Okay, this is a hot topic if there ever was one.
It’s emotional and uncomfortable for everyone involved – it’s hard to address, hard to hear, and especially hard for women who have suffered the indescribable pain of going through the process of having one.
There are so many questions to consider…
Is abortion a sin? When does life begin? Do women have the right to choose what to do with the fetus living inside of them? What if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest? Is it fair and loving to teach that a woman should have her baby if it hinders her life with a burden that she cannot carry alone? And what about after the baby is born – how do we support women with unplanned pregnancies? Are there compassionate ways for the community to help her raise the baby or find a loving home for the child?
These are all very important questions that must be carefully considered by all who care about both mother and baby, though we won’t be able to address all of them in this blog.
Our leadership team believes God's heart on the value and worth of all human life, including mother and child, is clear in scripture. Unfortunately, the conversation in the news and on social media has made this topic more confusing for some, especially by those who are speaking strongly and adamantly against a biblical view of life in the womb, and mischaracterizing those who speak up for that life as not caring about women.
As Christians, we must allow the inspired Word of God to be the basis of our convictions, and not the worldly narratives that propose an unbiblical view of how we understand life. This is the only way to clear away the fog and see clearly.
So, without delving into the political dimensions of the issue, we would be remiss if we did not strive to give some biblical guidance regarding the spiritual dimensions of this important subject.
What does the Bible say about abortion?
Abortion does not appear in the Bible, but there are lots of scriptures that give us a very clear indication of God’s heart on it. And that’s what we’re after – seeking God’s heart on abortion, so that we can lovingly address it with our church family.
Because there are so many layers to this important conversation, we thought a single blog post would not do it justice. So, our leadership team is planning to do a series of blog posts around the topics of abortion and related subjects, written by a few different authors, over the next several weeks.
We also plan to preach and teach on this, and other hot topics that Christians are faced with today, such as homosexuality, transgenderism, divorce, justice, and how to spiritually, respectfully, and lovingly engage in these topics, in the Fall.
We do not wish to be issue oriented, but neither do we wish to be tone deaf and ignore the spiritual elements of the vital conversations of our day.
Please be praying about these things as we move humbly, carefully, and lovingly together into a sincere search for God’s heart, as revealed in God’s Word.
The heart of the matter
Okay, let’s get right to the heart of the matter – is abortion a sin?
Being condemning and judgmental in our attitude toward others is certainly a sin – that’s for sure.
Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2)
And looking down on others is equally sinful.
Jesus addressed this self-righteous attitude with the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector: “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable…” (Luke 18:1)
But, that’s not the spirit of this question.
This question is coming from a genuine desire to know if God considers abortion a sin – something that God takes very seriously and commands us to avoid because it hurts him, us and others we love. God hates sin because he loves people, and so should we.
So, with that understanding of the spirit of the question, I ask again: is abortion a sin?
Let’s explore God’s Word and strive to discover God’s heart on this question.
Life begins at Conception
Consider the following passage…
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV)
David says, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that he was knit together in his mother’s womb (vs. 13) and that God saw his unformed body (vs. 16). Life for human beings begins in the womb. If a fetus (the initial stage in human development) is not a person, then what is a fetus? The psalmist writes that God saw him when he was still “formless (vs. 16)." (1)
Isaiah records the same truth:
“This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb…” (Isaiah 44:24)
And so does Jeremiah:
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
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.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
So, is a fetus a human? Or is it something else? Biologically speaking, human life begins at conception. When the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm come together, they combine and create a new string of DNA that is personalized and totally unique. DNA is coded information, the blueprint for the new human’s growth and development. No more genetic material needs to be added; the zygote in the womb is as human as the mother in whose womb it dwells. The difference between a fetus and any one of us is one of age, location, and level of dependence. It is just as much a human being as any one of us. (2)
The New Testament records that while John was still in his mother, Elizabeth’s, womb, he leapt for joy at the sound of her pregnant cousin, Mary’s, voice:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41)
So, the Bible describes unborn children in the womb as living human beings.
And our Creator forbids us from taking the life of another human being that he has made in his image and likeness (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 20:6).
For the Christian, abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose to have a baby. The baby is already present and living. Abortion is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image. (3)
So, what’s God’s heart on abortion?
It starts with the heart of the matter: is abortion a sin?
1. Life begins at conception.
2. God forms each unique human being in their mother’s womb.
3. God is our Creator, and forbids us from taking any human life that he has made.
4. Therefore, abortion is a sin.
Hope, not judgment
God has beautiful and wonderful plans for each and every baby (Psalm 139:16). Regardless of the circumstances in which she was conceived, that baby has hope and a future because of God’s love and goodness (Jeremiah 29:11).
I know that no woman decides to have an abortion lightly or glibly. It’s excruciatingly difficult – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. They wrestle with it and it’s just an awful thing to go through. And those who go through with it often live with guilt and shame the rest of their lives.
But that’s not God’s will. God doesn’t want these precious daughters of his to remain in a place of guilt and shame. God wants them to be free from that and to have their sin washed away in the blood of Christ.
Christians need to know that God does not hold that sin against them. And those who are not Christians yet need to hear that message of hope.
“Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” (Hebrews
Abortion is not the unforgiveable sin. God wants to remove both the guilt and the shame of every sin – including abortion – from our consciences, so that we may serve him freely and joyfully:
“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14)
God’s tender mercy is extended to the hurting women who have undergone such pain and trauma over this event in their lives, and we should extend that same mercy.
I pray the church would not water down the seriousness of taking a human life, and also have deep grace, sincere compassion, and practical concern and care for the women who are facing unplanned pregnancies.
It’s important that we find ways to support both the mother and her baby after birth. From adoption possibilities, to pro-life centers that provide help for years after birth, to all kinds of other ways to support the family emotionally, spiritually, and materially.
And so, here’s my prayer:
God, I know that Jesus died on the cross for every human being, making each and every soul precious and incredibly valuable to him. And I pray that we would have that same heart for every human being as well.
God, you’re a God of love – a deep love that is defined by your Word. And your heart of love requires and demands that we not take advantage of each other, abuse each other, harm each other, or take each other’s lives, but that we love and care for both the born and the unborn.
God, I pray that biblical love would guide us in how we talk about these things. Give people who disagree on this difficult subject the grace, kindness, humility and love you expect from us as Christians. I pray we stand out from the world in this way, and refuse to take part in the condemning, accusatory, and harsh interactions we sometimes read about in the news or on social media.
God, guide our thoughts, prayers, and conversations as we seek your heart on this important subject, and navigate the turbulent waters that surround it.
In Jesus’ name I pray.
(1) How Should We Talk About the Sin of Abortion to Others, Aaron D'Anthony Brown, Crosswalk.com
(2) What Does the Bible Say About Abortion? GotQuestions.org