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Recently, Tracy and I read a missionary biography with our daughters during our family worship time. The book was about a Scottish woman who lived in the 1800’s named Mary Slessor. She was a remarkable woman who left comfort, family, and the hope of marriage behind to press into the interior of the Calabar region of Africa to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the unreached people of that region.
Her life is an amazing story of hard work, courage, and resourcefulness against heavy opposition and seemingly impossible odds. One story is indelibly marked in my mind. In the tribal culture of the day, twins were viewed as demonic, soul-less children who would bring a curse on the family. In an effort to ward off the evil spirits after they were born, they were taken into the jungle and killed. Instead of carrying them through the front door, a hole was cut in the back of the hut and they would be passed into the hands of those who would end their lives.
One night, Mary was informed that twins were being delivered in a neighboring village. Upon hearing this, and knowing the fate of the babies, she jumped to her feet, ran through the African jungle by herself, singing hymns out loud to let the predatory animals know she was moving through their territory, and arrived just as the babies were being passed out the back of the hut. Without a word, this 5’1” red haired, Scottish woman grabbed both babies, and disappeared back into the jungle. She then raised them as her own.
In the middle of the story, my 9-year-old daughter looked up at me absolutely bewildered that anyone would kill a baby. She had a hard time wrapping her mind around this barbaric ritual. I explained to her that this was 200 years ago in a superstitious age before science and medicine, and this doesn’t happen today. But as I sat thinking about that statement, I realized I was wrong. I sat in stunned silence as I came to grips with the devastation and horror that is abortion.
We may no longer believe in witch doctors and incantations, and all of the rituals associated with tribal life, but we are still quick to discard the most helpless and defenseless members of our society. Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, abortion stands as the greatest injustice in the history of mankind. Abortion is defined as the medical procedure of inducing expulsion of a human fetus to terminate a pregnancy.
As it stands today, American women have the legal right to obtain an abortion in all 50 states, through all nine months of pregnancy, for virtually any reason at all. This has been true since January of 1973 when the Supreme Court declared that autonomous abortion rights are built into the Constitution, and that any legal barriers which prevent mothers from aborting their children are unconstitutional. This is the famous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the US, and since it became legal some 40 years ago, nearly 1.5 million babies have been aborted each year in the US.
But abortion has been around for a lot longer than 40 years. It was first described by the ancient Greeks and Romans even before the time of Christ. Plato and Aristotle are recorded as promoting abortion as a way to control family size, to hide the result of illicit sex, and to preserve the feminine sex appeal—and “not to trouble the womb with bouncing babies.” Sound familiar?
The methods ranged from introducing various poisons and or drugs into the body, either orally or directly into the womb, to binding the woman in very tight ropes or cloths to literally squeeze the womb and crush the life of the child. Others would locate the baby in the womb and take a hard object and hit the baby through the stomach in an effort to kill it. Sometimes they would even use blades or hooks up the birth canal. Sadly, we still use some of these same methods today.
The most common form of abortion today is Suction-Aspiration abortion–it is performed in the first trimester in which a hollow plastic tube with a sharp cutting-tip is inserted into the uterus. This tube is connected to a suction machine that is able to pull the tiny embryo or fetus apart. The remains are sucked out of the mother and deposited into a collection canister. If the pregnancy is farther along and enters the second trimester, then a Dilation and Evacuation or D&E is performed—the abortion provider introduces forceps (sort of long, thin surgical pliers) into the womb to dismember the fetus by seizing a leg or arm, and twisting it until it tears off and can be pulled out of the uterus. This will continue until only the head remains. Finally the skull is crushed and also pulled out. The body parts must then be reassembled to ensure that the entire baby has been removed.
Make no mistake–abortion comes straight from hell. Jesus said in John 8 that Satan is a murderer, and has been one from the beginning. And abortion is murder. He stands opposed to all that God is doing, and there is no more forward attack than to go into the womb of a mother and destroy the unique work of God in the womb.
And so in this second message of our four-week series on “Deadly Pressures”, we will look at the issue of abortion. There are many ways to approach this topic. We can look at the scientific evidence. We can discuss philosophy and ethics. We can even argue over what the law allows. But this morning, we will do none of those things–our approach will be singular. We will examine the biblical perspective, and allow God to weigh in on the issue. We will uncover seven worldly lies, and contrast them with biblical truths. My goal this morning is to change your mind and your heart about abortion, and to call each of us as Christians to action.
1. Worldly Lie: it’s not a baby–it’s just a mass of tissue
This is one of the most common arguments given. It’s just a primitive clump of cells, a collection of tissue, a nonviable organism, an undifferentiated blob of protoplasm. It’s not a baby yet–life has yet to begin. I went to the website of a clinic that performs abortions, and they described the procedure this way. “In surgery, a licensed nurse will administer anesthesia, and a licensed medical doctor specializing in gynecology will perform the abortion by ‘gently’ removing the contents of the uterus by vacuum aspiration. You will be in the surgery room about 5-7 minutes.” They argue that this is a simple procedure, not one in which you are taking a human life, but terminating a pregnancy. But that is not what the Bible teaches.
Biblical truth: life begins at conception
God Himself personally creates every life. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift of the Lord.” They come from His hand–they are His unique creation. He opens the womb, and Genesis 20:18 says that He can also close the womb. Creating the life of a human being is the sovereign work of God. In fact, Job 12:10 says that in God’s hand is the life of every living thing.
Turn with me to Psalm 139:13 to 16–this is one of the most definitive passages in the Bible that talks about God’s active involvement in the womb. “For You formed my inward parts [my heart, my lungs, my kidneys, liver, and other vital organs]. You wove me in my mother’s womb. [Literally stitched me together] 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, [bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons] When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; [the “depths of the earth” is a euphemism for the womb, the hidden place, secret place]. 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.”
This is God personally, intimately involved in the very first stages of life. And I love Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”
The late Dr. Jerome LeJeune, who discovered the genetic link to Down’s syndrome said, “After fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being. This is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. Each individual has a very neat beginning, the moment of its conception.”
The baby’s heart starts beating 21 days after conception–four days later, it will be pumping blood throughout the embryo’s tiny body, beating approximately 54 million times before birth. During week four, the brain begins dividing into its three primary sections and the arms and legs take shape. Hands and feet emerge after four weeks. After six weeks, the brain emits measurable brain impulses, and the embryo responds reflexively to stimulus. This is about the time a woman discovers she is pregnant. Distinct leg movements and hiccups have been observed after seven weeks. Fingers and toes are now separated and the embryo develops the ability to smell.
After eight weeks, every organ is present and in place, though the baby is less than two inches long. At nine weeks, fetuses are capable of sucking their thumbs, grasping objects, responding to touch, and doing somersaults. By week ten, the child squints, swallows, and frowns. By week twelve, the child is kicking, curling his toes, making a fist, moving his thumbs and opening his mouth–all of this in the first trimester. In the remaining trimesters, nothing new develops or begins functioning–the fully intact child only grows and matures. It is an indisputable fact that every surgical abortion stops a beating heart and stops already measureable brain waves. Abortion then is not just a procedure that terminates a pregnancy. It is the murder of an innocent and defenseless human life.
2. Worldly Lie: this fetus is not a person yet
This argument says we understand the science that life begins at conception, but the embryo or fetus is not yet a human being. It is a developing human, but does not have the rights of personhood until some further point of development. In short, it is not yet a person, and therefore has no rights. It begs the question–at what point does it become wrong to intentionally destroy a developing human being?
In a survey taken, 66% of Americans thought abortion should be legal in the first trimester, but only 10% believed that it should be legal in the third. Why the discrepancy? Because a third-trimester abortion kills a baby, and a first-trimester abortion kills a bunch of cells.
Biblical truth: he or she is an image bearer
Let me say this clearly–every adult, every teenager, every child, every infant, every fetus, and every embryo is made in the image of God, and that brings value and personhood to every created being in the womb, no matter how small.
In Genesis 1 God said, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26 to 27). What does this mean, and why is this important? You are not a mere mortal, your existence is not just flesh and bones that is just a shell, a vessel, a repository into which the very image of God dwells. You are immortal. In addition, we have been given the capability for relationships. We can love, and we can hate–we can understand, we can feel, we can think, we can choose, and we can act. All those things that were given to us are part of the image of God.
And because of this, man is assigned a high value by His Creator–so high, in fact, that murder is wrong because it takes the life of an image bearer. Isn’t that what Genesis 9:6 says? “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” The reason abortion is wrong is because it takes the life of a baby made in God’s image. One writer said, “The value of a single human soul is a staggering thing. In the biblical economy, in fact, the value of one human soul exceeds that of the entire material universe combined. Souls are eternal. Gold and diamonds are not.”
My daughter Zoe bought these oversized glasses a few days ago, and she has been wearing them ever since. I am not sure where she got the idea, and why she decided to do it, but she looks adorable. They aren’t prescription, they are just for looks. At first I wasn’t crazy about her accessorizing yet–she is nine. But I got over it. And you know what? She loves her glasses, and she won’t go anywhere without them. And because I love her, I love that which is precious to her. So yes, I love her little fake glasses. In the same way, because every baby is precious to God, and we revere Him and love Him, they should be precious to us too. We must treasure each and every human being as a way of showing respect for their Creator.
3. Worldly Lie: this is my choice because this is my body
I can do what I want with my body. I didn’t ask to be pregnant. I don’t even want this baby. This is an intrusion into my personal life. Some are even calling unwanted pregnancy “the second sexually transmitted disease.” And they say, “If you can’t trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a baby?” And so the argument is: it’s my body–I have a right to choose what to do with it . . . and I would agree.
A woman does have a right to choose what to do with her body. But in this case, the choice has already been made. You chose to allow your sexual desires to get out of hand. You chose to get into bed with another person. You chose to give yourself to that person. In that act, you made your choice. And now God has made His–He has granted you a baby, a new life, an eternal soul made in His image.
You see, once a woman is pregnant, she cannot choose whether or not she wishes to become a mother–she already is a mother. All that is left for her to decide is whether she will deliver her baby dead or alive. You may not have wanted to be pregnant. You may not have asked for it. It may not have been on your timetable. But every action has a reaction–every cause has an effect.
Biblical Truth: your body is not your own
The Bible teaches that your body is not your own. Young men, I want to include you in this. Abortion is not a one person deal–it never is. There is a male involved in every single abortion. He may have been a one-night stand and out the door months ago, or he may be encouraging the abortion–but guys are pressing and pressing and pressing to have their physical desires met. And in an effort to keep their guy happy, girls finally relent. The old saying is true—“Guys give love for sex, and girls give sex for love.”
But listen to me, young men and young women. Your body was not given to you to satisfy your own sexual desires, but rather to live in a way that shows off Christ. As a Christian, you are called to be different. And there is no more radical way to be different in this culture than to stand for purity. Why don’t you have sex? Why aren’t you like every other guy? Because I love Jesus Christ and I have given my body to Him. If you claim Christ, this is your reality. Romans 12:1 says we present our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice–this is the simple truth. Your life is not your own–you belong to Christ.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19 to 20). He bought you with His own blood. “And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15). Young man/young woman, choose wisely right now. Choose to protect your purity so that you don’t have to make a much more difficult decision down the road.
Think about this. Each of us has violated God’s perfect standard, and in our rebellion we became His enemies. The Bible defines this as sin. God had every right to judge us, condemn us and banish us from His presence forever. But God didn’t leave us there. He made a choice–a choice to love, a choice to sacrifice, a choice to give up His freedoms. Unlike saying, “It’s my body, so it’s my choice,” Jesus willingly laid down His life and thought not of Himself, but rather of you and me. He chose to submit, He chose to go to the cross, He chose to put the needs of others above his own. He made a choice for us, and I am so glad that He did–aren’t you?
#4 Worldly Lie: no one will know
Please note there is an error on your outlines–please cross out the worldly lie and replace it with “no one will know.” Abortion is a secret–it is private. You already heard a testimony today. This is a very private thing. In the state of California, an underage girl can get an abortion without parental permission. All she needs is about $500, and a ride to and from the abortion clinic–no one knows, and no one needs to ever find out. The paperwork is signed, the abortion is performed, and no one is ever the wiser. But the Bible says that someone is watching. The biblical truth is that God will hold each of us accountable for our actions.
Biblical Truth: God will hold you accountable
He sees all and knows all. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). And the eye of God is uniquely drawn toward the innocent and the defenseless in compassion and care. “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows” (Psalm 68:5). And Deuteronomy 10:17 to 18 say, “He is the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow.” God will not look the other way–He will not let the sin of abortion escape. He will execute justice.
Listen to Proverbs 6:16 and 17, “There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.” God hates hands that shed innocent blood. Can you think of a more suitable application of hands that shed innocent blood than the sin of abortion?
Do you remember in Genesis 4, “After Cain killed Abel, the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ And he said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ 10 He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground’” (Genesis 4:9 to 10)? God personifies the blood of Abel, saying that it is calling to Him from the ground. The blood of the innocent stains the ground and cries out for what? What is it crying for? It cries out for justice.
Listen carefully, the blood of millions of countless babies that have been murdered while still in the womb stain the streets of America. And their blood cries out to God. We are a nation of murderers who have substituted the “sanctity of life” for “quality of life.” We have discarded those who have been made in His image and have replaced it with a choice. And we are guilty.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” R.C. Sproul wrote, “[Abortion] is not just evil. It is a monstrous evil. I’ve spent my whole life studying theology, teaching theology, and I can tell you, if I know anything at all about God, I know that God hates abortion, and I know that he will not tolerate this forever.”
#5 Worldly Lie: I’m unwilling to sacrifice my future
This is probably the most common reason given for abortion. I can’t have a baby right now. What about my social life, my education, my career, my future? This was not part of my plan. I will have to drop out of school, bear the shame and embarrassment of pregnancy, and I will not be able to do what I want with my life. In essence, what this is saying is that I am willing to sacrifice my child to the idol of success, autonomy, money, and sex. Though most women don’t have it in their mind that they are sacrificing their children to a false god, this is exactly what abortion is.
Biblical Truth: child sacrifice is deplorable to God
The word “abortion” may never appear on the pages of Scripture, but child-sacrifice does. “For every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their god” (Deuteronomy 12:31). And God hates it–God hates child sacrifice. “They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood” (Psalm 106:37 to 38).
The people of Israel had gotten so screwed up in their thinking that they willingly put their little children into a fire as an act of worship to an idol. Today’s abortions are no different. You are not laying your child at the feet of a wood or stone idol, but you are sacrificing them to the gods of convenience and self and freedom. These are powerful gods. In short, abortion says, “I am willing to kill my baby because it interferes with my life.” And in that statement, you have just elevated yourself into the seat of sovereignty–that is idolatry. It is the worship of self, and ultimately that defines abortion.
#6 Worldly Lie: I have a good reason—rape, incest, genetic defects
Rape and incest are horrific evils in which a woman is forced against her will to have sex. There are some in this room who are the victim of this type of abuse, and it is a sensitive subject. The argument in each of these areas is that I have a good reason to abort the baby. I was forced to have sex, and I don’t want the offspring of this monster who attacked and forced himself on me. Or, the baby will be worn with spina bifida, Down’s syndrome, or cerebral palsy. I don’t want a baby that is damaged. I have a good reason to abort and start over.
Biblical Truth: God is in control
The biblical truth is that God is in control. How can you say God is in control of a rape–and why would He allow such evil? I cannot say–I am not God, but I do know the character of God. I do know what He has promised in His Word. I do know that He is faithful and true, and that His mercies are new every morning. I do know that He is working everything together for good for those that love God. I do know that His ways are not like our ways. I do know that sin and suffering was not His desire for us, but was something that we chose. And even when we can’t see the why, we are called to trust Him. This was the case with Job, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Even though Job didn’t understand, he trusted God. He knew that God was in control. And he put His life in His hands. And here is the bottom line–rape, incest or otherwise doesn’t change the fact that this is the creation of God. Life is created by God. You say, “Well, what about a baby with birth defects? Are they a gift from the Lord?” Listen to Exodus 4:11, “The Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?’” In John 9 Jesus actually said, “This man was born blind for the glory of God.” God has His purposes. He opens and closes the womb for His purposes and His glory, and we can rest in that.
#7 Worldly Lie: I feel trapped–I don’t have any other options
Biblical Truth: let Jesus take your burden
Yes you do, yes you do. The lie of the world is that I need to internalize this, keep it secret, deal with it on my own, and get it done. You are alone, you are scared, you are under tremendous pressure. What do you do? If this is you, this morning, then listen to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, and find comfort and hope. “’Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’” (Matthew 11:28 to 30). Won’t you come to Christ and find rest for your souls?
The second verse of one of my favorite songs says:
“And as I ran my hell-bound race, indifferent to the cost, you looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross. And I beheld God’s love for me, you suffered in my place, you bore the wrath reserved for me now all I know is grace.” Stop the downward spiral of bad choices. There is hope. There are people here this morning who can help you. There are other options beside abortion, including carrying the baby to term and then giving it up for adoption–such a hard choice, and yet in light of what we have heard this morning, a good choice.
If you have had an abortion, my purpose in preaching this message is not to open old wounds or to press your face in your past sins. I can only imagine the pain and sorrow that you have dealt with. And while I can never understand, I sympathize with your suffering. If I have offended you, or you feel I have been harsh or condescending in any way–then please forgive me, and know that was never my intent. But please hear this–there is only one place to go to have your sins forgiven and your past removed, and that is at the cross of Christ. Only He can bind your broken heart. Only He can forgive and wash you clean.
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:10 to 13).
For Christians saying, “What should I do?”
Pray–pray for an end to abortion. Pray for our leaders. Pray that God would end this. Write this on your prayer list, and be faithful to pray on behalf of the unborn.
Understand the Gospel–in our desire to be gospel-centered and live lives that are gospel-saturated, we have lost some of that meaning. Our focus is always upward, always on the centrality of the cross, and trying to live out hearts to love Him more for what He has done for us. But listen–if you don’t love your neighbor as yourself, then you are missing half of the Great Commandment. If you truly love Christ with all of your being, then the very natural response will be to love others.
You will be like the good Samaritan who cared for his neighbor. You will love the least of these, because it is the same as loving Christ. You will treat others the way you want to be treated–the Golden Rule. You will visit orphans and widows, because that is true religion. Here it is, if all that the Gospel makes us want to do is sing more praise songs and talk about how awesome the Gospel is, then we are incomplete. If you love Jesus, then you will love your neighbor–and who is more in need of your care than your unborn neighbor? If we leave this kind of message and it doesn’t stir us to action, then we are like the man in James who said, “Be warmed and be filled,” but didn’t actually help the man in need.
Educate yourself/take an interest–check out abort73.com, the single best resource on the web.
Get involved–have conversations about adoption. Have conversations with your children to prepare them for this topic. Do something–wear an abort73 t-shirt, support their ministry financially, start a ministry of your own, band together with some friends and get something going. But don’t do nothing. Let’s pray.