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Is Abortion Ever Permissible?

by John McDowell

Posted September 13, 2011

This scenario was posed by a brother of ours who has a friend with a wife who is sick with Leukemia. Because of this sickness the dangers of pregnancy are much worse than they are normally, but more so in regard to the fetus than the woman. After a quick search on the topic online, some side effects can occur like stillbirth or abnormalities, and in very rare cases the fetus may contract leukemia. Despite the raised risk of birth defects, the general consensus from online publications show that successful birth rates for mothers with leukemia are actually quite high, and are even better when taking modern chemotherapy to keep the leukemia in remission.

Nevertheless, there are other life-threatening diseases which could cause fatal repercussions to an unborn child or its mother, and there is always the question of a mother who has been raped, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy. Whatever the situation or scenario, I believe there is an answer from the sum of God’s word to the question of whether an abortion is ever permissible. So let us keep this verse in mind, as always, when we search the scriptures for answers:

Psa 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever. (ESV)

It is also worth mentioning that there are many good references for this topic on www.iswasandwillbe.com if you want to go there. Here are a few good links:

Are Medical Abortions Murder?

Why Died I Not From the Womb?

How Does God Make Us Do Evil?

Can a Christian Be a Pharmacist?

Verses on unborn children -- are they living beings or not?

The Word of God makes it very clear in more than one place that a child in the mother’s womb is known by God from the moment of conception -- or before. Obviously we know that God has written all of our days in his book before we are even conceived (Psalm 139:16). But even the substance, embryo, whatever name you want to call it, is known by God.

Psa 139:15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Psa 139:16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
Psa 139:17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

How precious are thy thoughts toward my unformed substance? Really? Sounds like God puts value on HIS creation, whether “conscious” or not. If the number of hairs on our head is significant to him, how much more the formation of his beloved creation?

Take a look at these verses and see what the mind of God is on the matter of an unborn child:

Job 3:3 Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, 'A man is conceived.'

Job 3:10 Because it did not shut the doors of my mother's womb, nor hide trouble from my eyes.
Job 3:11 Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?
Job 3:12 Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?

Job 3:16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?

Let’s take a look at these one by one and see if we can figure out what is inferred by the context here. Take Job 3:3 for example:

Job 3:3 Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, 'A man is conceived.'

To some this may be far fetched, or simply a statement of the child’s sex if it had been born, but to those with eyes to see and ears to hear, “a man” is conceived tells us exactly what this child was in the eyes of God on the very night of his conception. And the fact that “the night” is juxtaposed with “the day” in which he was born makes it clear that this isn’t just talking about a child exiting the womb and being proclaimed a boy. Now let’s look a bit further at Job 3:10-12:

Job 3:10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother's womb, nor hide trouble from my eyes.
Job 3:11 Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire?
Job 3:12 Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?

Clearly the womb is a safe place for a child, and spiritually speaking, the trouble begins when we enter this world and begin suffering the wrath of God. That warm cozy place of our mother’s womb, being fed 24/7, seems nice compared to the cold harsh reality when we come out and realize against the cold that we are naked and miserable. But what Job 3:11 really bears out in the physical is that Job is admitting that he was ALIVE, otherwise he couldn’t have DIED at birth.

And the last verse in this series:

Job 3:16 Or why was I not as a hidden stillborn child, as infants who never see the light?

Why would Job call this an “infant,” which is truly the Hebrew word “olel,” or “olal” which means child or infant or suckling. If we consider an unborn infant not a human, then perhaps we should do the same with sucklings? Children? Where do we draw the line? Perhaps these next verses will shed light on where God draws the line:

Rom 9:10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
Rom 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls--
Rom 9:12 she was told, "The older will serve the younger."
Rom 9:13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

If you can’t read Romans 9:10-11 and SEE that God draws the line at conception, then the words of scripture have no place in you. This isn’t an argument over whether or not birth control should be used, or at what trimester an abortion should be allowed or exactly when a baby's heart begins to beat or pinpointing the moment of conception. The Psalmist wrote that God saw his “unformed substance” and knew him with precious thoughts. His days were already written from before his mother and father came together. And what a blessing it is that God has made a child’s heart beat from so early in the stages of development, and with such undetectable faintness, that no definition may be placed on the beginning of life and the end of “substance” other than at conception itself. Praise God for His wonderful works! The depth and width and height of his wisdom!

Let us look further at this same example in Romans, but in Genesis this time:

Gen 25:21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Gen 25:22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, "If it is thus, why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.
Gen 25:23 And the LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger."

The word for “children” above is the Hebrew “bane” which is translated “son” and “sons” on most occasions. With this in mind, if they weren’t considered human, children or sons, then why on earth would God call them such?

Amazingly, the most convincing proof we need can be found in what is lacking from these scriptures -- a defense against naysayers who would question an unborn child’s human nature! The simple practicality and straightforward common sense of these few verses in the bible which speak of unborn children as just that - CHILDREN - was enough for Christ.

But let us go a little further and hit home the fact that in God’s eyes an unborn child is indeed a human child.

Exo 21:22 And when men strive together and push against a woman with child, and she miscarry, but there is no other mischief, he shall surely be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him, but he shall give it through judges. (Rotherham’s)

Here we go again. If a fetus is without value to God, why penalize a man for the loss of the child, even it is through the coincidence of her being pushed during a fight between two men? And again, why call it a “child?”

So to wrap this up...

To those with eyes to see and ears to hear, there is no “moment” of alive or not. Christ knows us before we are conceived, the moment we are conceived, and every step along the way to the first gasp of air and to the last, and even beyond that. So to take a life at any point in this stage is in God’s eyes, murder.

Now that we’ve established that an unborn child is a living being, what are our permissions to do with it?

So is it ever permissible to abort or otherwise kill another human being? What if the woman’s own life is in jeopardy? What if it wasn’t the woman’s decision, but it was forced upon her?

Well, let’s consider these questions and see what God’s word has to say for us.

Is it ever permissible to abort a child?

Mat 22:37 And, he, said unto him—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God—with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind:
Mat 22:38 This, is the great and first commandment.
Mat 22:39 The second, like it, is, this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 In these two commandments, all the law, is contained, and the prophets.

Since an unborn child is a human, it would only make sense to obey God’s commands. We are admonished to love our neighbor as ourselves. Christ even takes it one step further and tells us to love our enemies:

Mat 5:43 Ye have heard, that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Mat 5:44 But, I, say unto you, Be loving your enemies, and praying for them who are persecuting you:

And let me offer this: if Christ admonishes us to love our enemies -- those who would have us hurt or dead -- how much more would he want us to love a helpless unborn child? But one might say, “what if the child has a chance of being defected or abnormal or still-born?”

Jas 4:14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

And yet others might question “what if the mother’s life is at stake?”

Luk 12:4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

And just because a doctor gives a grim outlook, doesn’t mean it's going to happen:

Jas 4:14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Not to mention the fact that God’s glory is revealed in “defective” births. What about men born blind? What does Christ say?

Joh 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
Joh 9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Joh 9:3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Who are we to decide what God brings into the world and what trials another human should have?

And what if a woman was forced to have sex and conceives:

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

You see, this idea that we are the captain of our own ship, the master of our own destiny, the possessor of our own bodies, is nonsense to God. It may sound good to the flesh, but it stinks in his nostrils. We were His before we ever existed. Nothing about us is our own, not even a woman’s womb. Praise God that He puts it into a woman's heart to care for a child as it were her own. But, in the end, we are Christ’s, and Christ is God's, and that’s the truth of the matter.

Now, are some of these things hard to swallow? Sure. Man cannot make war with the beast! (Rev 13:4)

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Does it sound foolish to most people to allow a child to come into the world maimed from an unfortunate birth? Yes. Is it foolish to God? No. His ways are far above ours. It is simply our duty to do what He tells us to do.

Luk 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

And lastly, ask yourself this: what on earth could be done, or what horrible predicament can we find ourselves in, which God hasn’t already ordained?

Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

We are all murderers!!

Pointing out the physical act of abortion is only scratching the surface of what is within all of us. Let me point out a few verses to make sure that everyone realizes that there is no scarlet letter on a woman or man who decides to abort a child, but it is the same scarlet letter we all wear -- sin.

Mat 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

And I could go on and on belaboring the point that Christ is concerned with what is within, and if we so much as think upon a thing, we are guilty of doing it!

Is it possible to do what Christ says and obey His commands?

The answer is yes and no. When we find ourselves in a situation that requires a decision such as an abortion, the answer is no, we cannot of ourselves make the decision to not have an abortion. But there is one who can, and his name is Christ. He is the ONLY one who can make war with the selfish, doubtful beast that wars in our members, wanting us to kill an innocent child for reasons that our own understanding empowers, essentially self-fulfilling the idols of our dark hearts.

1Jn 3:20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

What is the spiritual significance of abortion?

I’m sure entire books could be devoted to type and shadow of what abortion represents, but for the sake of time, I would only focus on one spiritual type; allowing the fruit of our Lord to manifest itself to maturity without cutting it short. Let’s see a few examples of this in scripture:

Jas 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Heb 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Heb 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
Heb 12:13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

Now then, take a look at the next set of verses: first understand that all of the admonitions that the Lord gives us against murder are for babes and those who are outside of the body of Christ.

1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

And that is ALL of us! Don’t think for a second you aren’t guilty of murdering a helpless child forming in a mother’s womb.

Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

However, spiritual abortions are no different than the birth of the spirit of Christ in us! The word is the seed which gives rise to the fruit of righteousness in us -- Christ!

Jas 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Look at what Christ tells us in his own words about giving birth spiritually:

Joh 16:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
Joh 16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
Joh 16:22 And YE now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
Joh 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

WE are the woman in travail until CHRIST is formed in us! And God forbid HE be aborted early, or cut short in the development. And think about the time frame of a pregnancy, which is nine months. Nine is the number of judgement! We live in judgement, the wrath of God, until Christ is formed in us!

Gal 4:18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
Gal 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

I hope this helps in some way to see what the scriptures teach us on abortion. I pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness upon my own selfishness and unrighteousness as well as the strength of Christ in hard decisions like this, to walk as He walks. I also pray for those in these situations, that the grace of God would prevail for His own name and glory.

Sincerely,

John McDowell
[Author may be reached at john@mcdowellfarms.com for questions or comments]