Forty years after being declared legal in the United States, abortion remains a polarizing topic in society and in politics. Judges nominated for the country's Supreme Court are analyzed for their views on the issue. It becomes a public feeding frenzy that excites emotions and splits society into opposing groups. Emotions become raw.
The continuing abortion debate reveals deep fears and division. It is tragic that such a matter as the life of a child in its mother's womb, something that should bring people together, continues to divide and tear the moral fabric of a people.
In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case Roe v. Wade that a woman's legal right to privacy extended to her decision to have an abortion.Thiseffectively legalized abortion. The result has been more than 50 million abortions in the United States over the last 40 years—a number equivalent to the entire populations of the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming combined.
Each year more than a million babies are aborted in the United States—a number greater than the population of any American city other than the nine largest and roughly equal to all the military deaths in all the wars in the nation's 237-year history.
Worldwide, the annual number is many, many times that—an appalling 44 million. China alone admits to more than 13 million per year. And since 1980, an estimated 1.2 to 1.3 billion abortions have been carried out around the globe—a number equaling more than one sixth of the current world population. This is far greater than all those killed in all wars in recent centuries.
Our minds reel at such figures. But what should we think about this issue? Where do you stand on the issue of abortion? Do you support it as a woman's right over her own body? Do you support it only in the case of rape, incest or where a woman's life may be endangered? Or do you, as many do, oppose it in any form? Who has the right to judge this matter?
Much more than just politics
Abortion is an emotional issue. It's also a legal issue where states make it so. It's also a moral issue. But most of all it's a spiritual issue. Regrettably, most don't recognize this. God is the Creator of life. What God says is the final word. His Word issued from His throne in heaven is the ultimate "supreme court"—a judgment no man or court of men could ever overrule.
The debate about abortion, the taking of a life from the womb of a mother, must be understood within a framework that starts with what the Creator of life says about His creation. God's Word, the Bible, is our foundation—our starting point for understanding.
The taking of life is not a mere political issue. If you think it is, you're wrong. It's a moral and ethical matter because life belongs to God. He created life, and He sustains all life on this planet. So His Word alone is where we begin to truly understand this issue.
Let's go to the Bible, to its beginning with the record of creation and then beyond, to understand what it says about life. Let's notice what is recorded there for us:
"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7). Here we are told that it is God who created human life. His breath animated Adam, the first man. God as Creator of life holds the judgment about life.
In Exodus we find the Ten Commandments. The sixth declares, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13, emphasis added throughout). The Sixth Commandment speaks strongly to the sanctity of created life. Only God who gave life has the authority to take life or order others to take it.
What about the unborn?
Does this verse apply to the unborn? You'll see that it does if you consider the unborn child to be human, to have life.
God takes great care in these founding documents for mankind. These writings were forged in a different world than ours, and they map out His view of human life. Scripture says that human beings are created in His image. Life began when He breathed it into the first man. Human life is of God. Therefore, it is sacred.
God took great care to show that human life must be protected, even in the womb. Notice this example, again in Exodus: "If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely . . . he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine" (Exodus 21:22).
The description here is of a pregnant woman "with child"—a human life, not a mass or blob of tissue!
Exodus 21:23 continues, "But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life." In other words, if the injury to the woman results in the death of the unborn, considered here a life, then it is called murder—with the penalty being a life for a life.
The Bible considers the unborn in the mother's womb to be a human life—nothing less. It's considered murder to take an action that destroys that unborn life!
Another key reference in Scripture about life in the womb is found in the story of Jeremiah, one of the major prophets of the Bible. In Jeremiah 1:5 God tells him, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5).
There are enough references in the Bible to the life of an infant in the womb to give understanding that God considers the unborn child to be a human life. Consider also John the Baptist leaping for joy in his mother Elizabeth's womb when her cousin Mary came near carrying Jesus in her womb (Luke 1:39-45).
The argument that an unborn child is not human or not really life is one of the most insidious arguments used by abortion proponents. To be blunt, it's an argument meant to remove any guilt that the decision to abort is the taking of innocent human life.
God, the Creator of all life, sees all aspects of life within His creation. He considers the life of a child in the womb to be something known by Him even at that stage of development. If God knows the child in the womb, it's a life that should be protected and cherished.
The amazing purpose for human life
How important is a human life? How vital is life—every human life—to God the Creator?
The answer is that human life is the center focus of God's plan and purpose for the universe. Notice this all-important passage King David wrote in the Psalms:
"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands; you have put all things under his feet" (Psalm 8:3-6, English Standard Version).
In Hebrews 2 this passage is quoted and developed with a fuller revelation and explanation of man's destiny:
"For in that He [God] put all in subjection under him [mankind], He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:8-9).
The next verse goes on to explain that part of Jesus Christ's mission and purpose was to bring "many sons to glory" (Hebrews 2:10). But what does that mean?
God's purpose for human beings is to expand His divine family with "sons and daughters" (2 Corinthians 6:18) created through a process ending in a change from physical flesh to glorified spirit through a resurrection. This is the divine reason for life, and the human act of reproduction is a model of that great process that will lead to the birth of children into God's immortal spirit family.
When human beings decide for themselves to intervene in and terminate the process of human life, they wrongly take for themselves the decision to end the life of one created to ultimately become part of the family of God! (To learn more, read "The Mystery of Human Existence: Why Are You Here?".)
A culture of self-deification and death
Abortion is the deliberate taking of innocent human life. It is murder. The arguments that seek to split hairs about when life begins and whether a child in the womb of a woman is "viable life" are the height of human pride. The arguments over "rights" and "freedom" of a woman's power over her own body, and whether any human government can define life, is a modern tower of Babel—an insult to God and His divine Word. It is a modern form of idolatry where the self—and the supposed rights of self—are worshipped and esteemed higher than God.
In abortion we have created a culture of self-deification. We have made ourselves "like God" (Genesis 3:5). We say we will determine what is good and evil, right and wrong. We say that human life is nothing more than meaningless tissue that can be disposed of at will and at any time during the nine months of pregnancy. We say that a man and a woman can decide the power of life or death on a growing child created in the image of God with the potential of becoming God's own son or daughter.
If you know someone who is considering abortion, have them read this article or get reputable counseling. The life of unborn children should be regarded as precious and protected—not something to be callously extinguished through this terrible act.
It must begin with you and in you. You can decide to change. You can decide to turn from this culture and evil and death and choose to follow life. You can turn to the God of life. The Creator of all life offers you the chance to choose to love Him and obey His teachings.
By making this conscious choice you can increase the quality of your life. By grabbing hold of God, His teachings and His laws you can begin a journey back from this abyss created by a lawless world. You can turn from the self-centered culture that dares to redefine life on its own terms.
What we are asking you to do right now is examine your values and turn to God for help. Read what the Bible tells you about your destiny. Look into God's plan for your life and begin today to live with His purpose guiding your steps.
Have you chosen in the past to end a pregnancy? God offers forgiveness and hope. His grace is available when there is repentance and change of heart. You can move on from that decision and build a life based on God's knowledge.
God, the Creator of life, has set before us the most incredible promise of divine life within His family. The life He sustains on this planet today is the seed for His eternal spiritual family. All human life is precious to God, even the life of unborn children. We cannot and must not compromise on this point!
God laid out the teachings that protect life. He tells us to choose life. When we do, we honor life's Creator.
Child Sacrifice: We're Not So Different Today
Of all ancient practices of pagan religion, the most hideous were those that involved child sacrifice.
In the lands of the Middle East and areas around the Mediterranean Sea, this involved the ritual murder of children, often in fire and presided over by a priesthood with the approval of the worshippers.
A child could be placed on an open fire or into an open burning chasm of a metal idol representing gods such as Baal or Molech. Done to appease a god and to gain favor for an abundant harvest, victory in battle or the defeat of one's enemies, these cruel acts litter the ancient world.
One well-known cemetery, full of the bones of thousands of infant sacrifices, has been found at the site of ancient Carthage in North Africa. Burials of infant bones and skulls with signs of violent death have been unearthed. Sadly, even the Bible tells of a time in the biblical kingdom of Judah when child sacrifice was carried out in Jerusalem under certain kings.
Any modern nation that chooses to commit child sacrifice in the name of "pro-choice," "family planning" or "abortion rights" should learn a lesson from these examples. The lesson is this: Any culture or people that has participated in child sacrifice has declined and disappeared from history. Ancient Carthage was destroyed by Rome. The Romans sowed salt into its land so it would never rise again. Idolatry eventually won out in Judah, and it was invaded and destroyed by Babylon—its temple razed and the people deported.
We're not so different today. While ancient people would murder their children to please a false god, modern people do the same in honor of a different kind of god—the god of self. This is a hard saying, but it is the truth. The unborn are slaughtered in the millions when they interfere with the pursuit of selfish pleasure and the gods of convenience.
A Lesson About Life From Mary
We can learn a significant lesson about human life (and its implications for abortion) by examining the most unique pregnancy in all of history—the birth of Christ to a young woman named Mary. Some of the main elements we see in today's debate about abortion are found here.
Let's look at it in the New Testament book of Luke, where Christ's birth is announced: "Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!' . . .
"'And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus' . . . Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I do not know a man?'" (Luke 1:26-34).
This pregnancy was unplanned by Mary. She was a young woman with no sexual experience. She was "betrothed," similar to our modern form of engagement, to a man named Joseph. While the two had committed to each other, the formal wedding had not taken place. In that day and culture such a pregnancy out of wedlock held lifelong consequences. Mary was on the verge of becoming a single, unwed mother consigned to a life of poverty and shame, or possibly being stoned to death. First-century Israelite society was less forgiving than our modern cultures. The temptation to terminate the pregnancy could have been strong.
Joseph, her husband, had some initial doubts and embarrassment. Matthew's account tells us He "was minded to put her away secretly"—to break their betrothal agreement and cancel their upcoming marriage—because he did not want to bring embarrassment on the family.
But after the appearance of an angel to him in a dream as he slept, Joseph accepted that Mary's pregnancy was of God in fulfillment of a divine plan (Matthew 1:18-25). He may not have understood every detail, but he accepted his role. By accepting this, his life was forever changed. He accepted responsibility for the life of a son who was not biologically his. Joseph's act was one of the most noble that a man, a true man, can do. He accepted the role of fatherhood.
Mary's decision to keep the child growing in her womb also says something to a modern mind. In Luke's account, after Mary learns her life has been turned upside down by this unexpected event, she accepts her role and says to the angel, "Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).
Notice these words: "Let it be"—simply let it be.
What if today, so many who become pregnant, for whatever reason, would simply say, "Let it be"—out of respect for God, life's Creator?
Mary and Joseph held a high regard for God and for life. Here in this example we see the foundational truth to frame a discussion about abortion and life at any time and in any place. It is the sanctity of life.
And here we must also point out the life Mary held in her womb was not just any life. It was the life of the one called "the Son of the Highest" (verse 32). He was the one called "the Word" who had been "with God, and . . . was God" (John 1:1). He was the One who would live a perfect life and die for the sins of the world. He was the Christ, the Messiah.
Here is what is vital for you to understand. This key event—the conception, birth, life and death of Jesus Christ—had to occur in history just as it had been prophesied long before in the Scriptures. Without this event occurring, there would be no hope of salvation and eternal life for any man, woman or child from any race and time. This pregnancy had to go full term. This life, forming in the womb of Mary, was the answer to man's greatest yearning—eternal life. Without it there was, and is, no hope!
Consider also: When did Christ's human life begin? When did the Word become flesh—at His birth or nine months earlier at His conception in Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit? (John 1:14; Matthew 1:20.) Clearly it was at conception.
Do we understand then this vital lesson from the life of Mary? What if she had decided to abort her child? What if this birth had not happened? It may sound academic and merely an argument for the sake of argument, but it raises an uncomfortable issue for the modern mind.