For most Christians the answer to the question, “Is abortion a sin?” is a resounding yes, and rightly so. Arguably, one could say this must be the answer for every Christian, but that is a conversation for another blog posting. If we move forward with agreement that abortion is a sin, we must be able to answer the question, “Why?” Most fundamental evangelicals would answer, “Abortion is a sin because the Bible says it is a sin,” but does it?
Nowhere in the Holy Writ does one find an example of a time where the Holy Spirit inspired authors to condemn the act of forcefully terminating the life of a pre-born child. So why then, is abortion such an issue for conservative evangelicalism? The answer has less to do with one’s right to life versus one’s right to choose (we will discuss this shortly), and more to do with the gift of life and the divine Gift Giver.
Simply put, abortion is a sin because it fails to value the sanctity of human life…life that was created in the image of the creator God. In order to better understand this issue, it is helpful for us to define why human life exists in the first place. God sovereignly chose to give you and me the gift of life. We were not consulted, nor did we give consent to being conceived and subsequently born. Rather, the sovereign Creator of the universe chose to create man, and He did so in a very specific way. I have defined the purpose of human life in a way that is biblically accurate and in a way that demonstrates the evil of abortion: We are created in the image of God for relationship with God, worship of God, and obedience to God— all for the glory of God. For a more theological treatment of the development of this definition, it is important to study the first two chapters of Genesis at great length. It is in the garden that we see these components identified.
Given the definition for human life provided above, let us consider the opposition to life. Conservative, bible-believing, evangelical Christians will hold to the sanctity of all human life, ultimately on the premise of divine authority. Those who oppose life also do so from a position of authority, but their authority is derived from personal autonomy. This is where the concept of one’s right to choose comes in. This very concept displays an ignorant arrogance toward the Life-Giver, almighty God. Again, it is important to properly define terms.
Pro-choice, the right to choose, is a misnomer for those who are actually pro-death. There is a fundamental flaw in their understanding of life and subsequently, the Giver of life. For those who hold to a pro-death notion, they believe not only is abortion not killing a child, but they believe they have the right to their bodies. The issue here is authority; in order to make this position work, they must do everything they can to minimize personhood. For this reason they will use the term fetus instead of pre-born child. Those who are pro-death will never refer to the child as a baby because that communicates personhood.
While the Bible may not say anything about killing a pre-born baby, it certainly does say murder is against the law of God. Additionally, Scripture displays life in utero through the lens of personhood. There are several examples of this we could look at, but I want to briefly examine two such examples:
- Genesis 25:22 But the children struggled together within her… In this example the biblical author understands the struggle within the womb as being between two individuals who would eventually go on to father two different nations. It is clear in this case that the author personifies these children in utero. Even more, the Hebrew word used for children in verse 22 is the same word used to describe the age of Isaac in verse 26 when he was 60 years old. Not only is person understood from the basic premise of the children struggling within the womb of their mother, but the Holy Spirit inspired the biblical author to use the same word to identify the age of a born patriarch.
- (Luke 1:26-38). Following Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel, she made her way to see her cousin, Elizabeth. When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the response from pre-born John was not because of Mary’s presence; rather, it is the presence of one pre-born child responding to another pre-born child. Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb. Secondly, the word used for baby to reference two children in utero in Luke 1 is the same word used by the angels in Luke 2:12 to announce the birth of Jesus. In the way the Old Testament author utilized language to communicate personhood, Luke does the same in the New Testament.
There are two things to take away from both examples. First, in both instances the Bible identifies the life of the pre-born children in terms of personhood. This demonstrates that God views the life of the pre-born in terms of personhood. Second, the biblical authors use language that identifies the pre-born children as living people.
In conclusion, abortion is a sin because it terminates the life of a person created in the image of God for relationship with God, worship of God, and obedience to God—all for the glory of God. Understanding abortion in any other terms necessarily places personal autonomy in place of biblical authority and is therefore idolatrous. The consequences of abortion are terrible in terms of the impact on the child and even the mother, but in the end, abortion removes God from the throne and replaces Him with selfishness of the flesh
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