Abortion: The Bible, the Christian Perspective, and Choice
By Lance Mosher
There is a lot at stake when it comes to the topic of abortion, which is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy. That is clear when you consider the titles people have given the two major positions on the issue: They say you’re either pro-life, or you’re pro-choice. But people on both sides value life and choice. After all, everyone who participates in the discussions, disagreements, and dissensions about abortion are those who are alive and those who have chosen to present their views.
Another thing all participants have in common is emotion. And emotions are often a major arguing ground for this topic. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but we should be warned: arguing from emotions, although meaningful to the individual, is not the objective and logical way to go about this. However, many people who argue strictly from objectivity forget to love their neighbors as themselves. And this is often coming from those who believe the unborn to be their neighbors. As Ephesians 4:15 reminds us, we must value both truth and love.
This study is titled, “Abortion: The Bible, the Christian Perspective, and Choice.” While unpacking these points, this lesson will also address these five questions:
As I do my best to address these questions, I will not forget that I am writing to people with the ability to reason and feel. I must be sensitive. Therefore, I have to be realistic and believe there is a high chance that someone who reads this study has chosen to or counseled another person to have an abortion. If that’s the case with you, my goal is not to humiliate or condemn you.
QUESTION #1: WHO ARE THE UNBORN?
Mary was the mother of Jesus. Describing her early pregnancy, the Scriptures say she was “with child” (Matthew 1:18). Soon after she became pregnant, she went to her relative, Elizabeth. Then, there was a celebration that the Messiah had come—having only just been conceived.
Not only that, but Elizabeth also referred to Mary as “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43), while Jesus was still unborn. Mary became a mother, not at the birth of her first child, but at His conception. Elizabeth herself was pregnant with John, who would also become a prophet, and when the pregnant Mary visited her, “the baby leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41), that is, the pre-born John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. The word for baby in this passage is the Greek word brephos (βρέφος), which is used elsewhere in Scripture for children outside the womb. For instance, we read in the next chapter that, after Jesus’ birth, the shepherds “came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby [βρέφος] as He lay in the manger” (Luke 2:16). It is also worth noting that Luke, who called both the pre-born John and the born Jesus “babies,” was a physician (see Colossians 4:14).
Related to that, there are several passages of Scripture that use “birth” and “conception” interchangeably, and they use the same terms for children who are born and unborn. For instance, Job 3:3, in which the depressed Job says “Let the day perish on which I was to be born, And the night which said, ‘A boy is conceived.’” This is Hebrew poetry where parallelism is employed. Job said the same thing in different ways to emphasize his point. In so doing, his birth and his conception were equal to him.
Read the famous Psalm 139:14–16:
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Most parents, as soon as they learn of pregnancy, begin working out plans for their baby. They’re not alone. Even while the baby is in the womb, God is at work forming and planning. In Galatians 1:15, Paul said that God “had set me apart even from my mother’s womb.” Compare this to the poetic, and perhaps hyperbolic Jeremiah 1:5, which says, “And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
The Bible writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, viewed the baby in the womb as an image-bearer of God, a full person. There is wonderful continuity in the eyes of God between the unborn person and the born person. There is nothing scientific about the birth canal that enables us to withhold personhood until it is crossed. Instead, when God wants a person on earth, He begins His plans ahead of time and begins creating a human, an individual person, at conception. Granted, the writers of the Bible did not have access to microscopes and a working knowledge of embryology; however, they did know that the unborn child is an object of God’s intricate handiwork inside the mother’s womb. So, just as construction sites have signs that warn about men and women at work, when a woman is pregnant, we should understand God is at work, and we must not interrupt.
QUESTION #2: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ABORTION?
If the fetus inside the womb truly is a human being and a full person, then that should have much bearing on how we proceed with the question, “What does the Bible say about abortion?”
For just a moment, let me recognize that some people believe the unborn are human beings, since they have their own heartbeats, blood types, and DNA. Yet they also say the unborn are not “persons,” and they do not have human rights, until some arbitrary event. Some people say they are only “potential persons” until twenty weeks of gestation, or birth, or so many hours after birth. It’s hard to find a consensus of when this moment might be. What is the basis and motivation of this claim that some human beings are not persons? Some people say because the unborn cannot feel pain (which is unscientific), or because they are dependent on their mothers, they are not full persons yet. I know this will be an offensive comparison, but this is the same mindset the holocaust of World War II and slavery in colonial America were based on. As soon as you can say a group of humans are not full persons, then you do not believe in equality for all human beings. You can rationalize any treatment of them. You could even destroy them without a guilty conscience.
We have already explored how Scripture views the person in the womb. If we were to take the time, we would also see how science and philosophy also point to the fact that the unborn are both human beings and full persons. And since that is the case, what does that say about abortion?
Arguably the most famous parable in the New Testament is the parable of the good Samaritan, which can be found in Luke 10:30–37. Jesus told this parable as a response to a question found in Luke 10:25–29.
And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
From the beginning to the end of Scripture, we learn God wants His people to love their neighbors as themselves. Every person is everyone’s neighbor. However, the Scriptures instruct Christians to seek out special groups of people—those who need love the most. Read the following Scriptures.
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
God takes His stand in His own congregation;
There are six things which the LORD hates,
In Jeremiah 7:5–7, God said to the people of Judah:
For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
As God was renewing the earth after the global flood, he told Noah in Genesis 9:6:
Whoever sheds man’s blood,
Taking of human life is not for us to decide. Humans are made in God’s image, and their time on earth is determined by Him. And since abortion is the intentional, premeditated killing of an innocent human being, abortion is murder. What does the Bible say about abortion?
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
QUESTION #3: WHEN IS ABORTION ACCEPTABLE?
When good arguments are made to preserve life, the next step is to take the conversation in the “but what about” realm. For instance:
These are tough and emotional questions. No doubt about it. And as much as it is possible for me, I believe I understand the tension that raises these questions. Before I address them, let me say it is not my intention to reduce them to simple points to address in a debate. They are real situations that girls and women have been in and are currently tormented over. That being said, they still need to be addressed.
First, let’s remember that these questions are posed after we have already deduced that human life begins in the womb. Therefore, abortion is the murder of an innocent human being. As emotional as these “but what about” situations are, I hope we respond with deep emotion to the fact that people try to justify the murder of children because of a rapist’s crime, or because the child would be poor.
Should we punish a child because of his or her father’s crime? Popular voices today say we should. But notice what God said through Ezekiel.
“What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge’? “As I live,” declares the LORD God, “you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.”
The nation of Israel was in captivity, because they were destroyed as a nation. And the children who were born in captivity were told they should just accept being part of the collective punishment of their parents’ sins. They had even composed a proverb about it: “The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge.” Their leaders had sinned, and the crowds went along with their sin. But while in captivity, God gave them this beautiful message of hope, essentially saying “Although you are facing the consequences of the previous generation’s sins, and although people around you may still choose wicked ways, if you choose what is right, you will not be punished for the wickedness of others.” He continues:
The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
God was giving the Israelites who were born into captivity because of their parents’ sins a chance to break free from the shame, guilt, and collective punishment. There are plenty of true stories of young women who chose life for their children conceived in rape. In those situations, we should not see the children as children of rapists, but children of rape victims who overcame such horrible treatment. They were those who chose to do what is right, and therefore be victorious, even in the face of tragic circumstances. Before you justify abortion because of rape, I beg you to hear the stories of those who persevered through pregnancy, and learn from their experiences. If given the option, would they go back in time and abort their children? Some of the greatest people in history are those who persevered in the face of dreadful news or horrible situations. Rape is evil! Rapists should be punished, as the Scriptures confirm:
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
Just a few verses prior, the apostle Paul says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Children are not evil; therefore, children should not be punished.
But what if the mother’s life is at risk? That is a great question. There have been many, many times doctors have told mothers the devastating news that they have to decide either their life or the baby’s life. But is it really the mother’s choice? I do not want to be insensitive, as no one wants to be put in this position. But we are advocating for life, and God is the giver of life. It’s his prerogative to choose the days that are numbered for us. Let us also remember that abortions are risky, and many mothers have died as a result of their abortions. And again, there are multiple stories out there of mothers who chose their baby’s life over their own, yet the risk was a false alarm. Both baby and mother were healthy at birth. How tragic it would be to find out you destroyed another person’s life to preserve your own, only to find out you didn’t have to! But even if the doctors were right, the highest calling of humanity pertains to sacrifice. Hours before He sacrificed His own life to save others, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Once again, I know it’s easier said than done. But what we are discussing here, anyway, is a small percentage. Many people say they are in support of abortion in order to support rape victims. Out of all the abortions that take place, tally up the statistics and add together the percentages of abortions that take place because of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is at risk, and you get less than 1% of all abortions in the United States. That means because of the tragedies of less than 1% of pregnancies, some people justify abortion for any reason.
The much more prominent reasons people give for having abortions are things like: fear, shame, and even compassion. The mother may fear she is not mature enough to raise a child. She may be ashamed of being “caught” with a child out of wedlock. She may be convinced it would be more compassionate to terminate the child’s life, than to bring it up in a world of poverty or cruelty. And all of these are serious things to consider. No one should ever treat them lightly. The most important things God ever did for us was to give help in times of fear, shame, and anxiety.
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
Christians, is this not telling of the task that is before us? These girls and women in their most vulnerable states need to hear what Jesus offers in the face of their fear, shame, and anxiety. And they don’t just need to hear it; they need to see it in action. They are not your enemies. They don’t need us criminalizing them. Satan is the enemy here, and the best way to defeat Satan is to draw near to God. Be like Jesus and show compassion to and provide help for those in need—with your prayers, listening ear, hands, feet, resources, and whatever else it takes to help people know that as tough as it might be moving forward, ending a child’s life is not the right choice. Help is available—both earthly and heavenly help.
So, when is abortion acceptable? In other words, when is it okay to punish and murder a child because of another person’s regrettable or risky decision? Never. We are obligated to care for our own family, as 1 Timothy 5:8 reminds us:
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
QUESTION #4: WHAT ABOUT HYPOCRISY AMONG CHRISTIANS?
I recently saw a post on social media that said:
You are not really pro-life if you advocate for the death penalty.
You are not really pro-life if you abandon refugees as they run for their lives.
You are not really pro-life if you don’t care for those who can’t afford food for their family.
And you know what? They have a point. I am not sure what point they were trying to make, but I do hope this gets the attention of those who live by double standards. Sometimes, people say such things to try to argue for abortion. When we disagree with someone, and we see an area of weakness or hypocrisy in our opponent, we often jump on it to distract from the true conversation. But this is a logical fallacy. Sure, people should act in accordance with their beliefs, but when they don’t, that does not mean their beliefs are false.
Another thing I have heard people say is, “If you truly are against abortion, then you should be adopting as many kids as you can!” This is the same logical fallacy as before. It may be consistent for those who advocate for life for the unborn to adopt; however, if they don’t, that still does not make murder acceptable. In other words, just because adults do not act properly, we shouldn’t kill the children. Far too often, we believe our wrong actions are justified, because we see hypocrisy in other people. But how long is it going to be before we realize that two wrongs still don’t make a right?
QUESTION #5: WHAT ABOUT COMMON OBJECTIONS?
There are many arguments that people present in favor of abortion that are worth our time and consideration. But just for a few moments, I want to consider only the three that I have heard the most.
Objection #1: “Stop pushing your religion on me.”
Because those who oppose abortion are usually religious, the advocate for abortion claims that the religious person is forcing his or her beliefs on others when he opposes abortion. Is that true? Well, kind of, but not in the way that is often accused.
We are not talking about trying to force people to become religious or participate in religious ceremonies. When religious people advocate for life, here is how it is usually depicted:
“Religious people have every right to believe what they want. However, they have no right to force those beliefs on others.” For instance, it is fine for Jewish people to consider circumcision a covenantal rite. It is acceptable for Muslims to pray five times a day. It is perfectly okay for Christians to administer baptism to penitent believers. But if Jewish, Muslim, or Christian people started forcing others to participate in such religious ceremonies, that would be wrong.”
Actually, I completely agree. But sometimes the conclusion is made, “Therefore, if someone thinks abortion is wrong because of their religious convictions, that’s fine. They just don’t have a right to convince non-religious people of the same.” But when someone makes such comparisons, it shows they have not listened very well.
Abortion is objectively wrong, and it is not subjective to religion. Does the Bible teach that theft, rape, and murder are wrong? Yes! However, to refrain from stealing is not a religious rite. To refrain from murdering is not connected to ceremonial cleansing. Those things are objectively wrong, even to the non-religious person. Comparing abortion to prayer or baptism is not the right comparison. This study does address the question, “What does the Bible say about abortion?” However, this study just as well could have shown the scientific, objective facts regarding human life in the womb. Even though the Bible teaches against murder, including murder of a baby in the womb, we are not saying abortion is wrong only because the Bible says so. It’s wrong because murder is wrong, no matter what you believe!
The killing of innocent human beings for the sake of our own comfort, convenience, prosperity, or even preservation of our own lives is murder—to the atheist, agnostic, buddhist, and Christian. If you knew your neighbor was torturing or murdering innocent children, would you not at least say something, even if it were perceived as you forcing your beliefs on others?
Objection #2: “Mind your own uterus!”
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said just that. I am well aware that many women will not even listen to what a man has to say on this topic because, well, he doesn’t have female body parts, and therefore, he has no right to voice his opinion. Granted, I will never know what it is like to be faced with an unwanted pregnancy. However, and again, all of this is beside the point. You don’t have to be a parent to know and voice that killing children is wrong. If this were simply a discussion of body parts, or the equivalent of dyeing your hair or tattooing your body, then by all means, ignore my opinions. But it’s not! We don’t have to share the same chromosomes to know when something is objectively wrong or right. This is evidenced by the fact that there are many women with whom I agree. We have access to the same information, and we are convinced by the scientific, philosophical, and scriptural proof that abortion is murder.
Objection #3: “My body, my choice”
This argument is along the lines of the previous objection. This argument breaks down on two fundamental levels. First, the argument falsely assumes that you have complete control over what you do to your body. Is that the case? I have lived in three different countries, and in every one, the law has imposed seat belts on all their residents or visitors who would ride in automobiles. If a police officer pulled you over and handed you a ticket for not wearing your seat belt, the “My body, my choice” argument won’t get you very far. It may be your body, but sometimes you do not have control over it.
Second—and more importantly—the “My body, my choice” argument falsely assumes that the child growing in the womb is part of the woman’s body, equal to an organ or tissue. Some people claim the fetus is just a conglomeration of cells. It’s claimed that abortion is similar to having one’s gallbladder removed.
The biological makeup of your organs belongs to you. Your body is your body. However, a baby inside your womb has his or her own biological makeup and organs, and therefore, their own body. Your organs and tissue will fail if somehow their blood types were not compatible with the rest of your body’s blood type. Blood types have to be compatible for organ transplants to be successful, and your body will never produce an organ with a different blood type than your own. But it is often—in fact, usually—the case that a fetus’s blood type is different than his or her mother’s. Plus, half of all fetuses have different chromosomes than the mother. In other words, the baby is a boy, not a girl.
So, no, the fetus is not part of the woman’s body; he or she is not equivalent to an organ or tissue. Scientifically speaking, the fetus is his or her own person, having unique DNA, heartbeat, and blood type, and sometimes chromosomes.
“My body, my choice” is an argument that tries to uphold an individual’s personal rights. But since the scientific evidence reveals that a fetus is not part of someone else’s body, but he or she is their own person, then to choose abortion is a gross violation of another person’s individual rights, namely the unborn’s. It says that if you’re weak or dependent on me, then I should have the choice to kill you.
There are still many other arguments you will come across. But we do not have the time to address them in this study. What I urge you to do is actually look into this. Popular voices today make it sound like everyone in their right mind supports abortion without question, and you should too. The fact is, however, many people you talk to will admit they are on the fence on this subject, or at least when it comes to certain cases.
Many of them who elaborate on that admit they do not know whether or not the unborn are human beings. But of course, they don’t want to infringe on a woman’s right to choose. Think about that for a second. You don’t know if that living thing is a person or not. Where is the side of caution here—to kill or not to kill?
A few months ago, a few of my friends and I went on a hunting trip up north. I’ve never been much of a hunter, and neither had the rest of my buddies. So, our host schooled us in some basics of handling guns and how to be cautious when out in the field. One of the rules is never point a gun in an area where a human being might be.
If I saw something moving in the woods, but I was not 100% sure if it was a deer or my hunting buddy, should I err on the side of caution, or aim and shoot? If I am not sure if something is a person or not, it is my obligation to hold my fire and investigate!
But the good news is we don’t have to be on the fence any more. Embryology is proving more every day just how much of a human—how much of a person—a baby in the womb is. Lower your weapon, and warn others around you not to fire theirs. That’s a human life in there—at one day of gestation, ten weeks, twenty weeks, and right before birth. And it’s a human life that cannot defend himself or herself. That’s our job.
You may have noticed that in this presentation I have not shared scientific information about the heartbeat in the womb, viability, the consciousness of the unborn, their ability to feel pain, or any of the grotesque images that depict how abortions are performed. I know of one person who has been very successful at gently, but effectively, changing the minds of people on the streets of California by showing them what a conceived child looks like the day that his or her heartbeat can be detected.
The more we learn about the unborn, the more the numbers are going to sway toward protecting the innocent child in the womb. There is a reason why many people who perform and make their livings from abortions despise ultrasound technology, and they sometimes flag ultrasound images that parents share on social media as disturbing, and they do all in their power to prevent their customers from seeing ultrasound images of their children in the womb.
Do your own personal research on the developmental stages of the unborn child. Look at images of ultrasounds and ask yourself whether you’re looking at human tissue or a human being. The more information you have, the more you will know that God is at work on the person inside the womb.
And so long as abortion remains legal, I suppose it is a choice, isn’t it? The more information you have, the better the choice you can make. If you are presented with this choice, don’t make the tragic mistake of making an uneducated choice.
As I close, let me urge everyone, no matter where you are on this debate, respect each other. As you try to persuade others to love their neighbors in the womb, do not forget to also love those who disagree with you. You won’t win arguments for having the loudest voice or the most emotional experience. Hear each other out, and keep the conversation going. Remember Jesus truly loves everyone.
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Except where noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation