Can Christians be pro-choice?
THE BIG ISSUE
I think most people agree that we should not have the legal choice to kill another person simply because we want to. Our nation is divided on whether or not we should have the legal choice to abort a baby in the womb, largely because as a culture we don’t believe that a baby in the womb is actually a person, or a human life. Our nation says that every person has the right to life, while simultaneously granting women the free choice to abort the life of her baby in the womb, which shows that the laws of our land (and the minds of our citizens) don’t recognize the unborn as a living human person. If what’s going on in the womb is not a person, a human life, then it’s okay to terminate.
THE BIG QUESTION
But if what’s going on in the womb is a growing, living, human person, then it would be murder to abort a baby in the womb. That would mean that to be pro-choice is to be a proponent of the legal choice to murder a living, human baby at will. So for the Christian then, the determining question becomes, does God’s word affirm human life and personhood in the womb, or not? Interestingly enough, this was the main question in the court case of Roe V. Wade in 1973. To answer this question, let’s look at 3 observations from a short passage in the New Testament, Luke 1:41-44, and get a sense of how the word of God and the people of God handle this issue:
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
- THE BABY LEAPED – In verse 41, speaking of Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist, it says the baby leaped in her womb. It doesn’t say the fetus leaped, or that a clump of cells leaped. The Greek word used here is the word brephos, which simply means a baby or infant. That word is used here for John the Baptist in the womb, and is also the exact word used to describe baby Jesus out of the womb in Luke 2:16. Again in Luke 18:15, the same root word (brephos) is used to describe the newborn infants that were brought to Jesus to be blessed.
- LEAPED FOR JOY – In verse 44, Elizabeth says that the baby in my womb leaped for joy. So not only does the Bible affirm that what is going on in the womb is an actual baby, but it goes further to explain that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb was already experiencing human emotions, specifically joy. This is consistent with what we have learned from ultrasound technology, that babies are also able to experience pain (as we have seen babies recoil at the prick of a needle in the womb).
- MOTHER OF MY LORD – In verse 43, Elizabeth calls Mary the mother of my Lord, even though the Lord (Jesus) had not been born yet. Even during pregnancy, Mary was considered a mother. This supports verses 41 and 44 that identify what’s happening in the womb as a baby, a human life that already experiences human emotion.
These observations fall in line with the understanding of human life and life in the womb that we see in the Old Testament. Genesis 1:26-27 explain that all humans are created equally, male and female, in the image of God. Psalm 139:13 explains that it is God who is forming the baby in the womb, and affirms the personhood of the baby being formed.
THE BIG ANSWER
Considering our passage from Luke, and its consistency with the rest of the Bible’s theology of life in the womb, it becomes clear that the Bible teaches human life and personhood in the womb. That means that to get an abortion is to kill a living human person who has done no wrong, which the Bible would call murder. So to be pro-choice is to be against the person-forming work of God in the womb, as he knits a tiny, living human being together in his image and after his likeness (Ps. 139:13, Gen. 1:26-27). Essentially, to be pro-choice is to be against God, because it is to be against what God is for.
Abortion is sin, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). Jesus came from heaven to earth so that we would have abundant life in him (Jn. 10:10). God sent his Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in him would not perish, but be forgiven of all sin and have eternal life (Jn. 3:16). Jesus Christ is the author of life (Acts 3:15). As Christians, we should see human life as a gift, authored and formed by God, for the glorious purpose of bearing his image to the world, from now into eternity. Christians are called to be pro-life.