Contend Earnestly: Is Abortion Sin?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is Abortion Sin?

I would like to give a quick survey of why I believe abortion is wrong. I know that the post title may sound like I am asking if it is wrong, but it is really there so that those asking the question can find a biblical answer.

People have many questions on the topic of abortion. What I would like to quickly go over in this post is:

Is Abortion Wrong?
When is a Baby, well, a Baby?
Is there ever a time where abortion is okay?

Is Abortion Wrong?

The definition of abortion given by Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary states that an abortion is defined as:
the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus

The term termination and death means that one is taking away the chance of, or the actuality of life from another. This is, in reality, is killing another. To give a biblical reason for why abortion is seen as wrong we find it explicitly in Exodus 21

"If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."
Exodus 21:22-25

This passage as a whole is dealing with personal injuries and starts off by saying that if you kill a man you shall surely be put to death (Ex 21:1) and put right after the 10 Commandments are given to the people. Basically what Exodus 21 is trying to do is give some practical laws for all to understand so that there is no questioning. It would be like me telling my 5 year old, "You cannot go upstairs" and then following that up with saying, "this means you can't go on the stairs, you can't play on the stairs and don't even go near the stairs." What God is doing is giving some clearer understanding to the people of what it means to "not murder."

God gives a clear understanding that murder extends even to the unborn infant. You will notice that no age restriction is given to the pregnancy but just states that if a fight breaks out and one man hits a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely, and that baby dies, the man shall die. And here is the key point of the entire passage: But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life.

Notice that the man's life that inflicts the injury is no more important than the baby that lies within the mother. He will have to pay with his own life, because he took another's.

So, is abortion wrong? Yes, because it takes another's life. The women today are lucky that we are not living like the Theonomists wish we were living or they would be put to death alongside their unborn child.

When is a Baby, well, a Baby?

Biblically there is no chapter and verse to go to outright to say when a baby is truly a baby. I will say that Exodus does not give us a time frame of when a baby would be considered a non-life. Even further we find evidence of the view that God sees children as children well before the human eye or for that matter a computer's eye could see the formation of an actual child. I am not going to get into science, because I suck at science, but I will give you some interesting evidence from Scripture of when God sees his children.

The first is found in Jeremiah 1:5

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Jeremiah 1:5

Notice that God knew Jeremiah before he was even formed in the womb. This would seem to be speaking of a child in the womb before the fetus is made to have bones, ears, fingers, etc. Whatever age that God is speaking of, we know that is before the baby Jeremiah has been even formed in the womb. The term "knew" (yada in Hebrew) here is also a very deep relational word to mean "love." It is a very intimate word used all through the Old Testament. So intimate that it is also used of when a man and woman come together to have sexual relations. We find this in Genesis 4 when Adam knew Eve and Eve conceived and gave birth to a son.

So, with Jeremiah we find that a life is a life before it is even formed, because God doesn't love intimately objects, or mere raw flesh, but he loves the one who has a soul, a spirit, who when left to grow in the stomach of the woman, will come out a child and reveal the glory of God.

Another time we find the same thing said from David.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

They key term used here is that David speaks of his unformed substance. This seems to be pointing to the time before many would call David a human being. This is probably speaking of the time as the sperm and egg come together to create what will later become a formed substance in the womb. Notice that his days on the earth had not yet started, but when they did start they were going to be ordained for him. David's psalm here is a beautiful one to show God's omniscience and omnipresence and he praises God that he knew him and loved him before he even had substance. Again, for God, the baby is a baby long before many of us will notice the affects on the mother.

So, if this is true. That the babies we find in Jeremiah and David were in fact babies before they were formed or had substance. That they were loved and given commission long before their formation, we must ask, "if they were to be aborted before birth, is this murder?" I would give a resounding yes, because as we look to Exodus 21 it is very clear that one life is traded for another. Since the baby is a baby even before it is formed, any abortion is murder in the eyes of God who knows and loves that baby before the mother and father have a chance to.

Is there ever a time where abortion is okay?

Because of my belief in the baby being a life well before it is formed (I would believe that at the time of conception) and that taking that life is murder according to the word of God, then there is never a time that abortion is okay. Never.

Let me hit some of the times I have heard that is supposedly "okay"

1. Rape or Rape by incest

Although my heart goes out deeply for those who have been raped, I believe that the one who should be punished is the one who raped the poor woman and not the baby. By aborting the child, the child is the one taking the brunt of the punishment. The one who raped the girl will only get time in jail and will not die. With these laws established, the one who pays the highest price is not the girl or the man, but the baby. Why should an innocent child take the brunt of the punishment?

Will this be hard to raise a child that came from rape? It could be. But the woman is going to be going through many struggles and deep pain because of the rape and the baby could actually be a huge blessing of promise to the woman, not a curse. I truly believe that the Psalmist got it right when he states:

...children are a gift of the Lord
Psalm 127:3

Sure children of rape are not in the context but they are never kept out of the description either. If children are a gift from the Lord, this means that even those that were born out of wedlock in any circumstance are, in fact, a gift from God. Think of this. Out of one of the most gruesome sins possible, a beautiful child is given. A most beautiful gift. It is like finding a diamond from the dirty piece of coal. (not the mother being the coal, but the act that the baby was conceived)

2. What about aborting a child to save the mother from dying in child birth?

As David states, "you have ordained all my days..." If we believe this then we do not take out a child to save another's life. My wife and I have talked at length about this. She has repeatedly told me that she would be crushed to know that her life was spared by killing her baby. Again, children are a gift from the Lord and God is in complete control of every event around us. My hope is not in this world and to die is far greater because we are with Christ, so I would not kill in order to save another. This would be the hardest decision of my life and I cannot say what is right in every circumstance. The reason I say this is that this is a decision for every family, and it should be talked about in length before any birth.

I would just be very careful here as decisions are made. Understand that God is control and that his will must be done and that truly every child is a blessing from God.

As Christians, we need to understand that abortion is very much wrong. That the baby is a life very early, if not at the time of conception. I like how one of my pastor's put it. He said,

"People like to ask when a baby is truly a baby. I tell them, leave it alone and see what happens"

Just as one doesn't get close to a cliff of a mountain because of the impending danger, neither should we mess around with making excuses for what is murder and what is not. Stay away from that cliff's ledge. I would always lean towards not messing with God's children, it is a very big deal and with it much judgment comes.


Steve said...

We had a discussion about this in Psych 101 many years ago. Our professor worked the problem backwards by asking this question:

When do you consider a person dead, when their heart dies or when they're brain dead?

So using the question above, if one is alive with only one of the organs, then the same person must consider the fetus alive when the heart or brain is alive.

After much debate, our professor indicated that both the heart and brain are developing and functioning within the first two weeks after conception. It's entirely possible for two weeks to pass before a woman relaizes she might be preganant. Then more time passes before carrying out the abortion. For the non-Christian, at that point abortion would be murder according to the person's belief of when they consider someone dead.

I looked it up again and found that the heart and brain develop between weeks one and four:

I believe physical life begins at conception. But for the non-believer, the fetus develops so quickly that it doesn't give a woman much time to terminate the fetus before life forms.

God is truly amazing!

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