"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan" - Prov. 29:2
"...that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness" - 1 Timothy 2:2
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" - Prov. 14:34
To receive email updates about current legislation and candidate views about family and moral issues click here to join our email list

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Abortion #3: How to Treat an Unborn Child

The Scriptures have established that the unborn life in the mother's womb is a human individual from conception on. Therefore, we will not hesitate to refer to it as a human being or person. How then should we treat this unborn life? May we deliberately kill it? Surely we must be guided by exactly the same rules or principles we should follow in our treatment of any other "child" or "baby." What are these rules?

Stewardship: Love, Train, and Protect a Child.

In Matthew 5:21,22, Jesus not only condemned murder, He also condemned the underlying attitude that leads people to commit murder. He forbade hatred and disrespect for the worth of a human being (cf. 1 John 3:15).

This same problem is what leads to abortion: people do not appreciate the value and worth of the unborn human being. They speak of "unwanted children," and they argue that, if the mother does not "want" to have the child, she may kill it. Aside from passages that specifically mention killing, the Bible condemns abortion by condemning the attitude that leads to it.

God says we should appreciate our children - Psalm 127:3-5; 128:3-5.

Children should be viewed as a blessing, a source of happiness and joy to their parents. ("Children" is from the Hebrew word BEN, the same word referring to the unborn child in Genesis 25:21,22; etc.) Unborn babies are children, and parents should appreciate children as a blessing from God. (See also Psalm 113:9.)

People who have a scriptural attitude will never kill unborn babies because they will never want to. Abortion is the grossest form of ingratitude for a blessing given by God.

God says we should raise our children according to His will - Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4.

God has made the parents stewards of their children. A steward is a person who has been entrusted with something that belongs to someone else. He is responsible to care for it and use it to accomplish the purpose of the one to whom it belongs. He will be condemned and punished by the owner or master if he abuses or misuses that which has been entrusted to him (Luke 12:42-46; Matt. 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 4:2).

An unborn child is a particular blessing that has been given into our care, just as surely as is a child that has been born. We have the same God-given duty toward an unborn child as we do toward one that has been born.

What is our duty toward a child, born or unborn? We should care for it and provide for it (cf. Matt. 7:7-11; 1 Tim. 5:8; 2 Cor. 12:14). Above all, we should train our children to learn God's will and serve Him (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). If we kill them, we defeat God's purpose for their lives. How can we "train up" and "bring up" those whom we have killed?!

Abortion is the grossest form of child abuse and the most extreme perversion of parental responsibility. God will not fail to hold us accountable.

God says we should love and protect our children - Titus 2:4.

Mothers are commanded to love their children. But an unborn baby is a "child," and a woman who has conceived is a mother even before the baby is born. Note that a mother is to love both her child and her husband (Titus 2:4). Which one may she kill?

Love for others is the second greatest command in the Bible (Matt. 22:37-39). The Bible tells us how we should act toward those we love (1 Cor. 13:4-7). This teaching definitely does not allow us to kill others (Rom. 13:8-10).

1 Thessalonians 2:7 - A mother should be gentle and cherish her child. Simple observation shows that God designed the mother's womb so an unborn baby will be protected, provided for, and kept safe. It is contrary to God's design to attack and kill an unborn baby.

If you would not want someone to kill you, then you should not kill an unborn baby (Matthew 7:12). Indeed, Jesus considers the treatment we give children to be the very treatment we give Him (Matthew 18:5). Our eternal destiny depends on how we treat others (Matt. 25:34-46). Since the unborn baby is a "child," we must treat it in harmony with these passages.

God says people "without natural affection" (KJV, ASV) are worthy of death - Romans 1:31,32; 2 Timothy 3:3.

This phrase is also translated "heartless," "unloving," and "callous." Vine's dictionary says it includes those who are without "love of kindred, especially of parents for children."

The desire of a mother to see her child live is so much a natural characteristic of motherly love that Solomon used it to determine who was the true mother of a child (1 Kings 3:26,27). Mothers who have miscarriages naturally tend to grieve deeply. To them the child that died was very real. Clearly, natural affection should include love for the unborn child.

Nevertheless, there are those who are condemned before God because they are "without" this "natural affection." There is no better term than this to describe one who would deliberately kill the innocent human being conceived within her.

Please observe that we have now established that abortion is wrong even without (thus far) examining passages specifically dealing with murder, killing, etc. We will see shortly that abortion fits the Bible definition of murder; but even if it did not, it would still be sinful for other reasons. Abortion is wrong because it is unloving, it destroys a God-given blessing, and it constitutes gross abuse of our stewardship to raise our children as God directs.

Furthermore, we have now learned the key to solving the problem of abortion: if parents would learn to love, appreciate, and fulfill their responsibilities toward their children, they would not want to kill them. Pro-abortion groups (like the Planned Parenthood Federation) are absolutely right when they affirm that every child has a right to be loved and wanted. But they are dead wrong when they say that the solution is to let mothers murder unwanted and unloved children. On the contrary, the solution is to teach mothers their responsibility to love, appreciate, and care for their children, born or unborn.

Respect for Life: Do Not Kill an Innocent Child.

General passages

Many passages teach us not to deliberately kill innocent human beings (this is often described as shedding of blood; cf. Gen. 37:21,22; Lev. 17:11,12,14). Here are just a few of these passages:

Exodus 23:7 - Do not kill the innocent and righteous.

Proverbs 6:16,17 - God hates hands that shed innocent blood.

Revelation 21:8; 22:15 - Murderers will be outside the holy city in the lake of fire.

Matthew 15:19,20 - Murder is a sin that proceeds from the heart and defiles he who commits it.

Romans 13:8-10 - If you love your neighbor, you will not kill. (Cf. Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17; James 2:11.)

In addition, there are a number of specific passages that deserve our attention.

(See also Gen. 4:8-11; Jer. 7:5-7; 22:3; Joel 3:19; Hos. 4:1,2; Lev. 24:17,21; Ex. 21:12-15; 1 John 3:15; 1 Pet. 4:15.)

Shedding the blood of God's children - Psalm 106:37,38; Ezekiel 16:20,21

The land was polluted with blood because people shed the innocent blood of their "sons and daughters." But unborn babies are "sons and daughters"; they are "children." What then is the condition of our land when over one million "sons and daughters" have been legally killed every year since 1973?

And note that God considers these to be His children (Ezekiel 16:20,21). They belong to Him, and have simply been put in our care. What right do we have to slay God's children?

("Sons" in Psalms 106:37,38 and "children" in Ezek. 16:21 come from the Hebrew word BEN, also used for unborn babies in Genesis 25:21,22, etc.)

"Do not sin against the child" - Genesis 42:22; 37:20-22

When Joseph's brothers wanted to slay him, Reuben said, "Let us not take his life," and "Do not sin against the boy (child - KJV)." Hence, killing a child is sinning against it, but an unborn baby is a "child." (The word for "boy" or "child" in Gen. 42:22 is YELED, the same word used for the unborn baby in Ex. 21:22-25.)

Slaying all the children - Matthew 2:16

Herod is considered wicked because he slew the male children in Bethlehem. Luke 2:12,16 calls such children "babes." But Luke 1:41,44 also calls unborn children "babes," so how can it be acceptable to kill them? (The word for "babes" is BREPHOS both in Luke 2:12,16 and in Luke 1:41,44. Matt. 2:16 has a different Greek word.)

Dashing the children to pieces - Hosea 13:16; 2 Kings 8:12

Elisha wept because the Syrians would slay the Israelites, dashing their children (cf. Hosea 13:16 - their infants shall be dashed to pieces). When children or infants are dashed to pieces, it is a great tragedy to any nation. Yet unborn babies are children or infants, and in our nation they are dashed to pieces by the millions! (The Hebrew word for "children" or "infants" is OLEL, the same word used for the unborn in Job 3:16; cf. Isa. 13:16; Jer. 44:7; 9:21)

Casting out babies that they might not live - Exodus 1:16-18; Acts 7:19 (KJV, ASV)

Pharaoh commanded that Israelite children be killed as soon as they were born. Exodus says they killed the "sons" or "male children," but all these same terms are used for unborn babies. Would it have been acceptable for Pharaoh to have had abortions performed to kill the babies? Is it any less wicked if people today do it?

Note, however, that God blessed the midwives who refused to kill these children at birth (Ex. 1:15-22). Likewise, God will bless us when we put an end to the murder of our unborn.

(Acts 7:19 refers to this event referring to the "babes" using the Greek word BREPHOS used for the unborn baby in Luke 1:41,44. The Hebrew words for "sons" and "male children" in Ex. 1:16-17 are BEN and YELED, used for unborn babies in Gen. 25:21-22 and Ex. 21:22-25.)

Slaying an innocent person - Deuteronomy 27:25

"Cursed is the one who takes a bribe (reward - KJV) to slay an innocent person." What clearer description could be given for people who operate abortion clinics? (The word for "person" is NEPHESH and is used for unborn babies translated "life" in Exodus 21:22-25.)

Shedding the blood of man made in the image of god - Genesis 9:2-6

Though we may kill plants and animals, we are forbidden to shed man's blood because man is "in the image of God." Note again how God distinguishes "man" from plants and animals, just as we discussed regarding the creation account.

Where do unborn babies fit in this passage? They are not plants or animals, because living things reproduce after their own kind. They are the result of human reproduction, therefore they are humans in the image of God from the time they are conceived (Gen. 5:1-4). Killing an unborn baby is forbidden because it is taking the life of a human in God's image. ("Life" in Gen. 9:5 is NEPHESH, also used for the unborn baby's "life" in Ex. 21:22-25.)

"Her fruit depart" - Exodus 21:22-25 (KJV)

We earlier showed that "fruit" here means child or baby. "Depart" (Heb. YATSA) generally means to go out or go forth. In contexts referring to departing from a mother's womb, it means to be born (study Gen. 25:25,26; Job 1:21; Jer. 1:5; 20:18; etc.). It does not imply that the baby is born dead any more than does our word "born."

Hence, "her fruit depart" simply means "her child goes forth" (Interlinear Hebrew-English Bible) or "her child is born" (LXX). The NKJV translates: "she gives birth prematurely." This of itself says nothing about the condition of the baby. (Some people assume that the expression means a miscarriage or stillbirth. The NASB mistranslates the verse this way, but the footnote gives the literal meaning: "Lit. her children come out"!)

So the baby is born. What then? It depends on whether or not "harm" has been done. Harm to whom? The Interlinear Hebrew-English Bible says: "And when men fight, and they strike a pregnant woman, and her children [sic] goes forth, and there is no injury; surely he shall be fined ... But if injury occurs, you shall give life for life ..." Clearly the concern is not just for whether the mother has been harmed, but also for the condition of the child that is born.

So, if the baby is born prematurely, but there is no injury (to either child or mother), then the man is fined for the trouble he caused (v22). If there is injury to child or mother, then the man should receive the same kind of injury he caused, including "life for life" (vv 23-25). Hence, the unborn baby has "life" just as the man does, and the law said anyone who killed that unborn baby should be punished the same as if he had killed any other human (cf. Ex. 21:12-15; Rom. 1:29,32; Rev. 21:8).

Some people reject this explanation, because they say it would be too harsh to kill a man for killing an unborn baby, especially when he didn't mean to. Yet everyone agrees that the man would be killed if the mother died as a result of this act, so why is the punishment too harsh if the baby dies? (See also vv 16,17.)

This is an Old Testament law. Yet the passage proves that the unborn baby has "life" exactly like all other humans, and this "life" is inherent in the nature of the child. These truths would not change in the New Testament.

Furthermore, the loosest possible view is that the passage requires a fine for killing the unborn baby. This view would not disprove the humanity of the baby, since not all killing of humans was punishable by death (see vv. 20,21). Yet it still proves the act is a sin of some kind, else why should the man pay a fine? So even the loosest view of this passage proves that abortion is wrong. The correct meaning, however, is that killing the unborn was killing a human individual.

Authority for killing

The Bible shows that one must have authority or sanction from God in order to take any form of life. We may kill plants and animals because God expressly gives us this right (Gen. 1:29; 9:2,3; Acts 10:9-16; etc.) However, we must not kill innocent humans without express approval (although man is not held guilty if the killing was accidental - Num. 35:9-31; Deut. 19:1-13).

We have shown conclusively that it is just as wrong to kill an unborn baby as it is to kill any other human being. Yet if anyone still thinks we have not proved our case, before he approves of abortion he must show convincing evidence that killing unborn babies is acceptable to God. It is not enough just to dismiss our case; the one who defends abortion must establish his case by positive evidence from Scripture! If he cannot do so, then to participate in the practice would be acting without Divine authority, which is also sinful (Rom. 14:23; Col. 3:17; 2 John 9-11; etc.). So long as any doubt remains, we must not kill that innocent human life (Romans 14:23).

The relationship of abortion to humanistic unbelief - Romans 1:29,32.

People who commit murder (or who consent with those who do) are worthy of death spiritually. Those who approve such acts have rejected faith in God (vv 28,29). They exalt their own wisdom, but are actually extremely foolish (vv 21,22). They become involved in religious and sexual perversions, including homosexuality and immorality of all kinds (vv 23-32).

This shows the root reasons why people defend such practices as abortion, homosexuality, etc. They reject Divine creation (vv 20,21) and conclude that man evolved from lower animals. They no longer have a real conviction about the true God, so they explain away God's moral laws and disregard the fact that man was made in God's image.

We should not be surprised, then, that the groups that most vocally defend abortion are generally the same groups that defend evolution, homosexuality, etc. For example, the Humanist Manifestos defend atheism and evolution, and they also defend abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, etc. Similar statements can be made about such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Education Association, the National Council of Churches, the National Organization of Women, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, etc.

Remember, however, that right and wrong are ultimately determined, not by people, but by God Who will judge each of us for our lives (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:31-46).

A note regarding the spirit of the unborn baby

Please note that we have proved that abortion is wrong without discussing the issue of whether or not the baby possesses a spirit. When God uses terms to describe the unborn baby and then uses the very same terms to describe what we are forbidden to kill, that proves we should not kill an unborn baby! The unborn baby is a human individual, so we may no more kill it than we may kill any other human individual. Further evidence about the spirit is not needed.

However, as an interesting side issue it follows as a corollary that the unborn baby has a spirit, simply because every living human body has a spirit. Regarding a human body, James 2:26 says that the spirit and biological life are present simultaneously or absent simultaneously. You can't have one without the other. If the body did not have a spirit, it would be "dead." If the body is alive, the spirit must be present.

There is no exception for any human body in the Bible. A body without spirit cannot be alive, just as faith without works cannot be alive. The unborn baby has a human body that is alive; therefore it has a spirit.

But again, we need not prove the presence of the spirit to know that abortion is wrong. Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4,5 describe killing as deliberately ending the biologic life of a human "body." Killing the body is as far as man can go, because he cannot harm the spirit. Hence, to prove that abortion is murder, we need only to prove that the unborn baby has a human body which is biologically alive. We have already proved this. Therefore, abortion is murder.

The unborn is described in terms that mean human individuals. It fits the definition of what the Bible says we must not kill. Nothing more is needed.

(c) Copyright 2012 by David E. Pratte - We copyright our material, not to prevent its use, but to prevent its misuse. You have permission and are encouraged to save this article for future reference and to email copies of it to your friends and acquaintances, provided no fee is charged and no changes are made in content.