A Matter of Life and Death

Today and tomorrow, thousands will take to the streets to protest abortion. Contrast this with last weekend, where an estimated 2.5 million around the world took to the streets, in large part to support abortion. Abortion is the controversial issue of all controversial issues, and it is the hill both the left and the right want to die on, albeit on different sides.

Whether or not one supports abortion comes down to one question: Is the child in the womb a person?

The Bible says yes, starting in Exodus:

“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. (Exodus 21:22-25 ESV)

Under the Old Testament law, if the actions of a person caused a woman to miscarry, this was a capital offense–the command was to pay “life for life”. The Bible views the unborn child as a life–a person–and justice demands that if that life is taken, the one who takes the life should die.

This is a consistent argument made throughout the Bible. The personhood of the unborn child is reiterated in Psalm 139:13 where the psalmist writes, “You (God) knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Amos 1:13 condemns violence against pregnant women. Luke 1:29-35 reveals that John the Baptist, even in the womb, is able to leap in response to the presence of Christ. As a result, Christians throughout history have stood in opposition to abortion (for a more in-depth discussion of the biblical texts and historical sources documenting Christian opposition to abortion, I strongly recommend this sermon from Pastor Milan Norgauer, the pastor of my church).

In addition to the biblical case, there is plenty of readily-apparent and scientific evidence that the unborn child is more than just a clump of cells, more than a “fetus” (never mind that fetus is the Latin word for “baby”), it is a person. John Piper lays out 11 proofs of this here. This personhood of the unborn cannot be denied, at least with honesty or consistency.

And this is where the rubber hits the road. Because if the unborn are persons, then to destroy them is to murder. This is the fact that pro-aborts cannot accept, because doing so causes every argument in favor of abortion to collapse, including these:

Argument 1: The Mother Can’t Afford to Support a Child

I will now quote Amos 1:13, a verse I listed above:

Thus says the LORD: “For three transgressions of the Ammonites, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border.
(Amos 1:13 ESV)

The most common defense for modern abortion is economics–the mother cannot financially support the child, cannot risk her career, cannot find better housing, etc. In this passage in Amos, God has vowed to pour out judgement on a nation that would destroy the unborn for its economic gain (enlarge their border). It is no excuse. Furthermore, the mother always has the option of giving up the child for adoption to someone who is able to economically provide. Yes, there is flaws in the system. It should not cost more to adopt a child than to murder it. But plenty can and do make the financial sacrifice. Money doesn’t justify murder.

Argument 2: Her Body, Her Choice

The waters of the abortion debate have been muddied by the concept of “choice”. Basically, since the child is in the mother’s body, the mother can do with the child as she pleases, up to and including murdering it. As established above, the unborn child is a person. A person with a distinct body that is ripped into pieces with abortion. Why does that person with a body not get a choice? It’s not a matter as simple as making one’s own medical decision. The choice to have an abortion is the choice with grave consequences to someone else. Remember the Exodus passage cited above. A life is being taken, and the one taking the life has incurred the guilt of it.

And if we’re going to talk about choices, realize that choices are made well before the choice to murder is made. A choice is made to have sex. Included is the choice to not use protection, or to use protection with the knowledge that it may fail.

“But people are going to have sex!” the pro-abort says, “We can’t stop them!” Maybe we can’t. But that doesn’t mean we should give people the means to run away from the consequences of their decisions. Make no mistake, having sex is a choice in the vast majority of cases (we’ll address the others shortly). I got married last year at age 28, and my wife and I both were virgins. So I don’t accept the narrative that people can’t not have sex. Sex is a choice that carries consequences, and one of those may be becoming a parent.

Argument 3: If Abortion is Not Safe and Available, Women Will Have Unsafe Back-Alley Procedures

Prior to the legalization of abortion on demand, women seeking abortions would often have them done in illegal, dangerous, and unsanitary conditions where they would not be found out. Pro-aborts champion the existence of clinics up to modern medical standards where this is no longer the case.

Here’s the problem: The goal of murder is not to make it safe for the one doing it. No one ever thought we should lock Ted Bundy or Charles Manson in a room with people they can murder in a controlled environment. No one was concerned about the bacteria levels on the walls and floors of the gas chambers at Auschwitz. If abortion is murder, it should be stopped, not made accessible and safe for the murderers.

Argument 4: Abortion is Legal

Nationwide abortion on demand became legal due to the Roe v. Wade decision of 1974. This was a Supreme Court decision, not the passage of any act of legislation. I would contend that the regulation of abortion, being unaddressed in the Constitution, falls to states under the tenth amendment, and thus Roe v. Wade was illegal the day it was decided, as it usurped state power and several state laws.

But leaving that aside, even if abortion on demand is legal, why is the consent of government sufficient to determine if something is ethical or moral? Just in the history of America, slavery, segregation, internment camps, and countless other injustices have all been legal at various times. Almost every atrocity committed by a government against its people was somehow legal under their laws. Legality does not equal morality.

Argument 5: You’re a Man. This Doesn’t Affect You

I am a man. I would never be in a position to procure an abortion. But does that disqualify me from speaking? Well, let’s look at a recent event that shows the inconsistency of this feminist argument. Last weekend, 2.5 million marched on Washington and in other cities around the world advocating a particular brand of “women’s rights”. Lots of men marched, too. They were championed by the feminist movement as the guys who really “get it”. But those men don’t need those rights. Why should they have an opinion? Because they agree with the agenda we want them to. It’s a double standard.

But the issue is deeper than just a double standard. If abortion is murder, then it is injustice against members of society who have no voice of their own. If people are not permitted to speak up against injustice that does not directly affect them, no one but slaves should have spoken against slavery, no one but Jews should have opposed the Holocaust, no one but racial minorities should have spoken against segregation, and so on. No one believes this. It is absurd.

Furthermore, this issue DOES affect me and every other man in America. Because I am a voter and a taxpayer. As my last article described, hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid money goes to Planned Parenthood. Part of that is money that came out of my paycheck. The government is taking money from me and spending it on things. One of the biggest reasons America came to exist is because of taxation without representation. In America, if we pay, we get a voice.

There is also this perception that abortion is a “women’s rights” issue, and all women should and do support it. This simply is not the case. When I wrote my article about Planned Parenthood, a large majority of the “likes” and positive responses I received were from women. The difference is, they are women that respect the sanctity of human life and want to protect it. My wife and I are participating in the March for Life in our city tomorrow. It was her idea.

Argument 6: What About Rape and Incest?

This is where the argument gets very emotionally charged. Yes, rape and incest are awful. The perpetrators of these crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But, to quote an old saying, “two wrongs don’t make a right”. A child that is conceived in the commission of a crime is itself innocent, and should not bear the punishment for the crime. Do we give the child the death penalty for the sins of its father? Now, I understand that victims of rape and incest had no intention of having a child and may not be able to care for it. But this takes us right back up to the first argument I addressed. If the mother  raise the child, other people can and will adopt.

I would also like to point out that only about 1% of abortions occur in cases of rape or incest. I’ve heard some statistics closer to 2%. Either way, if we must have an exception (which I disagree that we should), we would still stop 98% of the abortions that occur.

Argument 7: What if the Baby Has a Defect or Disability?

Disability, particularly among children, is heartbreaking, and can lead to a very difficult path for both the child and parents. But does that justify abortion? Again, we are talking about a person. If someone is disabled, say with Down Syndrome, muscular dystrophy, or the like, do they cease being a person? Are they disposable tissue. Of course not. We don’t go around killing the disabled after they are born, and it would be a horrendous injustice if we did. So why the double standard for the person in the womb?

Argument 8: What if the Mother’s Life is Threatened?

Again, this is a situation where emotions run high. A medical emergency where one life, either mother or child, will be lost, and if a choice is not made both will be. I’m not going to claim to have a one-size-fits-all answer. My issue with this argument is that I think it is a category error. The situation presented here is a medical emergency, death is almost certain, and will be a tragedy if it occurs. This is a vastly different situation from killing a child as a matter of convenience or irresponsibility. Every effort should be made to save mother and child, but if that’s not possible, it is better to save one than neither.

I asked my wife what she would want done if faced with such a situation. She said that if she lived, she lived, and if she died, she died; she would leave it in God’s hands. She would rather die than kill her child.

Argument 9: Christians Aren’t Really Pro-Life

This, I would say, is the weakest pro-abortion argument. It is something to the effect of “we need abortion because all these pro-life Christians don’t care about life once it is born”. It is fallacious, because it punishes a child (by killing it) for perceived failings of other people. Could Christians be more generous? Probably. Is it their fault that someone chooses to murder their child because that person doesn’t think they’re generous enough? Of course not. That’s a non-sequitur, and total blame shifting. Furthermore, how true is it that Christians don’t care about life once the babies are born? I know of several Christian families who have adopted children out of foster care and from mothers who could not provide. They have donated time, money, and supplies to single mothers.  There are stingy Christians, but there are plenty consistent enough in their pro-life position that want to help.

There is Grace

I’m sure that most pro-abortion people who read this will either be defensive or dismissive towards what I’ve said here. Some will point the finger at me and say, “How dare you judge me?” My intent is not to pass judgment, only to speak the truth, and hopefully see lives saved, both now and forever. See, I know I am a sinner. I know that, if not for God’s grace, I would be a liar, adulterer, murderer, and worse. I know that if not for Christ dying to pay the penalty for my sin, I would be destined for hell. And I know that the same grace I received is enough for those who have murdered their children or enabled others to murder their children. Moses, David, and Paul were all murderers, and God showed grace upon them and used them to do His will. He can do the same for anyone else who will repent and believe. He can do the same for you. Even if your story is tragic, perhaps it can save others. It is my hope and prayer that by knowing the depths of their sin, people may know the grace of the Savior, and turn from the path of death to the path of life. ♦

SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS ARE FROM THE ESV® BIBLE (THE HOLY BIBLE, ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION®), COPYRIGHT © 2001 BY CROSSWAY, A PUBLISHING MINISTRY OF GOOD NEWS PUBLISHERS. USED BY PERMISSION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

4 thoughts on “A Matter of Life and Death”

  1. The following statements are exclusively focused on the LEGAL ramifications of banning abortion – your arguments as a construction of your moral beliefs should be clearly delineated from the notion that abortion should be legally banned. It is the latter that has an impact on life in this country, and it is the one I will address.

    With that in mind, I will start with a more general criticism of your arguments: this country cannot and should not evaluate whether a fetus is an alive person based on the Bible. The question of when the fetus is alive is an important question, but it should be answered by scientifically defining what humans think makes us “alive” and at what point that is developed in a fetus. People fled to this nation to find religious freedom – if you want to impose it instead of allowing people to engage their free will to find God, leave. Your religiously founded argument has a place in your life and how you interact with others, so it is absolutely your right and prerogative to be compassionate towards women who are pregnant and help them find a path away from abortion (or, as made clear in your arguments, demonize them). However, let’s be clear that a religious text is NOT evidential for law.

    Regarding the first and ninth arguments, both of which address the mother’s ability to care for a child and the Christian community’s compassion towards that circumstance, I don’t think you effectively address either argument (which are linked). To the first, you say that life should not be sacrificed for economic gain, a statement that completely misses the argument being made. It’s not a question of economic gain, it’s a question of whether you are bringing a child into the world only to have him/her die more cruelly (i.e. starving to death, etc.) or have a life so miserable that you don’t want them to have it (i.e. living in dire poverty, etc.).

    The fact that you ride this off as being a pursuit of having more money, not being a question of giving your prospective child a meaningful life, is well addressed by Catholic Nun, Sister Joan Chittister, who said, “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth.” That is the complaint being made against Christians (re: argument 9), and it’s not an assessment of how giving you are. It is an assessment of whether broad Christian public opinion follows the lives of those it forces to be born, and overwhelmingly, it’s clear that those lives lose their meaning within Christian rhetoric, and if anything become a burden on a system that doesn’t want to pay for their health care, food, or other basic needs.

    What is worse is that the policies that are being generated by this apathy to life after birth are increasing both death AND the use of abortion. Especially when we talk about the Mexico City Policy, which restricted funding to family planning NGOs that consider abortion a legitimate choice in developing countries, so many more lives are going to come at the cost of this policy than saved. Those who are forced to see through a pregnancy will 1) lack the resources to have a healthy pregnancy, 2) lack the health care to have a safe birth (putting their lives at risk), and 3) will be forced to see their child starved to death because there is not enough food. When these family planning clinics were last restricted under the Mexico City Policy, abortion rates went UP because women didn’t have access to contraceptives (see http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/12/11-091660/en/). Here is a situation where your advocacy is generating more of what you are fighting against – but there’s no outcry by conservative America, because the easier reaction is to give yourselves a pat on the back for your intentions instead of grappling with the loss of life occurring due to it.

    You fail to undermine the extremely sexist, controlling aspect of how Christians talk about abortion, which forces the complete inheritance of responsibility for having sex on women. NOT ONCE do you address how men should be accountable to their choice to have sex. This lends itself to a larger narrative that women having sex is immoral, that they must be stopped or face the impact of their choice. This framework of attempting to restrict female sexuality while men are given the moral free card is a perspective that will continue to be viewed as biased, sexist, and incapable of productively contributing to this debate.

    When, under argument three, you talk about these women as evil murderers, it exposes that you don’t want to help or work with them. There is no attempt to show compassion to their situation, so instead you demonize and criminalize them. Let’s be clear: you will never stop abortion, you will only make it more dangerous. It rocks me to my core that you consider hundreds of thousands of women to be equitable to Auschwitz, women whose situations you do not fully understand and who truly believe that they are doing what is morally best. If you really care about life, ALL life, then where do you grapple with the increased number of lives that will be lost if abortion is made illegal? Do you just ignore them because they don’t agree with your perspective? When I think about the most fundamental aspects of how Jesus Christ interacted with others, I think about a passion for helping those who are in the deepest struggles, for understanding those who others condemn. I’ll be honest, in my mind, it delegitimizes you as a true follower of what Jesus Christ stood for and instead paints a picture with the church being the one throwing rocks.

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    1. Your whole argument stands or falls on this:

      “With that in mind, I will start with a more general criticism of your arguments: this country cannot and should not evaluate whether a fetus is an alive person based on the Bible. The question of when the fetus is alive is an important question, but it should be answered by scientifically defining what humans think makes us “alive” and at what point that is developed in a fetus.”

      The entire point of this article (and the entire basis for my worldview, and what I believe about abortion) is that mankind is not the highest arbiter for what is right and wrong. God is, and He has declared what life is and is not, and what is right and wrong as to how life should be treated. If that is true, then everything else I said logically follows. Yes, I absolutely believe abortion is murder. And if abortion is murder, it must follow that those who procure abortion are murderers. I don’t know to which Jesus you are appealing, but the Jesus in the Bible had no problem telling people what was right or wrong. It’s not fair or honest to rip a few Jesus quotes out of context and say that covers all of Christianity. Jesus said a lot about the rest of the Bible, and the rest of the Bible says a lot about Jesus, and all of the Bible says a lot about what is right and wrong that people want to ignore. But, as I made clear at the end of my article, grace and forgiveness is available, even to murderers. You made an assumption that I don’t care about these mothers or their children after birth. You don’t know who I am, where I’m at, or what I’m doing. I care enough to tell them not to murder their children, but if they do (or even if they don’t) I want them to know the forgiveness and eternal life available in Christ. If I believe that Jesus was the only way to life, then the hateful and unloving thing would be to say nothing and let people do what they will.

      And yes, I do believe that Christians should adopt and come alongside struggling mothers. And they do (though admittedly not as much as they could) and I have seen and participated in it.

      Thanks for reading and for your comments.

      Like

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