The law enables abortions to be carried out by the medical services, which we have to trust regularly with our lives and the lives of our family. Surely, you might think, if my GP can refer me for an abortion then it must be OK. However, we must be very careful not to look to our government or our health services for moral direction.
The value of human life
The Bible tells us that every human life is ‘made in God’s image’ . Amongst other things this means that every life is infinitely valuable. No monetary value can be placed on the value of human life. God is the giver of life and each life is infinitely precious . With the gift of life comes responsibility. God entrusts us with our life and the lives of those around us and requires that we protect and care for one another. God gives life and because He is God, only He, and not man, has the right to take away life.
In making man in His image, God has also raised man to a position of ‘honour and glory’ . Part of this honour is giving man ‘dominion over the works of God’s hands’ . Having dominion means that God has given us delegated power which we can exercise rightly or wrongly. Included in this delegated power is the capacity for a human being to end another human being’s life. Since sin entered the world, people have been tempted to misuse this power of dominion by deliberately shedding innocent blood.
Because of this temptation God has given us the Sixth Commandment, ‘You shall not murder’ . This commandment forbids the taking away of innocent life. (Innocent here means having done nothing deserving of death – the Bible outlines the special circumstances of self-defence, war and judicial punishment when the deliberate ending of someone else’s life may be justified).
What about the unborn child?
God has designed that an unborn child depends upon his or her mother for water, food, oxygen, warmth and emotional care, and nestles in the shield of the mother’s womb. The mother has been given responsibility to care for and protect the life of the child entrusted to her in this vulnerable and needy state.
A woman and her partner may face an unplanned pregnancy. Yet however difficult the circumstances, she and the father of her child have a responsibility of care as parents to their child. If they deliberately choose to end the life of her child, they are rejecting God’s gracious provision of life in the womb; in so doing they break the Sixth Commandment . Of course, it is not only the woman and her partner whose hands have shed innocent blood. It also includes all those who may pressurise them into having an abortion, those in medicine who carry them out and those in government who have legalised it.
There are many lies about abortion which may encourage a woman to go ahead. The unborn child may be dismissed as a ‘blob of tissue’. The seriousness of the procedure and its consequences may be hidden. Many in our society affirm the right for a woman to do what they like with her own body including ending the life of her child. Few in society, even in our churches, are willing to speak out against the true moral nature of abortion. This leaves many women (and their families) as victims of the lies and half-truths of others.
On the other hand, many women, even from a very early stage, are aware of the nature of the life inside them and experience a natural love towards their unborn child (sometimes tragically revealed in a profound sense of loss, when the abortion has been completed). Even if such feelings are absent, every woman has a conscience which may speak to her about her responsibility to protect and nurture the child and the serious and irreversible nature of the abortion procedure. Many women will have seen their own, or the scans of others, revealing the wonders of early life in the womb.
The Bible is clear that ‘There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death’ . We must not let our emotions or practical considerations decide what is right or wrong. This is called ‘situational ethics’. We must remember that God defines how we are to act in difficult circumstances. He defines it by giving us laws to obey. Jesus said ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’ . We must trust that God’s laws are best. It is never right to deliberately end an innocent person’s life. We must trust God for the outcome. We must trust that what is best for the unborn child will also be best for the mother, even when this is not immediately obvious to her or her family at the time when she is in a crisis.
The testimony of a Christian girl with an unplanned pregnancy
“I had just left home to go away to study and I became involved in a new relationship. I felt I was put under quite a bit of pressure to go further physically than I really wanted to. And I found it difficult to say ‘no’ to that.
The outcome of it was that I became pregnant. It was actually a complete shock to me when I found out that I was pregnant. I was horrified. It was really the last thing that I wanted to be. I wanted to run away, really. I wanted to get rid of the situation, and so I had to consider what to do. I saw that I had a problem and I wanted to get rid of the problem.
But I had always believed that abortion is wrong. I thought about it for a while – for a long time – and I decided that I wanted to go ahead with the pregnancy. The day that my baby was born was a really joyful day. It confirmed to me that I had made the right decision because my baby was just like a little miracle.”
- Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
- Psalm 139:13 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
- Psalm 8:5 “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.”
- Psalm 8:6 “You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…”
- Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.”
- Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
- John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”