Abortion and the Christian Faith

Date: June 30, 2005

Category: Abortion, Abortion and the Church, After the Abortion

Opening prayer 

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the precious gift of life and for the privilege and power which is ours for transmitting life from this generation to the next. Especially do we praise You for the gift of eternal life through Your Son who sacrificed Himself that we might live. We confess that we have not loved one another as Jesus has loved us. We confess that we have ignored the plight of the innocent preborn child and the distressed pregnant woman. By your love, forgive what we have not done and give us, by the power of Your Spirit, the wisdom to cherish every human life—regardless of age or condition—as Your unique creation. Give us courage to defend and protect life whenever it is innocently condemned to death. Give us selfless hearts to comfort, support, and aid women who are distressed to find themselves carrying a child. We ask all of these things in Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen.

Introduction

We live in an age of attempts to shut God out of life and to make individual choice supreme. “If it feels good, do it.” “If you think it’s right, then it’s right for you.” God’s Word, however, makes it clear that it is not for any of us to discern right or wrong on the basis of what we think or feel.

In no issue is that truth more vital than abortion, which each year results in the destruction of approximately 1.1 million living but preborn children. Since both the United States and Canada have made pregnant women the sole arbiters and judges of which human beings shall be permitted to live until birth, the reality of life as a gift from God is diminished.

When abortion is reduced to a matter of private morality (“it’s my body; my choice; my right”) we are less likely to see the connection between our personal decisions in the “real” world and the claims placed on us as followers of Christ to sacrifice ourselves for others.

A primary factor in building such inconsistencies into our lives has been the successful use of rhetoric and euphemisms in the promotion of abortion-on-demand. Language is an agent for change, and when language lies, when words are emptied of their true meaning, then reality is distorted.

Thus, it has become possible for intelligent, educated, and religious people to continue to embrace illogical absurdities which set aside not only truth and reality but also responsibility for their own actions and for the well-being of those who are destroyed.

I. The “Littlest” of God’s Children

For the first time in the history of the human race, science is able to provide us with a view of preborn life which until now was known and seen only by God. What do you know about the amazing beginning of life?

1. The heart which beats within you today began to beat before you were born. How soon after conception can regular and steady heartbeats be detected in an unborn child?

(a) 21 days      

(b) 65 days

(c) 105 days

2. The absence of brainwaves serves as a medical criterion for determining that death has occurred. An electroencephalograph can record the presence of brainwaves at what age of an unborn child?

(a) 40 days after conception

(b) 84 days after conception

(c) 105 days after conception

3. As a preborn child, each of us engaged in what following activities before birth:

(a) we kicked our legs, turned our feet, curled and fanned our toes;

(b) we moved our thumbs, sucked our thumbs, and could make a fist;

(c) we bent our wrists and turned our heads;

(d) we opened our mouths, swallowed, squinted, and frowned.

(e) all of the above.

4. At what stage of development were we able to do all these things?

(a) 12 weeks

(b) 24 weeks

(c) 36 weeks

5. The preborn child is fully formed with all systems present and functioning during:

(a) the first trimester of pregnancy (1-12 weeks)

(b) the second trimester (13-24 weeks)

(c) the third trimester (25-38 weeks)

6. The 1973 Supreme Court ruling made abortion legal in every state during:

(a) the first trimester

(b) the first and second trimesters

(c) the entire nine months of pregnancy

7. The Supreme Court’s 1973 rulings permit abortion for which of the following reasons:

(a) the physical health of the mother

(b) the psychological health of the mother

(c) the social and economic well being of the mother

(d) if the mother is embarrassed

(e) if the unborn child is thought to have physical or mental disabilities

(f) all of the above

8. According to government statistics, over 96% of all abortions are done for reasons that pertain to:

(a) the physical health of the woman

(b) the psychological health of the woman

(c) possible defects in the unborn child

(d) the social and economic well being of the woman

(Answers: 1. a; 2. a; 3. d; 4. a; 5. a; 6. c; 7. f; 8. d)

Read and discuss the following passages: Psalm 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Job 10:8-12; Jeremiah 1:5.

II. The Witness of the Early Church

The teachings of Christ concerning the sanctity of all human life brought the new Christian faith into direct conflict with the widespread practice of abortion in pagan Roman society.

Christ proclaimed that any attack on another human life or any attempt to diminish the worth of a human being as a person was, in God’s eyes, deserving of judgment (Matthew 5:21,22). Christ taught that killing does not begin with the actual destruction of human life but with not “wanting” that life to exist because the continued existence of that life interferes with our happiness, plans, or our simply “wanting” to have our own way (Mark 7:21-23; 1 John 3:15).

You have heard it said, “Love your friends, hate your enemies. But now I tell you: love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43-44).

If we are not permitted to lay violent hands on our enemy, how much less then are we free to destroy the innocent life that, in its weakness and vulnerability, God has placed in the safety of the womb and entrusted to our protection, care, and mercy.

Read and discuss: Proverbs 6:16-17; Amos 1:13.

Infused with the ethics of the Old and New Testaments and the teachings of Christ Himself, the early Church reflected its countercultural beliefs in both its actions and writings.

Epistle of Barnabas (c. 138 A.D.)
“You shall love your neighbor more than your own life. You shall not slay the child by abortion. You shall not kill what is generated.”

The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles (The Didache, c. 150 A.D.)
“The slaying of a child by abortion” was regarded as “a way of death.”

Tertullian (church scholar, c. 200 A.D.)
“For us, since homicide is forbidden, it is not even permitted, while the blood is being formed into a man, to dissolve the conceptus in the uterus. For to prevent its being born is an acceleration of homicide, and there is no difference whether one snuffs out a life already born or disturbs one that is in the process of being born.”

Read and discuss Psalm 51:5.

Is an unborn child a person? Can one have a relationship with God, or be in need of a Savior, if he or she is not a person?

III.    The Witness of the Contemporary Church

Josephus, a Jewish historian of the First Century, noted that what distinguished Christians from pagans was their rejection of both abortion and infanticide. The followers of Christ refused to destroy children before birth or even at birth, a common Roman practice if the child was born with a handicap or was not the desired sex.

Throughout the centuries which followed, Christians were characterized by their great reverence for human life. This position continued until the 1960s when some religious groups adopted more permissive attitudes toward abortion, allowing such decisions to be made by each individual woman on the basis of her situation or choice.

Opposition to abortion on demand by Christian people reflects their response to the following fundamental questions:

(1) Is life a gift of God? Read Psalm 100:3; Psalm 119:73; Isaiah 44:2a; Acts 17:24-25; James 1:16-18.

(2) Does God view preborn life as personal and individual? Read Judges 13:3-5; Isaiah 49:1, 5.

(3) Is a human life that has “defects” of equal value to God? Read Exodus 4:11;
1 Samuel 16:7; John 9:1-3.

(4) To whom do life and death decisions belong? Read Psalm 31:15a; Psalm 104:29-30; Deuteronomy 32:29; Exodus 20:13.

IV. The Word and the World in Conflict

The World Says: “Every woman has the right to control her own body.”

The dictionary says that the word “woman” means female human being. Since sex is determined at conception and since over 50 percent of those aborted are “female human beings,” what right do they have to control their bodies?

The law says that rights to our bodies are partial. We cannot mutilate them, take them to public places without clothes on, attend school if they are covered with chicken pox or measles, or drive a car if they are filled with alcohol or drugs.

Science says that in pregnancy there are two bodies—each with separate and distinct heart beats, brainwaves, and fingerprints. Abortion is not a means of “being in control” of a woman’s body but rather a way to control the separate human body of a living but preborn child.

The WORD Says: Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Romans 12:1; Deuteronomy 27:24; Philippians 2:3-4.

The World Says: “Every child should be a wanted child.”

Medicine says that because of hormonal and physical changes the condition of pregnancy is unwanted by many women but, as time passes, the child of the pregnancy becomes very wanted.

Statistics say that while some believe that the unwanted child is better off aborted because she or he will become a battered child, research indicates that as abortion increases, so does child abuse. (Child abuse has increased 500 percent since abortion was legalized in 1973.)

History says that the measure of a humane, civilized society is what it does with human beings who are unwanted—whether it cares for them, or kills them.

The WORD Says: Read Isaiah 43:1; Ezekiel 18:4a; Isaiah 49:16.

The World Says: “Women should have the freedom to choose.”

Some Americans say to allow individuals to choose whether to destroy a preborn child or not is simply a matter of being tolerant. Do we consider it a matter of being tolerant to allow people to choose whether they will enslave African Americans, exterminate Jews, batter children, or rape women?

Some concerned Americans say that in allowing abortion on demand on the grounds of individual freedom of choice, we tolerate the right of the strong to impose their morality on the most defenseless.

Pro-life Americans say we need to complete the phrase “freedom to choose” by asking “Choose what?” In abortion, the developing child is not painlessly vaporized into another galaxy as in some Star Wars fantasy. “Freedom to choose” gives women the legal right to a procedure that will violently and painfully mutilate, dismember, pulverize, or poison their living preborn children.

The WORD Says: Read Proverbs 21:2; Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 30:1; Deuteronomy 30:19; Exodus 23:7.

As we consider the popular slogans used to promote abortion, we need to remember that as God’s people we are called to “guard the truth and hold fast to words which are sound” (2 Timothy 1:13-14). Paul’s admonition to “beware of meaningless words which seek to deceive” (Ephesians 5:6) is applicable to us today as we consider the sanctity of human life.

V. The Fallout from Abortion

Abortion may have the following effects on:

1. Women.    

  • Physical complications

  • Permanent sterility

  • Guilt

  • Lessening of self-image

2. Relationships. 

  • Males denied rights to their preborn children

  • Elimination of shared decision-making

  • Coercion of “significant others” for woman to abort

3. Other children. 

  • Fracture of trusting relationship child had for parents

  • Increase of child abuse as children are perceived as “property”

4. Society. 

  • Value of other life that is inconvenient or imperfect eroded

  • Increased practice of infanticide

  • Growing acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide 

5. The Medical Profession.

A return to pagan practice in which the doctor is both healer and exterminator at the same time

6. Demography. 

  • Growing top-heavy population of elderly

  • Below population replacement level

  • Anticipated diminished workforce and consumer bloc

7. The Church.

  • An acceptance by some of a secular view of human life and a utilitarian solution to problems

  • Abandonment of the doctrines of suffering and sacrificing for another

VI.  What can you do?

  1. Repent of any personal involvement with abortion and know that God desires to heal with His forgiving love. See 1 John 1:9 and Isaiah 1:18.

  2. Be better informed. See Hosea 4:6a.

  3. Be a witness. See 2 Timothy 1:13-14, Ephesians 5:6, Acts 4:18-20.

  4. Be active. See Proverbs 24:11-12, Matthew 25:34-36; 40-43ff.

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