Sanctity of Human Life Emphasis
Scott Klusendorf is the president of Life Training Institute, where he trains pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views. He is the author of The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture. There are ten summary truths he is anxious for Christians to remember.
Truths You Should Know About Abortion
Pro-life advocates present a formal case for their position. That case is summarized in the following syllogism:
Major Premise: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.
Minor Premise: Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is wrong.
A pro-life advocate can defend that syllogism in one minute or less. “I am pro-life because the science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development, you were a distinct, living, and whole human being. You did not come from an embryo; you once were an embryo. True, you were immature, and had yet to visibly develop, but the kind of thing you were was not in question. There is no essential difference between the embryo you once were, and the adult you are today, that justifies killing you at that earlier stage of development. Differences of size, development, environment, and dependency are not good reasons for killing you then, but not now.”
That abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being is conceded by many who perform and defend the practice.
Abortionist Warren Hern writes, “We have reached a point in this particular technology [D&E abortion] where there is no possibility of denying an act of destruction. It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.”
Feminist Camille Paglia frankly admits, “Abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue.” Feminist Naomi Wolf calls aborting a human fetus a “real death.”
The Bible is pro-life even if the word “abortion” does not appear. Scripture is clear that all humans have value because they bear the image of their maker.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. Thus, the passages in Scripture that forbid the shedding of innocent blood apply just as much to the unborn as they do every other innocent human being.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Matt. 5:21)
“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:16-19)
“Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked.” (Ex. 23:7)
Because humans bear the image of God, the shedding of innocent blood is strictly forbidden. In laymen’s terms, that means humans are valuable in virtue of the kind of thing they are, rather than some function they perform. Humans have value simply because they are human. “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.” (James 3:9)28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:26-28)
The Bible’s alleged silence on abortion does not mean that its authors condoned the practice. Prohibitions against abortion were largely unnecessary in biblical times. In a culture where children are a gift, and barrenness is a curse, and where a nation’s destiny depends on parents having lots of children, abortion is unthinkable.
Preaching on abortion is not a distraction from the Great Commission responsibilities of the local church, but integral to it.
Proposition: In the Great Commission, Christ charged the church to go make disciples.
Proposition: The way we make disciples is to “teach them to obey” his commands. Proposition: One of those commands is that we are not to shed innocent blood.
Proposition: Abortion is the shedding of innocent blood.
Conclusion: Therefore, preaching on abortion relates to the Great Commission responsibilities of the local church.
The pro-life position does not rely on personal perspectives. To assert that only women can speak on abortion is to commit the ad hominem fallacy—that is, attacking the person rather than the argument he or she presents. It also raises a troubling question: which women get to speak. Indeed, even among feminists supporting abortion, there is no single perspective on the issue. Feminist Naomi Wolf calls abortion “a real death” while feminist Katha Pollitt thinks it no different than vacuuming out your house. In short, while gender perspectives on abortion help us understand personal experience, they are no substitute for rational inquiry. Rather, it is arguments that must be advanced and defended. After all, pro-life women use the same arguments as pro-life men.
Pro-life Christians tell a better equality story. Does each and every human being have an equal right to life, or do only some have it in virtue of some characteristic that may come and go within the course of our lifetimes? Indeed, the abortion-choice position undermines human equality. That is, if humans only have value because of some developed characteristic, like self-awareness, that none of us share in equal measure, it follows that since that characteristic comes in varying degrees, basic human rights come in varying degrees. Human equality is a myth! Theologically, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely in their respective degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal, because they share a common human nature, made in the image of God.
Abortion-victim photography changes the narrative. As Gregg Cunningham points out, when you show abortion pictures, “abortion protests itself.” “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Nearly every successful social reform movement since the dawn of the 20th century has used disturbing imagery to convey evils that words alone are powerless to convey.” (Eph. 5:11)Disturbing images change how people feel about abortion, while facts and arguments can change how they think. Both are vital in changing behavior. Our opponents concede this. “When someone holds up a model of a six-month-old fetus and a pair of surgical scissors, we say ‘choice’ and we lose,” writes feminist Naomi Wolf.
The remedy for post-abortion guilt is not avoidance. It is forgiveness. Abortion pictures are painful to see. But used properly, they set the stage for the good news of the gospel, which alone heals us from our sin. Pictures do the hard work of making sin concrete, so that I can use my words to soothe, and bring hope. Post-abortion men and women do not need an excuse. They need an exchange: Christ’s righteousness for their sinfulness. Like all forgiven sinners, post-abortion men and women can live each day assured God accepts them on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, not their own.
These are good thoughts by Scott Klusendort.
What the church must do concerning the abortion issue is found in the Wisdom Literature of Scripture. “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. 11 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; 12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Prov. 24:10)
First, the Church must not faint. The task of saving lives is not easy. The challenge is dangerous and can be overwhelming. The church must not be disheartened.
Second, the Church must be informed. It is not enough to say, “We knew it not.”
Third, the Church must remember that God will judge our hearts and our lives. Did we help the innocent? Did the Church speak out against evil and move to protect the innocent? God shall render to every man according to his works?