Tuesday, December 2, 2008


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.

Bill Ball


Mike said...

This is well thought out on a lot of levels and backed up with scripture. I'm not sure that I entirely agree, but I at least mostly agree.

I think abortion can be a litmus test of sorts; I tend to look at it as one of the factors when voting, but certainly not the only factor.

Also, I look at a candidate's ability to affect the abortion issue directly if elected. For county drain commissioner or village trustee, I would think this would be a non-issue. For state legislator or governor, maybe it would have more weight in my decision as a voter.

On the presidential level, however, abortion is a critical issue for me. Presidents shape the courts (the Supreme Court and all federal courts), and the courts are where this issue has been decided and, fortunately or not, is where the issue continues to evolve. Roe V. Wade may be 35 years old, but it is hardly "settled" law at this point, contrary to what many would have us believe. There have been at least 34 Supreme Court decisions directly related to Roe V. Wade since the abortion law was "written" by a majority of justices in 1973, and many other cases that they have looked at since then without rendering a decision. This certainly does not sound like settled law to me. Within the social context of the country abortion is nowhere near being settled, and likely will not be for some time to come, if ever.

This issue is of such magnitude that the approach, from my perspective, must be both political and socio-religious (my really bad attempt at coining a word). This issue must be approached from all open avenues. That is the way I see this, but I certainly see and respect your point as well; and I respect other Christians who may agree with you on this (i.e., I don't think that it makes you a bad Christian; in fact, I don't really know what a bad Christian is honestly; I really don't look at Christians in terms of good, better, best).

There is my two-cents, which is to say some opinion pocket-change.

Bill Ball said...

Thanks Mike for your comments and for respecting my views. i really don't know if there are many other Christians who do share my views. By the way, I looked up socio-religious in my Webster's and sorry, it's already there, dated to 1871 :^(

Mike said...

Huh. I wonder if the definition of socio-religious is the same as I imagined when I used it. (I guess it is harder than you think to coin a "new" word.) I'll have to look it up.

Jared Gould said...


As always I enjoy reading your posts, but more importantly they usually seem to right along with conversations I have with the folks around me.

Just the other day a friend and I were discussing abortion as an issue, and in a friendly way. And during the course of our conversation I couldn't help wondering as (as she discussed an article by an author you've likely read "the most modern published and cited theologian" - to which the name totally escapes me).

Anyway, the point being I began to wonder if abortion was more a "root" problem in the church and society, or if it was a "branch/leaf/stem" issue. Now try to hang in here with me for a this, as I am discussing not fully developed ideas.

But my thoughts seem to rest that abortion seems to be a branch/leaf "problem". In that as much, as a body we should do a better job of supporting women and loving them well. While I don't know what that looks like to a directly - I usually can identify it when I experience it in the body of believers (for my own self anyway, don't go reading in to that too deep, haha).

Maybe, just maybe, the issue isn't so much at hand as it is a heart/root issue of.... I am not sure where I am going here... but of taking care to be sure that we are meeting the needs of others as the Lord intended. Then, (though I know prostitution and abortion of been going on since the begining of time) those that consider to take such measures would have "alternatives". I think somehow the issue of dealing in a very real way with human suffering is tied in, but my thoughts are incomplete.... yet again.

And as for Mike and his contributions, I believe through my study of history (American) most issues that have been of great change in our culture and revision to standards of issues, civil rights, gender, equality, and the like have often (and still do) take some time to be made "concrete". Though as with the great cases of slavery or other even modern day issues such as racism, civil unions, ets... they aren't changed the day of decission or legislature but are battled out in society.

Just as the community has the right to determine what is indecent or pornographic; so our culture on a much larger scale must determine through the victors and flip-flops in minoroty(here meaning in less than majority) right... before ever coming to some seemingly cohesive form or status. And sometimes that just seems to be necessary that those who live through eras of heated issues passing away and the statute being taught as status quo before a "norm" is developed.

Dennis Cook said...

Ah, there is that famous “single issue” phrase again. I myself have been accused of being just that. Often I have wanted to shout back my whole list of issues but have resisted. I talk about many things but I love to talk politics with friends. I find that I truly get to know a person when doing so. Yes “abortion” is on my list as I look at voting for a candidate. I like what Jared says about different offices; county treasurer vs. president of the USA. Abortion, like so many other issues is being pushed on us as American citizens by the courts system. If individual states choose to allow it then so be it but having the courts say something like that is constitutional is wrong. Yes, abortion is top on my list but not the only item on that list. Some of the other items on my list are right up there. Who has the candidate hung around? What type of work has the candidate done? How does the candidate treat his/her spouse, children? What is his prior voting record? Does the candidate believe in free market (capitalism) or heavy government involvement (socialism); tax at a set level and spend at a much higher level. This does not cover the list only because there are so many areas that a good comparison should be done. It use to be that the national news medias would really dig into each candidate and convently pass on their findings for the mass to read. I only remember the Kennedy presidency and quite frankly it has been the just great coverage for one particular political group over the other. Reporters have no problems supporting a person with glee and still call themselves objective reporters.

“Vote your pocketbook” is another common phrase and I struggle with its meaning. Does it mean I vote to get more money put in my pocket book or does it mean that I vote to keep more of my money or does it mean that I get to vote how much money you take out of your pockets?

I reject most of the courts decisions when the decision is nothing but rewriting of the original law. Perhaps a much more drastic form of rejection will soon follow. When a state passes and puts into practice a new law, no court has a right to strike it down.

So now what to do. I could not vote for neither of the presidential candidates. I did Like the VP choice but would have prefer her as president, not VP. So I did not cast a vote for president. I learned many years ago that God sets up all presidents and I believe the same is true today. In my small uneducated mind, family tradition plays a part, my studies of scripture plays a part. The one true-ism I would like to hold to is the candidate fails in one of these areas, don’t vote for him/her. God will fill the spot just fine. I can’t get myself to support or even vote for a candidate that has open values against God. God is no dummy, He alone knows who and why I voted and I would like to have at least one less sin between He and I.