The Burgeoning Business of Death Dillon T. Thornton January 25 On Jan. 22, 1973, the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized the practice of abortion. This year, America observes 39 years of abortion and more than 50 million aborted babies. Think about two things related to this. First, this means for those of us who are under the age of 39, we never have known a world without legalized abortion. Never. Second, think of the more than 50 million aborted babies and imagine how many people might have worked with you, might have walked the streets with you, might have worshiped in your church…if they had not been aborted. We live in a world where the following phrases are common:“Safe and legal abortion is every woman’s right.”“Abortion is a personal decision between a woman and her doctor.”“Freedom of choice is a basic human right.” Advocates of abortion try to make this an issue of “who decides?” when really it is an issue of “who is dying?” We live in a world where what once was considered a crime is now considered a constitutional right. Some Christians hear this and think of it as a political issue. It isn’t. It’s a theological issue, and not a secondary one. This is an issue from which we cannot shy away. As believers, we cannot remain silent—not on this. What do we say? How do we respond to those who are considering abortions? How should we treat those who have already had abortions? What about abortion activists? What should our approach be with them? As is the case with all controversial matters, we must “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We will deal with the love part in a moment. For now, let’s begin with the truth part. How does Scripture inform our response to the burgeoning business of death? There are at least five life principles we can draw from God’s Word. 1. The Bible teaches us that God is the Creator of all life (Genesis 1:1). This principle is important and I begin with it for one main reason: It shows us that God values each and every life. If God creates all life, then He loves and values all life. There is a great line in the movie, The Poseidon Adventure (the 1972 original). The ship has just been hit by a massive wave and the cruise vessel floats upside down in the middle of the ocean. Rev. Scott (played by Gene Hackman) is trying to motivate the surviving passengers to find a way out before the boat sinks into darkness and they all drown. He wants them to travel up to the bottom of the boat and try to cut their way out, but the passengers aren’t yet willing to follow Rev. Scott’s escape plan. Some want to sit still and wait for a hero to rescue them. “Why should we try to go up there?!” they protest. “Why not just stay put here?” Then came Rev. Scott’s great speech—only a few words, but they pack quite the persuasive punch: “Because up there, there’s life! And life always matters very much.” Life, all life, always matters very much to God. We must understand this truth from the very beginning. 2. The Bible teaches us that God condemns murder because murder is the willful destruction of life (Exodus 20:13). According to the Ten Commandments, murder is clearly a sin. It is a sin to murder because God is the Creator of life and therefore He does not allow us to destroy life. When a person commits murder, then he is really doing two things. First, he is destroying a life God has created and values. Second, he is playing God; he is, in essence, saying: “I can take life and death into my own hands. I control life. I am God.” 3. The Bible does not use the term abortion; however, the Bible specifically condemns the murder of babies, a practice which the early church stood against (Ezekiel 16:20-21). Ezekiel 16:20-21 is a reference to the unfaithfulness and cruelty of God’s people. They had sacrificed their children to a false god and the one true God judged them for it. The murder of children always has brought joy to Satan and judgment from God. Likewise, we see that the murder of children was a serious issue in the days of the early church. Children often were exposed; they were left on trash heaps or in remote locations either to die or to be found and raised by slave traders. This was a common practice in the days of the early church, so some of the earliest members wrote responses to this horrid habit. Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165), in his First Apology, wrote: “But as for us, we have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men.” Additionally, The Didache, an early manual of instruction written perhaps before A.D. 150, contains the following admonitions: “You shall not commit murder…you shall not procure abortion, nor commit infanticide.” Here we see that abortion, though not mentioned specifically in Scripture, is mentioned in an early church document of instruction. The general idea in Scripture and in the early church was that the murder of children was a wicked practice, and those who murdered children would receive judgment from God. 4. The Bible clearly teaches us that life begins at the moment of conception and that an unborn fetus in the womb is, in fact, a live baby (Exodus 21:22-25; Psalms 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:39-45). As we look at passages such as Psalm 139:13-16 and Jeremiah 1:5, it is easy to see God is the One who forms a baby in the womb. Texts such as Luke 1:39-45 and Exodus 21:22-25 are more pertinent for this discussion. Notice in Luke 1, twice the gospel writer refers to “the baby in the womb” (vv. 41, 44). The word translated “baby” here is the same word used in Luke 18 for the “children” who came to visit Jesus. The point is we are talking about a life! Exodus 21:22-25 is more important. This passage speaks of babies still in their mothers’ wombs. However, the babies are referred to as alive; and the punishment for murdering them is severe. The punishment, in fact, was supposed to be that whatever happened to the baby happened to the person who harmed the baby—it was a life for a life. Scripture makes no distinction between an unborn fetus and a live baby. There are only live babies. Babies in the womb are alive because God, the Creator of life, is forming them in the womb. 5. Therefore, the biblical evidence is sufficient to conclude that abortion is the willful destruction of life; abortion is murder. Because God is the Creator of all life, all life matters. Because all life matters, murder is condemned. Because life begins at conception—because the Creator intricately crafts every child within the womb—abortion is murder, and God will judge those who procure and perform abortions. Remember, we must “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We have dealt with the truth in detail. Before we conclude, we need to talk a bit about the love part. I want to be very clear in saying that I believe Scripture teaches that abortion is a sin. This does not mean, however, that abortion is an unforgivable sin. If you or someone you know has paid for an abortion or performed abortions, you need to know no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Christ can cleanse the bloody hands of abortion doctors, and He can heal the traumatized minds of abortion patients. All sinners and all sins can be forgiven because of the love of God in the sacrifice of Christ. This includes the sin of abortion. So in the end we must ask: Is there hope for the collapse of the burgeoning business of death in America? Can we move beyond abortion? I think we can. Yes, there is hope. There is hope in the gospel. There is hope in Christ. Because Jesus can change hearts, lives and practices.