Bible-believing Christians would maintain that an induced abortion is a moral atrocity. However, if this is truly such an atrocity, then why does the Bible never explicitly address the issue? The answer to this is found in the Israelite view of children. God was responsible for opening the womb (Gen 30:22; 1 Sam 1:19–20). Consequently, children were viewed as a gift from God (Gen 33:5; Ps 127:3). An Israelite expected proliferation in childbearing as an aspect of the prosperity that God had promised them in the Mosaic Covenant (Deut 7:13; 28:4). The abundance of children was a blessing, but the lack of children was often considered a curse. Therefore, a voluntary abortion was unthinkable for an Israelite and, consequently, was not an issue to them. To understand the moral ramifications of this, we must approach the issue of medically induced abortion in light of other biblical material.

What does the Bible teach about the value of human life? To determine this, we must briefly examine the Bible’s teaching about man. Moses wrote in Genesis 1:26–28 that man was created in the image and likeness of God. The divine image refers to those personal, rational, moral, and spiritual qualities of man that make him like God. Though it was marred at the Fall, the divine image in man was not lost (Jas 3:9). This is cogently demonstrated in Genesis 9:5–6 with God’s institution of capital punishment for murder. The motivation for this command is God’s creation of man in his image (v. 6). Whatever else Genesis 9:5–6 may affirm, it clearly emphasizes the sanctity of human life. This is reinforced by the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17), and is reaffirmed by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:21–22). Though this data clearly asserts the sanctity of human life, it does not deal with when genuine human life begins.

What does the Bible teach concerning the inception of human life? A key passage is Psalm 51. This is a record of David’s confession of sin after having committed adultery with Bathsheba. In v. 5 David traces his moral culpability back to the time of conception by asserting that he was sinful from the time when his mother conceived him. Another significant passage is Psalm 139:13–16. Having dealt with God’s omniscience (vv. 1–6) and omnipresence (vv. 7–12), David then gives an exposition on God’s providential involvement with his prenatal development. God created David’s inmost being (v. 13) and his body (v. 15). David asserts in v. 16 that his “substance,” his embryo, as well as the course of his life, was part of God’s plan. David’s personal identity extends back to his prenatal state. In addition, Luke 1:41, 44 has a bearing on this subject. After an angel had announced to the virgin Mary that she would carry the Messiah, she went to the home of Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with her son John. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her unborn son leaped for joy. This demonstrates that John the Baptist had rational and spiritual capacities in his prenatal state. These passages indicate that a child in his prenatal state has personal, rational, moral, and spiritual qualities, and, therefore, is fully human.

This understanding of a child being fully in the image of God from the time of conception is further supported by two other biblical items. The first is the biblical teaching concerning the origin of the human soul. God created the human race immediately in Adam. Adam and Eve transferred their spiritual and physical characteristics to their children through the process of procreation (Gen 5:3; Acts 17:26). When an ovum and sperm unite, a new person containing the hereditary characteristics of one’s father and mother is brought into existence. This should lend further support that a prenatal child is a genuine person.

The second item supporting an unborn child as being fully human relates to how we interpret Exodus 21:22–25. This passage has been used by some to support the legitimacy of having a medically induced abortion. The passage reads as follows: “22If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” There are two principal views of this passage: the miscarriage view and the premature birth view.

Many holding the miscarriage view take this passage as a reference to a situation where two men are fighting and one of them happens to hit a pregnant woman who suffers a miscarriage (“so that her fruit depart”) but she herself is not harmed; the offender then must pay a fine (v. 22). However, if something subsequently happens to the woman, then the offender was to suffer punishment in proportion to the damage that he has inflicted upon the woman (vv. 23–25). Since the law of retaliation is applied to the woman and only a monetary compensation for the aborted fetus, it is implied that the woman had a higher value that the unborn child. This is then used to infer that under some difficult circumstances, a voluntary abortion is justifiable, because the mother’s life has more value than the unborn child. This is the view of some commentators and translations. For example, some translate the clause “so that her fruit depart” as “so that she has a miscarriage.” Against this view, it should be observed that the Hebrew verb translated as “depart,” when used in the context of childbirth, is never used for a miscarriage. Furthermore, the noun “fruit” is normally translated as “child,” “son,” or “boy.”

When the noun “fruit” or “child” is used with the verb “depart,” this can only be understood as a reference to a premature birth. This view correctly sets forth that Moses was describing a situation where two men were fighting and one of them hits a pregnant woman causing her to prematurely give birth. However, there is no “harm” (“mischief” in vv. 22 and 23 may also be taken as “harm”) but because of the potential danger for the mother and her child, a fine was to be enacted (v. 22). If, however, there was harm, a penalty corresponding to the crime was to be enacted (vv. 23–25). For example, if either the mother or her child died, then a capital punishment would have been in order. Rather than being a justification for voluntary abortion, this is actually a solid text to suggest that the life of a child in its prenatal state is of equal value to its mother. Consequently, the unborn child is fully human.

As Bible-believing Christians, our responsibility is to understand what God has affirmed about His moral will on the issue of abortion and, consequently, to regulate our lives and spheres of influence according to a correct biblical understanding. In light of the biblical material examined here, we must emphatically maintain that a medically induced abortion violates God’s moral standard against taking another person’s life, and, as such, falls under the divine prohibition in the Decalogue: “Thou shalt not murder!”

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Results from Rejecting God the Creator

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What happens when a society rejects the Creator God of the Bible? Not only does this eventually result in eternal condemnation for people, but it also has an affect on this life: man is viewed as nothing more than an animal. When man is viewed as an animal, rather than a divine image bearer, society can treat them as they do animals. This is where eugenics enters the picture in American life. To read about how American Bible-rejecting churches have supported the use of eugenics, read Russell Grigg‘s “‘Hooray for eugenics!’ How American Bible-rejecting churches supported Nazi-life policies.”

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He’s just not that into you

I know of some professing evangelical Christians who voted for Obama. Some might even say they were duped by his lies. I can honestly say that I did not vote for the man because his track record on abortion was clear. Nevertheless, for any of you who compromised by voting for him and yet are an opponent of abortion, there is an interesting piece in the Baltimore Sun that you should read, “He’s just not that into you.”

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New Ad on Obamacare

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Friends, our country is in a dire situation. As President Obama ratchets up his duplicitous rhetoric supporting a national health care bill, we must not lose sight that his plan will of necessity result in medical rationing and taxpayer funded abortions.

Watch this brief new advertisement from Family Research Council Action:

Family Research Council Action intends to air this “ad in five states where key senators reside: Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana and Nebraska. The 30-second ad — released during a webcast that warned pro-life laws are under attack.” As you can see from the video, an elderly couple is featured “sitting at the table discussing a government letter the husband just opened. Visibly upset, he says, ‘They won’t pay for my surgery. What are we going to do?’ You may continue reading at New ad warns of abortion funding in health care plans.” When you finish reading this article, you promptly need to contact the President and Congress. For assistance in contacting our leaders, go to FRCAction.

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US House of Representatives Again Rejects Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood

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Last Friday US House of Representatives again rejected a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. By a margin of 247 to 183, the house voted down the Pence Amendment. “‘It’s despicable that once again Congress has voted to fund this deadly organization,’ said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a statement. ‘The vast majority of Americans do not want taxpayers’ dollars going to abortion organizations.'” To read more, go to “House Rejects Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood.”

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Obamacare To Continue America’s Modern-day Holocast: Abortion

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Will Obama fulfill his promises to Planned Parenthood? If Obama can get away with it, he will keep his promises. This is where his national health care program will require both public and private insurance plans to cover abortions. You need to take a few minutes to read “Obamacare Would Make Public and Private Insurance Plans Cover Abortion” and pass it along to your friends (for additional information, go here). God help us as America descends deeper into its murderous abyss (Romans 1:18-32).

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An Apologia for the 24-Hour Day View in the Creation Account (Part 3)

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On Friday, March 20, I began a three-part series at Sharper Iron defending the 24-hour day interpretation of the creation account. As I noted in my first part, because the tradition of Christian orthodoxy has a legacy of interpreting Genesis as a historic narrative, the prevailing interpretation of Genesis 1:1–2:3 has been that it is a record of God’s creative activity in six, consecutive, literal days followed by a literal seventh day of rest. The point of my first post was to provide a fourfold biblical justification for the 24-hour day interpretation of the creation account.

With my second post, I summarized four of the most prominent alternative views that have arisen largely as a result of the advent of modern geology and its claims about the (old) age of the earth.

With my third and final part that is posted today, I present three areas of weakness and a questionable presupposition that each view shares. To read this third post, go to “An Apologia for the 24-Hour Day View in the Creation Account (Part 3).”

America’s Modern-day Holocaust: Abortion

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January 22 of this year marked 36 years since United States Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision to legalize abortion in the Roe v. Wade case. My concern about the abortion issue was expressed last year on January 22 with my entry “The 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade.” I am as concerned about the abortion issue today as I have ever been. What has concerned me over the past ten years or so is the apathy among evangelical Christians about the abortion issue in spite of clear biblical evidence, as well as medical data (for more information, click here) that modern technology clearly provides about the unmistakeable humanity of unborn babies. The growing indifference towards abortion is inexcuseable. And, as a Christian, it is very disappointing to realize that the the US is the most liberal industrialized nation in terms of permitting a woman to have an abortion at any time and for any reason during her pregnancy. In light of our recent election, I have no expectation that we will surrender this ignominious distinction. America’s permissiveness about the killing of unborn babies is something of a modern-day holocaust.

I have been following a number of websites over the past week that focus on this modern-day holocaust. For a listing of key links about abortion, check out Andy Naselli’s post about abortion with the listing of links from Justin Taylor’s recent posts and John Piper’s. In addition to this listing, check out Al Mohler’s recent six part series on abortion.

What Makes Abortion Plausible? What Makes Abortion Unthinkable?, Part One

What Makes Abortion Plausible? What Make Abortion Unthinkable?, Part Two

What Makes Abortion Plausible? What Makes Abortion Unthinkable?, Part Three

What Makes Abortion Plausible? What Makes Abortion Unthinkable?, Part Four

What Makes Abortion Plausible? What Makes Abortion Unthinkable?, Part Five

What Makes Abortion Plausible? What Makes Abortion Unthinkable?, Part Six

As the above links provide details about the biblical evidence on abortion and how it relates to our culture, it would also be good to hear a testimony of an abortion survivor. During the presidential campaign, I listened to Sean Hannity’s stirring interview with Gianna Jessen who lived through an attempted abortion. To ponder the significance of her surviving an abortion, listen to her testimony in Australia. Take some time to look at the above links and consider the biblical evidence. May God grant that we see abortion for the evil it is as a violation of “You shall not murder” (Exod 20:13) and may he grant that we do our best through his sovereign grace to oppose this modern-day holocaust.

The 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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The above picture is an eight-week old "fetus" (taken from http://www.pathlights.com). In looking at the picture, I think of two items. First, it is better to think of the above fetus as a baby rather than some type of immaterial substance. The baby in this picture looks human. And, this should not surprise a Christian for the Bible presents unborn babies as being fully human from the time of conception. For example, David describes himself as being sinful from the time of conception in Psalm 51:5 (for more biblical support, click here, here, here and here). Just looking at this picture should convince anyone of the baby’s humanity. And, if the baby is considered human, it also follows that it would be an act of murder to terminate this helpless child’s life in the first trimester of his life. If you are in doubt about this assessment, you need to look at the following graphic video at Justin Taylor’s blog: "This Is Abortion."

Second, I am reminded that a presidential election is just around the corner. As the presidential candidates for both Republicans and Democrats do battle to represent their respective parties in the 2008 election, it is good to remind ourselves that one of the moral issues involved in the upcoming election is the issue of abortion. To be certain there are other significant issues involved with this election, such as the major issue related to the type of judicial appointments a president would make, but the issue of abortion has not gone away. Since today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we need to keep in mind with our vote in the next election that we must vote for a candidate that reflects the core moral values as reflected in the Bible. In keeping with this responsibility, we should check out where each respective candidate stands on abortion. For information on where each candidate stands on Roe v. Wade, click here to see each candidate’s position. May God help us in the next election to think beyond our wallet to those biblical values that glorify God.

Between Two Worlds: Roe v. Wade, 35 Years Later: An Interview with Robert P. George

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Since tomorrow is the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, I thought you might find Justin Taylor’s interview with Robert P. George, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, profitable. Along with Christopher Tollefsen, Dr. George has written the highly recommended Embryo: A Defense of Human Life. While George is on record for opposing on moral grounds the Roe v. Wade decision, his focus in the interview is on the poorly reasoned legal decision in the Roe ruling, the great influence that Presidents have in shaping abortion policies, and finally what we can do in stemming the tide of this moral atrocity. Though the interview is not long, you will benefit from reading “An Interview with Robert P. George.”