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Abortion is Appalling

Psalm 51:5 - Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.

Exodus 21: 22-24 - If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief [further injury] follows; surely he shall be punished, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief [further injury] follows, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Webster defines the word "appalling" as "inspiring horror, dismay or disgust." This word is certainly an appropriate adjective to describe the abortion situation today. Abortion is appalling, not only because of the statistics, but also because of the unchanging standards of Scripture.

Statistics obviously cannot tell the whole story, but they certainly do show that the history of abortion is truly appalling. Since the watershed decision of the Supreme Court in 1973, which declared that the "unborn fetus" is not a legal person under the Constitution of the United States, more than 40 million abortions have been performed in the United States. We reacted with horror and anger when the lives of 6 million Jews were taken during the Nazi Holocaust. Is it not at least equally appalling that 40 million babies have been intentionally destroyed? How dreadful and horrible to think of the gas chambers and incinerators of Auschwitz and Dachau and Buchenwald! But what about the incinerators of abortion clinics? The total number of American war deaths throughout our country's history is only a tiny fraction of the number of babies that have been killed by legal abortion.

The decision of the Supreme Court to allow Congress to limit federal funding for certain abortions, and the recent law banning partial birth abortions are small steps in the right direction, but they fall far short of changing the appalling statistics. Over 1,550,000 unborn babies continue to be killed each year in the United States--in fact, almost one in every three babies conceived in America is killed by abortion! Some lives are ended by the "suction method," which tears and mutilates the tiny body; some by the "D&C" technique which slices and scrapes until the womb is clean; some by the "saline poisoning" process which burns the tender skin of the unborn. If the infant is too large for other methods, some abortions are still performed by the infamous and horrendous "D&E" method (partial birth abortion), in which the living baby's skull is pierced and the brain suctioned out when the infant is only seconds and inches from a live delivery! Dismissed as a "piece of tissue," a "bunch of cells" or "the product of conception," not one of these innocent babies is protected by law or given a say in the decision concerning his or her destruction. How tragic! How sad! How appalling!

Abortion is also appalling because of the teaching of Scripture. Does the Bible have anything to say about abortion? When we consult a biblical concordance, we find that abortion is not listed. However, the Scriptures very definitely deal with the most basic question involved in the abortion issue: is the unborn infant human?

Psalm 51 is King David's great psalm of repentance following his sin with Bathsheba. In verse 5, David acknowledges that "in sin my mother conceived me." This does not mean that sex is inherently sinful or that David was born out of wedlock. What David is saying is that he had a sinful nature from the moment of conception! The New International Version is a helpful translation at this point: "Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful since the time my mother conceived me." Now this is not just David's poetic way of reflecting on his beginning. It is the Word of God, teaching us that we have a sinful nature from conception. We don't become sinners when we commit our first sin--we sin because we are conceived with a sinful nature. We are not just born with a sinful nature--we are conceived with a sinful nature. In light of this teaching of Scripture, let us ask ourselves a couple of questions of vital importance in reference to the abortion issue. Does a "bunch of cells" have a sinful nature? If the "product of conception" is merely a piece of tissue, would the Bible attribute a sinful nature to it? The overwhelming scriptural evidence from both Old and New Testaments is that the sinful nature is uniquely and inseparably associated with human life--human life which begins at conception.

There are a number of other Scriptures which support the basic truth that the unborn child is human. Consider Psalm 139:13-16 and Jeremiah 1:4-5, for example. Both David and Jeremiah speak of themselves as persons before birth. In addition, Luke 1:44 makes a very interesting statement about John the Baptist prior to his birth. We read that he "leaped for joy" in his mother's womb. We can hardly attribute the emotion of joy to a "piece of tissue." Joy is a human emotion. Now some will argue that this was just Elizabeth's way of speaking about the unborn baby kicking in her womb, but let's be very careful about handling Scripture this way. It is true that historical contexts and cultural settings must be taken into account when properly interpreting Scripture, but we must always remember that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate Author of Scripture, and His inspiration extends to the very words of Scripture. (See 1 Corinthians 2:13.) Is it not possible that God is teaching us something about unborn humans in Luke 1:44?

Another line of argument from Scripture to show that the unborn child is human comes from a consideration of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus. The doctrine of the incarnation is that the eternal Son of God became Man--Human! When did the incarnation take place? At Jesus' birth? At the point of "viability"? At the moment of "quickening"? Or was it at conception? Matthew 1:20 certainly "nudges" us towards the conclusion that the incarnation took place at conception. The angel comforted Joseph concerning Mary's condition by telling him, "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."

In light of the Scriptures discussed above, is it possible to come to any logical conclusion other than that the unborn child is human? A ruling by the Supreme Court as to when personhood begins in no way changes the infallible and eternal Word of God! Unborn babies are human persons from the moment of conception, as far as God is concerned. Dare we take a position that condones abortion, or is neutral regarding this issue?

Any discussion of what the Bible has to say about abortion would not be complete without an examination of Exodus 21:22-25. Some pro-abortionists have ripped this passage out of its context, declaring that it gives a biblical basis for abortion. In no way do these verses support abortion! In fact, if a premature birth is meant by the phrase "her fruit depart" (the New International Version uses "premature birth" in verse 22), and the mother or child suffered further injury, then the guilty party was to pay eye for eye, tooth for tooth--life for life! It is possible, however, that this passage refers to miscarriage and not to premature birth, because the Hebrew words which are translated "her fruit depart" are not precise enough to indicate whether the child is born dead or alive. If the words are translated "miscarriage" (as in the New American Standard Bible), the further injury would refer only to the mother. Thus only if the mother died would the guilty one pay with his life. Now we are certainly not to conclude from this that the dead infant was considered less than human. All that Exodus 21:22-25 is saying (in this "more lenient view") is that an offender was not to be considered a murderer for causing an accidental miscarriage. Those people who try to justify intentional surgical abortion on the basis of this Scripture are guilty of gross misinterpretation and misapplication of the Bible.

The sanctity of human life is written all over the Bible. Our responsibility before God is to protect human life--born and unborn. Even by "stretching the Scripture," the Word of God cannot be made to sanction abortion. To intentionally terminate the life of an unborn child is wrong--regardless of circumstances, culture or courts.

Countless people today, including well-meaning individuals, are confused and brainwashed on the subject of abortion. As Christians, we should take every opportunity to speak out against abortion. (See Colossians 4:5-6.) But growing Christians should not only speak. We should reach out in compassion to those who are desperately trying to do the right thing in regard to the appalling issue of abortion.
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