Written by Rev. Dr. Peter Barnes
The God who has revealed Himself in His inerrant Word reveals Himself as the God of life. To choose Him is to choose life; to depart from Him is to choose death (Deut.30:15-20). He is the God who says that we are not to murder our fellow human beings but to love our neighbour as ourselves (Ex.20:13; Matt.22:39). He is also the God who makes it clear that life begins at conception, not at quickening, the end of the first trimester, or birth. Each of us – whether king or commoner, corporate giant or servant – has been formed by God in our mother’s womb (Job 31:13-15). The recognition of this truth is meant to arouse compassion for our fellow human beings.
Therefore we read that the child in the womb can move and leap (Gen.25:22; Luke 1:41), be consecrated in God’s service (Jer.1:5; Gal.1:5), be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15), and be blessed by God (Luke 1:42). In the womb the child is not a protoplasmic mass or foetal tissue but a child. The same Greek word which describes the unborn John the Baptist in Luke 1:41, 44 is also used to describe the newborn baby Jesus in Luke 2:12, 16 and the young children who were brought to Jesus in Luke 18:15. Indeed, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), He became flesh not at birth but in the womb of the virgin Mary (Matt.1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38).
It thus logically follows that to kill the child in the womb is not to terminate a pregnancy but to kill a child. When the Bible refers to the killing of a child in the womb (e.g. in Jer.20:17), it uses the same Hebrew word that is used to describe David’s slaying of Goliath (1 Sam.17:50-51). The Bible will use euphemisms for sexual activity but not for killing, whereas the modern age reverses this.
In Psalm 139, as King David contemplated life in God’s presence, he realised that he was fearfully and wonderfully made. It was God who had created his inmost being and knitted him together in his mother’s womb, and assigned him his length of days even before he was born (Ps.139:13-16). Life is a continuity from womb to tomb. As Michael Wilcock puts it: ‘Not just from birth to death, but from conception to death, a human life is God’s handiwork. Psalm 139 is his forthright “No” to those who for reasons of their own would cut it off, by abortion at one end or by euthanasia at the other.’