In this session, R.C. Sproul will first consider with us the broad question of the sanctity of human life. This is not in order to jump the gun straight to conclude that abortion is an evil and awful thing, but to emphasise the heavy responsibility on us who are considering this question as it is possibly a life and death matter, depending on whether a fetus is a living human person.
Whichever side or position of the issue you hold, dear reader, there is a deep bond of common Humanity that unifies us together, whereby all of us believe that we have and thus yearn to be treated with dignity, worth and self-esteem. And it is on this common ground of conviction that we must come together to examine this question of the sanctity of human life and the larger core issue, “Is Abortion on demand right?”.
Again, it is our great privilege to have R.C. Sproul to walk with us through the 3 different perspectives:
- The Bible as the word of God
- Science or Natural Law
- The Law of the Land or The Appeal to The Mass
How Sacred Is Human Life?
1. The Bible as the word of God
a. God made Man in His Image (Genesis 1:26-27)
That is, His own personal image and likeness. Not that finite and dependent creatures like us are junior gods with the little “g”, but that in certain ways, we are like God, being given a capacity to mirror and reflect the very character of God.
b. Sanctity of God’s Image and Man as His Image-bearers
In the Noahic Covenant, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen 9:6), God established capital punishment against murder, because of the sanctity of God’s image on us, hence God treats murder as an attack against Himself. This also meant that the dignity, worth and self-esteem, all of us have and thus yearned for, are not of us independently, but of God who gives us value in His image. Not of our merit (it is impossible for us to earn merit before we are created) but out of His sheer goodness and grace.
c. An Eternal and not Temporal Sanctity
This is not just reiterated in the Mosaic Covenant at Mount Sinai, “Thou shalt not kill.” in Exodus 20-22, etc, but all throughout the Bible, from the Old to the New Testament, to show inerrantly and unchangingly that the degree of the sanctity of human life is tied intrinsically to our limitless and eternal God because everyone of us is made in His image.
d. Negative Prohibition of the 6th Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His famous Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:21-22, exposed our self-deception that we have obeyed God’s law if we only restrain ourselves from murder, but the deeper implication of the prohibition against murder carries an elliptical, unspoken, tacitly assumed assertion of its office. Being unjustly angry, hurtful, slanderous against another image-bearer is grievous enough to earn God’s righteous judgement.
e. Positive Promotion of the 6th Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”
Here, we look at the positive of the two-fold dimension to God’s law. Besides the negative prohibition, we are also called to do everything in our power to promote human life, to love our neighbors as ourselves and especially our enemies, from Matthew 5:44-48, especially for those in need and in the case of abortion, offering defense for the defenseless and voice for the voiceless.
2. Science or Natural Law
There are two Sources of Natural Law that are subsumed under the heading of Natural Law.
a. Law of Nations (Jus Gentium)
Sociological and anthropological studies of individual law codes of various cultures globally and historically, showed that the general consensus of nations throughout history is that laws are developed to drive the theme that human life should be promoted and not destroyed.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant’s “Categorical Imperative” in simple terms, explains that every human being is born with “a sense of oughtness”, a categorical imperative that binds all humans’ conscience. There is an international conscience based upon our common humanity that human life should be promoted and not destroyed.
b. Science (Law of Self-Preservation)
This principle in biology is manifested in many ways showing an apparent universal struggle for life and against death in the biological world.
Charles Darwin’s theories on “The Origin of The Species”, examine how variations occur in history as well as his concept of natural selection, observing certain creatures that are highly adaptable to their environments while others pass out into extinction.
Arguably, modern science in fact, claims that 99% of all of the varieties of living things that has ever been on this planet are now extinct. One variety comes in while another goes out.
There is a natural process of adaptation to environments involving the fundamental struggle for survival long enough to be able to reproduce. This drive in nature itself for life to reproduce and multiply, as is the first command that God ever gave to His creation, “be fruitful and multiply”, in Genesis 1:28, a law of reproduction.
Human biology also goes to extravagant degrees to ensure the reproduction of human life, to overcome the barriers obstructing the human reproduction.
3. The Law of the Land or The Appeal to The Mass
As R.C. Sproul is using the Constitution of the United States of America (USA) in this discussion, there would be some similarities as well as differences with our context in Singapore. However, it would still be beneficial for us to understand and learn from their context as well.
These national documents that the USA is built on, hold certain truths to be self-evident, like what philosopher Rene Descartes, meant by, “clear and distinct ideas” that are so plain and manifest that you do not need to be educated in philosophy to discern them.
One of such is that we are gifted by our Creator certain unalienable rights as an endowment, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This seems like a hierarchy of fundamental principles built upon one another. Life always comes first, then followed by liberty and happiness. Since we have no inalienable right to liberty and happiness if it is at the expense of someone else’s liberty and happiness, then what more his or her life?
R.C.’s labour for us in this lesson is not to conclude the question of Abortion, but to develop on this side of the question, the burden of truth and proof. When the subject-in-question involves the possibility of living human persons or even the bare minimum that we may grant, potential human life, it still is a heavy burden to bear. As such, this heavy burden of proof should lie on the one who says it isn’t an actual life.
Before we jump to the conclusion, individually and collectively as a nation, it is our moral responsibility to determine and know for sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that it is for a just cause or in our case, to be absolutely sure that the fetus is not a living human person. Life is too sacred to be decided on a whim or without a careful, holistic and systematic study. It would be wise for us to have much better grounds than preference, convenience, economic condition, before we conclude on a matter so serious.
You can access the full teaching series, A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul here: https://reformedforlife.org/2019/10/dr-r-c-sproul-on-abortion/