Articles of Controversy: Abortion Part II



In Part One, we looked at the what’s and why’s of abortion — just the studies, scientific facts, and definitions.  Let’s now examine what the Bible has to say on the topic.

I have heard some arguments that the Bible actually supports abortion.  This saddens me greatly, but it makes me think of an analogy given by a lifelong friend of mine who was a fighter pilot in the Air Force.  He talks about how important it is for your instruments to be accurate, because, up in the clouds, you cannot judge your direction. If your instruments are off even one degree for one minute, you will end up one mile off target.  You will never hit your mark that way!  One degree seems like such an insignificant amount and one minute seems like such a short amount of time, but it misses the mark by such a sizeable difference.  The same is true with our theology.  It may seem insignificant to be slightly off in what we believe, but when we extrapolate that to how it affects our thoughts and what we teach future generations, it can put us a great deal off target.

With that in mind, I want to begin with the Scriptures that I’ve heard used to defend the thought that God supports abortion.  The argument is that the Bible states that a person is not alive until after drawing his/her first breath.  Genesis 2:7, Job 33:4, Ezekiel 37:5-6, and Exodus 21:22-25 are used to support this statement.  What we must remember is that the Bible is not a series of one-liners or Zig Ziglar inspirational quotes.  Rather, the Bible, in its entirety, is God’s Holy and inspired Word to us, a manual of commandments and precepts for holy living.  Let’s look at each of these Scriptures, individually.  (*For the purpose of this article, all Scripture references are King James Version unless otherwise noted.)

Genesis 2:7 states, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  The argument is this: although the man was fully formed by God in all respects, he was not a living being until after taking his first breath.  Therefore, babies are not human/living beings until after their first breath.  This verse does not apply to an argument regarding a baby in the womb, as Adam was not born.  He was never a baby in his mother’s womb. God made Adam from the dust as a full-grown, adult man and put the breath of life in him.

Job 33:4 says, “The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”  This verse is also used in the above argument, but it is also taken out of context entirely.  Job has to be read as a whole and it becomes clear that Elihu is discussing a “life of understanding.”  Elihu is actually using a series of proud claims to explain why Job should listen to him.  (See also Job 32:8, “But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.”)

Ezekiel 37:5-6 states, “Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”  Here is a third verse used in the “breath of life” argument, but again, this verse is also taken out of context.  When reading the whole chapter, we see that it is an allegorical picture of what the Lord will do for the captive Israel when He releases them from captivity.  Israel’s punishment for breaking the covenant was exile.  They were set among the Gentiles to experience slavery, suffering, and death.  In Ephesians 2:12, Paul spoke of life outside of the “covenants of promise” as life “having no hope and without God in the world.”  Consequently, the ancient Jews who lived in Babylon understood themselves to be essentially dead.  This verse shows the always faithful, covenant keeping God who is not only faithful to chasten those He loves (Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 3:12), but also to bring them back to a state of blessing. It is not a coldhearted statement saying that you don’t matter until you breathe air outside the womb.

I think it bears mentioning at this point that this “breath of life” argument is a slippery slope of evil.  It is the same argument that allows for partial-birth abortion and for the killing of a child at any time during a pregnancy, even up to birth.  To say that a child is not human the day before birth is ludicrous.  There is no magic wand in the birth canal that changes a child from a fetus to a human.

Exodus 21:22-25 is a bit more tricky.  To study it, we must view a couple of different versions of the Bible.  We’ll start with the New King James Version (NKJV), which says, “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.  But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

Now the same verse, in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV): “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.  If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”  (Bold lettering mine, for clarity.)

Take a moment and look at the differences in that verse once more.

Abortion proponents argue that this ONE verse makes abortion acceptable to God because he does not care about a child in the womb.  The argument with this verse is that it states that if a man causes a woman to have a miscarriage, he shall be fined; however, if the woman dies then he will be put to death.  The argument states that this one, stand-alone verse proves that the aborted fetus is not considered a living human being since the resulting punishment for the abortion is nothing more than a fine and it is not classified by the Bible as a capital offense.  First, if you go back to the original Hebrew (yeladeyha weyatse’u), the literal rendering would be “her children go forth”. This is more accurately translated in the NKJV, which uses “and causes her to give birth prematurely,” indicating the baby’s humanity, and infers the baby’s rights.  The versions that translate it to be “and cause her to have a miscarriage” and add “yet no further harm follows” are the NRSV and the Revised Standard Version (RSV). The NRSV (created in 1989) and the RSV (many versions throughout the mid-20th century) were authorized by the National Council of Churches, which has not officially taken a stand on abortion, but supports those for it.  Therefore, it stands to reason that their translation would seem to indicate that the unborn isn’t human.  This passage has clearly been altered to fit with a specific worldview.  Also, the Hebrew term for miscarry (shakal) is used elsewhere in Scripture, but not in Exodus 21.

Using the passage that accurately lines up with the original Hebrew, it is obvious that this is not a passage that can be used to support their argument.  This passage clearly states that if the baby is born early, but does not die, then the man shall be fined according to what the husband and judge determine.  However, if the mother OR the baby dies, then life for life is required.  The unborn child is granted equal protection in the law.  It prescribes the same penalty – death – for someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as for someone who commits murder.  This is a clear reflection that God views the baby in the womb to be just as human, and, therefore, as important, as the mother carrying that child.

With those arguments out of the way, let’s now take a look at the Scriptures that show us how God values the unborn.

Unborn babies are humans – Galatians 1:15, Psalm 127:3, Luke 1:41 & 44, Genesis 25:22, Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5, Matthew 1:20-21, Isaiah 49:1, Exodus 21:22-25.

Unborn babies have physical attributes – Psalm 51:5, Luke 1:44.

Unborn babies are called babes or children, not fetuses – Luke 1:41, Exodus 21:22, Psalm 127:3, Genesis 25:22…(When Jesus was yet a babe in Mary’s womb, the angel called Him “the child who had been conceived.” – Matthew 1:20).

Unborn babies are described by use of personal pronouns – Jeremiah 1:5, Matthew 1:20-21.

Unborn babies are called by God for a purpose before birth – Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 49:1, Galatians 1:15.

Unborn babies are personally and intimately known by God – Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5.

Those last verses are such a beautiful, encouraging assurance that God loves us, even before birth, and has a purpose for us from the beginning:

“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”  (Psalm 139:13-16)

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Now that we have recognized that God clearly views the unborn as human, with full rights of humans outside of the womb, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about taking the life of another.  There is really no debate that the Bible forbids murder (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 20:13, Matthew 15:18-19, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, John 8:42-45, Acts 3:12-15, Romans 1:28-32, Romans 13:9).  Murder is defined as “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.”  The only way a person can possibly justify abortion and not call it murder is to say that it is a lawful act.  However, this also is an invalid statement, as man’s law can never trump God’s law.  Laws are made to protect people, specifically innocent people.  And since we’ve clearly established that God views the unborn as fully human, who could possibly be more innocent?

Ultimately, our argument must stem from the question, “Who defines life?”  Does man define life?  Or is there some definition beyond the boundaries of human constructs? We have already seen the mass destruction that takes place when man defines life.  If it is given by man, it can be taken away by man and that is a frightening place to be.  Look where we were in 1856 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that blacks had no rights as American citizens, or in 1933-45, when Hitler declared all non-Aryians to be subhuman and began sterilization and extermination of all Jews, Romanis, Slavs, and all other persons of color.  These are only a couple of examples of the depravity of man and what he does with power.  It is not man’s right to define life.  It is not our government’s right to define.  It is only God’s right to define.  Will our standard be a human standard or an eternal, immutable standard?  We must live by God’s eternal standard.

Instead of possibly condoning abortion, or, at least, minimizing the life of the unborn, the Bible clearly states throughout its pages that the unborn child is as much a human being as those of us who have already been born.  We have seen that abortion is unlawfully taking someone’s life (murder) and that it is clearly forbidden by the Bible. Therefore, we must stop allowing our morals to be set by the ever-changing heart of mere men.  We must elect officials who support life and uphold God’s laws, and we should be holding them accountable to that standard.


“Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” with guest Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University,

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