“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people...religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”—Linus, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, 1961
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are aware that a decision rendered by the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, was overturned just a few days ago. The decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to have an abortion for nearly 50 years has now been returned from the federal government to the states. The initial ruling in 1973 didn’t so much legalize abortion as it disallowed all states from banning the procedure. That decision ultimately split rather neatly down party lines—a divide which wasn’t nearly as clean prior. If you’ve paid any attention to social media for the last several days, emotions are riding high on both sides of the aisle. It is with great caution that I attempt to put my position on paper. Perhaps in a few days I will wish I had followed the advice of Linus (or Charles Schulz, as it were).
I am not writing this explanation of my position to “preach to the choir”. On the contrary, I have many friends whom I disagree with not only on this particular subject, but on quite a few others. We’ve been able to get along well—even while holding to and occasionally discussing major differences of opinion. Being a preacher, I am often asked my opinion on issues like this. So, I write this article in hopes that my liberal friends will temper their anger for a moment and at least try to understand where I am coming from. I speak for myself here.
Before I begin, let me be clear about a few things. My heart absolutely breaks for children to be born into a bad environment. Furthermore, it is wrong in every way that a man can have sex with a woman, impregnate her, and essentially go on with few repercussions while she is left to raise that child. Sadly, that happens all the time. And, without a doubt, it’s one of the reasons abortions have become more about birth control than anything else. Let me also mention, I could offer the names of many Christian families that have adopted unwanted children—and a host more that would do so if adoption restrictions were loosened and the cost majorly curtailed. All of us—on both sides of the aisle—need to lock arms on that issue.
One more thing before I move forward—I am not against women’s rights in any way. On the contrary, I am for them. My mother is a woman. My wife is a woman. I hope I have lived a life that exemplifies honoring your mother and loving your wife as yourself. I am wholeheartedly for women. I agree with the Declaration of Independence which declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I believe this applies to all individuals—male and female. I am and always have been an advocate for women—as was Jesus, the apostle Paul, and other Biblical writers. So, I have no desire to dial back women’s rights 50 years. But I do believe that somebody should speak up for the rights of the baby. And so, here I am.
To my liberal friends, please hear me out. At least read this through. I have no false hopes of converting you to my position (though I obviously desire that). My hope is that you will better respect where I am coming from—or at the very least, understand why I believe what I do. Our disagreement isn’t actually over abortion. It’s much deeper than that. I am firmly convinced that a baby in his mother’s womb is as much a human being as a five-year-old or a fifty-year-old. If I wasn’t convinced of that, my position may very well be different. But that is my position—because that’s the Bible’s position. And for the record, the more scientific advancements we have made, the more reason we now have to believe that life begins at conception, rather than at some other point. But this article isn’t addressing the science. Such articles are readily available online.
As I said, our disagreement isn’t about “a woman’s right to choose”. In other words, the foundation of our disagreement isn’t actually abortion. In fact, the root of our disagreement isn’t merely whether that fetus is a human being or just fetal tissue. No, our actual disagreement is rooted in whether the Bible is God’s Word or not—and whether it is sufficient to teach us how to live. Having led a church for nearly a quarter century—and having read literally hundreds of books about and related to Scripture, I am more convinced than ever that the Bible is an inspired Book. Or, as the apostle Paul told his young protégé Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In other words, the Bible is God’s Word—not man’s. It has been tested and tried century after century and it has stood the test of time. Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled to a T—with no explanation except that God knows the future. The Word of God is reliable and is sufficient to meet all of mankind’s needs. That is my position—a position which I have certainly believed since becoming a Christian. But many years of study have done nothing but confirm that. Eternity is a long time, friend. At the very least, read the Bible and see what it has to say. You may very well be convinced that it is the source of all spiritual truth.
What is it, then, about the subject at hand that has convinced me to be pro-life? Simply this: The Bible—as God’s inspired, inerrant Word—clearly declares that a baby in his mother’s womb is as much a human being as any of the rest of us. And, therefore, to end the life of that human being by an external force is the equivalent of ending a fully born human’s life by an external force. All of us would be mortified for several siblings to take their elderly mother to the doctor—telling him to end her life because they didn’t have the means or the time to take care of her and, thus, her quality of life doesn’t meet the accepted standards. If such actions were legal, it would make most of us shudder. Understand—Biblically, there is no difference between that scenario and abortion.
Let me offer a few Biblical proofs. When the prophet Jeremiah was called by God to preach to Judah concerning the soon Babylonian invasion, here’s what He said to him: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5). So, the prophet was actually planned for “before” God formed him in the womb. For it was then that God declares, “I knew you”. And even before he was born, God had “appointed [him] a prophet to the nations.” This truth cannot possibly coexist with the idea that a baby doesn’t become an actual baby until he/she is born.
When Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited her cousin Elizabeth, they were both pregnant. Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist. Mary was pregnant with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. After the customary greeting, Elizabeth declared to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:42-44). Though John had not yet been born, he experienced “joy” in his mother’s womb. In fact, in prophesying of his birth, the angel Gabriel told John’s father, “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.” (Luke 1:15). Without question, then, the Bible presents John (like Jeremiah) as a person while still in his mother’s womb—before he was born.
Hundreds of years prior to that—God gave the nation of Israel her laws through Moses. And though the Mosaic Law was not given to the United States as a people group, through it we certainly get a glimpse into God’s character and His view of the unborn. For instance, God instructed Israel saying, “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:22-24). In other words, if men harmed a baby while still in his mother’s womb and the baby died, the one who killed him was to be put to death. By God’s authority, this equated to paying “life for life”. God Himself, then, clearly declares that an unborn baby is “life” in His eyes. To take his life is to violate his basic human right to live as an individual. I do not reference this passage to propose executing doctors who have performed abortions or women that have had them. That’s not at all the point. I reference this passage to show that God considers an unborn baby a person—a “life”--and a “life” worth defending.
There are scores more examples like these that could be provided. However, the weightiest argument for a baby in the womb being a human being is actually Jesus. When Joseph was having doubts as to whether he should marry Mary or not, an angel of the Lord told him, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20). Elizabeth actually referred to Jesus as “my Lord” while he was still yet unborn (Luke 1:43). Mary was said to be “with child” before she ever gave birth (Luke 2:5). Such a declaration contradicts the idea that a fetus isn’t a child until it is delivered.
More than all of that—a foundational truth of Christianity is that Jesus of Nazareth was God in the flesh. Isaiah said of Him, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). “Immanuel” means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). In his Gospel account, the apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). He goes on to explain that this “Word”--Who “was God”--was born into this world as a man. He writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). Without question, this refers to Jesus. For instance, Paul writes to the churches in Rome—and refers to Jesus as “God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:5). Proof for the deity of Jesus could be supplied from literally hundreds of Bible verses—as it is such a repeated claim. And unless I’ve been unclear, you must understand that Jesus was God before conception—and logically then, at conception. From an orthodox Christian perspective, it is unthinkable that Jesus was in the womb as God only, but not as human. Such a position is actually heretical. So, Christ’s conception in Mary’s virgin womb proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that a baby is a human being while in His mother’s womb, according to Scripture.
I realize this may be more Bible than some of you have ever read. It is not so much my desire to preach to you as it is to explain that my position on this subject has a foundation. As a pastor who is convinced beyond any shadow of the doubt that God’s inspired Book teaches that life begins at conception, I must be pro-life if I am to be consistent. If I believed that an unborn baby was as much human as the rest of us—but still advocated abortion—that would make me a monster. If you see that from my perspective, surely you can understand it. I am pro-life because the Bible unequivocally teaches that an unborn baby is human. And because the Bible is my rule of faith and practice, I believe to end the life of a growing, developing unborn human, is the equivalent of ending the life of a growing, developing born human. Biblically, there is no difference. This issue isn’t a political talking point to me. I do realize that many on the right have made it little more than that. And, if that’s their approach, they are devaluing the life of the unborn children for their own political agenda. And just so you know, I am opposed to such an attitude by politicians—and I don’t care which side of the aisle they are on.
I fully realize that my liberal friends—those who disagree with me on this subject—do not view the Bible the way I do. But please understand—as a devoted Jesus-follower, I must be committed to His Word. As I said earlier, I am not against women’s rights or freedom or choice or liberty. But because I believe that unborn baby is also a human being, I believe he too has been “endowed by [his] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I hold the position I do because of my commitment to Scripture—which I believe to be the inspired Word of God. Unlike the Supreme Court justices or politicians or doctors or scientists, it is without error.
So, I hope this (very short) article has at least explained that our conflicting opinions aren’t simply political in nature. Sure—we don’t agree on abortion. But it’s not merely abortion that we disagree on. And it’s not even really our varying ideas of whether the unborn baby is human or not. Don’t misunderstand—we do differ on those things. But the foundational difference here is how we approach Scripture. And for me, the Bible is the only sure standard this world has ever been given. And because of that, my ministry will continue to be rooted in preaching “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Because if we get that wrong, it doesn’t matter what we may get right. Abortion is not an unpardonable sin. Like all sins, forgiveness for abortion can be found in the finished work of Jesus Christ as He died in the place of sinners—and rose from the grave on the third day. No matter whether you are a doctor who performed abortions or a scared little girl who had one, the blood of Jesus “cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7). No matter the sin (for we are all guilty), Paul writes, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22).
Todd Bryant is the Lead Elder at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Northport, AL. He has pastored there since 1998. For more more information on the church and links to audio sermons and apps for electronic devices, visit www.sovereigngrace.net