What’s In The Womb Matters!
(This article can also we found on our website
at http://www.bethelkingston.com under the tab called "Blog")
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Once again in Canadian politics the abortion issue seems to be gaining some momentum in terms of moving to the front of public debate. In a recent interview with Evan Solomon, host of CBC TV's “Power & Politics”, Stephen Woodworth (MP, Kitchener Centre), said the law defining a human being dates back to centuries-old English common law and Parliament has a responsibility to lead a debate on whether it's time to rewrite it. "Our definition of human being says that a child does not become a human being until the moment of complete birth," he said.
So we believe that every Christ-follower should be doubly-equipped…
… with the best of science to understand that what’s in the womb does matter. “Embryology textbooks uniformly state that new human life comes into existence upon completion of fertilization…” (Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life, p. 49)
… AND with what Scripture has to say about what is in the womb. Often in our world, even as Christians, we only allow the scientific data to shape our worldview on the unborn. However, we must also dig into God’s word on this issue. We believe that when we do, God’s word will show us what it is that science clearly points to - that what’s in the womb matters.
In this Touching Base, I want to outline four statements from scripture that will help us to see this.
What’s in the womb is described with the language of personhood from conception.
Text: Psalm 51:1-6
Read through this text. The most salient verse for our purposes today is verse 5.
Note in v1-4- What was David’s sin? (adultery with Bathsheba) Who had he ultimately sinned against?
But notice v5- David says that he was sinful… only from birth? Not just birth, but conception.
Conception- Hebrew meaning hot - fertilization.
How can someone be guilty at birth if they haven’t done anything? How does verse 5b answer that question?
Our guilt is not rooted in behaviour alone but in our nature. We are sinful by nature, not just because of our actions. David is stating a biblical teaching which is not unique to his pen alone but which is found throughout scripture. If you are studying this in a group, you may want to search up other scriptures that talk about the sinful nature.
Here is my point: What is synonymous with a sinful nature? Do cells have a sinful nature…? Does “potential life” have a sinful nature…? Scripture makes it very clear that humanity, persons, have human nature. David is using the language of personhood, “sinful from conception” to describe what is in the womb at conception. What’s in the womb matters.
However, there are a number of pro-choice advocates who would say personhood does not come into being until later. Carmen spoke about the following two in particular:
- Mary Anne Warren, an American writer and philosopher, asserted that a person “is a living entity with feelings, self-awareness, consciousness, and the ability to interact with his or her environment.” (Klusendorf, p.52) And so a human fetus can’t be a person with rights since it has none of these. One point to note is that, by that definition, any sleeping person can be killed since they fail the test as well. But the most important point to note here is that Ms. Warren is simply making an assertion (as opposed to providing evidence), without explaining why persons should be defined this way.
- Another idea has been articulated by Paul D. Simmons, a university professor and minister. He “concedes that zygotes (early embryos) are biologically human but denies they are "complex" or "developed enough" to qualify as "persons" in a biblical or philosophical sense. ‘No one can deny the continuum from fertilization to maturity and adulthood,’ writes Simmons. ‘That does not mean, however, that every step on the continuum has the same value or constitutes the same entity.’” (Klusendorf, p.52) In other words, since these things only “develop” later, the zygotes aren’t persons.
Answers to these arguments are to be found at the end of the Touching Base, using the SLED Test.
What’s in the womb is morally accountable to God.
Text: Psalm 51:1-6
Notice another biblical truth about what is in the womb. Whenever someone sins there are two questions we often will ask- what and who? What did they do? (we are just nosey) and Who did they sin against? In David’s case in v.1-4 we know both the “what” the “who”. But notice verse 5. What is the what? And who is the who?
What - What did we do/sin? Lots, if you look at our lives since exiting the womb. But our actions are rooted in a sinful nature, not some kind of bad psychosis. A sinful nature inherited, passed down to us from Adam (Romans 5). Sin is not just an action but a state of being/nature.
Who - The context of Psalm 51 makes it pretty clear that the Who of our sin is ultimately God.
So get this, David is saying that we are accountable to God, not after birth or at the age of accountability as we sometimes talk about but our accountability starts at conception. We are liable before God at that “hot” moment. Again note that things, inanimate objects and even life do not share in this unique kind of accountability that humanity or persons do. What’s in the womb matters - he/she is accountable to God.
What’s in the womb is the focus of immeasurable love/value.
Key Text: Psalm 139
A. Seen in God’s involvement
v.13” inmost being”- actually it is the Hebrew word for kidneys. This is probably so because in dismembering an animal the kidneys are the last organ to be reached.
Knit - note the intimacy of this imagery as the wool or fabric passes through the hands of the Maker.
Then read v.14, 15 - an amazing statement that science would agree with. God’s involvement speaks of our incredible value. We are constructs of God. But note the following comment:
“For many on the academic and secular left, natural rights are nothing but an oppressive ideology because for them human nature is nothing but a fiction. ‘In the understanding of the post- modernists,’ writes Hadley Arkes, ‘there is no objective nature of human beings, and no settled truths that arise from that nature: What we call human nature is socially constructed from one place to another according to the vagaries of local culture.’” (Klusendorf, p.65)
A biblical worldview is not based on a social construct, but on a divine construct.
B. Seen in God’s healing and restorative work. (Back to Psalm 51)
The common “scar” we all share as persons is a sinful nature. A nature that has been damaged by sin. What is the full story behind that scar? For example we all have physical scars. What is the story behind some of your physical scars? Our shared scar is a sinful nature and the story behind it is one of incredible love, sacrifice, healing, and restoration. David experienced God’s healing from his sin but he looked forward to that day when Jesus would come - God’s medicine in a physical ”bottle.” Read Acts 2:22-28. Also read Galatians 5:16-26 about our new way to live. What’s in the womb? Not just cells, not just life - but a person - scarred, yet a scar that shows that they are the object of God’s love.
What’s in the womb has intrinsic, not functional, value.
“Intrinsic”: inherent, built-in
“Functional”: you have to earn it
We live in a world that often equates worth with performance, productivity, assets, education. But when David says, “sinful from conception” David is illustrating the incredible worth and value of each human being. The analogy of the sin nature as a scar speaks of value – an object of love, an object of intimate involvement by God. Without a word being spoken by that person in the womb, without a degree being earned, without a culturally-acknowledged achievement, without a bank account to boast of or a trophy pointing to success - with nothing functionally accomplished, that sinful-natured person, although morally accountable to God is the object of God’s immeasurable love, fearfully and wonderfully knit together. The God of the universe makes provision for salvation without that person lifting a finger or taking a single step:
“But God demonstrated His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners (even at conception) Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
That is the great mystery of the gospel, the good news: God’s love is not based on our maturity, performance or contribution but simply on God’s grace and mercy.
Now, some pro-choicers would disagree and say that our worth is based on functionality: size, level of development, environment and degree of dependency. Carmen referred to this as the SLED Test on the weekend. At the end of this TB you will find an extra document explaining what the SLED test is and how to answer those arguments.
Our prayer is that you would understand both the science and the theology of what’s in the womb and protect the person God loves.
If you or someone in your group has had an abortion, read the context of Psalm 51. Even in his sin, David experienced God’s forgiveness. Next week, in part 2 of this Hot Topic, the Kingston Pregnancy Care Center will be with us, as well as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, who will be presenting in the morning services.
If interested in joining or starting a small group contact firstname.lastname@example.org
RESOURCES FOR FURTHER READING/TRAINING
Klusendorf, Scott. The Case for Life. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2009.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (www.evangelicalfellowship.ca) “The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is the national association of evangelical Christians in Canada. It gathers Evangelicals together for impact, influence and identity in ministry and public witness” Their website has a page titled “Abortion/Fetal Rights” at http://www.evangelicalfellowship.ca/page.aspx?pid=365
Life Training Institute (www.prolifetraining.com) “LTI was started by our president Scott Klusendorf in order to create a ministry that focused entirely on pro-life issues with the goal of maximizing its impact through single-minded dedication. Simply stated, our sole purpose is to train others to save lives. That's what we're all about.”
Stand to Reason (http://www.str.org): “Stand to Reason trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square.” Their website contains hundreds of pages of free resources and training material on many apologetics issues, including defending the pro-life position (search the website for “abortion”). Together, Greg Koukl and Scott Klusendorf have created the outstanding course, Making Abortion Unthinkable, which is available for purchase on the site.