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A Bible Basis for the Anti-Abortion Position

In Northern Ireland, where the Free Presbyterian Church originated, the British Government recently forced its citizens to surrender their anti-abortion position. Here in Canada, leading up to the recent Canadian federal election, abortion was bandied about as a political football. Even political leaders who are opposed to abortion did not have the courage to stand up for the rights of the unborn. It is an opportune time to show the Bible basis for the anti-abortion position.

My early revulsion for abortion began when I was a boy with a collection of bird’s eggs. In order to prepare a shell for my collection, I had to carefully remove the contents from the wild bird’s egg; sometimes, I would find a half-hatched egg. Revulsion led me to discontinue this hobby, because I knew I was tampering with God’s creation and His gift of life.

That early revulsion is multiplied many times when I consider the barbaric acts of doctors, nurses, and others who make up the “abortion industry.” Since the 1969 Canadian abortion amendment, millions of Canadian babies have been deliberately destroyed – about one every eight minutes of every day for the past fifty years — over 100,000 per year. And the Canadian government wants to increase immigration because the present population is not large enough to sustain Canada’s planned development. What hypocrisy!

A serious moral issue

“Abortion on demand” is one of the most serious moral issues facing Christians today and it has developed into a bitter controversy. Hospitals, which should be for the alleviation of suffering, and the preservation of life, are now involved in killing unborn children. The battle lines are drawn as “pro-life” and “pro choice” groups debate the pros and cons in a heated and often vitriolic fashion. “Pro choice,” of course, is the buzz word for those who favor abortion-on- demand. Its use is designed to draw attention away from the horrible realities of the abortion procedure, and focus on the woman’s so-called right to choose what to do with “her” own body. The child’s body isn’t taken into consideration. “Pro death” would be a more accurate title. Dress it up as you will, it still means death to the unborn child.

Some argue that the Bible has nothing to say about abortion. Of course, the Bible does not use those specific terms, any more than it says, “Thou shalt not smoke.” But Biblical morality is revealed in a set of clear commands like, “Thou shalt not kill.” In the absence of a specific command, there are distinct moral principles laid down from which to draw our moral direction. The Bible places great emphasis on the sanctity of human life, born and unborn, and forms a strong Scriptural basis for the anti- abortion position.

The need for abortion?

When we speak of abortion, we are referring to the deliberate termination of the life of the unborn child and the first question we face is – why is there a need for abortions? Some argue that in a dangerous pregnancy the mother’s life must be saved first and we would agree. But cases of life-threatening pregnancies are rare today, so the present “pro choice” campaign is obviously not for that reason.

The troubling fact is that most abortions today are merely done as a method of birth control. Instead of people exercising restraint within the context of the marriage bond, the present age is reaping a fearful harvest of sin. Those who shout loudly for abortion are seldom heard calling for sexual restraint, and for obedience to the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The Bible describes adultery as “a heinous crime” (Job 31:11) and “villainy” (Jeremiah 29:23). Adultery is a secret sin committed with mature deliberation. Jeremiah describes the adulterer in terms applicable to a brute beast. “Everyone neighed after his neighbour’s wife” (Jeremiah 5:8). But adultery is worse than brutish. Even the animal kingdom, devoid of human reasoning ability, follows its God-given instincts and observes some decorum and chastity. Adulterous humans have debased sexual relationships to a degree unseen in the animal world. The sad result of such promiscuity is that abortion is used to flush away the evidence of the scarlet sin, and the unborn child is sacrificed on the altar of secret transgression. Remove adultery and fornication, and abortion would be in low demand.

A most important case

Never forget the case of one specific young woman. She suddenly found that she was pregnant. Her fiancé was not responsible, and was confused and embarrassed. He thought of hiding her from public view to escape the shame. While Mary’s case is unique, by today’s standard she was a prime candidate for abortion. But she did not go that route. She had her baby, and how happy Christians are that Mary brought forth Jesus Christ – the Savior of the world.

When is a child a person?

The whole abortion argument hinges on this question: Is the unborn baby just a piece of tissue — a blob of protoplasm? Or is it a living, developing human being? If the latter is true, he or she must be granted the same dignity our nations give to every other human being.

The Bible teaches great respect for the unborn child. The Psalmist David gives a beautiful description of the child in the womb. “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:15, 16).

The second word “substance” is the Hebrew golem meaning embryo. The picture here is of the great Artist, the Creator, laboring in secret before publicly unveiling His masterpiece created in His own image.

The words “curiously wrought” have the meaning of a garment being embroidered with great skill. The great Embroiderer is weaving such a wonderful tapestry of veins, bones, muscles, arteries, and membranes, etc., that the Psalmist cries out, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works” (Psalm 139:14).

What occurs in the womb is God’s amazing handiwork. Will you, O man, break in with your instruments of death and trash God’s handiwork? It is no coincidence that after the beautiful picture of the unborn the Psalmist is inspired to exclaim: “Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: Depart from me therefore, ye bloody men (Psalm 139:17). David also speaks of the plan of God in the unborn. His or her “members” were all written in the book of God “when as yet there was none of them.” The picture is of the great Architect planning the members of the body when none existed. The Bible thus makes foolishness out of the statement made by the infamous Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler, that to refer to the fertilized ovum as a “baby” is “contrary to all our knowledge; as if someone affirmed that…..a blueprint was already a house.” What nonsense. Human architects can plan yet fail to bring their designs to fruition, but we are not dealing with a human planner, but with the Divine Architect. What God plans, He fulfils.

Throughout his many roles in life, David needed a hand tender enough for the lambs of the flock, and skilled enough to play his musical instrument to soothe the anguished Saul. That hand had to be accurate enough to sling the stone, and strong enough to handle Goliath’s huge sword. God, in His divine foreknowledge and predestination, brought David forth – planned, produced, and
perfected him according to His will. Life is a gift from God and our bodies are His handiwork.

God oversees the unborn in the womb

This is clear from David’s statements, “My substance was not hid from thee” and “Thine eyes did see my substance [embryo].” God saw Jacob and Esau before their birth: “Two nations are in thy womb….and the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). God saw Samson in the womb “The child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb” (Judges 13:7).

Also, the case of Jeremiah is quite remarkable. Before conception God knew him. Before his birth, he was set apart for the work of God and ordained to be a prophet. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto all nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). God regarded Jeremiah, Jacob, Esau and Samson as persons before their respective births.

Another remarkable case is that of John the Baptist. He was named John before conception, and when he was in his mother’s womb, he was filled with the Holy Ghost. God regarded John as a person even then (Luke 1:15, 35, 36, 41, 44).

Paul was converted to Christ as an adult on the road to Damascus, but was called to the grace of God from his mother’s womb (Galatians 1:15). All of these scriptural instances, and many more, are evidences of the Lord overseeing the unborn. In the womb, God is painting a great masterpiece in His own image. From eternity, His plan was prepared and from the first stroke of the great Artist’s brush (at conception) human life is sacred. It is a fearful crime to destroy God’s handiwork either before or after birth. It is a transgression of the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” It is a sin that brings the fierce judgment of the Almighty.

A God of mercy

Perhaps some who read this article may have had an abortion, or aided and abetted others to procure an abortion— maybe even performed one. You now realize, on the strength of Scripture, that you have been guilty of murder and have broken God’s sixth commandment. Your sin is a gross one, deserving the judgment and wrath of God. But God is also a God of mercy. Paul was a murderer in the days before his conversion. He persecuted the saints of God even to the death; however, Paul came face to face with Christ and repented of his sin. His sins were pardoned and the persecutor became the preacher.

Why not confess your sin to God now? Ask the Lord to forgive you and save your soul. Has He not said: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:17)? Then add your voice to those who are calling for that most basic human right – the right to life.

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Frank McClelland

By Frank McClelland

Dr. Frank McClelland is minister emeritus of Toronto FPC,Toronto, ON.