Summary: A Scriptural view of the unborn.
Introduction: This past summer the nation was clamouring over fetal tissue cell research. As I pondered the question I turned to the Scriptures to see what the Word of God really had to say about unborn life. I believe the Lord led me to this passage of Scripture in Jeremiah. Jeremiah is receiving his call from God to the office of Prophet. Before the call is stated the preceeding verse says, "The Word of the Lord came to me saying...". This is what God says about the unborn. In the final analysis this is all that matters. Political parties will have their opinions, doctors and medical organizations will have theirs, you and I will have ours, but all of them will be judged by the "Word of the Lord". Let God be true and every man a liar. What does God say about the unborn in this verse.
"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."
God says three things about the unborn here.
I. THE UNBORN ARE PERSONS BEFORE GOD
Many terms are used to describe unborn life today; fetus, tissue, embryo, etc... All sound so cold and frankly inhuman. But God says "before I formed you I knew you." The word "before" here is very significant. God is saying, "before I began to create the person who would later come to be known as Jeremiah I knew Him." In the mind of God, before Jeremiah was even concieved God considered him a person. Before he began his creative work God considered him a person. How much more was Jeremiah a person after conception. The point seems very clear to me. If God considers the unborn life to be a person before he even begins to create him in the womb, we should certainly consider him or her a person after that creative process has begun. There are other Scriptural examples that testify to the fact that God considers the unborn child a human,a person.
So human is unborn life to God that he filled a second trimester baby named John the Baptist with the Holy Spirit. Tissues are not filled with the Spirit people are. So human is unborn life that the two sons of Rebecca, as they strove together in the womb were considered by God, "two nations". God not only saw them as individuals before Him, He saw the children that would spring forth from their loins. So human is unborn life that Jesus Christ the eternal "Word" of God, who existed before time began, experienced all stages of human development in the womb from conception to birth. Was Jesus not a person when he was in the womb? If life does not begin at conception then Jesus ceased to exist as a person for some time as he was a developing fetus. How rediculous!
This is an important argument because the first thing that any society does if it is going to mistreat a particular class of people either because of hatred or convenience is to dehumanize them. Some theologians in the 19th century espoused the idea that black africans had no souls in order to justify the enslavement of the black man. How much easier is it for our society to do it today when the voice and even the form of those who are being dehumanized and mistreated cannot be heard or seen. Their cries are silent. How wonderful it was a couple of years ago when time magazine put on the front cover a picture of a little child, I believe 21 weeks in development in his mother’s womb, as fetal surgeory is taking place, reach up through the incision in his mothers womb and hold the surgeons finger. The world saw what God has always said to be true. The unborn life is a person before God. Not only is the Unborn a Person, God says
II. THE UNBORN IS A PRODUCT OF HIS CREATIVE WORK
God said to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you." The word "form" in the Hebrew is a word used to describe the creative work of a potter as he molds and shapes a vessel. It is the same word used in Genesis when the Bible says that God "formed man from the dust of the earth." The same purposeful act of God that took place in the dust of the earth when Adam was formed takes place in the womb when God forms life there. You see the unborn is not an accident, he or she is not the product of random chance, he or she is the product of God’s creative work.
Is this not what David echos in Psalm 139? "For you FORMED my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed...." Human life in the womb, regardless of the circumstances involved is a product of God’s creative work.