What the Bible Says About Abortion

By Vladimir Savchuk | June 26, 2022 | 13 mins

What the Bible Says About Abortion

It’s clear from Scripture that human beings bear the image of God and they are distinctly unique from the rest of creation. But in the past couple of years, we’ve seen our culture widely embrace the topic of abortion which stands for the destruction of God’s most precious creation; so much so that the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization dedicated to promoting abortion around the world, estimates that 60% of the global population lives in countries where abortion is legal. And terrifying statistics go on to show that on average, more than 2,400 human beings are killed by abortions each day in the USA. Most of the victims weigh less than one ounce and virtually all of them have a beating heart; 60% are surgically dismembered while 40% die from medically-induced exposures.

Abortion is an act of violence that murders an innocent human being while selling it as something different.

When we dive into Scripture we see that God’s covenant with Noah specifies that even though humans may kill animals for food, the same principle does not apply when referring to human life.

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

Genesis 9:6

Animals may be killed for human sustenance, but the murder of another human is forbidden. Murder, according to the Oxford Dictionary is defined as the “unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” Even before homicide was directly forbidden by God in Scripture centuries later (Ex. 20:13), unjustifiable killing was always a violation of the individual dignity and status vested in humans by God Himself (cf. Gen. 4:8–16).

This is the foundation of the doctrine of the sanctity of all human life.

What the Old Testament Teaches

God is Pro-Life

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:28

God’s intention when He made Adam and Eve was for them to multiply and fill the earth with their descendants. He commanded it and gave them the ability to have dominion over the earth.

God’s People Were Pro-Life

But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive…Therefore, God dealt well with the midwives.

Exodus 1:17,20

We see in the context of this story that the King of Egypt commands the midwives to kill all of the Hebrew male children, but the fear of God prevented these women from doing so and as a result of that righteous choice, the Bible says that God dealt well with them.

When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life. 

Exodus 21:22–23

We see in this verse that God valued the unborn child’s life equal to that of a grown man or woman.

God Forms Us In The Womb 

Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Psalm 100:3

Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?

Job 31:15

We are God’s handiwork. It was Him who created every unique aspect of us. Another verse even says that it was Him who knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

God Knows Us From The Womb

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:16

This verse states that the fetus is fully known by God. It is not just an impersonal clump of cells.

God Calls Us From The Womb

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

This again shows that God not only sees the fetus in the womb but is given a specific purpose by God as it is being formed.

Child Sacrifice Is Part of A Demonic Religion

And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 18:21

Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?

Ezekiel 16:20-21

In the Old Testament, people would sacrifice their children to Molech and God’s anger was aroused as a result of that. Today, children being killed through abortion is eerily similar.

Extra-Biblical Jewish Literature

We also see that noncanonical literature on Jewish wisdom further demonstrates the first-century Judaism’s view of abortion:

The Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides 184–186 (c. 50 B.C. – 50 A.D.) say that “a woman should not destroy the unborn in her belly, nor after its birth throw it before the dogs and vultures as a prey.”

The apocryphal book of 1 Enoch 69.12, (2nd or 1st century B.C.) declares that an evil angel taught humans how to “smash the embryo in the womb.”

The first-century Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “the law orders all the offspring to be brought up and forbids women either to cause an abortion or to make away with the fetus” (Against Apion 2.202).

What the New Testament Teaches

Children Can Worship In The Womb

And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Luke 1:41

The Greek word for baby is “brephos.” It is surprising to see that it is not only used to describe a fetus, as seen in the verse above but also to describe a newborn. This is seen when the angel announced the birth of Jesus in Luke.

“You will find a Babe wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”

Luke 2:12,16

And also in Luke 18.

“People were bringing babies to Jesus to have Him touch them”.

Luke 18:15

In verse 43, Elizabeth called Mary “the Mother of my Lord”, giving honor to the unborn babe whom Mary was carrying in her womb. She honored Mary’s baby and called Him “my Lord.” Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb when Mary and her baby arrived at their house. Both women’s unborn babies were definitely living human beings.

Early Christians 

When the early Church sprang forth, the Christian view differed from that of the barbaric Roman culture. Cicero (106–43 B.C.), a Roman philosopher, records that according to the Twelve Tables of Roman Law, “deformed infants shall be killed” (De Legibus 3.8). 

The Didache 2.2 (c. A.D. 85–110) commands, “thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.”

The Letter of Barnabas 19.5 (c. A.D. 130), said: “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide.” 

Contrary to the Roman culture, the early Christians provided alternatives to women desiring to not care for the child after birth. In these cases, the church would rescue and adopt children who were abandoned. We see how Callistus (d. c. A.D. 223), the bishop in Rome, provided refuge to abandoned children by placing them in Christian homes, and Benignus of Dijon (3rd century) offered nourishment and protection to abandoned children, including some with disabilities caused by unsuccessful abortions.

Do The Following Scriptures Support Abortion?

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

Question: If life began at first breath in Genesis 2:7, why do Christians insist that life begins at conception?

Answer: The passage in Genesis 2:7 describes only how Adam was created and does not apply to how all life begins since the original creation.

When he has made her drink the water, then it shall be, if she has defiled herself and behaved unfaithfully toward her husband, that the water that brings a curse will enter her and become bitter, and her belly will swell, her thigh will rot, and the woman will become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself, and is clean, then she shall be free and may conceive children. 

Numbers 5:27-28

Question: Did God institute abortion in Numbers 5:11-28?

Answer: Numbers 5 describes an unusual procedure, known as “the jealousy offering,” which a suspicious husband could use to determine if his wife had been unfaithful to him. The priest would prepare a bitter drink of holy water mixed with dust from the tabernacle floor and declare a curse from God.  If the wife was guilty of adultery, she would get sick upon drinking it, her belly would swell and she would no longer be able to bear children. Some propose that Numbers 5:11-31 refers to God causing an abortion. Footnotes in the NIV Bible mistakenly suggest that the drink causes a miscarriage in Numbers 5:21-22, 27. However, pregnancy is not what the passage is talking about; it’s all about the sin of infidelity. Pregnancy is nowhere mentioned, or even hinted at, in the text.

The majority of Bible translations interpret “your thigh falling away” or “your womb shriveling” as a more accurate translation. That expression talks about barrenness, not a miscarriage. If the woman in question is innocent, she will have children. If she is guilty, she will not have children. This passage talks about the curse of barrenness, not a miscarriage.  In the ancient Middle East, the inability to bear children was an extremely personal disgrace.

Even if the NIV footnotes are correct, and God does induce an abortion in this case, it still doesn’t justify a woman’s personal choice to abort. In this Scripture, the accused woman is not exercising her right to choose, instead, God is exercising His right to judge. The bitter water is not causing an abortion; it’s God who brings judgment and takes life. God is the Creator and Sustainer of life and has the right to take it away anytime He chooses. Only God can take life, we can’t! 

Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Question: God killed His Son, why can’t I kill my children?

Answer: First of all, God didn’t kill Jesus, our sin did! And secondly, Jesus willingly gave His life for all of humanity when He “gave up His spirit” on the cross.

John 10:18 says, “no one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces, and they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye will not spare children.

Isaiah 13:18

Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up; they shall bear no fruit. yes, were they to bear children, I would kill the darlings of their womb.”

Hosea 9:16

Question: Even God killed unborn fetuses, so why can’t we do it? 

Answer: Isaiah prophesies God’s judgment on the idolatrous city of Babylon by using the example of the invading army of the Medes. Hosea also prophesied judgment on Israel for her idolatry and wickedness. These judgments are punishments, not prescriptions. God is the righteous Judge who judges the wicked. 

Final Thoughts: 

Just because abortion is legal in many countries, it doesn’t make it right.

The Jewish Holocaust was legal and slavery in the USA was legal, but that doesn’t mean they were right. God said,

Nor children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin. 

Deuteronomy 24:16

Pregnancy due to rape and incest doesn’t change the fact that another life has been conceived. God’s commandment was to punish the guilty, not the innocent. But, abortion doesn’t affect the guilty, instead, it makes two victims.

There is an observation that for some kids, considering the parental socio-economic status, it would be better for them not to be born into desperate poverty. 

In Scripture, there is only one reference to someone who would have been better off if he had not been born, and that was Judas Iscariot.

It would be better for him if he had not been born.

Mark 14:21

Judas’ fatal choice to betray Jesus was premeditated. Nowhere did Jesus indicate that it would be right for anyone to kill Judas, neither before nor after his birth. We believe that every child is wanted by God and has a purpose from God.

If God hates abortion so much, why does He allow miscarriages? 

It’s important to distinguish between a naturally occurring miscarriage and the deliberate termination of human life. Even though a miscarriage is known as a “spontaneous abortion,” it has nothing to do with choice. Miscarriage is unplanned; abortion is premeditated and intentional. Due to sin and curses in this fallen world, death, accidents, and miscarriages will happen, but that doesn’t give us a right to go on willfully murdering unborn babies. 

Christians are not pro-life; they are just anti-abortion. 

That’s the furthest thing from the truth. Jesus gave two commandments to us while He was on earth: we were to love God and to love others. When God prohibits murder, He is commanding us to do the opposite–love. 

To those who have committed abortion, God can forgive you. 

All sins and all sinners are forgiven through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. Forgiven sinners will walk in love according to God’s law; they will not give in to murder or commit other gross sins. We’ve been washed, sanctified, and justified through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

1 John 1:7

If you have committed abortion: 

  1. Ask God for forgiveness.
  2. Accept God’s love and forgiveness.
  3. Forgive yourself.
  4. Seek professional and/or pastoral care.
  5. Visualize God holding your baby.
  6. When God gives grace, serve in some capacity to help pregnant young women make the right decisions in life.

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