We have heard from preachers and politicians telling us what God thinks about abortion, but what does God actually say in the Bible? I want to share with you from Biblical principles the many-faceted angles of abortion and what God thinks about it.
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ” (NIV)
This is the word of the Lord spoken to the prophet Jeremiah. God knew Jeremiah before He was formed in the womb. He knew him. He was familiar with him. He knew his name, his personality, his essence. These words remind us that abortion is taking the life that already existed in the eternal realm that has been placed in the womb to become flesh on this Earth. Nevertheless, what doesn’t exist cannot be known. God knowing Jeremiah before the womb reminds us that conception in the womb is life. It is known by God and for man to take this life is not acceptable to God.
We read how John the Baptist, still in the womb of Elizabeth, jumps for joy within her belly when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, comes to visit her. John and Jesus knew one another in transcendence before their physical bodies were fully formed.
So many Christian articles about abortion are simply statements of why abortion is wrong or a sin. Anyone with faith in the Bible as the Word of God, along with the logic that nothing can be known that doesn’t exist, makes it clear that abortion is not godly. Nevertheless, should the question of right or wrong be the focus of believers? Should our focus be in the politics and polity of abortion laws?
Should I fight to make abortion illegal?
Not everyone considers abortion sinful. The Bible clearly teaches us not to judge those outside the church. If someone has no issue with abortion, it is not productive to argue the point with them. Biblically, we know the laws of a nation can bring blessings or curses down upon that nation so working to make abortion illegal is a noble cause. Telling someone who has had an abortion that they have sinned against God or holding up signs that say “God hates abortion” doesn’t really convey love to those who may wonder if God can still love them after they’ve had an abortion.
The response of the church to abortion must be anchored in love then morality. Many will disagree with me here, but Jesus’ morality is wrapped in transformation. Jesus did not require the woman caught in adultery to confess her sin, renounce it, or even ask for forgiveness. He prioritized mercy above morality. It is not that He was not concerned with morality because His command to her was to go and sin no more. He first gave mercy, then morality. Isn’t this God’s way? He died for us on the cross while we were yet sinners. This love draws us to Him, makes us want to listen, to follow Him. Then comes morality as He teaches us to be holy as He is holy for this is the way to abundant life. Love followed by morality strengthens a person’s sense of being loved. Morality before love makes the law of God more important than the child of God. Jesus criticized people like this in Scripture telling them their actions were the same as putting a stone around someone’s neck and throwing them into the sea.
God’s compassion for us comes out of His understanding of the original sin that we often forget. We don’t sin because we are bad people. We sin because we were born with the condition of sinfulness. If a baby is born with a defect that disallows them to walk, we are not angry with the baby. We have compassion for their condition. With sin, we forget it is a condition that we must be rescued or saved from. Too often, our view of sin doesn’t span wide enough. We act as if there is no condition causing sin, but the Bible clearly teaches there is a sinful nature. All of Scripture is not about people no longer sinning as much as transforming them in the Spirit so they are set free from the law of sin and death, the sinful nature. God breaks the chain of our slavery to sin. Our greatest concern must be the condition that leads to sin more than the sin itself.
Political posturing to make abortion has great merit, but has the church become so consumed with this that it has forgotten our first calling from the Lord is to minister to individual people as they suffer from the pain of sin. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can be active politically in the abortion arena. Our first priority must be loving those whose lives have been hurt from the effects of abortion. Changing the law is important for God’s protection over our nation, but it will not save a single soul. To be active politically but absent in personal ministry is an earthly response to a spiritual issue.
How can abortion be sinful if God commanded the death of the unborn?
For many, the struggle is found in the Christian message of love from a God who commanded the death of many people including pregnant women and children. The average Christian has lost sight of God’s command for Israel was to defeat the city of Jericho and kill every man, woman, child, and animal. Surely, in a city this large, there would have been many pregnant women. How can a God who protects the sanctity of life destroy the unborn? Another difficult passage is the Old Testament ceremony regarding the suspected infidelity of a wife. The priest was to take bitter water and give it to the wife whose husband is unsure of her fidelity to Him and then declare:
Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse —“may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” (NIV)
Many outside the church claim the Christian stance of God’s sanctity for life has no basis because of passages such as these. What they miss is that God and God alone is Judge. He has the authority to dispense consequences though none of us do. In the human realm, it is the same. If I see someone robbing a bank, I can call it wrong. Perhaps, I can make a citizens’ arrest. But I don’t have the authority to condemn them to prison for any number of years. Only those endowed with this authority can do this. But we allow judges to hand down punishment even though they, themselves are not perfect. It is a necessary, though a highly imperfect, system in an attempt to maintain order.
Remember, the Bible places people into two categories: perfect and imperfect. The first group only has one member. His name is Jesus. The rest of us belong to this other group. Judges have authority to hand down consequences because it has been given them by man. God’s authority, however, is based on His perfection. Only the one who has never sinned can justifiably condemn those who have. Like any kind Father trying to help their children live their best life, He motivates us with a promise of blessing to our children when we live according to His statutes, but the absence of these blessings, which is what a curse is, when we don’t follow this way also fall upon our children. It is not that God does not value life.
He is the Good Father using both reward and punishment to help his children take the best path that He alone who is omniscient can know.
Is it ever ok to have an abortion?
A person’s lack of understanding of God’s authority to bless and curse must not be allowed to deceive us into believing that abortion is acceptable to God. We should, however, have a posture of patience and mercy for those who do not understand. Abortion is not acceptable to the Lord. No person, no human being, has the moral authority to take the life of another innocent human being. Judges may give the guilty a death sentence, but this is a man-made government attempting to establish order. This is controversial enough, but to sentence to death an innocent baby is so far beyond what any human has the authority to demand.
What about in the case of rape, incest, or the danger of the mother? These are beyond difficult situations. Secular society will rationalize these moments, but the Bible calls for faith in the heart of a Christian. Should I walk into my wife being raped, would it be acceptable to God for me to kill the rapist? Yes, it would be. I know that is going to throw many of my Christian brothers and sisters, but Scripture teaches this:
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, (NIV)
We can not equate rape with abortion however because we know God allows and disallows our behavior according to the hearts of men made clear by their pattern of behavior. In other words, a rapist is trying to do great harm, perhaps kill his victim. A baby in the womb has not such intention so this comparison is apples and oranges. Those who criticize the pro-life community will often use against this group, their support for the death penalty. This is an unfounded comparison.
The pain of having a child from rape is more than what I can know or that anyone could know who has never gone through such a nightmare. However, the principles of Scripture remain. The Lord would call for us to lean on Him remembering that He is the God who makes streams in the desert, pathways in the wilderness, and brings life from death. He would call for us to lean upon His promise:
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)
What is this escape but a way to move out from underneath the pressure creating temptation. For some, this may be allowing the baby to be adopted. For some, it may be raising the baby as a way of overcoming how our spiritual foe, Satan, would want to steal our joy, peace, and love.
This is so much easier for me to say this than for someone to endure it. This is why I have no right to judge, neither does anyone else. It’s easy to say a mother should stand up in court and offer forgiveness to the one who murdered her little boy because that is what Jesus would do. But woe to anyone who judges another without walking in their shoes. This is why the Bible says not to condemn one person for a speck of dust in their eye when we have a whole plank of wood in our own. But the error of me judging someone who struggles to put their faith in the promises of God does not change the promises of God. In all of these, the Lord calls upon us to let Him strengthen our faith. Faith in His promises allows Him to take what was meant for evil and use it for good. He takes that born in the spirit of death and subjects it to the spirit of life. He reverses and defeats evil that all people might know that God is alive and His way is true.
How to minister to someone who has had an abortion?
Those who have had an abortion must be loved before they will believe that God still loves them. As we love them, they will learn to trust our love for them. They will be confident that our priority is their well-being. Trust opens the door to speak of the dangers of immorality. These will be words of life, not condemnation. Those consumed with guilt because of abortion need to be reminded that the only sin that keeps the Lord from receiving them into His arms is their rejection of Him. He will never reject anyone who comes to Him, but He will not force His way into the heart of someone rejecting Him. They need to be reminded that their action was not the end, but the Lord has made provision for those who perish before reaching an age of understanding. They need to know they will see their baby in the Heavenlies.
Love before morality opens a hardened heart to hear the truth of Scripture regarding forgiveness and the Heavenly reunion with babies they have never seen.
The Bible teaches morality without a doubt. The Ten Commandments clearly reveal this and of course, the sixth commandment is “Thou Shall Not Murder.” Christ, however, has not called us to be moralists, but Christlike. The priority of moralists is to declare what is moral and what is not. However, our priority as believers is not to teach morality, but to love. Often, these will overlap. For example, the negative consequences of abortion ranging from physical complications, emotional anguish, and mental health can be destructive to someone. If we love them, we will guide them away from all destructive behavior as we ourselves attempt to live away from these same behaviors. The separation between morality and love is found in the intent. The intent of morality is to decide, teach, promote, and demand the right behavior. Of course, to demand the right behavior without love tears people down. Christians are commanded to build one another up. The intent of love is heart transformation, so a person experiences the abundant life Christ has for them. This distinction should affect our response to the issue of abortion. Christians should care about the laws of the land and whether abortion is legal, but a higher priority is to help those who are suffering from the injurious effect of abortion.
Morality is truth regardless of impact, but we are taught to speak the truth in love. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not bring up past mistakes to do harm. God does not break a bruised reed and neither should we. We should never beat down someone who is already deeply hurt. The power of God’s love is the message it sends to a sinful world. The cross symbolizes God’s love for us even at our worst. The Bible says we love God in response to Him loving us as we are in all our imperfection and sin. Love transforms. Morality without love embitters.
How to deal with the guilt that may come from having an abortion?
Many of you reading this may carry a weight of guilt because of an abortion. I want to clearly say to you today that God loves you just like you are. His compassion eclipses His wrath. And I want you to know that the Bible teaches us that we all need God because all of us have broken His law. As humans, we have placed greater emphasis on certain sins, but the Bible does not teach this. Consider this passage for example:
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (NIV)
Even though the human imagination supposes some sin is worse than others, it is only the immediate consequence of some sin that is greater than the immediate consequences of others. God is more concerned with the long-term effect than the immediate consequences of any sin. He considers all sin equally dangerous because the ‘little’ sins open the door to ‘bigger’ sins. There are no ‘big’ sins without preceding ‘little’ sins. This is what Solomon meant when he said it was the ‘little foxes that ruin the vineyards.’ What we see as little sins may actually be more dangerous because they are equally corrupting to our soul but much harder to detect. If I killed a man, I would be fully aware of this, but I can easily justify and turn a blind eye to a small lie told to someone to make myself look better. The way human society assesses sin, including the church many times, is not Biblical.
So when it comes to abortion, the human consequence is greater. This is true, but God gives us a list in Romans that all lead to the same place of destruction. There are some that seem ‘small’ such as gossip and disobedience to parents and some that seem ‘larger’ such as hating God. God judges all of these as equally wicked and perilous to the good life He wants for us. The only person who is perfect enough to judge you is God and He does not see abortion as somehow beyond redemption. In fact, God has already forgiven you. When He died on the cross, He died for all sin. If God knows how many hairs are on the top of every head in the world, He surely knows every sin each person will commit. In foreknowledge, He knew every sin you would ever commit and He died on the cross for your forgiveness.
Don’t let anyone, not even other Christians, convince you that God will not forgive. Forgiveness is a gift that He has already left on your porch. Like an Amazon package, it is waiting there for you to bring into the home of your heart. It is a free gift. The only unpardonable sin is to refuse to open the gift of forgiveness. Let today be a new day. If God is Judge and He has forgiven you, then who are you to condemn yourself? Let God be the Judge. Accept His judgment that all sin was crucified on Calvary and thrown into the deepest sea. His blood shed on the cross has made you clean. Accept His forgiveness. Stop beating yourself up. Start living a new life in the grace of His mercy.
Now, go and live blessed because you are, then go and be a blessing to others because they need it.