Billy Graham, the internationally famous evangelist, asserts on page 21 of his publication entitled The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook, “Abortion has divided our nation like no other issue in recent times. . . . The Bible places the highest value on human life. It is sacred and of inestimable worth to God, who created it ‘in His own image.’”
And on page 264 of his book entitled Answers to Life’s Problems,Graham says,
The widespread acceptance of abortion is a symbol or sign of something deeper within our society that should also concern us greatly. This is the tendency today to decide moral issues or questions only on the basis of whether or not they are convenient or bring pleasure to a person.
In this article we will address the following three primary questions:
- Shouldn’t women have the right to do what they want with their own body?
- Don’t laws make it alright to have an abortion?
- Are Christians inconsistent in opposing abortion while supporting warfare?
Shouldn’t Women Have the Right to Do What They Want with Their Own Body?
Many women may argue that they should be permitted to do anything they want with their own body. However, abortion involves not just a woman’s body, but also that of her unborn child who, as we shall discuss, is a living human being from the time of conception. Furthermore, there are laws that don’t allow women to do some of the things they may want to do with their own body. For example, practicing prostitution is generally against the law in our country.
In any case, some people argue that women seek abortion because they’ve weighed all the options and have come to the conclusion that this course of action is best for themselves and their families. However, it is doubtful that most of these women are thoroughly informed of all the potential negative consequences of having an abortion. A large percentage of them may not even be aware that many of the women who have an abortion later regret their decision.
It is also doubtful that women who are seeking an abortion realize that the Bible indicates that even before a person is born, he or she is recognized by God as a human being. In Psalm 139:13-16, which is part of a hymn to God, the psalmist says,
For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought . . . . 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.
[Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James (NKJ) version of the Bible, unless indicated otherwise.]
The preceding biblical passage intimates that we don’t suddenly become human beings after we are born. In contrast, many women seeking an abortion are led to believe that during the first trimester of the gestation period, an unborn baby is “just a fetus,” not a living human being. However, if their unborn baby were to be killed through a tragedy caused by someone else, probably almost all of these same women would not regard their unborn baby as “just a fetus.”
For women who are Christians, the Bible makes it clear that they (as well as men who are Christians) should submit to God in the way they conduct themselves. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which is an excerpt from his letter to the Christians in Corinth, the Apostle Paul says, “[D]o you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body. . . .”
The term “bought at a price” refers to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on a cross as atonement for the sins of everyone who trusts in Him for eternal salvation. Christ, by living a sinless life and then willingly dying on a cross as a perfect (unblemished) sacrifice, paid the price necessary to atone for the sins of those who trust in Him. In other words, Christ has redeemed every genuine Christian so they don’t have to suffer the consequences that God would otherwise impose on them for their sins.
Given the tremendous sacrifice that Christ made, every authentic Christian should be willing to make the necessary effort to glorify God with their body. This includes avoiding engaging in not only any form of sexual activity outside of marriage, but any activity – including abortion – that violates biblical teaching regarding the sanctity of human life.
Although many women who are seeking an abortion may believe at that time that they know what is best for themselves and their family, in retrospect a significant percentage of them realize that they really did not know what was best. Unfortunately, if they aborted their unborn child, they will have to live with the guilt and/or regrets of that decision for the remainder of their life.
We concede that there may be some circumstances in which it may not be morally wrong from a biblical viewpoint for a mother to have an abortion. These exceptions might include situations when the mother’s health will be seriously jeopardized if her pregnancy were to continue or perhaps when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Don’t Laws Make It Alright to Have an Abortion?
On page 266 of Answers to Life’s Problems, Graham declares,
The issue [of] abortion is not whether you have a right to terminate the life of a child. The real issue is whether or not you will insist on running your own life according to your own standard, or whether you will instead let God run your life.
The sixth of the Ten Commandments declares, “You shall not murder.” [Note: In addition to the NKJ version of the Bible, a majority of the other recent translations of the Bible translate the Hebrew word ratsach as “murder,” rather than “kill.”]
The abortion laws in our country imply that the killing of a baby during the first trimester isn’t murder, thereby inferring that an unborn baby is not a human being until the second trimester of the gestation period. (However, under special circumstances, such as when the health of the mother is seriously jeopardized if her pregnancy continues, our laws generally allow abortions subsequent to the first trimester.)
In contrast with the commission of other types of killings, which our laws generally regard as serious crimes, abortion is not considered by our laws to be a crime, if the killing of the baby is done through a legal abortion. However, to designate the beginning of the second trimester as the distinction between a fetus and a baby is purely arbitrary. One day after the end of the first trimester, a fetus does not suddenly become an unborn baby. There really is no scientific, logical, or any other credible basis for making such a distinction.
Consider the following example that illustrates how illogical the abortion laws are. In at least some states, if an unborn baby is killed in the first trimester by someone other than a doctor performing an abortion authorized by the mother of the baby, that person may be tried in court for negligent homicide, manslaughter, or even murder in either the first or the second degree, depending on the circumstances. In other words, according to these laws, a mother is permitted to have a doctor kill her unborn child by abortion during the first trimester and neither she nor the doctor is guilty of a crime, whereas anyone else who kills the unborn child during the first trimester is likely to be regarded as having committed a serious crime.
Either human life has value or it doesn’t, regardless of what many people, or even government laws, may declare. God is the ultimate judge, not us. And, as previously discussed, the Bible indicates that human life begins at conception, not after birth or in the second trimester. Every unborn child is a living human being with the potential to make a major contribution to the world. If that life is snuffed out before birth, that child will never have the opportunity to become the person that God wants him or her to be.
There are biblical reasons to believe that God loves every child, even before he or she is born, so each time another unborn child is aborted, it must make God sad and/or angry. If God regards unborn children as worthy of His love, we should treat all of them as having value.
Are Christians Inconsistent in Opposing Abortion While Supporting Warfare?
Some people argue that warfare is a violation of the Sixth Commandment and, therefore, Christians are inconsistent in opposing abortion while supporting warfare, but are they correct?
Webster’s Dictionary defines murder as “the unlawful and malicious or premeditated killing of one human being by another.” Our nation’s use of lethal force in dealing with terrorists or reprobate countries does not fit this definition, since such action is in accordance with our laws and probably cannot be construed as malicious.
Furthermore, in the Old Testament there are a number of accounts of God instructing His followers to engage in warfare with other nations (e.g., Deuteronomy 20:1-18), or at least assisting them in such conflicts, even if He did not specifically instruct them to engage in the warfare. Surely God would not encourage His followers to violate any of His Commandments.
On the other hand, for reasons we have discussed previously, many, if not most, Christians believe that human life begins at conception rather than at an arbitrary time in the gestation period determined by laws that seems to have limited regard for the humanity of unborn babies. Therefore, a large percentage of Christians regard abortion as nothing more than legalized murder.
All too often, abortions are sought for selfish reasons, especially if a child is considered to be an inconvenience. There may be a few circumstances in which an abortion will be justifiable to God, but having an abortion in most circumstances does not seem to be consistent with the biblical position on the sanctity of human life.
Thus, it seems appropriate to conclude that abortion is generally a sinful, selfish action that a woman takes because she is not willing to do what is necessary to fulfill the parental responsibilities that would follow giving birth to the child she has decided to abort. However, for those women who subsequently sincerely confess to God their remorse for having an abortion, the Bible offers assurance of forgiveness (see 1 John 1:9).