Abortion in the Bible

Abortion in the Bible

Shouldn’t a woman have the right to decide whether she will give up nine months of her life to carry a baby and then years of raising the child? Is aborting a child infanticide? What can we learn about abortion in the Bible?

The most fundamental problem is that conception is supposed to occur when a man and a woman are united in marriage. Many women seek abortions when they are pregnant and unmarried. There are also situations where a married couple doesn’t want a child or can’t afford one. This creates a difficult choice. What we must consider is when is an embryo a human being, and is it ever an extension of the mother’s body?

Scientifically the embryo is a human, and genetically everything about the child’s physical makeup has been determined at conception. Morning sickness shows that the baby is not an extension of the woman’s body and that her body recognizes it as a foreign entity. The baby growing inside the womb is aware of much of what is going on outside and can respond to outside stimuli long before birth.

We don’t see direct instructions regarding abortion in the Bible. However, there are numerous indications that the unborn child is human. Exodus 21:22-23 says that a man who kills an unborn child in a fight should bare the punishment designed for a man who killed another human.

Many biblical passages talk about humans being made in the womb. Consider these:

“When God punishes me, how shall I answer Him? Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” Job 31:13-15

“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Psalms 139:13, 16

“Then the word of the Lord came to me saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I sanctified you. I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’” Jeremiah 1:4-5.

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb…” Luke 1:41.

Even though there are no specific instructions regarding abortion in the Bible, we see the sacredness of human life. This area of decision making is challenging. Nobody should minimize how difficult it is for women to stand for the sacredness of human life by choosing to allow the life inside her to survive. That child could bless a family that can’t have biological children. We need to support women who reject infanticide and help the innocent child find a home with the love and family that God intended.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus and Choices

Mother and Son

Christians see Mary mother of Jesus as a woman who demonstrates what a mother should be. The angel told Mary, “Hail O favored one, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:30). Mary’s response was “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). That is an incredible response because it is so unselfish and full of faith.

Mary’s name comes from a Hebrew word meaning “bitter.” Indeed what Mary was about to endure in the culture of her day would be bitter. She was going to be pregnant with a child when she was not married. Her husband-to-be would be under pressure to break off their relationship. She would have no visible means of support. Jesus would be born as an illegitimate child and would have the scorn of those around him. People would ridicule Mary’s claim that the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Even after Jesus was born, Mary’s life would not be easy. Shortly after the birth of the baby, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus would have to flee to Egypt. There she would experience a culture and a language she did not know. Joseph’s occupation was carpentry, which was not financially or socially prestigious. Matthew 13:55 shows the attitude of people to Joseph’s common trade and his family of four sons and more than one daughter, in addition to Jesus. Joseph apparently died before Jesus began his ministry and Jesus was required by law to care for his mother. At his crucifixion, Jesus turned Mary’s care over to his disciple John (John 19:26).

Portrayals of Mary by artists show her as a beautiful woman, but physical beauty is not the emphasis given to us in the Bible. Proverbs 31:30 tells us, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain.” What we see in Mary is a spiritual woman whose first love is God. She was praised by Elizabeth saying, “Blessed are you for believing that the things that the Lord has said to you will be done” (Luke 1:45). Mary responded by saying, “My heart is overflowing with the praise of the Lord and my spirit has found joy in God for He has regarded the humble state of His bondslave” (Luke 1:46- 48).

Christianity has elevated all women, and the Bible portrays Mary as a woman who is everything God calls women to be. When Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:15 about women being saved through childbirth, he gave us a picture of a role that women can choose. Mary had the strength to accept and live that role. She did it by choice, not because she was forced to accept it. No man can ever have such an opportunity. The Bible makes it clear that Mary had a choice, and she chose well.
–John N. Clayton © 2017