Help in Applying the Gospel to Abortion

By Lowell Highby

Date: June 19, 2013

Category: Abortion, Sharing the Message of Lutherans For Life, Abortion and the Church

The word “abortion” does not appear in the Bible. Yet, God’s Word has plenty to say that relates directly to abortion. Here’s the reason: God’s Word is about life (John 10:10). In a successful abortion at least one life is always destroyed—and many more lives are affected. These are lives—these are people—created by God for His purposes. Physical life is destroyed by abortion. Spiritual life is also greatly damaged by abortion. While the Church is compelled to speak up for life—and the value of all human life at whatever age or condition—the Church also needs to restore people spiritually, through God’s Word, who are heartbroken and who, in many cases, feel what they have done is “unforgiveable.”

Lutherans For Life offers around 200 different resources on life issues from abortion to adoption to sexual purity to end-of-life and more. For this article, I want to highlight a few resources—a Top Ten—we have to help you apply God’s Word to abortion—both you personally and in your congregation. (All these materials are available through Concordia Publishing House.)

  1. Abortion and the Message of the Church (LFL205T) – Abortion was an issue the Church dealt with long before Roe v. Wade. Up until the last 50 years or so, the Church—east and west—was united in its opposition to abortion. The Church rightly called abortion sin. This brochure, by LFL’s executive director, Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, reviews church history that is often ignored or overlooked and calls the Church to apply its most powerful message, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  2. A Lutheran Catechism on Abortion and Life (LFL104B) – This very popular booklet, by David A. Kaufmann, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M., offers a wealth of basic information in the traditional question and answer format of Luther’s Small Catechism.

  3. Speak Up For Life (LFL212B) is a catechism-sized booklet—great for students—that takes a look at life issues based on Luther’s Small Catechism. The Fifth Commandment—and explanation—has a lot of direct application for what God forbids and why. This little booklet is also an encouragement to the Church to speak up For Life! Many Scripture verses are included.

  4. Our Scripture Quotations (LFL204T) booklet includes even more life quotes from the Word of God (using the English Standard Version) all organized under helpful headings.

  5. The Defending the Right to Choose? (LFL124T) booklet takes a look at what is really being defended under the noble-sounding, but highly misleading, phrase “right to choose.” We cannot assume people really understand what happens in an abortion. This booklet makes it clear. (A word of warning: graphic images are featured.)

  6. After the Abortion, There is Hope in His Healing (LFL405B), by Linda Bartlett, is a wonderful booklet that offers hope to those who are struggling with an abortion decision. Linda reminds her readers that, “Through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, you are set free to rejoice in the newness of life!” The Church needs to stand up For Life. The Church also needs to offer healing and forgiveness to those who, for whatever reason, chose death as a solution to their problem.

  7. Our Word of Hope (LFL404T) brochure is a great way to let women and men know there is help available for those who have made an abortion decision and are suffering with the consequences. Word of Hope (; 877.217.8679) is the post-abortion healing ministry of Lutherans For Life.

  8. In our Confessions of an Executive Director (LFL407T) brochure, Dr. Lamb shares his life-changing experiences from a 1996 trip to Romania. “It was not at all what I expected. She sat on the floor, back against the wall. Fear filled her eyes and tears spilled over. It was not at all what I expected from a woman waiting to have an abortion …” This is a very compelling story that includes moving photographs from the trip.

  9. Implementing a Pro-Life Theology in a Lutheran Congregation (LFL208B) is a great resource to help you and your congregation and your pastor speak up For Life when it comes to abortion—and all the life issues. In this booklet, Dr. David Adams seeks to help congregations put their pro-life convictions into action! He says that unless our congregations take action that make those convictions a part of the way we do our ministry work, “we shall cease to be a pro-life church body within a generation.” And he’s right. Dr. Adams offers a three-point plan to teach the faith, to care for people in need, and to witness publically to the teaching of God’s Word. (Here are two other booklets that can be a great help in this area too: Life Issues and the Pulpit (LFL1629B) by Dr. Lamb—a letter to pastors; How You Can “Speak” (LFL100B) highlights 200 practical ways you and your congregation can speak up For Life—in both words and action. All of these materials offer great help, information, and insight on what you can do right where you are.

  10. Teaching For Life – This is our Lutheran day school curricula. I am including this amazing set of very colorful materials in an article on abortion resources for this reason: If we teach our youth the incredible value God gives to each and every human life, abortion need not ever become an issue! Teaching For Life is unique in that the lesson plans are designed to be used with the teaching materials they are already using! The goal is to help teach one key life concept each month of the school year—in all kinds of ways. The key concepts share how we are For Life … from the Beginning of Time: The Importance of a Six-Day Creation; Because God Is—The Trinitarian Value of Human Life; From the Very Beginning of Life; In the Womb; For Chaste and Decent Lives; and Loving them Both; and Healing Broken Hearts; When Life Isn't Good; at Life's End. All key concepts are applied to the life issues in age-appropriate ways. Lessons plans (with a CD of additional resources) are available for grades PK-8. 

I also want to encourage you and your congregation to look into LFL’s Renewal For Life (RFL) program. With RFL, Lutherans For Life wants to help and equip Lutheran pastors and congregations to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life. RFL and Life Teams are a great way for congregations to make applying God's Word to life issues a regular, ongoing part of ministry—just as is now done with stewardship, evangelism, and missions. The need is great—but so are the opportunities!

This article also appeared in the July/August 2013 edition of Connections magazine.


Vasu Murti

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible says nothing specific about abortion:

Genesis 38:24. Tamar's pregnancy was proof that she was sexually active. Because she was a widow, without a husband, she was assumed to be a prostitute. Her father-in-law, Judah, ordered that she be burned alive for her crime.

If Tamar's fetuses had any value whatsoever, her execution would have been delayed until after their birth. There was no condemnation on Judah for deciding to take this action.

Exodus 21:22-24. If two men are fighting and one injures a pregnant woman and the fetus is killed, he shall repay her according to the degree of injury inflicted upon her, and not the fetus.

Author Brian McKinley, a born-again Christian, comments:

"Thus we can see that if the baby is lost, it does not require a death sentence-it is not considered murder. But if the woman is lost, it is considered murder and is punished by death."

Halacha (Jewish Law) does define when a fetus becomes anephesh (person), a full-fledged human being, when the head emerges from the womb. Before then, the fetus is considered a "partial-life"; it gains full human status after birth only.

Judaism supports abortion access for women. Each case must be decided individually by a rabbi well-versed in Jewish law.

The Babylonian Talmud (Yevamot 69b) states that: "the embryo is considered to be mere water until the fortieth day." Afterward, it is considered subhuman until it is born.

Rashi, the great 12th century commentator on the Bible and the Talmud, states clearly of the fetus 'lav nephesh hu -- it is not a person.'

The Talmud contains the expression, "the thigh of its mother," i.e., the fetus is deemed to be part and parcel of the pregnant woman's body.

This is grounded in Exodus 21:22. That biblical passage outlines the Mosaic Law in a case where a man is responsible for causing a woman's miscarriage, which kills the fetus.

If the woman survives, then the perpetrator has to pay a fine to the woman's husband. If the woman is killed, the perpetrator is also killed.

This indicates that the fetus has value, but does not have the status of a person.

Pro-life apologists say at least the unborn has *some* value in the Old Testament, if not actual or real personhood. But the New Testament is more permissive than the Old Testament!

In Christianity, Paul's gospel displaces Jesus' gospel. Paul claims the Law (which Jesus, a rabbi, repeatedly upheld) is abolished, and refers to his previous adherence to the Law as "so much garbage."

Some Christians argue they don't have to follow Paul, either, because Paul claims the risen Jesus said to him three times " grace is sufficient for thee..." and they take this as a license to do as they please.

If their view prevails, then:

What basis do pro-life Christians have for prohibiting abortion?

Doesn't "three times..." justify choice?!

Secular pro-life arguments are religion-neutral and thus applicable to everyone, including atheists and agnostics.

The pro-life movement ALREADY HAS the support of organized religion.

Instead of preaching to the choir, i.e., wasting time with religion, pro-lifers should focus on embryology and prenatal development, DNA, RNA, etc. to make their case to mainstream secular society.

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