Human beings seem to be more morally confused today than ever. In fact, even the answer to the monumental question Who is a human being? doesn’t seem clear. Culturally, the battle over abortion rages between “life” and “choice,” and related questions lie in the center of the firestorm. In this brief post, I’ll state a biblical basis for the value of human life and offer hope for those who have violated the sanctity of life.
Answers to difficult questions about abortion will vary widely depending on whether we believe this world is designed by a Creator or is merely the product of a cosmic accident. If the world was created, then the God who created it is the reference point for how we ought to define life. Conversely, if the world is merely a random accident, then man is the ultimate reference point. The way we define life will determine how we treat others. Theologian Francis Schaeffer warned that every generation would be judged based on “how humanely people treat one another,”1 and I would argue that this caution includes our treatment of the unborn.
The Bible and Its Blueprint for Life
Progress in science and technology has revealed much about the nature of unborn life. Consider, for instance, how prenatal ultrasounds have shown that an unborn child is more than mere “uterine tissue.” Unfortunately, despite such technological advances, individual and societal ethical views remain more or less unchanged.
However, amid these divergent views, the Bible reveals that life in its essence is not only unique but sacred. God created humans in his image (Genesis 1:26) and, even more profoundly, seeks to personally have a relationship with them (John 3:16–17). While the Bible isn’t a textbook of embryology, it emphatically states that God is intimately involved in the fetal development process within the womb.
Consider the psalmist’s beautiful portrayal of unborn life in Psalm 139. In poetical and meditative language, the author describes at length the intimate and dynamic relationship (verse 15) God has with him, specifically referencing his prenatal existence. In theologian John Stott’s exposition of this passage, he uses three headings that emphasize the life of the unborn child: creation, continuity, and communion.2
In creation, God, whom Stott compares to a “skilled artisan,” forms the man.3 The psalmist writes, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (verse 13). Next, we see continuity in the psalmist using the personal pronouns I and me to refer to both his prenatal and postnatal self. Stott notes that the psalmist is “aware of no discontinuity” between who he was before birth and who he was as an adult. He is “conscious of being the same person” from conception to his adult life.4 Finally, we see communion in the way the psalmist describes his intimate relationship with God—the very thing that makes him who he is as a person, a unique human being. In essence, what makes us human is not that we know God but that he knows us individually, not that we love God but that he loved us even before he formed us in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5).5
Mourning Death, Embracing Forgiveness
Even for those who believe that Scripture’s description of life is correct, personal violations of life’s sanctity can leave one hopelessly guilt-ridden. In our current moral crisis, there are choices available to us (sometimes even thrust upon us) that, if made responsibly and faithfully, can impact future generations for good. One example that comes to mind is that of Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Lecrae Moore coming forward with the confession of having advocated the destruction of his unborn child years before.6 It’s a story filled with deep guilt, shame, and brokenness, but it also demonstrates sincere repentance and, as a result, instills confidence and hope. Moore recounts his sad but true story in the track “Good, Bad, Ugly” from the album Anomaly (2014). The end of the song stuck with me the most:
So I dropped her off at that clinic
That day a part of us died
With millions of abortions performed worldwide, it’s inevitable that experiences of guilt and regret like Moore’s have become common. However, he gives us hope by saying that his confession of guilt, remorse, and shame wasn’t the end but the turning point and beginning of the healing process for him.
A Foundation for the Value of the Unborn
Some would claim that Moore’s confession of guilt and remorse is the product of a superstitious belief that others have imposed upon him. While it’s true that a person’s views on abortion may be influenced by the opinions of others, the Christian faith provides a strong foundation for the value of life and remorse for taking it unjustly.
In fact, the truth of God’s revelation about himself revolves around his creation, Word, and Son, all of which are rooted in history. To understand the sanctity of human life, particularly that of the unborn, we need to consider the truth revealed to us in Scripture. The Christian understanding of who we are as humans—even unborn humans—is intrinsically tied to who God is. Our confidence in the truth about God and who we are should motivate us to value all human life.
Hope amid the Pain
From a scriptural point of view, the divide we’re facing isn’t really between “life” and “choice.” Neither is it between the “guilty” and the “innocent,” for we’re all guilty and have drifted away from God’s blueprint for life. It’s between the unforgiven and the forgiven.
Some of us may be carrying feelings of guilt, remorse, and shame from our past. However, if like Moore, we’re honest and sincere in owning up to our failures, there’s healing available to us in Christ. Scripture says that Jesus, while on the cross, bore our sicknesses and hurts and secured complete healing for each of us, including forgiveness for all our sins (Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24). Time tends to heal deep wounds. But Scripture goes beyond that and assures us (as does Moore’s testimony) that time is just one way of knowing how God heals. What humans need most is reconciliation with our Creator. That’s where true healing takes place, if only we make the decision to come to him.
- Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, Volume 5, A Christian View of the West, 2nd ed.(Crossway Books: Wheaton, Illinois, 1982), 281.
- John Stott, New Issues Facing Christians Today (Fully Revised Edition, GLS Publishing, 2005), 354–356.
- Stott, 355.
- Stott, 355.
- Stott, 355–356.
- John Piper, John Ensor, and Lecrae Moore, “Passion Life Interview with Lecrae,”Desiring God,January 3, 2015, desiringgod.org/interviews/passion-life-interview-with-lecrae.