“Abortion: A Biblical Perspective”Categories: Sermons
Another week, another requested sermon! This one comes from Charlie, who suggested in an elder-evangelist meeting a couple of months ago that I ought to preach a sermon on abortion. He observed, and I think correctly, that nearly every Christian has heard and believes that abortion is wrong, but also that few of us have worked through the Biblical logic for ourselves.
It’s important for us to do that. Certainly, abortion is a politically significant issue in our country, but I’m not presenting this lesson because I think it’s my place to tell Christians how to vote. Instead, my role is to tell Christians how to look at the world through God’s eyes. This isn’t primarily a voting-booth issue. It’s a real-life issue. Is abortion an option for women of God? How do we discuss this topic with others? How should the Scriptures inform the way we treat women who may be considering an abortion or even who have had one? These are critical questions. Let’s see how we should answer them as we consider abortion from a Biblical perspective.
The first Biblical principle that should inform our understanding is that EVERY LIFE MATTERS. Let’s begin here by considering the creation account of Genesis 1:26-27. This, brethren, is the foundation of everything the Bible says about how we should treat others. God is a being of infinite worth, every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, so every human being is a being of infinite worth too. Really, the whole New Testament is nothing more than the working out of this great truth. Being a Christian means being committed to the idea that everybody matters.
This includes not only people outside of the womb, but people inside it. The Scriptures make clear that people have identity and personhood before they are born. Look, for instance, at what God tells Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:4-5. Even before he was born, Jeremiah was still Jeremiah. Even before any of us were born, we were still us, and all of us were and are precious image-bearers of God.
One of the great big moral problems with abortion is that it doesn’t treat people equally. Babies whom the mother wants to carry to term are precious image-bearers. In fact, if you kill a pregnant woman in Tennessee, they will charge you with double murder. However, if the mother doesn’t want to carry that baby to term, suddenly it doesn’t have value. It becomes the mother, rather than God, who assigns worth to that baby.
Worldwide, this has had horrific consequences. For instance, did you know that in Iceland these days, no more babies are being born with Down’s Syndrome? That’s because all of them are being detected during pregnancy screening and aborted. I think that’s horrible! Sure, people with Down’s Syndrome are often not as capable in some ways, but all of them whom I have known have had a kind, gracious spirit that would do credit to any Christian. Even more fundamentally, every one of them is created in the image of God too, and nobody should have the right to judge them as being unworthy.
Second, the Bible should call us to, for lack of a better way of expressing it, HUMILITY WITH LIFE. Consider what the Scriptures report about God in Psalm 90:1-4. God is so much greater than we are, and when it comes to matters of life and death, His decisions are so much greater than we are too.
This is something that I really got for the first time after my daughter Macy died. As I’m sure you can imagine, I spent years thinking long and deeply about it, trying to figure out what it all meant. On the one hand, losing a child was a horrendous experience, but on the other, that horrendous experience also equipped me to comfort others.
I think that for most people, having one of your children die is unimaginable. For me, I don’t even have to imagine. Others don’t know how it feels or what to say. I do. And so, for the past 10 years, as I’ve had opportunity, I’ve been saying it. Most notably, that helped me to reach out to a brother named Dennis and literally talk him out of killing himself. The tragic center of his tragic life was that he had lost a child too, and because we could meet each other there, I think I could help him find some peace.
As a human being, how do you deal with that? How do you balance your daughter’s life against being able to save somebody else’s life? When I confront that question, every time, I’m forced to turn away. I’m not big enough to answer it. However, I believe that God is big enough to answer it. In His greatness, He can judge in matters of life and death, and His judgments are always right.
This understanding is really at the heart of my objections to abortion. Abortion is wrong because it takes the power of life and death and arrogates that to ourselves. Even in cases where God expressly delegates that power to humankind, as with capital punishment, I think most of us would agree that we don’t do a great job making those decisions. We aren’t built for it. How much more, then, is making that decision about an unborn child beyond any of us?
However, we must balance that moral realization with COMPASSION FOR OTHERS. Here, let’s begin with what the Hebrews writer says about priests under the Law of Moses in Hebrews 5:1-2. I love this passage because it shows us that when we address the frailties of others, the first step must be to consider our own frailty.
It is awfully easy to demonize women who have abortions, but that is the very thing that a Christian must never do. There’s this portrait floating around out there of trashy women who have abortions because pregnancy is an inconvenience to their love lives, but I think that portrait bears almost no resemblance to reality.
Instead, I think that 99 percent of the time, women who have abortions, have them because they are afraid, in fact, because they’re terrified. They’re afraid of not being able to keep the job they depend on to live. They’re afraid that their boyfriend is going to leave them once he finds out they’re pregnant. They’re afraid that their church is going to find out and spend the next 50 years gossiping about them.
I sympathize with the brethren who are politically active because they want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. I think that their hearts are right, but I am less certain that their actions will have the effect that they want. Even if abortion is totally outlawed in our country (and I’m skeptical that will ever happen, honestly), all that will accomplish is to drive it underground again. Women who are afraid enough to abort their babies are also afraid enough to break the law to do it.
Instead, if we want to attack abortion, we must attack the fear that underlies it. Be somebody who is willing to care for a child not your own, so that women know they have options. Be somebody who will support and encourage single moms in a life that is very difficult instead of sneering at them and blaming them for their predicament.
For that matter, be somebody who is gentle with sinners rather than gossipy and harsh. Yes, they need to repent, but that’s for their sake, not ours. We need to make sure that everybody knows this church is a home for forgiven sinners, because that’s all any of us are.