The issue of abortion has been front and center in our national conversations ever since a Texas law was passed in May banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. The issue seems to be coming to a head now with the recent announcement that the Supreme Court of the United States will postpone other cases to fast tract the question of the constitutionality of this Texas law, hearing oral arguments on the case November 1st (the Supreme Court was already slated to hear arguments in December on a Mississippi abortion law).The Texas case was scheduled to be heard in the appeals courts, but just last week, the Biden Administration Justice Department made the request that this case be moved directly to the Supreme Court and a ruling made quickly. (Albert Mohler's The Briefing 10/22/21 & 10/25/21) Obviously, our government believes that the issue of abortion is very important, so as Christians, what ought we think and do about this controversial issue? Most of us are familiar with the issue- you have a women’s right to choose what happens to her own body (the issue of personal autonomy) on one hand, and you have the fight to save unborn babies on the other hand. The points of contention really boil down to two important questions:
1. When does the growing conceptus within a pregnant women become a separate human life? Some say at fertilization, others say when the baby takes its first breath, but many babies can be born months early and still live so how do you decide?
2. At what point is the developing conceptus given the same value and basic rights that are afforded to all other human beings? What gives humans value? Abilities like speech or intellect? Attributes like knowledge, strength or beauty? Family or friends? Or do all humans have innate value? In searching for the answer to these questions it is important to note that science says life begins at conception (see Focus of Family's article "Science vs. Bible: When Does Life Begin?").
It is also important to note that the actual text of the US Constitution never mentions abortion. Rather, if you read another text written by our nation’s founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, it states that we “are endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Yet, as Christians, we know that there is an authority much higher than science, much higher than the supreme court, and much higher than the documents of our founding fathers. The ultimate authority is God and his document, the Bible; so let’s hear what He says: In Psalm 139:13-16 the psalmist marvels at what God was doing before his birth- “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Note from this passage that we are not our own- it was God who “knitted me together in my mother’s womb...,” (see also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The creation belongs to the Creator, this flies in the face of the idea of us having “personal autonomy.” But it we pay attention to real life, none of us are ever truly “autonomous;” no one can do anything they want at any time except God. Even kings have to answer to the weather, to sickness, to invading armies. The desire for “personal autonomy” stems from our sinful nature which wants to be God.
Note also that our children do not belong to us. It is God who is creating a mother’s child even while he or she is still within the mother’s womb. Our children are a stewardship entrusted to us by God, not our possession.
Note that when God looks in the pregnant womb He sees a person, not a tissue that was going to become a person. Even when the Psalmist was an “unformed substance” in his mother’s womb, the Lord knew him. At the moment of conception God sees in his mind the entirety of that person’s future life; clearly the growing conceptus is a distinct human life for whom God has a special plan for at the moment of conception.
Note also, that though a pregnancy may be “unplanned” by the parents, there are no pregnancies that surprise God. Each pregnancy is planned by God. Note the phrase “fearfully and wonderfully made”- each person, even those born handicapped, are an amazing creation of immense value to God. How much does He value each unborn baby? Enough to come to earth, be knit into human flesh in a mother’s womb so that He, the Lord Jesus Christ, could die on a cross to pay for future sins (Mark 10:45) so that the life growing inside a mother could someday experience spiritual birth and live forever with God in heaven! Jesus’s life is of infinite value, making that unborn life whom He died for priceless in God’s eyes!
So, what would God’s answers be to the two questions above?
1. As soon as a conceptus appears in a mother’s womb it is a unique human life.
2. From conception every human life is of incalculable value because God loves each of us; Human rights and human value ultimately come from God
So how are we as Christian to respond to the abortion issue? First, we need to recognize abortion for what it truly is- the killing of any innocent human baby! God does not want us to turn a blind eye to this horrible practice. Second, we need to respond as Jesus would, in love. The unborn baby, the pregnant mother, and the doctor performing abortions are all dearly loved by God. In general, women contemplate abortion because they are in a very difficult situation. They need much more than someone to tell them that abortion is wrong; they need someone to come alongside them through this difficult situation to help them and show them Christ’s love. An unplanned pregnancy may seem like an impossible situation, but remember from Psalm 139, God has a plan for each baby and each mother. There is no pregnancy that God did not plan. He has a plan to help that mother get through the pregnancy; it may be God’s plan that through this pregnancy the mother comes to personally know Jesus. It may be God’s plan to use you to show her Christ and save two lives! Abortion is more than an issue to be debated. It is about real people who are struggling and there are real lives on the line. We need to vote for prolife candidates, write to our government leaders, support the prolife movement, but no matter what the Supreme Court rules, there are always going to be pregnant women who are struggling, and who need our help. More than ever, we need to support our local pregnancy resource centers, and our churches need to be welcoming the hurting and the needy, and we as the church need to be finding ways to reach out to abortion minded women.
The last thing I will mention is the first thing we should be doing- pray! Pray that the Supreme Court justices don’t cave to political pressure. Pray that the political leaders striving to pass prolife legislation will persevere. Pray that our pregnancy resources centers receive the funding and the volunteers that they need. Pray for the hurting families and abortion minded women in your area, that they might find help and find Jesus. Pray that God shows you the specific ways He wants you to help.