Sanctity of Life Sunday is coming up on the third Sunday in January. This is a great time each year to look at the question of abortion. Since the Bible is clearly all about life, why do some Christians—and, in fact, some mainline denominations—favor abortion—the taking of an innocent life? Below, I’ve highlighted the main arguments of pro-choice advocates here and also provide a life-giving Christian response to each one.
Abortion is acceptable because it is legal. There is a difference between what may or may not be legal and what may or may not be moral. The fact that abortion is currently legal in the US does not by definition make it morally right.
Biblical evidence against abortion is lacking or absent entirely. Pro-choice advocates say that if God wanted us to be against abortion, both the Old and New Testaments would contain clear statements against abortion, but they don’t. But just because the Bible may be silent on a matter does not mean that it approves of the matter in question. Ancient Jews and Christians may not have felt the need to include an open statement against the pagan practice of abortion, because they inherently found it repulsive and assumed there was no need to include a direct statement against it.
What other arguments are used to support the pro-choice view? Ethics scholar Scott Rae offers the following arguments, which I include here with my own commentary on each point:
1. A woman has the right to do with her own body whatever she chooses. This takes us back to the overarching debate over abortion—the question of rights. Those who favor abortion see the woman’s right as supreme, while those who oppose it champion the rights of the unborn—not by denying the rights of the woman, but by acknowledging that the rights question has to do with two people, not just one.
2. If abortion becomes illegal, we’ll return to the dangerous days of the back-alley butchers. This is not a valid argument against abortion per se, but against the seeming consequences that will supposedly happen if abortion is made illegal. It fails to address the central question—is the fetus a person or not?
3. Forcing women, especially poor ones, to continue their pregnancies will create overwhelming financial hardship. Again, this argument doesn’t address the key question about whether or not the fetus is a person.
4. Society should not force women to bring unwanted children into the world. Simply because a child is unwanted does not mean that the baby is not a person or does not have any rights.
5. Society should not force women to bring severely handicapped children into the world. Percentage-wise, very few on-demand abortions that are done fall into this category. This argument also avoids the question of personhood—if the fetus is a person, even one with a deformity or other disability, does that mean such a disabled person doesn’t have rights? This line of reasoning puts us dangerously on the path of eugenics—controlled breeding or even the elimination of people deemed not worthy of life. Also, who are we to say that a baby with a deformity or other disability can’t live a meaningful, fulfilling life and make positive contributions to society?
6. Society should not force women who are pregnant from rape or incest to continue their pregnancies. Do you see a pattern here? This argument also sidesteps the question of whether or not the fetus is a person—an innocent human being with rights of its own. No one is saying that rape and incest are acceptable—they most certainly are not—but as the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. Why kill a child made in God’s image?
Remaining neutral can be tempting for Christians who, out of a desire to avoid tension, don’t take a stand on issues like abortion. But abortion involves serious questions about matters of life and death. God has called us to engage culture and use our minds to seek to understand His will in this world. If we remain silent and neutral on crucial questions of our day, we’re hardly being the salt or light God has called us to be.
But what can Christians really do about abortion? Here are some actions we can take:
1. Because abortion is a significant issue of our time, we should seek to understand it and not be afraid to engage in calm discussions of the issue with those who are in favor of it.
2. We should seek to lovingly understand one another on the question of abortion. We should take seriously the biblical insights on abortion, as well as key theological principles such as the image of God in human beings.
3. We should not neglect the power of prayer when it comes to the issue of abortion, as well as the issue of getting along with one another.
4. We should make sure that every woman considering abortion receives the wise biblical counsel she deserves, and every woman should be made aware of other—and far less drastic—measures available to her (the possibilities of adoption or keeping the child).
Whatever action we decide to take, we should always by motivated by genuine Christian compassion, not the desire to win an argument.
(Editor's Note: This blog was posted first on Dr. McFarland's blog site HERE.)