Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
Is Abortion Really Murder?
by Jim Dowson (B.Th MA) and Dr. ES Williams (FFPHM)
The latest abortion figures in the UK are truly shocking. Over 170,000 abortion per year, despite the fact that the birth rate is so low that the population is now no longer replacing itself by natural means. In the face of these shocking figures, one would anticipate that there would be deep concern among the Christian community. But we do not see that! Year on year the abortion holocaust continues with hardly a murmur from the Christian community. Why is this so? Why does abortion hardly register on the agenda to the Church?
We in UKLL believe that there are a number of reasons for this sad state of affairs. Many Christians do not grasp the real horror of abortion. Many see abortion as a difficult, complicated humanitarian issue that requires Christian counselling. Some even support a pro-choice agenda, helping people to make an informed choice whether or not to continue with an unwanted pregnancy. Others feel that dealing with moral issues, like abortion, interferes with the true mission of the Church, which is to preach the gospel of salvation. Still others feel that abortion is too controversial for the Church to become involved. And so there is no agreement among Christians about how to respond to abortion, and many are content to leave the issue to a few prolife organisations.
The purpose of this article is to explain why UKLL is so passionately opposed to abortion. We hope to encourage our Christian brothers and sisters to become involved in what we believe to be the greatest moral challenge of our time.
The value of human life
We believe that human life, create in the image of, God is of overwhelming value. The life of every human, in God’s eyes, is precious. The purpose of the divine command not to murder is for the protection of innocent human life. According to Francis Schaeffer, ‘Of all the subjects relating to the erosion of the sanctity of human life, abortion is the keystone. It is the first and crucial issue that has been overwhelming in changing attitudes toward the value on life in general.’[i]
The personhood of the unborn
We believe that the unborn child is just that, an unborn child. Numerous Scriptures point to the personhood of the unborn child. King David, for example, acknowledges God’s creative purposes in the womb. ‘For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mothers womb… Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed’ (Psalm 139:13, 16). The prophet Isaiah wrote: ‘The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name (Isaiah 49:1). The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations’ (Jeremiah 1:5). In the New Testament, the Greek word brephos is used to describe the babe John who leaps in his mother’s womb when she meets Mary the mother of Jesus. The word brephos, as used in Scripture, describes the unborn, the new-born and the infant. (1 Peter 2:2, Acts 7:19, Luke 18:15). Indeed, the Scriptures make no differentiation between the unborn child and the new-born child, and neither should we.
In Abortion and the Christian, Dr John Davis concludes, ‘Given the fundamental principle of the sanctity of human life in the image of God, and the indisputable scientific fact of the biological continuity between prenatal and postnatal life, there is a clear scriptural warrant for affirming the sacredness of all human life at every stage of biological development.’[ii]
On the basis of Scripture UKLL believes that the unborn child is just that—an unborn child created in the image of God. We believe that it is wrong to refer to the unborn child as a foetus, as the pro-abortion lobby does. The intent of doing so is to dehumanise the unborn, to create the impression that the unborn child is less than human, less than a child. We therefore insist in using the term unborn child, and would encourage all Christians to do so. We must not allow the abortion issue to be distorted by the manipulation of language.
Abortion is murder
The purpose of the sixth commandment, ‘You shall not murder’ (Exodus 20:13), is to protect human life. We believe, from the Scriptures, that abortion is murder. According to the Bible, murder is the intentional killing of innocent human life. The murder scenarios described in Numbers 35 all illustrate an intention to kill. For example, ‘If a man strikes someone with an iron object (curette) so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death… If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at him intentionally so that he dies, or if in hostility he hits him with his fist so that he dies… he is a murderer.’ (Numbers 35:16, 20, 21). To purposely destroy a human being, with malice aforethought, is murder. To purposely destroy an unborn child in its mother’s womb, with malice aforethought, is intentionally killing, and that, according to Scriptures is murder. We in UKLL therefore refer to abortion as murder of the unborn.
The shocking reality is that around 170,000 babies are being murdered in the UK each year!
The shedding of innocent blood
Child sacrifice was common practice among the Canaanites. Children were sacrificed to the god Molech, a practice that was an abomination in the eyes of God. The Scriptures warn us that God hates hands that shed innocent blood. (Proverbs 6:17). And God warns his people that innocent blood must not be shed in their land. ‘You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you’ (Deuteronomy 19:13). Yet the unthinkable occurred. When Israel became involved in idol worship, ‘They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood’ (Psalm 106:37, 38). On the high places of Baal children were sacrificed, and the valley of Hinnom became the Valley of Slaughter. The killing of the innocents was the sign of a decadent society given over to evil, a society that had rejected the law of God. Such a society was a stench in he nostrils of God.
Today, modern Britain has become the Valley of Slaughter as around 5,000 babies are murdered each day. The UK flows with the blood of unborn children.
The Council of the Lord
The prophet Jeremiah records the rebellion of Israel against the law of God. The land was full of adulterers, yet the religious leaders (priests) were living a lie and strengthening the hands of evildoers, so that no one turned from his evil. They spoke visions from their own minds, saying ‘No harm will come to you.’ Today, in the UK, many are expressing the same attitude to abortion: ‘Be reasonable, be loving, be understanding, things are not so bad.’ But if they had stood in the council of the Lord, then they would have proclaimed God’s words to his people, ‘and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds’ (Jeremiah 23). We in UKLL believe that one of the reasons for the feeble response of the Christian Church to the abortion holocaust is that many Christian leaders are not standing in the Council of the Lord. Many are speaking their own words, using their own reasonable arguments, expressing their own prejudices, instead of speaking the word of the Lord.
The deception of abortion
One of the reasons why abortion has become acceptable in our society is because the pro-abortion lobby has been remarkably successful is disguising the true nature of abortion. They have skillfully used language to sanitise the issue. The unborn child has become the ‘product of conception’ or ‘a foetus’. Unborn children are categories as ‘unviable’ or ‘viable’. Abortion has become ‘a termination’ of pregnancy. By skillfully manipulating language, the abortion lobby has convinced society that there is little harm in ‘terminating’ a ‘foetus’, or removing the unwanted ‘products of conception’. Because abortion is done is secret, behind the walls of an abortion clinic, there is no understanding in society of the real nature of abortion. We in UKLL believe that it is wrong to allow this state of affairs to continue. We believe that the blood of the unborn are crying out for the truth to be told. Our ministry, therefore, is to witness to the reality of abortion. We always refer to the unborn child as an unborn child; we always refer to abortion as killing, and we remind society that abortion, in God’s eyes, is murder of the innocent unborn.
Another device of the abortion lobby is to present abortion as pro-choice. That is, a woman is persuaded that she has the right to choose whether or not to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. What could be more reasonable, for no one has the right to force a woman to continue with a pregnancy she does not want? The pro-choice dogma is so seductive that even an organisation like CARE has been seduced. CARE’s pamphlet, Making a Decision, helps a woman make an ‘informed’ choice whether or not to have an abortion. The pamphlet explains to a pregnant woman that ‘when you’re ready, you and your husband or partner will need to consider the options available: parenting, adoption or abortion… Although the decision ahead of you may be one of the most difficult you’ll ever have to make, it must be your decision and no-one else’s. This leaflet is designed to help you through the decision making process… Make sure you have read all the factual information about each option before you make a final decision. Having looked at all the facts and explored thoroughly how you feel about each option, you may be ready to make your decision. It’s important that you feel able to live with the decision you have made.’[iii] Note the elements of ‘pro-choice’ dogma. First, the issue of abortion is demoralised. Abortion is not presented as murder but as a choice. In this way, abortion and parenting are presented as moral equivalents. Pro-choice propaganda encourages a woman to believe that her informed decision is a morally neutral action—she is not warned of the moral consequences, she is not told that God hates hands that shed innocent blood. Second, as abortion and parenting are moral equivalents, a woman is invited to make an informed decision on the basis of factual information and how she feels. Third, she is persuaded to do what she believes to be right in her own eyes. A woman is told that it is her own decision; she decides for herself what is right. What is so sad is that this amoral advice is being offered in the name of the Christian faith.
But no one has the right to kill another human being. We in UKLL believe that the most effective way of countering the pro-choice argument is to show the reality of abortion. When people see the consequences of pro-choice, when they see an unborn baby torn in pieces, when they see the blood shed, it is difficult to maintain that an unborn baby is not a baby, and that abortion is not killing. The success of the pro-abortion position is dependent on the public’s ignorance about the truth of abortion. Those who see the pictures know in their conscience that abortion is wrong. Abortion pictures are effective because they show abortion for what it truly is—the killing of the unborn. The cunning arguments of the abortionist lose their power to deceive in the face of reality. This is why the abortion lobby is so vehemently against abortion pictures. This is why UKLL uses abortion pictures in public demonstrations.
We believe that it is wrong to allow the abortion holocaust to continue unseen. We believe that it is a grave mistake to allow abortion to be sanitisation of abortion to continue. Our policy, therefore, is to bear witness to the horror of abortion, despite the fact that to do so makes many people uncomfortable, despite the fact that the heart rending pictures raise strong emotions.
God hates evil
The God of the Bible hates and abhors the evil of shedding innocent blood. The eyes of God are too pure to look on evil; God cannot tolerate wrong. (Habakkuk 1:13) In God’s eyes abortion is a detestable abomination. Six times in Deuteronomy he commands his people to purge the evil from among them. God’s holiness is actively opposed to evil, and all that cheapens, distorts and destroys his creatures. In view of God’s holiness, the Christian has a responsibility – more, the Christian has an obligation – to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness and to oppose their wicked actions. There can be no compromise with the detestable actions of the abortionists. We cannot stand back and remain silent while our land is being polluted with the blood of innocent unborn children.
The true Christian response
We in UKLL believe that abortion is the greatest moral evil of our time. According to Francis Schaeffer, in his seminal book on abortion, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? ‘If, in this last part of the twentieth century, the Christian community does not take a prolonged and vocal stand for the dignity of the individual each person’s right to life – for the right of each individual to be treated as created in the image of God – we feel that as Christians we have failed the greatest moral test to be put before us in this century.
‘Future generations will look back, and many will either scoff or believe in Christ on the basis of whether we Christians of today took a sacrificial stand in our various walks of life on these overwhelmingly important issues. If we do not take a stand here and now, we certainly cannot lay any claim to being the salt of the earth in our generation. We are neither preserving moral values and the dignity of the individual nor showing compassion for our fellow human beings.’[iv]
How are Christians in the UK responding to the greatest moral test of the 21st century? What does the gospel mean if Christians can stand aside while 5,000 of the weakest and most vulnerable humans are being slaughter by a State funded abortion campaign? We in UKLL passionately believe that it is our responsibility before God to actively stand against abortion. We do this by demonstrating on the streets, using abortion pictures, and by picketing abortion clinics to draw attention to the killing that is taking place in our society. Despite rumours that we are an aggressive organisation that supports violence, this is not true. We do not support violence in any shape or form, and we condemn all violence out of hand. We encourage Christians to look beyond the bias comments of the secular press in formulating a view of UKLL. Can any Christian be surprised that those who oppose abortion are attacked in the secular, pro-abortion mass media?
We urge those who believe with us that abortion is wrong to join in our vocal stand against the evil of abortion. As David said when he faced the power of Goliath, ‘The battle is the Lord’s’ (1 Samuel 17:47).
Jim Dowson is an Evangelical Christian and member of the UK LifeLeague. He holds a bachelor of Theology and a Masters Degree in Christian Ethics.
[i] Francis Schaeffer and Everett Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, Marshall Morgan & Scott, 1980, p19
[ii] John Davis, Abortion and the Christian; what every believer should know, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1984, p61
[iii] Making a decision, CARE confidential leaflet, CARE
[iv] Francis Schaeffer and Everett Koop, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, Marshall Morgan & Scott, 1980, p156
This article was originally published by UK LifeLeague under the title "What the UKLL believes about abortion."