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The Scriptural Case Against Abortion

Once again, it is election season, and the hot-button topic of abortion is on the forefront of politics.  Because political campaigns often involve the topic of abortion, it is considered to be a political issue, but it is actually a moral issue that has been politicized. Taking politics out of the discussion, Christians need to evaluate the issue of abortion by the word of God in the Scriptures.  Specifically, we need to know whether it is sinful to intentionally terminate a pregnancy and end the life of an unborn child.  Is it even Scriptural to refer to this as ending a life of an unborn child? Could abortion be, as abortion advocates say, merely the removal of an unviable tissue mass?  What do the Scriptures say?

According to the Scriptures, unborn children are living souls.  In Psalm 139:13-16, the Scripture describes God's intimate knowledge of an unborn child, who is "skillfully and wonderfully made" and has his days ordained by God.  Scripture shows that God sees no difference between the born and the unborn, for the Bible uses the same words in Hebrew (yeled) and Greek (brephos) to describe both unborn and born children (compare Ex. 21:22; Luke 1:44; 2:12; 18:15).  Notice that John, Jacob, and Esau were recorded in Scripture as living persons even before birth, for John was already filled with the Holy Spirit while still within the womb (Luke 1:15), and God made plans for Jacob and Esau while still in the womb (Gen. 25:23; Rom. 9:11-12).  In Job 3:3, Scripture reveals that a boy (lit. a man-child) is already a boy at conception rather than a tissue mass.  This is further revealed in Luke 1:36, for Elizabeth "conceived a son" rather than a tissue mass.  In Job 3:16, Scripture shows that the unborn can die, which implies that they are individual, living souls, and that they are called "infants" rather than tissue masses.  In Numbers 12:12, notice that the mother of a baby who dies before birth is still called a mother, for she conceived and carried a living child.  Furthermore, Jeremiah 20:17 shows that a child can be killed before birth and his mother's womb can become his grave.  In example after example, Scripture consistently shows that the unborn are not merely tissue masses, but they are persons and living souls in the eyes of God.

Because the unborn are living souls, it is wrong to destroy them, for that is the taking of innocent lives.  In the Law of Moses, the Scripture recognizes the life of the unborn, for the Law gave the same protections to the unborn as it gave to all others.  In Exodus 21:22-25, the Scripture says,

22"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.  23But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."

We are not under this law today, but we can read it for insight into God's view of the unborn.  Notice that if the baby was simply born early, then there was only a fine. However, if the baby or the mother were injured or killed, then the penalty was "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth," etc.  Thus, killing an unborn baby was a capital crime just as killing any other innocent person was punishable by death (compare to Gen. 9:6).  (Note: Some translations use the term "miscarriage" in verse 22, which implies death, but the Hebrew word literally means that "her children come out," i.e., she has a premature birth.)

The act of aborting an unborn child is indeed an abomination to God, which means that He views it as a disgusting, detestable thing.  Of the seven things which are listed as abominations to God in Proverbs 6:17, one of them is "hands that shed innocent blood."  None could be more innocent than the unborn, for they have "not done anything good or bad" (Rom. 9:11).  One of the detestable acts of the Canaanites was the sacrificing of their own children (Deut. 12:31), and Israel and Judah became guilty of this abomination as well (2Ki. 16:14; 17:16-17; 21:1-9; 2Chron. 33:1-9; Ps. 106:37-38; Ezek. 16:15-34).  God destroyed those nations for such abominations: will He do less to modern nations who commit the same abominations?  Pharaoh and Herod are remembered as notoriously evil men because they ordered the murders of countless children (Ex. 1:15-22; Matt. 2:16-17; Acts 7:19). As we have already seen, the unborn are also children according to Scripture, so how will those who abort unborn babies today be remembered?

The only conclusion that can be drawn from Scripture on this issue is that abortion is indeed sinful, for it is the killing of innocent lives.  It is sad that so many parents consider God's blessing, heritage, and inheritance of children (Ps. 127:3-5; 128:3-5) to be such a curse and a burden that they would destroy their own offspring.  Even the pagan Greeks had a higher standard on this issue than many Americans do today, for the original Hippocratic Oath (5th century B.C.) forbade physicians from performing abortions. Now many doctors are required to participate in abortions as part of their training.  Regardless of how society, politics, or the medical profession may trend on the practice of abortion, God's word remains unchanged, and Christians must stand by the truth on this and all other issues.  Abortion always has been and always will be a sin.

Stacey E. Durham



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