Life in the Womb
A few weeks ago, I preached from Daniel 1 and used it as an introduction to what it’s like to live as an exile in a land that isn’t your own. And since then, we’ve been studying some topics related to the world we live in. This morning, we get another topic.
Back in May of this year, the governor of Texas signed into law a prohibition on abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The Supreme Court declined to hear challenges to that law, and it went into effect in September. In response to the Texas law, the ACLU tweeted “Access to almost all abortion has just been cut off for millions of people. The impact will be immediate and devastating.”
They were right. The impact was immediate and devastating as many abortion providers began racing to complete as many abortions as they could before midnight when the law went into effect. One clinic counted 67 abortions in a span of 17 hours. That’s an abortion every 15 minutes. Urgency and demand was so high that the fire marshal showed up twice because of capacity issues.
Abortion has and will continue to be a polarizing issue in our nation and in the rest of the world. It is a human rights issue. The question, however, is: Which humans have which rights?
There are a lot of political and sociological issues connected to abortion, but our goal today is to think about this topic from God’s perspective. Just like Daniel in Babylon, we need to be prepared to bring the truth to bear on the major issues in society. Some issues will have more room for disagreement—others not so much. We need to be able to think biblically about issues and to respond appropriately.
Paul said to the Corinthians, “We have the mind of Christ.” That’s true for anyone who has come to faith. And part of growing and maturing as disciples of Christ means learning more about what God says regarding specific issues.
Abortion generally gets divided into two groups. People talk about a lot of different exceptions and special cases, but in general, there are two camps. We have the pro-choice side and the pro-life side, and both sides will hurl arguments against the other. More important than any sociological or political argument, we need to understand what God says about the issue.
Abortion might seem like a complicated issue from a political perspective, but it’s not complicated at all from a biblical perspective. Before discussing the biblical perspective, I just want to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing, and that means I need to define abortion.
In our time today, when I say “abortion,” I am talking about the act of purposefully and directly terminating or killing the living thing which a human mother carries in her womb. I’m using a broad definition to start, but we’ll make that more specific in just a moment. Hopefully, what I said is clear though. Abortion is purposefully and directly terminating the life which is inside the womb of a human mother.
For our purposes today, a miscarriage or a still born is not an abortion. Terminating the pregnancy of a cat is not an abortion. We’re talking about humans.
So, what does God think about it? Rather than beat around the bush, I’m going to give you the answer upfront, and then we’ll walk through the argument. Okay? From a biblical perspective, abortion is murder. Abortion is murder. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not an exaggeration. It’s the truth. Abortion is murder.
How can I say that? How do we get to that conclusion? Let’s walk through the argument. Let’s look at the premises.
Premise number 1: Mankind was made in God’s image. Mankind was made in God’s image. Turn with me to Genesis chapter 1, verse 26. This is where we left off last week. Genesis 1:26.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God created mankind as a distinct creation. We are not animals. We were endowed with dignity and were given responsibility. Mankind has a special status in the world.
Now, if you know what happens in chapter 3, you know that mankind does not end up living up to God’s standard. We don’t fulfil our responsibility to represent God on the earth, and the result is a spiritual and a physical fall. Sin and death come into the world.
Rather than live for God’s glory, we live for our own glory. And rather than live and work forever in a blessed word, we are afflicted with pain, sickness, and death.
In all this, however, the image of God doesn’t disappear. In James 3, we are warned against using our tongue to curse men who have been made in the likeness of God. That means that even after the Fall, there is still an inherent dignity and worth to mankind. That’s premise #1: Mankind was made in God’s image, endowed with value and worth. Human life matters.
Connected to that, here is premise #2: It is a sin to unlawfully end human life. It is a sin to unlawfully end human life. We call that murder. Commandment number 6 of The Ten Commandments is “you shall not murder.” That’s talking about the unlawful termination of someone’s life.
The first human murderer in the Bible was Cain who slaughtered his brother. That was wrong, not only because it was driven by jealousy, but because it was an attack on someone made in God’s image. To see this more clearly, turn with me to Genesis chapter 9. Genesis 9 is when Noah finally steps out of the ark, and God repeats a lot of what He told Adam. He is responsible to fill the earth. He will have dominion over the animals. And God also says He can eat the animals as food.
Now, notice what God says in verse 5. Genesis 9:5—And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
This is not a total prohibition against killing someone because it specifically says that a murderer should be put to death. The murderer ought to be killed because he is guilty of wrongfully taking the life of someone made in God’s image. The assumption here is that that original victim didn’t deserve death. That’s what a murder is; it is deliberately and directly terminating the life of someone who doesn’t deserve it.
So, up to now, I think the logic is not very difficult to follow. Human beings are made in God’s image endowed with dignity and value. Therefore, it is a sin before God to terminate human life. That’s murder.
But what does that have to do with a pregnant mother? Well, that brings up the question, what exactly is inside a pregnant mother? Is it human? Is it a person made in the image of God?
The resounding answer from Scripture is YES! That baby, that little child, even though he or she hasn’t been born into the outside world is made in the image of God. It has value and worth. It is a person. This is premise number 3: The baby in a mother’s womb is a human person. The baby in a mother’s womb is a human person.
Turn with me to Genesis chapter 25. Genesis 25, verse 22. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac married Rebekah and she got pregnant with twins. Look at verse 22—The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
When Rebekah feels something rumbling in her womb, God doesn’t say, “Oh that’s just a clump of cells in your body. Don’t worry about it.” No, God affirms the personhood of the twins in her womb. In fact, he assumes more than that; He calls them “two peoples” and “two nations.” Even while in the womb, God assumes the personhood of each of the twins.
Now skip forward to Exodus chapter 21, verse 22. Exodus 21:22. This is a section of God’s law to the Israelites after they left Egypt. And it’s an important passage to understand and interpret. There have been some translations that are misleading.
Exodus 21:22—When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life.
This passage is interesting because some translations say if the mother “aborts” or “miscarries,” which, in our English understanding of the word, assumes the child died. But the passage doesn’t specify that. The word translated “abort” simply means to come out, which is how the ESV translates it.
The verb translated “comes out” is used over 1,000 times in the Old Testament, and overwhelmingly, when used for childbirth, it’s referring to a live birth. There’s only one instance when it’s used for a child that was born dead. And even then, the death of the child is made explicit by the surrounding context, so the word itself doesn’t have to carry any idea of death. The word does not mean to abort or to miscarry; it just means to come out.
In fact, there are two other Hebrew words that meant to abort or to miscarry, but those aren’t the words Moses used here. So, the beginning of verse 22 is not talking about a miscarriage; it’s simply talking about the baby coming out.
According to the law of Moses, then, if a man hits a woman and it causes her to give birth prematurely, the man responsible will have to pay a fine for what he did. But, according to verse 23, if the child is dead, he must pay, life for life. It’s the death penalty because that baby is a human person made in the image of God.
Jump over know to Job chapter 10. Job is lamenting what had happened to him, and he’s questioning God about it. But let’s notice how he words his prayer. Job 10, verse 8—Your hands fashioned and made me, and now you have destroyed me altogether. 9Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? 10Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? 11You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.
Job recognizes that God is the one who made him. God formed his skin and flesh and bones. That doesn’t happen after you’re born. That happens in the womb.
Jump forward to Job 31. Here Job is talking about how he treated his servants. Job 31:15— Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?
Job treated his servants righteously because he understood that they were both humans. They were both formed by God in the womb. They were both made in the image of God.
And Job’s statements here might take you to a very well known passage in Psalm 139. You might already be thinking about this. Psalm 139, verse 13-16. Here’s what David says as he praises God—For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16Your 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.
Do you get the impression here that God cares about an unborn child? Does it seem like whatever is in a mother’s womb matters to God? I hope it does. Even before we were born, God cared about us. He was with us. Psalm 22:10 says: From my mother’s womb you have been my God.
God’s concern and care for the unborn is also seen in Isaiah 44:24 which says Yahweh is your Redeemer who formed you from the womb.
In Isaiah 49:1, the prophet even says, “The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.”
God said the same thing about the prophet Jeremiah. In chapter 1, verse 5, He says: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
People matter to God. And they matter to God even before they are born.
And since we’re talking about prophets chosen from the womb, we also need to include John the Baptist. Luke 1:15 says that he was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. And later, in verse 31, when Mary visits Elizabeth, John’s mother, the baby leaped in her womb.
Again, the Bible describes unborn human life as a person? There’s no biblical distinction between a human and a person. God values unborn life. He cares for it. God affirms that it’s a person, even capable of receiving His Spirit.
So, back to our logical chain, mankind was created in God’s image and continues to bear intrinsic value and worth. That was premise #1, and it completely contradicts what the world is teaching about evolution, which says that man is just another animal.
Premise #2 was: it’s a sin to unlawfully take the life of a human being. That’s called murder. And now, premise #3: that “clump of cells” inside a mother’s womb is human; it’s a person. Like a young child, or someone with a disability, an unborn baby doesn’t have its full faculties, or a complete ability to communicate, but it’s still a person. It’s a human being made in the image of God. It’s not a potential human or a potential person; it’s a human person. It’s a human baby.
So, if we combine all three premises, we have to say that intentionally and directly ending the life of a baby in its mother’s womb is murder. Abortion is the murder of a human baby made in God’s image.
This is what the culture doesn’t want to accept. There was a press conference in which someone asked the Press Secretary, “Does the president believe that a 15-week old, unborn baby is a human being?” That’s not supposed to complicated question.
The Press Secretary’s response was: “Are you asking me if the president supports a woman’s right to choose? He does.” That wasn’t the question, right? The question is: Is that “thing” inside a mother a human being? Is it a person? Because if it is, then an abortion is murder.
Even someone who denies the Bible wants to avoid that question because scientifically, the baby is a distinct person. It’s alive. It’s got its own DNA distinct from the mother, and it can feel pain. Doctors have even performed surgery on unborn babies. The baby is contained within the mother, but it’s not simply an extension of the mother’s body.
Once you start denying personhood to children in the womb, you open the door to all kinds of problems, because then someone has to decide what makes other people a person the right to live. Hitler had his own answer to that question. So did Margaret Sanger, who was the founder of Planned Parenthood. Both of their worldviews included the extermination of those deemed unfit for the betterment of the world. That’s a worldview that comes from the theory of evolution. Not every evolutionist is a Nazi or a eugenics activist, but evolution brought the foundation for those beliefs.
Planned Parenthood, which is the biggest provider of abortions in this country, understands the problems with its founder’s views, so they’ve tried to distance themselves from her. But they can’t distance themselves from the biblical and scientific evidence that an unborn child is a human being, worthy of honor.
So, why does abortion exist? We can know that it’s wrong, but why does it exist? ... It exists because we live in a world of sin. We live in a world that seeks its own desires rather than seeking to honor God.
Our goal as Christians is not end the abortion industry per se. It is to have people come to know Christ, submit to Him in repentance and faith, and then to grow in their maturity. And growing in Christ means learning to understand these kinds of issues from God’s perspective.
The world wants to use its own grid, but you need to learn to look past that and use a biblical grid to view things.
For example, the world talks about abortion as part of reproductive equality or reproductive rights. That’s an interesting choice of words because abortion exists to stop reproduction, not to promote it. What’s the argument behind reproductive equality and reproductive rights? Basically, the argument is that it’s not fair to have men suffer no consequences from a pregnancy while women have to bear all the responsibility of raising a child. What do we say to that?
A biblical response is to affirm that God designed a child to come into this world under the care of his mother and father. Both play a distinct but vital role in that kid’s life. Both are responsible.
“Reproductive rights” is a euphemism. It’s like saying “Gentlemen’s Club.” There are no gentlemen there. There are only men who are failing in their responsibility as men and as husbands and as fathers. You can put a nice label on it, but it doesn’t change what’s happening.
The terms “reproductive rights” and “reproductive equality” and “reproductive health” are a mask for what people really want, and that is sexual freedom. This world wants to throw off God’s design for intimacy and joy, which was uniquely created for marriage, which is between one man and one woman. And that joyful union is also what leads to the joy of a child.
Psalm 127 says children are a gift from the Lord. They are a blessing. That doesn’t mean it’s a sin to use contraception or birth control. There’s no prohibition against that. But when we introduce birth control methods like the Plan B pill, which terminates life after conception, after the uniting the man and the woman’s genetic material, we no longer honor God and value the life He has created.
I don’t think it’s appropriate for me today to go into all the medical details of an abortion at various stages of the pregnancy, but you can do that yourself if you’re so inclined. Mankind has invented so many ways to end the life of a child, and it’s horrifying.
The abortion industry, in general, is a mask for those who seek to follow the course of their sin and avoid the consequences. And one example of how evil it is, would be an article by Salon that was released last month. The title was: “Why Satanists may be the last, best hope to save abortion rights in Texas.” As one author said in response, “I’m pretty sure once you’ve reached ‘asking Satan for help,’ there’s nowhere else to go.”
The abortion movement is, ultimately, brought about by Satan who is the god of this world. He was a murderer from the beginning, and the unbelieving world follows after him. So, whether murder manifests itself through child sacrifices for pagan gods, or through the modern abortion industry, it’s all an expression of rebellion against the one, true and living God.
When you hear someone say, “My body, my choice,” you should be ready to respond by saying: No, it’s not just your body. It’s the body of another person. And both of you belong to God. All of our bodies belong to God. We will give an account to Him.
When someone says that women should have “a right to choose,” we need to recognize that no one has a personal right to unlawfully and directly end the life of someone else. Can a murderer who pulls the trigger to a gun say, “My body, my choice”? No, it doesn’t work like that.
So, even when the law tells us that an abortion is legal, that doesn’t mean it’s righteous. And even when it is sin that has led to the pregnancy—like two teenagers who are unprepared for marriage or rape which accounts for a very small percentage of abortions—even in those cases, God is not honored when our response to sin is more sin. As Romans 12 says, we are called to overcome evil with good.
Before I wrap up our time, I think it’s appropriate that I address one specific objection to the pro-life argument, and that is the question of abortion in the cases when a mother’s life is in danger.
To start, you should recognize that that’s not common statistically. There are women who die while pregnant or as a result of giving birth, but the statistical number of women going to get an abortion because doctors claim it is necessary to save their life is extremely low.
Yet in those cases, how should we respond? What’s the ethical thing to do? There should be some room for differences because of Christian freedom and conscience and wisdom. We need to keep in mind, however, that both the mother and the baby are human beings. And a doctor’s goal should be to save as much human life as possible.
If a pregnancy is farther along and something about the child is an immediate danger to the mother’s life, what would or should a doctor do? Well, if the child has a chance of surviving a premature birth, then the family might choose to do that. That’s not an abortion. That’s a premature delivery, and everyone does their best to preserve the life of the mother and the baby. And we would pray that God is merciful.
In that same scenario, a mother seeking to do what’s best for her child, may choose, sacrificially, not to give birth prematurely, knowing that it might reduce her chances of survival. That is another option, and it’s a personal sacrifice, but again, I think we need to allow room for each mother and family to make their own decision, as long as the goal is to honor life. And we can be grateful if we’ve never had to make a decision like that. Those are two options for when a mother’s life is at stake later in a pregnancy.
On the other hand, if a mother’s life is in immediate risk because of the baby, and it’s very early in the pregnancy, then the death of the mother would be the death of the child as well. You’re either going to have two people die or just one.
In that case, if a couple or a mother decided to end the child’s life, I’m not even sure that I’d classify it as an abortion in the strictest sense, because the goal there is not to terminate life; it is to save the mother’s life.
It would be like when a doctor has to separate conjoined twins, knowing that if they stay together, both will die, but if they are separated, the stronger one will probably live and the weaker one may die. That procedure is not a murder. That’s a difficult decision, but the aim is to preserve life as best we can in a fallen world. Hopefully that’s helpful as you think about these issues.
To close our time today, I want to make this a little more personal, because abortion is not just a political issue or a national issue. It’s a personal issue.
Like I said, the goal of the church is to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ with the aim of seeing people come to Him in repentance. The goal of the church is not to fix all the problems in the world. It would be a wonderful thing if God ended many of the problems in this world, especially those brought about by mankind. And it’s good for us, in love, to pursue that in some ways. But even when God doesn’t remove the evil in this world, we can be faithful as disciples of Christ.
Speaking more personally, we have women in our church who have considered and who have had an abortion. And there will likely be people in your family, or at your school, or at your job who have also had an abortion. Don’t forget that when you talk about this subject.
Remember, First Peter 3:15 says we should stand up for the truth, yet do it with gentleness and respect. People who advocate for abortion, or who have had an abortion, are not the enemy. They are the mission field. God has placed us here to lovingly call them to salvation in Jesus Christ.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he knew that it was full of sinners. So, in First Corinthians 6:9, he reminds them: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Abortion, like any other sin, like my own sin, deserves the judgment of God. But then Paul says: And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The thief hanging on the cross next to Jesus was a murderer, but Jesus, in His grace, said they would be together in Paradise, because the man repented.
The Apostle Paul was a murderer too. In 1 Timothy 1, he says, “[I was a wicked man.] But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
No matter what you have done, even if it led to someone’s death, Christ will forgive you if you repent and trust in Him. He died to pay the penalty of sin, and He was raised from the dead to prove His victory. And so now, anyone can be forgiven and reconciled to a holy God.
That’s the truth we hang on to as a church. That’s the truth we proclaim and seek to live in accordance with.
Worldwide, one reported estimate is that last year, 2020, there were about 42 million abortions—far surpassing any reported cause of death. None of us knows what’s going to happen in our world an in our nation regarding abortion. But we can pray that God is merciful and brings a reformation. And even if that doesn’t happen, our job doesn’t change. Our job is to call people to Christ. We are trying to help people see the reality of their sin, and we want them to know the reality of salvation and transformation in Jesus Christ.
Abortion is just one of many evidences in our culture and in our own lives that this world is fallen. But Christ came to undo that. And so, we trust in Him.