|Abortion: A Biblical and Theological Analysis-Part 2|
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©2003|
|What does the Bible teach about abortion? In this article the authors give scriptures that reveal God views the fetus as a person; scriptures that teach God relates to the unborn in a personal manner; scriptures that indicate some men are called to God’s service or purpose from the womb; and scriptures that indicate human life belongs to God, not to us.|
What Does the Bible Teach About Abortion?
We shall present nine lines of biblical argument showing that abortion is morally wrong: (A) Scriptures which reveal that God views the fetus in the womb as a full human life, a person; (B) Scriptures which teach that God relates to the unborn in a personal manner; (C) Scriptures which indicate some men are called to God’s service or purpose from the womb; (D) Scriptures which indicate that all human life, even the unwanted, belongs to God; (E) Scriptures that teach we must defend and protect the weak, the defenseless, the innocent, the needy and the unwanted and (F) Scriptures which indicate that God has a plan and purpose even for the handicapped and deformed; (G) Scriptures which indicate that the personhood of Christ was present from conception; (H) Scriptures that speak of God giving man “a soul”; (I) and finally, an analysis of the controversial passage Exodus 21:22,23.
A. Scriptures that reveal that God views the fetus as a person prohibit abortion.
In the Old Testament, the Bible uses the same Hebrew words to describe the pre-born, infants and children. In the New Testament, the same Greek words also describe the pre-born, infants and children, which indicates continuity from conception to childhood and on into adulthood.
Examples in the New Testament:
The Greek word brephos is often used of the newly born, infants and older children (Lk. 2:12, 16; 18:15; 1 Pet. 2:2). For example, in Acts 7:19 brephos refers to the children killed at Pharaoh’s command. But in Luke 1:41, 44 this same word is used of John the Baptist while he was yet a fetus in the womb, a pre-born infant.
In God’s eyes he was indistinguishable from “a child.” The biblical writer also informs us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb, indicating personhood (Lk. 1:15). Even three months before birth, John could miraculously recognize Jesus in Mary’s womb (Lk. 1:44).
In addition, the Greek huios means “son” but is used in Luke 1:36 of John the Baptist’s existence in the womb before birth at six months.
Examples in the Old Testament:
The Hebrew word yeled is usually used of children—i.e., a child, boy, etc. But in Exodus 21:22 it is used of a child in the womb. In Genesis 25:22 the word yeladim (children) is used of Rebekah’s children struggling while in her womb. In Job 3:3 Job uses the word geber to describe his conception: “A man child is conceived”. But geber is a Hebrew noun that is usually translated as man, male or husband. In Job 3:11-16, Job equates the pre-born child with kings, counselors and princes.
All these Scriptures and many others indicate that God does not make a distinction between potential life and real life, or in delineating stages of personhood; namely, between a pre-born infant in the womb at any stage and a born infant or child. The Scripture repeatedly assumes the continuity of a person from conception to adulthood. In fact, no separate word is used exclusively of a fetus that will permit it to be distinguished from an infant as far as its personhood and value are concerned.
B. Scriptures teaching that God relates to the unborn in a personal manner prohibit abortion.
In Psalm 139:16 the Psalmist says concerning God, “Your eyes saw my unformed body.” The writer used the word golem, translated as “body” or “substance,” to describe himself while he was in the womb. He uses this term to refer to God’s personal care for him even during the first part of the embryonic state—from implantation up to the first few weeks— the state before the fetus is physically “formed” into a miniature human being. We know that the embryo is “unformed” for only four or five weeks. In other words, even in the “unformed body” stage of gestation (0-4 weeks), God says that He is caring for and molding a child (Ps. 139:13-16).
Other Scriptures indicate that God relates to the fetus as a person. Job 31:15 says, “Did not He who made me in the womb make him? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?”
In Job 10:8-12 we read, “Your hands formed me and made me altogether.... You have clothed me with skin and flesh, and have knit me together with bones and sinews.”
Psalm 78:5-6 reveals God’s concern over “the children yet to be born.”
Psalm 139:13-16 states, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.... My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.” These Scriptures reveal that personal pronouns are used to describe the relationship between God and those in the womb.
In Genesis 25:22-24, the Bible says, “But the children struggled together within her.... And the Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; And two people shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.’ When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.” This shows that the two fetuses in Rebekah’s womb were referred to as children before they were born.
C. Scriptures that indicate some men are called to God’s service or purpose from the womb prohibit abortion:
There are many verses that indicate that God views the pre-born in the womb as persons:
Jeremiah 1:5—“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Galatians 1:15-16—“But when He who set me apart, even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles....”
Judges 13:3, 5—“The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, ‘You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.... No razor may be used on his
head, because the boy is a Nazarite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.’”
Isaiah 49:1,5—“Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.... And now the Lord says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord and my God has been my strength.”
Romans 9:11-12—“Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad— in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’”
Again, these verses show that God views the pre-born in the womb as persons. No other conclusion is possible. We must agree with theologian John Frame that, “There is nothing in Scripture that even remotely suggests that the unborn child is anything less than a human person from the moment of conception.”
D. Scriptures that indicate human life belongs to God, not to us, prohibit abortion:
The Bible teaches that people ultimately belong to God because all men are created by Him.
The Scriptures teach that men are, “the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29) and that, “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). Malachi could ask, “Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? (Mal. 2:10)
The Scriptures teach that God “Himself gives to all, life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25) because, “He made the world and all things in it” (Acts 17:24). Understanding this, Isaiah could say, “O Lord, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our potter, and all of us are the work of Thy hand” (Is. 64:8).
Psalm 24:1—The Psalmist could say, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
1 Chronicles 29:11—David said, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”
Further, the Scriptures teach, “Your hands made me and formed me...” (Ps. 119:73) and “The Lord...forms the spirit of man within him....” (Zech. 12:1)
God Himself makes the statement, “Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the Father as well as the soul of the son is Mine” (Ezek. 18:4).
Since all life was created by God and belongs to Him, no one has the right to kill another human being.
- ↑ Paul Fowler, Abortion: Toward an Evangelical Consensus (Portland, OR, Multnomah Press, 1987), p. 147.