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“I would never get an abortion myself because I couldn’t do it. But I can’t judge what another woman decides to do.”
As I listened to a brief YouTube interview that a celebrity political conservative had with a UCLA student, I remembered myself in college, touting a similar message. When I was younger, I agreed with the woman in the video that I wouldn’t want to have an abortion. In my logic, abortion was ending the life of a child in its mother’s womb, since I believed that the fetus was a viable human life. But I wasn’t ready to account for abortion as murder and felt scared to make the judgment call on another woman’s case, especially since I didn’t know her circumstances. I felt like I did not have enough information, whether medically, scientifically, or socially to make that call.
Maybe you feel like this reasoning reflects your thinking, or maybe you have taken the time to develop a politically or scientifically-informed philosophy on the issue. I have appreciated listening to pro-life arguments, such as those provided by LiveAction, PragerU, and Living Waters, that have helped me to consider perspectives from both the political and medical views. However, for the Christian, the abortion debate needs to go beyond purely scientific or political realms. Our argument regarding the terror of abortion must be informed by theological truths – that is, our understanding of who God is and of His creation, as we see in Scripture. Over the years, as I’ve learned more about the value and sanctity of life, as well as grown in my understanding of the condition of the human heart, I see that Scripture is clear about abortion: it is an act of murder, the taking of innocent and voiceless life.
But why can someone say this with such firm conviction? How do we discuss with others the realities of our society, the reasons women give for being pro-choice, the incidences of rape and incest, and even the situations where a mother’s pregnancy has put her life at risk? I believe one of the main reasons we have found ourselves confused or unsure when we encounter these questions is because we have allowed our thinking of self-love and preservation to be exalted above the will and ways of God. In a culture where commercials, memes, jokes, and even cute artwork to place on your desk encourages the messages to think of yourself, pursue what you want, care for yourself, and put yourself first, or you can’t help anyone else, we have come to bow down at the shrine of self-centeredness. Even as women who profess to worship the Creator, we can subconsciously allow those little lies of worshiping self above God to enter in. This posture puts us in a weak position to fight the lies of the world, and we see an example of it with the confused opinions many in the American church have on abortion. Many women feel unprepared to respond to what some might call gray-area scenarios involving unprepared teen mothers, babies who are diagnosed with a genetic disease in the womb, and impregnation by rape. When we think about these situations, we feel unsure because the life of the woman has been sold to us as a higher priority than the life of the child. Yet, Scripture informs our thinking about these scenarios, no matter how dire they are, and it is best to have a foundational understanding of God’s creation and sovereignty over it in order to address these questions and other questions biblically, gracefully, and consistently.
God as Creator
Scripture narrates that we were created by our Creator and that each life He creates has been fashioned intimately and purposefully in His hands. Psalm 139:13 tells of God’s direct care over making each person, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb,” and continues on in verse 15 with, “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret…”.
In Job 31:13-15, when Job was discussing his servants, who in society would have been considered lesser-persons, “If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant when they brought a complaint against me, what then shall I do when God rises up? When He makes inquiry, what shall I answer him? Did not He who made me in the womb make him? And did not One fashion us in the womb?” The manservant is created by God just as his master Job is, and so Job recognizes that both he and his workers share the same value.
Both passages explain that God fashions, knits, and creates each human life with intrinsic value, which is not dependent on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gestational age, or life circumstances. Furthermore, they affirm what we are taught in Genesis 3, with the creation of the first man and woman. Both Adam and Eve were made in God’s image, the only creatures of creation to be given such a fashioning, and are subject to God.
From Scripture, we can conclude that every pregnancy is a life that is formed intentionally and intimately by God and that he or she is a person who is made in His image, who is known even before biological conception. Therefore, even from the first trimester, though this little life in the womb might not yet exhibit personality traits, he or she has personhood. Though he or she cannot contribute to the family or society in the womb, this person still has immeasurable value. And even though we may know nothing of a child during gestation, this little person is of the same made-in-God’s-image worth as a fully grown adult.
God is Sovereign
God is the Author of life, and therefore He rules over it. As Psalm 139 continues in verse 16, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” The Lord ordains and knows of all that has and will happen in our days, even before we are conceived. His plan for His kingdom here on earth and in heaven includes all of mankind and will work in the best interest of the believer. We cannot have a proper view of God and His care for us in our circumstances without the doctrine of divine sovereignty. As is taught by the Institute of Biblical Counseling and Discipleship, “[Sovereignty] provides hope that [God’s] in charge and you are not a victim of circumstance. When we talk about abuse, it can be a challenging doctrine to grapple with… ultimately God is in charge of whatever happens to you even if you don’t like it. And it’s not yours to be angry with God, but to trust Him in His sovereignty to ultimately work all things together for good even though right now it doesn’t seem so good.” Scripture supports this definition of sovereignty, as we see that the Lord governs both the good and the calamity that His people and the world experience (Job 2:10, Ecclesiastes 7:14), and works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).
Considering pregnancy in view of God’s sovereignty, we can see that in all circumstances, God is in full control of what takes place. There is no instance in which God is not aware of a woman or child’s situation, experience, pain, health, difficulty, trial, need, or fear. And though sin has marred even our physical beings, God is glorified as His works are displayed through children with physical or cognitive disabilities. Furthermore, it is He who closes and opens the mother’s womb, and He who provides for and sustains the life of every living thing (1 Samuel 1, Matthew 6:32, Job 12:10).
What Does This Mean?
How do these truths inform, or even change our philosophies about abortion? Just like Mary in Luke 1 who understood she was a servant of the Lord, Christian women must know that the greatest joy and freedom is not to live for themselves, but to live in obedience to God and to honor His ways. If we understand that God is sovereign over all pregnancies, then we can have confidence that He sees the suffering of the woman who was brutally raped, the fear of the family who cannot conceive how they can afford another child, the need of the young teenager who hasn’t even finished high school, the concern of the middle-aged mother who is told her child tested positive for a genetic disorder, the angst of the twenty-something-year-old working wife who wasn’t planning on having a family just yet, and the anguish of a woman who is battling cancer and is told she should have an abortion immediately in order to prevent delaying her treatment.
Yet in each of those cases, and all others, God also sees each child in the womb. He knows each baby by name, and carefully fashions them for His glory and purposes. Though they are being nurtured and developed within her body, the baby is a separate being and body, a creation of the same supreme and full value of his or her mother. What every carrying mother needs is not simply the hope that it will all turn out alright or even the confidence that a person will provide exactly what she thinks she needs. She also does not need to be told the lie that her child is not a human yet, to falsely believe that aborting this child will restore her freedom, or to be convinced that preserving the child’s life will steal her joy. The life of any woman will include suffering, and our aim in counseling one another in the church and outside of it should not be to look to unbiblical solutions as we look ahead at potential or imminent difficulties, but rather point her to the One source of confident hope.
What these women and mothers need is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the true hope that the One who died for them because He loves them has already paid for their greatest need, and will never forsake them. He can be trusted and will address every earthly need according to His will, and not abandon them in their dire situations. God sees their anguish, just as He saw Hagar’s in Genesis 21, and the little life developing inside of them is a gift from God, not an unfortunate accident nor a mere consequence of circumstance. God will show His power through their suffering, and provide grace for their trial. And though the ending may not be as planned, He can be trusted that He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The church can serve as the hands and feet of Christ to bring the gospel of peace to women who are considering abortions, or even struggling to worship God in the midst of their pregnancy. Let us seek God in prayer, asking Him to lead us to serve the women who are immediately around us and share of the hope we have in our Savior and the truth that they need to hear in their circumstance. Even if we don’t live near a pregnancy crisis center, there are people in all of our lives who are hard of heart, and whose thinking has given way to selfish living and pride against the ways of God. We are called to share the gospel with them, teach them of the Creator and His love for each life. We can consider how we might use our time and home to care for those women who might be in need, donate to a crisis pregnancy center near us, learn the implications of “reproductive health” legislation and exercise our right to vote, examine our own hearts towards children and their value, and above all, pray for the for many to be convicted and repentant. As we trust our Creator God and sovereign Lord we will be well equipped to point women considering abortion to do the same!