Speaking Sound Doctrine


IX.   Abortion

A.     Introduction

We would be hard pressed to find a more emotionally charged issue in the United States today than the debate that rages around the subject of abortion.  Politically, careers hang in the balance depending upon how one views the subject.  Legally, the questions rage around the legal status of the unborn child.  Biologically, the question is "when does human life actually begin".  Morally, the question is, "Is it murder?"  It is a question about which Christians must have an opinion, and that opinion must be the right one.

1.        The Size of the Problem

In 1979 the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote, "When the Supreme Court knocked out state anti-abortion laws six years ago, it made legal killing the nation's most common form of surgery.  The toll so far is awesome:  At least 6,000,000 legal abortions since that January 22, 1973 decree, close to two a minute.  Look at Washington D.C., the nation's if not the world's abortion capital:  in 1976, an unbelievable 9102 abortions were performed on white women for every 1000 live births.  For other races the ration was 2210 for every 1000 babies born."

2.        What is Abortion?

Simply put, an abortion is the destruction and discarding of an unborn baby.  There are several methods of abortion normally performed.  It is beyond the scope of this study to examine them in any detail.  It will be sufficient to state that a description of what actually takes place is as horrific as any torture imaginable.  One particularly gruesome and controversial method is called a "partial birth" abortion.  In this, as the name suggests, the baby is essentially killed while partway through the mother's birth canal.

B.     Pro-Abortion Arguments

1.        "Abortion is allowable if, in the opinion of the mother, a birth would cause economic or social difficulties."

A statement such as this demonstrates that it is time to evaluate priorities and values.  Should economic and social considerations be placed above life?

Psalm 127:3-5

Children are to be a blessing from God, not a curse.

1Timothy 2:15

This teaches that in child-bearing women can find a wonderful blessing.  Certainly, finances and social activities plan an important role in our lives, but any decisions we make concerning them must be made from a proper biblical perspective.  The Bible teaches that children are a marvelous blessing from God, and to view them as an unwanted burden, either economically or socially, is to have a completely perverted set of priorities.

To kill and destroy an unborn baby simply because it is going to be a burden is the highest form of arrogance, abhorrence, and selfishness.  The mother has options other than simply killing her baby.  If she is not financially able to care for the baby, she can find suitable adoptive parents, which is the highest form of humility, love, and selflessness: characteristics of God himself.

Ephesians 1:3-6

2.        "Abortion is justified when there is the likely prospect that the child will be born mentally or physically defective."

Once again the question of values and priorities could be raised, but there is another way to look at this argument.

Hebrews 9:27

We are all going to die.  This question is, does that give me the right, or anyone the right, to decide to end the life of an unborn baby who is as much alive as you or me?  The answer to that question is that we do not have the right.  All through the Bible murder is condemned.  Defective or not, that human being growing in the womb of it 's mother is still created in the image of God and we do not have the right to end his or her existence.

3.        "Abortion is justified for medical reasons – i.e., to save the life of the mother."

To set the record straight, such cases are very rare and becoming more so all the time.  However, this issue is, does the mother's health warrant the killing of her tiny son or daughter?  There is a lesson taught in Proverbs that is helpful in this case.

 Proverbs 18:14

Think about this for a minute: my physical condition is important, but more so are those qualities in my spirit that make me what I am.  We can never violate divine teaching in pursuit of physical comfort or even life.

Let's look at a parallel.  Suppose that you were dying, and you needed a kidney to live.  Let's suppose that you knew someone who has a kidney that your body would accept.  Now this potential donor is very much alive, but you are stronger then he is.  If you wanted his kidney, could you take it by force?  Would you be justified in killing this person so that you may live?

4.        "Abortion is justified in cases or rape and incest."

Isn't it interesting that our society has determined that a guilty rapist cannot be executed for his crime, but then it turns right around and says that if pregnancy results from that rape you can execute the innocent unborn child?

Surely in situations such as this the mental and emotional anguish must be tremendous.  But the Bible teaches that God will not allow us to be tested beyond that which we are able to bear.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Therefore, if a burden has been placed upon me and there is not a right means of removing that burden given in God's word, then He has promised to sustain me through it.  Listen to the Lord's instruction:

Hebrews 4:15, 16

The Lord invites us to approach Him when our burdens are great.  If in these cases abortion is justified because of the mental anguish, then what we are saying is that emotional stress and anguish justifies the killing of another human being.  That simply is not morally right and proper.  Rather than resorting to killing to relieve mental stress we must turn to God, and with His help, learn to deal with circumstances as they are.

C.     Who Has The Right?

The ultimate goal of those who desire abortion on-demand is that abortion should be an absolute right and that law should not interfere, except to regulate the standards of those doing the abortions.  This is based upon the assumption that a woman has the right to control her own body.  A leading feminist by the name of Margaret Sanger said, "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."  The belief that a woman has the right to control her own body and therefore have an abortion if she wants one must be rejected for the reasons that follow. 

Only God has absolute rights.  We have rights, but they are only privileges that God has given us.  Mankind has no absolute rights.  No one has the rights to his or her own body.  Whatever liberties God has extended to us, the freedom to do whatever we want with our bodies with impunity is not one of them.

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

Titus 2:14

In marriage, control over one's body is given to the marriage partner.

1 Corinthians 7:4

The non-Christian, also, still has responsibilities to God as his Creator.  Besides, even if the mother had rights over her own body, that unborn child is not part of her body.  This is a simple biological fact.  That child has a separate blood supply, separate circulatory system, separate heartbeat, separate brainwaves, and even it's own separate will very early along.  From the day of fertilization the human embryo is distinctly foreign tissue to it's mother.  In abortion, a completely separate human being is destroyed.

One more comment is needed to Margret Sanger's statement.  When a woman makes the conscious choice of becoming sexually active, she must also accept the possibility of conceiving a child.  It is a necessary and unavoidable possible consequence of her actions.

D.     A Scriptural Approach

There are many different approaches that can be taken when discussing abortion from a negative standpoint, but the most important viewpoint of all is scripture.  As with all our examination of moral issues, we will focus on what the Bible says about the life of the unborn child developing within it's mother's womb.

Much of the debate centers around whether or not the developing child is really a human being, in the same sense that we are.  The pro-abortionists would be forced to deny that the unborn child is fully human.  The question is, what does the Creator of life say?  If we can show that the Creator, God, views the developing child as a distinct, very real human being, then for all good and honest hearts, the debate is ended – abortion would be murder.

1.        God's Life-giving Effort

Genesis 1:27 – 2:7

God created human life only once, after that, He was finished with all and rested from His creative work.  From that point, life procreates.  The idea of procreation is that new life begins, not that life begins.  Life is a continuous process.  The question inside the womb is not "when does life begin?" but "when does a new life begin?"

2.        God's Activity In The Womb

Job 10:8-12

Job is talking about the process of his own bodily formation.  In very beautiful poetic language, Job describes his development in the womb.  He begins by comparing his formation to the pouring out of milk into a container, suggesting the beginning of fertilization.  Then, God begins to "stir the milk", turning it into cheese, or the finished product.  God is directly and intimately involved with the child from the start to the finish.  This is not some inhuman mass of tissue that God does not become involved with until birth, but rather this is a human being that God loves.  According to verses 11 and 12, God Himself develops our frame and grants life and loving-kindness.  This is hardly descriptive of an inhuman mass of tissue.

Jeremiah 1:4, 5

Once again we witness God's direct involvement with the child in it's mother's womb.  This passage so clearly bears this out for it declares that God "knew" Jeremiah and consecrated him before he was born.  This demonstrates that the developing child was viewed not as a mass of tissue only, but as a person, a human being.  In this case, a human being who was set aside for service to the Lord prior to his birth, while still within the womb.

Psalm 139:13-16

This passage gives perhaps the most complete account of prenatal development in scripture.  The whole psalm has as it's basic message the inescapable presence of God.  It shows that no matter where we go, we cannot flee from our Creator.  Why is God so intimately concerned about mankind?

When David begins verse 13 with the word "for", he is about to tell us that God's constant interest in man is simply the natural interest that a maker would have in a very special product.  God had formed man's "inward parts".  Literally translated this would be "kidneys", referring to man's most deep-seated organs.  We are told that He weaved man in the mother's womb.  What a graphic term to describe the process of development whereby God took the basic frame of man, which He had created, and laced it with series after series of cartilage, muscle, blood vessels, and tissue.  Yes, God seeks us now because he made us then, and from our very earliest moments we were in His tender loving care.  No wonder David exclaims, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made". 

In verse 15, David is saying that even though this work is being performed out of the sight of man, God is there.  He is skillfully forming the tissues and organs that physically are a person.  Verse 16 shows that even before there is a discernible form to the human frame, God has his watchful eyes upon him.  The word for "unformed substance" literally means something folded into the shape of an egg, much like a very early embryo.  The point seems to be that even though this developing person does not look human yet, God is aware, interested, and active.  His eye is upon the developing child and in a very real sense He is governing and guiding the development.  It is interesting, also, that in these verses, David uses first person pronouns: "I, me, my".  He regarded God to be at work with him personally, not merely with some mass of tissue that would later become a person.

When carefully considered, this passage must inspire respect for unborn human life.  God is at work there.  However, such respect for the Origin of life is not to be found among the pro-abortionists.  Abortion is foul-tampering with the handiwork of God.

3.        Human Activity In The Womb

Luke 1:39-45

This is the account of two pregnant women, carrying extraordinary children, and their coming together.  Elizabeth was carrying John, and of course, Mary was carrying our Lord.  By looking at this passage we can gain insights into the status of the unborn.  Look at verse 36: Elizabeth was in her sixth month.  (Today, less and less protection is being given to a six month old fetus.)  As Mary came to Elizabeth and greeted her, John, the six-month-old developing baby within her leaped for joy.  This wasn't just some sort of quickening or small movement, this was a very human reaction.  This was also not coincidence; the Holy Spirit saw fit to specify that the reason was for joy.  Here is proof that a developing unborn baby at the sixth month is capable of expressing joy: a human emotion.

Now, what of Jesus?  We really do not know how far along Mary was at this time, but it is obvious that she was not too far into her pregnancy.  In Luke 1:26-38, we are told about the angel appearing to Mary and telling her what was going to take place.  In verse 39 of that chapter we find that "in those days" Mary arose and went to Elizabeth.  So it was very soon after her conception that Mary went to her cousin Elizabeth.  Jesus would have been very early in His development; according to pro-abortion arguments, He would not have been human.  Yet, when Mary brought the unborn Jesus close to the unborn John, there was a leap of joy.  It wasn't the arrival of Mary or an non-human mass of living tissue that prompted John's joy, it was the arrival in his home of the unborn Savior of the world.  The passage is not just the account of the meeting of two expectant mothers – it is the account of the meeting of two as yet unborn children.

4.        A Fetus Is A Human Baby

The Law Of Moses contains ordinances concerning the death of an unborn baby.  Read carefully these verses:

Exodus 21:22-25

The NAS is a poor translation in this passage; it reads, "If men…strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined."  The English word "miscarriage" means the birth of a dead child.  From here, one would think that Moses' law states that if a man strikes a pregnant woman so that the baby dies, his punishment would not be for murder if no "further" injury resulted.  However, the word here translated "miscarriage" simply means "to come out, to exit, to go forth," and the word "further" was added by the translators.  All other reputable translations indicate that the baby simply comes out, alive or dead: either a miscarriage or a premature birth.  The ordinance continues to stipulate that if no lasting harm results, that is, if the baby is born alive, he shall merely be fined.  However, if injury follows to either the mother or the baby, he shall be punished life for life, limb for limb.  If the baby is born dead, he will pay with his life, as if he had killed anyone else.  The law makes no distinction between killing a man and killing a fetus: it is the taking of a human life.

Interestingly, in the original language of the New Testament, there is no equivalent for our English word "fetus."  One word in Greek was used in scripture to refer to babies both born and unborn: BREPHOS.  J. H. Thayer defines this as "1) an unborn child, embryo, a fetus; 2) a new-born child, an infant, a babe."  Note these verses from the NKJ using the word BREPHOS:

Luke 1:41                      Unborn:   babe = BREPHOS

Luke 1:44                      Unborn:   babe = BREPHOS

Luke 2:12, 16                 Born:      babe = BREPHOS

2 Timothy 3:15              Born:      childhood = BREPHOS

1 Peter 2:2                    Born:      new-born babes = BREPHOS

The inspired writers felt no need to show any distinction between children before and after birth – one word was sufficient to speak of both.  Actually, this word usage in scripture describes unborn life, new-born life, and childhood.  The conclusion is obvious: childhood extends into the womb.

The pro-abortionists prefer not to speak of the unborn this way.  The term "product of conception" has even been used to refer to the unborn baby so we might not so easily think of it as a human life.  Rarely today do we hear of a pregnant woman as being "with child."

5.        The Act Of Begetting

The New Testament word in the original Greek for giving birth and bearing offspring is GENNAO (from whence, "generation").  Thayer defines this "of men who fathered children, to be born, to be begotten, of women giving birth to children…"   An interesting use of this word is found in Matthew 1.  The first 16 verses list the genealogy of Jesus.  In each verse, this word, GENNAO is used to indicate that a man fathered a son.  However, in verse 20 an angel tells Joseph that which is conceived in Mary is of the Holy Spirit.  The word "conceived" here is the same word: GENNAO, or begotten.  The Holy Spirit uses the same word to refer to either the process of conception or the process of birth without distinction.  Christ was begotten of God before His birth.  He was the living Son of God inside the womb as much as He was after His birth.

The point is this: the only event that we can logically look to as the beginning of the new life is conception.

6.        "Without Natural Affection"

Romans 1:31

2 Timothy 3:3

The word translated "unloving" or "without natural affection" is ASTORGOS (from "A," meaning "without" and "STORGE," meaning "family love").  In his Daily Study Bible work, William Barclay writes this about Romans 1:31:

"STORGE was the special Greek word for family love.  It was quite true that this was an age in which family love was dying.  Never was the life of the child so precarious as at this time.  Children were considered a misfortune.  When a child was born, the child was taken and laid at the father's feet.  If the father lifted up the child, that meant that he acknowledged it.  If he turned away and left it, the child was literally thrown out.  There was never a night when there were not thirty or forty abandoned children left in the Roman forum...  Even Seneca, great soul as he was, could write:  'We kill a mad dog; we slaughter a fierce ox; we plunge the knife into sickly cattle lest they taint the herd; children who are born weakly and deformed we drown.'  The natural bonds of human affection had been destroyed." 

E.     A Biological Viewpoint

The widespread acceptance of abortion has changed the concept of human worth in America.  The Bible teaches that a person has worth merely because he is bearing the image of God.  However, many today believe that is not enough.  They have imposed other definitions upon God's simple truths.  We are often told that since the developing embryo does not look human, it is not human.

With the scriptural arguments given, that should be the end of the matter.  However, the science of biology bears out further testimony in harmony with scripture. 

1.        What are the facts?

·          At conception the genetic code that determines humanness is already present.

·          The heart, which begins beating as early as the 18th day, is by the third week beating regularly and sending an entirely independent blood supply through the little body.

·          At 3 weeks, probably before the woman knows she is pregnant, the baby is 1/10 of an inch long.  She or he possesses the beginnings of eyes, a spinal cord, a nervous system, a thyroid gland, lungs, a stomach, a liver, kidneys, intestines and a heart.

·          At 6 weeks brain waves can be measured, the absence of which is used to determine death.

·          At 45 days the baby's skeleton is complete in cartilage and the unborn child can make the first movements of it's arms and legs.  It will be another 12 weeks before the mother can feel it.

·          At 60 days the baby can grasp an object and make a fist.

2.        What are the conclusions?

·          The Bible tells us that life is in the blood (Genesis 9:4-6).  Therefore, the unborn child with its own blood and circulatory system is a human life.

·          The Bible tells us that the body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26).  Therefore, as the unborn child is a human life, it has a spirit, it has a soul.

·          When a baby is aborted, it is logical to conclude that it can suffer pain.

Do not be deceived.  Developing within the mother is a human being, very much alive and made in the image of God.  Man has worth because of who he is – man, made in God's image – and not because of what he might become.  The worth is not determined by some man-made criterion.

It is true that the little unborn child is for all intents and purposes helpless.  But the helpless and the poor deserve extra care, not abuse by the strong.  The Bible teaches that a person has worth, dignity, and the right to life because he or she is a person, made in the image of God.  It is clear that that also applies to the unborn child – very much a person according to God's Word.

F.      Thoughts And Questions For Discussion

1.     Will the young woman who keeps herself from premarital sex ever need to think about becoming an unwed mother?


2.     Does God have the authority to ordain among humans what is and what is not to be considered normal and natural affections?


3.     Those in favor of abortion claim that a woman has the power to do anything with her body that she desires.  Neglecting that there are actually two bodies involved, what implication is derived from 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20?


4.     If an expectant mother does not have the financial ability, emotional stability, or the maturity to raise a child, what reasonable options other than abortion does she have?


5.     Do you think an unborn baby has feelings?  Do you think he is sensitive to discomfort?


6.     What does it mean to be "begotten?"


7.     Read what David writes in Psalm 12:3-5 about mistreating the poor and helpless.  What application do these principles have for those who would destroy by abortion?



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