Women Taking to the Streets!


If we were living in the 1970s, such a headline might well be heeded. But the throngs of youthful sign-wielding, slogan-chanting demonstrators on Parliament Hill every spring have a radically different purpose: rather than demanding reproductive rights for themselves, they are advocates for the sanctity of life and protection of the pre-born. And across the country, every week, more volunteers brave spiteful epithets, occasional projectiles, and inclement weather while holding signs depicting graphic images of aborted babies. Unfortunately, these “Choice” Chain volunteers sometimes face opposition from unexpected fronts. Young women in particular are targeted, not only by angry passers-by, but by members of their own Reformed churches. “Choice” Chain has drawn criticism because the majority of volunteers are female. At other times young mothers have been chastised for neglecting their children and housewifely duties while engaging in this pro-life work, and admonished to set a better example of biblical womanhood for their daughters. And so I approach this age-old question with some reluctance and trepidation: what is a woman to do? What is her biblical role and, more specifically, does it include pro-life activism such as “Choice” Chain?

Most often negative responses to this question accompany objections, whether tacit or spoken, of this nature:

1. A woman’s place is in the home, not on the streets.
2. Women who take public leadership roles upset the divine ordinance of creation.
3. Women who spend so much time pursuing these efforts are not being good mothers.
4. Public activism is simply not womanly and violates Biblical standards of femininity.

I will attempt to address these claims in the above order.

The first of these objections evokes the image of the woman in Proverbs 31. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on this chapter writes, “This is the description of a virtuous woman of those days, but the general outlines equally suit every age and nation.” So we read of the indefatigable industry of a woman who looks after the needs of her household. Her work, however, goes far beyond what is typically considered in the 21st century as “domestic labour”, as she “considereth a field, and buys it, […] maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant” (Prov.31:16,24; KJV). Spurgeon comments that “[s]he is not a religious recluse, shut out from the world; the virtuous woman is a sensible common-sense being, not at all ashamed to earn her living”.1 This chapter not only emphasizes her contributions to the prosperity of the household, but also her works of charity: “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy […] She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (verses 20,26). In fact, her diligence in “expending as well as gathering wealth” is precisely what gives her the “means to purchase property” and “enables her to be charitable.”2 It is not difficult to picture this woman of “strength and honour” (v. 25) doing works of love outside the home as well as in. To confine the fruits of her hands to the four walls of her house would be a loss indeed.

The second objection to the role of women in pro-life activism is a response to the positions of leadership that many of these women find themselves in. The argument is that this contradicts the headship principle outlined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 2-16 (“the head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”) and 1 Timothy 2: 9-15 (“I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”). There is no doubt that Paul teaches in these and other passages a divine order of creation to be upheld in home and church to avoid confusion and disorder, and provide spiritual instruction. And my purpose in this article is not to explicate the relationship of love and respect between a husband and wife, nor reject all differences in gender roles. However, too often these passages are interpreted, even by respected commentators and leaders in the church, as appointments in rank as though they reflect inherent superiority and inferiority between men and women. This is wrong.3

First of all, Galatians 3:28 tells us that “[t]here is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Before God, all people are equal: it is only within our relationships to each other that God has ascribed roles and responsibilities of submission and authority. Children must obey their parents, and servants, their masters (Ephesians 6:1-5). Women, like men, are not to usurp authority. The above-mentioned chapter in Timothy begins with the exhortation to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority” (v.2). In Ephesians 5:21-24 all Christians are called to a spirit of humble submission for the good of the family and greater benefit of the church. Likewise, in contexts where a man has been placed in authority over her, such as marriage (1 Peter 3:1), or church leadership, a woman should obey as far as is in accordance with God’s Word. But a woman who leads a group of men and women in a common goal such as a pro-life demonstration is not usurping authority because none of those men have been placed above her. Men by their very nature are not superior or carry authoritative status in all contexts over their female counterparts.

But, one might counter, women still should not be leading educational initiatives to the public. After all, in 1 Timothy 2:12 Paul instructs women “not […] to teach,” and in 1 Corinthians 14:34 cautions them to “keep silence in the churches.” The important distinction to keep in mind here is that these admonitions concern men’s official capacities within the public worship meetings of the church. Women were and are expected to teach one another (Titus 2:3) and “profess godliness as well as men; for they are baptized, and thereby stand engaged to exercise themselves to godliness; and, to their honour be it spoken, many of them were eminent professors of Christianity in the days of the apostles, as the book of Acts will inform us.”4 The “silence” women are exhorted to in 1 Corinthians “we must understand as referring to ordinary service, or where there is a Church in a regularly constituted state; for a necessity may occur of such a nature as to require that a woman should speak in public; but Paul has merely in view what is becoming in a duly regulated assembly.”5

Apart from these prescribed church roles, women may find themselves working alongside their male colleagues in church life as well as in society. In Philippians 4:3 Paul refers to the “women which laboured with me in the gospel,” and Priscilla was his “companion in labour”.6 We also read about Lydia, seller of purple, Anna, a prophetess who served God in the Temple (Luke 2:36-38) and Phoebe, “servant of the church […] at Cenchrea” (Romans 16: 1).7 Miriam the prophetess led all the Israelite women “with timbrels and with dances” (Exodus 15:20) and Philip the evangelist “had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy” (Acts 21:9). These women were busy in their churches and communities, and by no means assumed a perpetual code of silence.

There are many examples in the Bible of women whose roles brought them into the public eye and even positions of leadership. Consider Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives who obeyed God’s law rather than Pharaoh’s command to kill the newborn sons of Hebrew women. “And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses,” which in Hebrew idiom means they were blessed with many children (Exodus 1:21). These women understood that their calling to affirm life extended beyond their own homes and into their public practice. Public duty may also include leadership roles. In Judges 4 and 5 we read about Deborah dispensing judgement to the people of Israel and directing Barak and the Israelite army in battle. Women today may find themselves in similar circumstances if that is the calling to which God has led them. And what louder call comes, than from the innocent blood of countless children, sacrificed in the name of women’s liberation? Who better to answer that call than the “liberated” women of our time? The Lord used Esther in her position as queen to deliver the Jews from annihilation. When Esther hesitated to confront king Ahasuerus, Mordecai urged her with words that we could take to heart, for each of us has also been set in our particular time and place, and are obliged to “deliver them that are drawn unto death”8 as we have opportunity to do so. “[W]ho knoweth,” he asks, “whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

However, to concede that a woman’s calling may take her outside the home and into positions of leadership is more difficult, according to some, when that woman is a mother. The Bible is clear that she should prioritize caring for and nurturing her children: how can she do this if she is so preoccupied with her pro-life work?9 Of course, there are many “Choice-Chaining” women for whom this objection does not apply: those who are unmarried or single, childless, or women whose children are all in school or no longer at home. This also overlooks the women who bring their children with them to Choice Chain: often the most powerful witnesses are the youngest present, cuddled up to their mommies in a sling! But this notion that mothers are abandoning their young children while they gallivant on the sidewalks ignores God’s call to all women to “adorn themselves […] with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9,10). Would we consider it appropriate for a mother to drop off her children at Oma’s house, or leave them with Dad for an hour or two so she could donate blood or serve food to the hungry in a soup kitchen? Children have been watched by a babysitter for far more trivial things than that! Are mothers neglecting their children when they bring them to the church nursery or playschool during Women’s Group so they can learn about Biblical childrearing practises or run a senior’s tea? Of course not. It is likewise ridiculous to assert that she is neglecting duty in any way by advocating for the pre-born and working to bring about an end to abortion. And when her children are old enough to understand what mom is doing during that time she is away, they will learn from her example how we are all commanded to “[redeem] the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).

But isn’t it the husband’s and father’s role to protect the family and fight for justice? Certainly! Men are specially called to “fight […] for your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Neh. 4:14). And this article does not seek to deter men from getting involved! The pro-life movement would be crippled without them. However, the pro-life movement and this strand in particular would be impossible without women. What may at first appear to be a defensive, protective, even combative role actually plays out in a delicate dialogue in which empathizing with the voices of hurt and outrage are as important as a gentle, articulate response. Who better to respond than women, whose general aptitude for conversation and less intimidating stature would be assets in such an exchange? Imagine that “Choice” Chain participants, or “40 Days for Life” volunteers standing outside of abortion clinics, were exclusively male. This would be insensitive and in poor judgement. Abortion is a human rights issue in which both men and women have an important role to play.

And yet, some would argue that it is enough for women to do our part in this cultural struggle by being good mothers to the children God has given us. I would welcome you to be wary of a subtle innuendo here, that abortion is less heinous as long as it is happening to other people’s babies. As citizens of this country (thank you, first-wave feminism10) we are as accountable as men are for collective and moral decisions, such as whether or not it is permitted or encouraged to kill the most vulnerable members of society.

Perhaps the underlying fear behind these objections is that any sign-wielding, mostly female gathering on public sidewalks evokes the impiety of a feminist-movement protest.11 Anyone who would associate these two groups of people is clearly missing the message. Quite contrary to modern mainstream feminism, these pro-life women are visibly rejecting the notion that the only way they can be equal with men is by denying the life-giving, nurturing function of their bodies by turning their womb from a sanctuary to a tomb. Pro-life activists seek to reclaim motherhood for the beautiful and blessed role that it is!

As far as the last objection goes, not much is left to be said. What is womanly and feminine is a purposeful life, roles performed in obedience to one’s calling, the joys and challenges of a wife or mother, activist or teacher, merchant or queen! God has placed women in these positions and equipped them with the proficiency to carry them out. In Jesus’ parable of the talents, the Master was sovereign and wise. He gave differently to each, and to each according to his capacity. Each was fitted for the service in which he was employed, and the gifts needed for its fulfilment were bestowed on him.” And each servant was expected to return their gift with a profit. But of what profit is a woman’s mental dexterity, her confidence in speaking, articulate persuasion, or inspirational leadership, if she return it to her Maker void? What is a woman to make of it when she observes that in every capacity she is as competent, intelligent, and motivated as the men around her? “Had [God] failed in wisdom when he bestowed these gifts?”12   Every one of us is duty bound to use our talents in the service of God to whom we must give an account, and for the benefit of our community. That community, our community, includes male and female, able and handicapped, the elderly and the unborn child. To isolate ourselves, to fail to speak the truth boldly without church walls as well as in, is to share in the reproach of our nation.13  God’s mandate comes to women, also: let us not be found lukewarm, wanting, unsavoury!14  Was Isaiah 1:17 written only for men? “Learn to do well; seek judgement, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” Speak for the voiceless.

Dear women of the faith, now is not the time to be silent. Now is the time to be “valiant for the truth upon the earth”.15

Because God gave me a voice,

Sarah Maljaars

1Spurgeon, C.H. Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible. Page 778.
2Jamieson, Robert., A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Commentary on the Whole Bible. Proverbs 31.
3As these relatively few verses of the Bible seem to garner disproportionate emphasis, it would be prudent to consider whether they are reiterated so often out of a zeal for God’s Word or for the sake of power, position, and pride. It is easier for women to follow these commands when they are encouraged by the love and servant-leadership of men (as following Christ’s example). But often it seems these verses are repeated reproachfully in the spirit of keeping women “in their place.”
4Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). 1 Timothy 2.
5Calvin, John. Commentary on Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 14.
6Romans 16:3, the original Greek word “sunergos” more accurately translated as co-labourer or workfellow than “helper” as used in the KJV. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. http://biblehub.com/greek/4904.htm
7Actually, in the Greek, the word used to describe her is “diakonon, a servant by office, a stated servant, not to preach the word (that was forbidden to women), but in acts of charity and hospitality.” Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Romans 16.
8Proverbs 24:11.
9It may be noted that this question is rarely asked of men: it is acceptable and even applauded at times for a husband/father to spend all his time and energy pursuing success in business and financial affluence, while neglecting his duties in the home, such as the spiritual and emotional upbringing of his children. Has materialism blinded us to this inconsistency?
10First-wave feminism refers to a period of feminist activity during the 19th and early 20th century. It focused on officially mandated inequalities such as granting married women control of their own income, allowing women to own property, attend university, and become guardians of their own children. First wave feminists are also known as suffragettes because of their work to gain women’s suffrage (the right to vote).
11“Impiety” describes much of the second wave of feminism. This refers to a period of feminist activity which began in the early 1960s and lasted through the late 1990s. It was a reaction to widespread gender discrimination but went so far as to advocate for reproductive rights such as abortion, and generally contributed to the immoral agenda of the concurrent sexual revolution.
12Darby, John. Synopsis of the New Testament. Matthew 25.
13Proverbs 14:34.
14Revelation 3:16, Daniel 5:27, Matthew 5:13. This is not to say women avoid becoming “lukewarm, wanting, and unsavoury” spiritually by following this cultural mandate. No Christian is able to earn their salvation by outwardly following God’s commands, although they certainly have a responsibility to do so.
15Jeremiah 1:3.

School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare

The nation is watching, with horror and disgust, news reports out of Connecticut of a horrific act of violence against an elementary school filled with defenseless children. While every act of murder ought to provoke outrage, there’s something especially condemnable about the murder of children. I think there’s a reason for that.

In the hours after the shooting, Jewish political and cultural commentator John Podhoretz called attention to a concept most Americans don’t like to think about at Christmastime, if ever: hell. Podhoretz noted the heightened iniquity of child sacrifice in the Hebrew Scriptures’ denunciation of the god Moloch. Moloch, of course, was a blood-thirsty deity who demanded his followers to pour out the lives of their children. The valley of this atrocity was called Gehenna. Jesus pointed to Gehenna when he told us about hell.

Throughout the history of the universe, evil has manifested a dark form of violence specifically toward children. Not only did the Canaanite nations demand the blood of babies, but the Bible shows where at points of redemptive crisis, the powers of evil have lashed out at children. Pharaoh saw God’s blessing of Israelite children as a curse and demanded they be snuffed out by the power of his armed thugs. And, of course, the Christmas narrative we read together this time of year is overshadowed by an act of horrific mass murder of children. King Herod, seeing his throne threatened, demands the slaughter of innocent children.

Jesus was not born into a gauzy, sentimental winter wonderland of sweetly-singing angels and cute reindeer nuzzling one another at the side of his manger. He was born into a war-zone. And at the very rumor of his coming, Herod vowed to see him dead, right along with thousands of his brothers. History in Bethlehem, as before and as now, is riddled with the bodies of murdered children.


There are more factors at work here than just impersonal psychology and sociology. “The course of this world,” we’re told, is driven along by “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). And behind all of that is a bloody skirmish. Satan is, Jesus tells us, a “murderer from the beginning” because he hates life itself. And he hates the life of children, particularly, because they picture something true about Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus showed his disciple John that behind the particulars of history there’s another, darker, story going on. Jesus showed the picture of a woman giving birth to a child, with a dragon crouching before her to devour the baby (Rev. 12:4). When the woman and her child escaped, the dragon “became furious with the woman and went out to make war on the rest of her offspring” (Rev. 12:17), and has done so ever since.

Satan hates children because he hates Jesus. When evil destroys “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40, 45), the most vulnerable among us, it destroys a picture of Jesus himself, of the child delivered by the woman who crushes the head of our reptilian overlord (Gen. 3:15). The demonic powers know that the human race is saved, and they’re vanquished, by a child born of woman (Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 2:15). And so they hate the children who bear his nature.

Violence against children is also peculiarly satanic because it destroys the very picture of newness of life and dependent trust that characterizes life in the kingdom of God (Matt. 18:4). Children are a blessing, and that enrages the horrifying nature of those who seek only to kill and to destroy (Jn. 10:10).

The satanic powers want the kingdoms of the universe, and a child uproots their reign.

Let’s not offer pat, easy answers to the grieving parents and communities in Connecticut. We don’t fully understand the mystery of iniquity. We don’t know why God didn’t stop this from happening. But we do know what this act is: it’s satanic, and we should say so.

Let’s grieve for the innocent. Let’s demand justice for the guilty. And let’s rage against the Reptile behind it all.

As we do so, let’s remember that Bethlehem was an act of war. Let’s remember that the One born there is a prince of peace who will crush the skull of the ancient murderer of Eden. Let’s pray for the Second Coming of Mary’s son. And, as we sing our Christmas carols, let’s look into the slitted eyes of Satan as we promise him the threat of his coming crushed skull.

The mystery of evil is a declaration of war on the peace of God’s creation. The war goes on, but not for long. And sometimes the most warlike thing we can say, in an inhuman murderous age like this one, is “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

Reprinted with permission from the author; originally posted on Moore to the Point.

What should be our Stance on In Vitro Fertilization?

In 2010 the Synod of the Netherlands Reformed Congregations in North America approved a report on In Vitro Fertilization, which was a 75-page, scientific and Biblical analysis of this so-called reproductive technology. The Reformed Pro-Lifer has asked one of the co-authors of this report to summarize the document. While much more could be said about this topic, please keep in mind the following is a summary of the original report. We are grateful for Rev. Sonnevelt’s willingness to provide this to us, and for the opportunity to make it available to our readers.


Due to increasing medical and technological advances, as individuals, office-bearers, and as a church family we are also confronted with more difficult decisions. This is especially true when married couples are unable to naturally conceive a child, and some are considering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) as an option while others have already made use of this technology.
Technically speaking, it is possible to use IVF in such a way that there is no loss of life involved. Some couples choose to have only one egg cell (or two) harvested from the woman and to have this fertilized by the sperm of the husband in a laboratory setting. They refrain from quality control and have all zygotes implanted into the uterus of the woman, hoping that this may lead to further gestation and the birth of a healthy child. As no extra embryos are engendered or frozen, the sixth commandment is not violated. And as there is no third party (donating ova or sperm), the seventh commandment is not transgressed. Some of these couples explain that they follow this method in dependency upon the Lord. They defend their stance by saying that the abuse of a method does not discard a proper use of it.

Thus, we need to consider whether it is right, from a Biblical and moral perspective:

  1. To make use of this method even when it is strictly confined to the two marriage partners;
  2. To use IVF when no embryos are lost in the process due to generally practiced “quality control”;
  3. To let some of the newly conceived embryos be frozen even when the couple says they want to implant these in the future?

Some underlying questions and points for further reflection:

  1. Is the beginning of a human being not something that takes place, under God’s blessing, as a result of the intimate union between a man and his wife? Is IVF not a crossing of boundaries marked by the Creator and a violation of the dignity of the human life? Can the (natural and understandable) desire for children co-exist with the application of a method like IVF?
  2. Is it legitimate to make use of a method that could only be established after many experiments and with the loss of much human life, a method that leads many today to choose the best embryos they want and to reject those of an “inferior quality”?
  3. Is it acceptable to freeze tiny human beings in such a way? What are the implications of the fact that some of them may not survive this process? What to do with such embryos when the parents change their mind about using all of them or pass away as a result of an accident, etc.?


A. A New Technique

In Vitro Fertilization is a medical procedure in which mature egg cells are removed from a woman’s ovary after she has taken fertility drugs to cause a number of eggs to mature at the same time. Semen is collected from the man, which is joined with the egg in a glass dish where conception then takes place. New life is allowed to develop for some days, and either inserted into the uterus of the same or another woman for normal gestation and birth, or frozen and stored for later use.

Infertility is a growing problem and there has been a corresponding growth in reproductive technologies to provide a solution. An entire “industry” has emerged with little or no regulations to protect the interests of the men, women or children involved. The many techniques used to overcome infertility have profound moral implications that we should be aware of. For example, children produced through technical processes are generally subjected to “quality control” and eliminated if found “defective,” resulting in the death of countless newly conceived human beings. Yet, some find it unnecessary to examine the morality of IVF if it is practiced in the way the introduction describes it, involving a husband and wife who use means to overcome a medical problem: infertility. But the question must be asked: Does the procedure violate human dignity and the marriage act and should it be avoided? Is IVF moral or immoral?

Obviously, IVF eliminates the marriage act as the means of achieving pregnancy. New life is not created through an act of love in the closest union possible between husband and wife but by a laboratory procedure. Husband and wife are merely sources for the “raw materials” which are manipulated by a technician to cause the sperm to fertilize the egg. Not infrequently, “donor” eggs or sperm are used. Thus, the genetic father or mother of the child could be someone from outside the marriage, causing much confusion for the child. The identity of the “donor” may never be known, which purposely deprives the child of an awareness of his or her own lineage.

Nevertheless, even if the egg and sperm come from husband and wife, are there not other moral issues that arise? Routinely, several embryos are brought into existence but only those with the most potential are implanted in the womb. The others are discarded or used for experiments. This is a terrible offense against human life. While a little baby may be born because of IVF, many other lives are usually snuffed out in the process.

IVF is also very expensive, often costing at least $10,000 per attempt, while over 75% of the embryos created perish at some point in the process. In order to reduce costs and increase success rates, doctors may implant five or more embryos in the mother’s womb. This may result in more babies than a couple wants. To avoid carrying and giving birth to “too many” babies, doctors engage in what is called fetal or selective “reduction,” which means babies in utero are monitored to see which are to be eliminated. Then the “less desirable” babies are killed by filling a syringe with potassium chloride and thrusting the needle into the selected baby’s heart. The potassium chloride kills the baby within minutes, and he or she is expelled as a miscarriage. Again we see the unspeakable diminishing of the value of human life which can arise from this procedure.

Not everyone who has had a child through IVF has used donor eggs or sperm or killed unwanted babies in the course of the pregnancy. Yet there is still a moral problem with the procedure itself. The dehumanizing aspects of this procedure are even evident in the very language associated with it, such as reproductive technology industry, products of conception, and reduction. Inherent in IVF is the treatment of children, in their very coming into being, as less than human beings.

B. Designer Babies

Sperm and eggs are being bought and sold, and wombs are being rented. Typical prices for sperm are $1,800, for ova $6,500, and for surrogate motherhood $45,000. Couples from around the world come to the US to choose not only the sex of their child but also “cosmetic” features, such as hair and eye color. Incredibly expensive genetic testing also “helps” to identify defects so that children of inferior quality can be aborted. All of these are the first steps toward the “designer baby.”

Many of these technologies border on the quality of human life ethic, while the Bible’s eternal perspective teaches us that human life itself is of higher value. In Exodus 4:11 God speaks to Moses: “Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?” The fact that God creates human beings in His image establishes value, not our height, or sight, or hearing.

We must realize that values like unpredictability, diversity, and uniqueness are central to God’s creation. Some genetic technologies violate these values. Does man know how to exercise wisely the power and control that these procedures bring? With the reality of sin ever before us, it is difficult to answer in the affirmative. That is why the prudent, biblical stance is that if a procedure will likely and eventually violate biblical guidelines, it is imperative to turn around and not to proceed at all.

C. Immoral Madness

In July 2009, British scientists reported having coaxed the first human sperm cells from embryonic stem cells. They used days-old human embryos, leftovers from IVF treatment, and isolated stem cells out of them. After being treated chemically, the stem cells developed into full-grown sperm cells within a couple of weeks. This research triggered criticism, not only because of the low quality of the developed sperm cells, but also because of ethical objections to this method. Interviewed by the BBC, Josephine Quintaville declared, “This is an example of immoral madness. Perfectly viable embryos have been destroyed in order to create sperm over which there will be huge questions of their healthiness and viability. It’s taking one life in order to perhaps create another. I’m very much in favour of curing infertility, but I don’t think you can do whatever you like.”

Current legislation in the United Kingdom forbids use of this sperm for the creation of children but in most countries public policies lag behind the pace in which technology advances. While the researchers denied having the intention of “producing human life in a dish,” others have already questioned whether women will still need a man to create a child in the future, thereby further eroding God’s institutions.

D. Frozen Embryos

In Vitro Fertilization has also produced another significant side effect, which is the presence of over 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States alone. This number grows each year when people utilizing IVF no longer want the embryos, leaving clinics with the dilemma of whether to sustain them in the frozen state or discard them. Embryos can remain viable for a decade or more if they are properly frozen, but not all survive when thawed. Some couples and clinics donate frozen embryos to scientific research, but this raises profound ethical questions due to the nature of the research and the loss of human life involved.

The frozen embryos press our society with the question of how to view them: Are they of value and worth? Most couples are not happy with destroying the embryos they created through IVF. This dilemma has meanwhile created the opportunity for people to even adopt frozen embryos. During congressional hearings concerning stem-cell research, John Borden stood before the panel with both his sons in his arms and asked, “Which one of my children would you kill?” John and his wife, Lucinda, unable to have children of their own, adopted frozen embryos that were “left over” from In Vitro Fertilization. Their striking testimony demonstrated that embryos are human beings in an early stage of development and therefore should not be sacrificed for embryonic stem-cell research.

If life begins at conception (as the Bible teaches us), reproductive technology has produced a gut-wrenching dilemma, in particular because there is no ethical consensus in the culture. Sadly, by disregarding God’s clear directives (e.g., Psalm 139:16), we are now left to deal with this consequence of In Vitro Fertilization, and the large majority of these small human beings will die when used for research or by being left in the freezer for too long.


A. God – the Creator of Life

Many texts in God’s Word shed light on the beginning of life. The act of creation uniquely belongs to a Triune God alone, as evident from some of the very first words spoken in Scripture, “Let Us make man” (Gen. 1:26). Moreover, in Isaiah 44:24 we read, “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself.”

Consider also Job 10:10-12 and 31:15, Ecclesiastes 11:5, and Isaiah 44:2 and 46:3. These passages show that God’s eye is upon everything that has been made, in a special sense upon living creatures, and in a very special sense upon human beings. His eye is also upon the children (Jonah 4:11), upon the unborn child (Ps. 139:14-16), and even upon the seed out of which children come into existence (Gen. 39:8-10).

B. Man – A Unity of Body and Soul

Basic biology shows us that conception is the beginning of a new individual so even at the first, single-cell stage of existence it is fully a human being. It is human, alive, and genetically distinct from the mother, and breathes and consumes nutrients as a whole, separate being. It only needs to grow and develop in the right environment to become an embryo and then a fetus, just like it will become an infant, toddler, child, adolescent, and finally an adult. This, by itself, should be enough to reject abortion and all IVF practices which lead to the death of the unborn child.

Another question is whether an unborn child already has a soul. The Bible instructs us that man consists of two essential elements: body and soul, as can be seen in the following verses.

  • “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 soul” (Gen. 2:7).
  • “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

God made our bodies in a wondrous manner, about which the poet of Psalm 139 cried out, “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (vs. 14). God also gave man a never-dying soul. This soul, the principle of life in a physical, moral, and spiritual sense, is a very precious gift. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? And what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26).

The debate about when the soul enters the body of a human being has gained a new dimension in light of the abortion movement. Many regard an unborn baby as a cluster of human cells without personhood, which has far-reaching consequences. According to God’s Word, a human being consists of body and soul. Denying the unborn child a soul is the equivalent of saying that he or she is not fully a human person yet.

The Scriptures give a strong indication that every person has a soul from the time of conception. We read that Jeremiah was already sanctified and ordained as a prophet while in the womb (Jer. 1:4-5), and that John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mother’s womb when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, who was pregnant with the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:41, 44). Other significant texts show that man is considered a sinner by God from the time of his conception, which implies the existence of a soul.

  • “Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5).
  • “Among whom also we had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh and of the mind; and were by nature children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3).

Although Rev. G.H. Kersten says in his Reformed Dogmatics that it cannot be known with certainty when the soul enters the body, he writes in his explanation of the Heidelberg Catechism, “From the hour of our conception until we draw our last breath, our sins cry out for the just penalty of death” (page 5). Additionally, the Heidelberg Catechism, when speaking about the profit of “Christ’s holy conception and nativity” says “That He is our Mediator, and with His innocence and perfect holiness, covers in the sight of God, my sins, wherein I was conceived and brought forth” (Lord’s Day 14, Question and Answer 36).

While it is hard to prove the soul’s presence at conception, this is true at any time. We know that all genetic material is present at conception; nothing is added later. And Scripture passages overwhelmingly suggest that human beings have a soul from the very moment of conception. The implications regarding the issue of IVF is that every time an embryo is killed in the process, either intentionally or unintentionally, and every time that a frozen embryo does not survive the procedure to which it is subjected, not only human life is lost, but a precious soul also enters eternity.

C. Children – a Gift of God

God alone is the Author of life and children are an inheritance from Him, as we can see in Psalm 127:3: “Lo children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” Couples who are without children often experience this as a heavy cross. It is important that office-bearers have an eye for this sorrow and approach childless couples with compassion.

In biblical times, childlessness was a double cross, not only because of the natural desire inherent to all human beings, but also since God’s blessing was seen in outward prosperity more than in the New Testament. Furthermore, since God had promised the Savior’s birth in due time, having no children meant that the Messiah could not be born from or greeted by one’s no descendants, nor could they receive His blessings in the future.

The Bible tells us about several barren women, some of whom were later blessed with children. We read about Sarah in Genesis 16:1-5, which shows that childlessness has been an issue almost from the dawn of history. We read about Rebekah in Genesis 25:21. It is remarkable that the wives of the first two patriarchs were unable to conceive until God opened their wombs, which makes the birth of Israel as a nation and even greater wonder of sovereign grace and supernatural power. Genesis 29 and 30 speaks about Rachel, for whom receiving a child had become an obsession, throwing even the favor of the Lord into the background. Even when she gave birth to Joseph, she was not satisfied, which ultimately became her ruin as she died while giving birth to Benjamin.

This history contains a solemn warning. How much reason there is for childless couples to watch against crossing the boundaries and becoming inordinate in their desire! God’s Word says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). Besides, it is the task of office-bearers to speak about these things in a pastoral way. What is the motive in seeking parenthood? Are there other desires, more important desires, in their lives? In seeking to receive a child and in asking for a child, is there something of Hannah’s desire and submission? For Hannah, childlessness was a cause of much grief, as we can read in 1 Samuel 1:6-11. She may have even wondered whether the Lord had rejected her, which was the greatest grief for her God-fearing soul. The outcome of this history shows that the Lord undertook for her. Indeed, children are a gift of the Lord.

D. God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility

When thinking about childlessness and the issue of IVF, we should also take into account what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. In Genesis 1:26 and following, God created humans––both male and female––in His image and then gave them the charge to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (1:28). Verse 29 extends this dominion to plants, trees, and seeds. Although colored by the reality of human sin, this dominion status is repeated for Noah in Genesis 9:1-2. Reproductive and genetic technologies fall under the stewardship responsibility of humans as well.

This has powerful implications. While these technologies give humans power never realized before, we must remember that God is the Creator and we are only creatures. He is sovereign; we are stewards. And due to sin we have an inborn inclination to take matters into our own hands. Our will being totally depraved, we are prone to raise our fist against the Lord and to question His wisdom and goodness concerning His ways. We want to be our own master, and it is only by grace when we may learn to bow under God’s sovereign will.

E. The Providence of the Lord

Another biblical truth, closely connected with those mentioned in the previous paragraph, is that of God’s providence. Let us quote from our confession, The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10.

Q. 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.

Q. 28. What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?
A. That we may be patient in adversity thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.


A. Reflections – Biblical and Pastoral

We feel much empathy for married couples who struggle with infertility and yearn to have children. Yet we should not forget that God is free and sovereign in all His dealings. We ought to realize that all human plans fail when He does not add His blessing. As well, we should be careful not to cross the boundaries of what is permitted in light of God’s Word.

The examples of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah show that God is a surprising God. “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14). “Behold, I am the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). It would be to God’s honor if children are received in the way of a wonder, just as it would to God’s honor if He grants submission to His will, even in withholding what is dearest to us. There is sweetness in such submission to Him (1 Sam. 1:8).

Since man is the crown of God’s creation, humans may never be used as a means to an end, not even to overcome infertility. In IVF, children are produced through a technical process and in their very coming into existence they are subjected to the arbitrary choices of those bringing them into being, rather than brought about by the providence of the Author of creation Himself. Bringing the sperm and egg together in a glass dish to bring about fertilization is a highly technological procedure in which procreation and marital intercourse are disconnected (see the article of Prof. Dr. W.H. Velema under Appendix 3 of the original report). It is therefore our conviction that in following this procedure a man and woman, even when it concerns a married couple, transgress the God-given boundaries.

Moreover, this procedure has been established at the expense of many lives of unborn children and continues to do so. It has also opened the way to a host of other problems, as discussed previously. Even if a couple uses IVF by only using one or two eggs, having all embryos implanted, and refraining from freezing them, this way of using the procedure is only possible due to years of experimentation which has costs hundreds of thousands of embryos their lives.

Finally, IVF has also opened the door to a host of other horrible sins. Use of donor eggs and sperm, also by gay and lesbian couples, clearly infringes upon the marriage union and breaks the seventh commandment of God’s holy law. The very children who must gratify the desires of their genetic, biological, or social parents have to pay the price, many of whom have much higher rates of sustaining genetic or birth defects. Can we close our eyes to all these side effects of this technology in our apocalyptic culture? Is it fair and realistic to highlight a so-called proper use of this technology when there is so much abuse of it? Should we not even hate the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude:23)?

B. How to Overcome Fertility – Lawful and Unlawful Means

The Bible is not against using means, provided that those means are legitimate and are sought in dependency upon the Lord. Any number of morally acceptable interventions may be used to take away infertility. For instance, surgery can overcome tubal blockages in the male or female reproductive system; fertility drugs may be used, with the caution that multiple pregnancies may put mother and infants at risk; and ways to track natural reproductive cycles may enhance the chances for achieving pregnancy.

The church has great compassion for those who suffer from infertility. Out of love for all human life and respect for the integrity of marital relations, however, the church teaches that some means of trying to achieve pregnancy are illicit. Some of these means and methods actually involve the taking of innocent human life, or treating human life as a means toward the end of “manufacturing a product.” Methods such as these do violence to the dignity of the human person.

In our modern Western world, we have a tendency to think that we can solve all our problems with the right “technology” but children were never intended to be engendered by technology or produced by an industry. For that reason, we reject IVF as a God-dishonoring and dehumanizing practice, not acceptable in any form or under any circumstances. In seeking the blessing of children, we must only use methods of which we can expect that God’s blessing and favor may rest upon them.


Our conclusions regarding In Vitro Fertilization are not rooted in one single motive but founded upon several arguments, each of which is sufficient to denounce the method of “producing babies” outside the mother’s womb and disconnected from the physical union between a man and his wife. Taken together, these arguments are all the more compelling to reject IVF as a way of alleviating the problem of infertility.

Let us take a firm stance in these troublesome times in which God’s Word is being undermined and in which the very foundations of life are shaking. Life is life, right from conception. From a scriptural as well as scientific viewpoint, there is no doubt about this fact. What is conceived in a Petri dish is not potential life either, but a very small human being with a soul for eternity.
Finally, when we see the developments in our world today, we must hang our heads in shame. When we notice the general declension in our culture, we should weep. How has it come so far? Did all these things go on in our nations and in our midst, while we were fast asleep? Instructed in the truth, we can no longer claim ignorance.

May the Lord grant unto us a heartfelt repentance and a turning from the paths of evil! May our ways be directed according to His Word, of which David said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).

My Little Sister Was A Person, Too

Having worked with the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform for a year now and being confronted with the issue of abortion on a daily basis, I was fully aware of the gravity of the situation here in Canada.  However, it was not until a few weeks ago that I realized that the current status quo has serious personal implications for my family.

In my growing up years, abortion was an issue we never spoke about, and certainly never worried about.  After all, we weren’t having abortions so the status quo didn’t affect us at all.  Quite the contrary, my parents have been blessed with 16 children, two of whom we were grieved to lose at very young ages.

Pauline was full term or 40 weeks gestational age when she was stillborn on February 3, 1999 and on September 8, 2003, Rebecca passed away in her sleep at the age of 11 months and 21 days.  Both were dearly loved, mourned, and they are missed even today.

A few weeks ago was the ninth anniversary of Rebecca’s death.  As is our custom, we commemorated the occasion with a family trip to the cemetery where we visited both Rebecca and Pauline’s final resting spots.  Their graves lie just a row apart from each other in the Baby Land section of the cemetery and they have matching gravestones.  By all appearances, there is not much difference between the two except for the names and the dates inscribed onto the stones.

However, there is a distinct difference between the two.  You see, according to the laws in Canada, my sister Pauline is not classified as a person.  Section 223 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that a child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state from the body of its mother whether or not it has breathed, it has an independent circulation, or the navel string is severed.”  My sister never had the opportunity to “become a human being” because she died prior to her birth.

The morning of her birth, when Mom and Dad returned home from the hospital, rather than the excitement of a new baby, they had empty arms and the duty of selecting a coffin and arranging a funeral.  This is never something that a parent expects, but even worse for my parents was the realization that their precious daughter is completely disregarded as a member of the human family by her own country.

While it infuriates me that this is the case, it also confuses me.  What made the difference between Rebecca and Pauline?  Was it size?  Rebecca was only a little bit bigger than Pauline upon each of their deaths and that’s only because she had an additional year to gain that extra weight and size.

That extra year also contributed to the fact that Rebecca was more developed than Pauline.  Rebecca was learning to pull herself to a standing position, as is appropriate for a little girl that age and Pauline was also doing age appropriate things such as sucking her thumb, kicking, and moving.

They were in very different environments upon their deaths, as Pauline was still within the [safety] of my mother’s womb, and Rebecca was in her crib.   This difference again, only a difference based on age.

They both relied on my mother for their basic needs such as nourishment and shelter, Pauline from within my mother’s womb, and Rebecca from without.  Because of her age, Rebecca’s degree of dependency on my mother for survival was decreasing.

It is completely ridiculous that such a distinction is made because of such minor differences.  In fact, in our society, these differences can often mean life or death for the youngest members of the human race.  This is age discrimination of the worst kind, and this is why I will continue to fight for personhood rights for all human beings.

For little girls just like Pauline.