How to Respond to… Abortion
Pastor Paul D Nolting, Immanuel, Mankato, MN (†CLC)
For over a generation Americans have been divided over the issue of abortion. The Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in 1973, has led to over 50 million legalized abortions in our country over the last four decades. Lines have been drawn in what has become a very bitter social and political debate. How ought we as Christians respond to abortion—to the practice itself, to those who support and promote it, and to those who have practiced it? With one out of every four pregnancies in our country ended through abortion, this is a problem that affects every community, and with rare exceptions every family in some way.
What does the Bible say about abortion?
The word abortion does not appear in the Bible, but that does not mean that the Bible has nothing to say about the topic. The Bible has much to say about life, and because abortion ends life, it is imperative that we foster a Biblical understanding of and respect for this most basic of God’s gifts.
In Psalm 139 we are told by David:
“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.” [vs. 13-14]
God is the Creator of every human life and, therefore, those lives are precious in His sight, as they should be in our own.
[cf. Acts 17:24-25; Job 10:8-12; Zechariah 12:1]
In Psalm 51 David confesses:
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” [vs. 5]
While many wish to debate when new life begins, clearly everyone is responsible before God from the moment of conception. [cf. Job 3:3; Matthew 1:18-20]
In Deuteronomy 32 Moses informs us that matters of life and death are in God’s hands, not our own:
“Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal.” [vs. 39]
[cf. 1 Samuel 2:6; Psalm 31:5; Job 14:5; Acts 17:25-26]
In Exodus 20 the 5th Commandment is recorded:
“You shall not murder.” [vs. 13]
God does not place the right to end life in the hands of each individual. Rather each individual is to respect His gift of life.
[cf. Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:22-23; Deuteronomy 5:17]
In 1 Corinthians 10 the apostle Paul encourages us:
“Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” [vs. 24]
Any abortion involves at least two lives—a mother’s and the child’s. Often it involves more—the child’s father and any other family members involved. Clearly God calls upon mothers above all to seek the well-being of their children…not to harm them.
In 1 John 1 we are told:
“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [vs. 5b-9]
There is forgiveness also for the sin of abortion, for as we repent our Savior cleanses us from “all” sins!
How to Respond?
The abortion debate within our country has often been acrimonious and at times even violent. We are to be prepared at all times to share with others the Biblical principles outlined above, but to do so in ways that honor God and reflect gentleness and respect. The apostle Peter tells us:
“In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” [1 Peter 3:15]
The truth of Scripture and the love of our Savior and His Word alone will ultimately free hearts bound by spiritual ignorance and crippled by fear.
It does not honor God to use violence or methods of intimidation in an attempt to end abortion in our country. Scriptures says,
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” [Romans 12:17-21]
It is imperative that as we respond to the evils of abortion, we do not become subject to and employ evil. Fighting fire with fire is not God-pleasing in this situation.
It would be wonderful if the news of every pregnancy would be received with joy and thanksgiving before God. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and many women, believers and unbelievers alike, find themselves facing what they consider to be “problem pregnancies.” It is important that we, as God’s people, strive to help such women in any way that we can. The apostle Paul urges us:
“As we have opportunities, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” [Galatians 6:10]
As we help these women with their troubles, it is indeed as if we were helping Jesus. [cf. Matthew 25:40]
It bears repeating that one important and effective response to the issue of abortion is prayer.
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” [James 5:16b]
Unfortunately, it is very easy to allow this serious issue to go unconsidered in our prayers. It is so large, and it has been going on so long, that one can grow weary or become distracted by “more pressing” personal issues. Yet, all those involved—the proponents of abortion, the practitioners involved with abortion, the women contemplating and choosing to undergo abortions, as well as the victims of abortion need our prayers!
There are ways in which we can, as individuals, become more directly involved in this issue. For example, most communities have a local crisis pregnancy center. Individuals may become trained volunteers to work with pregnant clients to help them see the blessing of their pregnancy and to consider alternatives to abortion. If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to help, search your local directories and/or consult with your pastor.
There are also distinct differences between political candidates and parties at many levels of government with regard to the issue of abortion. While a political resolution of these matters may not touch the hearts of individuals, legislation can and has protected innocent lives.
Issues for further thought and discussion:
Additional ways in which we as individuals can become involved in addressing the issue of abortion.
Ways in which we as a Christian congregation can become involved in addressing the issue of abortion.
Political candidates and the issue of abortion.
Other available resources:
“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” David Menton, Ph.D.
Watch it for free online:
National Right to Life 512 10th Street NW, Washington, DC
Care Net 109 Carpenter Drive, Suite 100, Sterling, VA
Mission Statement: Care Net is a Christian ministry assisting and promoting the evangelistic, pro-life work of pregnancy centers in North America.
Lutherans for Life, www.lutheransforlife.org
Mission Statement: Equipping Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices for life.