Abortion - God's right to choose
We start with the all-important question of ownership. To whom, as human beings, do we belong? You may respond by saying, “I don’t belong to anyone!” But you’re wrong. By virtue of the fact that God is our Creator every last one of us belongs to him. “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24.1). Balk at it and deny it as we may we are all the possession of another.
That in turn gives us the proper framework for the discussion of abortion. Why should we not approach abortion in terms of a woman’s right to choose? Because the fetus that is developing in her womb is not, in the final analysis, her own. It is God’s. Before we assume to ourselves the right to terminate its life, therefore, we urgently need to know his mind on the matter.
So what has he told us? We note for one thing that in both Hebrew and Greek (the original languages in which the Bible was written) the word for a child outside the womb is the same as for a child still in the womb. The shepherds who visited Jesus the night he was born, for example, were told that they would find “a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2.12). The identical word is used earlier in Luke’s Gospel of the as yet unborn John the Baptist (Ch.1.44). Other examples could easily be cited.
What does it mean? It means that no essential distinction is being drawn between them. The unborn, in biblical thinking, are children. They may be at a very early stage in their development and it may be long enough before they are capable of independent existence. But they are children nonetheless. Nor is vocabulary God’s only way of making the point. He makes it in other ways as well. A moral judgment is pronounced on the unborn to the effect that they are sinners. They can also enjoy the blessing of God’s salvation. Their time in the womb, too, is regarded as part of their personal history. These things taken together forbid the thought that the unborn are merely potential human beings. God would have us view them, rather, as actual human beings – with enormous potential.That being so, the unborn are as entitled as children outside the womb to the protection of the sixth commandment. The sixth commandment prohibits the taking of human life and admits of few exceptions. It is lawful to take life for certain crimes. So too in the context of a just war. So too in self-defense. In all other cases, however, the killing of humans is categorically forbidden. It reflects God’s sense of the value of human life. It may be cheap enough in the eyes of certain people. Not in the eyes of our Creator.
It is this that makes abortion the grave offense that Christians have historically held it to be. Abortion is the destruction of a life that ought to be held sacred. That is why abortion ought never to have been legalised fifty years ago. That is why our government ought to legislate instead for the protection of the unborn. That is why it is the duty of all to be pro-life. That is why the temptation to abort ought to be resisted and why women who are considering abortion need all the help they can get to continue to carry their child. And that is why those who have had an abortion (unless for the preservation of their own lives) need to face up to their guilt in the sight of God.
Guilt, however, need not have the last word. Through Christ there is both forgiveness and healing. Let the guilt-haunted and the hurting look confidently to him for his grace!