The Bible's Teaching
By Fr. Frank A. Pavone
Director of Priests
The Bible clearly teaches that abortion is wrong. This teaching
comes across in many ways and for many reasons. Some people
point out that the word "abortion" is not in the
Bible, and that is true. Nevertheless, the teaching about
abortion is there. This is the case with many teachings. The
word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, but the teaching
about the Trinity is there. In any case, a person who wants
to deny the teaching about abortion would deny it even if
the word were there.
Let's look at some of the Biblical reasons why abortion,
the deliberate destruction of a child in the womb, is very
1. The Bible teaches that human life
is different from other types of life, because human beings
are made in the very image of God.
The accounts of the creation of man and woman in Genesis
(Gen. 1:26-31; 2:4-25) tell us this. "God created man
in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and
female He created them" (Gen. 1:27).
The word "create" is used three times here, emphasizing
a special crowning moment in the whole process of God's making
the world and everything in it. The man and woman are given
"dominion" over everything else in the visible world.
Not even the original sin takes away the image of God in
human beings. St. James refers to this image and says that
because of it we should not even speak ill of one another.
"With (the tongue) we bless the Lord and Father, and
with it we curse human beings who are made in the image of
God . . . This ought not be so, brothers" (James 3:9-10).
The image of God! This is what it means to be human! We are
not just a bunch of cells randomly thrown together by some
impersonal forces. Rather, we really reflect an eternal God
who knew us from before we were made, and purposely called
us into being.
At the heart of the abortion tragedy is the question raised
in the Psalms: "Lord, what is man that You care for him,
mortal man that You keep him in mind? . . . With glory and
honor You crowned him, giving him power over the works of
Your hands" (Ps. 8:5-7).
There is the key. Not only did God make us, but He values
us. The Bible tells us of a God who is madly in love with
us, so much so that He became one of us and even died for
us while we were still offending Him (see Rom 5:6-8). In the
face of all this, can we say that human beings are disposable,
like a car that is more trouble that it's worth? "God
don't make junk." He doesn't die for junk, either. If
you believe the Bible, you have to believe that human life
is sacred, more sacred that we have ever imagined!
2. The Bible teaches that children
are a blessing.
God commanded our first parents to "Be fertile and multiply"
(Gen.1:28). Why? God Himself is fertile. Love always overflows
into life. When the first mother brought forth the first child,
she exclaimed, "I have brought forth a man with the help
of the Lord" (Gen 4:1). The help of the Lord is essential,
for He has dominion over human life and is its origin. Parents
cooperate with God in bringing forth life. Because this whole
process is under God's dominion, it is sinful to interrupt
it. The prophet Amos condemns the Ammonites "because
they ripped open expectant mothers in Gilead" (Amos 1:13).
"Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit
of the womb is a reward" (Psalm 127:3).
3. The Bible teaches that the
child in the womb is truly a human child, who even has a relationship
with the Lord.
The phrase "conceived and bore" is used repeatedly
(see Gen. 4:1, 17) and the individual has the same identity
before as after birth. "In sin my mother conceived me,"
the repentant psalmist says in Ps. 51:7. The same word is
used for the child before and after birth ("Brephos",
that is, "infant" is used in Lk. 1:41 and Lk. 18:15.)
God knows the pre-born child. "You knit me in my mother's
womb . . . nor was my frame unknown to you when I was made
in secret" (Ps. 139: 13,15). God also helps and calls
the pre-born child. "You have been my guide since I was
first formed . . . from my mother's womb you are my God"
(Ps.22:11-12). "God . . . from my mother's womb had set
me apart and called me through his grace" (St. Paul to
the Galatians 1:15).
4. Scripture repeatedly condemns
the killing of the innocent.
This flows from everything that has been seen so far. God's
own finger writes in stone the commandment, "Thou shalt
not kill," (Ex.20:13, Deut. 5:17) and Christ re-affirms
it (Mt. 19:18 - notice that He mentions this commandment first.)
The Book of Revelation affirms that murderers cannot enter
the Kingdom of heaven (Rev. 22:15).
The killing of children is especially condemned by God through
the prophets. In the land God gave his people to occupy, foreign
nations had the custom of sacrificing some of their children
in fire. God told His people that they were not to share in
this sin. They did, however, as Psalm 106 relates: "They
mingled with the nations and learned their works . . . They
sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and they
shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters,
whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, desecrating the
land with bloodshed" (Ps. 106: 35, 37-38).
This sin of child-sacrifice, in fact, is mentioned as one
of the major reasons that the Kingdom of Israel was destroyed
by the Assyrians and the people were taken into exile. "They
mutilated their sons and daughters by fire . . . till the
Lord, in his great anger against Israel, put them away out
of his sight" (2 Kg. 17: 17-18).
Not even for "religious freedom" can the killing
of children be tolerated.
5. The Bible teaches that God is a
God of justice.
An act of justice is an act of intervention for the helpless,
an act of defense for those who are too weak to defend themselves.
In foretelling the Messiah, Psalm 72 says, "Justice shall
flower in his days . . . for he shall rescue the poor man
when he cries out and the afflicted when He has no one to
help him" (Ps 72:7, 12). Jesus Christ is our justice
(1 Cor. 1:30) because He rescued us from sin and death when
we had none to help (See Rm 5:6, Eph. 2:4-5).
If God does justice for His people, He expects His people
to do justice for one another. "Be merciful as your heavenly
Father is merciful" (Lk. 6:36). "Go and do likewise"
(Lk. 10:37). "Do unto others as you would have them do
to you" (Mt. 7:12). "Love one another" (Jn.
Abortion is the opposite of these teachings. It is a reversal
of justice. It is a destruction of the helpless rather than
a rescue of them. If God's people do not intervene to save
those whose lives are attacked, then the people are not pleasing
or worshipping Him.
God says through Isaiah, "Trample my courts no more!
Bring no more worthless offerings . . . Your festivals I detest
. . . When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you;
though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are
full of blood! Wash yourselves clean . . . learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphans's
plea, defend the widow" (Isaiah 1: 13-17).
Indeed, those who worship God but support abortion are falling
into the same contradiction as God's people of old, and need
to hear the same message.
6. Jesus Christ paid special attention
to the poor, the despised, and those whom the rest of society
He broke down the false barriers that people set up between
each other, and instead acknowledged the equal human dignity
of every individual, despite what common opinion might say.
Hence we see Him reach out to children despite the efforts
of the apostles to keep them away (Mt. 19:13-15); to tax-collectors
and sinners despite the objections of the Scribes (Mk. 2:16);
to the blind despite the warnings of the crowd (Mt. 20:29-34);
to a foreign woman despite the utter surprise of the disciples
and of the woman herself (Jn 4:9, 27); to Gentiles despite
the anger of the Jews (Mt. 21:41-46); and to the lepers, despite
their isolation from the rest of society (Lk. 17:11-19).
When it comes to human dignity, Christ erases distinctions.
St Paul declares, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there
is neither slave or free person, there is not male and female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28).
We can likewise say, "There is neither born nor unborn."
Using this distinction as a basis for the value of life or
the protection one deserves is meaningless and offensive to
all that Scripture teaches. The unborn are the segment of
our society which is most neglected and discriminated against.
Christ Himself surely has a special love for them.
7. Scripture teaches us to love.
St. John says, "This is the message you have heard from
the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Cain who
belonged to the evil one and slaughtered his brother"
(1 Jn. 3:11-12). Love is directly contrasted with slaughter.
To take the life of another is to break the command of love.
To fail to help those in need and danger is also to fail to
Christ teaches this clearly in the Parable of the Good Samaritan
(Lk. 10:25-37), in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk.
16:19-31), and in many other places.
No group of people is in more serious danger than the boys
and girls in the womb. "If someone . . . sees a brother
in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God
remain in Him?" (1 Jn 3:17).
8. Life is victorious over death.
This is one of Scripture's most basic themes. The victory
of life is foretold in the promise that the head of the serpent,
through whom death entered the world, would be crushed (see
Isaiah promised, "He will destroy death forever"
(Is. 25:8). At the scene of the first murder, the soil "opened
its mouth" to swallow Abel's blood. At the scene of the
final victory of life, it is death itself that "will
be swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting? . . . Thanks be to God who
gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1
Abortion is death. Christ came to conquer death, and therefore
abortion. "I have come that they may have life, and have
it to the full" (Jn.10:10).
The final outcome of the battle for life has already been
decided by the Resurrection of Christ. It is up to us to spread
that victory to every person. The pro-life movement is moving
from the victory Christ won to the fullness of that victory
on the last day. "There shall be no more death"
(Rev. 21:4). "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).