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The Pharaoh of Moses' time ordered that every male Hebrew was to be slain at birth (Exo. 1:16, 22). He is remembered in Scripture (and by all right-thinking men) as an unspeakably cruel, immoral, and evil man (Acts 7:19). The ancient Greek pagans “exposed” their unwanted and helpless infants to wild animals and the elements to dispose of them, and most moderns call their behavior “barbaric” and “inhumane.” Herod the Great murdered all of the male infants living in and around Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth (Mat. 2:16). Even the irreligious justly recoil at his jealous blood thirst.
Mass Murderers in Modern Times
History remembers Adolf Hitler as a homicidal maniac on a grand scale for his destruction of 6,000,000 Jews in the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s. Josef Stalin is said to have murdered far more than this number of his own people. Chairman Mao slaughtered even more than Stalin. However, even Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were small time operators beside the perpetrators and advocates of legalized, casual abortion in our “civilized” nation. In the forty-five years since the heinous decision of the Supreme Court was handed down (Roe v. Wade, January 22, 1973), almost 61,000,000 totally innocent, indefensible, babies have been murdered—either in the womb or in the process of being born—by abortion (http://www.numberofabortions.com/).
By far, most of these killings have taken—and continue to take—place for the convenience of the mothers-to-be, a sordid (and intrinsically selfish) after-the-fact means of birth control. The seven black-robed justices (two dissented) who handed down this decision from Washington, DC, will learn that they were not the “Supreme Court” after all when they face the Judgment of the Creator of life, having their hands dripping with the blood of these millions of innocents of their own kind.
In one of the all-time great ironies, the same court (though not the same justices) that ruled in 1973 that it is not “cruel and unusual punishment” to kill the most helpless and innocent of their own kind later ruled (June 2008) that it indeed is “cruel and unusual punishment” to execute a child rapist. These two morally reprehensible rulings demonstrate the irrational and wicked nonsense of our God-despising, morally topsy-turvy times, in which men “call evil good and good evil” (Isa. 5:20).
When Does Life Begin?
What about abortion? Is it infanticide or is it merely the removal of “expendable tissue”? For abortion to be “murder,” the unborn child must be a living person, temporarily dependent upon, but distinct from its mother. To the pro-death advocates of abortion, the unborn is merely a “piece of tissue,” comparable to a wart, a mole, or even a tumor, and therefore utterly expendable (merely an impersonal “fetus”). This leads to the question, When does life begin? It does not take a Solomon to see that this is the vital question of the entire discussion of abortion.
The abortion advocate answers, “At birth,” but the God answers, “At conception.” God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations” (Jer. 1:5). Before he began to take skeletal or muscular form (i.e.,at conception), while in the womb, God recognized Jeremiah as a living person. This is the consistent Biblical teaching (see Job 3:16; 10:11; Psa. 51:5; 139:13—16; Isa. 44:24; 49:5; et al.).
Medical science generally places the beginning of life at conception. In 1984 a statement titled, “The Utmost Respect for Human Life,” was signed by 61 physicians, two of whom were former presidents of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It said in part:
We urge all those engaged in the abortion debate to recognize that a central issue in the discourse must include acceptance of the fact that induced abortion causes the death of a living human (emph. DM) (Abortion: Where Have All The Babies Gone? American Tract Society, Garland, TX).
Dr. Jim Clark, a gynecologist who served as an elder in the church for many years, states that, from a medical and scientific perspective, the embryo is alive from the time of fertilization (i.e., when the sperm unites with the egg). Thus a separate, distinct human life (different from both father and mother in genetic composition) begins at the moment of conception rather than at the moment of birth. Admittedly, some doctors disagree (many of whom operate high-profit abortion clinics, incidentally). Significantly, however, some doctors who at first favored abortion have changed their position after conducting several abortions.
“Common sense” argues that life begins at conception. Some abortion advocates recommend singing or playing music to the unborn on the theory that such will influence them. How strange. Do they really expect to influence a "wart" or a "mole"—a mere piece of tissue? Pro-abortionists recognize life in the unborn in other forms of animal life. Those who will gather by the thousands to champion the brutal “right” to slay their own kind in the womb will go on a hunger strike to protect the life of the unborn eagle (yes, they know it is an eagle, not merely a “fetus,” while it is still in the egg). Ironically, some who will almost become violent in opposition to the state’s right to end the murderer’s life, will staunchly demand the “right” to slay their own offspring in their most innocent and defenseless state.
If life, humanness, and personhood do not begin at conception, when do they begin—one day, one week, one month, or three months after the sperm fertilizes the egg? Upon what basis will this all-important question be determined, except ideology and/or fickle subjectivism? While there are many other crucial matters involved in this issue upon which abortion should most certainly be opposed, the determination of the beginning point of life is the very heart of it.
If life begins at conception (as certainly it does), abortion just as certainly constitutes murder—legalized murder, but no less murder—on the grandest scale ever known. A Christian cannot favor this practice and be faithful to God. Neither can a Christian be guiltless who votes for a politician or political party that favors this atrocity.
What can concerned people do?
- Pray fervently that in the providence of God this ruling will soon be reversed (the current Supreme Court has already mitigated a portion of the 1973 decision and there is hope that it may eventually be overturned completely.
- Let your representatives at both the state and federal levels know your abhorrence of abortion.
- Vote for candidates at every level who oppose abortion and who will work to correct this tragedy. (Note: One major party has a strong pro-abortion, pro-death plank in its platform, while the other party has an anti-abortion, pro-life plank.)
- Write a “letter to the editor” for inclusion in your local newspaper, opposing abortion.
- Encourage anyone considering an abortion not to consider it at all.
- Elders and preachers should see that the local congregations they serve are made (and kept) aware of this tragedy through sermons, bulletin articles, and tracts.
Let us courageously oppose this monstrous “work of darkness” (Eph. 5:11), confident that God will bless our efforts.
[Note: I wrote this article for and it was published originally in The Lighthouse, weekly bulletin of Northpoint Church of Christ, Denton, TX, January 24, 2016, of which I was editor. I updated it January 20, 2018.]
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