As almost every pro-life activist can attest, many conversations about abortion start something like this:
Pro-lifer: “What do you think about abortion?”
Passerby: “Stop forcing your religious values on us! Which church do you go to, anyway?”
It might surprise many, then, (as it certainly surprised me), that so-called “mainstream Protestants” in the US were very pro-abortion prior to Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, with groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention publicly stating their support for abortion—and this prior to Roe v. Wade. Many, it seems, take the Bible’s apparent silence on abortion to mean tacit support.
What does the Bible’s supposed silence on abortion mean? According to the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,” Protestants can be pro-abortion because “the pro-life position is really a pro-fetus position, and the pro-choice position is really pro-woman.” Even Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, who grew up in a Christian home, took a break from writing her unreadable atheist diatribes and wrote an essay called “Why the Bible is Pro-Choice.”
So the automatic assumption that a pro-lifer must have derived his or her beliefs from the Bible or the church is not a necessarily safe assumption. While most believe that the Bible is unequivocally pro-life, people have argued and do argue that one can support abortion—the violent destruction of a developing human life in the womb—and still claim to be a Christian living consistently with the commands of Scripture. Both the pro-life and pro-abortion side, it would seem, agree that what the Bible says or doesn’t say is important.
The main argument touted by abortion supporters to highlight the Bible’s support of abortion, or at least tacit acceptance, is that the Bible remains supposedly silent on the issue. One professor wrote sarcastically that nowhere does Scripture say “Thou shalt not abort.” This argument in and of itself, of course, is patently ridiculous—the Bible does say “Thou shalt not kill” (or “thou shall not murder”), and so we simply have to ask ourselves who exactly the pre-born are, and whether or not their destruction would be permitted under God’s injunction against murder. Further, the idea that the Bible does not oppose abortion simply because it does not explicitly say “Thou shalt not abort” is facetious—the Bible doesn’t explicitly say “thou shall not use toddlers for target practice” but no one thinks that the Bible’s “silence” on this matter means tacit endorsement of such a practice.
The Bible clearly states that human beings were created in God’s own image. Thus, taking their life would constitute murder.
Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute puts it this way:
A century ago racists argued from the alleged silence of Scripture that blacks were not human. Some even denied that black people had souls. Again, this was hardly persuasive. While Scripture does not mention every specific race and nationality, it does teach that all humans are made in God’s image and were created to have fellowship with Him (Genesis1:26; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:10-11, James 3:9). The inference is clear. If blacks are human beings, they are made in God’s image, too. No further proof from Scripture is necessary. The same is true with the unborn. If embryos and fetuses are human beings, commands that forbid the unjust taking of human life apply to them as they do other humans. Appealing to the Bible’s alleged silence on abortion misses the point entirely.
The Bible clearly tells us that the child in the womb is one created in God’s image—see Isaiah 46:3-5, Psalm 127:3-5, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 119: 73, and Luke 1:41-42, among others. Thus, the Bible’s injunction against shedding innocent blood would apply to the child in the womb, as per Genesis 1:26, Exodus 23:7, and Proverbs 6:16-17. The claim, then, that the Bible is “pro-choice” because of its “silence” is one that, quite simply, fails the reading comprehension test.
Scott Klusendorf also points out that permissiveness of abortion is the context of Scripture—beyond simply being not true—would also be ahistorical, since children were viewed as being a special gift from God (Psalms 127:3-5, 113:9, Genesis 17:6, 33:5) while infertility was often considered to be a curse (Samuel 1:5, Genesis 20:17-18, 30:1,22-23.) Simply put, the idea of having one’s offspring poised, dismembered, or suctioned in piece inside the womb is one that would have been completely counter-cultural for a culture that saw children as a visible blessing from God.
Biblical opposition to abortion, then, is really quite simple. The Bible is not silent on abortion—rather, the Bible lays out for us that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings created in God’s image. Thus, we must simple determine whether or not the pre-born child in the womb is a human being created in God’s image—which both Scripture (think of the fetus John the Baptist leaping in the womb to greet the Lord Jesus, at that point only a zygote) and science confirm.