Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's Wrong with Abortion?

There is a lot of confusion around the issue of abortion. Factually, abortion can be debated from a theological, philosophical, or political viewpoint. But what gets in the way of reasoned debate is a lot of emotion. And rightfully so. The stakes are high. The issues of life and death, freedom and rights, male and female, justice and mercy, and heaven and hell are high-stakes issues, and all surround the abortion debate. It is difficult to discuss without a lot of heat, and very little light.

Abortion is painted as a woman's right to choose. And for many people that position justifies abortion's legality. But few people ask the obvious question. Should all choices have legal protection? The issue here really isn't the ability to make a choice. The issue is what choice is being made.

Is it right to kill human beings for any reason, at any stage of development or dependency?

Biblically, it is clear how God feels about murder (the killing of an innocent human being). The reason murder is wrong is because it not only violates love, it mars and devalues the image of God. (Genesis 9:1-7) So, is killing an unborn baby murder? Well, if killing an innocent human being is murder then, yes, it is murder. Therefore, God condemns this practice.

"But what about the 'rights' of the mother?"

What rights are we referring to? Where do rights come from? Are not rights inalienably given by God Himself? If so, there is no right to murder for anybody. Women get no special "rights" to commit murder for any reason, any more than men do.

"But what about the right for a woman to do with her body as she sees fit?"

Is a baby a part of a woman's body or a separate entity that is dependent on the woman's body? If a separate entity, then the issue is one of dependency. Should we have the right to kill with impunity anyone who is dependent on others for life? What God feels about this is evident. He condemns the exploitation and denial of rights of the defenseless and weak from the strong. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18) That is at the core of his nature. Therefore, it is wrong to kill someone simply because they are dependent and need care.

"But it is also wrong to condemn certain people to poverty because of a mistake."

It is also wrong to sacrifice the innocent for the sake of prosperity. (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:1-5) Jesus said that there is more to life than the abundance of possessions. (Luke 12:15) And Scripture states that God condemns the practice of sacrificing our own children for economic reasons. At the very least committing murder for the sake of prosperity is a lack of faith, because God supplies our needs. And at worst it is putting our trust in a false god (money). (Matthew 6:24) It is better to trust God than to trust in man or money. (Isaiah 2:22; Psalm 52:7) Even when we fail, he can restore what the locusts have eaten. Can't he?

"But the unborn have less rights than the mother does."


"Everyone should stay out of other people's business."

Are not the unborn persons too? It is wrong not to speak up for the defenseless or deny the poor justice in court. (Proverbs 31:8-9; Psalm 82:2-4) So, are there certain people who deserve more rights than others? And who decides? Is that just?

"Well, unborn fetuses are not persons."

Then what are they? They are not dead. And if they are allowed to grow, they grow into male or female adults. They are not something else, like a fish or a bird. What are they? What gives them personhood, and at what stage of development do they attain personhood? Are there some adults who are less persons than others?

"What about special cases like incest, rape, or when the mother's life is threatened?"

On the one hand the innocent should not be forced to pay for the sins of the guilty. The soul who sins should die. (Ezekiel 18) Rather, the practice of mercy and forgiveness is needed for the unborn's sake.

On the other hand, when a clear decision between two lives is required — and that is extremely rare — there is no clear directive as to what to do. But, I am very cautious here, because many people claim almost anything can threaten a mother's life such as mental anguish and financial hardship — which really are not life/death issues, but rather inconveniences. (You can make the case that those inconveniences can lead to death. But so can having to pay your bills or getting fired from your job.)

God is clear about our need to love him and love one another. (Matthew 22:34-40; 1 John 4:19-21) Murder violates both commands and devalues God's image. The issue here is not our freedom to choose. The issue is obedience to God and Christ. We will all be held accountable to God one day. — whether we believe in him or not, whether we commit murder, whether we approve of those who do, or whether we seek his forgiveness and find it. For God is an impartial God. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)

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