Part I: Why is the murder in abortion sinful?
I’m sure the first thing many of you expected to see in this blog series would precisely be this very topic of murder. While it may already have been a common theme brought up by pro-lifers, and while you may feel very much inclined to accuse us of being naggy about it, I do believe that this makes it all the more needful to bring it up here —— Not so much to rub this sensitive topic into everyone’s faces, but to more properly demonstrate why this issue really isn’t as trivial as you may suppose it to be.
Yes, murder is indeed a crime that deserves great punishment. It doesn’t just harm the victim with physical hurt beyond resuscitation, but also causes much grief and emotional torment for his or her many loved ones. More importantly, it is a great sin against the LORD, who instituted one of ten commandments specifically to warn us, “Thou shalt not kill.” Or in other words, more aptly put, “You shall not murder.” (Exo 20:13) Even before the giving of this commandment at Mount Sinai, God specifically told Noah that “whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed”, for God made man in His own image (Gen 9:6), both highlighting the need for justice to be served in murder, and also the special significance that life —— created after God’s own image —— is represented by blood.
Now, a fetus carries not his/her mother’s blood, but his/her own, which are both distinctly and clearly separated. So in the same manner, the fetus’ life is different and distinct from the mother’s. To shed the fetus’ blood is essentially to kill, or to murder the fetus. But not only so. Since the fetus’ DNA is already uniquely defined at conception (at the point of fertilisation itself), we must agree that the fetus has his/her own unique identity. In other words, the fetus is not a mere ‘body part’ or ‘body growth’ belonging to the mother, but an entity of life uniquely set apart.
If we study the Bible carefully, the 6th commandment doesn’t only talk about acts of physical murder per se. It concerns, on top of this, personal anger and hatred for others (cf. Mat 5:21-22), improper care for one’s health and the wellbeing of others (cf. Psa 127:2; Pro 25:16; Mat 25:41-46; Jas 2:15-16), and a long list of other thoughts, words and deeds, which we can soberly read from what has been given in Questions 135 and 136 of the Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC). It may perhaps be surprising to you, that outside of “public justice, lawful war or necessary defence”, the failure to preserve life, as well as the destruction of anyone’s life, would be counted as a violation of the 6th commandment itself. And this includes abortion.
The most high God, who created us all wonderfully and uniquely (cf. Psa 139:14) —— ‘broadly’ after His image, to possess a form of rationality, morality, spirituality, creativity and eternality —— deals with each one of us personally and specially. Sadly, after mankind’s representative head Adam had fallen into sin, all of us had lost the ‘narrower’ image of God in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, originally endued to us in creation (cf. WSC 10). After the Fall, we in ourselves no longer truly know what is right, can never attain unto perfect righteousness, and have been cast away from the holy presence of God. Naturally, without any divine intervention, we would lead ourselves on the path to eternal destruction, where we will be tormented under God’s wrathful presence forever.
This is why David, while known for being a man after God’s own heart (cf. 1 Sam 13:14; Act 13:22), had succumbed to such a sin himself in murdering Uriah (cf. 2 Sam 11:1-12:15), and consequently experienced such agony for his own sins, until he repented (cf. Psa 32:1-5; 51:1-19). The Apostle Paul, once a persecutor of the church, even to be involved in the stoning of Stephen, deemed himself to be the chief of sinners (cf. 1 Tim 1:13, 15). Judas Iscariot felt a similar weight of guilt after having betrayed Jesus by partaking in His premeditated murder, which, in his unrepentance (gospel-wise, rather than legally), drove him to an utterly gruesome suicide (cf. Mat 27:3-8; Act 1:16-18). Such is the effect of murder’s sinfulness.
Sadly but undeniably, (medical) practitioners of abortion also fall under the same category, for actively killing fetuses. But these are not the only guilty ones. Women (and the men behind them) who have sent the fetuses they carry for abortion, pro-choice lobbyists who have always promoted such a sin (in their militant rebellion against God), and all others (yes, even Christians) who have not spoken out or done anything against this evil, are all guilty of bloodshed, and failure to defend the lives of the unborn. We are all deserving of eternal damnation in hell.
Yet, not only does God preserve in all of us the ‘broader’ aspects of His image formerly mentioned (in rationality, morality, etc.), He also grants us a Way in which we can be restored unto the special, ‘narrower’ aspects of knowledge, righteousness and holiness, to be a redeemed people after His own likeness. Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, condescended Himself to live among us, and even die for all those who would truly believe in Him (cf. Jhn 3:16), to save these precious ones of His from eternal punishment due to sin. His atoning death is sufficient to save murderers like David, once-persecutors like Paul, and even anyone involved in the committing of abortion —— so long as there is true faith and repentance in Him.
So let us die to our old man, which has been full of hatred and desire to kill; and instead, let us choose life, out of love for our fellow men, that we may show regard for our Creator, who is also our Redeemer. But let us also, trusting our Redeemer, grow to be like Him, after His own image in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. May He be merciful and gracious to us.