Summary: This is a message on the Sanctity of Human Life.
THE BEGINNINGS OF LIFE
INTRO: When does human life begin? How often have you heard that question during discussions about abortion? Others look for a point midway during fetal development where the unborn child can be declared fully human. Some even say that life does not begin until birth. A celebrated Nobel prize winning scientist has suggested that newborns should not declared human persons until the third day after birth. This would make the killing of handicapped or unwanted newborns (infanticide) legally equivalent to an abortion after birth.
When does human life begin? Is mankind capable of correctly drawing the line? And if we do draw a line, will it stay where originally placed, or will it begin to move, eventually excluding from the human race most of the weak, the handicapped, the aged, and the sick? Perhaps the BIBLE can shed light on these important questions.
I. PRE-BORN LIFE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
The scriptures contain several stories about life before birth. From these narratives, we can learn many things about God’s view of the unborn. We can use these narratives to contrast the biblical attitude toward unborn life with today’s secular view which permits the unborn to be aborted.
Rebekah was the mother of the twins Jacob and Esau. During her pregnancy she felt a turmoil within her womb, and in distress she inquired of God (see text verse).
Let us compare the terminology used in Genesis to describe these unborn twins with modern day jargon frequently used to describe the unborn. Today’s abortion promoters describe the unborn as “pregnancy tissue” or “conception products.” They use these neutral sounding terms to hide the humanity of the unborn child from their unwitting clients. The abortion procedure is portrayed as “no different than removing a blood clot.”
But what did God see in Rebekah’s womb? He did not see “pregnancy tissue” or “blood clots.” He saw two male children. And in those two boys, he saw the fathers of two nations and all the generations of people that would come from them. Rebekah’s womb did not contain mere “conception products.” It held God’s plan for populating a portion of the earth in the form of two unborn children.
Samson was another Old Testament character who was heralded before birth. We are familiar with his great strength and its connection to his uncut hair. Samson’s long hair was part of the Nazarite vow, a special vow that required a person to keep some additional rules above and beyond the normal requirements of the law of Moses. You can read about the conditions of these vows in Numbers Six.
In Samson’s case, God’s desire was for lifelong commitment to the terms of the Nazarite vow. His mother, who was previously barren, was visited by an angel (see Judges 13:4-5).
The angel instructed her to follow the dietary restrictions of the Nazarite vow on behalf of her unborn son. It is crucial to note that she received this command not while she was pregnant, but prior to conception. It was somehow important to God that Samson’s commitment to the Nazarite vow begin not merely at birth, nor from some point midway in the development, but from the earliest point of his biological existence in the womb.
II. PRE-BORN LIFE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
John the Baptist was the greatest “among those born of women.” Before his conception, the angel told his father (see Luke 1:15).
The promoters of abortion as a “woman’s rights issue” tell us that the “fetus” is a part of the woman’s body. In their minds, this makes the destruction of an unborn child by abortion equivalent to removing a body part, like an appendix or a spleen. Can individual body parts be “filled with the Holy Spirit?”
Can you have a Spirit-filled kidney, or a Spirit-filled tonsil? I don’t think so. Only living, human persons can be filled with the Holy Spirit. Before birth, John the Baptist was already a Spirit-filled person.
Abortion advocates attempt to depersonalize the unborn with the word “fetus,” which makes the unborn child sound like an item of the mother’s anatomy. The words “her fetus” sound like “her appendix” or “her uterus.” (They might be quite surprised to learn that “fetus” is just the LATIN WORD for “child.”) But we must note that the angel’s statement to John’s father used the personal pronoun, referring to the unborn prophet as a “he.” Later in the passage, he is referred to as a “baby” who experienced “joy” while still in the womb.
Although enclosed within his mother’s body until birth, John the Baptist was a separate person in the fullest possible sense. While unborn, he already possessed a unique, individual relationship with God and was full of the Holy Spirit.
John clearly demonstrated the fullness of the Spirit when his mother was visited by her cousin Mary, who held in her womb the conceived Christ (see Luke 1:41-44).