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Biblical Issues and Answers: Abortion
Psalm 139:13-16
Sunday Morning, July 24, 2022
Today I will continue our series of studies on the development of a Christian worldview and ethic. This time we will consider the biblical ethic of abortion. The abortion issue has been front page news this summer. The Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Roe versus Wade decision of 1973 just weeks ago, placing the abortion issue back into the hands of the voters of each of our fifty states. On August 2, Kansas voters will decide the amendment to the Kansas constitution called “Value Them Both,” which will take the abortion issue away from the Kansas Supreme Court and place it into the hands of the people of this state.

People in our world today arrive at their system of ethics based on a variety of basic beliefs. There are those who believe in situational ethics. These people assert that they determine their ethical and moral values in each situation they face in life. Nearly always, the choice is made according to what decision benefits them the most. Some make ethical decisions based on physical well-being, this is commonly known as hedonism; and choices are made regarding what will bring the most personal pleasure. There are many people whose ethics are determined emotionally and they make choices based on their feelings. All of these are humanistic in nature and they each fail to place the will of God in the center of their moral and ethical choices. All of these must be discarded as we search for a biblical ethic. As Christians, our moral values and ethics must be based on God’s truth that is found in His Word.

Of each born-again Christian, the Bible asks, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (First Corinthians 6:19-20). When we trusted in Christ for salvation, He purchased us with His own blood and now, quite literally, we no longer have any rights to ourselves, we belong to Him, and we are compelled to obey our Lord. Right here is the great problem. That we live in a pagan world is no longer the question, but the real question is, “Will we form our ethics and morals like the pagan world around us or will we surrender our wills to the Lord Jesus and obey Him?” This means we must abandon a self-centered ethic and choose a God-centered ethic. My objective today is not to tell you what to think or what decision to make. My goal is to show you, from the Bible, what God thinks about abortion and urge you to think as God thinks and choose to obey His will as it is expressed in the Scriptures. We will begin with the foundation of biblical thinking.

FOUNDATION OF BIBLICAL THINKING

Formation of a Biblical Worldview. Please allow me to remind you of the four components of a biblical worldview. First, a biblical ethic is obviously based on the Bible. By that I mean our thinking on an issue is shaped by what the Bible says about that issue. This does not mean we pull verses or phrases out of their context to prove our point. We study to determine exactly what the Bible says and shape our worldview to match the Bible. Second, a biblical worldview is based on God’s will which is commanded to us in Leviticus 11:45; where God said, “Be holy for I am holy.” Holiness, righteousness, and godliness are all primary aspects of a biblical ethic. In other words, the biblical ethics we hold have the result of moving us to godly living in a sin-filled world.

Third, a biblical worldview is based on the absolute of God’s unchangeable character. According to James 1:17, God has neither variation nor shifting shadow. He is immutable and does not change and neither do His morals and ethics. Therefore, a biblical ethic mirrors God’s unchangeable character and does not change because of the changing whims of human thoughts. Fourth, a biblical worldview is prescriptive in that it tells us what ought to be and how we ought to live. The Bible gives specific information about how Christians are to live and think and we are compelled to obey. Further, God has given all Christians the Holy Spirit to guide them into biblical truth and empower Christian living.

The Abortion Challenge. Abortion is the termination of the life of an unborn child. Statistics show that about one point six million elective abortions are performed in the United States each year. If that number has remained consistent since 1973, then over seventy-eight million infants have been medically aborted. It is estimated that twenty-five percent of all pregnancies are terminated by elective abortion. But the United States is not alone. It is estimated that thirty to forty million abortions occur globally each year. Abortions can be divided into two groups, those that are spontaneous and those that are induced. Spontaneous abortions are not typically thought of as abortions and are more commonly called miscarriages. These can happen at any time during pregnancy and are not caused by any external causes.

There are three kinds of induced abortions that are caused by outside or external intervention into the reproductive process with a view to terminating the pregnancy. The first is called therapeutic abortion and is performed to save the mother’s life. There are severe conditions that can threaten the mother’s life thus necessitating terminating the pregnancy. The second is called eugenic abortions that are performed because tests show that the unborn child is at extreme risk for physical or mental disability. The third is known as elective abortion and is more commonly known as abortion on demand. There is no threat to the mother’s life and there is no known risk for physical or mental disability. The reason for the abortion is simply the convenience of the parents.

Abortion on demand was recognized by the United States Supreme court in its decisions on Roe versus Wade (1973). In these decisions, the Court argued that the woman’s right to privacy prevails over the states’ interest in regulating abortions. As a result of this decision, abortion for any reason became legal in all fifty states. The Webster decision (1989) gave states more regulatory rights, but did not outlaw abortion. The pro-abortionist’s self-designation as “pro-choice” places emphasis on the right of the mother to decide whether she wants to have a baby. It reveals the belief that the right to privacy is dominant in the decision. The Supreme Court clearly based its decision on this assumption, referring to the unborn as merely “a potential human life.” At the same time, the Court also recognized explicitly that if the right of personhood is established, the “appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is guaranteed specifically by the Fourteenth Amendment.” Hence, the pro-abortion position is dependent on the belief that the unborn is not fully human. So, the larger question is, when does the unborn become a person? This leads us to the three prevailing views of abortion.

Three Views of Abortion. There are three views of the personhood of an unborn child and they are each linked to ethical choices about abortion. There are those who view the unborn as subhuman and as a result, elective abortion may be chosen at any time, even in the last trimester. The choice regards the mother’s quality of life and ranks the mother’s privacy over the unborn child’s life. The second view is that the unborn child is a potential person. Proponents of this view hold that the unborn child becomes a person at some point during the pregnancy and before that abortion is allowed. The basis is that personhood emerges and it tries to balance the mother’s privacy with the unborn child’s life. The third view is that the unborn child is fully human and therefore, a person, and so abortion is never considered. The basis is the sanctity of life and that life takes priority over privacy.

FRAMEWORK OF BIBLICAL WISDOM REGARDING GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY OVER HUMAN LIFE

Nine Bible-Based Reasons That the Unborn Is Fully Human. The unborn are called “children,” the same word used of infants and young children. (Luke 1:41, 2:12) The unborn are created by God, just as God created Adam and Eve in His image.” (Psalm 139:13) The life of the unborn is protected by the same punishment for injury or death as that of an adult. (Exodus 21:22-25) Christ was human (God-man) from the point He was conceived in Mary’s womb. (Matthew 1:20-21) The image of God includes “male and female” but it is a scientific fact that maleness or femaleness (sex) is determined at the moment of conception. (Genesis 1:27)

Unborn children possess personal characteristics such as sin and joy that are distinctive of humans. (Psalm 51:5) Personal pronouns are used to describe unborn children just as any other human being. (Jeremiah 1:5) The unborn are said to be known intimately and personally by God as He would know any other person. (Psalm 139:15) The unborn are even called by God before birth. (Galatians 1:15) We see that from God’s point of view, unborn children have authentic personhood. They are much more than potential persons; God sees them as persons even be-fore they are born.

God’s Sovereignty in the Unborn. Although God had promised Abram that he would be the father of an innumerable host of people, years had gone by and he and Sarai had no children. In a moment dripping with frustration, Sarai intuited that it was the Lord who kept her from having children. “So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children”” (Genesis 16:2a) In this she expressed God’s sovereignty over human lives in bearing children.

Isaac and his wife had no children, leaving them in a dilemma since he inherited the promise God had given to his father, Abraham. He recognized God’s sovereign control over bringing children into the world and prayed for God’s help. “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.” (Genesis 25:21) Jacob’s wife, Rachel, had no children and was consequently quite upset. She told Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” Jacob responded by revealing that he understood that God was sovereign over the bearing of children. “Then Jacob's anger burned against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”” (Genesis 30:2)

Hannah was distressed because, unlike her husband’s other wife, she had no children. But it was understood that her inability to have children was based entirely on God’s intervention in her life. She prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered her prayer by allowing her to bear Samuel. (1 Samuel 1:1-6) Through these examples we see that God has sovereign control over human birth. We see God’s purpose unfolding all around us, and especially in the birth of boys and girls. There is no question about God’s unlimited control, but only a matter of yielding our lives to His will.

All People are Wonderfully Made by Our Loving Creator. (Psalm 139:13-16) These verses speak about God’s omniscience–the truth that He knows everything. If we do not understand that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then we do not have a right understanding of God at all. Psalm 139:13 tells us that all human beings are persons even before birth. God Himself formed every part of every person, actually forming and creating each person. God dis-plays His gracious power by carefully weaving each part together. Each unborn child has unique individuality while it is still in its mother’s womb. Each of us is the unique and special creation of our loving and sovereign Lord. There are no exemptions. All through pregnancy, God is busy weaving His masterpiece of grace in every person. We are His people! He has made us!

The thought of God’s creation of each of us should lead us, as it did David, to worship our Creator. The Lord superintended our development in accordance with His plan for us. David praised the Lord because he was uniquely made in a fearful and wonderful manner. All of God’s works are wonderful–including your creation and mine. Note carefully that David expressed this as if he were an unborn child and joyfully worshiped the Lord that he was created by the Lord’s hands. In David’s day, no one knew for sure what happened as the unborn child was developing; but God did! The development of the unborn was not hidden from God; it was in plain view and at each step in the process, God’s greatest skill unfolded. God’s knowledge of us is comprehensive. He controlled every aspect of our development from our earliest moment and He knows precisely how long we will live on this earth. The unborn child is of great importance to God; they should be of great importance to you and I as well.

FOCUS ON THE REAL ISSUE

Under the Master’s Control. In my opinion, the real question is whether or not we will trust the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” The question is, will we trust in God’s truth revealed in the Bible or on the ideas of the world around us? We have seen that in God’s eyes, the unborn really is a person–a person of value and worth. Will we believe Him? The Lord Jesus Christ has called us to “take up His cross and follow Him” (Mark 8:34). This means yielding our lives to the Lord even if it means making choices that are opposite of this world system. Scripture admonishes us to “Submit yourselves therefore to God” (James 4:7). Will we submit to our Lord or refuse to obey our Master? I believe that the real struggle here is whether we will choose to live a God-centered life or instead choose a self-centered life. I contend that if you and I will live in obedience to the Lord we will make choices that will honor Him and His Word.

Help Those in Distress. There are a couple of ideas I want to leave with you. It is right for us to stand up for life and urge those around us to value the lives of unborn children. I think the reason we have this opportunity here in Kansas is because so many people have chosen to follow God’s will in this matter. But in so doing we must help those who find themselves burdened by this difficult choice. Our church supports the LIGHT House, a home for unwed mothers in Kansas City. Young women who are pregnant find housing, clothing, food, and medical attention at no cost. Each year we find additional ways to support this ministry.

We must be prepared to help without condemnation or judgment. Several years ago, my daughter came to me with the difficult news that she was pregnant. She was young and had no job and the child’s father wanted no part of her or the child. She was on her own. What was she to do? Although this was a personal crisis, she did not even contemplate having an abortion. I admit, at first, seeing the rough path that was ahead of her, I advocated giving the child up for adoption. But she told me multiple times that she wanted to raise her child herself. So, Linda and I eagerly chose to help her. She moved back into our home and we helped her all through her pregnancy. Linda went with her into the delivery room and was there when our grandson was born. Today, I am proud of my daughter and my grandson. I cannot imagine life without his joyful love and affection. God often gives beauty for ashes. Maybe you and I need to remember God’s great power that can be displayed in our lives.

God’s Great Mercy and Forgiveness. In talking about abortion, I am aware that I may be talking to women who have had an abortion and now, long after the fact, are struggling with that decision. There are reports that women suffer for many years after an abortion. May I tell you that God’s Word tells us that He is a God of great mercy and forgiveness. The Apostle Paul said that he was a persecutor and violent aggressor, yet God showed him mercy because he had acted ignorantly in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). He had harmed innocent people, yet God’s grace covered his transgressions and God granted him eternal life because of his faith. The Lord Jesus will give you His love, His mercy and His forgiveness if you will trust Him and receive Him as your Savior.

The issue of abortion is not new. Over a thousand years ago, the church father, Clement of Alexandria, maintained that those who used the various medications that induced abortions to hide their fornication cause not only the outright murder of the unborn but of the whole human race as well. I hope you will consider the Scriptures we have studied today and choose to have a biblical worldview and ethic on the subject of abortion. I cannot tell you how to vote on “Value them Both” on August 2nd, but I think it brings our state closer to this God-centered, biblical ethic. I urge you to pray for this most urgently and follow God’s will for your life.

Updated by Pastor Vernon Welkner, 7/26/2022