A Christian response to the war on children should be reasoned, informed and thoughtful. You can read more about the reasoning behind that in the last part of our series.
We will use those three aspects of a Christian response as we look at several of the wars being waged on children today.
The Abortion War
Christians line up on two sides of this emotional argument. Some Christians are opposed to abortion on grounds that aborting a child is murder. Other Christians support abortion on grounds that abortion should be a mother’s choice. One side sees abortion as a war on children. The other side sees opposition to abortion a war on women. Which is it?
Let’s begin by getting some historical perspective on the issue. That should help us develop a reasonable (logically valid) response.
I remember a time in the United States when abortion was not legal. In fact, I remember when the debate began. I was a young reporter, talk show host and atheist at the time. Reporting about illegal abortions came up from time to time, but not often enough in a local broadcast market to give it much thought. Abortion was classified as a crime in most states, though legal under certain circumstances in some. The issue of abortion was not something we debated in the newsroom at the time. That was until the case of Jane Roe.
It seemed like just another federal lawsuit at the time. Lawyers for Norma McCorvey (alias Jane Roe) filed suit in federal court in 1970 challenging abortion laws in the state of Texas. The case was known as Roe v. Wade (Wade was Henry Wade, Dallas County District Attorney at the time). The U.S. District Court in Dallas ruled in favor of Roe based on the 9th Amendment to the Constitution (“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”). The court relied on a US Supreme Court ruling in a 1965 case known as Griswold v. Connecticut where the justices, by a vote of 7-2, invalidated a state law that prohibited the use of contraceptives. They ruled that the US Constitution protected a person’s right to privacy, including the right to “marital privacy.”
Roe v. Wade headed toward the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal, but the high court waited to hear the arguments of Roe vs. Wade and Doe v. Bolton (a similar case) until they decided Younger v. Harris (dealing with the jurisdiction of federal courts in certain types of cases). They also were dealing with an abortion rights case in the District of Columbia known as United States v. Vuitch. Milan Vuitch was an abortion provider who had been indicted on charges of providing illegal abortions. Vuitch sued in federal court claiming a D.C. abortion law was unconstitutionally vague. Federal District Judge Gerhard Gesell ruled in favor of Vuitch, which was the first time a federal court declared that an abortion law was unconstitutional. That was in 1969. The District of Columbia appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and the high court narrowly ruled in favor of the District in 1971, though it was not a clear victory for those who opposed abortion rights. Though the justices voted that the District of Columbia’s law was not “vague,” they treated abortion as a medical procedure, which opened up the appeals from Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
Those appeals were scheduled to be heard by the full court at the end of 1971, but were delayed because of the retirements of two Supreme Court justices (Black and Harlan). At the same time, individual states were dealing with pro-abortion legislation. The issue of abortion was becoming a major issue for journalists. It was growing in importance as a news story, so how would we cover it? Like we covered every other story – objectively and fairly.
After the Supreme Court upheld Roe v. Wade in 1973, it opened a floodgate for legal abortions in every state in our country. As a journalist it meant that abortion was no longer a crime story, but that didn’t mean abortion was no longer a story. Journalists have covered abortion legislation, legal appeals, court trials, protests for and against abortion, bombings of abortion clinics, and assaults, kidnappings and murders of abortion providers.
So, given the history of legalizing abortion, how should Christians respond now? With reason, information and thoughtfulness.
Christians have had 50 years to develop a logical response to the issue of legalized abortion. That seems like ample time for Christians to build a strong case in one direction or the other, but have they?
Christianity is a specific “worldview.” Christians are saved followers of Jesus Christ (by grace through faith) and are beholden to obey everything Jesus tells them to do (Matthew 28:18-20). They are supposed to see the world through the “view” of Jesus Christ. What is Christ’s view about abortion?
We know from the Old Testament that God created human beings and told them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1 & 9). We also know that God told humans that life was precious to Him.
Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it. Genesis 9:6-7
We know from the medical procedure known as abortion that blood is shed as a baby’s body is torn apart inside the mother. Abortion is the intentional death (murder) of a human being. According to the Old Testament, the people shedding the blood of the baby should be required to have their blood shed. Why? “For in the image of God He made man.” Human beings have great value in God’s eyes because of why and how He created them.
So, does the New Testament change that basic formula that God commanded Noah? Did Jesus or His apostles say that God’s command in Genesis 9 was null and void? Some Christians will argue that Jesus and His apostles didn’t address abortion and therefore had no problem with it. That is not logical. In fact, it’s a “logical fallacy” known as the argument from silence. The Latin term, argumentum e silentio, basically means drawing a conclusion based on the silence of someone else. A conclusion based on silence can be right or wrong, but there’s no way to confirm it if the person in question is silent on the specific subject.
We have a small number of the words that Jesus spoke during His ministry. They are the words the Holy Spirit wanted us to know, but they are not all the words Jesus spoke during His earthly ministry. Based on research that shows the average male adult speaks about 15-thousand words a day on average and we have only a little more than 30-thousand unrepeated words of Jesus in the New Testament, it’s easy to see that we have less than one percent of what He would have said during His earthly ministry (three to four years).
Interestingly, the Apostle John wrote this at the end of his Gospel account: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” The deeds and words of Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry go far beyond what we have written in the Bible. That’s important to remember when someone tries to use argumentum e silentio as evidence that Jesus did or did not believe and teach a particular thing. We need to treat that kind of logical fallacy with great caution. It can be very deceptive and lead a person to wrong conclusions. We need to hold fast to the Word of God as delivered to us by the prophets and apostles.
First, Jesus spoke very highly about children during His ministry:
Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.’ Luke 18:15-16
We see Jesus blessing children speaking to men and women about the importance of family. Abortion was not an issue for the Jewish people when Jesus was on earth. Jews had stopped their practice of child sacrifice hundreds of years earlier when God judged Israel for their sin of worshipping false gods (which included child sacrifice among other atrocities).
Jesus may or may not have addressed the issue of abortion in some discussion He had with His disciples or teaching to the multitudes. We can’t know for sure because we don’t have a record of everything He said. The logical fallacy of saying that Jesus didn’t say anything about abortion so He must have approved of abortion doesn’t prove anything. We can look to other things Jesus said to see His position on God’s commands.
Jesus had a high view of Scripture. He told the devil that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:). Jesus told crowds of Jews who followed Him that they should obey what God had commanded. That would include His command to Noah and his sons along with what God commanded Israel through Moses and the prophets.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Matthew 5:17-18
We see from Psalm 139 that King David revealed how involved God is in the formation of an unborn child:
For You formed my inward parts; You 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 in the lowest parts of the earth. 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. Psalm 139:13-16
God’s involvement with a child begins when He says it does, not when we think it does. God is involved from the earliest moment in a mother’s womb.
We know from Luke’s Gospel that God the Father and God the Holy Spirit were intimately involved in the virgin conception of Jesus, God the Son:
Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:34-35
Another evidence we have for how God views children in their mother’s womb in the New Testament is how the unborn John the Baptist physically responded to the unborn Jesus of Nazareth. Luke 1:41-44 records how the unborn child of Elizabeth leaped in her womb when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the pregnant mother of Jesus – “and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The apostles also had a high view of marriage and family. They also had a high view of Scripture, which to them was the Hebrew Bible. The Old Testament continually affirms the value of all human life. Jesus and His apostles believed in the sanctity and dignity of life. That is clear throughout the New Testament. So, why don’t all Christians see abortion in the same way? Good question.
Is God’s Word divided on issues like life and death? Does God give a pass to women to determine whether their unborn children live or die? Is life and death a mother’s choice or God’s choice? It appears clear from an honest study of God’s Word that He does not give them a pass on killing their unborn children. God opposed the killing of children in the Old Testament and the New Testament. He does not allow it without consequences.
While some Christians will respond well to arguments we share with them from Scripture, many won’t. Plus, most non-Christians won’t even listen to arguments we present from the Bible. How do we talk with them about something as emotional and challenging as abortion? We’ll look at other ways to respond when our special series continues.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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