THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF ABORTION
How valuable is human life? How much is a life worth? How much is your own life worth? In certain areas of our world, human life is very cheap. At certain times in history, life has been squandered with reckless abandon, while at other times and places it has been considered very precious. Major news stories on television and in the newspapers call our attention to the value of human life. Some well known person takes a planned overdose of sleeping pills and dies immediately. Although we don't kow the whole story, evidently life had lost its meaning for him. We read of a woman who threw her newborn child into a trash can where it eventually died; she was charged with first degree murder. Or we read of a doctor who was convicted by a Boston jury of manslaughter for destroying a twenty-four week old unborn child of an unmarried teenager. Again, we do not know the whole story, but obviously there was a disregard for the life of this soon-to-be-born child. There are, of course, other ways to evaluate life. The basic chemicals within our bodies are worth only a very few dollars. I have seen estimates as lows a $1.35 on up the scale to $8.00. It is quite evident that the monetary value of the chemical elements of the human body is very low. From another point of view man may be worth millions of dollars. Brazil's “ Pele” was paid seven million dollars by a New York organization to play soccer. Baseball pitchers have also been paid three and four million dollars for their services. For most of us, none of these ways of measuring the value of life is very satisfactory. We return to our question, “How much are we human beings worth?
Perhaps the best way to begin our investigation is to ask, “What does the Bible say?” We learn from scripture that God thinks we are valuable. The sacredness of human life is a theme which runs throughout the Bible. In Genesis 1:27,28 we find God's initial statement concerning life and the exalted place of man in the creation. The Bible says, “And God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him....” Disregarding the sacredness of life, murder became commonplace among the pe-flood world, and this is one of the forms of evil which brought on the flood of Noah. To protect the human race against the willful destruction of human life, God gave a new law to mankind in Genesis 9:5-7, “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” Please note the reason given why a
murderer should be put to death. It is because man and woman are made in the image o God. A murderer obliterates the image of his Creator in the extinction of human life and, therefore, deserves to die. This law which upholds the sanctity of human life has found its way into the laws of almost all nations, civilized or uncivilized. It was incorporated into the law of Israel, God's chosen nation and was one of the ten commandments. This same law is given to Christians in Romans 13:9 and means that Christian love fulfills those commandments. Murder is the taking of a human life without provocation or with malice aforethought. Murder has always been a violation of God's sacred code to preserve life.
Secondly, in the context of God's high esteem for human life, I would like to raise the question, “What is the Christian view of abortion? Is the life of an unborn child a matter of no concern? In Japan it is not a matter of concern, for women can have an abortion on demand. By encouraging abortion the Japanese have brought the growth rate of the country to almost zero which is one child per family. On the other hand the high court of Germany refused to legalize abortion. Many commentators have suggested that the German experience of the Third Reich, in which decisions were made as to which lives were “useful” and which were “useless,” made the German court cautious about a society which pronounces the lives of unborn children useless. I do not profess to have all the answers to this complex problem, but I believe it to be a most dangerous question, and one which Christians sometimes are called on to make a decision. There are three principal views on the subject. One is that abortion is a form of murder and is rightly called infanticide. To kill a baby before or after it is born is to take life without provocation. The second view says abortion is wrong and sinful, except in special circumstances such as rape, incest, and endangerment to the mother. Abortion is considered permissable in these special circumstances. The third view is that there is nothing whatever immoral or wrong in granting abortion on demand, for convenience or otherwise.
A great many Bible-believing people sincerely believe that abortion, whenever or however it is performed, constitutes murder.
Most all civilized nations have a law against infanticide which is the killing of a newly or recently born child. To kill a child afer it has been born is murder; no disagreement here. In ancient times infanticide was commonly and lawfully practiced and is still so among some savage and semi-civilized races. However, among civilized nations it is murder. Since abortion involves taking and destroying the life of a child, it necessarily raises the question, “Is it murder?” If not, why not? This
view says, “What is the difference in a hoodlum who takes a contract on the life of another for hire and a doctor who is hired by the parents of an innocent, unborn child to take its life.” To plan and carry through an abortion is, “playing God.” God gives life, and only He has the right to take it. Abortion is not just a matter of the mother's rights. The real question is, “Is it right before God?' At the time of conception, medical science teaches that a complete model of the person exists in the genetic code. Many think this is the moment the person begins because the DNA that makes him or her an individual is all present. The unborn child is a person in process of entering this world. It has rights, too. If we can believe our eyes, pictures of an unborn baby in the different stages of growth appears to be a being, a child, a person, not a thing, not an organ of its mother. If abortion is accepted, upon what grunds would we oppose so-called “mercy-killings” of the defective, elderly, insane and depraved? And is this practice really any different than the ancient Roman practice of infanticide? What is the difference inn killing a child at 90 days or 275 days after conception? The difference between an unborn child and newborn child is only a matter of time, not essence.. The only real difference is the way he feeds and obtains oxygen. Isaiah 44:2 says, “Thus says the Lord that made you and formed you from the womb....” Here the idea is taught that the child being formed in the womb is a person. I find it difficult to disagree with the argument that abortion is murder, period; that it is playing God, that God only has the right to take human life. I can't find a valid argument to brng against this view.
Nevertheless, I feel duty-bound to say a few words about the other viewpoints on the subject. The second approach to the problem may be called, “ The Modified Murder Viewpoint.” It maintains that abortion, as a general rule, is murder, but there are exceptions to the rule. Abortions performed because of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life are not murder. Some of the greatest opponents of abortion adopt this view. The Moral Majority and other pro-life groups go along with the idea that special circumstances, as just mentioned, would justify an abortion. They feel the taking of the life of an innocent and defenseless unborn child is just in these situations, but mourn taking the life. Their argument is that God is humanitarian and would not hold us responsible in these unusual situations. They further maintain that the life of the mother is of more value than that of the unborn child. Reference is made to Exodus 21:22 to support their belief. It says, “If men fight and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him,
and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life.” I really don't think this passage can be used to justify the taking of the life of an unborn child. If I understand the passage, it says if a man injures a woman with child so that the injury brings on labor, but she bears a live, uninjured child, he still may be fined as the husband decides. But if there is harm either to the child or to the mother, then he will pay life for life, tooth for tooth, hand for hand. It would seem that the teaching is that if a person causes the death of an unborn child by injuring the mother, he had to pay with his own life. There is no support in this passage for the idea that the destruction of an unborn child is guiltless.
Now our hearts go out in sympathy to those women who are with child because of criminal actions such as rape and incest. Everything in us says it is atrocious and causes us to cry out at the shameful, inhuman and weak laws of society against rape and incest. Our humanitarian feeling says that God will excuse abortion in such circumstances. This is the modified view on abortion. I have one great problem with this solution. Do we know that God will go along with our judgment? Those who espouse this view admit that they cannot know for sure what God would have them do in such a predicament. . Do we really have the right to play God? If rape and incest are the exceptions which make abortion permissable, who made the exceptions? Can we make these exceptions? Will God be merciful and forgiving to us if we take innocent life under these unusual and criminal situations? These are questions that trouble me. May God save you women from ever having to make such a decision as this.
My comments on the third view of the subject will be short, even though it is the most widely accepted view of all. It has been adopted by most of the nations of the world, including the United States who has passed it into law. It says women have the right to abortion on demand. They may demand it for economic reasons, for social reasons, or for reasons of convenience. It says a woman has the right to control her body as she sees fit. If the baby is unwanted, she has the right to destroy its life. Every mother has a right to say to her children she brought into the world, “It was my right to have killed you when you were still in my womb.” However, the Bible teaches that a woman's body belongs to God. Furthermore, how can women use as an argument the right to control their own bodies when it is a lack of control of their bodies which is the root of their problem? In most cases of abortion, the right they are really claiming is the right to commit fornication,
sexual relations outside of wedlock, without having to suffer any
consequences. Romans 7:4 states, “The wife has not power over her own body.”
Another argument of the Pro-Abortion Movement is that during the first few weeks of pregnancy, the unborn child is not a human being. Clinical terms are used to describe the unborn infant so that they do not have to call it a child or a person. In its first few weeks the child is called a zygote; up to three months it is called an embryo, and up to six months it is called a fetus. Using these impersonal terms gets them out of the dilemma of killing a person or human being. They agree that taking the life of a human being is murder, but to take the life of a mere fetus gets them off the hook. They killed a thing, not a person. We can call an unborn infant anything we want to , but the Bible calls it a child.
I will bring this discussion to a close by suggesting some wise alternatives to abortion, derived from wise, moral and Christian thinkers among us. I agree with those who believe, above all, that it God's will that both men and women practice moral chastity before marriage. No virgin was ever faced with the decision to have an abortion. That is what the Bible teaches that every woman should be before she is married. If this one Bible precept was observed it would amost put the abortion clinics out of business. The poor and those who have health problems can practice birth control to prevent conception. This is not wrong and is to be preferred to killing babies they have brought into being. The irresponsible and mentally ill could be volunatarily sterilized rather than destroy their ill-conceived offspring. Unwed mothers should bear their children with the aid and help of Christians and society. I have known Christian young women who made this mistake but brought the child into the world and cared for it. If possible both the boy and girl should marry; every child deserves to have a mother and father. Sadly, many young men are selfish and will not accept their responsibility to care for the girl and the child. My heart goes out to these mistreated young women. If the young woman decides not to keep the child, the next best thing is to offer the child for adoption to thousands of couples anxiously desiring to find children to grace their homes.
Finally, it is suggested that the danger of rape would be reduced if women would use wise precaution and discreetness in their conduct. I realize that often rape is impossible to prevent. She suffers a criminal attack. It would greatly help if women would not be on the streets late at night alone. Women and girls should always be escorted to their home by boyfriends, especially when the hour is late. Do not travel on freeways alone at night when car trouble might expose you to danger. Do
not walk on beaches at night. Dress modestly and get into the habit of being aware of those who are around you and in the vicinity of your whereabouts. Don't go on blind dates, especially on dates made on the Internet. Use the greatest wisdom, judgment and precaution in order that you may escape having to make a decision about abortion that so many women are having to make in our time. May God help every Christian and our national leaders to reverence the life made in the image of God.