I am aware that some will not finish reading what I am about to write. Some will dismiss it due to length; others by the sadness or personal regret it evokes. Some who are tired of the cultural debate may set it aside as one more voice on an already crowded stage. This letter is about the dignity of human life, and how God would have us think and respond as it is diminished in the world today.
While there is dignity in every human life—healthy, sick, young, old, black, white, and every other category of people—I am writing here specifically about unborn people. The third Sunday in January, originally chosen by President Reagan to counter the Supreme Court’s ruling to legalize abortion in the United States, has been designated to honor the sanctity of human life. It should grieve all of us that we need such a day.
Why Should It Grieve Us That We Need A Day To Highlight The Dignity of Human Life?
1. Because God commanded us not to shed the blood of innocent human beings.
Unlike the animals and trees, which God created “according to their kind” (Genesis 1:11-25), the Bible tells us that men and women were created in the image of God, according to His kind (Genesis 1:27). As people obeyed God in having children, God’s image was transmitted to each and every new baby (Genesis 5:1-3). This means that every person possesses unique dignity as an image bearer of God. For this reason, God said, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).
2. Because God considers babies in the womb as living human beings.
Psalm 139:13 says, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” God is the “You” in this verse. So we know that God is knitting His image into every baby within the womb! We find more evidence of personhood in the womb, when God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). God literally knows us as individuals inside the womb! Therefore it is warranted to assume that at any point in the knitting of a person, its destruction is an assault on the prerogatives of God.
3. America knows that babies in the womb are innocent human beings.
There was a time when abortion proponents argued that the ‘entity’ within the womb was not a human being, but rather a collection of impersonal matter. This is no longer a popular argument for a number of reasons.
We can see 3D sonogram pictures! At just eight weeks, we know that babies in the womb suck their thumb, smile, respond to sound, and recoil at pain. The heart is beating. The liver is making blood cells. The kidneys are cleansing fluids, and there are prints of the fingers. We can see it all.
We perform surgeries on unborn babies. One medical team can abort a 22-week fetus, while down the hallway; another medical team can be performing intrauterine surgery on another 22-week fetus!
We have ‘fetal homicide laws’ in 38 states. We give legal protection to take the life of an unwanted unborn baby, but we legally prosecute those who would take the life of a wanted unborn baby.
Abortion advocates affirm they are taking human life. In Mary Williams’ article, “So What If Abortion Ends Life?” she advocates for abortion after writing, “I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that is what a fetus is: a human life.” We will come back to this article shortly.
How sobering when we consider that the more knowledge we have that our action is wrong, the guiltier we will be if we continue in it (Luke 12:47-48). We know today that what is in the womb is not a collection of impersonal matter, but an innocent human being. We also know the Bible clearly tells us not to shed the blood of innocent human beings. Yet we continue to provide, finance, and legally protect this tragedy.
If We Know These Things, Why Do People Still Support Abortion?
1. As a culture, we have long rejected Creation, and with it, the authority of the Creator.
For generations we have taught evolutionary theory as the origin of man. According to this theory, a pool of random matter and energy evolved over billions of years with no creator into complex interdependent living organisms and human personhood. The Bible, on the other hand, tells us that God purposefully created us and imparted life to us that originated in Him. What does this have to do with abortion? If random matter and energy gave rise to human life, then we are our own authority. We can remove ‘inconveniences’ to our will. But if a Creator gave rise to human life, then He has Creator rights, and we are under His authority.
2. Claiming personal authority, we have given preference to the strong when two rights collide.
The history of fallen humanity shows that when two or more people have competing desires, we find might making right and the weakest get hurt (James 4:1-2). This is the case with abortion. People have competing desires. One voice says, “I want to live,” and another voice says, “I don’t want to be a mother or father.” Far too often, we find the weak getting hurt. I promised I would return to Mary Williams’ article. Read her next words carefully and you will see this come to life. She writes, “Here is the complicated reality: all life is not equal. That is a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel loving, kill-your-precious-baby-storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She is the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.”
Ironically, in so many other ways, we protect the higher value when rights conflict. For example, we deny people the right to drive 100 MPH because the value of public safety is greater than the value of being on time. A babies desire to live and a parents desire not to be a parent may be at odds, but they are not equal desires. Staying alive is more basic and valuable than not being pregnant. Not surprisingly, the ‘stronger’ typically explain their desires in ways that garner sympathy for how rights would be lost if they did otherwise. This is why nobody holds up a sign that says, “Pro-death.” That would not garner sympathy. So instead, we hear abortion advocates saying, “The greater evil would be to deny women the equal right of reproductive freedom.” No matter how you shake it down, when you compare these statements with God’s instruction to protect the weakest in the community (Psalm 82:3-4), it is evident we are living in deep confusion.
How Should We Respond In The Days Ahead?
1. Let’s deepen our conviction to understand this horrific evil.
As Christians, God’s Word is our authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If there is a lack of conviction in our hearts regarding any issue under the sun, we should sit before an open Bible and ask God to inform our convictions. Let’s think biblically and speak with humility, compassion, and courage.
2. Let’s direct any sorrow to pray for spiritual renewal.
Our deepest problem is not ignorance (Titus 3:3). This is an evil that PSA’s, education, and legislation will not remedy. There is a blindfold over the hearts of people and Satan himself is holding it tight (Ephesians 6:11-19). Information will not loosen his grip, but prayer can and will. Let’s not invest even an ounce of sorrow on idle chat, scorn, or belittling. Let’s leverage our emotions as fuel to pray for God to heal our own heart and our world (2 Chronicles 7:14). We must give ourselves to pray for God’s mercy, for those who passively accept known evil are as culpable as those who perpetuate it (Proverbs 24:11-12).
3. Let’s distinguish ourselves by love.
If the Bible is true then many people who exercise their rights will end up disappointed. We must be ready to open our arms wide in love to people who thought their decision was the solution for peace. If we abandon God’s Word or scream with hateful outrage, we will forfeit our voice among those looking for hope. (If you are reading this after having had an abortion, please know that we love and welcome you. If you have trusted Jesus, He has forgiven you, just as He has forgiven us.) As a church, let’s be ready to love as God loved us (Ephesians 5:1-2). Let’s love single mothers by stepping up in tangible ways as they find themselves unexpectedly expecting. Let’s try to calm their fears with our presence. For many families, the guilt of abortion is preferred over the shame of an unwed pregnancy. So let’s love the whole family and seek to minimize shame by drawing close and reminding them of God’s grace. God may call some of us to love through adoption or foster-parenting. Christ-like love will take on as many forms as is necessary. So let’s submit ourselves to God, ask Him to show us how to love in each situation, and then respond accordingly.
4. Let’s continue to share the good news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Providence, we have been entrusted with something more potent than a law or an argument. God made us stewards of the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). God the Father sent God the Son to rescue us in love. Believing in Christ unlocks power to live a new life. Jesus can transform the heart of man. Nations change only after the hearts of men and women change. So let’s be sharing the gospel in the power of the Spirit. Let’s plead with God to help us love and share Jesus with people who are just as needy as ourselves!
Brian Frost serves Providence Baptist Church as an elder and as senior pastor.