By John MacArthur
As we come this morning to the matter of abortion, before I take you into the scriptures and we look more closely at to what the Bible has to say, it is probably fitting for us to get some kind of a grasp on the issue itself. So, I want to address that, if I may, for a moment. What I am going to say to you may sound like an article in the newspaper because it is full of statistics and quotes and that kind of thing, but it does set the scene for understanding the issue at hand.
To sum up what we are experiencing with regard to abortion in America, we could simply say, "America, as a nation, is highly committed by law and by practice to a form of mass murder." And that is really the bottom line.
This nation, which certainly prides itself on its humanitarianism, is in a murderous cycle of violence that makes the Nazi Holocaust look mild by comparison. Nearly 2,000,000 babies are aborted a year in America. Every third baby conceived now is being murdered. Among teenage women there are 736 abortions for every 1,000 births. Among married women abortions now exceed births! More babies are killed than are born. Some would tell us that there is an abortion about every 15 seconds in America.
In some metropolitan hospitals, in the major cities of our nation, abortions far outnumber live births. Planned Parenthood has gone so far as to say, "This is nothing more than a means of preventing disease; pregnancy being noted as a disease." If you think that sounds farfetched, I will remind you of a paper by Dr. Willard Kates, from the Planned Parenthood Physicians Association. The title of the paper is, "Abortion as treatment for unwanted pregnancy: The second sexually transmitted disease." "
Pregnancy then is seen by Planned Parenthood as a sexually transmitted disease that needs to be cured by abortion. Planned Parenthood has somewhere approaching 1,000 abortion clinics doing somewhere approaching 75,000 murders a year, and are receiving millions of dollars of support from the U. S. Government and the United Way, and other agencies like that. Our nation, and other nations in the world are frankly wiping out an entire generation of human beings in mass infanticide.
It is estimated that perhaps as many as 75,000,000 babies will be murdered this year around the world--75,000,000! That's probably conservative. It's more than all the deaths in all the wars, in all the history of the world. This kind of murder is shocking and I don't want to be too shocking, but I want to tell you how it is done and I hope that I don't offend anyone. The processes of abortion are somewhat frightening and bizarre.
During the First Trimester, the methods are Dilation and Suction, called DNS, or Dilation and Curettage, called DNC; basically this means that a vacuum tears the child in pieces and sucks the pieces out through a tube. Or, a sharp instrument dismembers the Fetus into sections, and then often forceps are used to crush the head and reduce its size. This, of course, can result in a torn uterus, a perforated uterus, sterility, [and] things like that.
During the Second Trimester the safe comfortable home of the child, known as the Amniotic Sack, is wounded by a needle which withdraws the Amniotic Fluid and replaces it with a heavy saline solution (which basically burns the child alive), and in 24 to 72 hours the body will expel the dead fetus.
During the Third Trimester, a Hysterotomy is used--sometimes "prostaglandin," a drug producing delivery by stimulating the uterus falsely into labor. These sometimes produce children born alive, who are then left to die or even be killed. A new way being advocated by the
National Abortion Federation in their recent meetings was advocated at a workshop: puncturing the "soft spot" on the baby's head and then vacuuming out what is in the head. Another abortionist at that meeting suggested that the length of the baby's foot could be measured and used to determine the price of the abortion.
It almost sounds primitive, certainly not characteristic of a culture as sophisticated as our is. Even Cesarean Sections are performed as abortions in the Third Trimester. I remember reading about a case in New York City where twin babies were conceived in the womb. Both of them had "Down Syndrome" and they were killed by puncturing their hearts directly. Hundreds of these attempted abortions in the Third Trimester, are born alive and then used in some kind of experimentation.
The IRS, jumping into the fray, as they are always wanting to do in order to rule on how this all affects our taxes, has ruled, in "Revised Rule 73 dash something," "That parents are entitled to a tax exemption, if after an attempted abortion their child lives for any length of time." Now, you tell me how a child, attempted to be aborted, can be considered a dependent child if it lives, but not a child if it dies. What kind of dilemma is that? I suppose it is the same dilemma that the Van Nuys Police had not long ago, when a woman in Van Nuys had a baby in a bathroom--and she killed it with a razor blade. Had she killed the baby before it was born, she would have had no problems. But because she killed it with a razor blade after it was born, she is serving an 11 year prison sentence. This is the stupidity of Humanism.
Fifteen year olds can get abortions without parental knowledge or consent; in fact, generally the law wants to say that parents are the enemy of the freedom of the child; in fact, even the consent of the spouse is unconstitutional. Dead fetuses are used in an industry of business and experimentation. The "Journal of Clinical Pathology" indicates that fetal organs have been grafted into mice and rats to see how long they live, and other frightening experiments that I won't even speak about in a public meeting. Squibb Company is involved in paying tens of thousands of dollars to doctors to experiment with fetuses for use in research on high blood pressure drugs, and this is all coming very rapidly. I saw something about it the other night on television.
The U.S. Government funded experiments on live aborted babies. "The New England Journal of Medicine" reports that tissue cultures are obtained by dropping still living babies in the meat grinder after abortions, and they determine something from the culture that is produced in that. Some are thrown away. Dr. Jay Domingues (sp.) of New York City wrote, "On any Monday you can see 70 garbage bags with fetal material in them along the sidewalks of abortion clinics in New York City." Again, the "New England Journal" article by Raymond Duff and Professor A. G. M. Campbell (sp.) of Yale acknowledged that over a 21 year period, 14% of babies who died at Yale Hospital did so through the physician's choice. So you are dealing with a very, very, widespread problem.
It is now possible to do to a retarded infant what would be impossible to do to a dog or a cat. In fact, a recent case in California, "Cerlander (sp.) vs. BioScience Labs" makes it possible for children to sue their parents for wrongful life, for letting them live and refusing abortion (this reported in the newsletter, "The American College of Ob-gyn"). In other words, if your parents didn't abort you and you lived, and you've got severe problems [then] you can sue them for letting you live.
Bags of babies are found by trash compactors (as we all know); yet on the other side of this, a wounded American eagle was found recently in Maryland and rushed to emergency treatment. However, it died and a $5,000 reward was offered for the arrest of whoever injured it. It is illegal to ship a pregnant lobster: it's a $1,000 fine. In the State of Massachusetts there is an anti-cruelty law that makes it illegal to award a goldfish as a prize. Why? This is what it says, "To protect the tendency to dull humanitarian feelings and to corrupt morals of those who abuse them." The same people that want to save the goldfish are leading the parade, usually, to kill the babies.
This of course has developed into a multibillion dollar industry, in the terms of business. Many people make their money on this. I talked to an abortionist who was attending our church, some years back, and presented to him the gospel. We had several meetings together and he understood fully the gospel. I don't know his spiritual condition at this time, but I remember on the days that I talked with him that he told me that he himself alone did $9,000,000 worth of abortions in a year in his own clinic (that's one doctor).
The industry goes beyond just the abortion itself to the products of abortion: the material (the fetus material) which is used for all kinds of things and sold. It is a massive industry. This even gets more bizarre and there is no need to get into it. The whole abortion industry is frightening [and] mind boggling. How a nation of civilized people (if we are civilized; advanced technologically yes, civilized--no), how we can tolerate this is unthinkable, except for the fallenness and the wretched sinfulness of the human heart.
In other countries in the world people are still reeling from the impact of this. I will give you one illustration: Japan has been very aggressive in the abortion field for a number of years, and in Japan there is severe trauma on the part of Japanese women because there have been millions and millions of abortions that have occurred there. Over the last say 40 years, in Japan there has been an excess of 50,000,000 abortions that are known. The women have been traumatized by these abortions, in terms of their own emotional life, and so the Buddhists have erected temples for the expressed purpose of dealing with the issue of abortion. These are temples which memorialized what are called "water babies" (this is a term for an aborted child). A "water baby," those who perish by abortion.
In order to secure peace for their departed souls, these women come to these places. And they are now aware of the fact in their own conscience (at least they assume this to be true without biblical revelation) that these little aborted "water babies" have a soul, and they have got to do something for the departed soul; so the Buddhists, in their religion, have erected temples where the departed souls of "water babies" can be attended to by penitent mothers. For somewhere between $340 and $640 a grieving mother can purchase a small stone Buddha. And somehow purchasing this small stone Buddha not only feeds the business enterprise but relieves some of the anxiety and, apparently, does something for the departed soul of the baby.
In one temple alone, tens of thousands of these have been sold; the grounds have become a commercial attraction where visitors pay to come and take pictures of women who are there agonizing over their departed "water babies." Priests will offer prayers at that place for "water babies" at $120 per baby and $40 for each additional baby that you have aborted. That is just one illustration from one country of the trauma that has occurred in the lives of these women.
400% to 800% is the range of statistic figures that regard suicide; somewhere between 400% and 800% of suicide rates increase in women who have had abortions. Hypochondria, depression, withdrawal, guilt, shame, drugs, alcohol dependency, serious emotional trauma--all of these come from abortions. Six to seven times more women die each year from legal than illegal abortions. So the whole thing is a very, very frightening, frightening scenario.
Just a few more things, and I am not going to give you all the documentation, although I have it in hand--but let me just read you some of the things that are coming out of this abortion issue with regard to how it impacts women:
1. The risk of pregnancy outside the womb which threatens the mother's life, is doubled for women who have had one abortion, and quadrupled where there has been two or more.
2. Miscarriages are almost twice as common for women who have aborted.
3. A study of 26,000 births indicated a more than threefold increase in the number of stillborn babies and deaths of newborns among mothers who have had an abortion.
4. Since about two or three women per hundred need a blood transfusion, there is an increased risk of exposure to hepatitis and AIDS.
5. Bleeding is more common in subsequent wanted pregnancies.
6. Many researchers have observed subsequent premature births and low birth weights.
7. Among women who have had abortions there is an increased risk of damage to the cervix.
8. A sevenfold increase in "placenta previa" (that's where the placenta covers the birth canal and often requires a Cesarean Section).
9. About twice the risk of breast cancer when abortions were performed in the first trimester, before completing a full term pregnancy. That's because God, in part, has designed the body to begin to prepare itself for the birth of that child; when that is aborted it creates certain risk factors in the body as the body retreats to try to compensate.
10. There is up to 30% greater risk of pelvic infection.
The statistics, however, are probably even grimmer since a woman who is injured will rarely go back to the doctor or facility where it occurred. Furthermore, complications often develop later and are not reported in connection with the abortion that caused them, nor is death always linked to abortion in reports and in death certificates.
When you look at the emotional effect, as I noted about the women in Japan, you find all kinds of interesting things:
1. Women having prior emotional or mental problems often become worse, and having an abortion produced such problems in women who previously had none.
2. Women who have had an abortion are more likely to experience guilt, depression, and be suicidal. However, the claim that a woman will commit suicide if she is denied an abortion (and that's what the liberationists tell us) is highly unlikely, because suicide is almost nonexistent among pregnant women. Over a 20 year period, 13,500 Swedish women were refused abortions--only three committed suicide. Very, very rare.
3. After an abortion a woman is far more likely to break up with her partner, whether she is married or not. Abortion just destroys everybody in the process.
The question then comes, "How did this ever get started? Whoever started this?" Well, sad to say it goes way back. I mean if we want to know where it all started we have to see that it started certainly in the mind of Satan according to John 8:44, "He is a murderer." Certainly it started from the same kind of fallen attitude that made Cain kill Able. Cain was a murderer; that's the expression of fallenness. You can go way back and you will find that there have been efforts on the part of Satan to murder babies in the time of Moses and in the time of Jesus. And he was successful, as you know, in the time of Jesus, in massacring babies under the age of two, in order to try an eliminate the Messiah.
Looking around, for example, say the ancient time of Judaism, you can find abortions practiced among pagans, but never among Jews, for obvious reasons. They knew that life was sacred; life was granted by God, and they used to "camp" on the second great commandment, "Love your neighbor as yourself;" and since a baby conceived was a person that became their neighbor and therefore to harm their neighbor would be to violate the second commandment.
Coming into the New Testament time there were also pagans who engaged in abortions, but again Jews did not do it in the New Testament time, nor did the Church. Plato and Aristotle both recommended family growth limitation through abortion. Abortion was used even in New Testament times among pagans to conceal illicit sex. If you could remove the evidence, you could remove the stigma of illicit sex. Rich women also didn't want to leave their wealth to lower class children fathered illegitimately, so while they might have wanted to have an affair with some low classed man, they didn't want to support his child, and so abortion was a way to deal with that. And then, abortion was a way (they said) to preserve their "sex appeal," not to "trouble the womb with bouncing babies."
Abortion was also a form of contraception. In times of ancient cultures, even around the New Testament era, the methods used varied from substances introduced into the womb through the birth canal; sometimes oral drugs or "poisons" as they used to be called; sometimes mixtures that were mixed for the purpose of proving fatal to the unborn infant; sometimes they would bind the body in these very, very, tight ropes or cloths to literally squeeze the womb and crush the life of the child; sometimes they would locate the baby in the womb and take a hard object and smash against that infant in the womb and kill it that way; sometimes using blades and sometimes hooks going up through the birth canal.
Pagans would do this; the Jews always rejected it because life was created by God, and anyone created by God became your neighbor, and to take a life was to violate the second commandment. The early church then took a strong stand against it. In the Didache, which is a codification of early church teaching, it says, "Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion." Abortion was rejected in another early document, called the Epistle of Barnabus, as contrary to "neighbor centered love;" so you can see the early church picked up on some of the Jewish ideas. The Didache, again that same codification of teaching, saw the way of death is full of cursing, murders, adulteries, and murders of children. They saw the way of death as belonging to those who killed children. They called them "Corrupters of God's creatures," and in the third century a Latin word even emerged, the word, "abortuwantes" (sp.)--abortionists. "Abortion," they said, "brought the judgment of God."
The Reformation didn't change this; the church has always seen abortion as murder, an act of violence, and a lack of love towards one God has created. So it isn't new: the people of God; Israel, stood against it; the church has stood against it; and we must stand against it.
Here we are living in a time when this abortion movement has become a massive industry, has become a reflection of our culture, and if you look back a little bit you can see what the pieces were that sort of came together to build the platform on which this whole thing stands. Let me just see if I can't share some of them with you. This whole commitment to abortion started;
Step one, the Sexual Revolution--the Sexual Revolution which basically said, "We want to be free to express ourselves sexually." You go back to the early sixties; everybody has got to be engaged in free love. Remember the expression "free love;" you remember all the hippies and that whole thing. The Sexual Revolution spawned abortion as an industry, because it basically said, "We have to be free to express ourselves sexually, and we don't really need to be dealing with the consequences." In fact, they would go so far as to say, "If we are going to be free, we women certainly can't be victimized by men. Men can jump in and out of bed with anybody they want all day long, and walk away and there aren't any consequences to them. But what happens to us is--we get pregnant, and so their freedom has no impingement; their freedom has no consequence; their freedom has no detrimental results, but our freedom does. So in order for us to be really free, you have got to eliminate the consequence, the major consequence of free sex, free love, and that is you have got to be able to eliminate pregnancy. Otherwise, we become victimized by men, and we don't want to be victimized by men.
So the Sexual Revolution with its free love really set the stage for the massacring of millions of babies, who were nothing but an intrusion in the fornications and the adulteries of a wretched, degenerate society.
Then there was a second thing that jumped onto the "bandwagon," apart from this whole free love thing, and that was the deformities issue. You all remember back in the sixties, the big issue about Thalidomide. Many women took Thalidomide because it was a birth enhancing drug and it would allow them to get pregnant, whereas they otherwise may not be able to. And you may also remember that Thalidomide had some severe side effects, in terms of limbless children that were born. There were some medical doctors in England who believed that these deformities and other deformities were serious enough to lead them to argue for eugenic abortions; and that, of course, came out of England, as I said, eliminating birth defect children because of the cost on society, because of the trouble they give to parents (they are difficult to deal with); they have all kinds of problems with these children so we ought to come along and say, "Look there is no sense in bringing deformed children into the world, it's a tough enough place anyway." So, they jumped on the bandwagon for their agenda's sake and mounted, as it were, more arguments for abortion.
Then came along the whole Feminist Movement. The Feminist Movement took the expression of sexual freedom one step beyond. They basically said, "We not only want to be sexually free without consequence, but we want to be able to put on our blue suit and take our briefcase and go to work every day too. We want to compete in a man's world as equals and if we have to have babies [then] we can't do that." "Women are not equal," they said, and I am quoting, "to men unless they are rid of childbearing responsibilities." Betty Friedan (sp.), who is a leader of the Feminist Movement said, "Women must have abortion as a backup to contraceptive failure." Contraception first, and if it doesn't work then abortion because we can't be bothering with children. We have got to go to work and make our way in a man's world.
So you had the Sexual Revolution compounded by this sort of genetic game playing from those people who wanted to eliminate the deformed from society, and adding to that compound problem is the third feature which is the feminist argument: "If we are going to work in a man's world and to be equal to men in every way, we can't be fussing around at home with kids, so we have got to eliminate them from our lives."
Then you had another component, another piece came into the platform from the population control advocates who were telling us that we all were going to be standing on each others heads if we kept having babies. We were all going to be crushing each other out of existence because the world was going to be overpopulated; and I read all of that. Don't you remember reading that in the 60's? Everyone was screaming about overpopulation. I remember finding an old book that was written in 1918, in which a man said, "If something doesn't change--we have too many horses in the streets of Chicago, and at the projected rate it's going right now, in another 25 years the city of Chicago will be 18 feet deep in manure." It is the same kind of reasoning: we are all going to drown in a sea of babies.
All of this fed the building of this platform; it was all material fed into this building project to build the platform upon which the Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion verdict came down on January 26, 1973. At that point the Supreme Court of the United States excluded unborn children from the protection of the 14th amendment, which says, "No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law." They said, "Unborn children aren't persons." Yes, they are. Yes, they are, and we will see that in a minute.
One of the professors at the Master's College, Dr. John Pilky (sp.), very astute (teaches in our English Lit. Dept), wrote me a little memo. Listen to what it says,
The phrase "Pro Choice" (which is what the Pro abortionists use) strikes me as one of the most depraved, apocalyptically wicked, rhetorical facts in the history of western civilization in the Christian era. The phrase means "Pro Sin" or "Free to Chose Sin." The phrase would actually be less dreadful if it were "Pro Abortion" because that would confine it to the sphere of a particular moral problem, but by turning it to what seems a euphemism, the "Pro Choice" people have rung the final rhetorical "death knell" to the entire Democratic experiment.
The phrase "Pro Choice" means "without conscience, or without inhibition, or without restraint," and it parades itself under the Jeffersonian banner of liberty of conscience and separation of Church and State. As a rhetorical gesture, perfectly designed to function as a political banner,
this phrase constitutes the last word: the official formulation of official apostate defiance against the God of Christianity. I am confident that God will answer it apocalyptically.
Yes, I believe that he is right. I believe abortion is the last official stand of the defiant apostate against God. It says, "God, you will not determine who lives or dies--I will!" The ultimate apostasy.
That's where we are in our culture, and we are there by law--the law of our own government. The court ignored the issue of when life begins, which is a medical/scientific issue, even though criminals have been successfully prosecuted for killing unborn children in an attack on a pregnant mother. That child is considered a non-person if its own mother decides to kill it; if a criminal kills it they are prosecuted; if the mother kills it is a non-person.
As far a I can tell, and my research may not be exhaustive, but as far as I can tell, there is no nation on the face of the earth with a more permissive abortion policy than the United States, with the single exception of China. It is reflective of our prurient, lascivious, immoral, perverted Sexual Revolution; of the deviation from God ordained role for men and women. It is reflective of our selfish, materialistic value system. It is reflective, most of all, of our atheistic ethic hostile to God, and we now have a holocaust; and we have a holocaust which God will judge, and I will talk about that tonight, and I will talk about what it means that the blood of the murdered victim cries out from the ground against the one who did the murder.
Medical science has clearly established that conception brings about an unique individual life. Life begins at conception; that is absolutely a medical fact. [Here is] an illustration from a secular source, Dr. Jerome LaJunge (sp.), professor of Fundamental Genetics at the University of Rene' De Cart (sp.) in Paris; this is a quote, Life has a very long history but each individual has a very neat beginning--the moment of its conception. The material link is the molecular thread of DNA. In each reproductive cell this ribbon is cut into 23 pieces or chromosomes. As soon as the 23 paternally derived chromosomes are united through fertilization to the 23 maternal ones the full genetic meeting necessary to express all the inborn qualities of the new individual is gathered, i.e., personal constitution.
And if I may digress from the quote a moment to say: everything is there that is reflected in full adulthood; all the component building material is there. LaJunge goes on to write,
At two months of age, the human being is less than one thumb length from the head to the rump. He would fit at ease in a nutshell, but everything is there: hands, feet, head, organs, [and] brains; in the fourth week, his consciousness. All are in place. His heart has been beating for a month already and fingerprints can be detected. His heart is beating at two months at 150 to 170 beats a minute. To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion.
Well, there at least is an introduction to the issue. The Supreme Court of the United States of America has voted under pressure, pressure and influence from those who are engaged in a sexual revolution; from those who want to eugenically control who gets to be born or who dies; from those feminists who want to be sure there are no responsibilities that women have that men don't have; from those who would pour unto our agenda, as it were, a fear factor in terms of over-population. All these people have orchestrated, I think, under the control of Satan, the Supreme Court into doing what they did in 1973, and consequently, we are in a holocaust of convenience killing so people can be sexually free, so people don't have to deal with those who are disabled, so women can do whatever they think they want to do to be fulfilled, and so we can live the kind of materialistic, uncomplicated lifestyle that so many people want to live. The net effect is we become mass murderers.
With all of that as background we ask this most significant question, which will drive the focus of the rest of our discussion this morning and tonight: and here's the question, "What does the Bible say about all this?" I have about five points; I will give you one this morning and the rest tonight.
1. Conception is an Act of God.
We have already noted for you that from a medically scientific viewpoint, conception yields a new person, and so life begins at conception. Personhood begins at conception. We now say as we look to the Bible, that "Conception is an Act of God." Psalm 127:3 says, "Behold, children are a gift from the Lord." God creates personally every life--Scripture makes that fact clear.
Let me look at it from a negative standpoint, going all the way back say, to Genesis. Looking at it negatively: Genesis 20:13 says this, "For the Lord had completely closed all the wombs of the House of Abimilech." They couldn't have any babies because God didn't allow it. God closed the womb. Genesis 16:2, "And Sarah said to Abraham, 'The Lord has restrained me from bearing.'" 1 Samuel 1:5-6, "The Lord had shut up her [Hanna] womb." It says that twice. So here from a negative perspective you see that God closes the womb. God says no child will be born in that womb. He has control over that.
From the positive side, Genesis 17:16, God said to Abraham, "I will bless her [Sarah] and give you a son from her, and she shall be the mother of nations." I am going to open her womb. In Genesis 21:2 it says, "Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which the Lord had spoken." God said, I closed it; I'll open it. In Genesis 25:21 Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife because she was barren, and the Lord was entreated by him and Rebecca, his wife, conceived. God enabled her to have a child. 1 Samuel 1:19-20, goes on to talk about Hanna, and it says, "The Lord remembered her." Though He had shut her womb, He remembered her and after she had conceived she bore a son and called his name "Samuel," saying, "Because I have asked for him from the Lord." The Lord opened her womb and gave her a son.
Boaz, in Ruth 4:13, took Ruth (she was his wife), "And when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception." What a great statement: "The Lord gave her conception." No conception occurs ever, anywhere on the face of the earth, through all of human history, that is not a result of God's creative purpose. In Judges 13:3, Manoah's wife is at issue, and she has asked and the Lord responds. It says, "The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold, now that you are barren and bearest not, but you shall conceive and bear a son." That son was Samson, by the way. In other words, God has not allowed you to have a child, but He will.
Now, these passages simply illustrate to us that God is the power behind barrenness, and God is the power behind conception. Wherever there is conception--God has made it happen. So you are tampering with that which God has done. That's the point.
Now let's look at this from perhaps another viewpoint, not so much the narrative of Genesis and other passages, as the theology expressed. Go to Job, chapter 10, and here we find some statements with regard to Job's understanding of God, something of his theology and how it plays to this very issue. In Job, chapter 10, Job is musing over the fact that everything has gone wrong in his life and he is querying God, as he often does, about why. In Job 10:8, "Thy hands fashioned and made me altogether." I acknowledge that you made me. And then he asked, "and why would you destroy me?" He doesn't understand what is going on in his life and he says, "This I know, you fashioned me, you made me completely."
That word "altogether" literally in the Hebrew means "together all around," comprehensively, in every sense, You made me. Verse 9, "Remember now, that Thou hast made me as clay," in other words, it's just like picking up clay: "You formed me." Verse 10, another picture, "Didst You not pour me out like milk, and curdle me like cheese?" I mean, You extracted me, and You molded me, and formed me. "You (verse 11) clothed me with skin and flesh, and you knit me together with bones and sinews. You granted me life." You made me is what he says, every way he could think to say it. Look at chapter 12 of Job, and verse 9, "Who among all these doesn't know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?"
In other words, God is the source of all life. Look at Job 31, and I'll just show you two other passages that are very helpful. Job 31:15, "Did not He who made me in the womb make him, and the same one fashion us in the womb?" He's talking about one person (speaking of himself and someone else). Didn't God make us all? Didn't He fashion us in the womb? That creative process began in the womb at conception. Chapter 33 of Job, verse 4, "The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life." It is very apparent here in probably the oldest book in the Bible--Job, taking us clear back to the patriarchal time, (probably penned before the Pentateuch even) that they understood that they were made by God.
The Psalmist has the same concept; look at Psalm 22. David in a similar situation to Job, trying to figure out his problems, goes back to the fact that he knows God made him; Psalm 22:9, "Yet Thou are He who didst bring me forth from the womb; Thou didst make me trust when upon my mother's breast. Upon Thee I was cast from birth; Thou hast been my God from my mother's womb." From the time I was in the womb You made me and You were my God.
The 100th Psalm (we can't read all the scriptures related) says in verse 3, "Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves." You say, "Well, we made a baby." No, you didn't really make a baby; you were the human instrumentation through which God made a baby. Let me tell you something: you can transmit the physical features, but you cannot make a soul. Do you understand that? You cannot, through sexual relationships create an immortal, eternal soul. At the time of conception, when the physical factors come together, God has to impart a soul. In Psalm 104, and verse 30, "Thou dost send forth Thy Spirit, they are created," reminding us that the Spirit of God is the creating force.
The prophet Isaiah (and we will look at him just briefly), the prophet Isaiah helps us to see the same thing. In chapter 44 and 45, and just briefly, chapter 44:1, "Now listen, O Jacob, My servant and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus says the Lord who made you (and here it is again) and formed you from the womb." Down in verse 24, "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb." Over in chapter 45 of Isaiah, verse 9, he's talking about God being the potter and we are the clay, and we can't argue with how we are made, and all of that. And then He says, verse 11, "Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: Ask me about the things to come concerning my sons, and you shall commit to Me the work of My hands. It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, and I ordained all their hosts. I have aroused him in righteousness . . . ." I, I, I, that's the whole point: "God made it all." He made it all. He is the source of creation.
In Jeremiah 1:5, God said to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you." "I knew you," (Hebrew, yaddah), as a rational creature. Galatians 1:15, Paul says, "But when He who has set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace (and so forth)."
Paul knew, Jeremiah knew, any Christian knows that God has His hand on us from the time of conception, and that our eternal destiny was set from that moment and the purpose and plan for our service to God was set from that moment.
The New Testament emphasizes this in a majestic way: look at Matthew, chapter 1, the birth of Christ. This is quite an important illustration that often is not considered. Matthew 1:18, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph (they were engaged, not yet married; they had not yet come together in sexual relationship), she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit." Now, this is very embarrassing to Joseph, because here he believed in his heart that this young girl was a spiritually committed girl, a righteous and holy girl, that she was a virgin and pure, and all of a sudden she is pregnant.
He was a good man and a righteous man, and didn't want to disgrace her and shame her publicly (He could have stoned her publicly), so he desired to just divorce her secretly. He was embarrassed and couldn't understand how this could happen, but when he considered this, "An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.'"
The point that I want you to note is this: that God is involved in the very act of conception, not only in the case of Jesus Christ, but of any life born in the womb. It is no less true of me or you or anyone else born into this world, that God was involved in our conception. The difference is we didn't have a virgin birth--Jesus had no earthly father, but we are nonetheless the product of God's creative hand through His Holy Spirit, who breathes life into everything.
Furthermore, the life in the womb of Mary was no impersonal blob, it was no fetal material. It was the Son of God! That life began at conception. Christ came into the world at conception. Look at Luke 1, and I'll see if I can't give you another New Testament illustration. Luke 1:41 says, "It came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting (Elizabeth, you remember was pregnant with John the Baptist), when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." Of course, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb also, as it tells us in Luke 1:15. So the Holy
Spirit was already involved in the life of John the Baptist as the Holy Spirit is involved in any life, because He is the one who breathes life. But in a unique way the Holy Spirit was somehow involved in the life of John the Baptist even in the womb, as in the life of Jesus Christ in the womb. And whatever that means, it says, "the baby leaped in her womb." It must mean that somehow that child responded to what was occurring on the outside. The Holy Spirit moved that little life into some movement, and that's a wonderful thing to contemplate, even though it is mysterious to comprehend.
Notice the word "baby" and that's the key point here. The word "baby" is (Greek, brephos): "the baby leaped." Would you please notice, this word is used in 2:12; 2:16; 18:15-16; 1 Peter 2:2, and other places, for a living baby that has been born. Here it is used for a baby that hasn't been born. Listen carefully to what I say: it is the word used for unborn or born babies; they didn't have a different word. They didn't call it a fetus; it was a baby. Unborn it was a baby; born, no separate word was needed. Once the infant is created it is "the baby," if it unborn or born. The actual moment of birth doesn't determine the viability or the life; the life is at conception and thus the babe is the babe in the womb: the babe out of the womb--no different terminology. This is not a mere collection of cells, this is a baby--this is a baby!
Conception, then is the act of God whereby a person is created by God's sovereign will. A soul is breathed into the living tissue by the Holy Spirit. That soul's destiny is already known to God and determined by Him from before the foundation of the world. Abortion then becomes a violent anti-God act. It is not only a murder of the individual, it is an affront to the Creator.
Now somebody says, "Now wait a minute. What about the deformed people that are born. Is God the creator of those?" Exodus, chapter 4, and verse 11, God says, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?" I make them that way. It is for His purposes sometimes to make men dumb, and deaf, and seeing, and blind.
Do you remember in John, chapter 9, the man born blind, and the disciples said, "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" And Jesus said, "Nobody. This man was born blind for the glory of God." God made it that way.
So the first point, and the point at which you must start any biblical discussion is that conception is an act of God. An act in which 23 chromosomes from a father and 23 chromosomes [from a mother] come together in a strip of DNA that makes a life. And at the moment of that physical coming together God then, by the agency of His Holy Spirit, breathes a soul: an immortal, eternal soul, that transcends the body (for it will live forever though the body will die). And at conception then you have life.
To kill that life is to "play God," and as serious an affront as it is against the life itself, it is a more serious one against the God who is the Creator. That is why it is the ultimate, the ultimate decline in our culture. It is the ultimate evidence of the wretchedness of our culture. It is the ultimate proof of how deep our atheism runs, that we kill life that God creates. We have usurped the sovereign throne and we are now God, and we will determine who lives and who dies. This is spilling over, my friends, into euthanasia which is coming, you better know, like a hurricane to wash away our whole old population because we are God now and we'll decide. This kind of atheism will bring the wrath of God and we will see that tonight.
Well, Father, we thank You this morning that You have called us to a clear understanding of these matters in Your Word. We are appalled, to put it mildly, and we are saddened, and we are chagrined at the horror that occurs in our own land. We thank You that in Your grace, we believe that You gather these little ones to Yourself, that You collect them into Your kingdom. We also thank You that You know from the very beginning that they will never be born because they will be killed, and that does not exonerate the murderer, and that you have planned for their future to be one of good and not harm. We thank You that You can overrule all these things; and yet Lord that does not expiate the sin for which people will be judged: those who do those things, those who have them done to them, those who tolerate them.
We thank You also Lord that You forgive: You forgive the woman who had an abortion, You forgive the man who did the abortion; You forgive the husband who allowed it, the lover who wanted it. You forgive all our sins if we come in the Name of Christ and ask forgiveness. We thank You that You can wash and make as clean as snow that one who is stained by such a sin as this, and you can give back peace for anxiety, and joy for sorrow, because of Your forgiveness. We do pray today Lord that You will give us clear convictions on this issue. Help us to know as a church, as Christians, we cannot tolerate any kind of abortion, any kind of usurping of the Divine Throne upon which You sit, any kind of violence, mass murder, without having the ground cry out against us.
Help us to speak clearly on this matter and to take our stand where we must take it. But Lord also we want You to give us compassion and kindness towards those who have fallen into this sin, and may we bring to them the saving gospel of Christ and His forgiving mercy. To that end we pray, and even that Lord, somehow You will reverse all of this in this land, [and] call us back to a righteous standard. Be with our leaders; give us leaders who will move us in a direction that pleases You, not in a direction that infuriates You. We ask for Your guidance, in Christ's Name. Amen.
We continue tonight where we left off this morning in our discussion of this matter of abortion, and as I did this morning, I want to begin with an introduction that sort of defines the problem as we face it. I approached it somewhat statistically this morning and tonight I would to approach it somewhat from an ethical viewpoint. Let me just share with you some thoughts that may help to set this thing in your mind and then we will go to the Word of God for specific answers.
For centuries the Western World has operated on what we could call a "sanctity of life" ethic. That is to say, a person had a right to life simply because he was human and was considered human because he was alive, but there has been a shift in recent years toward a quality of life ethic, rather than a sanctity of life ethic. This new ethic basically says, "A person doesn't have a right to live simply because he's human. A person only has a right to live if he meets certain criteria, certain qualities." According to that new modern viewpoint, a person has no rights simply because he is alive. Even if he is physically alive he must meet some additional criteria for being fully human. If he fails to meet the criteria he doesn't have the rights of a human, including the right to live. The unborn must meet some kind of a vague standard of genetic worthiness, or they must have a life worth living, or they must be wanted by society, or they must meet the mother's personal criteria to be considered human.
This shift subtly allows for the nightmarish scenarios of utopia's going awry, as well as the kind of genetic purification programs that were pursued by Hitler and the Nazi doctors. The same kind of ethic allowed the Nazis to weed out unwanted genetic elements in the population. When one Nazi Death Camp guard was asked how he could exterminate thousands of people his reply was, "They were not regarded as human." The parallel to our modern situation is uncomfortably close. According to a number of researchers, Margaret Sanger (sp.) who, by the way, is the founder of Planned Parenthood, the world's largest supporter of abortion--according to the researchers who study her--she essentially agreed with Hitler's approach and sought to weed from the human race blacks, southern Europeans, Hebrews, and other "feeble-minded." She regarded abortion as part of a genetic improvement program for the human race. This then moves us from the sanctity of life to a quality of life right to live, and that quality of life is to be determined by the genetic engineers or the philosophers or whoever.
Although shocking, these eugenic proposals are not very different in principles from the present practice of aborting babies for any reason at all. A baby who has "Down Syndrome," a baby who has some other birth defect, or a baby who would be an inconvenience doesn't have a life worth living; therefore, isn't human; therefore we can dispose of them readily.
Respected scholars have already proposed different criteria for this quality of life and you can read endlessly on this. One illustration, Nobel Laureate James Watson, proposed that a person not be declared having the quality to live until three days after birth, to be sure he's healthy. In other words, wait three days and then if the child doesn't meet the criteria--take its life. Other proposals would require that someone be several years old before he could be considered a human and thus qualify to live. I heard recently that in some Scandinavian countries they are now saying a person may not be truly considered to be human until they are seven years old.
Of course, if criteria can be imposed near the beginning of life then it can be imposed at anytime in life. Joseph Fletcher (you associate him with "situation ethics") suggested that to be considered a person one must have a measurable IQ of at least 40. Infants would not qualify, nor would the aged who are senile, nor would others who had certain types of accidents. "In such cases," argues Fletcher, "abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are not taking personal life, but merely biological life."
Attempts to justify abortion by claiming that it will eliminate suffering not only forsakes the sanctity of life ethic, but also ignores the facts. Some people say to do this will eliminate suffering--that's not true. It's like the argument that the handicap don't have a life worth living; that there is validity to the fact that unwanted children are going to be abused children and, therefore, if they are unwanted abort them so they aren't born and being unwanted become abused. By the way, studies show that there is very little correlation between how much a child is wanted before birth and how much that child is wanted after birth.
Furthermore, Dr. Lenoski (sp.) Professor of Pediatrics here at USC, showed that 91% of battered children were from planned pregnancies. Another study demonstrated more deviant behavior in wanted babies then in those who are unwanted. So any argument that an unwanted child becomes an abused child just doesn't stand up to any kind of test. On the contrary, there seems to be a correlation between abortion and child abuse. When abortion was legalized in the United States there were 167,000 child abuse cases per year (it was legalized in 1973). By 1979 there were 711,000; in 1982 there were 1,000,000! Britain experienced a tenfold increase in child abuse after liberalizing abortion laws.
Now you ask, "What's the correlation?" The correlation is: you begin to educate the whole society that a child is a non-person, not worth living and shouldn't be any kind of intrusion into your world, and you begin to treat them that way. Professor of Psychiatry Philip Nay, concluded in a widely publicized study, that the acceptance of violence against the unborn lowered the parents resistance to violence against the born--that should be obvious.
Abortion is often portrayed as benefiting women; yet ironically when decisions are made on the basis of sex, girls are aborted far more often then boys. Out of 8,000 amniocenteses, that is abortions, done in Bombay, 7,999 of them were girls--one was a boy. This is true in China: they are only allowed to have one child and if it is a girl they kill it. In one study in the United States, 29 out of 46 girls were aborted--only 1 out of 53 boys were aborted. So the idea that abortion benefits women doesn't seem to fit the facts; it winds up in the slaughter of women around the world.
Some argue that abortion in necessary because of over population, but that ignores principles of production and distribution. How in the world do abortions in the United States alleviate over population in crowded parts of Africa? There is no correlation. Furthermore, the United States and Europe have a different population problem: the numbers being born are not replacing the aging and dying! I was told this morning by someone who works for the IRS, that one of the formidable problems the IRS and social security is facing now is the fact that there are so many abortions that there is not going to be enough people born to pay your Social Security by the time you retire. So what they are doing now: in a very few years they are going to raise the Social Security level to 67, and some years after that the plans are to raise it into the mid 70's. Why? Because there is no funding because there aren't going to be another wage earners to support us when we get old.
Pro-Abortionists argue that restricting abortions will return us the era of back-alley butchers. Dr. Bernard Nathenson (sp.) who was one of those abortionist and converted over to a non-abortion position replies that not only were deaths in the pre-Roe vs. Wade days grossly inflated, in fact, he said they lied about how many deaths occurred in illegal abortions because they wanted abortion legalized for business reasons. So they fabricated all the figures to make people think that more people were dying than actually were in illegal abortions; but he went on to say that developments in medical technology and pharmacology will mean that even illegal abortions will be medically safe. Not that that is right, but they use that as an argument that if we ever stop legalizing abortion--non-legal abortions done in less than proper medical facilities and with less than proper medically means will result in many deaths; and he says, "That's not the case, because of the technologically we have."
The present toleration of abortion is deeply rooted in this new kind of individualism and personal rights movement. The Pro-Abortion people always argue that a woman has the right to control her own body and, therefore, she has the right to abort any intrusion into that body. Yet society recognizes rights must be limited when they conflict with another person's rights; and certainly the person in the womb of the mother has rights. A Supreme Court Justice Antonio Scalla (sp.) said, "Whether a woman's right over her body extends to abortion depends on whether the fetus is a human life." We already saw this morning that the fetus is a human life, not a part of the mother's body but with an identity all its own: it has its unique set of genes, its own circulatory system; its own blood type (very often), and its own brain. It can live and die separately from the mother, and the mother can live or die separately from it--it is a separate life! But we are reengineering our thinking and the philosophies that are dominant in our culture today are self-serving philosophies: then intend to remove any kind of intrusion into people's freedoms and liberties.
Now what does the Bible say about this matter of abortion? We go back to where we were this morning. The first point that I gave you was this: (and we will cover the remaining ones with just a brief review of this one),
1. Conception is Act of God.
We pointed out this morning that God creates personally every life. Now this morning I said to you that at the very moment of life God does a creative work. Theologians have debated this issue for centuries I suppose. Those of you who are familiar with theology might remember something called "Traducianism." The debate basically is, "Do we have as male and female in the procreative process somehow the element in our procreative power to produce a soul?" The difficulty with that question is, "Can two dying humans produce an eternal soul?" Well the answer to that probably is no. On the other hand, the question is if we don't do that, if that is an independent life being passed on [then] how is it that it is born with Adam's sin? You say, "What is the answer?" I have no idea.
I find myself hard pressed to land on either side because I know that God will not produce a sinful soul. I also know that two dying humans cannot produce an eternal soul; and so I would simply say, to leave it as simple as my mind can allow, at some point in the incredible procreative process God injects the eternality into that soul--we stain it with our fallenness. But every conception is nonetheless an act of God as we saw Scripture indicates--You made me; You formed me; You breathed into me the breath of life; You ordained that I would live; You opened the womb; You made me to be the one You wanted me to be. This is the testimony of Scripture. Now let's go to a second point.
2. The Person Created is Created in the Image of God.
The person created is created in the image of God. In James 3:9, "With it we bless (speaking about our tongues)--with it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the likeness of God." The person created and we know now that creation occurs at the moment of what? Conception. And at the moment of conception God puts the reality of life (and I don't know if it's at the exact split second; if it's a few milliseconds after that), at some point (I don't know where), at some point God infuses personhood and that eternal soul that will never die is created by God: that real being that is not just the collection of genetics, but is something eternal. Exactly at what split-second in the process that happens no one can know, but nonetheless whenever God does it--that creation is made in the likeness of God, or in the image of God.
What we are saying here then is that what is created and what is conceived is not an animal. It is not just a biological sequence. It is not just a collection of cells. It is not fetal matter. It is not just human tissue. It is created by God in His image, and everything that is there for acting, and thinking, and feeling, and knowing, and trusting, and hoping everything that is rational, and moral, and emotional is there.
Go back with me to Genesis, chapter 1. If you need a reminder, it says in verse 25, "God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, the cattle after their kind, everything that creeps on the ground after its kind, and God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him male and female, He created them."
We are not mere mortals; we are not merely flesh--we are immortal. The shell of skin and bones and muscle is only a vessel; it's only a repository in which something of the very image of God resides. In Genesis, chapter 9, verse 6, a familiar verse, says, "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." If you kill somebody--you die! Not because of an affront against that human flesh, but because of such an affront against the image of God.
There is a dominion; there is a personhood in man that does not exist in animals. There is a transcendence that rises above the rest of the created order. Turn with me to Psalm 139. There is so much to say and I am kind of editing as I go, but this is one of the more important texts to be reckoned with. In Psalm 139 you have this great passage which teaches that the unborn child is the special work of God created in His image. Verse 13,
"For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."
Verse 13, look at it, "Thou didst form my inward parts,": literally, "It is You who made my kidneys," is what he says. "You made me in the deepest part of my being, and You did weave me in my mother's womb." That is an absolutely beautiful picture: the weaving together of all that is part of humanity; the weaving of chromosomes in the DNA. The weaving together of all the components in the incredible human body, woven together with the soul and the spirit. In verse 14, "I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." "Fearfully" means awesomely: used of God's great power calling for surpassing reverential awe since we are made in His image. He says we are "fearfully and wonderfully made," full of majesty as the work of God.
In verse 15 he says, "My frame was not hidden from Thee," King James says, "my substance," literally "my strength, my bones, and my sinews, and my muscles." It was not hidden from you when I was made "in secret" (the secret place is the womb). Then in verse 15 that interesting phrase, "and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;" literally "skillfully wrought" in the Hebrew could be translated "when I was interwoven of various colored threads." To put it another way, "When you embroidered me, You made the very fabric; You pulled together every tiny little piece, and You wove it all to make me."
It is a beautiful picture of the complicated, elaborate texture of the human being; "and You did it in the depths of the earth," a reference to the womb: you can compare Isaiah 45:19 for similar usage. Verse 16, "Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance," my unshaped embryonic substance: literally, again in the Hebrew, "something rolled together," when I was just a little ball of life, when I was just a little ball of chromosomes. "And in Your book they were all written," all my days, all my years, all the events of my life, my eternal destiny--everything. Then verse 17, he says, "How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!" It is so incredible to think about You thinking about me before I was ever made. The whole thing behind this is this sense that this creation is so wonderful and so awesome because it is a creation in the very image of God. That image has been marred.
In Psalm 51, we read something of that marring of the image; Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Now he doesn't mean that he was illegitimately conceived, because he wasn't (David speaking); he simply means that from my conception there was something else going on in me too--and it is sin. Did God create that sin?
No, I believe that we pass on the sin--God only creates the eternality: the eternal soul and spirit. Only a person, by the way, can be a sinner.
That little tiny life, that little tiny baby, that little tiny rolled up ball of genetics, that little fetus, is already designated as a sinner in the womb from conception: and only a person is a sinner. So we are created in the image of God, which image is stained by the sin of Adam, passed on from generation to generation. So we can say that, that eternal soul is the creation of God, but its sinful propensity is the legacy of man. No human being, then, is ever conceived outside God's will or ever conceived apart from God's image. Life is a gift from God created in His own image.
Thirdly, in considering points to understand the issue:
3. The Helpless Creation is the Special Object of God's Loving Care.
That helpless creation which He has conceived in the womb of a woman is the special object of His loving care. First of all, I want to deal with that on a general level if I might. We have now seen that, that little life is considered a person, albeit a person created by God in His own image, and yet a sinner. That person then becomes the special object of God's care. The Lord identifies with sinners; the Lord identifies with the needy; the Lord identifies with the poor; the Lord identifies with the widow; the Lord identifies with the orphan; the Lord identifies with the defenseless.
In Psalm 82 we find a general reference to that which can be a basis for our understanding. In Psalm 82:3, "Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy." It is true that God has a special concern for the helpless. Is anyone more helpless, is anyone weaker, is anyone more defenseless than that unborn child? So they, as all others who are weak and defenseless, become the "Special Care of God."
I don't have time to go over all of the medical phenomena that protects the baby in the womb, but it is absolutely incredible. How wonderfully God has insulated that little life for warmth, and health, and safety. How He has designed the womb of the mother to be a protector. I will never forget when Patricia was pregnant with one of our little ones, and I am trying to remember which--I think it was Mark; yes, it was Mark (I have to associate kids with certain houses and remember which house this happened in)--One day I came home from wherever I was and I came in the house and she was lying in the bed and she was not feeling well, and I said, "What happened?" She said, "Well, I fell off the television." I said, "You what?" She said, "I fell off the television." Now that is a strange place to be in the first place--on the television. We had a little portable television sitting on a little metal rack, and she climbed it to fix the drapes, and she fell. We had a concrete floor covered with just a sheet of linoleum tile in this little room, and she said, "The worse of it is--I landed right on the baby!" She had a huge bruise right in the center of her stomach, and she said, "I know, don't give me any speeches about 'You're not supposed to be climbing on top of the television when you are nine months pregnant'" (and she was; Mark was born soon after). Now the reason I hesitated to name the child is because you may be looking at Mark oddly in the future, imagining that something might have happened, but it didn't.
We were thrilled because, from then on until Mark was born we wondered if, indeed, there would be some result; We were, after he was born, thrilled to see with all of her weight falling full on concrete on that little life, how perfectly protected that little one was. God has such compassion on the helpless.
I remember reading some years back about a lady that I got to know, a lady that some of you remember--her name was Ethel Waters. She was a real instrument for the Lord; giving her testimony she shared a wonderful little story. She said,
A pretty black girl was attacked and raped by a white man in Pennsylvania. She was barely past her thirteenth birthday and soon was found pregnant. And Ethel Waters said, "No, abortion, no." Instead, a healthy baby girl who came to love Christ and sing for His glory and make millions happy: a girl whose theme song was "His Eye is On the Sparrow;" and that girl was me.
The love shown to a helpless little baby without a father born because a mother wouldn't have an abortion gave the world a wonderful gift. That story can be repeated millions of times.
Innocent, defenseless people have a special protector in God who wants to bring them to birth no matter what the circumstances might be that brought about their conception or what difficulty there might be in the life to come. God has His purposes. I might say on the other side that even sinners who will spend an eternity in Hell will serve the purpose of God. "What if God, willing to make vessels who are fitted unto wrath to bring Himself glory," chooses to allow that--that's His own purpose.
I am convinced that the fury of God will someday fall on the murderers of His creatures who have not sought His forgiveness. God is the protector of the innocent. Now to illustrate this Biblically; go back to Exodus 21. This is one of the really important passages about abortion, Exodus 21:22; and here in this section of Scripture following the Ten Commandments, God gives a number of laws that regard life and all of its myriad of circumstances. In Exodus 21 we have a very interesting account; it says to us in verse 22,
If men struggle with each other (now you follow carefully) and strike a woman with child (I don't know what you version says; some say "so she has a miscarriage," some say, "So she has an untimely birth"), yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Now what is this saying? One of the unfortunate translations in the New American Standard is the translation "miscarriage." I don't know why they translated the Hebrew term here "miscarriage." There is no reason, at least in my mind, to believe that verse 22 refers to a miscarriage. There is a contextual support for that as well as linguistic. The literal Hebrew reading is simply this, "And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child (here's the Hebrew) so that her children come out." That's what it says. In other words, it causes the child to come out. "Yet there is no further injury, then he shall surely be fined as the husband (or the woman's husband) may demand of him; and be paid as whatever the judges or the courts allow." Yalad is the common Hebrew word for child. The only irregularity here in that word is that it is plural. And it is unlikely that it means a developing fetus that has been miscarried.
The verb (Hebrew, yasa) often refers to ordinary childbirth, and so it says the struggle happens: two men are fighting, one gets involved in this fight; and probably a woman steps in (you know, the wife to try to stop the fight) and she gets struck so that her children come out (just looking at it on the plural sense); that is, an ordinary childbirth takes place. By the way, that term (Hebrew, yasa) referring to ordinary childbirth is used in Genesis 15:4 and Isaiah 39:7 of a childbirth generated from the loins of the father and also in Genesis 25 and 26, and Jeremiah 1, about a birth that comes out of the womb of the mother. So from the father's side and the mother's side the term is used to express a child that is born.
In no case does that term (Hebrew, yasa) refer to a miscarriage. Numbers 12:12 uses it but it refers to a still birth--not a miscarriage. The Hebrew word for miscarriage (shakal) used in Exodus 23:26, Hosea 9:14, is not used in this verse. So what you have here is a premature birth.
Now, follow the thought: two men are fighting, the woman probably steps in; she gets hit in the process and consequently the trauma causes a premature birth. If all that happens is that the child comes out and there is no further injury, then there should be a fine for the discomfort, for the problems that might come to take care of the child, and to take care of the woman because of whatever trauma she suffered. If there is any debate about it, then the judges can discern what that should be. "But if there is any further injury. . . ." What would "any further injury" be? Well, it would have to mean something more severe, including the loss of life; "then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life."
What's the point? The point is: if you are responsible for killing an unborn child you pay with your life. That's the point. It is constituted as murder.
"No further injury," then in verse 22, has been incorrectly taken to mean that there has been some kind of a miscarriage. The equivalent of "further" doesn't appear in the Hebrew text. It simply says (you'll notice probably that "further" is in italics), it just says "if there is no injury." If the child is born and there is no injury--fine. Settle whatever be the medical costs, if there are any, but if there is more than that, if there is injury to the child, if there is injury to the mother then "lex talionis" [Latin], that is, "tit for tat" takes place. If the child has suffered in one area--the penalty is the same. If the child dies then the penalty is life. It is just the idea of appropriate punishment, but what it points out is: if the child comes out and his eye is injured--you lose your eye. If he comes out and his hand is injured--your lose your hand. If his foot--his foot, and so forth, and so forth. Wound for wound--that's justice, but if the child dies you pay with your life. "Lex talionis" the law of retaliation.
So Scripture teaches us then very, very clearly that conception is an act of God; that every person conceived is conceived in the image of God, and that each person is the special care of God. Nothing illustrates that more than if you injure a child that is untimely born and you have inflicted that injury--you pay a just punishment including, if you kill that child--you pay with your life. God has special care for those who are helpless.
There is a fourth point in our little outline and it kind of ties in with these others.
4. Compassion is to be applied to all of God's creation made in His image.
If this is how the Lord feels towards them then this is how we feel--but going back to the Jewish principle this morning, "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself," as we have it reiterated in Matthew 22:39. Romans tells us in chapter 13, "Love fulfills the whole law." The unborn child is your neighbor; it is a person in need of care and protection, and we are to treat unborn children with the same kind of compassion that we would apply to all of God's creation in His image. One of the things I hesitate to say, but I must digress a moment to do so, is the fact that today what you have coming out of the abortion movement is also the Animal Rights Movement. They are inextricably linked because the animal rights movement basically says that animals are the same as people; and you remember some months ago that I reiterated to you one of the animal rights slogans, which is, "A rock is a rat is a dog is a boy." In other words, everything that is created is of equal value, and that is apparent to anybody who watches that bizarre and evolutionary distortion that we call the Animal Rights Movement.
There is not a proper understanding that man is created in the image of God and is to be treated with special care and special consideration and special Christ-like compassion is to be applied to all made in the image of God. I cannot even conceive how a mother could think of a baby as an enemy, whether that baby was a product of rape, or whether that baby was in some way malformed. How that woman could think that child in her was an enemy when she has been given the God-given privilege of protecting that little life with all of its weaknesses--certainly that is not natural instinct to a mother. She would have to be sold that by a culture that had become decadent.
Well, there is much more to say about that. Let me take you to a fifth principle. We have said that conception is the act of God; creation is in the image of God; care is the concern of God; and compassion should be required by the people of God. Let me take you to a fifth one and this is perhaps most startling.
5. Condemnation of Murderers is the Will of God.
We already read in Exodus, chapter 21, that if a person strikes a woman so that the baby comes out and dies--it is life for life. We shouldn't be surprised by that since we know that's a viable life and a person created by God, but in our day we might be because we have been told that it isn't. In Exodus 20:13, God said, "Thou shalt not murder," and I read you Genesis 9:6 which says, "Who so sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God made He man." In other words, clearly the Scriptures indicates that if you take a life you are going to lose your life. Some people say, "Well, that's Old Testament teaching; certainly Jesus changed all that." No, He didn't Jesus was the leading New Testament advocate of capital punishment.
In Matthew, chapter 26, and verse 51, it says, "Behold, one of those who were with Jesus (that's Peter we remember) reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear." You know that he was trying to cut off his head and not his ear, and the guy "ducked" and just lost his ear; and then Jesus said to him (Peter), "Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." He is not giving him a prophecy; He is reiterating a divine law: if you take a life you give a life. Jesus was articulating the Law of God: you take up a sword and take that man's life and you will give your life.
In Acts, chapter 25, and verse 11, Paul said in verse 10, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews as you also very well know. If then I am a wrongdoer, and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die." Paul knew capital punishment was God's way. He said, if I have done something worthy of death, then I do not refuse to die. There you have the Apostle Paul reiterating his own belief that God had established the law of capital punishment. In Romans 13:4, he said that the police, the soldiers, whoever in the government bear arms to protect the innocent and punish the evil, (he says,) "Do not bear the sword for nothing; they are ministers of God, and they are avengers who bring wrath." They are armed in order to take life. They don't have swords to spank you with--they have swords to take your life.
Clearly the Scripture in the Old Testament designed the capital punishment penalty for those who took life, and even the life of an unborn child fell under that. Jesus reiterated capital punishment is suitable for certain crimes and so did the Apostle Paul. In Proverbs 6:16, let me give you further insight into God's attitude towards those who take life; "There are six things the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood." God hates people who shed innocent blood. Is there anything more innocent than an infant? Is there anything more innocent than a protected infant hidden safely in the womb of its own mother?
In Proverbs 24:11, "Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, 'See, we did not know this,' does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does not He know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to every man according to his work?" If you are allowing people who are innocent to be killed, don't say, "Well, I didn't know what was going on." God knows your heart, he knows whether you know, and if you are guilty He will render you according to his work.
There are many other Scriptures that speak about God's attitude. In Deuteronomy, chapter 27, verse 25, is worthy of a moment, "Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person." God says, "If you are paid to kill someone--curse you!" There are some other specifics: Leviticus 18, 2 Kings 24, Amos 1.
I want to take it a step further; God forbids any taking of innocent life--that we understand. But I want to take it a step further and say this: that where you have blood shed, you have a very interesting result take place. Look at Psalm 106. Psalm 106, and I am going to show you several passages as we wrap this up. Psalm 106, verse 38; here is an indictment against sinful people who, verse 37, "sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood." They actually killed their own children to make them sacrifices to false gods. They "shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan." Now notice this line, you might want to underline it, "and the land was polluted with the blood." The land was polluted with the blood--it left itself, as it were, in the soil. It stained the land.
Now go back to Genesis, chapter 4, and verse 10, God had said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" And he said, "I don't know." He did know--he killed him. Verse 10, "And God said to him, 'What have you done?'" Now listen to this, "The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand." Now follow the thought: God says you shed innocent blood, and that blood pollutes the land. It is as if that blood is everywhere staining the land. The blood of 2,000,000 aborted babies in our land, and somewhere between 60 and 75 million across the earth every year stains the soil.
Then in Genesis 4, God says that blood cries out. He personifies that blood as if it's alive. And what is it crying for? It is unrequited! It is crying for retaliation. It is crying for justice. It is crying for the execution of its murderer. Genesis 42:22, "And Reuben answered them, saying, 'Did I not tell you, 'Do not sin against the boy'; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood." And he was talking about how they had treated Joseph. There will be a reckoning for the blood that cries out to God because it has been shed innocently.
Several times Scripture says, "And the blood of a (certain person) shall be on your head"--remember that? In other words, you are responsible. And so God requires the death penalty when blood shed from innocent life cries out to Him. And I believe that's the plight of America. I believe that the land is stained and soiled with the blood of the innocents who have been, and are continuing to be, even now as I speak, massacred. Nothing shows more clearly the total moral and spiritual decadence of our society--its disregard for God; its disregard for His creative work, for that which is made in His image; its disregard for His compassion and the compassion of Christ--nothing shows this more than the mass murder of millions of babies. This disdain for the sanctity of human life and the substitution of what we call the "quality of life," which causes us to be murderers of children, causes the very soil of our land to cry out to God for retribution. And I believe we are now under the judgment of God, a nation of murderers: the ground is crying out. God has His ways. God has His ways.
Some of these women who murder their babies may suffer the judgment of God in one way and some in another. Some may suffer the judgment of God only in an eternal Hell. Some may suffer the judgment of God in an eternal Hell and also in a hell in this life of drugs, venereal disease, and who knows what. Some may suffer in the brokenness of life and shattered dreams.
Some may suffer with physical disease. Who knows what God metes out in individual retribution to those who kill the innocents. I think of all the medical doctors engaged in this. I think of all the advocates of abortion, women's liberationists and politicians included, who aid and abet the crime--God alone knows what He has designed for them.
Fearfully, I think about the Religious Coalition "for" Abortion Rights. Do you know who's in it? American Baptist Churches, the Church of the Brethren, Christian Churches, Episcopalian Church, Women's Caucus, The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church, The United Presbyterian Church, The YWCA, etc. And the judgment of God awaits these people--it awaits these people. And this is the sadness of it--that God will judge because the ground cries out! There is a final word, and that is this:
6. Condescending redeeming grace comes from God to the participants in this tragedy.
First of all, I will say it is my conviction that God redeems murdered infants. That His grace reaches out and takes those little ones to be with Himself, because the Bible is so very clear, and I won't get into this in detail; we have taught it on other occasions. But the Bible is so very clear that people perish in hell because they refuse to believe--that Hell is for those who rejected God and who rejected Christ--something an unborn infant could never do. So, God, not having a just basis, either internally or externally, by virtue of the attitude or the action of an unborn child, would have no basis on which to sentence them to hell (except for the depravity they inherited in Adam, which is never a cause for damnation apart from its evidence in behavior or attitude). God must then embrace them into His own kingdom.
Secondly, and I say this in conclusion, God is also graciously forgiving those who have been the murderers of infants. I know that there are some people here who have had abortions, because in a congregation this size it is inevitable. I want you to know that the Lord Jesus Christ offers you forgiveness for that sin. There may be some of you who have been engaged in medical practice as a doctor, or a nurse, or attendant, in that and you have been involved in an abortion. There may some of you who may have, at one time or another, assisted a friend into getting to an abortion, or perhaps worked in a place where that was done. The Lord forgives that if we come to Him. Of course, when you come to Christ all your sins are forgiven, including that sin, for He offers, as we know so well, grace that is greater than our sin.
I received a letter that I want to share with you,
I have always been a Christian as long as I can remember, and at the age of 17, I had an abortion. I can't even begin to explain the despair and anger which I felt then. My relationship with my parents was not good. At that time I moved out our home to keep my parents from knowing. I worked full-time and completed High School. It was hell. There was no one to help me; there was no one to confide in; I was so frightened. I went to Planned Parenthood and told them, "I wanted my baby." They thought I was crazy. In no way did they offer me another alternative such as adoption or help. The only advice they offered me was that of abortion and how to go to Medi-Cal and tell them that I didn't know who the father was; that way Medi-Cal would pay for it.
The ordeal was a horrendous nightmare I will never forget. I remember especially the doctor singing opera while the procedure was being done. I cried for months thereafter. The only thing that pulled me through was the fact that Jesus forgave me, and with His blessing I now have three beautiful little girls, and I keep reassuring myself that in heaven I also have a child I haven't yet met.
God is gracious. As horrible, as horrendous, as unthinkable as this whole thing is, God in His mercy is willing to forgive the penitent sinner: both the one who is the mother and the one who is the medical practitioner.
There is so much more to say, and I have just raced through and left much out, but I think that you understand, don't you what the Scripture has to say about this? This is a time in our country to take a stand on this issue. This is a time to share individually with people who are confused, because the issue is very clear cut.
Now Father, we thank You that we have been able to share together tonight in what is such a sad and disappointing subject. But we are thankful because it is so essential for us to understand it. Lord we know that You hate those who shed innocent blood, and we know that the ground cries out for that blood to be requited; for retaliation. And we know that You will judge as You will judge all sinners, unless they come to Christ, unless they repent and are forgiven. I pray that if there are any here who have shed innocent blood they would come to the foot of the cross and receive Jesus Christ as Savior. And if there is even a Christian who had an abortion that that person would come to You and confess, and repent, and ask for that cleansing which You offer.
Father, we do pray for our nation. We know we stand on the brink of divine judgment because of this horror that exists. We ask that You would cause this nation to be drawn to Christ. Lord, we can't even imagine how such a movement of God could happen, but we would boldly and we would hopefully even ask that somehow, something might happen to stop this slaughter, and to cause people to turn to you for forgiveness. To this end we pray in Christ's Name. Amen.