When Life is Reduced to a Choice

ABORTION AND THE BIBLE

“Ever since the Supreme Court decided against the unborn, abortion as a medical practice has been widely accepted in American society. But does the legalization of abortion in the eyes of the government make it right in the sight of God? To answer this question, one must begin by determining God’s view of the human fetus. Does He consider the fetus a person or mere protoplasm? If the Bible fails to grant personhood to the unborn fetus, then perhaps the premature extermination of such life is morally inconsequential. But, if God’s Word demonstrates that the unborn fetus is indeed a person, then abortion is nothing less than murder (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 20:13).

A number of Bible passages make it clear that God regards conception as the moment at which personhood begins. Job 10:8–12 and 31:13–15, for example, attribute divine value and human qualities. Psalm 139:13–16 similarly exalts God for His creative work in the fashioning of the unborn baby. Isaiah 49:1–5, Jeremiah 1:4–5, and Galatians 1:15–16 all note that God can work in the lives of His chosen servants even before they are born. Furthermore, Luke 1:41–45 documents the emotional joy of the unborn John the Baptist when Mary visited Elizabeth. And Psalm 51:5 points to conception as the beginning of a person’s sinful nature. None of these things would be possible if personhood did not come until after birth.

In some passages, the Bible speaks of an unborn child in the same way that it does of those who have been born—thereby showing that God views them both the same way. For example, in Exodus 21:4 and 21:22 the same Hebrew word translated ‘child’ or ‘children’ is used, despite the fact that verse 4 refers to a postnatal child while verse 21 refers to an unborn life. The New Testament also uses the same Greek word for life before birth (Luke 1:41, 44) as it does for life outside the womb (Acts 7:19). It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that the unborn are often described in the same ways as those who are born (Gen. 25:22–23; Job 31:15; Isa.44:2; Hos. 12:3). For that matter, the prophet Jeremiah notes that had his death been prenatal, the womb would have been his grave (Jer. 20:17); and the prebirth death of one of God’s prophets cannot be equated with the death of a nonperson.

Scripture further espouses the fact that all human persons are the offspring of other human persons. After all, Genesis 1:24–25 decisively mandates that each ‘kind’ within creation is to reproduce solely after its own ‘kind.’ The procreation of existing human persons, therefore, is limited solely to the generation of new human persons. In other words, via the reproductive process, it is impossible for existing persons to even produce a nonperson.

God’s image in man (see Gen. 1:26; James 3:9) is particularly attacked by abortion. After all, abortion not only destroys the image of God in the fetus by killing the baby, but also disregards God’s command to multiply His image in future generations by terminating the reproductive process. In the end, because the fetus results from two persons, each made in the image of God, Scripture indicates that he or she is also a person found in God’s image.

The Bible overwhelmingly argues for the personhood of the prenatal fetus, while simultaneously denouncing the horrible murder of unborn humans (cf. Ex. 21:22–23). When all the facts are in, abortion may have been legalized by the Supreme Court, but it cannot be viewed as anything less than a direct assault on the moral law of God.” (Bill Shannon)

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