It would seem that most of my evangelical Christian friends regard abortion as the defining issue of our day. It is considered to be THE issue on which political decisions must be made. Any political candidate who is pro-abortion (or pro-choice) is considered unqualified for office, especially national: president, congress or judgeship.
I feel that I may, by disagreeing with them, be considered by some to be ignorant, contrary, or just plain “liberal” (There also are probably some who will consider me an ultra-conservative.) I know that those who have known me, while they may disagree, will continue to love and respect me. I pray that those who read this post will hear me out.
Abortion is a sin. It is the taking of an innocent human life, and unless there are justifiable reasons, it seems that it should be considered to be the same as murder or at least manslaughter. (See THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE.)
This argument is based on the Bible’s teaching that the unborn fetus is a human being.
-- The creation of man was apparently completed with the creation of the first couple (Genesis 1:26, 27; 2:7). There is no biblical data that speaks of a further creation. The soul as well as the body originate by propagation and are passed on from the parents in some way.
-- Men are said to exist “in the loins” of their ancestors (Genesis 46:26; Hebrews 7:9, 10, commenting on Genesis 14:17-20).
-- The sinful nature is said to be transmitted at conception (Psalm 51:5). When David said, “ … in sin my mother conceived me,” he was not claiming that his parents had an illicit sexual affair, but that he was a sinner from the instant of conception. And, or course, only persons are sinners.
-- There are a number of scriptural passages which imply that an unborn child is a person:
-- “And the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you …’” (Jeremiah 1:4, 5).
-- “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13; see all of verses 13-16).
-- “And it came about, when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb (Luke 1:41) … ‘the baby leaped in my womb for joy!’” (1:44). The Greek word translated “baby” here is brephos, the same word that is used in 2:12, 16 to describe the newborn Jesus.
The Bible agrees here with all modern biology which tells us that there is no point at which the fetus cannot be considered human.
There is one passage of Scripture that is claimed to contradict the above:
It has been claimed that Exodus 21:22-25 speaks of a miscarriage resulting from a blow to a pregnant woman. According to this argument only a fine was to be paid as determined by the courts. This proves that the miscarried fetus was not considered human.
However, the passage does not speak directly of a miscarriage. Verse 22 says more literally “if her children come out.” Two things should be noted. The Hebrew word is YELED, which normally means “child” or “children.” It also does not say the child came out dead. Verse 23 and 29 apply the Law of LEX TALIONIS in this case. “But if there is injury … (apparently to either mother or child) … then you shall appoint life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth” … etc. This then would seem to assume the humanity of the child.
There are possible exceptions claimed:
-- If abortion is normally considered to be murder, than most of the various reasons for abortion which are often cited, are not valid exceptions (rape, incest, deformity, retardation). These are no more appropriate than the taking of the life of a child already born.
-- One valid exception would be the case where the continued existence of the fetus threatens the life of the mother. The taking of the life of the fetus would be considered a defense of the life of the mother and therefore not murder. The mother's life and person is known, that of the fetus, though actually human, is only potential.
If we accept the above arguments and agree that the unborn fetus has value as a human being, then I believe we have to recognize that many of our currently acceptable methods of birth control are unacceptable. Much has been make of the “morning after” pill, which supposedly keeps the newly conceived embryo from developing. Also would be included would be intrauterine devices, which do the same thing. We need to distinguish between birth control which prevents conception and birth control that prevents development.
We also need to examine artificial means of conception, such as in vitro fertilization, which causes a need to in some way dispose of fertilized eggs.
What is the church’s responsibility toward abortion today?
-- Our first responsibility is to teach, to give a clear biblical position on the issue. We should teach that sin is sin. We also need to recognize that abortion is going on today even among our good church people.
-- We must extend the grace of God to the persons who have had abortions –the mothers and the fathers of aborted children. It is not our responsibility to treat them as criminals. We must let them know that they are sinners, but not simply because of the abortion, and then let them know that there is total forgiveness in Christ.
-- Our evangelistic efforts toward these persons should be motivated by a desire to convert them to Christ, not to enlist them in a political campaign.
-- The church should extend to all forgiven sinners a welcome and a special compassion. Often the person who has had an abortion is burdened with a sense of shame and psychological “guilt.” We should not add to that shame and guilt.
However, there are reasons why I do not believe that abortion should be the one defining issue in our politics.
-- Abortion, like other social evils, cannot simply be voted out of office. The church has responsibilities, as I have mentioned above. “Because it is time for judgment to begin from the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). We as a church must clean up our own act first.
-- Single-issue politics keeps us from looking at the total picture. If we see the totality of our politics and our voting as wrapped up in a candidate’s stated position on one or two issues, we may neglect (and I believe have neglected) other issues. It would seem that if a candidate proclaims him or herself “pro-life,” we are willing to forgive them for other sins and inadequacies.
-- The big concern seems to be Roe vs. Wade. I’m not a lawyer, but I believe this was a bad decision. However, it’s been on the books for over 35 years (23 years during a Republican administration, 12 years with a Democrat administration) and there seems no indication of any change in the immediate future. Besides even if it were overturned tomorrow, it wouldn’t be long before most states would have laws permitting abortion. And even if this were not so, abortions would continue. This sin is too entrenched in our society for it to simply be legislated away.
-- There are other “life” issues that need to be addressed, both in the church and in the nation:
-- War – just or unjust (See THE CHRISTIAN AND WAR.)
-- Exploitation of the poor here in America and elsewhere.
I will continue to vote my conscience as a citizen of two kingdoms. I will seek to find the candidates who agree with my “values” in certain areas. But I will be more concerned with whether the candidate is a person of integrity, a candidate who desires to serve his or her country. I will also be concerned with whether that candidate is capable of handling the job.