Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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A Philosophical Discussion of Abortion

The primary question that one must ask when considering the morality of abortion is, “When does life begin?” It is the question that will determine whether one believes abortion to be merely the removal of tissue, or the murder of a child.

Though many reject it, science supplies only one answer to the question. From the time the sperm fertilizes the egg, a unique organism, with a unique DNA signature, exists. If the DNA were to be examined by an expert to determine its origin, it would not be identified as the DNA of the mother, or the father. It would not be identified as the DNA of some animal. It would be identified as unique human DNA, related as a child to the mother and the father.

Some abortion advocates refer to the unborn child as “life in potential”, etc., but deny the truthfulness of the scientific evidence. In effect, an attempt is made to redefine what life is. Herein lies the problem, men redefining the concept of “life” for their own purposes. It must be recognized that when men define life within the parameters of “viability” or “extent of development” that these modifiers are simply rationalizations to serve a political purpose. They are not intended to determine a scientific truth—rather they are attempts to appease the conscience of individuals who desire the option of terminating pregnancies at will. Such rationalization has led to the legalization of abortion in America since 1973.

The problem is that if we redefine life to suit our purposes, there is no substantive line that can not be crossed. Advocates for euthanasia want to draw the line with regard to a person’s “quality of life.” If a person is born with gross deformities or handicaps, we can refuse to categorize that person as a “living human”, and destroy him without compunction. If a person through age or accident has lost the ability to function independently, we could “re-categorize” him and pull the plug. In effect, societal whim would determine the humanity of any particular individual. Abortion advocates decry references to Nazi Germany as a parallel to abortions, but the difference is not in kind, only in focus. Where pro-abortion advocates deny the humanity of the unborn, the Nazi denied the humanity of the Jew.

While the Bible is not a scientific textbook, and does not directly answer the question as to when life begins, it does reveal God’s view that life exists in the womb. Too, faith rather than science is where the appeal must be made regarding questions of humanity. Secular society has revealed itself as totally incapable of making proper decisions in this regard.

What does the Bible say about the unborn child? Notice the following scriptures.

“If I have despised the cause of my male or female servant When they complained against me, 14 What then shall I do when God rises up? When He punishes, how shall I answer Him? 15 Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” (Job 31:13-15).

“Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:21-23).

“And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).

These passages clearly reveal in their language that God considers the fetus in the womb to be a child. Please note that this recognition was given civil significance in the law of Moses.

“If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life” (Exodus 21:22-23).

Note that “harm” in the context refers to the child dying. The unborn child, if killed due to violence visited upon the mother, is considered to be murdered. The penalty—“life for life.”

God’s word is the ultimate authority on the question, and comes down squarely in favor of the unborn child’s humanity. For the Christian, at least, the question is settled once and for all.