I was gutted this week when I heard that the New York State Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act, giving women the right to abortion up to the point of birth. I welled up with grief imagining the thousands of boys and girls who will be killed as a consequence of this expanded abortion law.
Why am I experiencing such grief over this? The answer is simple. I believe in the sanctity of human life. I believe that human life is carefully fashioned by God as a reflection of Himself (Genesis 1:26-28) and is to be treated with dignity and respect—and that dignity and respect extends to the baby in the womb.
The historic Christian perspective of life beginning at conception has been the position of the church throughout the centuries. Why has the church believed this? Because the Bible teaches it. No place is this more clear than in the Psalm 139. David writes, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16).
Notice how David speaks of his preborn self as being personally and intimately formed by God Himself. Before he was born, God was intimately acquainted with all his ways and days. Even when he was an “unformed substance” (i.e. embryo), he speaks with the personal pronoun “me.”
The prophet Jeremiah uses similar language. Jeremiah writes, “Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). Remarkably, before he was formed in the womb, Jeremiah was known by God and set apart as a prophet. His life and calling as a mouthpiece for God were in place before Jeremiah took his first breath.
These words from Jeremiah remind me of that wonder filled moment in Luke 1 when Mary visits Elizabeth. In utero, John the Baptist leaps at the presence of Jesus Christ, who is also in utero. It’s as if preborn John is already fulfilling his prophetic mission by preparing the way of the Lord with that leap inside Elizabeth (see Luke 1:39-43).
Behind David’s words, Jeremiah’s call, and John the Baptist’s leap is this settled biblical conviction: life and personhood exist before birth. And since that’s the case, every child in the womb deserves the respect and dignity of being treated like a human being made in the image of God.
Before I close, something needs to be said. I realize that for some readers, the topic of abortion is no mere morality issue or a piece of legislation. It’s a very personal part of your story. If that’s true for you, please don’t think I am condemning you for having an abortion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s remember that the Apostle Paul was once named Saul. He was a persecutor of the church and responsible for Stephen’s murder in Acts 7. He wrote these words: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). No matter what you’ve done, if you are in Christ, those words are true of you. Walk in the freedom of knowing that your abortion is no match for the atonement won for you in Christ’s blood. Rejoice in knowing that your sin has been nailed to the cross, and you bear it no more. And let’s together praise the Lord.