Does the Bible oppose abortion? If so, do you know what due penalty it requires?
The Bible makes clear what is required by law in two ways: first, it gives a general principle. Then, it provides case laws. The case laws demonstrate specific applications of general principles in narrow cases to illustrate broader concepts.
Let’s look at how we can apply this to the issue of abortion and it’s just, Biblical penalty.
FIRST, THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE
The general principle is established in the sixth of the ten commandments: Thou shalt not kill, as the KJV renders it. Other translations render it as “You shall not murder.”
Either way, the commandment forbids taking another person’s life in circumstances other than when permitted by God. There is no contradiction that God executes his vengeance through execution and also forbids us to murder.
He invested man with the authority to execute murderers first with Noah after the flood. He said “And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.'” [Gen. 9:]
For one person to murder another in cold blood is to do violence against the image of God in man. By attacking the man, you attack God. God wants men to be righteous and walk in his ways, to “be fruitful and multiply” and “increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.” [Gen.9:7]
It is God’s will that man will multiply to fill the earth. Since God gives life, only he has authority to take it away. [1 Sam. 2:6] For someone to remove someone else from the earth against God’s will by murdering them is to storm the halls of Heaven and wage war against God’s plan. He wants us to multiply; killing his children undermines that plan.
There is a connection to the First Commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me”, Ex. 20:3) in the Sixth Commandment in that by doing violence to the image of God is to seek to substitute the true God with a false god: man. This is man’s attempt at replacing God with himself. It follows that this action demonstrates that man is placing other gods before God. The murderer shows that he doesn’t want to abide by God’s law, but to destroy it and live by his own law.
God has established in his laws when execution is necessary, but his general principle is “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” We also know this as “Eye for eye.”
NEXT, A SPECIFIC APPLICATION – A CASE LAW
Taking that general principle into account, we should now examine a case law that deals specifically with women who are pregnant.
Exodus 21, verses 22-25 (ESV) reads as follows:
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
The incident being described is of two men who, in their fighting, accidently strike a pregnant woman and cause her to go into premature labor. If the baby survives, then the person who hit her is made subject to a fine. This fine recoups the damages the woman and/or her baby suffers.
Next, we see that if the baby is born prematurely and dies, then the person who accidently hit the woman to cause her to go into labor is responsible. The law is clear: he is to be executed.
This is because every life is precious to God, for “even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” [Matt. 10:30] God has, in his law, established a wall of protection around the pregnant woman that can only be transgressed at the expense of suffering negative sanctions.
As I mentioned above, the case law uses a specific case to illustrate broader principles.
THE TAKE AWAY
What we can take from this case law are two things, primarily.
First is this: if God demands retribution for an accidental act of violence against a pregnant woman, how much more so will he forbid deliberate acts of violence against a pregnant woman that would endanger the life of her unborn child?
Therefore, it is clear that abortion is forbidden by the law.
Second: if God demands execution for an accidental abortion, how much more so will he demand execution for someone who deliberately aborts their baby? [Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, Chapter 6, Section 6]
This is straight-forward. No one has a problem understanding this, not even heathens. Modern Western man, revelling in his filthy cesspool of secular humanism, tries to defy this law through a fit of legalism by trying to define away the definition of “life.” Regardless of their excuses and contrived arguments, the result is the same: a culture of death which stands in direct opposition to God’s mandate of life: to fill the world by multiplying.
Whether they sacrifice their babies to vanity (to preserve their youthful figure), or to Mammon (perhaps they use poverty as an excuse?), or to chaos (to escape personal responsibility), the result is the same: the death of their culture and the spilling of innocent blood.
The Church established its position against abortion during its earliest days and has confirmed that position throughout history.
In The Didache, which is thought to have been written between 40-60 AD (which, it’s worth mentioning, would have been before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, denoting that the authors would have been living in The Last Days), it was recorded that “you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born.” [Chapter 2]
Tertullian, an early Church father, writing around 197 AD said that “In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fœtus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed.”
Augustine opposed abortion, calling the desire to commit it a “cruel lust”.
The Apostolic Constitutions, compiled around 400 AD, said that “Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for ‘everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.'” [Book 7, Section 1.3]
THE ROLE OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT IN APPLYING NEGATIVE SANCTIONS
The civil government has been instituted by God. Only God has ultimate authority, and he grants subordinate authority to those institutions that he’s established. [Rom. 13:1] He has invested the civil government, which bears the sword as “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer,” [vs. 4] with the authority to execute criminals.
It is the responsibility, then, of the civil government to prosecute those who intentionally kill their unborn babies and execute those whom it convicts of murder. This means the civil government should execute mothers who abort their children and their doctors and nurses who assist them.
Christians have faltered on this aspect of the law. They may be willing to call abortion murder, but they rarely follow through and demand laws that criminalize it and make it punishable by death — in accordance with Biblical law.
Further, individuals are not allowed to take the law into their own hands. To do so is also murder. It is the responsibility of Christians to change the laws of the land by preaching the Gospel faithfully and praying that God will change hearts. It is the Church’s responsibility to teach and preach the law. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach the law to their children. Following this regimen, then over time, we will regain lost ground the same way that we lost it: little by little, line by line, family by family, county by county.
Attacking abortion clinics is criminal. Preaching the Gospel at abortion clinics and calling its visitors, nurses, and doctors to repent is ethical.
As a result of the Church’s shirking of its responsibility to teach the law, we live in countries that have made abortion legal by passing laws in blatant contradiction to God’s. There are Christians who honestly profess to believe that “killing a baby and not killing a baby are morally equivalent acts” and that “God is neutral regarding the killing of babies.” [Sutton, That You May Prosper, p. 184]
How many millions of babies have been murdered (without representation, without defense) since Roe vs. Wade was passed in 1973? Some studies put the number at over 54 million through 2011. If you think that number is too high, the average is 1.2 million per year, and over the past 40 years that comes out at around 48 million.
As Sutton wrote in That You May Prosper, “God judges in kind. If millions of babies are murdered before they are born, I think we can expect God to render lex talionis.” [p.115]
Do you expect God to withhold judgment indefinitely? If you wonder why he hasn’t intervened yet, perhaps it’s worth asking if, like the Amorites, he is waiting for our cup of iniquity to completely fill up? [Gen. 15:16]
Sutton adds a qualification that is worth considering. “One provision should be made, however. God gets His restitution through conversion as well as destruction. When one is converted, he dies in Christ (Rom. 6:2-7). Conversion has a killing-unto-life effect. Therefore, the West is either standing on the edge of the greatest revival or the greatest disaster of its history.” [p.115]
God is just. If our civil governments will not enforce righteous judgment against murderers then eventually he will bring judgment against the defiant nation who so refuses.
Murder is prohibited in general (Sixth Commandment), and it’s illustrated specifically in the case law about a pregnant woman who is accidently stricken such that she gives premature birth. Accidental abortion is punishable by death. Deliberate abortion is murder, and it is also punishable by death. Those who commit abortion and are convicted in court should be executed.
Christians should have courage to demand that abortion be punishable by death and bring the covenant lawsuit against a corrupt society that has abandoned God and his law. Christians should stand up for the victim (the unborn child) and fight for their rights on behalf of the Lord.