There is no denying there is a tug-of-war in our culture over the status of the preborn. On one side we watch as states pass bills allowing for abortions up to the point of birth. On the other side, there are more states passing “heartbeat” bills, where abortion is prohibited once a heartbeat can be detected by an ultrasound.
While the political and legal debate swirls around us, we cannot lose sight of the power of a pro-life church and pastor. Pastors are an important part of this conversation, and we need to be clear about the biblical teaching of the value of human life at all stages, both in public and from behind the pulpit.
It should give us courage to know that when we defend the biblical view on the personhood of the preborn, we have science and logic, morality, and human flourishing on our side. Or, we might say, we have truth, goodness and beauty on our side.
The Truth is Pro-Life
One recent advance that helps the pro-life cause is 4-D ultrasound technology. Now, even early in a pregnancy, a family can look into the womb and see a human child. 4-D ultrasounds help change minds. Someone who assumes a child in the womb is a “mass of tissue” can be exposed to a real-time video of a child with fingers and toes.
The technology is effective because it reveals what we already know to be true about the child in the womb. The moment an egg is fertilized, a child is on an inevitable path of growing into an infant suited for life outside the womb. The child has its own DNA, blood type, circulatory system, and eye color. The child is not simply an extension of, or “growth,” in the mother’s body. The science of embryology teaches us that the child in the womb is a distinct human being. You and I did not come from embryos; we were once embryos.
It is sometimes argued that the preborn child has human DNA, but it is not yet a person. By this, the pro-choice advocate means that because the preborn do not have capacities like self-awareness or self-determination, they are not persons. Thus, they do not have the same rights as persons and can be aborted.
This argument, taken to its logical conclusions, however, is horrific. What about any other adult who, even temporarily, lacks one or both of those capacities? What of someone in a medically induced coma? Or someone with severe physical limitations? In both these cases, an individual is biologically human but lacks self-determination or self-awareness. Based on pro-choice logic, they no longer have the same right to life as any other human does.
A pro-life pastor and church need not fear pro-choice arguments. Even though they are often made with passion, they do not stand up to science or logic. The biblical view does.
Goodness is Pro-Life
I often run across an argument for abortion from economics. It is said that we simply do not understand the kinds of conditions some mothers are in and the choices they face, so we cannot deny them their right to abortion. While this view can tug on our heartstrings, it fails on at least two points.
First, it is not a moral argument. It does not address whether abortion is moral or immoral. It simply appeals to difficult economic or social circumstances. When we rightly recognize a mother’s difficult situation, the correct moral conclusion is to find a way to help her through that pregnancy without sacrificing the life of the child. The church has excelled here, creating and funding crisis pregnancy centers where mothers can be helped along the way.
Second, this is the same argument eugenicists made at the beginning of the 20th century. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and a leading eugenicist, argued that the poor and minorities needed to have abortions supplied for them simply because they were poor or a cultural minority. The faithful church cannot be in league with such a view.
Because we know that each human being is created in the image of God, we conclude that everyone is of unlimited value to God. And when we come to terms with this, we are faced with the need to teach it and apply it.
These pro-choice arguments are common, but they are immoral. When a pastor and church uphold the biblical pro-life position, they have moral goodness on their side.
Beauty is Pro-Life
At the end of the six days of creation, God placed the first man and woman in the garden, commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, and pronounced it “very good.” God’s good plan for marriage between a man and a woman includes fruitfulness. This obviously includes birth as God gives children to parents, and it includes the work of raising children to know and love God. Families are fruitful in that children are born and raised into adulthood.
Abortion short-circuits this entire process. What God intends is good for human flourishing, and what a pro-abortion culture encourages tears that plan apart.
The research is clear: we do best when we are raised in a stable home with a mother and a father. This does not exclude how well single parents can do with their children, especially when they are supported by family and a good church. But it does speak to how God created us to flourish.
A biblically grounded pro-life ethic includes support for struggling families and single parents. It also includes the clear message that what God intends for marriage and human sexuality is beautiful. A pastor can confidently defend a biblical pro-life ethic knowing they have truth, goodness and beauty on their side.