Biblical Teaching

The Bible makes no moral distinction between born children and unborn children.

Page Summary: The issue of abortion is never directly dealt with in Scripture, but it says plenty about children inside and outside of the womb. In light of what is explicitly stated about children, and what is explicitly stated about murder, it is fair to conclude that God hates abortion.

BibleDespite the fact that the word abortion does not appear in the Bible, there remains a very clear and straightforward path upon which we can determine God’s view of abortion. Since the Bible is explicit in its condemnation of murder, if we can find evidence that the Bible views human life before birth to be just as valuable as human life after birth, then abortion is biblically condemned under a much broader banner.

This is, in fact, just what we find. There are a number of examples where Scripture uses the exact same words to describe babies before birth and babies after birth. In Genesis 25:22 we read, “The children struggled together within her,” speaking of the twins in Rebekah’s womb. The word children is the ordinary word used for children (or sons) outside the womb. Luke 1:41 tells us that “when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb”. This is the same word for babe (brephos) that is used in Luke 2:12 and 16 for the baby Jesus and in Luke 18:15 for infants. Even more significant than the word usage is the description of what this unborn child did. John the Baptist, still in the womb, leapt for joy in recognition of the presence of Christ, who was also still in the womb. This is an in-utero prophecy of the arrival of Christ, and that is an astounding reality.

There is also testimony in the Bible of biblical authors describing themselves in the womb in very personal terms. In Psalm 51:5, David refers to himself in the womb as “I” and “me”. It was David in the womb of his mother, it wasn’t an it or a thing. It wasn’t a “pre-David”. Isaiah speaks the same way in Isaiah 49:1. He says, “The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me.” God’s call upon Isaiah came before he was born. When the prophet was in the womb of his mother, God called him. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Before Jeremiah was even formed, God knew him. His consecration came before birth, not after. Luke 1:15 states that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit “while yet in his mother’s womb”. There is no biblical evidence of “non-persons” being filled with the Holy Spirit, and John the Baptist was, before he was born. Finally in Galatians 1:15, Paul says that God “set [him] apart even from [his] mother’s womb”. God’s calling comes before birth, and that is of no small significance in the abortion debate.

Another insight into the Bible’s view of unborn life comes through the various passages like Psalm 139:13 that speak of God’s “unique, person-forming work” in the womb. In Job 31:13-15, Job argues that it is God’s work in the womb that compels him to not mistreat his servant. “Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb?” Even though Job was born to a free-woman and his servant was born to a bond-woman, they were both formed by God in the womb and this becomes the basis of their mutual dignity and worth. Abortion destroys something that God is actively creating, and as Job 1:21 tells us, God alone has the right to give and take life.

Pastor John Piper says it this way in a January, 1997 sermon, “Abortion is evil because what is happening in the womb is the unique person-forming work of God, and therefore abortion is an assault on the Creator-rights of the King of the Universe to bring eternal persons into existence.” In a sermon delivered the following year, he goes on to say, “to attack the human being in the womb and kill him or her is to assault God. God is making the child. God is weaving a unique image of his divine glory with the purpose of imaging forth that glory in the world. Killing the child is an attack on God’s glory and is treason against the Ruler of the universe.” In Matthew 18:1, the disciples ask Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” This is his answer: Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Do you get the impression, here, that Jesus cares about little children? Since it is their humble condition which he commands us to emulate, is it even remotely possible that Jesus would discount the lives of unborn children, just because they’re so needy and dependent? Aren’t those the very traits he commends to us? In the very next chapter (19:13), Jesus’ disciples try to prevent the children from coming to him, believing that they’re too insignificant to claim any time from their master. Jesus responds by saying: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.

Immediately following this account, we read of the rich young ruler (19:16-30), a man who was so wealthy, so powerful, and so “independent”, that he couldn’t enter the kingdom of God. He wouldn’t let go of his treasures so as to claim the far greater treasure. In God’s economy, the first shall be last and the last shall be first. In light of his incredible concern and compassion for the weak and the trivialized, how could anyone conclude that God is indifferent to the violent slaughter of innocent, unborn children? Scripture does not speak of them in impersonal terms. Children in the womb are regarded as people; they are regarded with honor, and any honest reading of the Bible should make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion is.

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