The recent passing and applauding in New York regarding abortion is absolutely sickening to me. So let’s get straight to the point today. Please understand that from the first century, Christians have been against abortion. It was their high view of human life that set them apart from the surrounding Greco-Roman culture where both the unborn and newborn were hardly worthy of their own lives, especially if they were girls, disabled, or the result of an illicit sexual encounter. Many people today are unaware that the high moral value still ascribed to human life is a consequence of the Christian worldview and its influence on Western civilization.
Of course, someone does not need to be a Christian to be pro-life any more than you must be a Christian to know that robbing someone is morally wrong. The Christian view better grounds the pro-life view but moral knowledge is available to all of us because God has given us all a moral faculty. Nevertheless, far too many evangelicals have been influenced by a secular culture that believes there is nothing special about being human. There’s also a fear among the majority of evangelical leaders about engaging their congregations on the subject of abortion. Sadly, the evangelical community has largely assimilated and compromised on a serious moral and social problem.
I personally believe every Christian should be pro-life. By pro-life I mean the view that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of an innocent human being. Today I want you to know that I make this claim for various reasons but here are four of them:
1. All humans are equally valuable because they equally bear God’s image.
It has been the Christian view for 2000 years that all humans are of equal moral worth regardless of age, genetics, color, ability or anything else. Only the Judeo-Christian worldview supports and has promoted this revolutionary idea. Our value is not found in our abilities to perform certain tasks or display certain capacities. We are made in God’s image. The Christian worldview says that to kill another human being is to kill and deface something of God. Abortion always intends to end the life of a human being made in God’s image and is a serious sin, albeit one that Christ died to forgive.
2. Abortion is incompatible with being a Good Samaritan.
Jesus taught Christians to love our neighbor as ourselves and used the parable of the Good Samaritan to help us understand what is required of us. For the purpose of my argument the unborn function as the injured traveler who deserves nothing but our compassion and love, because they are at their most vulnerable and in need of protection. Abortion would have us see the injured traveler as someone who is disposable and a burden on our resources rather than someone we can demonstrate the sacrificial love of Christ to. Support for abortion is incompatible with fulfilling Jesus’ command to ‘go and do likewise’.
3. Abortion is child sacrifice.
Although abortion is not explicitly condemned in scripture, child sacrifice is. The only significant difference between abortion and child sacrifice are the means by which the child is killed. During an abortion, the killing occurs at a slightly earlier stage of human development. In the Old Testament the child was sacrificed to Moloch and Baal, whereas today it is commonly the false gods of convenience and autonomy. The church father Tertullian observed from the Carthaginian practice of child sacrifice that ‘…there is no difference as to baby killing whether you do it as a sacred rite or just because you choose to do it.’
4. Science tells us that abortion kills a human being.
Although science cannot tell us what is right or wrong, it can tell us that from the earliest stages of human development that the unborn are distinct, living and whole human beings. This fact is confirmed in the leading Embryology textbooks. Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, ‘A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.’
Even prominent philosophical defenders of abortion ‘rights’ like Peter Singer admit that abortion always kills a human being, however, like some today would go even further and argue that killing newborn infants may also be permissible. Science shows us that we do not develop into humans but as humans and our history is always a human one with times of significant development, decline and change.
Whatever our excuses for previously being ignorant or unaware, abortion always kills a human being and not a clump of cells. It speaks to the success of those who support and promote abortion that so many of us no longer connect the term abortion with an act of violence against a fellow member of the human community.
So what can we do now? Understand in our current culture bring pro-life isn’t a popular view, but if you’re a Christian and were looking for a comfortable worldview where everyone celebrates what you believe, then you chose the wrong savior to follow. Abortion is an injustice that no Christian should support. Instead we must challenge the views of our culture and demonstrate love and grace to women in a crisis pregnancy. Christian leaders must speak up and train and equip their congregations to be respectfully and reasonably pro-life. They must also encourage believers to pursue forgiveness for their involvement in abortion and to create a culture that values life from its beginning to end. I believe the Christian community has been complacent for too long and this must change now! We must stop being intimidated by a culture that worships autonomy and instead overcome evil with good. This Sunday at South Side we will continue our series “The Teachings of Jesus.” Worship begins at 10:45 and we would love to have you with us!
Barry Pettit is lead minister at South Side Church of Christ in Washington Court House.